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of that subject. If men shut their eyes, they cannot expect to see. And if they turn away from any thing as unworthy of being very seriously compared by them with the word of God, we must not think it strange that they continue in error. But it is painful to see men, whom we love and esteem, turn away, even for a moment, from Him that speaketh froin heaven. If baptism be a sinall matter, if it be one of the least of his commands, still it is a command of Him whom it becomes us to obey in all things. If it be, in comparison with some other duties, what the tithing of mint, and anise, and cummin, and the like, were in comparison with the weightier matters of the law, we hope the time is not distant, when all will remember that our Lord concluded his animadversions by saying, These ought ye to have done, and not to have left the other undone.
Our readers, it is probable, will find in this article several other things that may cast some light on the subject to which we have adverted. At the same time, let us make due allowance for the circumstances of our Pedobaptist brethren; let us ever be kind and courteous, in the fear and love of God; and let us not doubt that better days are coming.
Since the date of Mr Loornis's reply, a Baptist church has been constituted in Willington, consisting of forty-five members; and, after giving a particular account of this event, the Christian Secretary adds, “There are several persons belonging to the church with which our venerable father Lillabridge has long been connected, residing in the north part of the town, who expect to unite with this church soon.
“This harmonious body of believers have much to encourage them amidst their trials. They propose to build a neat and commodious house of worship the ensuing season; and for this purpose they have already filled a subscription to an adequate amount; and an individual of their number has generously presented them with the inost eligible site, perhaps, in the town, on which to place the house. This lot of ground is spacious and remarkably convenient.
“ May the Lord graciously condescend to hear and answer the fervent supplications which have been offered, and which we trust will continually arise for the prosperity of this vine of his planting.”
Willington, Nov. 20, 1828. Brother Hooker,-I yesterday learned through the medium of the Christian Secretary, that you had published things in which I was implicated. This awakened solicitude to know what you had published ; I therefore sent to a neighbor, and borrowed your last week's paper, which contained the article so seriously implicating me, as a fickle and disorderly man. Suffer me to say, that I lament this course, for had the communication been sent to me before its publication, I could probably have satisfied you, that it was essentially incorrect, and calculated to awaken, without any necessity, excitement and prejudice between different denominations of Christians. That there had been multitudes of misrepresentations afloat, which served to enliven the social circle, to my disadvantage, I was perfectly aware, but of which I had not once thought of taking any notice, supposing that they would soon sink into the gulf of oblivion. But things, printed in a religious paper, are supposed to be carefully examined and cleared of misrepresentation. I therefore consider it a duty to reply. The writer of the article signing
himself A. asserts," The person was Rev. Hubbel Loomis, once, as I am informed, a Baptist, afterwards, for many years, a Congregational clergyman.” In this sentence there is a manifest design to exhibit me before the public as a fickle man. Once a Baptist, then a Congregational Clergyman, and now again a Baptist. But who is Mr. A. the writer ? Is he a stranger to me, living in the section of the country, remote from Willington? This would not seem very probable, as a stranger would not be likely to take much interest in the subject, nor claim to be sufficiently informed to instruct others upon
it. Is he a member of the Tolland County Ministers' Meeting, with whom I was, until I made known my doubts on baptism, on terms of affection and unreserved intimacy? This, in one respect, would seem probable ; for a member of that meeting might be most interested in the thing, and most competent to give information. But in another respect this ought to be incredible; for a member of that meeting must, it would seem, have known that I was not a Baptist, previously to my being a Congregational Minister. Moreover, could one of that number have published, upon the authority of vague report, when the means of correct information were at hand? But the writer's name is to me a secret, and may it ever remain so.
I now declare that I was not a Baptist, previously to my becoming a Congregational Minister. I indeed stated in my letters to my brother on baptism, that my early prejudices were in favor of the Baptists; that is, previously to my becoming experimentally acquainted with religion, at the age of sixteen. This, so far as I recollect, is the full extent of which I ever hinted to any man a bias, in early life, towards Baptist sentiments. But while sincerely regretting Mr A's want of caution in his statements, I will add that I do verily believe that I should have been a Baptist from my early days, had I been so fully acquainted with the subject as I now am. When I wrote, ten years ago, I was ignorant of important particulars bearing upon the subject; but those particulars I cannot now state. By divine leave, I will shortly lay before the public the reasons of my change of sentiment, and leave Christians in the fear of God, to judge of their solidity.
Mr A. seems displeased with my re-ordination, and yet he places in front of his communication an account of the re-ordination, in the Congregational connexion, of Rev. Mr Wilson at Charlestown, Aug. 27th, 1630. Mr A. is probably acquainted with the fact, that re-ordinations were, in the seventeenth century, common in the New-England Congregational churches, and this unaccompanied with the protestation of which he speaks. But things of greater surprise follow; for Mr A. tells us, What is still more surprising is, if I have been correctly informed, he was re-ordained while Pastor of the Congregational church in Willington, ministering to that flock, and just after he had refused to unite with his church in calling a council for his dismission.”
Suffer me to say, that I do deeply lament that I should ever be called upon to justify myself in things here laid to my charge. I have most earnestly wished, as well as prayed, that the reasons which guided my course in these important transactions, might never be committed to writing. But while I am now compelled to
communicate them, I willingly leave it with the public to judge whether it was not myself, rather than my Congregational brethren, who pursued the correct and the conciliatory course.
To the Consociation of this county I made, I believe, verbatim, the following communication : To the Tolland County Consociation, to be convened at West Staf
ford, Sept. 1828. REVEREND AND Beloved, I am notified by the Congregationalchurch and society in Willington, that before you, they shall bring their request or demand, that I be dismissed from any further connexion with the church and society. Against this I make no objection. If a pastoral connexion between me and the church and society nominally exists, it ought undoubtedly to be dissolved.
Reverend and Beloved, I would have appeared before you and made a verbal communication, if divine Providence had seemed to permit; but the sickness of Mrs Loomis prevents.
( shall long have in delightful remembrance, the years in which I have taken sweet counsel with you, and been refreshed by your countenance and your prayers. And at present I do, and in future years I trust that I shall, cherish towards you the affection of former years.
The reason of my change of sentiment on baptism, I cannot state in a letter, nor can I state in detail the particular reasons which have guided my course, since I made known my change of views on this subject. Suffice it to say, that I earnestly desired to retain Congregational connexion, and determined to make as liberal concessions as possible, for the sake of retaining that connexion.
But I soon saw from the state of feeling or opinion against me, that there were more difficulties in the way than I anticipated; and shortly after the meeting of the council for my dismission, I became fully convinced, that to retain that connexion was impossible. It then appeared to be duty explicitly to join the Baptists, with whom I had previously harmonized on the article of baptism. The question then seriously arose, what is the regular mode of leaving the Congregational connexion ? But I could not answer the question, and supposed it left unsettled. I seriously wished a formal dismission from the church, and a consultation with the Consociation on the subject, before joining the Baptists; but the Consociation could not be convened without considerable time, trouble, and expense. Therefore, without that previous formality of separation which I could have wished, I joined another denoinination.
Brethren, be assured that my feelings towards you are both respectful and affectionate, and that I shall use the small measure of influence which I have, to bring those with whom I am now in connexion to similar feelings towards you. Be assured that I shall always rejoice in hearing that the work of the Lord prospers among you.
Wishing you the presence of the Head of the Church, and earnestly requesting a remembrance in your prayers : Your brother in the faith and fellowship of the Gospel,
HUBBEL LOOMIS. To the Rev, Moderator of Consociation.
This letter, communicated at least to the members of the Consociation, and how much further I know not, exhibits concisely the general reasons of my course. But I will state more particularly. The powerful tendency in the converts, the fruits of the precious revival of religion in the autumn of 1824, and winter and spring of 1825, towards Baptist sentiments, shocked me, and producing in me astonishment and great anxiety, led me to review the subject of baptism. My mind speedily became unsettled. I found that I had not so fully understood the subject as I supposed. This I communicated without reserve, to those especially confidential brethren, with whom I had long statedly met in Ministers' Meeting. To them I continued to make, from time to time, a free disclosure of my difficulties, and to ask of them counsel. At the December meeting at Bolton, A. D. 1827, I let them distinctly know, that I gave up infant baptism and baptism by sprinkling, and requested their advice what course I ought to take. After much conversation, a committee was appointed to report to the next meeting. At the next meeting, in Coventry, in Feb. 1828, the committee presented the following report, and informed me that it was unanimously adopted by the meeting.
REPORT. “The committee to whom it was referred, to take into consideration Mr Loomis's views on baptism, and to state what advice ought to be given to him, ask leave to report,—That they have contemplated the subject referred to them, with deep and painful interest : that they see no reason to change the views which they have long held concerning baptism, nor to suppose that the Christian community at large is verging towards a different mode of thinking, or of practice, in relation to this subject. They regret extremely that Mr Loomis has allowed himself to feel an anxiety respecting it, and to give it a degree of attention, as they conceive, quite disproportionate to its importance. They hope, indeed, that he has not been destitute of a due sense of the responsibility resting on him as a minister of Christ, while allowing this subject so long and to such a degree, to absorb his time and his mental energies. To this cause immediately your committee must consider it owing, that he has come to the conclusions which he has lately expressed ; and that he is so far from being satisfied with the views respecting it, embraced by the great majority of the Christian world, and which he once considered as fully supported by the word of God. In their apprehension, the sentiments which he now embraces, are not in him the result of sober, candid reasoning. Mr Loomis has evidently contemplated the subject in question, with an intenseness and agony of feeling, which have magnified it far above its proper dimensions, which are in every man most unfavorable to the free exercise of judgment, and which have brought him to conclusions, which, it is believed, in a different state of mind, he would, without hesitation, reject. It is to be earnestly hoped that he will not persist in his present views, without duly considering what may be the consequences to himself, his family, and the people of his charge, and the general interests of the Redeemer's king
dom. It is with much concern and grief, that your committee have seen in this brother so much of the spirit of a reformer, on a subject which has been so often, and so ably discussed, and on which much additional light is hardly to be expected. In their view, he should be affectionately entreated to endeavor, from this time, to disengage his mind from the subject of baptism ; so far at least as to give it no more than its due proportion of time and thought, and to devote himself to duties of greater moment. If he will adopt such a course, it is believed that, at no distant period, he may be satisfied with the light in which, it is conceived, the scriptures represent it, and in which he has himself represented it with clearness. But if he shall feel bound to act differently from this; and to depart in any particular from the established usages of ministers and churches in our connexion, it would not be consistent with wisdom in the individuals of this body, to give any pledge as to the part which they may consider it their duty to act, nor to take on themselves the responsibility of giving him any definite advice."
This report is correct in the intimation that I had contemplated the subject of baptism with intenseness and agony of feeling. I saw upon investigation, my former arguments for sprinkling and for infant baptism, give way, and that I had a solemn account to render to God for the manner in which I had written, and often preached. Other inferior considerations also occurred. I had long been as happy as any other man in my ecclesiastical connexions; and these threatened to be most seriously disturbed. Pride was also wounded. The prospect was mortifying indeed, tha
in my advanced life, I should be obliged to confess, that the Baptists whom I had so long fought, had the truth of God on their side. And for more than two years I was frequently distressed, and some of the time very greatly distressed, lest I should not correctly weigh the subject, lest I should overlook some part of the arguments which had been advanced in support of my former sentiments, and too hastily yield to the arguments for believers' baptism by immersion, and thus wound the cause of Christ. This press of the subject repeatedly produced sighs and tears, and in one instance roaring aloud. As the leading arguments were familiar to my mind, I ran them over, with a view to balance them, very frequently, probably even more than a thousand times. I do not indeed believe that I allowed interest, and pride, and worldly comfort, to have much weight; but so far as they had any at all, they persuaded to keep silence, and to stand by what I had, in former years, published. I viewed the subject, not only in moments of great anxiety, but also in periods of calmness. And I meant to take due time, and I verily believe, I did take time enough, and more than enough, to found my opinion upon a basis not to be shaken. I am therefore far from conceding to the correctness of the report, that I contemplated the subject in a state of mind “ most unfavorable to the free exercise of reason.”
But the report is all comparatively well, save the last sentence. I looked for counsel; I humbly sued for it, but I was positively refused it. I was in distress, and needed sympathy; but instead of sympathy I received menace. To hear the sentence gravely read,