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self-respect as to make one among those whom he professes to regard as so utterly abandoned, it does not follow that they should so far forego their self-respect as 10 sit with him on these terms.
It is not to be supposed that the Synod could ever have deliberately intended this, and there is none of their acts which affords any evidence of such intention.
It is indeed true, that Mr. Stark was allowed, after handing in this paper, to sit as a member in Synod. (having been notified to attend,) but inis cannot prove that the paper was not a declinature, nor that it might not be so regarded both by the Presbytery and Synod, for though noticed by the Presbytery in their repori as exceptionable on this very account, as well as on account of the heavy charges which it contains, it was never forinally considered, so as to pass any judgment upon it or its author.* It might be regarded as the party ebullition of disordered passions, or as an inconsiderate expression of what the writer did not really intend, and which in moments of more deliberation, he might choose to withdraw. Judgment upon it was postponed, and the only use made of it was to read it in Synod, as one of the chief reasons for referring the libel. It is of importance to observe, that this paper itself was got referred to the Synod, but was expressly reserved for future judgment by the Presbytery. It seems to be the impression of some that all matters affecting the standing of Mr. Stark, had been before the Synod which met at Pittsburgh in 1837, and that therefore the Presbytery of Albany bad no right to take up this paper or anything affecting bis standing previously to that meeting. The error of this impression will be clear. İy manifested by consulting the Report of the Presbytery of Albany, in which, after refering the libel against Mr. Stark, they say:
" Resolved, further, that the Presbytery still retain the right, if they shall think it proper, hereafter to call Mr. Stark to account for the truly offensive and libellous matter contained in his reasons of protest, which go before the Synod, and also in the paper alluded to, in which he gives his reasons for refusing to be tried by this Presbytery. (Rel. Mon. v. xiii. p, 25.)
The latter of the papers mentioned was the declinature, of which the Presbytery had complained as containing “cruel, unjust and slanderous statements.” The Synod did not examine these papers or pass any judgment respecting them, but not only acquiesced in their being retained in the hands of the Presbytery for future judgment,* but they explicitly referred them to that Presby tery, with orders to deal with Mr. Stark respecting them. The following are the words of their their act : "On motion, Resolved, that as exceptions have been taken agains the papers of Mr. Stark on various accounts, these papers are hereby referred to the Presbytery of Albany, to deal with him respecto ing them.” (See Minutes as above, p. 32.) After Mr. Stark was convicted and suspended, he handed in another paper declining the authority of the Synod, which was also referred to the Presbytery. (See Minules as above, p. 40.) Thus it appears that there were three different papers in the hands of that Presbytery, viz :-Mr. Stark's Reasons of' Protest, his Declinature of the Presbytery, and his Declinature of the Synod, for all or any of which, it was their right and duty, to deal with him, with the consent and by the order of Synod. The Presbytery however during the succeeding year, did not act on any of these papers, as Mr. Stark continued to preach in contempt of the deed of Synod, did not claim a seat in the Presbytery, and might be properly considered as having withdrawn from all connexion with the Associate Church.
* The Synod did so far act on that paper as to decide unanimously that in it Mr. Stark had declined the authority of his Presbytery; and this greatly adds to our correspondent's argument. (Sea Minutes, p. 29.)-[Ed. Rel. Mor.
At the Synod which met at Pittsburgh, May, 1837, agreeably to various petitions, and with the consent and votes of a number who had previousiy voted and still believed Mr. Stark legally and justly convicted, it was decided, “to review the Synod's deed of last year in the case of Mr. Stark.” It was also decided that he should be relieved from the sentence of suspension which had been passed against him. Afterwards a resolution was adopted convicting him of insubordination, but further proceeding in the case was deferred till the next meeting, when the deed of the former Synod was to be reviewed. In none of these cases was there any action upon the paper of declinature, or reasons of protest reserved by the Presbytery of Albany, or the declinature of Synod referred to them at the previous meeting. No judgment was passed respecting these papers, nor any thing done directly or indirectly taking them out of the hands of the Presbytery. The thing could not have been legally done as they were not brought up by reference or appeal, nor was it attempted. The deeds of the Synod make no mention of the whole case, but in all their details are expressly limited to the libcl on which Mr. Stark had been convicted, and to his subsequent insubordination.
It seems to have been taken for granted by some, that, because, as they allege, Mr. Stark was restored to good standing by the Synod, nothing could be done to affect his standing during the year. This is quite a novel doctrine, and exhibits Mr. Stark in tne light of a very favorite child, having an immunity from all process in all supposable cases. Presbyteries have often dealt with others whose standing was at least equally good, without any charge of rebellion agair:st the superior court. Whence then did Mr. Stark derive this peculiar right, not to be touched by his Presbytery? If the Presbytery had attempted to reverse any of the deeds of Synod; if they had entered upon any part of the process which the Synod had taken into their own hands; if they had renewed the sentence of suspension from the ministry for the offences charged in the libel, or in any way interfered with those things which were in the Synod's hands, there would have been room for the charge of insubordination. But they did none of these things; they only judged of things which were in their own hands, with the knowledge, consent, and express order of the Synod.
Subsequently 10 the above-mentioned deed relieving Mr. Stark from suspension, he appeared and claimed his scat as a member of the Presbytery of Albany, and for all that appears to the contrary, they were ready to admit him, out of respect to the authority of Synod, notwithstanding the heavy charges of which he stood convicted by a large majority of the votes of Synod, and in the minds of all acquainted with the facts of the case. They however judged that he ought to withdraw the declinature in which he had brought the charges against them before noticed, and declared that he would hold all their proceedings as null and void. Though in reserving this paper, they had characterized it as "cruel, unjust and slanderous," instead of instituting a process against him for this and the other papers containing libellous matter, they adopted the lenient and pacific course of passing the latter papers without notice, and merely requiring him to withdraw the former.' He and others for VOL. XV.
him plead that this was virtually done when he claimed his seat. It would seem much more just to say, that the declinature and the charges contained in it were viriually renewed, when at the request of a member or members of the court he refused to withdraw them. In conseqrence of this refusal, the Presbytery rejected his application for a seat, and though they have not assigned their reasons in their minutes, they have done it elsewhere. They did not suspend Mr. Stark, or interfere in any way with his ministry, but only stood upon their own rights as a Presbytery, refusing to recognize as a brother member one who persisted in thrusting upon them a declinature in which he refused all submission to their authority, reviled them as the worst of men, and plainly enough told them that he considered himself no brother of theirs. They could not with any propriety take in among them one who like a bishop or pope would judge them, but would not himself be judged by them. They regarded this as utterly subversive of Presbyterian purity and of Christian liberty.
The Presbytery assign as another ground of their refusal, the vote of Synod convicting Mr. Stark of insubordination ; a scandal not purged. The principle of this reason is obviously correct, but as the Synod involved itself in the inconsistency of convicting Mr. Stark, and then leaving him unpunished, this reason reflected on that deed of the superior court; and though the principle of it be correct, it was not necessary to their defence. The former reason is amply sufficient; and the propriety or impropriety of introducing this need not be debated. A hundred weak or wrong reasons will not invalidate an act for which there is one good reason, any more than weak and insufficient arguments will invalidate the truth. This decision of the Presbytery, even if wrong, was not an act of disobedience to Synod, nor so evidently wrong as to be pronoun. ced“ of itself null and void," without being reconsidered and reversed.
A protest accompanied with an appeal was entered against this decision by “ Messrs. Bullions, Stark and Blair;" and if they had been wrong. ed, by prosecuting this appeal, they might in a regular way have obtained redress. The course however which they chose to pursue was very different.
As Mr. Stark's case was to come before the next meeting of Synod at Philadelphia, in May, 1838, it became a special object with him and his friends, to secure it possible a majority in his favor. A missionary was sent forth, and money raised to bring on such as it was thought would befriend him. It was also made sufficiently evident at the meeting of the Synod, that among the measures concerted, was the securing by a full and timely meeting of Mr. Stark's friends in one or more Presbyteries, a majority in his favor, who should, when the other members arrived exclude them from their seats, and so prevent them from being members at the organization of the ensuing Synod. This plot is the true key to the subsequent proceedings of Mr. Stark and his friends in the Presbytery of Albany. But what proof, it may be asked, appeared before Synod to warrant so serious a charge? The proof was so ample and so convincing that even the friends of Mr. Stark did not deny it. One of the persons concerned in this plot owned it upon the floor of Synod, stating that they had been long praying for such an opportunity, and that Providence had answered their prayers even beyond their expectation. Connected with the Resolutions published by these brethren in the 3d No. of their Magazine as the the pacific measure rejected by Synod, * there was one to this amount, and nearly in these very words—“Resolved, that Dr. P. Bullions, Messrs. Stark and Blair are censurable for the hasty manner in which they constituted the Associate Presbytery of Albany, without waiting for the arrival of their brethren, and also for the manifes. tations which they have given of intrigue in so doing.". Why have these men in giving to the world an account of what their friends attempted in their favor, omitted this resolution which would have revealed what these friends thought of their proceedings ? The resolution is repeated from memory after an interval of half a year, but though it no doubt varies somewhat in words, it does not reflect on the conduct of these men more than the original. Their omission of it is a tolerable specimen of the dependence to be placed on their statements.
* These resolutions are erroneously attributed to the Rev. Mr. Rodgers, and erroneously and to have been moved by Mr. Rodgers and seconded by Mr. Bell.
It appeared from the papers and other representations of the two parties claiming to be the Associate Presbytery of Albany, that this Presbytery was to meet, by adjournment, at Albany, on the morning of April 18th, 1838. In conformity with the plan which had been adopted, Mr. Stark, who had not attended before since his exclusion on the 28th of the preceding June, was now present with an elder, though his arrival in the city was not known to the other party till they found him occupying a seat in the Presbytery. Mr. H. H. Blair called upon Mr. Martin early in the morning to ascertain whether a distant member had arrived whose presence might have materially deranged their plans, but to his great gratification, and as an answer to his prayers, he found that he had not arrived; and he hurried away to convey to his brethren the welcome intelligence. Things being in this state, Dr. P. Pullions, Messrs. Stark and Blair, with their elders, met at the appointed place, and at the precise time to which the Presbytery stood adjourned. Without waiting for their breihren, who were known to be in the city and not twenty rods distant, they constituted with prayer, and proceeded to transact some very iinportant business.
Mr. Stark is mentioned in their minutes, together with his elder, as among the members constituting the Presbytery. They say, “ The Associate Presbytery of Albany met, and was constituted with prayer by the Rev. H. H. Blair, Moderator. Members present, Rev. P. Bullions,'' (clerk pro tem.) “Messrs. Stark and Blair, ministers, together with Messrs. Whitewright, Brinkerhoff and Black, ruling elders.” But though they had thus made him a constituent member in the act of meeting, they proceeded to constitute him a member a second time. The way in which this was done, certainly deserves the credit of originality; and as they claim in connexion with their friends to be the Scotch party, and have often told us of their being the learned, respectable and pious portion of the church, this specimen of their wisdom deserves a little examination. It is questionable whether any other six men in the country would have hit on the same way of getting over a difficulty.
It is a common principle in both civil and ecclesiastical courts, that their acts must be held as valid till legally reversed. Even if illegal, the Jaw provides ways in which this is to be ascertained and declared ; and to set aside in an illegal manner such acts, would only be trampling on law to maintain the honor of the law. On the supposition that the exclusion of Mr. Stark was illegal, two ways of redress presented themselves, agreeable to established order. On one of these ways these brethren had entered by protesting and appealing to the higher court, but this process was too tedious to answer some other purposes, and was aban doned. Another method in which the same thing might have been done, say,
was the reconsideration and reversal of their former deed by the court itself. To this, however, common order presented a difficuliy of consid erable magnitude. Rules of discipline provide that motions for reconsideration must proceed from those who voted with the majority, so that by this fact it may be perceived that there is not merely a change of members in the court, but to some extent a change of mind. Here then was the difficulty in the present case; as there were no members present who had voted for the exclusion of Mr. Stark, a motion for reconsideration could not even be made without a direct violation of established rules. In this emergency, the following expedient was adopted : “Dr. Bullions gave notice that he withdrew his protest against the decision of Presbytery excluding Mr. Stark from a seat,” and what then? did he
he was now satisfied that that decision was just, and that he would no more oppose it? Instead of this, he seems to have supposed that this shooting in an opposite direction had quite nullified the deed. He says, “that decision being in itself null and void, because in opposition to a decision of Synod.” What if the other protesters had not followed his example, as they however did, but adhered to their protests? They would then have come up to Synod in opposition to the act, and Dr. Bullions as acquiescing in it! This, certainly, to say the least of it, is a new invention, to withdraw protests in order to nullify the deeds against which they had been entered. But by this singular step Mr. Stark was admitted to a seat in the Presbytery whose authority he persisted in declining, and whose act excluding him was yet unreversed. If under these circumstances he was not illegally admitted both in fact and in form, it would be difficult to say when an admisssion could be illegal.
The admission of Mr. Stark's elder was equally irregular. As the congregation of Mr. S. adhered to him in his disobedience to Synod, the Presbytery had declared them to be in a state of insubordination, and not entitled to a representation in their meetings. The Synod of 1837, though relieving Mr. Stark from suspension, did nothing to purge the scandal of this disobedience from his congregation. They did not reverse this deed of the Presbytery, nor had the Presbytery reversed it. Even those who admitted Mr. Stark took no notice of it; so that there were two members admitted to seats in direct opposition to acts of the Presbytery excluding them.
When these brethren had by such proceedings strengthened their hands, they felt prepared for the other and more important part of their plot, the exclusion of those who were known to be opposed to Mr. Stark. They had constituted with prayer, attended to the preceding items of business and made a minute of them, all in the space of about ten minutes, when Messrs. Campbell and Martin, ministers, and Mr. Milmine, ruling elder from Florida, came into the house. Mr. Martin says that he examined his watch as soon as he came in, and that it was scarcely ten minutes after the hour at which the Presbytery was to meet; Dr. P. Bullions supposed it to have been about fifteen minutes. Dr. P. Bullions, who had been making minutes with a pencil, there being neither pen norink in the apartment, now produced a paper written with ink, and prepared, as he was constrained to own, previously to the meeting of the Presbytery. In this paper, Dr. B., who was himself under process, and to be tried at this meeting, contrary to all order came forward as the accuser of his brethren, and moved to exclude from seats Messrs. Martin and Campbell, because, as he alleges, they had acted in opposition to a decision of Synod, in depriving Mr. Stark and the elder from his congregation of their