APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC.
IN WHICH THE MISREPRESENTATIONS AND CALUMNIES,
BY A VERY EXTRAORDINARY MAN,
LATE MINISTER OF SAID CHURCH, ARE POINTED OUT,
BY JOHN BOURS
MERCHANT, AND ONE OF THE VESTRY OF SAID CHURCH.
''Honor and shame from no condition rise;
"Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow,
NEWPORT (Rhode-Island)PRINTED BY PETER EDES, MDCCLXXXIX
Transcribed by Wayne Kempton
Archivist and Historiographer of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, 2009
APPEAL TO THE PUBLIC:
CONSCIOUS that the remarks contained in my letter [See appendix.] addressed to the Rev. James Sayre, published in the Newport Herald of the 9th of October last, were founded on the firm basis of truth, I did not think he would have had the temerity to attempt a confutation of them. Near four months had passed away before the western post-rider arrived, fraught with pamphlets entitled, A narrative of certain matters relating to Trinity-Church; in Newport, &c. &c. One of them has fallen into my hands, and as I find Mr. Sayre has made Mr. Bours the hero, or rather the monster of his story, it becomes a duty in me to make some reply thereto.
How far Mr. Sayre has succeeded in answering my letter, or in acquiring credit by his performance, as a christian and a writer, I shall leave to the reader to determine.
To combat bigotry and enthusiasm would be in vain, and to persuade those, whom Mr. Sayre, by a magic peculiar to himself, has so deluded, as to make them believe that he is clothed, by virtue of his priest’s office, with full power to retain and forgive their sins, would be an idle task. When a man is once brought into this state of mind, the priest [5/6] has him in full possession--to such, therefore, I have nothing to say--to the unprejudiced and candid--to the friends of injured right, I appeal; and at their respectable tribunal, with all deference, the following remarks are submitted.
MR. SAYRE has very artfully introduced himself to the public attention by representing me as a person subject to quarrel with ministers, before his time, observing--“although there had been a considerable division in the congregation, previous to my call, occasioned by a contest between the Rev. Mr. Badger and Mr. John Bours, merchant, who had been employed by the congregation, as a lay-reader, in Trinity-Church, during the want of a minister, and who raised a quarrel with Mr. Badger (who was a sojourner at Newport) as soon as the thoughtful and sedate part of the congregation proposed to ask for Mr. Badger’s offices, yet, when I removed to Newport, all things had the appearance of peace and unanimity.”
MR. BADGER, who is now a settled minister, in the church, at Providence, in this State, will not, I fancy, thank Mr. Sayre for bringing his name into question, especially after refusing to interest himself, or to have any concern in his disputes, when he, some time past, made a visit to Providence for that purpose. Mr. Badger saw through the artifice, and had too much liberality and good sense to meddle--to rescue, however, my character from the censure Mr. Sayre intended to bring upon it, in this instance, it will be necessary to state the following facts, extracted from the records of Trinity-Church.
AT a meeting of the congregation, on Easter Monday, April 11th, 1784, voted, that Mr. Handy, Mr. Gibbs, and Mr. Champlin, with Mr. Brinley, be a committee to draw up a plan for settling a minister, and for fixing upon ways and means for his maintenance, and that they propose to Mr. Bours, his taking orders, and becoming our minister; and that the congregation be notified to meet here, on Monday the 19th, to receive their report.
 AGREEABLE to adjournment, the congregation assembled, on Monday, April the 19th, 1784.
WHEN it was voted, that Col. Malbone, Mr. Samuel Brenton, Mr. Francis Malbone, and Capt. John Northam, be a committee to apply to every proprietor of a pew, in the church, with the report, now made to, and accepted by, the congregation, assembled by adjournment, to receive the same, relative to settling a minister; and that the said proprietors be requested to signify their approbation of the same, by affixing their names.--Then follows, on the book of records, the names of sixty persons of the first character in the church.
AGAIN. At a meeting of the congregation, on Friday, May 7th, 1784, the following appears on record, contained in, and a part of the plan reported by the committee for settling a minister.
WHEREAS it appeared to be the unanimous wish of the congregation, at their meeting, on Easter Monday, that Mr. Bours, who has officiated in the church, as a lay-reader, to their satisfaction, for upwards of two years, would enter into holy orders, and become our minister: we would recommend an offer being made to Mr. Bours, to that purpose, allowing him a reasonable time to resolve whether he will accept; and that he be requested, in the mean time, to proceed, as he has done, and that he be allowed thirty pounds per annum, and the use of the parsonage-house for his trouble.
THE affairs of the church remained in this situation, until July the 26th following, when I wrote a letter directed to the wardens, vestry, and congregation, of which follows an exact copy.
GENTLEMEN, Newport, July 26th, 1784.
IMPRESSED with the most grateful sense of the honour conferred on me, on Easter Monday last, by your unanimous vote, and proposal to [7/8] me, to enter into holy orders, and to become your minister, I now feel myself obliged in conscience, as well as duty to the church, to defer my answer no longer; but to inform you, that, after the most mature deliberation, I am fearful that sacred office will not be compatible with my present circumstances, and therefore must, though reluctantly, decline the offer.
AS you cannot be insensible of my having the welfare and prosperity of the church near my heart, so you will not doubt my readiness, at all times, to co-operate with you, in any eligible plan, for settling a minister.
IN the mean while, if it is your desire, I will continue to keep the congregation together, in the way we are in, at present; and may heaven direct us for the best.
With every sentiment of love and affection, I remain,
Gentlemen, your most obliged and
obedient humble servant,
No other meeting was held before Friday the 10th of September following, when the vestry assembled at the church, and I requested a dismission from their service, but they urged me not to leave them, as they were not yet ripe for settling a minister, and passed a vote requesting me “to proceed in officiating in the church, as I had done, not-withstanding my letter of decline.”
AT the same meeting it was voted by a majority of one voice, “that Mr. Bours invite the Rev. Mr. Badger, in the name of the vestry, to officiate occasionally for a few Sundays.”
 UPON which vote, I would just remark, that as I acted, at this time, as moderator of the meeting, I had a right to tie the vote, and thereby have rendered it void; and had I been opposed to Mr. Badger, should probably have done it. Besides, he had officiated in the church before this, in consequence of my invitation, as a warden.
AND here I must observe that Mr. Badger, who had been a resident, with his family, in Newport, from the preceding November, had lately offered himself a candidate for our church, and that an opposition arose from a number of the congregation to his being settled. It was an unlucky moment for him, old political party prejudices, not being entirely erased from the minds of many, otherwise moderate persons in the church. It is not necessary that I should enter into a detail of particulars with regard to this matter, it will be sufficient to observe, that it had been insinuated to Mr. Badger, as I afterwards discovered, that, although I had given up all pretensions to the church myself, yet, that I still wished to stand in his way--an insinuation, as ungenerous as it was false.--A coolness between us, of course, ensued. A proposal, however, was made to me, some time after, by one of Mr. Badger's friends, who appeared desirous, if possible, to bring about his settlement in the church, that, as a previous step thereto, a reconciliation between us should be brought about, by referring the affair to certain gentlemen of the vestry--this was most readily assented to on my part, and I am now happy, in being able to offer to public view, the following certificate, given me, at the time I went to Boston, as a delegate from our church, to a convention of clergy and lay delegates, of which I shall have occasion to speak more particularly hereafter.
Newport, August 23d, 1785.
WE the subscribers, members of Trinity-Church, in this city, having some time past, in company with Francis Malbone, Esq. deceased, been called upon by the Rev. Mr. Badger and Mr. Bours, to hear and judge upon, the subject matter of a dispute subsisting between them, [9/10] do freely declare, that, after a full hearing of the parties, we were of opinion, as was Mr. Malbone, that Mr. Bours’s conduct to Mr. Badger, was, in every particular, becoming a christian and a man of honor.
SAMUEL FREEBODY, [* Elder church warden in Newport, a gentleman of great age, respectable family, and good reputation.]
THE business of the church proceeded without the least interruption, from the last meeting of the vestry, on the 10th of September, until Easter Monday, the 27th of March, 1785.
WHEN, notwithstanding my earnest desire, signified to the congregation, at this time assembled, that they would release me from their service--I was prevailed upon to give up the motion, whereupon, a vote (nem. con.) was passed viz.
THAT Mr. Bours be requested to officiate in the church, as he has done, for the year ensuing, and that he be paid for his services thirty pounds lawful money, and have the improvement of the parsonage house and lot, as the last year.
ON the 22d day of August following, in consequence of a letter from the Rev. Mr. Parker, minister of Trinity-Church, in Boston, requesting the church, at Newport, “to appoint one, or more, delegates to meet in convention, with delegates of the clergy and laity, from the states of Massachusetts and New-Hampshire, at Boston, to deliberate upon a plan for maintaining uniformity in divine worship, and adopting such other measures, as might tend to the union and prosperity of the episcopal churches, in the American states;” the congregation were convened, and having voted and resolved to comply with the requisition, unanimously requested me to proceed to Boston [10/11] and meet in the said convention, “with full power and authority to join in, and agree to, in behalf of the church, at Newport, any plan, or plans, that might be adopted at the said convention, or any other, that it might be judged necessary, by the said convention, to hold at a future day, for promoting the interest of the episcopal church, in the United States of America, reserving to the members of this church, the liberty of approving, or disapproving, of any alterations that may be made in the form of prayer.”
AGREEABLY to the aforegoing vote, I attended the said convention, and after my return, a meeting of the congregation was held, viz. on Monday the 12th of September 1785,--when the following entry was made in the church book of records.
MR. BOURS having reported to the congregation the proceedings of the convention of clergy and lay delegates from the several episcopal churches, in the states of Massachusetts, New-Hampshire and Rhode-Island, at Boston, on the 7th day of this month, and they having heard read, and duly weighed the same, do vote and resolve, that they fully approve of said proceedings, and do agree to adopt the alterations made in the liturgy, agreeably to the plan proposed.
THE propriety of my recapitulating these proceedings of the convention, at Boston, will appear in the sequel of this narrative.
AT a meeting of the congregation, on Easter Monday, April the 16th, 1786.
UPON a motion made by myself for settling a minister, it was voted, that Mr. Bours, Mr. Brinley and Capt. Handy, with the wardens, be a committee to write bishop Seabury upon the subject of obtaining a minister.
 VOTED, That the thanks of the congregation be returned to Mr. Bours for his past services, and that he be requested to keep them together, as he has done, until that a minister be settled.
A LETTER to bishop Seabury, agreeably to the aforegoing vote, was, on the 21st of April, 1786, wrote by myself, at the desire of the other gentlemen of the committee, as one of them, and not as clerk of the vestry, as Mr. Sayre has sneeringly insinuated, which letter being approved of, and signed by us all, was forwarded by the first post.
No answer was received from the bishop till the July following, when a letter came to hand, recommending Mr. Sayre, as a suitable person for our minister.
A MEETING, in consequence thereof, was called on the 31st of said month, and that no time might be lost, the same persons were requested, by a vote, to write to bishop Seabury again, and also to Mr. Sayre, inviting him to come to Newport and officiate a few Sundays, that the congregation might have an opportunity of hearing and, if they approved, to treat upon terms of settlement.
IT fell to my lot, as before, to write to bishop Seabury and Mr. Sayre, on the 2d of August, and the letters being approved of and signed by the rest of the committee, with myself, were, without delay, forwarded by the post.--I have been thus particular to shew that there was no backwardness, on my part, in obtaining a minister.
MR. SAYRE, on receiving the letter directed to him, visited Newport, in company with bishop Seabury, and officiated, in the church, on Sunday the 27th of August, and, the same afternoon, was elected our minister. The week after, he returned to Fairfield, in Connecticut, for his family, and on the first of October following, arrived at Newport, and entered on the duties of his office the same day.
 ON the next Sunday afternoon, October the 8th, 1786, after divine service, the following resolve was agreed to.
THE congregation, having a grateful sense of the services rendered to the church by Mr. Bours, in his officiating for them, for the last five years, as a lay-reader, and, by other means, promoting their welfare, do unanimously vote him their sincere and hearty thanks.
ENTERED by order of the congregation,
FRANCIS MALBONE, Warden.
THE indulgent public will, I flatter myself, excuse the prolixity of the aforegoing statement of facts, with so many egotisms, as it was unavoidable, in order to shew in what light I was viewed by a very numerous and most respectable society of christians, with whom I had long walked in communion--whose servant I had been, with some intermissions, during the late troubles, upwards of twenty years, as a warden, vestryman, and clerk of the vestry; and to promote whose prosperity, I had sacrificed many worldly considerations.--Surely then, the world will have the charity to believe, that I am not deserving the opprobrious character Mr. Sayre has taken great pains to brand me with.--That I could have been settled as minister of Trinity Church, will not, I presume, be doubted, by any one who only attends to the several votes of the congregation, copied into this narrative, from the church book of records.--What Mr. Sayre means by an unhappy itch, I am at a loss to conjecture. If he would insinuate that I had a desire to preside in the church, and was rendered unhappy, by not being able to gratify that desire, what has just been observed of the records of the church, must prove that he is mistaken. It is an undoubted fact, that if I had expressed a wish to have been re-elected, after my letter of resignation, though it may appear vain in me to assert it, I could have obtained a vote in my favor by a great majority of the proprietors. But I take this opportunity to declare, whether Mr. Sayre [13/14] and his adherents believe me or not, that I never entertained an idea of the kind, after I had formerly resigned; I could not have consulted my own happiness, by so doing. No further comment then is necessary on this mark of his disingenuity, especially as he condescends to acknowledge “that he found me to stand so well with several good characters, when he became acquainted with his flock, and that I carried myself in such an obliging and apparently friendly manner towards him, that his prejudices concerning me, above alluded to, were greatly abated, nay almost departed.” From his own confession then, it is evident, that this good man came to Newport with a mind full of rancor and bitterness against me, and which he never could get the mastery of, till it burnt out into an open blaze. He gave indeed a proof of his enmity to me the first time he administered the holy sacrament in our church, dishonoring the sacredness of the ordinance by the overflowing of a perverse temper. But observe, he is not candid in assigning any reason for his ill treatment: I will therefore do it for him.--The sacred dignity of the priesthood had been encroached upon by my officiating in the church, as a lay-reader, although a practice justified by many clergyman of the first character for piety, earning, and orthodoxy, in the church of England, to which he professes himself to belong.--Often has it been remarked, from his first coming to Newport, that when he has heard my name mentioned in company with approbation, he never was once known even to nod in assent; but, like the sensitive plant, always shrunk at the touch; and often wondering, with seeming concern, that I had so many friends. All the services which I had rendered the church, and kind offices to him, were ineffectual towards eradicating his deep-rooted prejudices.
TO follow Mr. Sayre through his strange farrago of unintelligibles, and remark upon all his trifling observations and quibbles, would be like pursuing an ignis-fatuus; only to point out some of his most glaring mistakes and misrepresentations, and confute a few of his many barefaced assertions, will exhaust enough of my time and the reader’s patience.
 AS he has introduced in his narrative, his two Roman Catholic sermons, so called, I shall make no apology to him for my doing the same, and remarking, particularly upon those rocks, on which he has split. But I shall take the liberty of representing them, as delivered, though materially different in many expressions, if not in sense, from his account.
ON the 30th of March, 1788, P. M. Mr. Sayre preached from Mat. 5th, 20th verse. Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall, in no case, enter into the kingdom of heaven. When, at the close of the sermon, he observed, he did not understand the kingdom of heaven, in this place, to mean a state of happiness, or bliss, hereafter, but the church upon earth, that church to which he belonged, and asserted, that, by virtue of his commission, from a bishop, who derived his authority to commissionate from the apostles, who were authorized by Christ himself, he was clothed with power to retain, and remit sins, upon repentance; to which he added, that he would not deserve the character of an honest man, and be worthy to stand in that place, if he did not preach this doctrine--and that unless his congregation believed, as he did, a lay-reader would do as well for them as he, and that it would be better for them to pay their money for the support of theatrical entertainments and amusements than to pay it to a minister.--Great, indeed, was the astonishment of most of the audience, at this new and strange doctrine, and the following week, it became the topic of conversation among christians, of all denominations, in the town--this was soon carried to Mr. Sayre, and, it was said, he appeared pleased that his sermon was so talked of, observing his congregation would be roused thereby, to search the scriptures, whether these things were so, or not, from whence he could support the doctrine advanced, and this I am inclined to believe from the following circumstance -- the Sunday after, when the first bell was ringing for the evening service, he called upon a gentleman of his communion to inform him, he designed, that afternoon, to enforce the doctrine, advanced the Sunday before, [15/16] and wished him to attend, he having been absent from church in the morning--this account I had from the gentleman’s own mouth--it is probable he went to others on the like errand. His text, in the afternoon, was Luke 5th, 24th verse. But that ye may know that the Son of Man hath power, upon earth, to forgive sins, &c.--The power of the priest to retain and forgive sins was warmly enforced--the absolution, [* Mr. Sayre has manifested great disingenuity in quoting this absolution, which reads thus--“and by his authority committed to me, I absolve thee from all thy sins,” without giving, at the same time, his favourite Mr. Wheatly’s explanation of it.--If we look forward, says that excellent commentator, to the collect immediately after to be used, it looks as if the church did only intend, the remission of ecclesiastical censures and bonds, for, in that prayer, the penitent, is said, still most earnestly to desire pardon and forgiveness, which surely there would be no occasion to do, if he had been actually pardoned and forgiven by GOD, by virtue of this absolution pronounced before. Again, the priest offers a special request, that GOD would preserve and continue him in the unity of the church, which seems to suppose that the foregoing absolution had been pronounced, in order to restore him to its peace. N. B. Mr. Sayre had been reading part of this book to the congregation.] in the service for the visitation of the sick, was particularly referred to and insisted upon, as directly in point.--He observed that Christ, as Son of man, upon earth, forgave sins, and introduced the following simile to prove his having the same power, making himself equal with God. Suppose, says he, a king should appoint a governor, and that governor, by virtue of his authority derived from the king, should condemn a criminal to death, and should think proper afterwards to pardon him, but, upon offering him the pardon, he refuses to accept it, because it does not come from the king himself.--Now in such a case, what would be done?--would not the king deliver him immediately to the executioner?--Again, it may be asked, says he--suppose a person should sincerely repent of his sins and beg forgiveness of GOD, in private, will he not receive pardon?--he may; but if he lives where a priest can be come at, he fails in his duty, if he does not apply for absolution.
I now appeal to the candid and unprejudiced, who heard those sermons, whether I have not related the sentiments, if not the very words, contained in them; and if so, can it be a matter of surprise, that not only [16/17] the congregation, but the whole town was set into flame? If one walked into the streets--entered into any place of public resort--or mixed in a private circle, at a friend’s house--at each place, Mr. Sayre’s sermons were the theme, for weeks afterwards.
BUT he tells us, that “he felt himself much hurt, in that good intentions had been so wretchedly misconceived.” I wouldask him what were those good intentions, which he had so much at heart, in preaching those sermons?--were they to proselyte his hearers to the absurd doctrines of the Romish church?--If he had any meaning, it must have been that, and if he succeeded, some profit might be expected to result therefrom, to himself, but no real advantage, that I can conceive of, to his converts. He goes on to observe that, on the next Sunday, “he endeavoured to appeal to the candour of his hearers,” (which I deny--if he had said passions, instead of candour, I would have joined issue) in a sermon from John 18th, 23d verse. Jesus answered if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil, but if well, why smiteth thou me.--This sermon was an insult to the understanding of the hearers, as it contained little else, but whining and equivocation, and was void of all argument, except that he was sure he did not mean to give offence to any body--that he said no more than what he pronounced in the absolution, in the morning and evening service; and could not conceive how the sense could be altered by the same thing being said from a place a few feet higher, meaning, it was supposed, the pulpit,--weighty arguments, indeed! and they did, in a measure, answer the end proposed--they drew tears from some eyes.--Not a sentence, however, was quoted from either of his sermons to convince his hearers that he had been misunderstood, or a wrong construction had been put upon them. How easily might any misconceptions have been removed by the sermons being produced?--many persons, it is true, were promised the reading of them, and some of his friends talked of their being printed, but he was sensible neither could be done without his being exposed, and if any material alterations were made therein, the danger of being detected was evident, [17/18] many expressions having been too pointed, when delivered, to be so soon forgotten by the hearers.--But all this is superfluous, he himself being judge, for he has avowed the doctrine of his possessing the power of retaining and forgiving sins, in the clearest terms, in a letter to a worthy gentleman of the vestry, of the 16th of April last, from which follows an extract; and publicly, though more artfully expressed, has said the same thing in the pamphlet now under consideration.
“NOW, Sir, only turn your eyes to that commission, which is, at least pretended to be given by a bishop to a man he ordains presbyter, in the church of England; to which I have supposed you to belong, and if you do not find in it “the power to remit, and to retain sins,” I will with just shame, recant and recall all which I said in the misunderstood, or wickedly perverted sermon, and if you or any man, can shew that the bishop of London had not first himself that power, which he purported to give, I will do the same as above, or if it can be shewn, that the same commission has not been handed down from the apostles, through every age of the christian church, I will not only revoke all said in that sermon, but will lay down my gown and office, and confess to the world, that I have been an impious wretch without knowing it.--Let me just add, that it is surprising to me, that after having preached the gospel (as was supposed) for a year and a half, in this place, any of my church should be offended, as soon as I endeavoured to shew my commission for it. For, not only is the power to remit and retain sin, expressly a part of that commission, but if I have any reason, it is necessarily implied in all the offices for which a minister can be supposed to be vested with an exclusive authority.”
SOON after, he observes, that a friend had told him “that Mr. Bours had undoubtedly taken pains to represent his sentiments as Roman Catholic.”--This is really capital. I would be glad to know of him, why I should be singled out from the whole congregation, as more apt than others to make remarks upon the preacher, and as the occasion of all the clamour raised against him?--It is making me, a man of [18/19] consequence, indeed, to be able to influence the sentiments, not only of a congregation but of a town.--Let me ask him if he does not recollect often saying that the church of England had reformed, and reformed, till they had reformed all away, and that if he could only hop over the doctrine of transubstantiation, he should be a good Roman Catholic; and whether he did not tell a certain gentleman of the vestry, that the common people ought not to be indulged with the use of the bible, or words of the same import?--I would advise him to think twice, before he attempts to answer in the negative once, as he has, on several former occasions, discovered a great spirit of forgetfulness, and people have been very subject, as he conceited, to misunderstand him.
WHEN a speaker appears in public, he certainly does it at the risk of his reputation. Every person, even those who are the least qualified to judge, assumes a right to criticise on what is advanced from the pulpit; and what is more common than for a congregation, with very few exceptions, as soon as they are out of church, or are formed into circles afterwards, to make observations upon, and scrutinize the preacher?--To be talked of, and to have all his actions discanted upon, is a tax every man, in a conspicuous department of life, pays to the public. It would be strange then, wondrous strange, if Mr. Sayre was not noticed for preaching three sermons the most extraordinary, that were perhaps ever delivered to a protestant congregation. That I made remarks, in common, with other hearers, is not denied, as all had an undoubted right to do; and if the sermons would not stand the test of scripture and common sense, it was no crime, but a duty to condemn them.
“HE and a certain lady in Newport,” Mr. Sayre next observes, “were known to be inimical to him.” He ought to have added, that when at [19/20] that lady’s house, upon a visit, as her spiritual counsellor, finding her in a languishing state, and, to all appearance, drawing near to the time of her dissolution--a widow too, unprotected by husband, or children, he treated her with an unpardonable indelicacy, and afterwards signified to her, that he should have scruples about reading the burial service over her.--Can it then be wondered at, that a lady of sense, and refinement of manners, should feel and resent an insult, which no ill treatment could possibly have justified in any man, much less in a minister of the gospel, and in a sick chamber?
HE now mentions his calling the vestry, in the month May, having two subjects of business to propose to them, one of which was, “whether they approved of his asking the bishop to come prepared to consecrate the church, the vessels of the church, &c.” and after giving an account, somewhat different from mine, in the Newport Herald, of what passed upon the occasion, brings again into view, in order to justify his conduct therein, the reprimand given me, at my house, for “beginning to make preparation to sit down,” &c. by saying to me in the isle, “Sir, cannot I believe my own eyes?” The reader would naturally suppose, by his pretending that he perceived me to move, perhaps, one second of time before the rest of the congregation, that I was placed directly under his eye; but will he not be surprised, when informed that my seat is at the distance of nine square pews from the desk, and in the most crowded part of the church, my own pew like-wise generally filled, and Mr. Sayre at his devotions?--it is utterly impossible, unless he saw me, as the man, I once heard of, affirmed that he had seen Sampson--with an eye of faith.
NOTHING more, worthy of notice, presents, till we come to his letter of the 20th of May, and my reply.--When I addressed Mr. Sayre, in the Newport Herald of the 9th of October last, I observed that his “letter must be looked upon by every unprejudiced man, who sets a just value upon his character, as an outrage upon all decency, an unwarrantable attack upon my reputation,” &c. few persons, I believe, think otherwise: [20/21] yet, as it is the mark of an ingenuous mind, when a man is sensible of having err’d, to confess it--as a christian, I acknowledge, that I felt the insult too keenly, and was too hasty in answering.--Had I deferred writing till the next day, it is probable a different reply would have been the consequence, however, as a man of feeling, I may presume on the candor of the unprejudiced. My asserting, that I had no sin to confess to him, he observes, was a strong presumptive proof, that I was indeed the person who represented his sentiments, upon the authority of the church, as Roman Catholic,--hehad, perhaps, forgot that this, which appears to be a mere quibble, was mentioned just before, and ought not to apply to any individual rather than another, several hundred persons having heard those famous sermons, as well as myself. Besides, he should have recollected himself, and informed the public that he had made an attack upon two very respectable gentlemen, one of them a member of the vestry, the other not belonging to his society, on account of those sermons, six weeks before the assault made upon me, and by a most extraordinary letter addressed to each of them, had occasioned both their families to withdraw from church--there was craft in passing over in silence these transactions, as likewise in not giving credit for the following address, which brought about the first meeting of the wardens and vestry on my account, and which, it must be presumed, he was made acquainted with.
Newport, May 31st, 1788.
IT is with infinite concern that Mr. Bours, a member and vestryman of Trinity Church, finds himself in a situation, which compels him to trouble the gentlemen wardens, and his brethren of the vestry. The Rev. Mr. Sayre has attacked Mr. Bours's character and reputation, as he conceives, in an unprecedented manner--he will not at present, enter into particulars, nor attempt to point out to the gentlemen, any mode of procedure--he only asks of them to do him the justice to investigate the reasons Mr. Sayre has for this conduct toward him; and, upon examination of the canons and rubric of the church, [21/22] determine whether he has not in this instance, exceeded his power. Mr. B. sends herewith Mr. Sayre’s letter, and a copy of the answer thereto, which may, perhaps, be thought by some too full of asperity, but when it is considered that the attack was, as unexpected as cruel; and that the answer was wrote, soon after, with a mind greatly agitated and amidst many avocations, he hopes that candor will plead an apology.
DIRECTED to the gentlemen wardens and vestry of Trinity Church.
HE observes, that I had not been pleased to assign any reason why the affair of his letter to me could not be kept private, as he wanted it should--a very good reason is at hand--I had been a constant attendant at the communion, for many years, and, I hope, not so unworthy a one as he has endeavoured to make me. Would not then a public enquiry be made into the cause, immediately upon my being missed from the altar?--It was an affair of such a nature, as bishop Seabury justly observed to me, could not be kept private. But Mr. Sayre and some of his friends have laid great stress upon my refusing to meet him at his own house, in private, no one to witness to the conversation between us. I do now most solemnly declare, that actuated by a sincere disposition to prevent uneasiness and schism in the church, I was ready, at all times, to agree to any proposal consistent with the preservation of my character; and, to that end, consulted with several of my friends on the propriety and expediency of meeting him alone, but not one of them advised to the measure, though many did the reverse.--Suppose, for arguments sake, I had submitted to his humour, and the matter had been privately settled, would not the world, naturally prone to censure, have inferred and with good reason, that I had committed some great crime, which this good man had acquired the knowledge of, but from a tenderness to my family would not reveal, as he had informed several of my acquaintances was the case? He had also told several gentlemen in [22/23] the church, and of other societies, that he knew enough of me to ruin me in this world, and in the world to come, and if he had me in England could also take my life. The town stood aghast, and waiting, with impatience to hear the dreadful crime announced--when lo! after all the noise, and a thousand evasions, he speaks out in plain terms--“I would with Mr. Bours would ask himself what is worse than rebellion against the church?” Is not this truly astonishing?--pray what does he mean by rebellion against the church? for my own part, I must confess, it is beyond my comprehension.
AFTER observing that bishop Seabury had held a private conference with me, at my house, he remarks that “the bishop reported that conversation, and gave his opinion of matters to me in such a manner that for my own part, I thought peace was made, and that nothing was now necessary but for Mr. Bours, and those who had taken his part, to renew and continue their attendance at church.”--Was there ever any thing so enigmatical?--he thought, he says, peace was made.--What made him think so?--Did the bishop tell him it was?--Why will he not speak plainly and declare what the bishop advised him to do?--Why did he call upon my friend, Mr. Francis Malbone, with so much seeming candor, to hear him read, in the presence of wardens, his letter of complaint against me to the bishop, and absolutely refuse to let the answer thereto be seen?--Is this generous? or rather, does it discover great unfairness?--His saying that “Mr. Bours might as justly be charged with an artful suppression of all his own letters of business, because he has not shewn them to me,” will not satisfy the reasonable enquirer.
AS to his remark, in a note, that the bishop had private reasons for not interfering judicially, it is perfectly ridiculous, and calculated only to impose on the ignorant.--Why will he not be candid for once, by acknowledging that the bishop utterly disclaimed all pretensions to supremacy over the church at Newport, and visited me in the character of a christian and private gentleman, disposed to serve the interest of the [23/24] church?--Mr. Sayre might, with equal propriety, have appealed to the bishop of London, or of Pennsylvania; but his head is so full of sacerdotal power, and ecclesiastical courts, that he cannot divest himself of the pleasing ideas, and perhaps, of presiding ere long himself, in all the regalia of the eastern pontiff--Enravishing thought!
HAVING pursued a step, justified by the bishop, and every reasonable man, in the congregation, by calling upon the gentlemen of the vestry, whose province alone, I supposed it was, to take cognizance of the matter, and adjudge thereupon, I hold myself guiltless of all the ill consequences which have arisen to Mr. Sayre--they are altogether to be imputed to his own obstinate perverse temper. He makes a distinction, or rather tries hard to make one, between the minister and the man, which seems to be a new kind of logic of his own, and what he would be puzzled to define to any other man’s comprehension, however well he may conceit he understands it himself.
IT is really surprising that one, who makes such professions of superior sanctity, should be so ignorant of the state of his own mind, and dare to misrepresent facts as he does--I blush for him. In page 23, he says, “although Mr. Bours seemed so anxious about his character, a little while ago, and desired me to call the vestry, at Mr. Malbone’s, on purpose to have it set right, yet, it seems, none of the equitable modes of trying matters in debate between him and me, which he proposed at the meeting last mentioned, would suit him.” What a strange unintelligible rhapsody this!--he then proceeds--for, “instead of his calling for any of them, or proposing any other mode of trial himself,--his next measure was to bring about a meeting of most of the vestry, and two other gentlemen, at Capt. Handy’s”--How unfair this representation--and how far I was concerned in those two meetings, will appear from the following papers.
 Newport, 25th July, 1788.
WE the subscribers, part of the vestry and proprietors of Trinity Church, rendered unhappy on the separation that is likely to ensue, are desirous of a conference with you, on the subject, at Mr. Francis Malbone's (or any other place you may think more agreeable) to endeavour to prevent it.--Parson Sayre's and Mr. Bours's dispute is not our object. It is your and our families peace and happiness we would wish to effect. A serious consideration of which, hope will bring us together with dispositions to continue that friendship and harmony which has long subsisted among us, and not sacrifice it for the sake of any individual.
WE are with sincerest intentions,
Your friends and servants.
Signed by four of the vestry and a number of proprietors, and directed to other gentlemen of the vestry.
WE the subscribers, part of the vestry and proprietors of Trinity Church, having met this day, with design of establishing peace in the church, do recommend that the Rev. Mr. Sayre and Mr. John Bours be requested, by a committee, to be appointed for that purpose, to meet together, in company with us, on Wednesday next, at 5 o’clock, P. M. at the house of Mr. Charles Handy, there, by shaking of hands, put an end to the present unhappy division, and bring about a reconciliation between them, and re-establish peace and harmony, [25/26] so much the wish of every well disposed christian and churchman.
Robert Auchmuty, Thomas Wickham, Francis Malbone. John Handy, Samuel Freebody, Benjamin Gardiner, Christopher Champlin, George Gibbs, Edward Mumford, Thomas Wickham, Francis Malbone, Stephen Ayrault, Charles Handy, Thomas Freebody, Francis Brinley, Henry Hunter, John Baker, Robert N. Auchmuty, Stephen Deblois, John Malbone.
Monday, 28th July, 1788.
I HAD fully determined never more to trouble the vestry, or any of my friends, with this business, after the last meeting at Mr. Malbone’s, but peaceably to withdraw myself and family from the ministrations of a man who had forfeited, in my opinion, every claim to the character of a good christian minister, persuaded, in my own mind, from all his behaviour, that he would sacrifice not only me and my family, but the whole church, rather than give up a single point of what he terms dignity of office, and I am sorry to say he has discovered as malevolence of heart, which every generous mind must reprobate, in refusing his assent to my solemn declaration in the Newport Herald of the 2d of October last; “that I was not directly or indirectly the author of the piece alluded to, or of any others reflecting on him, published in either of the Newport papers;” and I now challenge him too produce one decent person in the town, of the scores he boasts of who will say he does not credit my word. There is an old adage that some people measure their neighbors corn by their own bushel, or in other words, judge of their hearts, by there own--quere, is not this applicable to the present case?--as to his question “if any other person had been the author of the piece in the Newport Mercury, seeing the printer was in no danger of a prosecution, why could [26/27] could not Mr. Bours, or his friends, have found out and declared the author,” it is as puerile, as his argument, that I must have been the author, because the word extraordinary, which was made use of in my letter, was found twice in that publication--this is really the most extraordinary of all extraordinaries.
ANOTHER instance of the great inconsistency of his conduct appears from his own words, page 19. “I read a notice in church in these words--I request that the gentlemen, the wardens, the gentlemen of the vestry, without exception (these words were used, lest Mr. Bours might think himself excluded) and the proprietors of pews intitled to vote, will be good enough to meet me in the church, at 6 o’clock this evening that I may consult them upon a matter highly interesting to myself.” Upon this, it must be remarked, that a great part of the persons assembled in consequence of this notification, were not proprietors, and therefore had no right to vote--and now take notice of what follows--“Mr. Bours's particular vote, deserves particular attention, as I knew that he had raised all the opposition to me, I had no thought of asking his vote.”--Was there ever anything equal to this?--can a man in the exercise of his reason be guilty of such palpable contradictions? Mr. Bours is particularly invited--and when he appears on the spot, in consequence of that invitation, Mr. Sayre acknowledges he had no thought of asking his vote.
HE should be corrected in another mistake--perhaps, it was not wilful--speaking of the meeting he had called to put the question whether he should continue in office, or not, he asserts, that Mr. Bours and six others of the vestry did not attend--this account should have been reversed--only six were present, and nine absent--a manifest disapprobation of his behaviour.
IT is also observable that he discovers a sacred regard to the rubric of the church, when it suits his purpose. As in the instance of applying, within fourteen days, to the bishop, who, as before observed, disclaimed [27/28] all ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the church at Newport,--at other times, the rubric is out of the question, as when a vagrant Portuguese, whom he had never seen before, is admitted by him to the altar,--What says the rubric?--“So many as intend to be partakers of the holy communion, shall signify their names to the curate, at least, some time the day before.” This affair made a great noise, and no wonder, as Mr. Sayre had been always scrupulously exact with respect to the admittance of persons to the altar, and had evaded giving the sacrament to several of the first character, in the church, persons of irreproachable lives and conversation, when requested of him upon their death beds, soothing them with remarking, that their signifying a desire to partake of that holy ordinance, would be equally as acceptable with the Lord, as the real participation.--Surprising conduct!
A MATTER now presents, which seems to require a more particular explanation--I mean the terrible story about the Athanasian creed--This, every body, who knows Mr. Sayre, is sensible, is his hobby-horse--the favorite subject of conversation in all companies, and a pleasing theme for the pulpit--for he had not been settled long in Newport, before he undertook an explanation of it in a sermon, and called upon the congregation present to take up their prayer books and attend to him, as he proceeded, sentence by sentence.--What edification was received, or what new light was thrown upon the subject by the notable performance, I leave for the audience to determine. One thing, however, is certain, he was much ridiculed. Every clergyman in the church, who does not read it, is, in his opinion, a heretic;--and often has he declared, he would sooner have his right hand cut of than give up the use of it, notwithstanding, by the alterations made in the liturgy, at the convention held in Boston (already mentioned in this narrative) and which had been adapted by our church; this creed was expunged (from) the service. Upon being asked by one of the vestry, at the meeting, called to consider his motion with regard to consecrating the church-house, &c. whether bishop White had consecrated the [28/29] the churches at Philadelphia, his answer was--there are no churchmen there, or, they are not churchmen there.--Now, what could he mean by this reflection, but that as they had lain aside this creed, ergo, they were not churchmen?
HAVING raked every kennel, and made use of every possible artifice to injure my character, and finding himself foiled in all his attempts, he attacks me in a tender part, indeed,--he privately and insidiously alienates from me, the affections of my old friend and neighbour Mr. Samuel Freebody, a gentleman of reputation and worth, with whom I had lived in the strictest bonds of uninterrupted harmony, for more than twenty years,--well may I term this--not his capital, but his super-superlative manoeuvre. He prevails upon this old and warm friend, to who I was wont in the hour of confidence, and difficulty, to unbosom myself, and lay open my soul, to betray and misrepresent private conversation. Hear his own words, “Mr. Bours had in private conversation uttered many severe things about me, which Mr. Freebody opposed, and for which he reproved Mr. Bours.”--Mr. Freebody is an old gentleman and very infirm; and every one who has transacted business with him, for several years past, knows that he is frequently complaining of the weakness of his head, and the treachery of his memory, how improbable then is it, that my aged friend should remember a conversation that happened between us, upwards of two years before, so perfectly, as to be able to swear, not only to the expressions, but the words made use of, at the time, which is exactly ascertained by his mentioning the Rev. Mr. Freeman of Boston? I deny that I said the creed alluded to contained a heap of inconsistencies. Mr. Freebody would have come nearer the truth, if he had sworn, that I observed to him the said creed contained a doctrine incomprehensible to the finite understanding of man, but as we were commanded in scripture, to believe the doctrine of the trinity, so, it became a duty to give our assent thereto--and further, that I observed this creed was disused by all the churches within the United States, excepting Connecticut, and even there but seldom [29/30] read, and as the damnatory clause, so called, were stumbling blocks, in the way of many serious good christians, in our own church, it would be as well for us also to lay it aside.--I do not recollect a word being said about bishop Seabury--the craft of introducing whose name is apparent--to irritate and make him my enemy--But Mr. Sayre says, “Mr. Freebody did not make minutes upon paper, of Mr. Bours words, at the time, they walked together in the confidence of Friendship,” in the paragraph immediately following an acknowledgment that “the old gentleman had asked of him the times of his preaching some of his sermons, as a guide to ascertain the times of conversation with Mr. Bours.” Now if Mr. Sayre is not condemned by the words of his own mouth, and every impartial reader convinced, from these remarks, that he and Mr. Freebody had combined in a plot against me--in the hour of confidence--I would beg him to contrast their conduct with the following certificate (not obtained by any “art magic”) of Mr. James Robinson, a gentleman of indubitable reputation and honor, and then reconcile, if he can, the treatment I have received from Mr. Sayre and Mr. Freebody, with the principles of justice and virtue.
BEING, some time past, in conversation with Mr. James Sayre, late a preacher in this town, respecting his dispute with Mr. John Bours, he told me that he had enough against said Mr. Bours to ruin him in this world and the world to come, and that if they were both in England, he could take his life; and that if he could not obtain satisfaction of him in an ecclesiatical court, he would say something of him to one of his friends, who should tell said Bours of it, bad enough to induce said Bours to bring an action against him, at common law, when he would plead his own cause, and could obtain damages of him.
To the truth of the above, am ready to affirm, when ever called upon.
Newport, February the 16th, 1789.
 I ENTERTAIN no enmity against my old friend, on account of what has happened, but still esteem him for his many former acts of kindness: and am disposed to ascribe his ungenerous usage of me to the true cause--an implicit faith in a man, who, with a little smattering knowledge of the law, joined to the wildness of enthusiasm, is completely qualified to impose on weak minds. A person need not be an adept in history to know what advantages have been taken of mankind, by the vilest artifices clothed in a religious garb.
I CANNOT, in justice to my reputation, pass unnoticed one thing more, on which great stress has been laid, and gross misrepresentations founded, in order to prove me guilty of falsehood--and Mr. Sayre has even dared, without any warrant for so doing, to assert that I had lent copies of my letter to him, and of his to me, from which, he adds, “I know not how many copies had been taken and circulated long before I left. Newport.”--Thefollowing certificate from a gentleman of very respectable character and a proprietor in the church, will, it is hoped, set this matter in its true light.
THIS may certify, that, some time the last summer, hearing that Mr. John Bours had received a very singular letter from the Rev. James Sayre, minister of Trinity Church, in Newport, I sent my servant Negro girl, to Mr. Bours to request a sight of the same--the girl returned, and said Mr. Bours would call upon me in the evening. He accordingly did call upon me, and offered to indulge me in reading the said letter and his answer. I was much unwell and therefore requested the favour of Mr. Bours to leave them with me, to read the next morning, when they should be carefully returned. One of my sisters knowing that I had borrowed these letters, dared me to let her see them, this I granted her, and without thinking of any ill consequence that might result therefrom, she permitted Miss Sukey Bird to read them, who privately took a copy of Mr. Bours's letter. The next morning, Mr. Bours sent his son for the letters and they [31/32] were returned to him, without his having any notice given him that a copy had been so taken.
Newport, February 11, 1789.
THE young lady, mentioned in this certificate, to have privately taken a copy of my letter, and who, it is to be remembered, is so enthusiastically devoted to Mr. Sayre, that she pronounced him a greater man than St. Paul, and publicly declared that in her opinion, it would be better for the sun to set, never more to rise upon Newport, than for him to leave it; She, I say, who had also acquired the title of the poetess, by occasionally gracing the Parnassian Loom, in the Newport papers, with borrowed ditties, to puff the priest, and, in return, was registered by him in his list of saints, calls to her assistance, a certain pert boy, distinguished only by his impudence and voluble tongue, he takes a number of copies of this letter, and circulates them through the town--this done, they and their priest, tax me with giving out copies, and, upon my denial of having so done,--this sameboy has the audacity to swear to an absolute untruth before John Grelea, Esquire--But he is a saint too, and perhaps has had the benefit of absolution. Be astonished, reader, at this instance of complicated iniquity! the boy, however, may rest assured, that all his revilings and slanders, daily vented against me, in the streets and market places, are regarded, as I should, in riding through-- the barking of the village cur.
IN my letter to Mr. Sayre, of the 9th of October last, published in the Newport Herald, as already alluded to, I observed that he had in his letter to bishop Seabury, unfairly and ingenuously stated the case relative to his complaint against me--what says he on this head?--"I thought it my duty to remit his letter and mine, with a state of facts, in a letter to bishop Seabury, which letter of mine to the bishop I voluntarily shewed to several gentlemen of the vestry, one of whom was a particular friend of Mr. Bours, before I closed and sent it, [32/33] lest by any means, I might state things partially, for Mr. Bours had declined appealing to the bishop, I asked those gentlemen's opinion, whether I had stated the facts candidly and truly, having obtained their answer in the affirmative, I closed and dispatched the letter within the time appointed in the rubric."--What an appearance of candour! that Mr. Sayre has misrepresented this transaction, by asserting that he obtained the gentlemen's opinion in the affirmative, will appear by comparing his own, with Mr. Francis Malbone's account of that matter, which follows in order--but observe the cunning--the hole left to creep out at--he does not say they all approved--I never thought, says he, in his postscript, "all the dissenters heretics"--"neither did I ever call Mr. Patten, and all the dissenters so"--this is really curious--who can read it, and command his risible muscles?
"AUDI ET ALTERAM PARTEM."
SOME time in May last, Mr. John Bours shewed me a letter he had received from the Rev. James Sayre, forbidding his attendance at the communion table, &c. and also a copy of his answer, both which I shewed to two gentlemen of the vestry, and, by their advice, immediately waited on Mr. Sayre, to endeavor, if possible, to bring about a reconciliation, before the matter should become public; but, after much conversation on the subject, he finally said, that unless Mr. Bours would repent and come to him at the parsonage, he must and should appeal to the bishop, on which I left him.--We had, however, several conversations afterwards respecting the matter, in the course of which, he more than once told me, he had enough against Mr. Bours to ruin him both in this world and the world to come, that as long as Mr. Bours was in the church, he could have no influence in his vestry, and many other things--unnecessary to mention at present.
IN about a fortnight after the above period, I received a note from Mr. Sayre requesting me to meet him at Mr. Samuel Freebody's, [33/34] I accordingly did, and there found Mess. Samuel Freebody, Thomas Wickham, and John Handy with him, the Rev. Gentleman told us his motive for calling us together was that he might read his letter to the bishop, containing a statement of the dispute subsisting between him and Mr. Bours, he asked us after he had read it, whether he had not given a candid and fair statement of the matter--I told him I thought, he had not by any means, for that a person who should read his letter without any further knowledge of the facts, must most certainly condemn Mr. Bours. After a little conversation, which was carried on with some degree of warmth, he said he should forward the letter as it was, and left us I suppose for that purpose.
To the truth of the aforewritten, I am ready to make oath if called on.
Newport, 24th of February, 1789.
"I FORBEAR saying as much as I could concerning him," proceeds the pious man.--Will any one who has read Mr. Sayre's narrative, with any degree of attention, believe that he can have any new matter to bring forward against a "son of all unrighteousness," or that he has not already drawn the most envenomed arrow from his quiver?--One thing, however, he may depend on--let him say what he will--that, armed with the impenetrable shield of truth and innocence, I stand prepared to encounter all his machinations.
"MAGNA EST VERITAS ET, PREVALEBIT."
HE will excuse my taking this liberty with his motto, as it seems to be so very applicable to my purpose.
UPON the whole, it appears that there was a great clamour raised against Mr. Sayre in Newport, and he had many principal characters opposed [34/35] to him in the church.--That this should be the case, will not appear strange, when a retrospect is taken of his conduct since his settlement in this place. And here I would ask him, whether he has not used every method to procure to himself enemies, by affronting the gentlemen of the clergy of other denominations, representing them as mimicks, and intruders into the priest's office, mere lay-readers--and whether he has not spoken in the most contemptuous terms of that numerous and most respectable society of christians, the Friends--observing that quakerism was but deism refined; and that he would rather be a Mahometan than a quaker, with many other most illiberal reflections on them, and other societies? and as to his own flock, among whom there are, it must be confessed, many persons of understanding, liberality and polished manners, who had been accustomed to hear the truths of the gospel delivered, with propriety and elegance, by a Pollen--a Browne and Bisset--how could they sit easy, much less approve of, vulgarities of sentiment and language, which coming from the mouth of the most illiterate field preacher, would have occasioned pity, or laughter.
WAS it judged necessary to admonish the ladies from the pulpit, respecting their dress, they were cautioned against coming to the altar, dressed like harlots--ifcard playing, the most sinful, in his estimation, of all amusements, was to be discouraged--the devil's books were talked of--if a simile, or comparison was required to elucidate an argument, the hearers were informed, that when a man builds a house, he does not do it with bladders blown up with wind, but with stones, timber and mortar and if the passions of the audience are to be inflamed with the most affecting instances of divine love, manifested in the sufferings of the Saviour of mankind, their ears are shocked with the quaintness of a story about the soldiers playing blind man's buff with him--but I forbear "saying as much as I could concerning him," amazed at the many marks of his imprudence and want of judgment. But some of his hearers may perhaps plead, that this is what [35/36] the scriptures call the foolishness of preaching, and as best calculated to edify common congregations, and the men of education ought not to complain, as they, in turn, are addressed in a style suited to the scholar--they are instructed in the rules of grammar--the indicative and imperative mood--present and preterperfect tense.
DOCTOR SOUTH, a very eminent divine of the church of England, in the last century, has observed in one of his sermons, that it some times happens, that a man "runs his head against the pulpit, who might have been serviceable to his country, at the plough, and that another proves a very dull and heavy philosopher, who possibly would have made a good mechanic, and have done well enough at the useful philosophy of the spade or the anvil."--May not Mr. Sayre have mistaken his talents, and have been delighted by the Almighty, who has created man, and all things in the universe, to answer their proper end, for some other employment more suitable to his genius, than that of a public teacher?
FROM what has been advanced in the course of this narrative, I presume very little doubt remains in the breast of every unprejudiced person, of Mr. Sayre being warmly attached to the doctrines of the Romish church.--Thathe is a man of very slender abilities must be granted,--his thirst for ecclesiastical power, with an extreme restless temper and disposition, impatient of contradiction, is also too apparent to be denied--if these things then are so, would it not be kind in his friends to advise him to lay aside his canonicals, and amuse himself on his farm, where, by moderate exercise, he may throw off those peccant humours in his blood, which torment himself, and are a source of vexation to all about him? He lives in an age too enlightened to be imposed upon with such strange, whimsical, unintelligible notions of religion, which he and some few persons, unaccountably "inveighled" by him, are disposed to call zeal, but certainly it is a blind zeal--a zeal without knowledge.
 WE have heard, of late, from several quarters, where he has resided, that he was ever uneasy and discontented. By his own account, he was once in danger of being mob’d at New York, for a sermon he preached there; and I am misinformed, if several of his brother clergymen, and others, did not prophesy, upon his coming to Newport, that his stay would be shorter than it has been. Never was a minister, in any place, treated with more kindness, attention, and liberality, than he was in this town, where he might have spent all his days happily, if he had been equal to his office, and would have conduced himself with common prudence--a virtue he is as destitute of, as he is of a knowledge of the world, and without which a man must make wild steerage through life.--The episcopal congregation, at Newport, is one of the oldest and most respectable, in the United States, and has constantly been acknowledged a pattern for orthodoxy, and regularity in carrying on public worship; but Mr. Sayre, whose acquaintance with these matters, is but of yesterday, was no sooner elected their minister, than he began to new model, and make alterations and innovations in old established customs and usages, and treating his flock, as he would have done a society, just collected from the wilds of America, but he has found them possessed of too much understanding and spirit to submit to his yoke.
AGAIN it is necessary to remark that at the time alluded to by Mr. Sayre when he says,--"finding matters thus, I gave out that I would not go, and that, therefore, the cause was now at issue."--Preparations were making to publish a state of the dispute between him and a part of the vestry and congregation, with the reasons of their disapprobation of him as their minister, these were immediately discontinued, on his changing his resolution, and declaring his intention to go, and it was hoped, that he would leave Newport well satisfied with the valedictory address presented to him, as not to concern himself farther with the affairs of the church here, but as he has thought proper, in several parts of his "candid narrative,"to reflect on that part of the congregation, as "enemies of the peace and [37/38] prosperity of the church"--"opposers of the church--and of himself."--candidly ascribing the devices of those children of disobedience against him, a good man! to the suggestions of the devil; and charging them with having had "the delicacy to propose to have a slanderous paper committed to the sacred records of the church," of which paper, it is, at present, sufficient to remark, that all facts contained therein, are true, consequently not slanderous. It is therefore thought proper to inform him that the materials for vindicating their conduct, are still at hand, and I am authorized to assure him that, although, from the time of his removal, they have wished to drop all further altercation, they will be brought forward, if it shall be found necessary to prove that, in their opposition to him, they were actuated by other principles and motives, than being "Mr. Bours’s adherents."
AN observation may not here be amiss upon the agreement of his preface and postscript,--in the former, he says, "I beg the candid reader to believe that I am prompted to write the following, not by a concern about my reputation, as if I were not apprized that a faithful minister of the gospel must expect to pass through evil, as well as good report;"--in the latter--"I do it only to defend a character, which has been so cruelly and publicly assaulted by a man, who, after stirring up a grievous persecution against me, in Newport, has shamelessly advanced so many things against me by word and writing,"--a contradiction this in terms: but there is more meaning, perhaps, in the last paragraph than the reader, at the first blush, would be apt to perceive.--Having found, that through his own misconduct, he had done the "job" for himself, by losing a good living--he cries out "persecution" for righteousness sake. But let me tell him this is too stale an artifice for the present age, however it might have succeeded in former times, he must therefore have recourse to some other expedient to get out of the mire.
TO [38/39] relieve the patience of my readers, as well as my own, it is time to draw to a conclusion, although much remains untold.
IF any should think that I have discovered an unbecoming warmth, in my strictures upon a person, whose office ought to ensure respect, I would beg them to consider, that an office, however honourable in itself, does but expose a man more to shame and contempt, unless his life and conversation prove him worthy of it; and that a minister of the gospel, to merit esteem, must manifest, by the general tenor of his behaviour, that he is possessed of that wisdom, or religion, "which is from above, and is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy."
THE impartial public will determine whether Mr. Sayre has any claim to the influences of this wisdom, when they reflect that, he has thrust a dagger into my heart, by cruelly, ungenerously and cowardly, attacking my reputation and character--with the loss of which, I pray GOD, that "heart may forget to beat."
AS to the church, at Newport, now rent with divisions, created by Mr. Sayre., and artfully fomented by him, since his departure, I am fully persuaded, all things will finally work together for good, and that the time is not far distant, when the fumes of fanaticism having evaporated, and reason reassumed her throne, every candid person, in the congregation, will be convinced, that it is happy for them--he is gone--[* Newport Herald, November 27, 1788] "ah! gone, never to return,"and that, instead of having my name branded with infamy for being accessary to his removal, I shall receive the approbation of all good men.
[Transcriber's note: this piece is originally concluded with an Appendix containing the rather long text of a letter addressed to Mr. Sayre written by Mr. Bours in the Newport Herald dated October 9, 1788. I refer the interested reader to that publication for the text.]