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To the Rev. Mr Robert Asty of Norwich

Dear Sir, — I received yours by Mr B., to whom I shall commit this return, and hope it will come safely to your hands; for although I can acknowledge nothing of what you are pleased out of your love to ascribe unto me, yet I shall be always ready to give you my thoughts in the way of brotherly advice, whenever you shall stand in need of it: and at present, as things are circumstanced, I do not see how you can waive or decline the call of the church either in conscience or reputation. For, to begin with the latter; should you do so upon the most Christian and cogent grounds in your own apprehensions, yet wrong interpretations will be put upon it; and so far as it is possible we ought to keep ourselves, not only “extra noxam,” but “suspicionem” also. But the point of conscience is of more moment. All things concurring, — the providence of God in bringing you to that place, the judgment of the church on your gifts and grace for their edification and example, the joint consent of the body of the congregation in your call, with present circumstances of a singular opportunity for preaching the word, I confess at this distance I see not how you can discharge that duty you owe to Jesus Christ (whose you are, and not your own, and must rejoice to be what he will have you to be, be it more or less) in refusing a compliance unto these manifest indications of his pleasure; only, remember that you sit down and count what it will cost you, — which I know you will not be discouraged by; for the daily exercise of grace and learning of wisdom should not be grievous unto us, though some of their occasions may be irksome. For the latter part of your letter, I know no difference between a pastor and a teacher but what follows their different gifts; — the office is absolutely the same in both; the power the same, the right to the administration of all ordinances every way the same: and at that great church at Boston, in New England, the teacher was always the principal person; so was Mr Cotton and Mr Norton. Where gifts make a difference, there is a difference; otherwise there is none. I pray God guide you in this great affair; and I beg your prayers for myself in my weak, infirm condition. — I am your affectionate friend and brother,

J. Owen.

London, March 16.

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