via South-Western Publishing House
The following is a portion of the dispute between R. B. C. Howell and J. R. Graves of Nashville. - More of the book describing the events will follow.
THE ACTION OF CONCORD ASSOCIATION, AUGUST, 1859.
The Churches of Nashville belong to this Association. When the First Church, Nashville, was called, two letters were presented, one from the delegates of Elder Howell's party, and one from those of the Spring Street Church, which claimed to be the orderly portion of the First Church, and gave the reasons for having changed its name. The two letters were referred to a special committee of five to examine all the facts touching the case, and report on Monday.
On Monday afternoon they submitted the following Report:
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.
The Committee to whom was referred the two letters purporting to be from the First Church in Nashville, respectfully report:
We see no reason why the action of this body should be at variance with the action of the General Association of Middle Tennessee and North Alabama in its decision against the majority, and in favor of the minority as the orderly and constitutional First Baptist Church, Nashville. Nor have we any fault to find with the judgment expressed by the Council convened in March last. That judgment, we think, was in accordance with the facts in the case.
That the New Testament law was violated in the arraignment of Elder J. R. Graves, we cannot for a moment entertain a doubt. The offences charged against him were evidently personal. It is in vain to say they were public; for a public offence, as well as a private one, may be personal. In all cases of personal offence among Church-members, the law of Christ, as laid down in the eighteenth chapter of Matthew, must be observed. Until this is done, no Church can, without involving itself in disorder, take cognizance of any such case. It is, therefore, manifest that the dominant party of the First Church, Nashville, became disorderly in practice when it arraigned Elder Graves in disregard of the law of Christ. It seems to us that the principles of common justice were greatly outraged in the failure of the Church to furnish Elder Graves with definite specifications.
Christian propriety, ordinary courtesy, and simple justice required that the prayer of the Protest of Elder Graves should be granted. That it was not granted is proof positive that those who voted against it were indisposed to do right. And the use made of the name of Elder R. Fuller, of Baltimore, after he, in legal phrase, entered a nolle prosequi, indicates the same thing. We are of opinion that Elder Graves made his Protest at the right stage of the proceedings against him, and when it was disregarded, he and the minority who acted with him were perfectly justifiable in withdrawing from the disorderly dominant party. We see not how they could have taken part in the trial, so-called, without acquiescing in what they knew to be a violation of the law of Christ. It was their duty to withdraw, and we recognize them to be what they claim in their letter to be -- the orderly portion of what was the First Baptist Church, Nashville -- while we consider the dominent majority as the disorderly portion of said Church, from which this Association should withhold its fellowship until said majority retraces its steps and rescinds its unscriptural acts.
In view of these facts and considerations, (and others might be named,) we recommend the adoption of the following resolutions:
1. Resolved, That the messengers of the orderly portion of what was the First Baptist Church, Nashville, are entitled to seats in this body.
2. Resolved, That as the Nashville minority have taken the name of the Spring
Street Baptist Church, (having resolved to build their house of worship on said street,) the Clerk so designate it in the minutes.
3. Resolved, That in view of the unscriptural proceedings against Elder J. R. Graves in connection with the fact that the misunderstanding between him and Elder Dawson of Georgia has been amicably and honorably settled, (Elder Dawson admitting that Elder Graves was justifiable in entertaining the view he expressed before he heard the explanations made at the time of the settlement,) and in view of the additional fact that Mr. Tustin has openly proved by his recent action that he was never slandered by Elder Graves in being termed an unsound Baptist, it does seem to us that justice, honor, and religion require the disorderly dominant party at Nashville to retrace its steps, and modify its records.
4. Resolved, That as we earnestly desire an adjustment of Nashville differences, it would be exceedingly gratifying to this body for the dominant party at Nashville to correct the disorder into which it has fallen, so that peace may be restored to our Zion.
5. Resolved, That while it may not be expedient for the two parties at Nashville to be united again in one organization, we would heartily rejoice for such a state of things to be brought about, as will enable them to act harmoniously in the denomination, each being recognized as an independent Church.
6. Resolved, That the Clerk of this body be requested to furnish the dominant majority at Nashville with a copy of this Report.
J. M. PENDLETON,
E. W. HAILE,
R. R. BARTON,
E. D. STEPHENSON.
Elder Howell's delegates demanded the right to make speeches. It was decided that the messengers from neither body had the right to speak. They had been requested to do so before the Committee, and would not. On motion, one hour was granted to the messengers from Elder Howell's party, to be occupied by one or both. This offer was declined, for politic reasons, doubtless.
The vote was taken by ayes and noes, and stood as follows:
Ayes - R. R. Barton, W. S. Estes, E. D. Stephenson, H. R. Buchanan, J. S. Hitt, A. Sperry, H. Carver, W. B. Jennings, T. W. Davis, J. J. Martin, J. C. Hood, John Bond, J. W. Edwards, W. T. Cartwright, E. W. Vaughn, W. Green, R. W. H. Wallace, N. Owen, E. W. Haile, W. Greer, John Sanders, W. M. Sanders, N. M. Green, S. T. Alsup, J. F. Davis, J. C. Laniers, J. Johnson, J. H. Baird, J. M. Pendleton, N. Lowe, R. Bryson, C. B. Idom, Bro. Neal, N. B. Read, W. B. Trenary, George Raynor, W. G. Blair, R. Head, R. Cunningham, J. A. Andrews, G. P. Sanders, and P. Melvin - 42.
Noes - R. Ford - 1.
[From "Both Sides" - Howell/Graves Dispute, 1859; Publication of the South-Western Publishing House, Graves, Marks and Company, Nashville, Tennessee; via depository.sbts.edu., Adam Winters, archivist. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More on J. R. Graves
More of R. B. C. Howell
Baptist History Homepage