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    1678.                  167        103


     Mr Nelson was informed what churches the church of Rowley did object a

    =gainst as to hearing the matter between him & the church but he took noe no

    tice of it but made his address to them & to three churches more, who accordingly

    came & sat in Councill the 10 day of Decemb: 1678 from Ipswich 5 Major Denison

    Mr Cobbet, Mr Rogers, Deacon Penkrin, Deacon Goodew

    From Topsfield Mr Hubbard Mr Perkins Deacon Perkins

    From Newberry Mr Richardson Mr Noyer Mr Caleb Moody Mr Woodbridg

    From Hampton Mr Cotton Mr Dolton

    From Haverhill Mr Ward Captain Saltinstal Leut: Broune


    The first day of the Councills conveening in ye afternoon they gave notice yt

    they would hear from the Church the grounds of their proceeding with Mr Nelson

    and for yt End desired us to meet them at ye meeting house, which accordingly

    we did and after prayer by the moderator the Reverend Mr Ward, The major Ge

    neral Denison received a paper from Mr Nelson which the church never saw


    before which took up above half an hour to read it, contayning many reproaches

    reflections & charges against the church as 1 that ye church was partial in her dealings

    with offendours let goodm Pickard goe Scott-free though censured by ye court for his reflecting

    speeches against authority & yet prosecuted him for his offences 2 admitted a member against the

    mind of ye major part of ye cburch 3 in dealing with him he declared publickly (before ye coun

    cil & countrey) that we would not admitt the evidences he gave in to ye church but rejected ym

    The body of ye church were much offended with thes fals accusations and sent a message to ye

    councill (who were mett at Mr Nelsons house) desiring to have the paper & a copy of It that we

    might make answer to it, & it was sayd by some of the councill yt our request was rational

    & it was told or messenger yt ye Revend moderator Mr Ward should bring it when he came to

    his lodging at S. P. but upon 2d thoughts they altered their mind & kept it from us.

    After reading of that reproachfull paper we gave in in writing to ye councill the

    grounds of or proceeding against Mr Nelson as followeth.


    The grounds upon wch ye church of Rowley proceeded as to their late act

    in Excommunicating Mr Philip Nelson, presented to ye hond councill the Elders & messen

    gers of ye five churches (of Ipswich, Newberry, Haverhill Hampton & Topsfeild) con

    veened at Rowley this 10th of ye 10th month 1678. Upon the complaint and at the

    desier of the sayd Mr Nelson, who complaines that he cannot look upon himself to

    be Either regularly or justly Excomunicated

    Honoured Reverend & beloved in our lord Jesus

    Before we mention the grounds of our proceeding as to Mr Nelsons Ejection we crave

    leav to premise a few words

      1 That as we beleeve councills to be a holy ordinance of God, & very necessary for ye

    well being of churches, soe we should very readily have sought for yt help, If we had mett

    with any matter of Scruple or difficulty in these matters, for It is noe question with us

    whether a man guilty of Such crimes as are hereafter specified should not be cast out

    ther appearing noe repentance for 4 of his Scandelous evills nor any thing worth the

    nameing for the fifth, notwithstanding what private & publick means were used for that

    End, & therfore we did & doe judg it an abuse of soe solemn an ordinance as council

    is to call a councill in this case ______

      2. Whereas it may be sayd that admonition had bin meet before the highest

    censure: we answer in gross & scandelous offences (such as we conceive Mr Nelsons

    to be) such gradual proceeding is neither required in the word[76] that we know off

    nor is consonant to ye Plattforme nor to the writings of our congregational divines

    Dr Owen Mr Cotton &c.[77] Nor to the frequent practise of the churches as might easily

    be demonstrated if need be

      3 Wheras it may be sayd we were very hasty in casting him out: We Answer it

    is well towards half a year that these matters have bin in hand (all which time we

    have had noe sacramt of the lords supper) myself & several brethren assaying to

    bring him to a sight of his Evills but nothing prevailed soe that we conceive we


    [76] I.e., God’s Word, or the Bible.

    [77] Cambridge Platform, ch. XIV, sec. III; John Cotton, Way of the Churches of Christ in New England, ch. V, sec. II, pp. 92-93; John Owen, possibly his Excertitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews (1668), pp. 291-94, in which he treats the different degrees of “exclusion” practiced in Judaism.