Being a concise relation of the Church process against him, for professing the doctrine of Polygamy, where the lawfulness of a man's having a plurality of wives;
is several pleas in vindication, from the first step to his condemnation, are made public.
the result of an ecclesiastical Council that advised the church to condemn him.
remarks on the result, &c.
To which is added, by way of appendix,
a solemn discourse on Matthew.xii 22 &c.
ACTS vii. S0, 60. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God and saying, Lord Jesus received my spirit. And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, Lord, Lay not this sin to their charge. And when he said this he fell asleep.
I would inform the candid world, that I do not publish this church process, and my pleas, from any desire that I have to propagate the doctrine of Polygamy, or a plurality of wives; being holy content with the laws, customs and fashions of my country, as will appear in the sequel of this publication.
But happening to (illegible) a different opinion from, for ought I know, the generality of people in my country, and besure from the church of Norfolk, whom it seems I insensibly, but not intentionally offended by it. Which when done it seems there was no remedy for me, but the most rigid retraction, which for conscience sake I could not make. Nor yet do I publish for any party zeal, that I have against the church of Norfolk, or against any one person in it; though I verily believe they did wrong in the present case, from the first step to the last, and especially in cutting me off from the privileges of it; for any man or body of men's doing wrong, is to me no certain evidence that they were not sincere; and therefore I have not broke charity with them for all of this.
But the reasons of my publication are, 1st. To manifest to the world, the inconsistencies of taking up and carrying on a process, for nothing else but because I did not think or judge as they did; when they have no better plea for it, than custom, fashion, and some circumstantial things in Scripture. And,
2dly. That the candid world may judge when they have heard the whole, whether or no the church, in condemning me for the principle of Polygamy, were not (as it appears to me) altogether wrong; which if there were (however sincere they may have been about it) is no small thing.
Alas! To be thus cut off from the privileges in special ordinances, and yet have no way to settle it, not being conscious of any guilt about it, and therefore could not retract with good conscience, and no prospect of settling the matter without retracting, is in truth such a labyrinth of woe as cannot well be described in few words: I shall nevertheless leave the reader to judge of it, being well persuaded, that every candid person, and every friendly heart, will be free enough to exercise pity, when they have (by surveying the matter thoroughly) learned the justice of my cause: and to this end, let me ask my readers to lay aside all prejudices of every kind, especially those of education, custom and popularity; and to keep the severest bridle on their reasoning faculties; and never believe, but in the exact proportion to evidence, whether derived from the sacred Scriptures or elsewhere: – – –
And shall need to say no more, but come directly to the chief matters of this publication, which naturally consists in two parts, viz. historical and pleading.