The Doctrine of Caiaphas by Rev. David Murdoch D.D.

- by Bruce E. McKinney



What might have been my decision had those last letters reached me on the 5th of May, instead of the 6th, I cannot now say. My mind was then in such an even state, between going or remaining, that I might have decided the very opposite from what I did. The church and parsonage had been consumed by fire. The people of Catskill were seemingly scattered in dismay, and to tear myself away from them in these afflictive circumstances, appeared to be the most cruel thing that any Pastor could be guilty of. To add to my affliction, they in two days raised for me the extraordinary liberal sum of seven hundred dollars, notwithstanding that all knew my state of mind about leaving. To accept a call from a new people, in those circumstances, was trying in the extreme, and the letter of that minority would not certainly have lessened the embarrassment.

My letter of acceptance was dated the 5th of May. The letter of warning reached me on the 6th, and this is my answer:-

Catskill, May 6, '51

To S. L. Gillett, -----, -----, Wm P Konkle. Lester Smith:

Dear Brethren,

I have just received your united and frank letter, and observe the information it contains; but it came too late to have any influence in my decision. My letter in reply to the Committee is by this time near Elmira; and what is more, is conclusive in this matter. I have informed my leading people of the fact. This puts it beyond recall.

You will believe me, that there has been no rashness on my part. If there be blame anywhere it cannot lie with me. Neither in the beginning, nor during the progress of negotiations, had I any hand in the matter. A Committee called upon me, asking me to preach in Elmira. I did not hastily embrace the invitation, but waited a full month before I would promise to go. After I did receive the all but unanimous call of your church and congregation, I did not accept at once, without seeing and being seen. When pressed for an answer upon the spot, I would not give it till I returned home. I kept my people here is suspense, because I was in suspense myself. I have allowed every dwelling in this place to be taken, before my mind could be made up; and when the Committee’s letter came, on Saturday last, I did not reply till two full days has elapsed. No one will say that I have acted hastily, but with deliberation; and God knows that it has been with tears, and much prayer.

The question before me now is, shall I go and meet coldness and indifference from some in Elmira, or remain here in Catskill, and be mocked at? It is some opposition there, or disagree here. As Christian and honorable men, the answer is already on your lips. “I speak as unto wise men, judge yet what I say.” And the conclusion of your letter encourages me to hope that you will judge righteous judgment; when you say, “We leave the matter with you, hoping that your decision will be such as shall best serve to advance the cause of our common Lord.” May it be so. I am

David Murdoch