REV. JOHN IRELAND,
LATE RECTOR OF ST. ANN'S CHURCH, -BROOKLYN, L. ISLAND.
Et quod vitam monet. Phoed.
But let not their precious balms break my head. David.
To speak the malison of heaven. Campbell.
PRINTED BY THOMAS KIRK,
THE practice of appealing to the public, on subjects connected with church or state, is now so much in vogue, that I shall offer no apology for appearing among the fashionables of the day. Whether this practice, as it relates to subjects of a political nature, be commendable or not, it is not my province to decide; but that it is both justifiable and even necessary, as it relates to the present state of ecclesiastical affairs in this diocese, is a fact now placed beyond the precincts of controversy.
I had, I confess, long entertained doubts, whether any state of things in this country could justify a departure from the mode prescribed by the church in cases of complaint. Of the sincerity of this avowal the proof lies in my long forbearance to lay my grievances before the public, although I have been repeatedly urged to it by many judicious and respected friends. I had adopted the opinion of a distinguished prelate, who observes--"that when a person is run-down by falsehood and calumny, he ought to submit to that dispensation of providence which has suffered such a load to be laid upon him; to commit his way to God, and to bear his burden patiently. An unjust censure ought not to give him too deep an inward concern; for God who knows his innocence will acquit him, though all the world should condemn him. He ought indeed to submit to the affliction; but he is safe in his secret appeals to God, who sees not as man sees, but [3/4] judges righteous judgment: such a censure as this can not be bound in heaven." But when a state of things arrives which could not have been anticipated; when subjects of complaint are accumulating without end; when new acts of oppression grow out of former attempts at despotism; when the very garb of decency is laid aside, and tyranny stalks abroad without disguise; when every prescribed mode of redress has been tried in vain; then, I humbly conceive, we have reached the point at which longer forbearance would be criminal, and a deviation from the established rule is imperiously demanded. "The once, famous controversy on passive obedience and non-resistance (observes an eminent modern divine, [* Dr. Witherspoon]) seems now in this country to be pretty much over. When power, wherever lodged, comes to be exercised in a manifestly tyrannical manner, the party oppressed may certainly resist it: to deny this inherent right in every man is to establish injustice and tyranny, and to leave a good citizen as a tame prey to the ambition of others." If resistance be justifiable when every avenue to redress is barred up, (and where is the man in this country who will controvert the doctrine?) can it be improper for one, who is groaning under a load of oppression, to pour out his complaints before the public, to excite their sympathy, and to prevent as much as in him lies a recurrence of similar outrages? Were I allowed to judge of my own heart, I would boldly assert, that I am the last man in the world who could take pleasure in exposing the nakedness of the land; in lifting the robe and thereby disclosing the deformities of any member of our church. But concealment is now no longer practicable; the doors have already been thrown open; the curtain has been raised; the public have been invited to survey all that is passing behind the scenes; the dressing room will be ransacked; every mask and garb will be turned inside out; every crevice of the building explored; every stage trick detected; and I much doubt if the uproar will cease, until some of the managers and principal actors be driven from the boards.
But, much as I deplore the present evil, I foresee that good will result from it: ambitious men will be deterred for some time to come from displaying that furious "lust [4/5] of power" which has excited such a commotion in the diocese; and the Park may, for some years, be exempt from the disgrace of being converted into a second Smithfield; for the good of the church and for the glory of God.
I should not have hazarded an attempt to justify an appeal to the public in a case of this nature, had I not been assured that several lay-members of our church, distinguished by their station in society, their influence, their talents, their piety, and their firm attachment to our doctrines and discipline, concur with me in sentiment on this subject. I regarded the opinions of those clerical gentlemen, with whom I am in the habit of conversing, with a jealous eye, lest they might have some interest in their decision: but neither the sincerity nor the judgement of those disinterested lay-gentlemen, to whom I allude, can be questioned.
Let it not be supposed, because I have adopted the title of a noted pamphlet now current through the diocese, that I have any connection with either that performance or its author. Mr. (Cave) Jones was too long and too actively engaged in that system of proscription, which he now so loudly condemns, to have inspired me with any respect for his late character or conduct. Too often have I witnessed with pity and surprise, his amazing ductility and malleability: too often have I seen him, red hot, under the hammer of our ecclesiastical Vulcan, delighted with the sparks which issued at each stroke, and seemingly unconscious that every scintillation contributed to the diminution of his weight. His deportment towards myself in particular, previously to and during my trial, was not merely reprehensible; it was so excessively indecent as to have excited the indignation and disgust of many. [* It is exclusively owing to Mr. Jones's pamphlet and Dr. Hobart's reply, that I am thus compelled to obtrude myself on public notice. A reluctance to hazard the peace of the church had hitherto deterred me from taking this step; but were I now to keep silence, those who are strangers to my real character might be induced to believe, that I am indeed such "a wretch" as a certain reverend ruffian represents me to be.] I am unwilling, however, to indulge any unnecessary resentment towards him: he has manifested signs of contrition; he has departed from the tents of his former ungodly associates; he has developed some of their stratagems [5/6] and intrigues; and he has perhaps, smarted sufficiently for the acts of violence in which he was so recently engaged. "Fas est et ab hoste doceri:" let Mr. Jones then take advice from one to whose injury he has contributed no small share;--never to lose sight of that inestimable rule "do unto others as you would have others do unto you;"--never to go with the multitude to do evil; and whenever his indignation rises against the puny oppressors of the day, to remember the passage "Quorum pars magna fui."
This gentleman's pamphlet is generally considered, with respect to its construction, as a contemptible performance: but I cannot, in justice, admit that it is wholly devoid of merit. It furnishes, for instance a further proof (as if further proof were necessary) of the truth of the poet's remark
"Nee quemquam jam ferre potest Caesarve priorem Pompeiusve parem."
that two ambitious men, having the same object in view, cannot long live together in harmony; it serves to show that men of unsanctified tempers cannot be restrained, even by the solemnity of a funeral, or during the sacred services of the Altar, from betraying the ungodly emotions of their hearts: it serves, above all, as a "lengthy" peg, on which the Rev. Mr. Feltus has hung up to the public gaze a half-length [* The remainder of the picture is said to be under the pencil of the same masterly painter.] portrait of a RIGHT REV. FATHER IN GOD. Gracious heaven, how my hand trembles while it traces these last awful words!
It will be observed that I have, as usual, prefixed to my name the title of Reverend. This I feel myself justified in doing for several reasons. It will not be denied that a bishop may commit an unjust act: "it is possible" (says Potter) "for one to be excommunicated from the church's outward communion, and at the same time to maintain an uninterrupted communion with Christ; which is the case of all those who are unjustly excommunicated." Nor will it be denied that an unjust act, an act which is committed even by an authorised bishop in direct violation of the [6/7] letter and spirit of the gospel, fails to be binding in the court above: "such an act" (says Burnett) "can not be bound in heaven." Precisely such is the nature of the transaction which I shall proceed to detail in the sequel.
The late proceedings against me were in direct violation of the letter of the gospel.
The mode of proceeding against an offender, prescribed by the benevolent author of our religion, is first to attempt his reformation by private admonition, by telling him his fault between the parties concerned alone. Should this gentle procedure fail of the desired effect, if it did not bring him to repentance, then was he to be reproved in a more public manner, before two or three witnesses. If this second attempt should be equally unsuccessful, the last step was, to lodge a formal complaint against the refractory delinquent before the church. Neither of the two former attempts to reclaim a supposed offender was made with respect to myself; neither admonition nor reproof (nor indeed any thing else) was ever tried; but resort was had at once to that measure, which Dr. Potter styles the last remedy.
I am fully aware that some divines have regarded the foregoing directions of our Saviour, as referring exclusively to such private differences as might arise between individual members of the church. But I am disposed to believe that the weight of authority is greatly in favour of the contrary opinion; and that whoever will read the 18th ch. of St. Matt. with a mind devoid of prejudice and partiality, will concur with Dr. Potter in the sentiment--that "what is there said manifestly applies to something to be done by the church, and not by any private members of it; for 'tis the church's sentences of binding and loosing which our Lord promiseth to ratify in heaven, and the prayers which he promiseth to answer are those which the congregation makes in his name:--that from the whole passage together it appears, that our Lord thereby instructed his church to exercise a judicial power over its members:--that this is a manifest description of a
judicial process; he who has been injured is first directed to tell the offender of his fault privately between themselves; if that have no effect, to admonish him before witness: if this admonition also prove unsuccessful, [7/8] to complain to the church; then, if he neglect to hear the church, follows the church's censure; which being decreed by virtue of Christ's commission, he promiseth to ratify it in heaven." It may be necessary to inform some of my readers, that "Potter on church government" is a book of the highest authority among us; and that every candidate for priest's orders is required, previously to his ordination, to be examined therein. If then we may rely on the judgement of such men as Potter, Hammond, and the most celebrated divines who have discussed this subject, the late proceedings against me are invalid, because they were a direct inversion of the order prescribed in the written rule of the gospel. This rule, it must universally be admitted, is paramount to all rules, regulations and practices whatsoever. "It is not lawful, say the canons, for the church to ordain any thing contrary to God's written word: an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit of God, may err, and sometimes have erred: wherefore things ordained by them have neither strength nor authority, unless it be declared that they are taken out of the holy scriptures."
The proceedings against me, are no less opposed to the spirit of the gospel.
Perhaps I might justly be charged with travelling out of the record, were I here to attempt a description of all that the genuine spirit of our religion inculcates. Let it suffice then to say, that it breathes peace upon earth, good will among men, gentleness, forbearance, long suffering, moderation, justice, readiness to forgive the offences of our brethren; in one word, every thing that is venerable, lovely, and of good report. Was any one of these christian virtues displayed in the late conduct of my christian brethren towards me? Did they do to me as they would wish others to do unto them under similar circumstances? Did they once reflect that "the authority which the Lord hath given to his vicegerents, was given for edification, and not for destruction?" Did they once consider that mercy is more acceptable to the God of mercy, than sacrifice? I will not multiply these interrogatories, because I feel compassion even for my enemies, persecutors and slanderers; and because every such question must, I know, (unless their consciences be seared as with a hot iron) go [8/9] like a dagger to the heart of each of them. I will therefore dismiss them for the present with this assurance, that if, after taking a serious retrospect of their conduct towards me, they can lay their hand on their heart, and solemnly aver before God--that they were actuated by no unworthy motives--that they were as truly solicitous to substantiate my innocence as to prove my guilt--that for their deportment previously to, during, and subsequently to my trial, their own consciences do not condemn them--neither will I condemn them: I will endeavour to cultivate a grateful remembrance of those their labours of love, to correct my past and present erroneous notions of right and wrong, and to adopt the modern interpretation of that apostolical advice--"Love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous." In the mean time, by way of extenuating the guilt of having entertained, for almost half a century, mistaken opinions of the real design of church discipline, I will subjoin a short extract from some of those wicked authors, who have contributed so egregiously to misguide me. "In pronouncing the censures of the church," (says Bishop Burnett in his celebrated exposition of the articles,) "great care and tenderness ought to be used: nothing but a wilful obstinacy in sin, and a deliberate contempt of the rules and orders of the church, can justify an extremity, which, like punishments inflicted by the civil power, is not to be proceeded to but upon great occasions, when milder censures will not prevail; like a parent's disinheriting a child, it ought to be proceeded in with that slowness and upon such considerations as may well justify the rigour of it. To admonish offenders as brethren, and not to use them as enemies, this is suitable to the designs of the gospel, both for preserving the church pure, and for reclaiming transgressors: all affectation of excessive severity looks like pharisaical hypocrisy; whereas the spirit of Christ, which is made up of humility and charity, will make us look so severely to ourselves, that on that very account we shall be gentle to the failings of others." "The discipline of the church," says Bingham, "being a mere spiritual power, was confined to these following acts--first, the admonition of the offender, which was solemnly repeated once or twice, before they proceeded to greater severities, [9/10] according to that injunction of the apostle--a man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject. After this manner St. Ambrose represents their proceedings; a putrified member of the body is never cut off but with grief; we try a long time whether it can not be healed by medicines; if not, then a good physician cuts it off. Such is the affection of a good bishop; he is very desirous first to heal the infirm, to put a stop to growing ulcers, to burn and sear a little, and not cut off; at last he cuts off with grief what cannot be healed; for they that being long endured, and often kindly admonished, will not be corrected, must be cut off as putrified members. An over rigorous severity is a great offence and a manifest abuse of power; it is not the true exercise of discipline, but imperiousness and humour, and a mere domineering over God's heritage by an exorbitant stretch of ministerial power." I shall close this part of the subject with another quotation from the same respectable author, conveying a sentiment from which I have drawn repeated consolation. "An anathema ill founded cannot hurt him against whom it is thundered."
The late proceedings against me are invalid, not only because they militated against the letter and the spirit of the gospel, but for this further reason--that none of the parties concerned in the prosecution, the trial, or the sentence, had any authority to act.
I will not undertake to say that the consecration of Dr. B. Moore was invalid: but I venture to assert that he was consecrated to an office to which he was not elected. The case was this. Dr. Provoost, the bishop of this diocese, was desirous of resigning his ecclesiastical dignities and retiring from his official duties. Dr. B. Moore was chosen to fill the station supposed to be thus vacant. The house of bishops decided that a bishop could not resign his episcopal charge; but that, in the case of his inability to perform the duties of his office, he might be aided by a suffragan who should be ordained for that purpose. Had Dr. Provoost been timely informed of this decision, it is possible that he might have resumed the exercise of his functions, and required no assistant. But he was never consulted on the occasion: delay might have been dangerous and he was thus compelled to take assistance which [10/11] he did not claim and might not have wanted. It is well known to those who are conversant with church history, that the office of an assistant bishop did not exist in the days of primitive Christianity: "Post primum, secundus esse not possit: quisquis post unum (qui solus esse debeat) factus est, non jam secundus ille, sed nullus est:" that is, after the first there can be no second; whoever is made a bishop after the first, is not a second bishop, but no bishop. So that to have two bishops at once in one place is (to St. Cyprian's opinion) utterly inconsistent with the constitution of the Christian church. How the election of a third bishop, of an assistant to an assistant, is to be reconciled with this venerable father's opinion, I leave to the decision of those who have introduced the innovation. Will they say, that because the second was nobody, they therefore chose a third who would doubtless make himself somebody?
Be this as it may, an assistant bishop has no authority except such as has been expressly delegated to him by his principal or diocesan. I have heard it said, that one of the most (if not the most) respectable lay members of our church has expressed his doubts, whether the convention were authorised by the constitution of the church to create the office of an assistant bishop; and that he is decidedly of opinion that the powers and duties of the assistant ought, at least, to have been expressly defined. Much as I am disposed to respect the opinions of that learned, judicious, and pious gentleman, I am equally disposed to believe that those powers and duties are sufficiently declared and defined, in the rules and practice of that church from the bosom of which our own has immediately sprung. In G. Britain the statute of Henry 8th, is still in force and obligatory: it enacts that "any infirm and sick bishop in any of the King's dominions may, if he desire it, have a suffragan; but that such suffragan, or coadjutor, shall have no jurisdiction in the diocese of him whose suffragan he may be, save what said bishop shall by commission under his seal allow him, and only for such time as said bishop shall allow: that such suffragan, for his better maintenance may hold two livings, &c. but then, he who desires a suffragan is to name two to the king, and he ( the king) is to approve one who is then to be consecrated by the metropolitan." "If"(says an eminent prelate, on this subject) "if he [11/12] demean himself piously and diligently in his office as suffragan, it will be a great and most probable means to prefer him to a bishopric of his own: which to many may be a great encouragement to undertake the office of a suffragan." From the foregoing extract and the bishop's observation upon it, we may fairly infer that the offices and powers of a bishop, and those of his assistant, are essentially different. The ordination of a bishop is to be performed by three officiating bishops: but an assistant may be ordained by one bishop only, viz: the bishop of the diocese to whose jurisdiction he belongs. That I have good authority for this assertion will appear from the following extract.--"Those canons which require three bishops to impose hands in the ordination of a bishop, speak of such bishops only as were to be absolute and supreme governors of their own diocese; and not of suffragans (or coadjutors) or such as were subordinate, whom the diocesan bishops might ordain at their own discretion." It cannot, indeed, be unknown to some of my readers, that from the limited authority of assistant bishops it was inferred, by many intelligent writers, that they were not virtually bishops, but merely presbyters invested with enlarged authority. Their office was to preside over the country clergy, to enquire from time to time into their behaviour, to make report thereof to the bishop, and to provide suitable persons for the inferior service and ministry of the church. They had power to minister confirmation to such as were newly baptized, and to grant letters dimissory to the clergy who desired to remove from one diocese to another: but they had no power to ordain either presbyters or deacons. The following quotation from Bingham will justify me in saying so:--"The council of Antioch gave them (assistant bishops) a general commission to ordain all under presbyters and deacons, such as readers, subdeacons, &c. without consulting the diocesan upon every such occasion: and for presbyters and deacons they might ordain them too; but not without the special leave of the bishop under whose jurisdiction they were. And this (continues he) is the meaning of the council of Ancyra, which says--suffragan bishops shall not have power to ordain presbyters or deacons: which must be interpreted by the explication given in the council of Antioch, that [12/13] they should not be authorized to do it without the particular direction of the diocesan; but by his leave they might." "Next to the bishop" (says the same author on another occasion) "there were a sort of ecclesiastical persons, called suffragans or coadjutors, who officiated in certain episcopal duties, under the bishop. These acted by a limited and dependant power; but many times were inclined to assume a power to themselves beyond their commission. The church was therefore obliged to make certain laws and rules to restrain their usurpations. These men might ordain subdeacons, readers, &c. by a general commission; but not presbyters or deacons without a special license: yet sometimes they would take upon them to do that also, without consulting the bishop: for which offence they were liable by the canons to lose their office and be degraded."
And now let me ask--if an assistant bishop have no jurisdiction in the diocese of him whose assistant he may be, save what his bishop shall, by commission under his seal, allow him, by what authority can he, without such commission, appoint judges, direct the attendance of witnesses, summon a presbyter to trial, and exercise the highest prerogative of a real bishop? If he have no authority to ordain a presbyter, or even a deacon, without the special leave of his superior, by what authority can he, without such leave, proceed to degrade a presbyter, to take back a commission which he cannot grant? These are very serious enquiries and their importance to myself must be the apology for making another observation on the subject.
If the opinions of such men as Bingham, Burnett, Barlow, &c. or if the established practice of the Church of England, should be said to have no weight in these states, what say the canons of our own church? "Every trial of a clergyman shall be on presentment made to the bishop;--the bishop shall nominate--the bishop shall appoint--decision shall be communicated to the bishop--proceedings shall be laid before the bishop--his judgement is to be final--sentence shall be pronounced by the bishop only." Now who is the bishop of this diocese? Every thing in the present case depends on the answer. Far be it from me to attempt to abridge the powers, or to curtail the privileges of any in authority but while I am ready to admit [13/14] that Dr. B. Moore may be a bishop in the P. E. Church, I scruple not to assert that he is not the bishop of this diocese; that he is not the person designated in the canons ; and that in the late proceedings against me, he was instigated by certain artful, officious, malicious young men, to "take too much upon himself."
Nor is this a sentiment which I have recently adopted: I mentioned it to a few judicious friends before the consecration of Dr. M. took place; and then expressed my apprehensions that we had embarked in a plan of innovation, which might eventually bring into disrepute our pretentions to undeviating regularity and order. Sorry am I to add, that I suffered myself to be silenced by the plea (that fruitful source of incalculable mischief,) the plea of expedience.
If my premises be established, the conclusion follows--that the sentence of my degradation is null and void, because it violated alike, the letter and spirit, both of the gospel and canons; and because those who recommended the sentence, and he who pronounced it, were alike destitute of all authority to act upon the occasion. Let Dr. B. Moore produce the special license of his diocesan to bring me to trial, and then will I candidly confess that I have been fairly driven from untenable ground. [* If Dr. Moore were possessed of such special licence, was it not incumbent on him at the very threshold of the investigation to have exhibited it as the evidence of his delegated authority?] But in order that Dr. M. for himself, or his friends in his behalf, may be fully prepared to obviate the foregoing remarks, I beg leave to remind them of the account of his consecration given in the regular journal, and subsequently confirmed in the history of the P. E. church in these states: [*Rees's New Cyclopedia, vol. 8, part 2d.]--"The house of bishops, being sensible of the exigency existing in the State of N. York, consent to the consecration of an assistant bishop. But this house must be understood to be explicit in their declaration, that they shall consider such a person as assistant or coadjutor bishop during Bishop Provoost's life, although competent in point of character to all the episcopal duties; the extent in which the same [14/15] shall be discharged by him to be dependent on such regulations as expediency may dictate to the church in New-York, grounded on the indisposition of Bishop Provoost, and with his (Dr. P.'s) concurrence. Conformably with the line of conduct thus laid down, Dr. B. M. was consecrated." If I understand this account, the line of the assistant bishop's conduct was first laid down, and then his consecration took place: and the extent of his duties is to be regulated by the convention of this state, provided that such regulations receive the sanction of the diocesan's approbation. This limitation of the assistant bishop's power is in exact conformity to the established usage of the P. E. church, and to Bishop White's late assertion [* Sermon delivered in New-Haven before the general convention.]--that "the very existence of the church in this country depends on an undeviating adherence to the principles which she has inherited from the Church of England."
And after all, even admitting the proceedings against me to have been valid, still my claim to the character of Reverend remains indefeisible. This position is, however, too unimportant both to myself and my readers, to justify the discussion of it before the public, did it not serve in some measure as a reply to an observation respecting me, in Dr. Hobart's defence. He there asserts, and his obsequious echo Mr. How repeats it, that "there is not an instance, in the whole history of the christian church, of the restoration of a degraded clergyman."
Granting for a moment the truth of this assertion, I would ask--Does the want of such an instance prove that a degraded clergyman may not, or can not be restored? Was not the power of loosing given to the church, at the same time and by the same authority, with the power of binding? Does not the term loosing imply that the subject to be loosed was previously bound? does it follow, because this power does not appear to have been exercised hitherto, that such power does not exist? Is it not the obvious meaning of our Saviour (Matt. 18th ch. 18th verse,) that those who are authorized to impose the censures of the church, are equally empowered to remove [15/16] them? Is it then necessary to produce an instance of this power having been exercised, since it is universally admitted that the power and the right have been conferred? If a person were duly commissioned by the President of the United States to negotiate with the court of Great Britain, would he be required to shew an instance wherein any other person had acted under a similar commission? The church in her dispute with the Novatians, (who maintained that such as had fallen into any great sin after baptism, were to be for ever excluded from her communion) always insisted on her own just right and power, that "by the commission of the keys from Christ, she had power to loose as well as to bind; to receive offenders into the church upon their reformation, as well as to cast out any of her members for notorious transgressions." I had concluded that the doctrine of the power of the keys, (as it is called,) the power of binding and loosing, had been so long, so amply, so ably discussed, that it was now completely understood and set at rest. Instead, therefore, of reasoning on a subject over which I can not hope to throw any additional light, especially as
"Men convinced against their will,
"Are of the same opinion still,"
I proceed to lay before my readers the sentiments of two authors, whose writings are held by all churchmen in the highest veneration, and whose judgement on this subject ought to be decisive. "Since God" (says Dr. Potter in his discourse on church-government) "has no where signified that the character which he confers on persons admitted into holy orders, shall expire before their death, we might safely conclude (though we had no further reason for it) that it is indelible and perpetual, such as cannot be forfeited by any misbehaviour. This may be illustrated by comparing the character of holy orders with that of baptism. The person baptised is dedicated to God, and admitted, by the ministry of his priest, to be a member of his church. This done, the person may forfeit his title to the privileges of the church by breaking his baptismal vow: he may not fall into schism, heresy, or even idolatry, but he still belongs to the [16/17] church; he still retains his baptismal character; and, if he repent and return to the church's communion, he must be admitted without being rebaptized. This is a ruled case, and universally confirmed by the practice of the church in all ages and countries. So they who are ordained receive authority from God, in whose name the bishop puts his hands on them: and authority conferred by God can be destroyed or resumed by none but God, or one commissioned by him for that purpose. We do not find in the scripture one example of any priest, whose character did not last as long as his life. Melchisedek was a priest for ever: all the Jewish priests and Levites, though the exercise of their functions was limited to a certain age, were accounted sacred persons, and distinguished from common Israelites, from their birth to their death: and the apostles and all the ministers under them maintained their respective characters from the time of their consecration to their death, without any exception. If we descend to the churches of the next ages after the apostles, we shall find no examples of ordained ministers who outlived their orders: there is not the least footstep of any such practice in the church: these orders were fixed and perpetual. It was, in that age, thought to be as impossible for one to lose the character of his order, as that of his baptism. Deposed clergymen, though they were forbidden to exercise their office, still retained their character. Such men were sometimes admitted to exercise their office again, and this was done without their being reordained; which could not have been, if deposition had deprived them of the character of their order. The character of any order is a quite different thing from the exercise of the power belonging to that order, and the former may remain when the latter is taken away. Thus in the case of deposed clergymen, the acts which they performed during the time of their suspension from the exercise of their office, were allowed to be valid, though irregular. So that the same thing seems to be done to clergymen with regard to their order by deposition, which is done to laymen with regard to the effects of their baptism by excommunication: the deposed clergyman is forbidden to exercise his function, and loses his [17/18] share of the maintenance which was allotted for the clergy; and the excommunicated person is rejected from the Lord's supper and all other acts of Christian communion to which he was entitled by his baptism: and yet neither of them are divested of their characters; and therefore when the sentence of excommunication is taken off, the layman returns to the church without being rebaptised; and the sentence of deposition being taken off, the clergyman resumes his office without repeating his ordination. The rebaptization and reordination even of schismatics, was universally condemned by the church, as appears from the works of the fathers still extant."
"As to reordination, (says Bingham in his elaborate treatise on the antiquities of the Christian church,) "we must distinguish between the orders that were given regularly and canonically by persons rightly qualified in the church, and such as were given irregularly by persons disqualified, or by heretics and schismatics out of the church. As to such orders as were given regularly in the church, they were supposed, like baptism, to impress a sort of indelible character, so as that there was no necessity, upon any occasion, to repeat them; but on the contrary, it was deemed a criminal act so to do. The third council of Carthage, following the steps of the plenary council of Capsa, decreed--that it was equally unlawful to rebaptise and reordain. And those called the apostolical canons made it deposition, both for the ordainer and the ordained, to give or receive a second ordination. St. Austin says, it was not the custom of the catholic church to repeat either orders or baptism: for men did not lose their orders, as to the internal character and virtue, though they were suspended from the execution of their office for some misdemeanour. Optatus testifies the same, telling us that Donatus was condemned in the council of Rome under Melchiades, for reordaining certain bishops, because it was contrary to the custom of the catholic church. So that we have no instances of reordaining such as had been regularly ordained in the christian church, it being esteemed unlawful (as Theodoret words it) to give any man the same ordination twice. St. Austin says, that when the [18/19] church judged it expedient not to suffer the Donatist bishops to officiate upon their return to the church, she did not thereby intend to deny the reality or validity of their ordination, but supposed that to remain still perfect and entire in them. And this is what the same father meant by the sacrament of ordination, (as he words it,) or the indelible character which is thereby imprinted; that though a man turned apostate, or was suspended, or deprived for any crime, yet if upon his repentance and satisfaction, the church thought fit to admit him to officiate again, there was no necessity of giving him a new ordination, no more than a new baptism; for the character of both remained entire; though he should be wholly divested of his office and power, yet so much of the marks and footsteps of his former office would remain upon him, as that if he should be recalled again to his office, he would not need the outward character or ceremony of a new ordination. An apostate clergyman, though he was reduced to lay-communion, or even fallen below it, could not need a new ordination, but only the church's commission and authority to release him of his bonds, which she did by absolution, and not a new ordination: thus far St. Austin and all the ancients allow."
I shall close the remarks on this subject by a short extract from the learned Dr. Forbes:--"There remains some distinguishing character in a man that is deposed, by which he is distinguished from laymen. The character that remains in a deposed person is not the character of any present office or power, but only some mark of an honour that is past, and of a power that he once had; by which mark he is distinguished from others who never were ordained, and may, if he be found fit, and the benefit of the church require it, be restored without a new ordination--restitui poterit absque nova ordinatione."
It is presumed that some of my readers will here pause and ask--how can these things be? Can men, eminent for the depth of their researches into ecclesiastical history; men who have read, collated, digested all that has been written on this subject; men whose authority is not to be questioned; can such men assert that deposed clergymen were sometimes admitted to exercise their office [19/20] again--that the sentence being taken off, the clergyman resumes his office--that upon their repentance and satisfaction the church thought fit to admit them to officiate again--that they may, if the good of the church require it, be restored without a new ordination--that the church did, by absolution, release from their bonds clergymen who had been reduced to the lowest state of degradation: and can Messrs. Hobart and How assert, in the very face of such authority, that no instance exists of the restoration of a deposed clergyman? [* Aware of the twistical disposition of those who have advanced this assertion, I must, if possible, bar every avenue against their escape from detection. Will they say that they employed the word degraded, and not deposed; and that all my authorities refer to the latter term only? The reply is--they are convertible terms: they mean the same thing. 'Deposition or degradation' (says Bingham) 'is a suspension of the power and authority committed to a clergyman in his ordination: when he is divested of the power and authority formerly belonging to him, by some canons he is said to be deprived; by others, to be degraded; by others, to be deposed: these expressions are so understood by modern writers.']
The latter of these two personages is fairly entitled to the plea of ignorance. A man who has never been able to reach the standard of mediocrity, in any one of the various professions which he has followed, may well claim indulgence for want of proficiency in a new calling; nor would it be reasonable to expect from one who has so lately become a convert to the church, that progress in ecclesiastical, which he had previously failed to make in commercial, legal, and tactical knowledge: besides, we are to recollect that--'non ex quovis ligno fit Mercurius.' [* I remember, when I was at school, to have heard an arch boy translate this Roman adage thus:-- "You must not expect to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear."] But Dr. Hobart can lay no claim to such indulgence: the man who, for several years, has had his eyes immoveably fixed on a mitre, cannot plead ignorance of books in which every candidate for orders is to be examined: he cannot but have read the celebrated case of Maximus, who had been formally cut off from the church, and who was afterwards 'received to his place in the presbytery again--Maximum presbyterum locum suum agnos noscere jussimus:' he cannot, indeed, but have read of Hundreds, [20/21] who after having been deposed, degraded, excommunicated, anathematized by bell, book and candle, have been restored to their respective offices in the church. To what then is to be attributed the rashness of this assertion? Did Dr. Hobart expect it would operate as an extinguisher, and put out all light on the subject? Or is this another instance of the leakiness of his memory? There is a faculty, which a facetious modern writer denominates--'remembering to forget, and forgetting to remember.' This singular quality Dr. Hobart seems to possess in an eminent degree; and it will hereafter be made to appear that he occasionally exercises it with no little success: is it not possible that he may have seized this opportunity, among others, of exhibiting his skill at remembering to forget?
What effect the foregoing statement will have produced on the minds of my readers, I presume not to judge. The incredulous will probably be incredulous still; some may begin to doubt; others, perhaps, may be convinced: but I am constrained to confess, that if the number of the last mentioned should be comparatively small, the deficiency is ascribable, not to any want of satisfactory testimony, but to my manner of presenting it. I can safely aver, that as far as my own knowledge, and the information which I have gleaned from others, can be depended upon, there is but one sentiment prevailing on the subject of the proceedings against me. I have neither heard, nor heard of, a man or woman, a clergyman or layman, churchman or dissenter of any denomination, native or foreigner, in the diocese or out of it, (excepting some of those men of violence who were actively concerned against me, and whose thirst for blood can never be allayed) who has not reprobated, in terms more or less severe, the treatment which I have experienced: rash, hasty, unadvised, ungenerous, illiberal, unfriendly, disproportioned, unparalleled, unchristian, tyrannical, inquisitorial; these are terms which I have repeatedly heard applied to it by men of information, judgement, and candour. Should there, however, be any who differ from my friends and myself in opinion on this subject, I shall feel neither surprise nor mortification. As I am not conscious of having forfeited the good opinion or good will of a single [21/22] friend or acquaintance, so neither am I anxious to resume my station among the Lyells, the Hobarts, and the Howes of the present day. For reasons which are notorious, I deem the post of honour, in the existing state of ecclesiastical affairs in this diocese, to be a private station: nor could all the overgrown wealth of Trinity church now bribe me to accept a cure, under the domination of such men as Dr. B. Moore, or Dr. J. H. Hobart. But be it remembered that this resolution is not at variance with any claim to the character and title of Reverend.
It will be observed, that in speaking of the primary agents in the nefarious plot against me, I have indulged myself in the utmost freedom of expression. This I have ever done; this I will ever do, when conscious of any "great injury and wrong done unto me." I cannot, (for the soul of me I cannot) play the sycophant: I am, unhappily, formed of such inflexible materials, as will not allow me to stoop so low as to kiss the foot which has spurned me, even though that foot should appertain to a bishop, a cardinal, or a pope. Were I at liberty to choose my motto, it should be--"Manus haec inimica tyrannis:" and I feel, if possible, more indignation at the usurpations of an ecclesiastical, than of a political, despot. Are not the reasons too obvious to require any explanation? Can it be necessary to prove, that tyrants in the church have occasioned more mischief in the world, than tyrants in the state? Many an oblique hint has been conveyed to me, that if I would remain quiet, and submit to my sentence without complaint, the period might not be very distant when I should be restored to my former standing in the church. To every such intimation, it is well known that I have invariably replied--No; 'Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes:' no; never will I accept as a favour what I demand as a right.--After having breathed, for half a century, none other than the air of freedom and independence, a change of atmosphere would prove deleterious: nor can I submit, at this period of life, to the imposition of any trammels, excepting such as the laws of decency and urbanity have already imposed. Strong language is by no means synonymous with improper language; nor is every forceful expression a rude one. Ridicule itself, although of the test of truth, is a weapon [22/23] which may be honourably employed on particular occasions: 'sometimes,' (says Dr. Witherspoon) 'it is necessary, in order to bring down self-sufficient persons, with whom there is no dealing till their pride is levelled a little.'
I have carefully avoided (I think) the mention of any other names than such as have already been introduced by Messrs. Jones, Hobart, and How: because I have no wish to involve, unnecessarily, any others in the controversy. In referring to persons who had not previously been named, prudence forbids my express designation of them, lest they might be exposed to the resentment of those in authority over them: in other instances, the names of any to whom allusion is made, shall be made known, whenever a proper occasion may demand the disclosure.
I have presumed that none of my readers can be ignorant of the proceedings against me, which took place in April, 1809. A record of those proceedings has been published; the result was made known in the mode prescribed by the canons; and as if the canons had not enjoined a degree of publicity, sufficient to gratify the malice of the principal plotter, Dr. Hobart took special care to mix it up among the contents of his Pandora box--that vehicle of every heterogeneous matter--that strange compound of right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood, flattery and defamation, oil and vinegar--'The Churchman's Magazine:'--a publication which, by the bye, has done more injury to the church, than its present injudicious compiler will live to see repaired--a performance which, like a rickety child, has long been indebted for its support to bandages and rollers; or which, like a sickly plant, owes its protracted existence to the management of the hot-house. What Dr. H.'s motive for this insertion could have been, unless to make my disgrace coextensive with his inveteracy, it will not be easy to develope. His pretence, of introducing it as an article of agreeable news, is too ridiculous (to say nothing of the falsehood) to be combated: and that it was considered by some of his best friends and warmest advocates as an indiscreet, wanton, and cruel act, can easily be proved if necessary.
I now proceed to detail some of the particulars connected with the above mentioned proceedings, in order that the reader may be enabled to judge whether Mr. Jones's charge of tyranny, intolerance, &c. &c. be well founded, and whether I may not be regarded as a living instance of its truth.
The first intimation that any steps towards my destruction had been taken, was conveyed in a letter from Dr. B. Moore, informing me that certain charges against me had been exhibited to him, that he had nominated my judges, appointed the time and place of trial, and required my attendance. Soon after the receipt of this letter, finding that my health was rapidly declining, and fearing that a needless delay of the trial might prevent my appearance in person, I repaired to Dr. Moore's house. Not finding him at home, I sat down, and wrote him a short note; in which I waved my privilege of a months notice, and requested that the trial might take place as soon as possible. This note I sealed, directed, and left on Dr. M.'s writing table. Having accidentally mentioned this circumstance to the judges in terms of complaint, one of the prosecutors, (solely with the design of invalidating whatever I might afterwards advance in my defence,) intimated in plain terms that any allegations of mine were to be admitted with great caution; for he was authorized to declare that Dr. M. had not received any such letter from me. To the reader this will probably appear as a very unimportant circumstance: but on my own mind it left an impression which no time can efface. Every person present must have witnessed my consternation on being thus contradicted: but as I was in the enemy's power, as the case did not admit of direct proof, and as I was then unwilling to provoke needless irritation, I thought it adviseable to suppress my suspicion, and submit to the affront. Now, however, that I have nothing more to fear from the machinations of my enemies, I publicly declare that I have good reason for suspecting, that one of the parties concerned against me intercepted my letter. He entered the house as I was leaving it: and so much did I afterwards apprehend a recurrence of this perfidy, that in the direction of some subsequent letters to Dr. M. I had [24/25] recourse to the hand-writing of a friend, to whom I communicated my suspicions. [* This was not the only instance of my letters to Dr. M. being intercepted.]
Conformably to the canon, eight clergymen were nominated, out of which number I had the privilege of selecting five to be my judges. When called upon to make this selection, not having the names at hand, I informed Dr. M. that as I presumed them to be all equally impartial, I would take the first five on the list. Of this number Mr. Hobart was one. A few days after I had made the nomination, a respectable clergyman, whose name was on the list, called upon me, and with much concern and solemnity observed--that I deserved the fate which awaited me for having made so mad a choice; that he was aware of Mr. H's determination to ruin me if possible, and doubted not that his influence over the rest was such as to insure success. On my expressing a very natural surprise at this intelligence, he expressed no less at my ignorance, and added--I thought you must have known that Mr. H. was at the bottom of this business, and that your accusers are merely his agents, and following his instructions. For the first time, I now felt alarm: this information brought fully to my remembrance a circumstance that had occurred some time before. Being in company with several clergymen in Dr. B. Moore's study, I took that opportunity of requesting them to decide a difference of opinion which had arisen, between the Rev. Dr. W. Smith and myself, on a passage in the Revelation. A Greek testament was accordingly produced. As Mr. Hobart was the youngest person in the room, and the latest from college, I politely asked him to give his interpretation of the text. He, with an air of modest diffidence, begged leave to refer me to older and better scholars. Dr. B. Moore was then consulted; and I remember that his son, Mr. C. Moore, was finally called upon to decide. As we were leaving the house soon after in a body, a venerable clergyman arrested my arm, and intimated by gestures that he wished to speak to me in private. No sooner were we alone in the street, than with a countenance indicative of concern, he asked me, if I [25/26] were conscious of being a ruined man. I desired him to explain. Sir, says he, you have offended Mr. H. mortally, by asking him to translate a verse in the Greek testament: you have made him your enemy for ever. Having recovered from my alarm, and resumed an air of composure, I observed--that I had neither said nor done any thing to give offence to Mr. H.; that he did not appear to me to manifest any emotion; and that, were he ever so much disposed, it was not in his power to injure me. His reply was to this effect. Sir, you do not know that young man as well as I do: I watched the turn of his countenance when you presented the book to him; it indicated great displeasure: he has more influence, as well as more art, than you are aware of: you have made a powerful enemy; at some future day you will feel the weight of his resentment; and then, perhaps, you will recollect my prediction.
I should not have thought these incidents worthy of a place here, were it not that we are all of us conscious of a satisfaction, in being able to trace the motives for a man's conduct towards us; and had not Dr. H. himself, in his late defence, candidly admitted that these gentlemen's apprehensions were but too well founded; that he had, previously to my trial, entertained a violent dislike of me. He represents me as being, long before any one had presumed to arraign my character, 'a person who, he had reason to believe, was the most disposed of all men living to employ a charge to his disadvantage.' Now I publicly call on Dr. H. to assign that reason: I defy him, with all his ingenuity and experience in research, to state the slightest ground for that representation. Yes, I defy him, with all his numerous host of certificate-hunters, to produce one honest man who will declare, that either an angry word, or even an angry look, has ever passed between Mr. H. and myself; or that I have been heard to utter a single disrespectful thought of him, until his garbled account of my trial was shown to me, and I had heard of his employing his influence over Dr. B. Moore, to prevail on him to confirm the sentence recommended by himself. How could the man have made this unguarded avowal? O conscience, how bitter an enemy art thou to the character, as well as to the repose, of ungodly men!
 This amiable gentleman, who wants only to be universally known to be universally admired, 'to be acquainted with whom is always to esteem and love him,' full fraught with such feelings towards me as have now been described, deliberately sits down among my judges; undertakes to pronounce sentence on me; and (as if not contented with these means of wreaking his vengeance) grasps the pen of the reporter, and undertakes to draw up such a statement [* If any man, after reading that statement, will say that he understands it sufficiently to form an opinion on the case, he must possess more intuitive skill than any of my acquaintance. If Dr. B. M. read it before he pronounced sentence, (which I much doubt) I venture to believe that he understood no more of it, than before he had seen it.] of the proceedings as cannot fail of accomplishing his purpose. Here let me ask--What was the chance of my acquittal at such a tribunal? How, conformably to the practice observed in civil cases, consistently with any pretensions to decency, how could Mr. Hobart sit in judgement on a man, against whom (according to his own confession) he then, and long before had, entertained such violent and unfounded prejudices? The thing speaks for itself: it requires no comment: I shall therefore leave the simple fact to the consideration of my readers, and proceed to further particulars.
The court consisted of the Rev. Messrs. Beach, E. Cooper, Harris, Wilkins, and Hobart. Those who know how completely the last mentioned gentleman had, at this period, gained an ascendancy over all the ecclesiastical affairs, and over almost all the clergy, of this diocese, can be at no loss to conceive what influence he might have had over the decision of the rest. I am bound in charity to presume that each of them gave a consciencious vote: but I am no less bound to believe, (what I have been, told by a person possessing all the means of information,) that one of the judges, [* This gentleman, when asked how he could reconcile it to his conscience to punish with degradation a clergyman for his first offence, especially when it was known to him that no attempt had been made to reclaim the offender by milder methods, replied--I am in duty bound, Sir, to presume, that every method has been tried in vain: were I not to act on this presumption, I should tacitly upbraid the bishop with a shameful neglect of his duty. O tempora! O mores!] who had declared himself in favour of a [27/28] mild punishment, most unaccountably changed his opinion after a private interview with a certain influential gentleman; and that another, who had the honesty to judge for himself, and the fortitude to differ from the rest, was instantaneously denounced, and threatened with expulsion from every post of honour. [* This gentleman has been taught by experience, that an attempt to save the life of a drowning man is not unfrequently attended with hazard; and that compassion for an injured individual is a deadly sin.]
My accusers were Rev. Messrs. Jones and How, Bowden and Lyell. These men were despatched to scour my parish in search of complaints against me, and hunted most lovingly in couples. [* The association of Dr. Bowden with Mr. Lyell, for the purpose of running down a brother clergyman, is truly laughable. I know that the former always held his leash-fellow in sovereign contempt, and generally spoke of him in correspondent terms. The reader will not be offended, if I relieve the tedium of this narrative by the insertion of a little anecdote. I once mentioned to a number of clergymen assembled in Dr. B. Moore's study, my design of inviting Mr. Lyell to officiate for me on a particular occasion. Mr. Hobart expressed his surprise that I should pay the city clergymen so bad a compliment, as to exhibit Mr. Lyell as a sample of New-York eloquence. On my observing to him that I had understood Mr. L. to be a popular preacher--Sir, says Dr. Bowden, with no little indignation, have you not heard him preach? I answered, that I had never had an opportunity. Have you, continued he, never heard him read prayers? To this question I made the same reply. Have you, sir, never heard him talk? Yes; repeatedly. Then, sir, (rejoined the facetious doctor,) you are still left without excuse: for you must know that a man who cannot talk good English, cannot preach good English. But perhaps it will be said, that a man may be a very indifferent preacher, and yet perform the office of a terrier very satisfactorily. The propriety of the remark I am constrained to acknowledge, and stand corrected for my want of discernment.] In the course of their redoubtable excursion, they not only thrust themselves into the houses of persons who were not attached to my congregation, but they also behaved with so much indecency to several members of the church, as to give great offence, and even to excite disgust. Ladies have been heard to express astonishment how gentlemen, much more how clerical gentlemen, could depart so widely from the ordinary rules of good breeding: and the husband of another told me, within a few days, that judging from the representation [28/29] made to him by his wife, had he been at home when they came to his house, he certainly would have ordered them out of it. But my indignation must not transport me too far, in describing the particulars of this reverend chase: for what was to be expected from such men employed in such a mission?
[*This singular 'union of honest men;' this capricious association of Judases and Pilate to hunt down and immolate a solitary and unsuspecting individual, brings very forcibly to remembrance Dr. Young's animated description of the career and catastrophe of subtle, sly, and ambitious mortals.
"I hear the tumult of the distant throng,--
"Eager Ambition's fiery chase I see,
"I see the circling haunt of noisy men,
"Burst law's inclosure, leap the mounds of right;
"Pursuing and pursu'd, each other's prey;
"As wolves for rapine; as the fox, for wiles;
"Till Death, that mighty hunter, earths them all.]
How could I so soon have forgotten 'the silk purse and the sow's ear?' Our attention is rather drawn to the inquiry--Who sat behind the curtain, and pulled the wires which gave motion to the puppets? By what authority did these men do these things, and who gave them this authority? The answer is to be found in the undeviating conduct of that man who, for six years last past, has holden the reins of government in this diocese; who has permitted no official act to be performed without the sanction of his approval; who has stamped on Dr. B. Moore's administration the indelible mark of imbecility; and who has brought that once respectable name into such contempt, that Little Benjamin the ruler is now become proverbial. [* The instances of imbecility are numerous. Mr. Jones's appeal is a volume of evidence: it is there stated, among other things, that Bishop Moore was desirous of encouraging Mr. Gillet in his views to the ministry, and that Mr. Hobart had expressed a determination of standing up in the church, and objecting to the ordination, on the ground that the candidate was not a favourite. Dr. M. was therefore compelled to abandon his own opinion, and Mr. G. to relinquish his hope of obtaining orders. The case of Mr. G may be contrasted by another. Mr. G. underwent (as I have been credibly informed) a most honourable examination as to literary acquirements. Another gentleman, about the same time, who was aware of the only avenue by which he could gain access, was readily admitted into orders; although he even made no pretensions to learning, and although previously to his ordination he had, probably, never seen the book of common prayer, as appeared from his manner of reading the service on the following Sunday. He read the rubric, prayers, responses, and all. Risum teneatis?] [29/30] It has been incautiously admitted by Mr. Howe, that the plan of my persecution was devised in a caucus of the city-clergy. Who were the members of that reverend caucus I dare not venture to say; but if Mr. Hobart did not virtually preside, or if he did not at least express his full approbation of the measure, then let me bear the blame of groundless jealousy and suspicion for ever. [* Mr. Jones asserts, (and Mr. J. cannot be ignorant of any of the particulars,) that although 'Mr. H. was not immediately engaged in the business, yet it was a part of the same overbearing system, and was carried on by his coadjutors How and Lyell.' The testimony of one of the parties concerned is the best evidence that can be adduced.] Even Mr. Jones, who has at length evinced a lurking remnant of a spirit of independence, would no more have dared, at the period now spoken of, to engage in an act of so much importance as the prosecution of a clergyman, without the concurrence of Dr. Hobart, than he now dares to disclose all that he further knows on the subject.
During the trial, my prosecutors evinced the same spirit which had urged them in their chase through Brooklyn. They industriously took notes, although they remarked that I took none; they put irrelative questions to the witnesses; misrepresented their answers; strove to make them speak what they did not mean; and in their eagerness to substantiate any thing like guilt, pressed their interrogatories with such a disregard of all order, that on my inquiring of the president, at a particular juncture, what charge was then before the board, he candidly confessed that he could not tell; but presumed that 'it would all come to the same thing in the end.' The good president, I doubt not, was sincere in giving his opinion; and the event proves that he was correct in his calculation. One act of outrage committed on this occasion called forth all my indignation, and the recital of it can scarce fail to excite similar emotion in the breast of every reader. Near 10 o'clock at night, when I expected the court to adjourn, one of the prosecutors moved that a compulsory process should be issued against me by the board; the avowed object of which was, forcibly to detain me all night in New-York, although my family in Brooklyn were ignorant of the cause of my absence, nor had I [30/31] the means of conveying information to them. Had I not treated the motion with contempt, or rather had I not expressed my determination to resist any offer of violence, I have no doubt that I should have been committed to the custody of the sexton, and been lodged for safe keeping, all night, in the belfry of Trinity church. 'Tantaene animis coelestibus irae?'
Before the report of the judges had been seen by Dr. B. Moore, (as he informed me) I waited upon him in consequence of what I conceived to be an important discovery. He received me with his usual affability. I asked him if he had any objection, before he pronounced sentence, to hear what I might have to say in my defence; adding, that one of the witnesses was desirous of correcting a certain part of his testimony, and that the solicited indulgence would be no departure from the general usage in parallel cases. He assured me, without hesitation, that he cheerfully acceded to my proposal; that it would give him pleasure to hear my defence; and that he would send for me for that purpose. Let the reader judge, if possible, of my astonishment, when I inform him that within two or three days after this interview and assurance, my sentence was abruptly announced to me by an open printed letter from Dr. M. directed to John Ireland, Brooklyn; and let them judge (but this is scarcely possible) of the agony of my daughter, a young girl of sensibility, who had heard nothing of the proceedings against me, who had received this letter from the hands of a servant, and who, supposing herself authorized to look at the contents of an unsealed printed paper, thus obtained the first intelligence of her father's disgrace. Whenever this instance of Right Reverend brutality is brought across my recollection, I confess that it is not without infinite difficulty that I can suppress the curse which rises to my tongue. For, is it within the compass of human ingenuity to devise any thing in palliation of such an act of atrocity? Is not the veriest wretch at the bar of civil justice treated with more lenity? Is not the sentence of death communicated to him in a manner less offensive and shocking? Would it not be an affront to any of the tribes of savages, to suppose an individual among them capable of so mean, so unmanly, so dastardly, so cruel, an outrage? [31/32] Was it not enough for those reverend inquisitors to pour on the head of their devoted victim the most severe punishment that it was in their power to inflict? Or was it deemed necessary to add insult to severity, and to give the sufferer a four-fold pang, by stabbing the feelings of his unoffending family? This act of wanton barbarity derives no small aggravation, from my experience of Dr. M.'s keen sensibility in a case which concerned himself. That gentleman cannot misconceive my meaning: he cannot have forgotten the letter which I addressed to him at the earnest request of his particular friend, who had witnessed the freedom which certain females were then taking with the doctor's character, and which his friend was solicitous to arrest: he cannot have forgotten how severely he reprehended my indiscretion, in committing so delicate an affair even to a sealed paper; nor how he shuddered at the recollection that one of his family might have broken the seal in his absence. Alas, how are the mighty fallen! How 'tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis!' Were I disposed to follow the dictate of a vindictive spirit, I might enlarge on this subject: but I take no delight in the writhings and convulsions of innocence; and a wife and a child have nothing to apprehend from my resentment of the husband's and the father's crimes. While, however, I assume some credit for forbearance, I candidly confess that never in my life have I experienced so much reluctance to forgive any injury as this. The recollection of it never fails to produce on me an effect resembling suffocation; so sure as a sacramental occasion occurs, my heart within me dies at the remembrance of this outrage, imperfectly forgiven: and I solemnly declare, that all the effects of my pretended degradation have never occasioned me half so much uneasiness, as this single circumstance attending its annunciation. Had it been an open enemy, a Hobart or a How, who had done me this dishonour, then (I think) I could have borne it: but it was "Thou, my companion, my guide, and mine own familiar friend!" [* During seventeen years had Dr. M. been my 'Fidus Achates'? The most unbounded confidence and friendship had subsisted between us. The remembrance of days that are gone, never to return calls from me an act of justice to his character so far as to say, that were it not for the vile arts of sycophants and supplanters, had he been left free to follow the mandates of his own inclination and judgement, our friendship would have remained undiminished to this day.] [32/33] The reader will permit me to drop here this agonizing subject; and will remember (should he hereafter be disposed to upbraid me with intemperance of expression) the extent of this provocation.
Immediately after my sentence had been communicated in the singular manner above related, I wrote to Dr. M. a request that he would furnish me with a copy of the charges of which I had been found guilty; that he would inform me, whether the sentence operated to my exclusion from the sacramental table; and if so, what penance the discipline of the church required in order to my restoration to Christian privileges. No answer was vouchsafed. After a long lapse of time I repeated this modest request; and represented to Dr. M. that my character was suffering severely from his refusal to comply; that owing to the misconception of some, and to the misrepresentations of others, [* Some of my malicious enemies incessantly insinuated, that a vast variety of charges had been exhibited against me: but that a selection had been made of such as would suffice "to do my business." Thus was the tongue of calumny loosed, and licensed to rove unrestrained through the wide field of conjectural crimes.] I had been suspected, and was still lying under the suspicion of, various enormities, such as Sabbath breaking, forgery, and even treason; [* It was currently reported, among other things, that I had obtained an estate by forging a codicil to a will; and that I had been engaged with Col. Burr in designs of a treasonable nature.] and that I was unjustly deprived by his cruel silence of the means of refuting these calumnies. All my importunities proved unavailing: Dr. M. pertinaciously adhered to his resolution of refusing this act of justice, and the reports so injurious to my reputation were daily gaining ground. At length, determined not to bear this load of unmerited abuse, I addressed myself to Dr. Beach for the information which Dr. Moore withheld. That gentleman was soon made sensible of the injurious treatment which I had undergone, reprobated the conduct of Dr. M. in refusing to do an act of common justice, and engaged to obtain, so far as it was in his power, a redress of my grievances. Thus, through the intervention of Dr. Beach, after a lapse of almost twelve months, was I made acquainted for the first time with the charges [33/34] for which I had been condemned and executed. [* The document, containing the list of charges of which I had been pronounced guilty, is in the hand-writing of Mr. Hobart: he would not trust Dr. M. with the management of so difficult an affair, as furnishing a copy.] Do the annals of civilized man exhibit a case parallel to this?
About this period I obtained certain information, which determined me to present a memorial. Mr. Howe indeed would persuade us that "a clamour was raised; very threatening language was employed; anonymous letters of a most scurrilous nature were written to the bishop; and it was plainly declared that compulsory measures would be taken to produce a reversal of the sentence pronounced upon me:" and he seems to intimate that Mr. Jones had an agency in these violent proceedings. As Mr. Howe has been detected in making very erroneous statements of facts, after having premised "that his recollection of the circumstances was distinct and clear," we are bound to receive his assertion on this subject, as well as on others, with extreme reserve. My mode of interpreting this good gentleman's language is precisely such as certain elderly ladies practise in explaining their dreams. That such steps as Mr. H. describes should have been taken, in my behalf, without my concurrence and even without my knowledge, is truly singular: and, that they actually were taken (at least to the extent here mentioned) I must be permitted to doubt, until I am furnished with further and better testimony. And yet I can assure Mr. H. that it would give me no very great mortification to be compelled to believe him, and to discover that I had such warm and active friends. But, be this as it may, I give my readers the solemn declaration of a man, whose veracity has not hitherto been disputed, that until the fiery tail of Dr. Hobart's inflammatory pamphlet spread the alarm far and wide, I had never heard of any clamour, or threatening language, or anonymous letters, or compulsory measures; and that I have had no communication with Mr. Jones, either directly or indirectly, since my mock trial. Whether the following letter and memorial fall under any of the foregoing descriptions, let the reader now decide.
 RT. REV. SIR,
The inclosed memorial has been seen and approved by several gentlemen of the first respectability, both of the pulpit and bar. Were I at liberty to address you with that freedom in which you formerly indulged me, nothing could be more easy than to convince you of the propriety and necessity of your early attention to this business: many circumstances are known to me, which are studiously concealed from you. I take the liberty, however, of suggesting--that no harm can, and much good may, result from the proposed revisal. If the sentence should prove to be improperly founded, it ought, in justice, to be reversed: if otherwise, the proceedings will be confirmed, the public will be satisfied, the suspicion of tyranny and oppression will be removed, and the reputation of your own administration established.
I am, &c.
Your real Friend,
And humble Servant, JOHN IRELAND.
To the Right Rev. Dr. Moore, Bishop of the
Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of New-York.
YOUR Memorialist begs leave, in the most respectful manner, to represent to you as head of the church in this diocese, that the late trial of your memorialist, in conjunction with certain circumstances preceding, attending, and resulting from it, has excited no small portion of surprise and regret in the minds of many; and that humanity, justice, the interests of the christian religion in general, and the welfare of the P. E. church in particular, point to the propriety and necessity of a revisal of said trial.
At the close of his defence, after having candidly confessed the only fault of which he was conscious, your memorialist assured his judges, that if they should deem it necessary further to humble a penitent offender and to break the bruised reed, they would find in your memorialist no refractory victim; that he should wrap himself in the mantle of resignation, and receive without a struggle [35/36] the falling blow. Hitherto he has literally adhered to his assurance: altho' for many, many long months his reputation has lain bleeding at every pore; altho' the busy tongue of calumny has attempted to fasten on him every crime in the black catalogue of enormities; altho' the means of refuting such aspersions have been withholden from him; altho' he applied in vain for a knowledge of the charges of which he had been found guilty, and for which he had been condemned and executed; altho' he had repeatedly been urged to appeal to the civil authority for a redress of his grievances, and had even been assured of success; still none of these things moved him, not a murmur escaped his lips. Viewing his sufferings as a dispensation of heaven, designed to promote some unseen but salutary purpose, he has humbly bowed his neck to the awful stroke, nor once dared to arraign the wisdom of providence. But considerations of the first importance, unconnected with selfish motives, have at length induced him to break silence, and to request that an early examination of the late proceedings against him may be instituted. Still zealously attached to that church, in whose doctrines he has always firmly believed, and in whose communion he hopes to die, your memorialist can not with indifference observe her pretensions ridiculed, her ministers charged with inquisitorial tyranny and ecclesiastical murder, her dearest interests exposed to hazard, and her downfall in this state triumphantly anticipated. Her enemies exultingly demand--Can that be the genuine christian church, which in the exercise of discipline overlooks a plain positive apostolical direction; and which proceeds against a supposed delinquent (as in the case of your memorialist) in a manner unparalleled in the annals of any church? And many of her friends, including both clergymen and laymen of the first respectability, entertain very serious doubts whether, in the late proceedings against your memorialist, all things were done with decency and in order; whether they were not done in violation of the articles, and canons; whether any clergyman can deem himself secure, so long as persons are instructed, or even permitted, (as in the case of your memorialist) to search his parish from house to house for subjects of complaint; whether the case of your memorialist required such an exhibition of judgement without [36/37] mercy; and whether a precedent thus established will not deter men of sensibility and independent minds from entering into the church, and especially from settling in this diocese. Many other important considerations might be adduced, all tending to shew the propriety of a revisal of the proceedings against your memorialist, to be instituted before a tribunal composed of clergymen of years, experience, wisdom, moderation, and long standing in the church.
As to himself, altho' your memorialist has long groaned under the weight of a burden too heavy to be borne, yet personal considerations alone would never have drawn from him the present remonstrance. Should, however, the ecclesiastical authority judge it proper to direct the revisal now solicited, your memorialist presumes to think it possible, that he will be found to be less culpable than he has hitherto appeared. It is a fact, already in the knowledge of the bishop, that a very important part of the testimony advanced against your memorialist is voluntarily acknowledged, by the witness himself, to be erroneous; Although said witness believed, at the time of trial, that he asserted nothing but the truth, yet a subsequent enquiry into particulars has enabled him to discover his error, of which he now laments the sad effects. A charge, of which your memorialist has been pronounced guilty, was contradicted by the positive written testimony of the Rev. Mr. Feltus, deposited in the hands of the court. Another charge, of which your memorialist was adjudged to be guilty, was not supported by the requisite number of witnesses. In short, a gentleman of considerable experience in judicial proceedings who was present during the whole trial, hesitates not to declare--that not a single charge exhibited against your memorialist would have been considered, in an ordinary court of justice, as substanciated; and that the beauty and utility of civil procedure were never more strikingly displayed, than by the contrast shewn on that occasion.
If these facts (and others can be adduced, if necessary) should not be thought unimportant, it is further possible that your memorialist may be considered as having already undergone a sufficient punishment for his offence; that his sentence may be mitigated, if not reversed; and even that he may be restored to his former station in the [37/38] church. Were the sufferings, which he has hitherto borne in silence, capable of being represented, they would make his bitterest enemies desirous of being at peace with him, and constrain them to cry out--let this suffice, it is enough. Your memorialist will ever have to regret, that an attempt was not made to reclaim an accused brother, conformably to the good old scriptural practice, by expostulation, by admonition, by reproof. Such a christian procedure he had a right to expect from his christian brethren: and it would have put from him that bitter cup, of which he has been cruelly compelled to drink to the dregs. He is willing and anxious to make every proper atonement and reparation that the case may require. He solicits no cure: he has long since declined the acceptance of any. He is the opponent of no man, the rival of no man: his only wish on this side of the grave is--to be restored to the bosom of the church, to the esteem and confidence of his former brethren, to that rank which he lately held in society. He can deliberately appeal to the Searcher of hearts for the truth of his assertion, that since his admittance into holy orders, he has not lived in the wilful habit of any known sin, nor in the wilful neglect of any known duty. Once, indeed, he was betrayed into the fault of speaking unadvisedly with his lips, on an occasion when he conceived insult to have been heaped on actual outrage. He thought, at the moment of provocation, that he did well to be angry; but it is known that he has since lamented his indiscretion in sackcloth and ashes, and that he took the earliest opportunity of reconciling himself to the offended party. If such evidences of contrition, if floods of unfeigned tears, cannot obtain for him the forgiveness of men of like passions with himself, he must live and die in the humble trust that they will not be unavailing with a merciful God.
I have been in the habit of thinking, that this memorial was couched in terms as respectful as could be expected from me under existing circumstances: and I authorised two clergymen to assure Dr. M. that if he acceded to my proposal, and if the sentence should be confirmed by the second tribunal, not a word expressive of complaint should ever again be heard to escape from my lips. Dr. M. was further informed, that in order to expedite [38/39] and facilitate the proposed re-hearing, I was content that there should be no new examination of witnesses; but that the testimony as it then stood stated (although I had not seen it) should be admitted, and laid before the new board. Is this clamorous, or threatening, or scurrilous language? Is this an adoption of compulsory measures? Had I indeed resorted to such measures, I should have done no more than what my duty to myself, my family, and my friends demanded: but then I should have failed, perhaps, in another duty which seemed to be imposed upon me--the sacrifice of my own feelings to the church's peace.
To this memorial such as it is, Dr. M. replied--"that no provision was made by the canon for the proposed revisal, and that he did not conceive it proper to take the subject again into consideration." The alleged deficiency of the canon, in a particular which I judged to be of no small importance, determined me to address the approaching convention on this subject. My address was hastily prepared, and confided to Rev. Dr. R. C. Moore, who returned it to me unopened, after the session had closed, with the following letter. I have taken the liberty of giving publicity to this letter, without consulting the writer, because he is known to be one of those who were anxious that justice should be done to an oppressed individual; because he may therefore be suspected of having employed clamorous, threatening, scurrilous language in my behalf; because I wish my readers to see what is the tenour of his addresses, when he accosts me without disguise or reserve; because this letter is in perfect correspondence with all his conversations on this subject; and because I think it will redound to his credit, as a christian and as a clergyman.
New-York, Oct. 4, 1810.
Animated by a sincere desire to promote your happiness, by those efforts, which friendship and prudence mutually suggest, I have taken the liberty to withhold from the convention the letter which you enclosed to my care.
Had I been made acquainted with the contents of it, perhaps, I should have pursued a different course: but as [39/40] I felt an apprehension, that the sentiments which it may contain, might have injured your own cause, I could not refrain from keeping it in my pocket, and returning it to you.
I indulge a hope, that by judicious management, the situation in which you are at present placed, may change its aspect; and that you may be restored to the church. Of my friendship you may rest assured: and you may rely, that the moment a favourable opportunity shall present, every exertion, within the limits of my christian duty, shall be made in your behalf. With sincere regard, I remain Dear Sir,
Your friend and Brother
RICHARD CHANNING MOORE.
Rev. JNO. IRELAND, Brooklyn.
Had Dr. R. Moore been made acquainted with the contents of this address, I flatter myself that he would (as he intimates) have presented it to the convention and I think too, had he done so, that so judicious a body of men (assembled for the express purpose of directing the concerns of the church) would have taken the case into consideration. But I blame him not: the fault is exclusively mine, in not leaving the address unsealed for his inspection.
The rash step taken by me, in detailing (at Dr. Hobart's own request) the substance of a conversation between us, and the crime of having since sworn to the truth, have called down the implacable resentment of that gentleman and his myrmidons. The rank to which he is now elevated in the church, and the additional influence which this elevation gives him in the diocese, can scarce fail to frustrate all my hopes of redress from a convention in this state. Where is the clergyman who does not already stand pledged to support his new bishop, and to crush all those on whom he may frown? What is the probability of success, were I to apply to men who have already dared to assert--"that they would not believe the oath of any man, or of any number of men, if contradicted by Dr. Hobart?" Such an assertion may, indeed, evince the unbounded confidence which they [40/41] have in their leader, and may be to him an acceptable return for favours conferred: but I strongly suspect that a general execration will follow the avowal of such a sentiment, and its authors be disgraced in the public esteem. Does Dr. Hobart stand clothed with such Vatican importance, is he invested with such Papal infallibility that his ipse dixit is to be the standard of truth? Is every man, whom he may contradict, to be denounced as infamous, and unworthy of credit? Are we arrived at such a state of things that the bare denial of an individual is to supersede the most solemn act that has hitherto been devised for the discovery of truth? What must be the condition of society, when the oaths of any number of men, of men whose character for veracity has never been impeached, are to be prostrated by the simple contradiction of the party accused? And what (I repeat it) is the probability of obtaining justice from persons who maintain such a sentiment. [* Some of my readers will be disposed to doubt, whether I may not have been misled on this occasion by the representation of others: but I most solemnly declare that I heard the sweeping declaration, above recited in Italics, uttered and repeated by the Rev. Seth Hart, the sapient author of a bombastic certificate in Dr. Hobart's defence. I should not have noticed his rash assertion here, had I not previously invited him to retract, or at least to modify it. His refusal to do either, his indirect attempt thus to fasten on Mr. Warner and my self the charge of perjury, will justify me in giving publicity to such a wanton, unprovoked act of outrage. I feel this injury more acutely, because Mr. H. lies under repeated obligations to me. His practice of borrowing manuscript sermons, by hundreds, is not confined to N. York: he has preached (if I may believe the testimony of his own handwriting) several of my own; and it is not easy to conceive how he has so suddenly changed his opinion of the moral character of one, whose divinity he so lately inculcated from the pulpit. But I am resolved to shew--"wretch as I am, and unworthy of the least countenance"--that I yet possess some remains of christian temper, and can return good for evil: I therefore take this opportunity of informing my readers, that although Mr. H. has acquired no great share of celebrity as a manufacturer of sermons, yet no clergyman in the diocese makes more or better whisk-brooms. Members of the church will doubtless give the preference to this utensil when fabricated and sold by one of their own clergy: and they are now informed that they can be accommodated, at the shortest notice, with any number of genuine, clerical, ecclesiastical brooms, on application at the parsonage. N. Hempstead, Long Island.] This consideration [41/42] has induced me to lay before my readers, verbatim et literatim, the address which I prepared to present to the convention: a perusal of it will shew the state of my feelings at the time of enditing it, and likewise serve to disclose certain particulars which ought to be made known.
Rev. and Respected Gentlemen,
Twelve months ago the sentence of my degradation was officially announced to you. During that lapse of time, I have taken no inconsiderable pains to examine my own heart, and to obtain the opinions of others, on this awful subject. The result is--that I now make a solemn appeal to you from that sentence.
Concious that I am actuated by no unworthy motives; recollecting that every person, with whom I have conversed on this subject, whether clergyman or layman, has spoken of the proceedings against me in terms of reprehension more or less severe; recollecting also that I have received assurance from many others, both in and out of the diocese, that similar sentiments appear generally to prevail; I confess that I make this appeal to you with, no small degree of confidence.
You would not be troubled with an application of this nature, did any other mode of redress present itself. In all well ordered societies it is presumed that no grievance is permitted to exist without a remedy. In the case now before you, where can the party, conceiving himself to be aggrieved, apply for redress, unless to your venerable tribunal? The house of bishops has decided that they are not authorised to take cognizance of any official act of an individual bishop; and the Rt. Rev. Dr. Moore, in reply to my application for a revisal of the proceedings against me, observes that he could not comply with my request, because there existed no canon to authorise such a procedure. Nothing more, therefore, is wanting in the present and similar cases, than your canonical appointment of a second and higher tribunal, at which the party, conceiving himself to be aggrieved, may seek redress. In cases of a civil nature, when the property of an individual is concerned, if he conceive himself to be injured by the decision of an inferiour court, he has the privilege of referring his cause to a superior [42/43] tribunal. And shall a clergyman, whose whole property lies within the narrow compass of a fair name; shall he, at a single stroke, be deprived of the means of supporting himself and family, be doomed to endless ignominy, and this too at a period of life incapacitating him for engaging in any new pursuits; shall all this take place without the possibility of even making an appeal? Forbid it, mercy! Forbid it, justice!
It may be urged that I can find my remedy in a civil action. Of this I grant that I have the most satisfactory assurance: but I can not prevail on myself to resort to so painful an expedient, until every proper application to the authority of the church shall have failed. My respect for the institutions of christianity, and especially for that religious society to which I have been attached for almost half a century, will not permit me wantonly to expose to its enemies the manner in which its discipline has lately been administered in that society.
A case, similar to my own, will probably occur at no very distant period. Among those who hear this address there are some already lying under the ban of denunciation: and the most venerable name in the diocese is on the list of proscription. There are among you persons who understand and can explain this intimation. Whatever therefore may be the issue of this application for myself, may mercy incline you to apply a timely remedy, in behalf of those who may hereafter fall under the same condemnation!
My principal reasons for making this appeal to you are detailed in my late memorial; a copy of which is inclosed, and which I request may be read in this place.
Many other forceful reasons may be assigned, but they are at present withholden, from a conviction that enough has already been advanced in favour of my appeal. One circumstance, however, ought not to be omitted here:--some time after my sentence had been promulgated, the gentleman who presided at my trial assured me that if I had made a timely submission, (but he did not say to whom such submission was to have been made) the proceedings against me would have been stayed. As it was [43/44] impossible for me to have known the fact: as it was impossible for me to have foreseen that a bishop would solemnly nominate my judges, apoint the time and place of my trial, and then permit the proceedings to be dropped in case of my submission, I expressed my surprise, how a professor of peace and good will toward men could withhold from a brother a communication so highly important to his welfare. His reply was--"that he had not an opportunity of informing me, as he seldom saw me." The bishop, a few days afterwards, confirmed the assertion of the above mentioned gentleman: but on my again complaining of the great injury and wrong thus done unto me, he qualified his observation by saying--that it was merely his own opinion that the proceedings might have been stayed. Thus were my future prospects in life, the present means of supporting myself and family, and with them my dearer reputation, prostrated by the want of a timely hint from a christian brother.
To you, gentlemen of the clerical order, I address myself in an especial manner. I request you to make my case your own, and to attend to the following facts.
It is a fact, that the first intimation of any thing being in agitation against me, was contained in the bishop's letter to me, nominating the judges, and the time and place of my trial.
It is a fact, that previously to such intimation, my accusers had repeatedly been in my parish in search of subjects of accusation against me, and had repeatedly passed my door.
It is a fact, that in conducting said search, they did not confine themselves to the houses of episcopalians, but made enquiries among others of various denominations.
It is a fact, that in making those enquiries they betrayed such a want of common decorum, as to excite the surprise and provoke the indignation of several respectable ladies.
It is a fact, that they conducted the prosecution against me with a degree of virulence, ill comporting with the character of christian ministers: they even moved the court to issue a compulsory process, to detain me in town [44/45] after a very late hour of the night, although my family could not have been able to account for my absence.
It is a fact, that no attempt was ever made, by any clergyman, to reclaim me, by expostulation, admonition, reproof, threat, or any other means.
It is a fact, that one of my judges subscribed the sentence of degradation, on the avowed conclusion that all attempts to reclaim me had previously been made in vain.
It is a fact, that another of my judges voted for a punishment more severe than he thought to be due, on the expectation (if not the assurance) that another of the judges would unite with him in said vote, and thereby prevent a less dreadful sentence.
It is a fact, that the benevolent gentleman above alluded to, has unequivocally expressed his dissatisfaction with the beginning, continuation, and end of the proceedings; and has declared to some of his brethren in my presence, that if I could succeed in my application for redress it would be a triumph to him.
It is a fact, that the sentence of my degradation was announced to my family in a most indelicate and even barbarous manner, by an open printed letter delivered to my daughter.
It is a fact, that I have been wantonly persecuted beyond the requisitions of the canon: my degradation having been announced in a certain vehicle of intelligence, with the malicious design of stabbing the feelings of my relations and friends in a distant part of the world.
It is a fact, that I have been condemned for offences, of which no ecclesiastical court can take cognizance; and of the nature of which offences such a court is (in the opinion of the best civilians and divines) incompetent to judge.
It is a fact, that the statement of the proceedings at my trial is (to say the least of it) an unfair representation.
It is a fact, that others, known by the bishop, by my judges, and by my accusers, to be equally deserving of [45/46] ecclesiastical censure, have been treated with a degree of lenity and forbearance, to which the rigorous proceedings against myself exhibit an alarming and disgraceful contrast.
It is a fact, that a canonist of the first distinction in the church has decided--that to resort at once to the degradation of a clergyman, without previous attempts to retrieve him, is an antichristian, unjustifiable procedure: he compares it to a parent's disinheriting his child for the first offence.
I could enumerate many other facts, known to some of your venerable body, and all of equal importance with those preceding: but at present I forbear. A severe indisposition incapacitates me alike for thinking and writing: enough however has already been said (I presume) to awaken your sensibility to my grievances, and to guide you to certain inferences. Reflecting that I am addressing a body of men zealously devoted to the interest of the church, solicitous for the reputation of its administration, tenacious of their own religious and civil privileges, and eager to do justice to others, I repose with trembling confidence on your decision.
But whatever may be the fate of this application, I earnestly entreat you, gentlemen both of the clergy and of the laity, that no censure may be attached to any of those members of your body, who may be suspected of entertaining a friendship for me. I solemnly aver that there exists not an individual who has seen, or heard, a word of this address. If I must fall irremediably, in the names of mercy and justice let me fall alone! God, who knows my heart, knows that I wish for no companions in unmerited disgrace and intolerable misery.
With unbounded respect I am
Your much injured and much afflicted servant,
Brooklyn, October 1, 1810.
 As it is doubtful whether I shall, under the present reign of terror, trouble the state convention with my complaints; and as it is probable that many persons have been led by reports to entertain opinions prejudicial to my character; justice to myself (as well as to those who still retain a friendship for me) impels me to trouble my readers with a few further observations on the charges lately exhibited against me.
The first charge was for loaning money on usurious interest. To this charge I peremptorly refused to plead, and protested against the authority of any spiritual court to take cognizance of the alleged offence, until it had been previously established by a civil tribunal. I am no lawyer: but with all due deference for the decisions of such great men as counsellors Lyell, How and Co. I have the best authority for saying, that the transactions alluded to at my trial were not of an usurious nature; and that the highest legal tribunal in the state has repeatedly so decided. [* If any gentlemen, who may feel an interest either in the decision of the board or in my reputation, will take the trouble of making himself acquainted with all the particulars of the case, I am prepared to give him every requisite information.] The unblushing Mr. How asserts that I was in the avowed practice of usury: and Dr. Hobart with equal effrontery maintains that I not only acknowledged it in my defence, but also endeavoured completely to justify it. Those who can digest every thing advanced by this "par nobile fratrum" must be at a loss to decide, whether knavery or folly be the predominant ingredient in my character: but those who know me know, that I am alike incapable of violating a law of my country, and of justifying the commission of any forbidden act. What these reverend slanderers have been pleased to denominate an avowal, an acknowledgement, and a justification, is one short extract from a learned commentator, and a second from Dr. Hicks on the dignity of the christian priesthood. These extracts were read by me in the following words, and were the only authorities which I quoted.
"The law of usury seems to have been peculiar to the 'Jewish state and nation, and to have respected the condition [47/48] of the borrower: that is, whether poverty occasioned his borrowing, or a visible prospect of gain by employing the money borrowed'.
Dr. Hicks anticipates the following objection to a position previously laid down by him:-- 'The argument in favour of spiritual jurisdiction will give to the clergy the cognisance of all causes, even of rebellion; and subject all causes, public and private, to their determination'. Answer--'This is as false, as it is invidious: for the church hath always disclaimed and renounced all right to hear or try causes of civil cognizance, as not belonging to her tribunals and authority. The church, although it is in the world, yet is not of the world; and her governors, as such, have nothing to do with worldly suits and trials; nor as such, can they judge of right and wrong in public or private capacities, except in case of notoriety of fact, which require neither witnesses nor proof. The church hath power, after the criminal's trial, when the proof was certain and undoubted, to bring him by the terrour of her censures to repentance.' [* Mr. How, with that imposing air of confidence which characterizes the man, pledged his honour to the court to prove, that no such sentiment was to be found in the author quoted by me. This, from one who most probably had never heard of such an author, was rather a dashing undertaking. It is scarce necessary to add, that his pledge remains unredeemed. Does he think it not worth redeeming?]
This is a doctrine to which no good churchman can be opposed: and this (I believe) will be the concurrent testimony of every sound divine and civilian who may be consulted on the subject. "Laws" (says Dr. Witherspoon) "regarding things which are arbitrary in themselves, are mutable; and there is no morality in them, but what arises from the present utility." One of our own judges [* De Witt Clinton Esqr. Mayor of N. York.] lately delivered a similar opinion to a jury:--"The object of spiritual tribunals is not crimes against municipal laws." A celebrated British writer [* Rev. Dr. Burn] on ecclesiastical law confirms this decision:--"When the issue of a matter" (says he) depending in a spiritual court is to be determined or influenced by any statute, a prohibition lieth. The reason [48/49] is, because the temporal judges have the interpretation of all statutes, whether they concern temporal matters or spiritual: not only all statutes whatever are to be interpreted by the temporal courts, but when a statute is made, giving remedy in a matter of ecclesiastical cognizance, the very making of such statute doth ipso facto take the right of jurisdiction from the spiritual court, and transfer it to the temporal." In the case of archbishop Bancroft, the decision of the judges was--"that none may pursue in the ecclesiastical court, for that which the king's court ought to hold plea of: but upon information thereof given to the king's court, either by the plaintiff or by any mere stranger, they are to be prohibited; because they deal in that which appertaineth not to their jurisdiction." The same thing was declared and adjudged in the court of King's bench, in the case of Worts and Clyston. No fact can indeed be more firmly established, than that in G. Britain the only subjects of spiritual cognizance are such things as are "mala in se;" and that things which are denominated "male prohibita" belong exclusively to tribunals of another description. That usury is "malum prohibitum," and not "malum in se" is obvious to every understanding: the statute against it is merely a municipal regulation, temporary, and mutable: whereas the nature of things which are "mala in se" is unalterably, irrevocably fixed by God himself. Were it necessary to conviction to dwell longer on this topic, I might detail the particulars of a case on the British records, of a clergyman who by royal mandamus was presented for consecration; who was rejected by the bishops on the ground of being charged with usurious practices; but whom they were afterwards compelled to consecrate, upon a legal decision that a charge of usury did not come within the sphere of their jurisdiction. But the case is too clear to require either comment or proof: if spiritual courts are permitted to interpret any one statute, to assign its boundaries, to inflict penalties under its sanction, why may not every statute in the book be equally subjected to their decision? why may not a bench of clergymen, composed of such men as Lyell, Bowden, How, [49/50] Hart &c. summon any layman of the church to appear before them, try him for treason, convict and punish him under the statute? Are my fellow citizens prepared to consent to establish such "imperium in imperio," such "Curiam in curia"? are these violations of decency and order to be tolerated, under a government which professes to secure to every subject the protection of his civil rights? "Ne sutor ultra crepidam."
The second charge of which I was found guilty was, for refusing to deliver up the communion-plate, the church-books, and the church-monies. This charge makes a most formidable figure at the first glance; but when stripped of the ghastful garb in which art and malice have clothed it, the spectre will appear less terrific. Most unfortunately for my accusers, the article of the communion-plate was no sooner mentioned, than, it was discovered that there was some little mistake: the witnesses declared that I had given up the plate at the first demand; and the accusers humbly begged permission to expunge that part of the charge. But the mean device of dignifying a memorandum-book with the title of "the church-books," deserves to be particularly noticed and exposed: for by this ingenious contrivance many persons were led to conclude, and many do still believe, that I kept forcible possession of the bible and prayer-book employed in the public performance of divine service: whereas "the church books" in question consisted exclusively of a single register, in which I was in the practice (as I presume all clergy men are) of inserting memoranda of transactions relating to the church. I therein noted, among other things, the sums which from time to time were collected at the administration of the communion, and of the mode in which such sums were distributed among poor communicants, &c. [* One of the witnesses stated at my trial, that I never gave to the vestry any account of the expenditures of church money. This statement had no more connection with the charge then before the court, than if he had declared that I never frequented the theatre: yet Dr. Hobart took good care to insert it among the proceedings. When I afterwards interrogated the same witness, he readily replied--I remember well that Mr. I. brought his register to a vestry-meeting, for the express purpose of exhibiting his accounts. But as this part of the testimony did not go to the establishment of any guilt, it was very naturally suppressed by the judicious reporter.] This important book was never [50/51] for a moment withholden from the use of my successor: he could (and did) command it whenever wanted: it was in his possession at the time of my trial, and has been ever since. When I surrendered it to him, I merely reserved to myself the right of reclaiming it, should it ever be wanted for my exculpation. Of this fact the court were in full possession; and the Rev. Mr. Feltus stands ready to confirm it, if necessary, by his oath.
The monies, which I was accused of detaining, must be considered as embracing two distinct sums. The principal sum was the balance of communion money in my hands at the period of resigning my cure. When the committee called on me for a settlement of accounts, I produced my register, exhibited the items of sums received and paid and stated the exact balance, which I assured them should be immediately deposited with their new rector, conformably to the canon. [* It is true that I might (and perhaps ought to) have settled all accounts with the vestry, as soon as I resigned. But as I was not called upon until my successor had been chosen, and as a balance of salary was still due to me, I did not regard such a settlement as a duty of imperious necessity. After the new rector had been chosen, I conceived (and I still do conceive) that he was the only proper person to receive from me the balance of communion money, agreeably to an order of the convention.] The committee have indeed said, that I promised to make the deposit so soon as "'the rector should be inducted:" but I take the liberty of declaring that this is a misrepresentation of my language: that I never mentioned induction, that I never thought of induction. In proof of this, when a member of the vestry enquired of me, whether Rev. Mr. Feltus could be considered as their rector until he had been inducted, I replied (as he well remembers) that were he never to be inducted, still I presumed that the law would recognize him as such, altho the convention would not; and that it was enough for me to know that he had been chosen by the vestry to succeed me. In further proof, I actually made a tender of this money to Mr. Feltus, long before he was inducted. Mr. Feltus's certificate to this effect (the whole of which was written as well as signed by himself) was read by me to the court, and then deposited with them, at their own demand, for insertion among their proceedings. Dr. Hobart, however, took [51/52] special care that this important document should never appear again.
The remaining money which I was accused of detaining was, a sum to me unknown, denominated in the record 'burial money.' Whether it amounted to ten, one hundred, or one thousand dollars, is an irrelevant circumstance: the indecency of drawing on me a written order for any amount, until it had been ascertained whether the demand were just or not, must be sufficiently apparent. This indecent demand I resisted: and I am persuaded that any clergyman would have resisted it in terms expressive of equal indignation; especially when it is recollected, that one of the persons who presented the demand had this very money in his own pocket. The two persons who called on me have stated, 'that they only wanted the money in my possession; that they did not recollect my saying any thing about the burial money, or my pointing out any mistake in the demand.' Nothing can give me more pain than to be placed under the necessity of contradicting any man's word: but I am compelled, in self-defence, to do it on this occasion. I positively and most solemnly aver then, that I pointed out, over and over again, the objectionable part of their demand. Four persons belonging to my own family, and an accidental visitor at my house, overheard from an adjoining room (the door was wide open) the whole conversation; and retain a distinct recollection of particulars so interesting to them. Nor can the internal evidence of the case fail to produce conviction in the mind of any unprejudiced reader. Can it be supposed that I should receive an offensive demand in writing, that I should utter vehement complaints of such treatment, and that I should omit to point directly at the offensive passage? Besides, it was admitted by one of the committee, that 'I complained of being charged with money which I had never received;' and by the other, that 'I said they had as much right to demand my sideboard.' To what, in the name of ordinary construction, to what could such an observation apply, unless to their improper claim? Could it apply to the communion plate? It had already been delivered to them. Could it apply to the register? They were assured that it should be sent to the rector. Could it apply to [52/53] the communion money? I admitted that the demand was just: I stated to them what the exact balance was; and promised to pay it into the hands of Mr. Feltus, whom I conceived to be the only proper person to receive it.
Reluctant as I am to detain the reader on a subject so little interesting to him, yet as I have been compelled in my own defence to contradict the assertion of others, I am bound to prove, by every fair mean, the truth of my own statement. As actions, then, are said to speak more intelligibly than words, I will confront what these gentlemen said with what they did. They put into my hands a resolution of their vestry, signed by their secretary, of which the following is an exact copy.
"Resolved, that Messrs. R. H. and Wm. C. are hereby appointed a committee to liquidate and receive the communion money belonging to our church: also to receive the communion service plate, with the monies due for the interments as having heretofore been received by the Rev. John Ireland, and which remained in his hands at the time he resigned the functions of his office as Rector."
As it is now admitted that I had never received any of these monies, the reader cannot be surprised that I should have expressed my resentment at the demand; or that I should have repeatedly complained of the claim remaining in full force against me, from 26th August 1807 to 28th June 1808, when it is said to have been retracted. And yet for retaining this money which I had never touched; for retaining a book which had repeatedly been in the possession of my successor long before the vestry applied for it, and for retaining a sum which I had tendered to the person who alone was authorised to receive it--was I sentenced by my christian brethren to degradation! But "the Lord will reward them their doings": and already hath the work of retribution begun among them.
The last charge exhibited against me was, that I had assailed a gentleman with indecent language and in a hostile manner. [* This gentleman is described in the charge, as being one of the vestry of St. Ann's church. The contrivance of my prosecutors thus to enhance my crime, by representing me as committing an assault on an officer in the church, is almost too contemptible to be noticed. Of what importance is it to the public, or how does it aggravate the [53/54] offence, whether he were a member of a vestry, or a member of a jockey club? Eighteen months before the event, here alluded to, took place, the connection between the vestry of St. Ann's church and myself had wholly ceased.] When my readers are informed that "a complete adjustment of all differences" had taken place previously to my trial, and that a friendly intercourse is still maintained, between that gentleman and myself, they will see the necessity of my treating this subject very cautiously and imperfectly. The circumstances are briefly these. Mr. S. as secretary to the vestry, had drawn and signed the offensive order alluded to in the second charge. At our first interview after the order had been presented, I enquired how he could have joined in so indecorous a act. Deceived by the misrepresentation of some of his colleagues, Mr. S. did not scruple to assert (what it was impossible for him to have known) that the money which had been demanded had been received by me, and was unjustly detained. I resented (perhaps with more warmth than was necessary) this aggravation of an injury, and resolved to hold no further intercourse with the injurious party. [* But I did not give him the lie direct, as one of the witnesses declared that he had heard from a person present. This declaration the witness, after consulting the person present, found to be erroneous, and wished to have an opportunity of correcting. I mentioned this circumstance to Dr. B. Moore, both verbally and in my written memorial: but he seemed to think it unworthy of his regard. In forming this opinion (as indeed almost all others) Dr. M. doubtless received his cue from Dr. Hobart; who in his defence represents the witness as having declared to him (Dr. H.) that the only part of his testimony which he discovered to be incorrect, was an unimportant particular. The witness authorises me to say--that he never made any such declaration to Dr. H. and that he never entertained such an opinion. No man, indeed (except Dr. Hobart) could deem it unimportant whether I did, or did not depart so widely from that line of deportment which decency prescribes, and to which I have always habitually adhered.] Meeting him soon afterwards at the house of a mutual friend, I proposed to retire; but he prevented me by expressing his own resolution of withdrawing. As he was leaving the house, he raised his voice and said--"If I have offended you, Mr. Ireland, I am willing and ready to give you satisfaction." In justice to Mr. S's. subsequent explanation, I really believe that he did not design to convey, in these words, the meaning in which I accepted them: [54/55] but in the moment of irritation I understood them (as upon ordinary occasions they would doubtless be understood by any man) as implying a direct challenge. The scene which followed is not very inaccurately described in the record of my trial. I have ever since deplored this act of indiscretion, and now leave the enormity of its guilt to be estimated by the candid reader.
But, while I readily admit that nothing can be advanced in justification, is there nothing to be said in extenuation? Is no allowance to be made for feelings, which education and habit have rendered doubly acute, and which have been little inured to trials of this nature? Is it no palliation to be taken by surprise, to be attacked in an unguarded moment, to be betrayed by a constitutional infirmity? Where is the man who is not conscious of moments of weakness, which, if improved by the tempter, would terminate in his temporary disgrace? Let such a man (if such there be) cast the first stone at me; but should the missile prove ineffectual, such is the judgement which I have formed of human nature, that I should feel no apprehensions from a second assailant.
But it is unnecessary to appeal to the sensibility of my readers: I know how every man would be affected upon such an occasion. Let me, then, rather devote one moment to those who pronounced so severe a sentence on this act of indiscretion. Would they all have deported themselves very differently under similar circumstances? Has not one of them confessed (while discussing this very point) that had not his sons forcibly restrained him, 'he should have broken every bone in a certain person's body?' Have I not frequently heard Dr. B. Moore detail, with infinite humour, the particulars of the prowess displayed by his reverend friend of pugilistic memory? [*The Rev. Mr. __ of A__ was, while he lived, the confidential friend, the "Magnus Apollo," the "omnis homo" of Dr. M: who never appeared in such ecstacies, as while this pupil of Mendoza was displaying his enormous fists, and recounting the dread effects of their application.] Nay, have I not heard him dilate with all the enthusiasm of a Cribb, a Molineux, or a Belcher, on the manual exploits of a Right Rev. gentleman, who held, as long as he lived, the first place in the Doctor's love and esteem? [55/56] does not Dr. Hobart himself promise to rival 'The chicken' in feats .of hardihood and valour? Has he not called his colleague 'coward,' 'brandished' his brawny arm over the little man's head, and put himself in a posture to "to punish him?" Whence is it that these great men should be entitled to applause for deeds of actual violence (committed, in one instance, on the body of another clergyman, and in the presence of a numerous collection of the clergy) while a mere sciolist, a very tyro, following 'haud passibus aequis' is doomed to condemnation? Surely these things ought not so to be. Has Astraea then quitted the gross atmosphere of the lower regions? and is she, indeed, gone to re-inhale the purer air of her native skies? Goddess farewell! may we meet in another and a better world.
Thus have I, with all that ingenuousness which has hitherto marked my walk thro' life, laid before the public the full front of my offending. What sentence awaits this my appeal to the most awful tribunal on earth, I venture not to foretel: but I repose with 'trembling hope' on the conviction that my present judges are impartial, and that no improper bias will make them swerve from the line of rectitude, in their decision. The public seldom judge amiss, when no concealment is practised, when the subject of discussion is laid before them without art or disguise. I therefore expect, with no little confidence, that this my "appeal unto Cesar" will be productive of a decree less severe than that which has issued from a bench of implacable Jews.
An important question (so far as importance can be attached to the subject of these sheets ) suggests itself here--Whence is it that four clergymen could prosecute with such relentless cruelty, and that four others, with a bishop at their head, could agree to punish with such unparalleled severity, a man who describes himself as more sinned against, than sinning? The answer to this enquiry must be sought from those who were concerned in this scheme of proscription. For my own part, I am destined to 'grope in the dark,' until I shall be brought to confront my accusers at the bar of a righteous God. Then indeed, will the secrets of all hearts be disclosed, and then shall every motive to every human action be developed. In the mean [56/57] time I must sit down contented with such imperfect lights, as the nature of the case will afford. Various are the conjectures which I have heard hazarded on the subject. Some of them are such as I can not repeat without the imputation of vanity: but they generally meet in this central point--that a powerful combination has been formed, for the purpose of expelling all independence of mind and conduct, all talents, learning, and piety, from the diocese. Is there a man so sturdy as to refuse the customary tokens of homage, exacted by the lordly Haman? The dogs of war are slipped against the devoted victim, who, if he had a thousand lives, must forfeit them all to their ruthless rage. Is a candidate for orders discovered to possess superiour talents or acquirements? The dread, lest certain characters, high in dignity and power, should serve as foils to so bright a gem, is an insuperable bar to his success in the church. Is a clergyman known to pray in his family? He is instantly denounced as one in whom no confidence can be placed! Is he known to pray out of his family? The unpardonable sin is noted down and ceaseless persecution awaits the bold innovator. What is it that has obtained for Mr. Lyell's congregation the enviable eulogy lately pronounced by Dr. Hobart? The desertion of hundreds of its most valuable members, and the expulsion of all those evidences of piety which were, of late, its most honourable characteristics.
A love of justice, a regard for the reputation of the church and her ministry, could not have been the motives which actuated the parties concerned in my prosecution and sentence. These principles produce an uniformity of character, a consistency of conduct. But is it consistent to stride over a mountain of enormity, and to stumble at a molehill of delinquency? Did not Dr. B. Moore himself inform me, that one of my prosecutors had been charged with immorality, with lying? Did he not add that the charge had been exhibited to him both by clergymen and laymen, and that he had been urged to give the accusers an opportunity of substantiating the charge? Did not the same Right Rev. gentleman inform me, that one of his presbyters had been accused before him, of exacting five dollars for administering the sacrament to a dying woman? And has not this good bishop, since the exhibition [57/58] of the complaint, recommended that presbyter to a cure which he now holds in the diocese? Is a habit of daily intoxication a venial offence? and is speaking unadvisedly with the lips a deadly sin? Where lurked a regard for the reputation of the church and her ministry, while the colleague, the constant companion, the bosom friend of Dr. B. Moore, was permitted to reel through the streets of New York, and to stagger into the pulpit of Trinity church, while both hands and eyes too plainly betrayed the preceding night's debauch? Is an unfounded charge, of receiving more interest than a statute allows, to be punished capitally? and is the constant practice, of violating a divine statute against intemperance, a peccadillo unworthy of notice? Have no such offenders been known to the gentleman who presided at my trial, or to him who pronounced my sentence? Was it not straining at a gnat, to punish without mercy a clergyman, whose only crime was a momentary ebullition of anger? and was it not swallowing a camel, to receive with every mark of hospitality, respect and esteem, another who was openly living in a state of adultery? a revisal of what I have already written under this head fills me with horror and disgust; and I start with affright at the very outlines of a picture which I had undertaken to draw. This must be my apology for dropping the pencil.
Nor was it a dread, lest I might interfere with the designs of a rival, which actuated my prosecutors and produced my sentence. Six years ago I had discovered, that a certain young man of lofty pretensions had associated with 'seven other spirits' as factious as himself; had put himself at the head of the party; had insinuated himself into the good graces of a certain dignified personage; had contrived to drive from the ear and confidence of the latter, all who would not subserve his own views; had formed a plan for filling with his minions every vacancy in the church; and had proscribed, not only those who might stand in the way of his aggrandizement, but such also as refused to fall into his train. No sooner had I made this discovery, than I withdrew myself as much as possible from the scene of turmoil, in the hope that a life of privacy and seclusion would exempt me from the effects of envy, hatred, or malice. I declined every [58/59] overture of exchange with my brethren of N. York and gradually retired from all their councils. I made, however, two or three attempts to rescue my once much respected friend, Dr. B. Moore, from the danger that awaited him. Conscious that a plan [* That Messrs. Hobart and How held Bishop M. in utter contempt, and that they had the effrontery to speak of his conduct in terms of disrespect, is (as I am informed) susceptible of proof by a venerable clergyman, who resides within a hundred miles of St. Paul's church, N. York.] was laid for rendering his administration ridiculous and odious, I advised him to readmit to his confidence other counsellors and friends. But he was so completely fascinated, that he could not make an effort to throw off the chain by which he was bound, altho he complained that it already began to gall him: and I was compelled, with infinite reluctance, to resign him to his fate. Nor were my efforts to ward off my own destiny more successful; the conductor, which I had so carefully erected over my humble dwelling, in stead of adding to my security, conveyed the lightning to the very spot: my refusal to join in the work of death, was the very signal for my own destruction. About three years ago, circumstances of a private nature seemed to require my presence in Europe. I resigned my charge in Brooklyn. The state of public affairs, at this period, rendering an European voyage hazardous, I engaged for an indefinite term to supply the vacancy in Jamaica. After devoting some months to this duty, I resolved to pay a visit to my friends in S. Carolina, among whom I passed a winter. On my return to this diocese I led a life of perfect retirement; interfered with no man's labours; interrupted no man's views; and declined three proposals for settling in vacant parishes. Mention is made in one of the late pamphlets (it matters not which) of some unhappy consequences to be apprehended from my expected settlement in Jamaica. To what consequences the writer alludes, I know no more than any one of my readers: perhaps he means only to say, that my settlement there would have excluded one of Dr. Hobart's dependents. But, "Davus sum, non Oedipus;" I pretend not to understand the cabalistic language of our ecclesiastical cabinet. I have reason to believe that I was respected and [59/60] esteemed in Jamaica, and that no apprehension was there entertained of unhappy consequences to result from my residence in that parish: on the contrary, the proposals made to me by some respectable and influential members of that congregation (but which I declined) led me to suppose that my clerical services would be acceptable to them. While I was thus reposing in imaginary security under my own vine and figtree, enjoying the comforts of seclusion, and anticipating some peaceful days to come, suddenly a cloud broke over my head, and the bolt fell: not a speck had previously marked the heavens, nor was there even a flash to prepare me for the tremendous explosion: a letter from Dr B. Moore announced that my days were numbered, and that I must prepare myself to be offered up, a victim to the malice of unseen and unknown foes.
But it is in vain to perplex the reader or myself with conjectures and surmises; the motives of my accusers will never be made known, (unless the consciences of some of them should constrain them to cry out) until the day of final retribution will bring to light every deed of darkness. Nothing is more easy than to skew, what the motives were not: but to shew what they were, requires a knowledge which few possess, a knowledge of the arcana of the Vatican.
If I have succeeded in establishing one fact, viz.: that the proceedings against one are unwarrantable, I flatter myself that I have succeeded no less in establishing another, viz: that Mr. Jones's assertion (of the existence in this diocese of a system of violence, intolerance, tyranny and oppression) is true, and that I am a living instance of its truth. To myself it is perfectly immaterial, whether Mr. Lyell, or Dr. Hobart, or Dr. B. Moore be at the head of this system: but its existence is as well ascertained, as the existence of the sun in the firmament. Mr. Jones has taken some pains to convince the public, that the person who has brought the church into its present state of temporary disgrace, who has occasioned the distraction that now pervades the diocese, is no other than Dr. Hobart. This measure on the part of Mr. Jones might be necessary in behalf of those who reside at a distance from the scene of action: but [60/61] in N. York and its neighbourhood the fact is too notorious to require proof. If, however, there be any who still doubt of the ascendency which Dr. Hobart has gained over the mind and conduct of Bishop Moore, or of the supreme control which he exercises over all the affairs of the church in this state, let them once more direct their attention to Mr. Lyell's certificate, respecting the origin of the charge brought against Mr. Feltus. It will there appear that Bishop Moore had not resolution enough to take a single step in the affair, without previously consulting Dr. Hobart. He therefore proposed to accompany Mr. L. to Dr. H's sick room, where this triumvirate, Mr. Lyell, Dr. Hobart and Bishop Moore, agreed that a statement of Mr. Feltus's imputed impropriety of conduct should be presented to one of their own number, viz: to Bishop Moore; who thus joined in drawing up an accusation which was to be laid before himself, and on which himself was to pass judgement: 'Dr. Hobart's agency in the business arose from the above interview with the bishop.'
Should this instance (published with the apparent design of proving Bishop 'M.'s imbecility) fail to produce conviction, I will here detail some particulars of the last interview, which took place between the last mentioned gentleman and myself. If the perusal do not convince those who have hitherto remained in doubt, neither will they be persuaded though one were to appear to them from the dead.
I had written a letter to Dr. B. Moore, which, in order to prevent the possibility of interception, I had determined to put into his own hands. I found him in his study, in conversation with another clergyman. After apologizing for interruption, I entered on the subject of my letter; adverted to the cruel treatment which I had lately experienced; complained of Dr. M.'s own unkind conduct towards me; and concluded with a request that he would appoint the time and place for a future and more important interview, in the presence of two or three mutual friends. Dr. M. was melted by the representation which I made of my sufferings: my complaint not only entered into his ears, but descended into and softened his heart. The man was himself again: he promised to see me in his own study, at [61/62] 10 o'clock the next morning, when all company should be excluded, except such persons as I might bring with me. In virtue of this engagement, I requested a friend to meet me at the time and place appointed. I then called at the house of another, to whom I made a similar request: but the latter gentleman was of opinion that I had acted indiscreetly in consenting to an interview, at which none but myself and my immediate friends were to be present. He therefore urged me to return, and to insist (as I had originally proposed) that Dr. M. should be attended by an equal number of his own friends. On entering Dr. M.'s study, I found him sitting with Messrs. Hobart and How. He received me with an inflamed countenance, every feature of which was distorted by rage. He rose from his seat, and insisted upon my quitting him instantaneously. Amazed at finding the lamb so suddenly transformed into a lion, I confess that I was disconcerted, and at a loss how to act. I ventured, however, to state the cause of my unexpected return, and was proceeding to assign my reason for wishing the attendance of some of his own friends, when Mr. How suddenly arose and advanced towards us, with a look and a gesture indicating hostility. Dr. M. observing himself thus powerfully supported, abruptly interrupted me, declared his resolution not to listen to any reasons, and concluded with saying--Tell your friends that I will consent to no interview either with them or with yourself. When I had gained the entry, I turned and asked---'Do I indeed understand you, Dr. Moore? Do you mean to say that you will violate your promise, that you will break the engagement which you made with me this morning, and on which I have acted?' The plain language of this question staggered him: he appeared to be greatly perplexed. But the voice of his prompter within soon roused him, and with a faltering tongue he pronounced--'yes; you understood me aright.' I thought this an instance of rather hard riding, and left the house with a mental prayer--that God would fit the back to its burden.
I must now be permitted to bring into one point of view the substance (so far as it more immediately relates to myself) of the preceding pages, and to close the painful and disgusting scene.
 The late proceedings against me are invalid not merely because they originated in ungodly motives, nor because they are cruel, oppressive, tyrannical, unparalleled--but
1. Because they palpably violate the letter and spirit of the gospel rule, which is paramount to all rules, canons and decrees whatsoever: (Mat. 18th ch. 15th. and following verses, explained by Potter and other expositors.) 'Sentence ought not to be given by a spiritual court without previous admonition:' (Bishop Gibsons's code of eccles. laws) Appeals have been made from sentences of suspension, as 'unjust for want of a canonical admonition.' (Archbishop Arundel's register.)
2. Because, they are at variance with the articles of the church: 'the church ought not to decree any thing against holy writ.' (art. 20.)
3. Because, two of the charges exhibited against me were not cognizable before a spiritual tribunal: one of them referred to usurious transactions; the other to a demand made by a body corporate on an individual, being a matter of 'meum and tuum:' but an ecclesiastical court has no authority to act under a statute, nor to decide questions of a civil nature. (Hicks, Burns, &c. &c.)
4. Because the third charge was not established by the requisite number of witnesses: the canon expressly requires that 'no charge be considered as established on a testimony of less than two witnesses:' whereas, in support of the third charge one witness only appeared.
Because the statement of the proceedings, on which the sentence was grounded, is a tissue of wilful omission, misrepresentation, and falsehood: whereas the copy of the record to be laid before the bishop, conformably to the canon, ought to contain the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; if the foundation fail, the superstructure can not stand.
5. Because the punishment of degradation can not, agreeably to the established usage of the church, be inflicted for such crimes as were imputed to me. 'It was not' says St. Austin, 'all manner of failings that hindered men's ordination at first; for if it were required, as a qualification in persons to be ordained, that they should be without sin, all men must be rejected and none ordained; [63/64] since no man lives without sin: but it is only required that they should be blameless with respect to scandalous offences. And this was the rule which the church observed in canvassing the lives of her clergy after ordination, when they were actually engaged in her service: it was not every lesser failing or infirmity (such as hasty anger &c.) that was punished with degradation; but only crimes of a deep die, such as theft, fraud, murder, perjury, sacrilege, fornication and adultery.' (Bingham's antiq. Chr. ch.)
6. Because, the board which tried me was an informal, unauthorised, illegal body: they derived their pretended authority from one who had no power to constitute a bench of judges. (Barlow, Burns, Bingham &c.)
7. Because, the sentence was pronounced illegally: "The sentence must be pronounced in the presence of both parties; otherwise sentence given in the absence of one of the parties is void. (Gib. eccle. code) [* This judicious regulation was adopted for the express purpose of defeating star-chamber intrigues and other midnight machinations.]
8. Because, the sentence was pronounced by a man who had no more authority for holding an ecclesiastical court, than for holding a court of ''Oyer and Terminer.''
Here are eight distinct reasons, any one of which is of itself sufficient to vacate the sentence of my degradation: combined, they exhibit irresistible proof of the violence, of the wickedness, that has been practised against me. To prevent a recurrence of these outrages; to expose that spirit which wants nothing but the power, to establish an inquisition in this diocese; to defeat, in some degree, the plans of that formidable aristocracy which has been erected in this section of the P. E. Church; and to display some of its principal members in their genuine colours; these are the considerations which have compelled me (God knows, and some of my friends know, that it is with infinite reluctance) to make a disclosure of particulars, which nothing but imperious necessity could have extorted from me. I am fully aware that I have done a deed, which may alienate a few of my friends, and which can not fail to bring down upon me some powerful enemies: but conscious of the rectitude of my intentions, conscious that no selfish motives have swayed [64/65] me, conscious that the welfare of the church is my sole object, I look for defence in the approbation of a discerning public. 'If they do these things in the green tree, what will they not do in the dry'? If such be the state of our church in the infancy of her establishment in this country, what may we not expect from her progress, from her advancement to maturity? Nag's-head ordinations, star-chamber councils, Smithfield conflagrations, will be the signs of her approaching decrepitude, and our 'Israel will be a proverb and a by-word among all people.' Scarcely is there a clergyman in this diocese who now dares to act on independent principles; and the language of one of them, on a late occasion, may with strict propriety be adopted by many more--I can never return to my parish unless I vote for Dr Hobart.' Better, far better for the interests of the church, if the enormous wealth of a certain corporation were buried in the depths of the sea, than that the clergy should be subjected to a baneful influence, by which their minds are shackled, their principles are perverted, and their usefulness is diminished. But this a topic in the discussion of which thousands are more interested than myself, and to their serious deliberation I therefore leave it.
I now enter this my public protest (I have already entered a private one) against all and singular the late unjust proceedings against me, as also against all the parties concerned therein: and I thus publicly and solemnly assert my claim to the character and privileges of a presbyter of the P. E. Church in these states, in complete standing as heretofore, and as fully competent to discharge all the duties appertaining to my office.
P.S. Gladly would I now lay down the pen, were it not expected that I should notice some remarks respecting me in Dr. Hobart's defence. A full reply to that pamphlet I leave to those who are more immediately concerned in its contents; who are more competent to the task; and who are imperiously called upon, by a duty to the public as well as to themselves, to perform this act of justice. To one of Dr. H's observations respecting me I have already replied: [* Page 15.] another, which materially affects my moral character, now demands an answer.
 But before I enter on this undertaking, let me premise that the late elevation of Dr. Hobart is an act which gives me no other concern, than such as is connected with my regard for the church. Those who conscienciously believed him to be worthy of the office, have done no more than their duty in promoting him to it: and far better would it have been, for the reputation both of the church and of Dr. B. Moore, had that promotion taken place some years ago: Dr. H. would then have been responsible for many an act, of which he has virtually been the author, but of which he has contrived to throw the odium on another. On this account I learn with regret, that a most material defect in his consecration has rendered the act itself nugatory. [* If a most material defect in the consecration of a bishop may take place under our own eyes, will not the neglect to apply the remedy confirm the doubts of some, respecting our pretension to the regular uninterrupted succession? Will they not doubt, whether in the course of some hundred years, similar material defects may not have already marred the lineal descent? Whether there may not be something like truth in the "Nag's-head" story, and other stories of a like nature? "Verbum sat sapienti."] But it is an act which affects me not: if it be supposed that I object to the character or conduct of Dr. H. let it be remembered that my objection is not to the bishop, but to the man; and I therefore hasten to meet him, as man to man, on the ground which himself has selected.
He observes, [* I take it for granted, that each of my readers is sufficiently acquainted with all the particulars, to which allusion is here made.] that with respect to the contents of my certificate, "he is completely at issue with Mr. Warner, myself, and all other persons (if any such then are) who make similar declarations." The word "other" seems to intimate that there may be some, besides Mr. W. and myself, who can testify to the same fact: and that there are many (altho' I candidly confess that I can not give their names) his unreserved communication to myself leaves me no room to doubt. He told me that he had made Bp. Moore acquainted with his charge of forgery against Mr. Feltus: and I have very good reason to believe that he did so. But this is irrelative to the purpose. The question is--not whether Dr. Hobart has accused Mr. Feltus of forgery; that question is ( as I understand) [66/67] to be brought before a civil tribunal, and therefore ought not to be a subject of exforensic discussion; but--whether the conversation, to the substance of which I have solemnly sworn, did or did not take place. Dr. H. asserts in opposition to my oath, that it did not: and the ground which he has taken for the support of his assertion is the ground of improbability. Let us then examine unto which side the right of probability inclines.
Dr. H. 'avers its improbability, from the high criminality which it imputes to him.' Is a charge then less true, because it refers to high crimes and misdemeanors? Does Dr. H. imagine that he is so highly exalted, as to be beyond the reach of an imputation of this kind? Would to God that he were. But what should we think of such a defence as this from the lips of a man, standing at the bar of justice, arraigned for a capital offence?--'It is true, that two witnesses of unimpeached character have sworn to the fact: but how, gentlemen of the jury, how can you believe me capable of such an act of high criminality? it would argue a baseness, an atrociousness of heart, of which I did not suppose any individual thought me capable." But had not Dr. H. been guilty of a previous act of equal criminality? had he not charged Mr. Macklin with forgery? And altho it be admitted that the charge was well founded, had Dr. H. "the means of establishing it" at the time when he first made it? Did he not draw a bow at a venture? and did not this instance of success imbolden him to let fly a second shaft which rebounded and struck the archer? Is it not high criminality to charge (when he had not the means of substantiating it) a brother clergyman with so indecent an act, as drawing up his own panegyric, as writing a fulsome recommendation of himself? This Dr. H. admits that he did; and he justifies it by saying that "it is a surmise which will naturally arise in the mind of any one." I thank God that I have not such a mind, nor do I wish to have intercourse with any one who has: it may be natural (nay more, it may be habitual) to some men to indulge themselves in injurious surmises, respecting their brethren and all the rest of mankind; but from such a nature and such a habit, "Good Lord deliver" me and mine.
The folly of holding such a conversation as has been represented with "two persons who Dr. H. had every [67/68] reason to believe were the most disposed, of all men living, to employ it to his disadvantage," is the second mark of improbability.
With how much truth this observation will apply to Mr. Warner, I presume not to say. Altho I have no recollection of having seen (much less spoken to) this gentleman in 14 years, yet my late enquiries respecting his character dispose me to believe, that he is as incapable of wantonly injuring the reputation of a worthy clergyman, as of taking a false oath. But I leave him to furnish his own answer. Dr. H's observation, (as it relates to myself) I have already answered, by defying him to produce a single reason for believing me capable of employing any thing to his disadvantage. "How can ye (vipers) being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." [* Matt. 12. ch. 34. v.] Out of the abundance of his heart (and for the reason assigned by our Saviour) did Dr H. utter this expression. A very slight acquaintance with human nature will account for such conduct.
"Forgiveness to the injured may belong,
"Those never pardon who have done the wrong.''
Dr. H. conscious to himself that he was meditating the scheme of my destruction, and having, probably, intrusted it to some of his "seven spirits," concluded that I was acquainted with his designs; that I cordially hated the man who cordially hated me; and that I must necessarily be, of all men, the most disposed to employ any thing to his disadvantage.
He adds--"With Mr. Ireland I never was in habits of intercourse." To this declaration I have but one objection, and that is--its total want of truth. Could I for a moment think so meanly of myself, as to suppose that my bare word required the support of certificates, I could produce a hundred to prove the falsehood of that assertion: but it is sufficiently known already to Bp. Moore, and to almost every other clergyman in the diocese. Let me not be misunderstood: I am not solicitous of propagating the idea, that any thing like intimacy ever subsisted between Dr. H. and myself: far from it. My acquaintance with this gentleman commenced during his residence on Long Island, when he introduced himself [68/69] to me at my own house. A further knowledge of him inspired me with no respect either for his talents or for his learning: and some striking indications of a dark, intriguing, turbulent spirit, together with an assumption of power which (I thought) ill became him, did not make an intimacy with him very desirable to me. But still a friendly intercourse, (such as can scarce fail to subsist between clergymen who reside near together, and who often come in contact at the houses of mutual friends, to say nothing of conventions, minor societies &c. such an intercourse) was maintained between us, and remained undisturbed until I went to Carolina three years ago. Where then was the folly of informing me of the real character of another clergyman, especially when (as I assert) I went to him for the express purpose of obtaining that information? It is well known that Dr. H. had dreadfully strained a point, in order to prevent the admission of Mr. Feltus into the diocese. Is it any breach of charity to suppose that he would have rejoiced at seeing him driven out of it again? and was any plan more likely, than to ruin him in the opinion of his parishioners, before he could have had time to establish himself? Was it any instance of folly to employ a brother clergyman to effect this object? Did not Dr. H. know that I had many friends in Brooklyn? and was there any folly in concluding that my representations might prove injurious to Mr. F.? I see many strong marks of something else, but none of folly in such conduct.
But whatever marks of criminality or of folly may appear, I have asserted (my oath is out of the question at present) that Dr. Hobart did hold a long and very circumstantial conversation with me; in which he declared that the Rev. Mr. Feltus had been guilty of forgery, and that it was my duty to circulate the fact, for the purpose of preventing the establishment of so unworthy a clergyman in our diocese. [* I shall never cease to regret that I consented to make this conversation the subject of an oath. To every solicitation I uniformly, for a length of time, replied--No; those who know me, know me to be incapable of uttering a falsehood; if Dr. Hobart dares to contradict me, I am willing to abide the issue; my avowed readiness to take the oath, when absolutely required, ought to be, in the estimation of gentlemen, tantamount to an actual oath.--The importunities, however, of friends at length prevailed on me to recede from my discrimination.] Dr. Hobart does not (he says) retain a distinct recollection' of this conversation; and yet of other conversations on subjects of minor importance, he has a 'strong recollection, and of all the circumstances attending them.' No allusion (says he, speaking of the interview between Mr. Feltus and himself) no allusion was made, I perfectly recollect, to the sheet of false accusations or the charge of forgery; in the margin of a copy of Dr. H's pamphlet sent to Mr. F. is the following reply to this assertion, in Mr. F's hand-writing--'They were particularly mentioned by the Dr. himself.' To Dr. H's indistinct recollection then I oppose my strong and clear remembrance, of all the important circumstances preceding, attending, and resulting from this conversation. I had repeatedly heard of the charge of forgery, before I saw Dr. H. on the subject; with whom I was told that the charge originated. As I was one of the committee, appointed by the vestry of St. Ann's church, to recommend a respectable clergyman to fill the vacancy occasioned by my resignation, I was acting in the line of my duty when I waited on Dr. H. for information, respecting the character of the gentleman who had been recommended as my successor.--Many obvious reasons contributed to excite an interest in his reputation, and I was desirous of ascertaining his real standing in the opinion of his brethren. For this express purpose I consulted Dr. Hobart. In a long conversation between us, he assured me that he had it in his power to prove Mr. F. guilty of forgery: he gave me his own definition of forgery, and mentioned the very document said to be forged. I remember well that he employed the word "cattle;" that I smiled at the expression, and that he laughingly justified the use of it on that occasion; that I inquired how a man of Mr. F's disorderly, dangerous character, could have obtained orders; and that he made, in substance, the following reply:--He was ordained by Bp. White: you know what that gentleman's failing is, as well as I do: Dr. W. is in most respects a good and valuable man, but his fondness for making clergymen has led him to introduce into the ministry a greater number of unworthy men, than any other bishop in this country. [* I think the expression was--Than all the other bishops put together.] Fully impressed with the particulars of this [70/71] momentous information, I returned to Brooklyn; and (as Dr. H had suggested) immediately called at the house of Mr. Sands, to whose family I detailed the conversation above recited. I afterwards took occasion (conceiving it my duty so to do) to inform several other members of the church: and so thoroughly convinced was I that Dr. H. had told me the truth, and that Mr. F. was a man with whom I ought not to associate, that I not only refused to sit under his ministry, but also withheld from him those attentions which I have invariably paid to every gentleman coming into my neighbourhood. This is a fact known to, and noticed by, every family in Brooklyn. And yet, could I descend to the meanness of certificate-hunting, I could produce a volume of certificates, from Mr. Sands' family and many others, to prove that it gave me inexpressible delight, when I afterwards discovered the charge against Mr. F. to be groundless, and that I took pains to contradict the previous false report. Soon after this I became acquainted with Mr. F. and when I assigned to him the reason of my former distance and reserve, he candidly answered--I never was at a loss to account for your behaviour, for I was aware that your mind had been poisoned against me. [* During the time that Mr. F. and myself were almost strangers to the persons of each other, that gentleman invariably addressed me, whenever he had occasion to write a note to me on business, as a brother clergyman; from the first hour of his settlement in Brooklyn, I have never discovered any trait of that animosity which has been ascribed to him.]
And now, since no reasonable man acts without a motive, what motive could have impelled me to depart so widely from the uniform tenour of my conduct, in the case of a gentleman and a clergyman coming to reside next door to me? What frenzy could have impelled me to publish a story to the disadvantage of an absolute stranger to me, when I had not the most remote interest in it, and when I was exposed, at every instant, to detection and infamy? Had I been, "of all men living, the most disposed to employ a charge to Dr. H's disadvantage," why did I not employ it during the length of time which I suffered to elapse? How happens it, that two men who never had any acquaintance, and who have not exchanged a word (I think) in a number of years, should agree precisely in the same story, and should have sworn to the truth of it? [71/72] Whom was my story calculated to benefit? No one. Whom was it my design to injure? Mr. Feltus? Where is the probability that I would attempt wantonly to destroy the reputation of an innocent man, who was an entire stranger to me? Dr. Hobart? What probability was there of my being able to substantiate the charge; and why should I wish to injure a neighbouring clergyman, who, I had reason to suppose, was my friend, or at least, not my enemy? But I am actually ashamed to be detected in reasoning on such a point, and shall retire abruptly from the subject.
Dr. Hobart and myself are then, as he observes, completely at issue: I assert, and he denies. The event of this controversy has no terrours for me: conscious that my reputation for veracity is as firmly established as Dr. Hobart's, or any other gentleman's, I fearlessly pronounce, that I am prepared to meet him, face to face, before any tribunal, human or divine.
In the mean time, as we are at present compelled to confine ourselves to probability only, let the reader judge what degree of credence is to be given to the denial of a man who, in one page asserts that 'he never directly or indirectly opposed the call of Mr. F. to Brooklyn, and that he does not believe it was opposed by any of the clergy'--and who in the next page gives us his own name, among five others, attached to this solemn declaration presented to the bishop--'We
shall greatly deplore any event which shall connect Mr. F. with us as a presbyter of this diocese?'--Was this no opposition to his call? or was it only an attempt to keep him out of the diocese altogether? If there be any difference, it must be much such a difference as the French make between 'blanc bonnet et bonnet blanc.'
What credence is due to the man who in one page says--'I solemnly declare, that until a few weeks before the appearance of the appeal, the idea never entered into my mind that any person imputed to me a charge so utterly unfounded'--and who in the next page adds--'according to the best of my recollection, the above letter.' &c. especially when he is confronted by two men who assert, that he had holden three distinct conversations with them on the subject of this charge, three years before the appearance of the appeal; and again by another gentleman who asserts, that this charge was particularly mentioned, in that very conversation which (Dr. H. admits) 'took place about a year ago, between him and a gentleman, who inquired of him (Dr. H.) the causes of his not exchanging with Mr. Feltus?' Are all these three men mistaken? and is [72/73] Dr. H's want of recollection, or is even his solemn declaration, to set aside their united testimony?
What credence is due to a man who in one page says--'I never had disagreed with Mr. Feltus'--and in another--'we deeply regret to say, that his meanness and duplicity, connected with a cunning and an inordinate love of power and popularity, render it impossible for us to extend our confidence to Mr. F.?'
What credence is due to a man who asserts, that he addressed a note, which Mr. F. styles a circular, to one clergyman only, when two of those circulars are now in existence, and it can easily be proved that a third was sent and received?
What reliance can be placed on the word of a man, who in conversation with a venerable clergyman of N. York, descended to the meanness of personal abuse? and who, when that clergyman threatened to make such conduct public, replied--Do sir, if you dare: I will flatly contradict you; and then we shall see which of us will be believed in preference?
If any one can imagine that I derive satisfaction from exposing such instances of depravity, he is egregiously mistaken: my forbearance to disclose more than is necessary to my own vindication (and more than this I hope I have not done) is a proof that I take no pleasure in the death of characters. Had I indeed been permitted 'to die the common death of other men;' had not my ashes been raked up and scattered to the winds of heaven; the public had never been troubled with my complaints: but when my name is wantonly dragged forth by every ephemeral scribbler; when a character, to the establishment of which fifty years have sedulously and successfully been devoted, is assailed by 'a thing of yesterday;' when boys, [* The number of weeks, spent by Mr. How in the ministry, scarce equalled the number of years devoted by myself to the public service of the church, when he commenced his honourable career as accuser of his brethren.] who (had they any sense of modesty) would 'tarry till their beards were grown,' usurp the station assigned to grey hairs and experience; I must be more or less than man; I must be insensible to indignities, and should deservedly be consigned to infamy and execration.
Dr. Hobart talks familiarly of the discipline of the church. In what then does its essence consist? In entangling the smaller flies, while the larger and more noxious insects are permitted to escape? Discipline! Are all the terrours of discipline to be set in array against an offence, of which the meekest of men was guilty? And is another clergyman [73/74] permitted with impunity to exhaust the whole vocabulary of Billingsgate eloquence in his abuse of a brother? [* A gentleman lately informed me that he heard Mr. How, (speaking of Mr. Jones) make use of an expression which cannot appear in print, and which is never heard to issue except from the mouths of the most vulgar among the vulgar.] Does a day pass in which Mr. How does not pour on the reputation of Mr. Jones, every epithet that rage and vulgarity can suggest? Has not this deportment of Mr. How 'long attracted the attention both of the friends and enemies of the church? Are not his character and conduct such as to reflect deep disgrace on the clerical profession? Is it not indispensable that something should be done, that he should be called to account?' The reader will observe that I quote his own language; and I shall conclude the whole with presenting what was the practice of the church, while her discipline was administered impartially, without respect of persons.
'If any one has followed the soldier's life, though he had never happened to have shed blood, if he were ordained to any of the inferiour orders, he shall never arrive to the dignity of a deacon in the church.'
'If any one through haughtiness insult another, he shall for his offence be thrust down to the lowest degree of his own order, to teach him humility and submission in his station.'
'Any clergyman noted for scoffing and scurrilous language is to be degraded.'
'If bishops neglect to put the laws of discipline in execution, which is an act belonging to their office, they are liable to be degraded for such neglect, as well as those whom they ought to have punished.'
For any inaccuracies of expression which may appear in these sheets, (and they can scarce fail to abound) I must borrow the apology of Dr. Hobart. Although desirous that my appeal should make its appearance during the present session of the convention, yet I knew not until within eight and forty hours, on what day the members were to convene. Since that time, the writer and the printers have been incessantly engaged in their respective occupations: and should the design of the author be accomplished, in exciting the attention of the convention to the present state of the church in this diocese, he will not repine at any temporary diminution of his literary character.
Brooklyn, October 1, 1811.