1869 The Split Finally Comes
Charles Martin's home page

  1. 1869. The Split Finally Comes.
        1. Bro Jenkins and the "Reappearance of Dishonesty"
        2. May 3rd - An Evangelist Needed.
        3. May 16th - Bro Martin as Pastor.
        4. August 29th - Further Steps Towards Getting an Evangelist to Ballarat.
        5. At School
      1. 1879 A Successful Evangelistic Crusade at Dawson St.
        1. May, June - Hamill's Evangelistic Visit.
        2. At School
        3. You Once Again Gave Too Many Holidays. You Infringed Rule 82.
        4. At Home.

1869. The Split Finally Comes.

January - Two Congregations. In January those siding with Picton were convinced that their only acceptable option was to establish another congregation in Ballarat. On the 14th January at a church meeting it was moved that "another cause be commenced in the most favourable place in Ballarat East". It was decided that they would hire the Temperance Hall for meetings, the first of which would be held on Sunday, 31st January. In an attempt to disguise the fact that it was a split, it was stated that a new church was being established.
    The church membership was now reduced from about 120 to 50 - with 80 leaving to form the nucleus of the breakaway group. However, peace now returned to Dawson Street (and presumably to the breakaways in their church) as the bitter in-fighting and division was ended. Those who were left were now confronted with the task of re-organising and re-building. They elected three new deacons - Neish, MacGowan and Hutchinson, and later in the year Martin became pastor again.
    Dawson Street members were critical that the new group had moved so close instead of going to Ballarat East. So they wrote to the breakaways, reminding them that they were breaking faith by "acting in opposition to their own motion to establish a church in Ballarat East". They received no reply, so Dawson Street officially "withdrew" from them, and advised the Melbourne churches of what they had done.

Bro Jenkins and the "Reappearance of Dishonesty"

Even though the church officers had many weighty matters to consider, the overseeing of the ordinary church members had to continue. Bro Jenkins was a case in point -
    "The deacons reported (through Bro MacGowan) that they had thought it necessary to make some inquiry as to the business transactions of our Bro Jenkins and that they considered there was the appearance of dishonesty therein, and wished the church to further inquire into the matter.
    Bro MacGowan moved and Bro Divers seconded, "That we meet tomorrow evening to enquire into this matter."
Next evening -
Bro MacGowan on behalf of the deacons made a statement of the case, and Bro Jenkins also spoke in his own defence about the matter. After some discussion Bro Neish moved and Bro McMaster seconded "That we clear our Bro Jenkins of the charge of dishonesty made against him." Lost.
Bro Martin moved and Bro MacGowan seconded "That we postpone the further consideration of this matter for a month" Carried.
At that meeting a month later
The case of our Bro Jenkins was again proceeded with. Bro MacGowan moved and Bro Divers seconded "That seeing that Bro Jenkins contracted a debt with Alfred Shaw of Melbourne for Two Hundred and Twenty One Pounds (£221) without any reasonable prospect of being able to pay the same (the whole amount being payable in five months from the time of purchase) and at the same time representing himself as clear, when he was involved in debt to a very considerable extent and as he failed to pay anything to Shaw and Co of their Bills and has thus been guilty of conduct unbecoming to a Christian "in not providing things honest in the sight of all men" as demanded by the Word of God and moreover, being guilty of gross misconduct towards this Church in acting in defiance of its officers and offering them gross insults, this Church withdraw from Bro Jenkins until such time as he make amends for his conduct, and repentance be manifested in him." Carried - 5 for 1 against.
    (I wonder what happened to Bro Jenkins after that. Maybe Charles was sorry to see him go, as Bro Jenkins had given him good support throughout the arguments of the previous year.)

May 3rd - An Evangelist Needed.

    The matter of obtaining an evangelist had been discussed at a number of meetings during the year, and a decision had been postponed until this meeting. It now had to be dealt with.
    "The question of obtaining an Evangelist was again discussed for some time, after which Bro Martin moved and Bro Neish seconded, "That we endeavour to obtain the services of one of the American brethren to labour with us for not less than Two Months; and that we undertake to provide board and lodging and Two Pounds per week for him during the time he remains with us.
This was an important decision for the group, and quite a major step.

May 16th - Bro Martin as Pastor.

    "This meeting having been called for the purpose of again considering the advisability of again appointing one of more of our brethren to the office of Pastor.
    Bro Barrett moved and Bro McMaster seconded, "That we invite Bro Martin to again take the office of Pastor of this church". Carried unanimously.
    Bro Morris moved, "That the Deacons draw up a letter or personally wait upon our Bro Martin to express the wish of the Church in this matter. Carried unanimously.
July - the theological debate in the pages of the "Pioneer" resumes with a three paged article by "S" again entitled - "Faith - What is It?" He says that this is not written specifically to answer "M's" queries, but he will do so while he's on the job. Once again, I must say that I find his arguments and reasoning quite difficult to follow.
5th August - Mary Louisa born (7th child - 6th to survive). She was to marry a William Barrett, and live for some years in South Africa. She lived to the ripe old age of ninety-nine.
August - A new combatant enters the theological ring - O.A. Carr - with a lengthy three paged article. He sides with ' S" (while differing on a few minor points), and strongly takes issue with "M". His finishing sentence has a nice sting - "Here I close, hoping that "S" will continue to write on this subject ". Carr was a fellow editor with Surber of the "Pioneer".

August 29th - Further Steps Towards Getting an Evangelist to Ballarat.

    "Bro Neish moved and Bro Barrett seconded, "That we invite Bro Hamill to labour here for three months with the option of extending the time to Six Months; and that we allow him £2/10/- per week for his support and Railway expenses. Carried.
Also at the same meeting -
    Letters were read which had been sent to the Brethren meeting at the Mechanics' Institute by our officers, also the replies thereto, upon their breach of faith
    Bro MacGowan moved and Bro Barrett seconded "That this Church, having heard the correspondence between its officers and those of the Brethren meeting at the Mechanics' Institute regrets to find that the efforts of its officers to confer with the Brethren at the Mechanics` in reference to their violation of their own resolution to Establish a Church in Ballarat East, have proved fruitless and that it is evident from the last letter of the Brethren at the Mechanics' any further effort on our part would be injudicious and useless, and moreover, taking into consideration the evil which must result from this state of things being perpetuated, we urgently request the Metropolitan Churches to investigate and decide what is to be done. "
    Bro Morris moved as an amendment "That in the opinion of this church, the Brethren meeting at the Mechanics' Institute have done wrong in breaking faith by acting in opposition to their own motion to Establish a Church in Ballarat East, and we hereby record our protest against such conduct. The amendment carried
October - Back to the Theological Debate - "M" Replies to "S" in the "Pioneer", with an article of two and a half pages. Again I enjoyed his article - he makes his points clearly and again with some moderate sarcasm at times. At the end he gets a bit difficult to follow however. He concludes by promising another contribution for next month.
November - Another article by Charles in the "Pioneer". So far as I am aware the editors did not print another one refuting it so they were apparently content to let the matter rest there. It had taken about 14 months (although there was a six months break from January to July owing to an illness of Surber).
    Towards the end of the year, there was a public debate on baptism, with a number of letters to the editor of the Ballarat newspaper, and both sides hiring halls and conducting lectures and debates. Quite a deal of public interest was aroused, and the resultant publicity was of benefit to the Churches of Christ cause.
    The church membership now stands at 48, well below the high of a few years earlier, whereas the Mechanics' Institute has a membership of 80.
October - A short report in The "Australian Christian Pioneer" by Charles -

    "Four believers in the Lord Jesus Christ (husband and wife, and mother and daughter) have just been baptized into the name of the
Father, Son, and Spirit"

At School

Apart from noting the fact that unexpected visits by D.I.'s were to be extended, the only snippet of information from this year that has come down to us is a letter from Charles to the Education Department written on 18th March, and although it is a little difficult to follow the issue completely, it is apparent that Charles has made a sizable donation to the school (no doubt part of the £500 that he gave during his years there.) .
    Common School,
    18th March, 1869.
    In reply to your memorandum of yesterday's date, I have to state that the Board of Education granted £98/18/6 towards certain repairs and alterations in these school premises, on condition of an equivalent amount being raised locally. Towards this £13/3/3 had been received from school fees, the balance £86/15/3 was a contribution from me, and I placed my name on the line set apart for this purpose in the January abstract. But on further consideration, I think the items ought not to have been reported to the Board, as in the declaration there is a clause "to which no aid will be granted by the Board of Education" whereas this sum was subscribed to meet an equivalent amount granted by the Board.
    It is strictly a local contribution, and as such has been entered in the Account Book in the place provided for that purpose and was placed at the back of the abstract in order to make your books correspond with the Account Book in the school, but the declaration could not be signed with the above mentioned clause in it, as the amount was contributed for the very purpose of receiving aid from the Board of Education.
        I have the honor to be Sir,
        Your most obedient servant, C. Martin
To: Hannah (Farr) in Ballarat - a son - Lucius
To Henry in Melbourne - twin daughters Louisa and Hannah. Louisa died at a very young age, and I think Hannah died as a child also.

1879 A Successful Evangelistic Crusade at Dawson St.

    During this year, the services of Hamill, an evangelist, were gained by Dawson Street for two months, during which time over 40 people were baptised. There was also some further unproductive correspondence between the Dawson Street group and those at the Mechanics' Institute, as well as a further unsuccessful effort on the part of the Melbourne churches to bring about a reconciliation.
January 12th -
    "With reference to the breach of faith on the part of those Brethren now meeting at the Mechanics', Bro MacGowan moved and Bro Divers seconded "That having protested against the conduct of the Brethren meeting at the Mechanics' and they having paid no attention to our protest we hereby withdraw from them according to New Testament - 2nd Thessalonians, chapter 3, verse 6." Carried
    It was also moved "That we acquaint the Brethren in Melbourne with what we have just now done." Carried.
March 4th - Surber again came up with another representative to try once more to achieve a reconciliation, and a joint meeting of the two groups was held. The Mechanics' expressed regret in not answering the letter, and for setting up so close to Dawson St, and in return the Dawson St church agreed to rescind their motion of "withdrawal". But this time the break was permanent, and although a reconciliation was not effected, at least any residual bitterness was kept to a minimum - for the time being at any rate. From that beginning, the Church of Christ at Peel St, which is still in operation today, had its commencement.
    From the minutes of a meeting on March 20th -
    "Brethren Surber and Green, having been sent up by the Melbourne brethren to see what they could do in the matter of dispute betwixt us and those Brethren who left us to start a Church in Ballarat East had several interviews with individual brethren of both parties, and arranged to have a meeting of a few brethren from both parties which took place in the chapel on Friday 4th March, 1870. After a good deal of discussion the brethren in office at the Mechanics' stated that they saw they had done wrong in refusing to confer with us upon the matter of which we complained and expressed their regret for so doing, also that they would give us a statement in writing to that effect. We also, on our part agreed to recommend the Church to rescind the motion to withdraw from them which was passed on January 12th, 1870.


    An article entitled "Eternal Punishment" appeared in the April issue of "The Pioneer". This article was to have far-reaching consequences because of the fierce debate it sparked off, which would eventually lead to the Dawson Street Church being excommunicated from the Church of Christ denomination. In it the author, O.R.Carr, one of the editors, said that the "everlasting torment of the wicked is an integral part of the religion and teaching of Christ". Charles disagreed and replied, stating the case for the "everlasting punishment" of the wicked, but not their "everlasting torment". He said that death (or '.oblivion" or "annihilation") was "everlasting punishment", by compar­ison with the "eternally blessed state enjoyed by the saved". In the four months from April to August the debate continued in the "Pioneer", and the antagonists became more and more entrenched in their respective positions. In the end, during the following year, the other churches met and decided that there was no other course of action open to them, but to "disfellowship" themselves from Dawson Street and expel them from the movement. But at this point of time in April 1870, all that was in the future.
    This issue also brought Charles and the evangelist Hamill into strong opposition, as Hamill was fiercely opposed to Charles' viewpoint.
                                O. A. Carr Letter         Charles' Letter            O.A. Carr's Response
April 7th - From the minutes
"A letter from the officers of the Church meeting at the Mechanics' Institute was read acknowledging their error, and expressing regret for not having conferred with us in reference to their removal to the Mechanics' Institute.
Bro Barrett moved and Bro McMaster seconded, "That the motion passed on the 12th January to withdraw from those Brethren be rescinded". Carried - Bro Divers protesting against it, but he was alone in so doing.
April - After many years of trying to get a paid evangelist, Dawson St finally managed to employ Hamill, an evangelist in Melbourne, and persuade him to come to Ballarat for two months. He commenced in late April, on about the 27th. The minutes record that some baptisms were conducted on April 17th and 24th by Bros Martin and MacGowan respectively, but on May 1st and 8th, the baptisms were conducted by Hamill, indicating that he arrived during the last week of April. A news item, written by "M" on May 4th for the June edition of the "Pioneer", states thus -
    "Since our last report to the A.C. Pioneer the Lord has blessed the labours of the brethren at this place, and the result has been that seven men and four women have confessed that their hope for eternity is based solely on the Lord Jesus Christ, and publicly declared their determination henceforth to follow and serve him as their prophet, priest and king. We have our brother Hamill now amongst us; he will remain for two months, and we trust and pray that his visit will not be in vain."
    I was also interesting to note that on the same page of the "Pioneer" the breakaway group sent in a news report -
"This being the first report that we have sent to you, I deem it my duty to state for the information of your readers that the church, meeting in the Mechanics Institute, commenced about fifteen months ago, and although our progress has not been what we desired and prayed for, yet we have added thirty one by baptism and three by transfer. "
May 1st - This was a Sunday, and four baptisms were conducted in the church on this day by the evangelist Hamill. (Including Mr and Mrs Holme, who died in 1879 - see Charles letter to Kemp from Belfast in 1879).
May 2nd - "M's" reply to the article by O.A.Carr on "Eternal Punishment" appeared in the "Pioneer" on May 2nd. This debate thus blew up in the Pioneer" at exactly the time of Hamill's arrival at Dawson St. As the view which Charles espoused was in sharp contrast with the view of Hamill and the majority of the brotherhood, and as it was this issue which caused a fierce conflict between the two men and eventually lead to Dawson St being excommunicated from the brotherhood, it is probable that the seeds of later dissension were sown right here by this article. It is also probable that Hamill and Charles discussed the matter soon after Hamill's arrival, and that the discussion became rather animated at times.
    The prevailing view of the time was that "the wicked were punished in conscious torment forever". Charles' view (as far as I can make it out) was that "the wicked were annihilated" - in other words they went into oblivion and did not consciously suffer. They simply "ceased to be", which was to him "eternal punishment" by contrast with the righteous who continued to exist in a "blessed" state forever. I'm not sure where he came across this view - possibly as a result of reading it somewhere. However, he apparently had very firm views on the matter, and when the article by Carr appeared he was glad to have the opportunity to give it an airing. He calls his opponents' view the "horrible dogma of the unending torment of the wicked". His firmly held position on this, however, was very much against the overwhelming majority opinion within the Churches of Christ at the time. He taught it to groups and to individuals, but it was rejected by all the churches around Ballarat except Dawson St, and because Dawson St held to it (no doubt because of a certain loyalty to their pastor and because he had convinced them of the truth of his position) the weight of opinion of the denomination came down upon him and them. The newspaper roundly condemned him and the correspondents were crushingly against him.
    So I imagine that his article really stirred the pot against him, in view of the already gathered storm at Dawson St at a time when there were heaps of trouble. He argues that the passages in the New Testament which prima facie teach the "eternal torment of the wicked" are offset by a battery of other texts, which must be considered in the total equation. When this procedure is adopted a different picture is obtained (he says). He argues that even those who are opposing him on this issue do not accept the prima facie meaning of many verses of scripture, and cites an impressive list of their common opponents in Christianity who accept various texts which they themselves believe must be offset by others.
    Once again I enjoyed his letter. It is forceful, clear, and presents his argument quite well. But because of it, and other actions of his in relation to this same issue, (i.e. teaching it to others) he is about to bring down a fierce storm of opposition upon his head.

May, June - Hamill's Evangelistic Visit.

    Hamill was to continue with Dawson Street for the months of May and June, and as 41 persons were baptised it must have been quite a successful time. Charles wrote a report of his stay for the "Pioneer" -
    "We take pleasure in reporting that the labors of Bro. Hamill in this town have been instrumental in exciting a spirit of inquiry, respecting the new testament order. Our brother has been doing the work of an evangelist" by visiting from house to house, and has there disturbed the quiet that was existing in the minds of several who, up to that time, had paid more attention to the words of man than to those of God, and the issue has been that they have left their party leaders and determined to follow Christ. These again have acted as missionaries, and introduced our brother to others who have followed a good example, until, including some from our Lord's Day School, forty have, since our last report, come forward and obeyed their Lord in baptism. Our brother's teachings are plain and practical; he shows the people that the Lord requires his followers to be baptized - that baptism is immersion, that it is for the remission of sins, and that then rejoicing in the liberty wherewith Christ makes his people free, their motto should ever afterwards be - onward, upward!'
May 15th - Charlotte baptised. One of the 41 baptised was his daughter Charlotte, along with a number of others from the Sunday School. She had just turned 14. It is recorded in the minute book - "On Lord's day, 15th May, Elisabeth Fenton, Charlotte Elisabeth Martin, Susan McMasters and Alice Neish were Baptised by our Bro McGowan. These all being the first fruits from the Sunday School. May they grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." I don't know why the baptism was conducted by Charles' friend MacGowan, instead of Hamill (or for that matter why it wasn't conducted by Charles himself) but I imagine that this event gave Charles and Elizabeth a feeling of satisfaction and a certain amount of joy and happiness.
    These minutes were written on May 15th. Unfortunately there are no Minutes for the next 16 months, until September 1871. Thus we have no detailed record of Hamill's visit, and the tumultuous events preceding the excommunication of Dawson Street church.
    Hamill then went elsewhere for five months (apparently employed by the other Ballarat churches), and returned to Dawson St for a further period of three months, commencing probably in late November.
June 1st - A five paged article by O.A.Carr appeared in the "Pioneer" refuting the arguments put forward by Charles, and another two-paged article by someone signing himself as "An Old Disciple", also taking issue with Charles.
July 1st - A four paged article by Charles - with a note at the bottom, "To Be Continued".
Aug 1st - As promised, the continuation of the article from the month before. O.A.Carr responds with another four pages, printed below Charles' article. No more articles were published. Either the protagonists exhausted themselves or their topic, or the editor was exhausted and refused to allow the debate to continue.
November - Hamill returned to Dawson Street for further evangelistic work sometime during November, and stayed for three months. As Charles' articles on "the eternal punishment of the wicked" had by now appeared in the "Pioneer" and as Hamill was fiercely opposed to Charles' viewpoint, it is difficult to believe that they didn't discuss this matter, and that the discussion became rather lively at times (as they say, with more heat than light).

At School

On the roll 235 (boys 160 Girls 75). Average Attendance - 119.
Charles and Elizabeth are both in 2nd Division - but I'm not sure which class. Salaries are noted at £197.
    They have now been teaching at the school for 13 years. It would have been a difficult job for Charles as Head Master with responsibility for the running of the school, and as full time teacher of a large class with boys and girls up to age 15 and even 16. For Elizabeth, the problems of teaching a large class of infants with quite a number of children as young as three and four, plus the difficulty of running a home of six children, would I imagine have been quite severe.
    It was also at about this time that the use of corporal punishment for girls was outlawed, and I happened to notice in a D.I's annual report that many of the teachers were complaining of the problems of keeping larger girls of age 15 and 16 in check without being able to resort to the strap. The D.I. expressed some sympathy for them in their dilemma.

You Once Again Gave Too Many Holidays. You Infringed Rule 82.

One little batch of correspondence from the Education Department for this year has survived. Charles received a memo on 5th February, stating -
"33 holidays having been allowed during the 12 months ended 31st December, 1869, Rule 82 has been infringed, an explanation is requested. "
(A list of the holidays given in each month was enclosed.) Charles replied -
Ballarat Common School No 33,
Feb 9th 1870.
Dear Sir,
In answer to your enquiry, why I have allowed Rule 82 to be infringed, I have to state that I have not done so.
The clerk in the Education Department must have made a mistake, as I only had 26 days holiday during the year, 1869.
I am,
Yours respectfully, Charles Martin.
(Number of days and half days on which the school was actually held during the year- 235
Saturdays and Sundays – 104
Holidays - 26)

    A small note was then attached to the foot of his letter - "This item (Saturdays/Holidays) entered in the wrong column; should be one holiday only - the teachers statement is correct."
    So sometimes you can score a win against the bureaucracy - even if only a very modest one.
An Inspector's Evaluation of Charles -
    Also during 1870, in April, a Mr Gilchrist, a Schools Inspector, submitted to the Education Department an evaluation of the school situation in Ballarat, giving various suggestions as to what may be the best thing to do in relation to school closures, amalgamations, etc. One of the possibilities he suggested was to close Schools Nos 81, 57 and 603, and select No 33 (Dana St) as the site for a large central school. This, of course, was to eventually come to pass, with unfortunate results for Charles.
In discussing the various teachers, he referred to Charles as follows -
    "If Nos 81, 57 and 603 are closed the site of No 33 would be admirably suited for the site of a large central school, but unless one at least of of these were closed, no additional school accommodation would in my opinion materially increase the attendance at No 33 under the present teacher. Mr Martin holds a ????? certificate and performs his duties faithfully, I believe, and with average success, but he lacks the power to bring his school under the notice of the public in such a way as to secure a larger attendance.

At Home.

Charles is now 43 years of age and Elizabeth 34. Their children are Charles jnr 15, Charlotte 13, Leonard, 8, Albert 6 and Frank 3 and Mary 16 months. Quite a handful no doubt.

To Louisa and James Crump in Castlemaine - a son - Horace Arthur (9th child for the (Crumps - 8 surviving).

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