Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alexander Mack - Letter on Disagreement

Alexander Mack, Jr. held very strong opinions but he had an even stronger love for Christian love and patience.

Abraham Harley Cassel not only had the largest collection of books among the early Brethren, he also preserved some early correspondance which provides insight into the early Brethren. Among the letters in his collection was one written on October 23, 1798 - 210 years ago today! The letter was written by Mack at the age of 86 in which he addresses a biblical disagreement he had with John Preisz, the elder of the Indian Creek congregation and a friend whom Mack had baptized twenty-five years earlier. The two men regarded each other warmly and never hesitated to disagree with each other.

In this letter, Mack addresses Preisz as "Tenderly beloved brother, dear and well esteemed fellow pilgrim," and opened, "With a heartfelt greeting and salutation of the kiss in the spirit of sincere brotherly love..."

Regarding their disagreement, Mack wrote, "Though I have read thy letter again and again with diligence and in the fear of the Lord, I cannot say that all those scripture passages referred to by you did produce such an impression, as I understand they have produced in you. But what shall I say? The flowers in the garden are still and peaceful, though one clothed in blue, the other in red, and the white. They praise quietly their Creator, and shew forth in entire concord the manifold wisdom of the supreme Being."

Though they were in disagreement, Mack said, in a postscript, "I have told no person in our neighborhood, that there was a dispute between me and you, nor have I permitted any person to see your letter. The Lord has called me into peace. May that same peace, which passeth all understanding, keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen. Amen."

Perhaps one reason they were able to keep their disagreements in perspective was because they kept first things first. In one tender and poignant paragraph, Mack tells Preisz: "Last night the youngest child of my youngest daughter has left the body of death, and is gone from the land of mortality over the stream, which has no bridge, into the land of the living. This child has performed its whole journey in 13 months, and I have traveled now already 86 years and 7 months, and have not yet passed over Jordon. But what our God doeth, is done well."

And that's the way it was - 210 years ago today - from the perspective of Alexander Mack, Jr.

Source: Frank Ramirez' Tercentennial Minute for October 19, 2008