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He concluded the interview with this re- This was said in reply to Wm. H. Macy's mark: “That he would be silent until he answer to an enquiry by J. J. M., if he “was judged that the proper time had come for him never to speak again ?" Macy's answer being to speak.”
in these words : “Thee can judge as well as any man living, when the proper time comes for thee to speak." J. J. M. responding thereto, “I cheerfully accept of your advice. I shall be silent until I judge that the proper time has come for me to speak, and I believe that is all you require of me. I give you permission to report to the Monthly Meeting that I have adopted your advice. I am glad our interview has come to such a happy conclusion. I shall be exceedingly careful to
avoid any disturbance in future." At this interview we found two persons True; and the presence of these friends present beside his wife. One of them wrote was not objected to by the committee or by down the substance of what was said by the John, who was really the proper party to obcommittee and John, which has since been ject if they were to be excluded; and what published.
was written down and published as having been said on the occasion is admittedly correct
and truthful." Deeming this course objectionable and con- John was not aware of what was silently trary to the spirit and object of such visits to passing in the minds of the committee, or offenders, and unknown in the proceedings of that wiiting or publishing a truthful account our religious society,
of such visits was contrary to their spirit or to
any justifiable object. and believing that we had not gained any- John had promised all they asked of him, thing, nor could we in another visit if all that and had kept his promise. passed between us was to be published to the world, we last week requested him to grant us an- This was in these words: “I am instructed to other interview alone.
say that the committee wish this interview to
be with thyself alone." In his reply, he reiterates that he has not committed the offence charged against him, and stated he has no desire to meet us again as a committee-that if another interview takes place (which he was willing should be at his house), he should not consent to the The committee, in their report, underscore exclusion of his wife and other friends who feel the words not, exclusion and other friends, more interested in the matter than he does. though these were not underscored in the note
of J. J. M., and have omitted in their pretended quotation of his language without some sufficient reason being assigned therefor ”—
thus entirely changing its meaning. Therefore the committee feel that the way Had they reported truthful, they must have is closed for much further labor in the case informed the meeting that further labor was by them.
uncalled for, through their having fully obWM. H. MACY,
tained the only alleged object of their apGEORGE HALLOCK, pointment.
JACOB CAPRON. New York, gmo. 17, 1867.
The Monthly Meeting's minutes proceed as follows:
The Meeting feelingly entered upon the consideration of this subject. After careful deliberation, it was was the judgment of the meeting that he be disowned.
William H. Macy, George Hallock and Jacob Capron were appointed to give him that information, and inform him of his right to appeal.
At the Monthly Meeting of New York, held uth mo., 6th, 1867, a communication was presented from John J. Merritt, but was not read or noticed upon the minutes-the minute in his case being to this effect :
The committee appointed to inform John J. Merritt of his disownment and right to appeal reported that the information had been given to him.
A remonstrance against the action of the meeting in disowning John J. Merritt, signed by fifty-four members of Brooklyn Meeting, was read in this meeting, and then silently passed from without being placed upon minutes.
The next minute in the case is to this effect.
At the Monthly Meeting of New York, held 12th mo., 4th, 1867:-A communication received from John J. Merritt was read, from which it appears that it is his intention to appeal from the judgment of this meeting, in his case, to the Quarterly Meeting. Samuel Willets, William H. Macy, Robert R. Willets, Effingham Cock and George Hallock were appointed to attend that meeting, with a copy of the minutes of this meeting relative to the case, and to give any further information that may be desired.
The communication above referred to is as follows: TO THE MONTHLY MEETING of New York:
Dear Friends :--Since our last meeting I have received from the members of your late com. mittee in my case, a joint note, which goes to show that the matter announced in it as having been concluded by you, is not so entirely finished, but that further information from them to you is deemed to be necessary. I am glad that they accept this as being our position, and trust that it will be recognized by you also. That you may fully understand it, I here insert as part of this communication, and that it may be included with the minutes of the case, the note referred to by me, together with my response to it. It is as follows:
“ John J. Merritt :-At a Monthly Meeting, held oth mo., 2d, we were appointed a committee to inform thee that the meeting had decided to disown thee as a member of our religious Society, and to inform thee of thy right to appeal from its decision to the Quarterly Meeting. We now hand thee this notice because thee will not admit that William H. Macy informed thee of thy right to appeal when he gave thee notice as above, on the 22d of last month. We shall inform our next Monthly Meeting that we have given this duplicate notice to thee; if thee desires to appeal, thee will please inform us, that we may inform the meeting.
W. H. MACY,
(Signed,) GEORGE HALLOCK, New York, 11 110., 161h, 1867.
Gentlemen :-Your note of 16th inst. was handed to me yesterday by George Hallock. In reply, I would say that the information you aim to give me, reached me in a less formal manner through others than yourselves, on the day named by you-10 mo., 2d-and a repetition of the information, to be availing, should be official, which this of yours is not. I must say further that the reason stated by you for now handing it to me is not well foundedas I have not been asked to admit what you unauthorizedly say that I will not-and, without being asked, an admission of it would seem to be uncalled for, especially as it would be untruthful. If William H. Macy had really done as he says that he did, no admission of it from me would be needed by you. If he did not do it, you are no longer in a position to remedy the defect. He did not do it, or I should then have required a copy of the complaint against me-to furnish which, if required, the discipline designates as being part of the duty of such a committee as you then were, though from your statement of the object of your appointment, it would seem to have been overlooked in this case. The remedy now is a very simple one, and is with the Monthly Meeting. Let it re-consider the case and correct any defects which through doing so may become apparent in the manner in which it has been conducted, and I doubt not but that it can be brought tó a satisfactory conclusion. Your calling the notice you have now sent me a “duplicate notice," does not make it such, and I think you will hardly persist in thus calling it when you recur to what you know to be the facts. After the information received from the clerk, and also which you have given me of your being discharged from your appointment, through having finished your duty, unless you can show me that there has been a subsequent re-assembling of the meeting and a re-appointment of yourselves, I can hold no further communication with you as being a committee; and when you say that because you will inform the next Monthly Meeting that you have given this miscalled duplicate notice to me, you add, that if I desire to appeal, I will please inform you, that you may inform the meeting, I think you are assuming to instruct me in what does not belong to you. When you were the duly appointed organ of communication between the meeting and myself, you failed when requested to do it, so to present what I had furnished to you as being my appreciation of your labors as to make the meeting acquainted therewith and now that you have ceased to be such organ-though thanking you for your volunteered expression of willingness to oblige me -perhaps in the same way-I must decline troubling you in the matter. I believe the meeting has a duty to perform, and I shall not now interfere with its action otherwise than by an appeal directly to itself. As you are no longer a committee, and the information you say you will give to the next Monthly Meeting, can only be presented to it by you as coming from individuals and may be refused as being extra official, I will relieve you from the unpleasantness of such a refusal by embodying this correspondence in the communication which I propose to make to our next Monthly Meeting, thus furnishing it with our joint statement and avoiding what would be otherwise an ex parte one, if yours should chance to be read and mine not.
And I will say further that I have no desire to be technical beyond what is needful to maintain the right; and going behind the practice of Friends, and looking to what is really righi, I believe that every person under treatment should be furnished, it required by him, with a copy of every report concerning himself from every committee made to meetings from which such person is excluded. He should know the exact progress of his case, and the ground upon which he is being judged, and not be tried by a secret commission, or a committee whose pro. ceedings are secret from himself. And feeling thus, I am willing to withdraw my objection to the sufficiency of your notice, and give you, for the purpose of this proceeding, an admission of the service as being a sufficient one, if you will promptly place in my hands a verbatim copy of your report to the meeting of the roth month, 2d, which, as it has been represented to me is untruthful, and also of the verbal report to our last mon:hly meeting, and a copy of the complaint against me, all which are required by me. It is possible that your doing it would end all controversy in this matter, and at any rate, I pledge myself, on the receipt of these papers, to make my subsequent proceedings conform to the admission which is herein promised you.
Yours, &c., New York, 11 mo., 19, 1867.
JOHN J. MERRITT. To the foregoing I have received no reply, and I therefore submit it to yourselves as promised by me.
Shortly before your last Monthly Meeting, the address which I now attach to this communication—which accept as forming a part of it—was placed by my direction in the hands of your committee, as being the organ of communication between you and myself, with the understanding that they would present it to you. Instead of doing this, I learn that it was placed by one of them upon the clerk's table without any notice to the meeting of its having reached it through its own committee, and, therefore, leaving the meeting to infer that I was ignoring the existence of any committee in my case, and improperly attempting to force a communication upon it through a channel which at that time would have been illegitimate. Perhaps it was through this apparent informality in its presentation that it was not read.
I am now informed by that committee that they have been discharged.
I can now, without disrespect to them and in accordance with the order of the Society and in compliance with its discipline, communicate directly with yourselves, and as I find that William H. Macy, one of your late committee, is prepared to affirm that he gave me notice of my right to appeal, and all of them have since served me with their so-called duplicate notice
- which I have herein copied for you—it seems proper, as a measure of prudence, to modify my intended method of proceeding and make it conform to this asserted information, though it never was received by me except as herein stated. I, however, am as desirous as ever of avoiding all contention by making you acquainted with a part, at least, of my objections to your proceedings and my desire for a full investigation of all the facts of my case. I renew the offer of my last month's address unto you. It is true that this was thrown out by you at your last meeting, but as this was done by you without its being read, and you therefore rejected it without knowing what you did, I am willing to give you an opportunity of reconsidering what cannot have been with you otherwise than hasty and inconsiderate action. It seems almost incredible to me that a professedly business meeting of any respectable body of men should so demean themselves as to refuse to listen, with a view to their correction, to grave allegations of improprieties and errors alleged to have been committed either by themselves or under their authority and sanction. I trust you will not do this; and by availing yourselves of this opportunity for reconsideration, you may perhaps change my intention, of which I reluctantly gave you notice, of appealing from your judgment to the next Quarterly Meeting.
I would respectfully ask of you to enter this notification upon your minutes, and to take such further proceeding as may be needful, furnishing me with a copy of the complaint against me, though I can scarcely bring myself to believe that you will compel me to proceed to this extremity, at any rate without granting me a hearing.
Respectfully your friend, New York, 12 mo., 3d, 1867.
JOHN J. MERRITT. TO THE MONTHLY MEETING OF New York.
Dear Friends :- I was some days since called upon by Wm. H. Macy, who informed me that "it was the conclusion of your last Monthly Meeting that I should be separated from the Society of Friends."
These were nearly his own and only words on the subject of his appointment, and contain all the information which he gave me in connection with it, except that he stated in reply to an enquiry, that there were three who were appointed to do this but they did not deem it necessary for all to come simply to give this information. There was nothing said by him about my having any privilege of appealing, and in such matters I shall not pretend to be wise above what is written or officially spoken. Without doing this, as the discipline provides for the officially acquainting of a disowned person with the privilege of appealing where this exists, I cannot, in the absence of such information, assume that I have such a right, and must therefore infer that there is some peculiarity in my case or in the method of separating me from the Society which has left me without this privilege. If so, I can only protest unto yourselves, and I wish do to this with the solemnity suited to the occasion for it. But irrespective of my righeinstead of appealing unto others as I supposed the discipline provided that I might-I now prefer doing it to you, and I would here bid you pause and consider what you have done and are doing; asking of you, if needful, to retrace your steps in this matter while it is yet within your control, and it is within your control until your judgment has been appealed from unto others. And perhaps I can aid you in coming to a right conclusion in regard to it, by pointing you unto what it seems to me would be a more correct construction and administration of the discipline, in similar matters, than have perhaps prevailed with us, and also some facts in connection with this particular case, with which it is altogether possible you are now unacquainted. I will first speak of the discipline. This was unquestionably intended to be exceedingly guard ed in the manner of our bringing the cases of offenders to our meetings of discipline. This care is apparent in the several articles, with reference to it under the heads of “Overseers ” and “ Treating with Offenders.” In the first article it is made “more particularly the business of overseers” to treat with offenders “in the spirit of meekness and restoring love, patiently endeavoring to instruct and advise them; but should their labor prove ineffectual, the preparative meeting should in due season be informed of the cases that, if necessary, they may be laid before the Monthly Meeting.” The latter article, after prescribing christian effort for the restoration of offenders, provides that “if any reject this tender labor, the overseers are to acquaint the preparative meeting thereof, in order, if necessary, that the case may be forwarded to the Monthly Meeting," &c., thus constituting the overseers the only instruments by which the cases of offenders can rightly reach the Monthly Meeting for its final judgment -- calling, as it does, for the judicious labor of overseers before the presentation of such cases to the body of the meeting at large can be made.
The first paragraph on page 24 of the Book of Discipline—though it has certainly sometimes, as in the present instance, been construed differently-does not, in my judgment, furnish an exception to this rule, but on the contrary, most beneficially institutes a proceeding in the extremely delicate cases there referred to, which is not designed to supersede, but is to be preliminary to any action of the overseers, whose later action is only to be taken when the deliberately expressed sentiment of the Monthly Meeting, as called forth by the meeting of ministers and elders, accords with that meeting in regarding the communications complained of by them as being disturbing. A persistence in offering such communications, after such an expression by the Monthly Meeting, would constitute an offence, though, until it had been so decided by the joint action of the meeting of Ministers and Elders and the Monthly Meeting, it could not rightly be regarded as being unmistakably such.
At a no remote period our own Quarterly Meeting must, at least in part, have recognized this feature of our discipline, as it reinstated an appellant because of the absence of this preliminary labor by the meeting of Ministers and Elders. The caution exhibited by this provision, for it was undoubtedly designed to secure this, leaves or places the right of judgment in this most important matter where alone it should rest, not in any committee, though acting as a meeting of Ministers and Elders, or as a board of overseers, but in the meeting itself. And in accordance with this discipline, whenever the Monthly Meeting, on the presentation of the meeting of Ministers and Elders, decides that the communications submitted are improper and disturbing, a persistence in offering them becomes an offence for which the Monthly Meeting, in its regularly prescribed order, first by its overseers, and then its special committees, “ should proceed to treat with and disown the offender if it should appear to be necessary.”
Our discipline designates nineteen disownable offences. Sixteen of these are acts which can be definitely defined, and the general provision, in reference to the case of overseers with regard to these, seems sufficient, and they are therefore left to this provision. In two of the remaining cases the action of the overseers is needed to constitute the offence, and in one of these-such is the intended care of Friends, that after the case has reached the Monthly Meeting, through the preparative meeting, it is made the duty of the Monthly Meeting, before it is taken upon its minutes, to make enquiry and ascertain if the “Gospel order has been observed” in regard to it. The remaining case--being the present one—is so ethical and immaterial in its nature, that no writing could, in advance, define it into an offence, for the character of its offerings as being disturbing or not, depends upon their suitableness to the occasion, and the discipline provides that this is to be judged of and determined by the joint judgment of the meeting of Ministers and Elders and of the Monthly Meeting, which can alone give to these offerings the impress of being disownably offensive. After having received this impress, if they are persisted in, the party presenting them becomes an offender, and is to be treated with and disowned if necessary.
The cases which have originated under the discipline here referred to (being on its 34th page), have been so unfrequent as scarcely to furnish us with reliable precedents, and in the absence of these and of explicit directions—though what I have cited would seem almost to amount to such-analogy might well, to some extent at least, be used to guide us.
By the express provisions of discipline, when the meeting of Ministers and Elders, consisting as it does jointly of men and women Friends, is united in proposing to the Monthly Meeting for discipline the consideration of acknowledging a Friend a minister, the information is to be given to the Monthly Meeting of which the Friend is a member, and both the men's and women's meeting is to take part in the consideration of it, each having an equal interest. If both meetings unite in approving, information thereof is to be given to the meeting of Ministers and Elders. Analogy and the same guarding care would suggest a similar method in the attaining of a widely differing result, where the.information received was from the same sourc
urce and had reference to the same subject matter, though inviting action by an expression of disapproval instead of unity. The men's and women's meetings each having an equal interest in this