seven years in reaching its culmination.
It must be briefly told in this paper, though the reading of a thick volume of six hundred pages has been necessary to the understanding of it. But a little explanation is required to set the matter fairly before us.
First, as to Hollis Street Church.
It was a church owned and controlled in law, not by the body of worshippers who rented pews in it, but by the proprietors.
The proprietors were the owners of pews, who were legally responsible for the expenses of the church.
Those who rented pews from the proprietors had no legal voice in the conduct of the parish.
If their opinion was asked on any matter, such as the choice of a minister, it had no binding force, it was only desired so that the proprietors might form a judgment as to the course it was wise to pursue.
In this whole controversy, therefore, it is not the congregation that is concerned, it is the pew-owners or proprietors as the legally responsible party.
It is further necessary to the understanding of Mr. Pierpont
's legal rights as minister to remember that he was settled under the old Congregational regime as a life-settlement.
The proprietors could not dismiss him at will, they could only dismiss him by his consent unless
for cause the Supreme Court should remove him, or an ecclesiastical council of churches, regularly and legally called, should vote to dissolve the connection between him and his parish, then the Supreme Court could give their decision legal force and bring his ministry to an end. This is the legal aspect or status of this controversy which will appear in what follows.
An end of the matter could have been made at once by the resignation of the pastor.
But there were good and sufficient reasons why he could not take this course.
First of all, a vital principle was involved, that of the freedom of the pulpit.
If a minister was to be put down because of his preaching upon questions of pressing moral interest, and this by a minority whose business was affected by such preaching, then the minister had