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Bath, March 2d, 1795.
REV. AND DEAR SIR,
MY last letter, though begun the 17th January, I did not finish till to-day. This has been occasioned by some engagements of a different nature, and especially by compiling, writing and preparing for the press a small volume of hymns, intendci more especially for plain Christians of every denomination. It is needless to give you a farther account of the work at present, as it will speak for itself when published, and the public will judge for themselves respecting its merit, or demerit.
In a former letter I mentioned my worthy and much respected friend, Mr. MʻRobert-how we laboured together for several years—and his defection from the old
church and his deated toge
- When I heard of his public recantation and abjuration of the church in which he
was ordained, and in the service of which he had so faithfully labored for twenty years, you may be sure it was not a little astonishing, and I wrote him several letters to know the cause of his revolt. It was some time however before he favored me with any answer to my anxious enquiries. But after repeated importunities, he at last sent an answer, in a letter of some consi. derable length. As the contents of that letter, and of my answer to it, may not be unacceptable to you, and my inserting them here may properly be considered as a part of the memoirs of my life, I shall give you a copy of them nearly at full length. .
To the Rev. Mr. Devereux JARRATT.
Providence, July 13, 1780. REV. AND Dear Brother,
IN the course of this summer I have been favored with two letters from you, and am truly concerned that I have had no opportunity of making any return. But such are our present circumstances that hardly any one, from our parts, travel towards Petersburg. It would have given me much pleasure to have been able to have called on you in my return from Chesterfield ; but I
was hurried home on two accounts of a temporal nature.
It grieves me to hear of the state of religion with you, though I apprehend it is a general case; and, indeed, no more than I expected. Its revival, I am persuaded, will never commence in the church; nor can its decaying interests be maintained or supported by national establishments. Christ's kingdom is not of this world ; neither can it acquire strength or stability from human police. Upon re-examining matters, I had the mortification to discover that I had erred in my judgment and choice, with respect to the established church'; and accordingly I solemnly renounced that error, October 31, 1779, before all the people. I found upon enquiry, that the English church is a mere human constitution, that owes all its authority to an act of the legislature, and not to the word of God-prostituting the sacred institutions of Christ to the vilest purposes and characters that it claims an absolute power of binding the consciences of all to an implicit observance of its forms and usages that it does not appear to me that Christ has any where, in his word, invested it with any such power, but the direct contrary. Upon the strictest enquiry,
it appears to me that the church of Christ is truly and properly independent: and I am now a dissenter under that denomination. Ecclesiastical matters among the Presbyterians, I find, every day verging towards my sentiments, and will, I believe, terminate there. There is but very little that divides us even now: they constantly attend my poor ministry: several of Mr. Sanckey's people have joined my congrega. tion, and I have lately had a most delightful communion season at Cumberland, where I assisted Mr. Smith, at the urgent request of himself and the elders. Soon after my dissent, as my concern for the people had suffered no change, I drew up a set of articles including the essential parts of natural and revealed religion, together with the constitution and discipline of the Christian church, and proposed them to their consideration ; since which they have formed a congregation at the chapel, and a few have acceded at French's and Sandy river*. I preach at the churches by permission, and intend to continue, God willing, till the first of January; at which time, if congregations should not be formed at the
* These are the distinguishing names of the three churches in the parish, of which he had been minister,
· lower churches, my time will be confined
to the chapel, and such other place or places, as providence may point out, and the good Spirit of God unite his people at.
I would, with pleasure, have complied with your request, and sent you a copy of this poor performance; but have neither paper nor time to transcribe it.--I ardently long to see you, but, unless you could ride up, shall not have it in my power foon.
The methodists are a designing people, void of the generous and catholic spirit of the gospel and so entirely under the influence of Pope JOHN-and countenance so many illiterate creatures void of all prudence and discretion that I have no expectation of any good and lasting effects from their misguided zeal. Their professed adherence to the church is amazingly preposterous and disingenuous, and nothing but policy either in England or here. . I have now given a detail of all that relates to my conduct and change of principle, &c. with that openness and freedom, I have hitherto observed, and ever wish to observe to my dear brother. Your better judgment may be surprized, and see reason to differ in sentiment and conduct-but