Missionary from the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel in Foreign Parts.
Printed in the Year MDCCLIX.
The following Letter, printed and published in a clandestine Manner, I think myself obliged to reply to; and, that the Public may be under proper Advantages, to understand the Occasion of my giving them this Trouble, I have printed it at large, as follows;
A LETTER from a Gentleman to his Friend in Dutchess County, New-York. Occasioned by the false Representations given by Mr. Seabury, on Long-Island, to the Society for the propagating, &c. of the Religious State of said County.
Magna est Veritas et praevalebit.
IT is not at all to be wondered at, if the Clergy of the Church of Rome, one of whose prime Maxims is, that it is lawful for Persons to lye, perjure, murder, or commit the most atrocious Crimes for the Good of the Church, be found in the steady Practice of their own Principles; but for those who bear the Character of Protestant Divines, and especially for such as are Missionaries from the Society, for planting and spreading the Gospel in foreign Plantations, and who, on all Occasions, boast of the Church of England, as the most glorious Branch of the Reformation, to practice Falsehood and Deceit, in the yearly Representations they make to their Constituents, of the State of the British Colonies in this Country, and of Religion in them, in order to carry on, and propagate an episcopal Separation, amongst a well gospellized People, cannot but be surprizing to any one who reads the Society's yearly Extracts. Yet it is vastly more strange, that the Missionaries should be so hardy, after their Falsehood has once and again been so manifestly detected; that far from blushing, retracting and reforming; they go on by the Violation of Truth, to pursue the base Design of unnecessary Separation, and most unchristian Contention in the Land; a flagrant Instance whereof we have lately had in the Conduct of Mr. Seabury, a Missionary on Long-Island. I shall only give the Minute relating to that Affair, from the Society's Extract, and then set down Facts, and leave the World to judge how infinitely that Gentleman's Representation differs from Truth.
EXTRACT in these Words:
"The Reverend Mr. Seabury, the Society's Missionary at Hempstead, on Long-Island, writes by his Letter dated April 19, 1756; that his Parish in general is in a good State, and at [3/4] the Request of the People of Dutchess-County (Eighty Miles from Hempstead) he made them a Visit, and staid six Days, and preach'd four Times to large Assemblies: 'Tis a Country of large Extent, containing about 10,000 Souls, with only one Dutch Minister, one Presbyterian or Independent Minister, and one Quaker Meeting, but that little attended; and many of the People desired him to recommend them to the charitable Care of the Society, and assured him they would purchase a Glebe, and build a Church, could they be assisted in the Support of a Minister: And there are also a great many Germans among them, who are averse to the joining themselves to any other Communion than that of the Church of England; in Consideration of all which the Society hath directed Mr. Seabury to take those poor People under his Care, and do them what good Services he can at present, consistent with his more peculiar Care, and when they have built a Church, and purchased a Glebe, as they promise, the Society propose to send a Missionary to them."
Now, Facts are these,--
DUTCHESS COUNTY, in the Province of New-York, is about 50 Miles in Length, and 20 in Breadth, lays along the East Side of Hudson's River, and contains the seven following Precincts, viz. Rumbout, Poughkeepsie, Reinbeck, North-East Precinct, Crom-Elbow, Beckman's and Philipse's Precinct.--And the present Religious State of said Precincts stand thus,
Precincts, Meeting-Houses, Ministers,
RUMBOUT: 3, 2
POUGHKEEPSIE: 2, 0
RIENBECK: 4, 2
NORTH-EAST: 1, 1
CROM-ELBOW: 4, 1
BEEKMAN: 4, 2
PHILIPSE: 4, 3
Total Meeting-Houses: 22, and Ministers: 11.
Now Mr. Seabury says, he went "at the Request of the People of Dutchess-County;" a mighty Flourish this! as if the Body of the Country, or at least all the leading Men in it, had joined and sent for him; whereas I am informed by a Gentleman of unquestionable Veracity, that but one Person sign'd the Invitation; tho', according to Mr. Seabury's own Account, "the Country (meaning the County) contains 10,000 Souls:" Besides, he never went higher up than Rumbout, which by the Way, is the Southernmost Precinct in the County, save one, and is the only Precinct in which he ever preached in all his Life; so that he never saw [4/5] the Inhabitants of any but Rumbout, and I am certain half of them never came into his Hearing, nor wou'd they, had he preached there till this Day. But he says, "He preached there four Times to large Assemblies." Give me Leave to reply, he preached twice in private Houses in the Week-time, when he had not past 50 Souls each Time to hear him; and on the Sabbath he had the Liberty of preaching in the Dutch-Church, and as the Dutch and Presbyterian Ministers of that Precinct, were both providentially absent that Day, he had a considerable Assembly, as People could go to no other Worship; but then not half the Precinct assembled, and by far the greater Part of them that did, went either out of Curiosity or Necessity, as having no other publick Worship that Day to go to; and by far the greater half that heard him that Day, determined they would never go out of their Way to hear him again.
And as to what he says of the Germans, it is a perfect groundless Fiction, to say no worse; no doubt with the same sincere Design to serve the Interest of the Church; for the Truth is, that People are averse to join themselves to any Churches but those of their own Constitution, being mostly Lutherians, or to receive any Ministers but those of their own Nation and Language. Again,
Mr. Seabury informs the Society, that in all Dutchess-County, inhabited by 10,000 Souls, there are but "only one Dutch Minister, one Presbyterian or Independent Minister, and one Quaker Meeting, but that little attended." Whereas in Fact, there are upwards of Twenty Meeting-Houses, and half that Number of Protestant Ministers of different Denominations, as may be easily seen above; and the Quakers attend pretty roundly in their several Meeting-Houses.
Now I leave all Mankind to judge, whether that be the Cause of Truth, which is supported and maintained by such open and manifest Falshood, or whether the Interest of Jesus Christ, who is the faithful and true Witness, and came to bear witness of the Truth, lays such as pretend to promote it, under a Necessity of doing the Work of the Father of Lies, in order to make it victorious over the Consciences and Lives of Men, or whether such are fit to be intrusted with the Souls of Men, who make it their Practice by Falshood to impose upon their Constituents. As Things now stand, after the English Missionaries have been so often detected of false Representations, and yet they have the Confidence to persist in it, that either they are conscious their Cause calls for it; or the Society who sends them is determin'd to believe no other Accounts but what they have from them. O! my Soul come not thou into their Secret, unto their Assembly, mine Honour, be not thou united.
 I wonder, Sir, that all Gentlemen of Estate and Influence in your County, do not (and heartily wish they would) unite as one Man, and give the Society a fair Representation of the religious State of that County, and fully detect the base and mercenary, as well as false Representations made by episcopal Missionaries,--in Expectation of which, I rest, Sir, your humble Servant to command.
THIS printed Libel, obtruded upon the Public in the Form of, A Letter from a Gentleman to his Friend, in Dutchess County; calculated to influence the Public to believe I had designedly imposed upon the Honourable Society for the propagation of the Gospel in foreign Parts, by my Letter of the 19th of April, 1756, I should not think myself obliged to take the least public Notice of, was it not to extend beyond the Limits of that County; where, by a little Enquiry, every judicious Person might easily qualify himself to pass a proper Judgment upon it. But since, in its Progress, it may fall in the Way of many that are under no Advantages to judge of it, otherwise than by its own Letter and Spirit; I have thought convenient to offer the Public my Apology, with this Assurance, that wherever it shall meet with a candid and impartial Reader, I shall have neither Right or Inclination to complain of any Censures he shall think fit to pass upon me.
The Gentleman has many Things to lay to my Charge, some of which I shall have Occasion to take Notice of hereafter: But what he seems most offended with, is my informing the Society, that in Dutchess County, there was but one Presbyterian or Independent, and one Dutch Minister.
Had the Gentlemen informed me of my Mistake in my Account of the Number of Ministers in Dutchess County, in a friendly Way, as he knew the Place of [6/7] my Abode, I should have acknowledged it in the most obliging Manner, made a further Enquiry, and endeavoured to set that Matter right with the Society; and I should have received his Advice as precious Oyl; but since he has chose rather to smite me, and all my Brethren, on the Face, I speak as concerning Reproach, by loading us with the most odious Imputations, of practising Falshood and Deceit; and accusing us with pursuing base Designs, in a Spirit manifestly to raise the Clamour of the Multitude: I presume to hope, that if I shall be so happy as to give a fair Account of my Letter, against which such big swelling Words have been published with Confidence, the Public will then conclude, that the general Charge against the Society's Missionaries, is also without Foundation; and that the Gentleman ought to be judged according to the Rhemian Law. [* Which orders, That he who brings a Charge which he cannot prove, shall suffer the Punishment which the Person indicted should have suffered if he had been convicted.]
My Authority for the Information I gave the Society, about the Number of Ministers in Dutchess County, I thought to be as good as I could wish for; and am well assured that the Gentleman [* Bartholomew Noxon, Esq.] had no Design to impose upon me. The Subject of that Gentleman's Discourse with me was to convince me, that Dutchess County was a Place proper to be recommended to the Charity of the Society, &c. Upon this Occasion the Gentleman observed, That he verily believed, that if a Clergyman of Abilities, Modesty, and Virtue, could be procured to officiate at stated Turns, at the Fish-Kills, Rumbout Precinct, Poughkeepsie, and that Part of the Nine Partners, or Crom-Elbow, bordering on the Fish-Kills and Poughkeepsie; a considerable Church would soon be gathered. And that from thence, [7/8] he believed, the Clergyman would frequently have occasional Calls to sundry other Places in the County. Particularly, that there was a great many Germans, who he doubted not would be glad to receive him, as they were averse to the joining themselves to any other Communion than that of the Church of England.
Here I asked the Gentleman what Number of Ministers there were residing in those Places? Meaning the several Places in the County; to which the Gentleman answered me, only two. Here it is evident that the Gentleman had his Attention engaged to the Places where he had proposed the fixing of the Church, by his mentioning a Quaker Meeting in Crom-Elbow, and omitting a considerable Quaker Meeting in another Part of the County.
However, the Gentleman has since assured me, that he did not at that Time, know of more than two Ministers, residing in the County, ordained and approved by any Presbytery among the English, or Classis among the Dutch, that were of Reputation among the Inhabitants, (for these only the Gentleman considered as Ministers, exclusive of Separate Teachers, [* Separates, so called, I suppose, from their separating from all but those that are savingly brought home; the discerning of which they profess the Gift of. Their Meetings are frequent, by Day and Night, and are held either with or without their Teachers. In which the Women exercise their Gifts, as among the Separates at Oysterbay, on Long-Island. Their Teachers speak excessive loud, and when the congregation is well moved, sundrys often speak together, and great Out-crys are frequent: Their Teachers travel far and wide, to make Proselytes, and visit the Brethren, to whose Society none are admitted, till the Brethren and Sisters can find for them, as I am informed, the Term is. They practise Rebaptizing when they conceive their former Baptisms were not administered by converted Men: And upon this Scruple, some in Oysterbay have been baptized twice, by immersion.] [8/9] who some call Ministers when it serves their Turn.) That indeed he had at that Time, Knowledge of another Presbyterian Minister, one Mr. Kent, but who he had ever thought, 'till very lately, had lived in New-England. And as to the Dutch Minister at Rumbout, he knew that the better Sort were disgusted at his Conduct, and meditating his Removal, which they soon after effected.
But our Letter-Writer affirms there are Twenty two Meeting-Houses, and Eleven Ministers.
1st. With Regard to the Meeting-Houses, some of which I believe he had rather should be heard of than seen; in particular, one in Poughkeepsie Precinct, which I am informed, by Henry Terbus, Esq; has never been enclosed or underpinn'd, but stands on Blocks, nor floor'd, or preached in, tho' it has been raised several Years: This for a Sample of our Author's fair Representation. But was the Number of Meeting-Houses greater than his List affirms, it no ways affects my Information, who said nothing of the Meeting-Houses. And therefore, I hope the candid Reader will permit me to strike out of his Account drawn against me, his whole List of 22 Meeting-Houses, at one dash.
2d. With Regard to the Number of Ministers. I have diligently inquired of more than Twenty of the Inhabitants, some of which of the most extensive Acquaintance in the County, particularly of Judge Jacobus Terbus, and Henry Terbus, Esqrs, and none of them know of any Thing like such a Number of Ministers residing in the County, that are approved by any Presbytery, Association, or Classis among the English or Dutch; however; an Error, I confess in my Information, tho' not wilful or designed, and I am heartily sorry I have fallen into the least Mistake as [9/10] I have thereby given Occasion to the Enemy to speak reproachfully: Yet, in the main Design of the Gentleman's Discourse, from whence I took my Information, which was to shew the great Necessity of having a Minister settled by the Society in Dutchess County, there does not appear to be the least Error.
For the Places proposed for settling the Church, are Rumbout, Poughkeepsie, and the South Part of Crom Elbow Precincts; and as I am informed, by Henry Terbus, Esq; who was an Assessor in the Year 1752 (and the Number is not supposed to have decreased since that Time.)
There were assessed in Rumbout, 292
In Poughkeepsie, 153
In Half Crom Elbow, 190
Not more than a tenth Part of which are supposed to be Single Persons, which being subtracted, makes something over 570 Heads of Families; which multiplied by five, to each Family, makes with the addition of the 63 single Persons, 2913 Souls; among whom there is at present, no more than one Presbyterian or Independent Minister, whose Meeting is not large; and who, as I have been informed by sundry Persons has, for some Time past, been meditating a Removal, on Account of the Insufficiency of his Support from his Congregation; and one very small separate Anabaptist Meeting, not constantly attended; and a young Gentleman, Candidate for the Dutch Church of Rumbout and Poughkeepsie. And so great is the Encouragement for the settling of a Minister of the Church of England, to serve in those Places above mentioned, and on the Borders of Beekman's and Philipse's Precincts, that not less than 103 Persons, ten of whom only are single, have already subscribed for [10/11] the Building of a Church, for the Worship of God according to the Liturgy of the Church of England since the Libel under Consideration, has been spread among them, and had its Influence; which shews the Credit it has upon the Spot where my Information is represented infinitely to differ from the Truth; and, the Gentleman [* Judge Terbus.] who has the Care of the Subscription, assured me, that he made no doubt but that there were Fifty more in those Places, to whom a Church might be set convenient, that would subscribe; exclusive of Poughkeepsie and Crom-Elbow, where the Subscription had not been offered, but had been promised Encouragement by persons of the best Credit and Influence; where, 'tis presumed, from the promised Encouragement, there will be not less that 100 more Subscribers.
And tho' I would not insinuate, that all these Subscribers are Professors of the Church of England, yet it is certain, that many of them are so, and sundrys of them are removed there from Hampstead; and all of them are Friends to the Church, and see the Necessity of encouraging it.
The next Complaint of the Gentleman is, That I say I went at the Request of the People of Dutchess County. Upon which the Gentleman thinks he has a keen Remark, and replies smartly, as if the Body of the County, or all the leading Men in it, had joined and sent for him. But this Remark will lose its Edge as soon as it is observed, that by the Word People, in my Letter, is understood the Professors or Friends of the Church; as is evident from my saying, that many of the People desired me to recommend them to the Care of the Society, and promised to build a Church, &c. for it could not be understood of others, that they should desire to be recommended, or propose to build [11/12] a Church; which Information I make no doubt will prove true in the Event. And 2dly, Those People who requested my coming among them, were said to be 80 Miles from Hampstead, which could not respect a County 50 Miles long, but manifestly pointed to the Fish-Kills, the Place to which I was invited, computed at 80 Miles Distance from Hampstead.
But the Public is assured, from a Gentleman of unquestionable Veracity that but one Person sign'd my Invitation. What then, if that Person signed it in a public Character, in the Name of others? But this was not the Case; and the Gentleman in his Turn has fallen himself into a Mistake: For, my Invitation was signed by Messieurs John Bailey and Thomas Langdon, Esqrs, in their public Character of Church Wardens.
The next Offence the Gentleman takes is at my saying, I preached to large Assemblies. Answer, I tho't them so, and so did others, considering Time and Place, and the Relation of Things, for every Thing is great or small comparatively, and considering the People do not so readily leave their Business to attend upon Lectures on Week-Days: And yet, in the Judgment of some present, there were at least double the Number acknowledged by the Gentleman. But, notwithstanding this, he confesseth that I had a considerable Assembly when I preached at the Dutch Church, and accounts for it in a confused Manner, by saying, "That the Dutch and Presbyterian Ministers were both providentially absent that Day; then, that the People went out of Curiosity or Necessity, as having no other public Worship to go to that Day; and that by far the greater Part that heard him that Day, determined they would never go out of their Way to hear him again." Here the Reader will see the Gentleman is embarrassed to account [12/13] for the Assembly that attended me on the Sabbath, and flies to several Subterfuges.
But here he is so unfortunate as to have fallen into another grand Mistake, with Regard to the Absence of the Ministers, and the People's having no other public Worship that Day to go to. Which is false in Fact, since 'tis known and remembred by many, that the Dutch Minister preached at his own Church, that same Day at the Fish-Kills, and continued long in Church, and I preached at the House of Capt. Terbus, in the Forenoon, but being much crouded, several Rooms filled, and the Shed the whole Length of the House filled; by whom I could not be conveniently heard. We waited long in the Afternoon for the Benefit of the Dutch Church, which we had the Favour of, very obligingly, when Divine Service in the Dutch Church was ended: And so late was it when we entered the Church that it was with Difficulty I could conclude my Sermon for the Approach of Night. And yet this Writer assures the Public, that the Dutch Minister was absent, and that the People had no other public Worship that Day to go to.
Now would this Gentleman think I had a Right, from these Mistakes of his, to advertise him as a mischievous designing Liar, that resolved at any Rate, jesuitically and villainously to influence the Public to believe I was contemptible among the People of Dutchess County, though I accidentally had a considerable Congregation there. And yet this is manifestly the Design of the two Remarks, of the Absence of the two Ministers, and the Signing of my Invitation. But the Gentleman never suspects or supposes an involuntary Mistake in me, no Misinformation or Misapprehension, but a Design, basely, villainously, mischievously, and jesuitically to deceive.
 Judge not that ye be not judged.
Next, the Gentleman seems angry at what I say of the Germans, and confidently affirms, "It is a perfect groundless Fiction," and seems disposed to say something worse: "And that these People are averse to join themselves to any Churches but those of their own Nation and Language."
But here the Gentleman is again so unfortunate as to be mistaken, in Fact; since sundry of the Germans are Subscribers to the Building of the Church, &c. and subscribe handsomly. And I am assured, by Judge Terbus, that none of them have refused, and that he expects many of them will yet subscribe; and that some of them, of the leading Men, have told him they can go to the Table, i.e. to the Holy Communion, with the Church of England. Besides, one of them, with his Wife, both Germans, brought their Child, and presented it to me for Baptism, which I baptized. And upon my Return from Rumbout, I accidentally met with a German, belonging to Cortlandt's Manor, who invited me very pressingly, to come among them, and expressed an exceeding Desire to have an Opportunity to have Baptism administered to his Children by me; who I propose to visit, should I ever make another journey into that Part of the Country.
Further: That the Germans are disposed to unite and communicate with the Church of England, is no Fiction; as appears from the Society's Abstract of the Year 1757, Page 43. By which we are informed, that the Rev. Mr. Wood, the Society's Missionary in Nova-Scotia, came to Lurenburg, and performed divine Service according to our Church Liturgy in English, and administered the Holy Communion to 44 Germans.
 Again, when the Reverend Mr. Seabury, junior, was the Society's Missionary, at Brunswick, in the Colony of New-Jersey, he frequently preached at the Lutherian Church, about 24 Miles from Brunswick, at the Request of the Congregation of the Germans, and baptized many of their Children.
And now, to return the Gentleman his Complement, I have the World to judge whether, &c. &c.
Our Author's inimitable Politeness, in saying, that by far the greater Half that heard me on the Sabbath, determined they would never go out of their Way to hear me again, is quite out of Season, since it is well known, that when I preached at the same Place, on the Sabbath in June, 1757, the Congregation was no less crouded than at the first Time in 1755.
Nor is he happier in his Remark, that the People went the first Time out of Necessity, as I have fully proved: Nor were they under that Necessity, when I preached at the same Place, on the Sabbath in March, 1759; when the Presbyterian Minister himself, preached in his own Meeting; and yet in a very bad Season for travelling in deep Roads, there was not less than 300 Persons present, in the Judgment of some of the most discerning.
The other Remarks in the Gentleman's Letter, designed to represent me contemptible among the People, I am not concern'd to trouble the Public about, having no Inclination to rival him in his Art of Scolding; nor do I conceive any one will suppose it was the People's Contempt of me that provoked him to write: And being fully persuaded that this Spirit, in which his Remarks are wrote, will effectually obviate any ill Consequences, with every candid Reader.
I hope the judicious Reader will not overlook the Gentleman's Assurance, in talking of an episcopal [15/16] Separation in the Colony of New-York, where the episcopal Church of England is established by Law in four Counties, and no other Profession has any legal Establishment in the Colony. And yet he complains of an episcopal Separation in the Colony, with sufficient Confidence; by which one would suspect the Author to forget he was not writing of the State of Religion in Connecticut, where a religious Establishment of Congregationalism, has been contended for sternuously. And I believe every modest Man must even blush for this Writer, who has the Confidence to complain of a most unchristian Contention in the Land, raised by the Missionaries, &c. when the Contention is manifestly raised by a virulent Spirit, gone forth and watching all Opportunities to strike some deadly Blow, to wound and destroy, if possible, the particular and general Character of the Missionaries whose frequent Attacks, from Hands known and unknown, the Missionaries have born with a truly Christian Meekness. And let me beg the Public to observe, what a miserable Situation the Missionaries are under, harrassed by the Writers of this Stamp. If they do not exert themselves with more than primative Zeal and Industry, they are then represented contemptible and unworthy of Notice. But if they exert themselves, and by Zeal and Diligence, Meekness, Humility and Charity, draw the Attention of the Public, and thereby recommend the Church, they pursue the base Designs of uncessary Separation, and most unchristian Contention in the Land.
To whom shall I liken this Generation. Nor is this Writer content with reviling the Missionaries in the rudest Manner, but is extremely disrespectful to the Honourable Society; a Corporation not less ingenuous and open in their universal Conduct, than any [16/17] Corporation in Christendom; manifested in their submitting every Transaction of their Body, to the Examination of the Public. Nor is it strange, that the Honourable Society, composed of Gentlemen, both Clergy and Laity, of the most refined Taste and Sentiments, and well able to distinguish; should see the Spirit, and give themselves Time to believe the Clamour of this Sort of Writers: Nor yet, is there the least Foundation for this base Insinuation of the Society; who never fail making the most strict Inquiry into every Complaint of their Missionaries: And this Gentleman's Charge against the Society, can justly amount to no more than this, That they will not condemn their Missionaries unheard, upon the bare word of their Accusers. And as far as I can see, the Measures dealt out by this Writer, to the Church of England, and the Missionaries of the Society, are these: The Church to be deprived of the Benefit of Toleration in the Colony, as an unnecessary Separation from something without a Name, never yet established: And the Missionaries to be forbid exercising their Function as raising a most unchristian Contention, and condemned upon the bare Authority of their Accusers, tho' Persons unknown, without Liberty to answer for themselves. Oh Modesty! to what Distance did thy blushing Graces withdraw, when this Author, attended by the true Genius of his Letter, circumscribed the Bounds of his fellow Subjects.
And, as the Author has concealed himself, I take this Way to expostulate with the Author; begging him to consider, whether he has not risen against me in the same Spirit, and from the same Motives that Cain rose up against his Brother Abel; and whether he can think it the Part of a Gentleman, the Character [17/18] he assumes, from the Advantage of a Mistake in me, violently to accuse the whole Body of the English Clergy in this Country. Nor can he prove the Things whereof he affirms.
Que tu perverse Manalca.
Et si non nocuisses Mortuus Esses.
In one Thing only I agree with the Author, viz. "In wishing that all the Gentlemen of Estate and Influence, would unite as one Man, and give the Society a fair Representation of the religious State of Dutchess County;" which I am well assured, would be an effectual Means to establish a Missionary from the Society among them.
I have no more to add, but to beg my Friends in Dutchess County, not to be dismay'd at the torrent of Reproach, poured out by this unknown Gentleman, manifestly designed to drown, not only my Reputation and Influence, but the whole Cause of the established Church of England in this Country: But to look upon it as some small Part of the Flood which the Dragon pours out of his Mouth after the Woman, i.e. the Church; that he might cause her to be carried away by the Flood, Rev. xii. 16.
Magna est Veritas, et praevalebit.
Hempstead, March 30, 1759.