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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 1

The Parsonage, Whanganui, September 13, 1867

The Parsonage, Whanganui, September 13, 1867.

My dear Sir,—

Although I said in my last letter that I should not pursue this correspondence any further, I feel myself obliged to acknowledge your note of the 5th inst., and to thank you for the courteous manner in which you give me credit for straightforwardness, which I think it is best to exhibit on all occasions.

Although my time is much taken up, and my mind much distressed by the serious illness of my eldest daughter, I will endeavour to answer your questions briefly.

Our blessed Lord, in the 17th of St. John, speaking of His apostles, with whom He promised He would be present to the end of the world, says that they are "not of the world," evidently drawing a line of demarcation between the society which He founded through their agency, and those who did not belong to it, viz.: "the world." "My idea of the Church" is precisely that which is given in our 19th Article, to which I refer you. And, therefore, all who do not belong to a society so constructed, I consider as belonging to "the world," either the "religious world" or the purely secular.

For an answer to your third question, I refer you to the 23rd Article; and I call all persons "dissenting teachers" who dissent from the doctrines I have quoted, and who have not page 9 received Episcopal ordination. This is warranted by the challenge given by the celebrated Chilling worth to all dissenters, to prove "that for the first 1500 years of the Church's existence, there was to be found any body of religious people who were not governed by a bishop." This challenge has never been answered to this day.

I felt bound, in common courtesy, to say thus much, but for the reasons I have stated above, you really must excuse me from entering into the subject any further. I have engaged to some extent in polemical controversy during my life, but I am now quite tired of it.

Whenever I think I can do good by answering questions or objections respecting religious subjects, I do so cheerfully, as my duty, but I do not like to engage in argument unless I see some prospect of benefitting others.

May God give his blessing on what I have said, and grant that however I and others may differ on the subjects, we may never let our opinions destroy our charity.

I remain,

My dear Sir,

Yours very truly,

Chas. H. S. Nicholls.

Mr. Isaac Harding, Whanganui.