Brethren Archive

For all and any discussion about the website, or related subjects of interest.

  • Letters of Edward Petter

    I wasn't aware of these before, but it's an interesting collection of typed-up letters from a member of the Exclusive section in the late 1800s.

    Many observations on the Raven trouble, e.g. this extract from the 30th July 1890 page.

    Cape Town, August 11th

    We dropped anchor in the Bay on Thursday evening soon after sunset and at 8 the next morning our ship was alongside the wharf in one of the docks and the faces all around us were a curious mixture of nationalities of all colours. The voyage was certainly one of the most pleasant I have ever had and I am encouraged to believe from various testimonies that many have received blessing for time and eternity who heard the gospel. We had not much difficulty in getting through the customs and soon after 10 we were in our quarters at one of the chief hotels. There is the usual rough colonial character about the place, but the town is much larger than I expected to find and is all laid out after the manner of the American cities – the streets at right angles. I first called upon a brother called Scott, keeping the Tract Depot – and gave him my letters of introduction from Mr McAdam, Mr Shapland and Mr Pollock and had a kindly meeting. Before however Mr Scott came into his shop I observed on entering a young man outside the counter reading a paper who looked at me as I walked in. He followed me up through the shop and asked if my name was Mr Petter and I found it was one of the Hoopers of St Agnes who was very glad to see me. You may remember when we were last at St Agnes together we stopped our carriage outside a field where this young man was working and he was at the preaching the previous night and was struck with something said about Zacchaeus – he is now saved – there are four brothers of them here and I had tea with them yesterday at the house at which they are lodging. While I was at Mr Scott's two other leading brothers dropped in and by one I was soon questioned about troubles at home. They seemed nice men and I felt drawn to them. They knew nothing of Mr Raven's doctrines, but had heard from Captain Bagshaw and Dr Glenny who were now in Australia that there was nothing wrong in it and they all felt great confidence in their judgement. I was advised to call upon a Mr Elliott the general manager of the Cape Government Railways who is the leading brother here and I did so in the afternoon. He is very highly esteemed throughout the whole colony as a very godly and upright man and his appearance conveys this impression. He gave me what I felt a very cool reception and began at once about Mr Raven's matter. Mr Elliott has a son studying medicine in London and in fellowship he is also very intimate with Mr Oliphant and Mr Cross. The son has therefore kept his father well posted up to date with all that has taken place. All the bitterness and unkind things that have been said especially about Mr Lowe, Mr Humphrey and Pinkerton have thus been echoed through this young man to his father and all the screening and sympathy they have had for Mr Raven also, so that you may judge the state of Mr Elliott's mind about the whole question. I explained to him exactly the position we had taken at Ilfracombe. Of Mr Raven's strange doctrine he knew nothing nor had he read Mr Lowe's examination of it nor any others who had felt that the teaching was contrary to the Word of God – he too had heard from Captain Bagshaw and Dr Glenney in whom he had the fullest confidence. I stated a few points of Mr R's teaching that had created difficulty in my own mind. He could see that as far as Mr Elliott was concerned he was quite prepared to have refused me fellowship at the Lord's Table. The next day Saturday I called on all the merchants and was encouraged in hoping for some good results in the business. In the afternoon one of the brothers that I had seen the previous day asked me to come to his house and we then talked over the matters more fully and at his request I gave him Mr Lowe's and Mr Humphrey's pamphlets. Subsequently we had a nice talk together around the foot of the Table Mountain which I much enjoyed.

    The same evening at 8 the brothers came together for their usual prayer meeting which I enjoyed the tone of being simple and fervent. At the close (9pm) Mr Elliott who resides at Wynburg about 12 miles from Cape Town came in – this was his custom it appears when anything special required conversation One of the brothers handed him my letters which he read – also reading a part of one of his son's letters in which a very unworthy reference was made to dear Mr McAdam seeking to weaken his testimony because he too cannot receive Mr Raven's teaching. A brother said "but Captain Bagshaw has always spoken in the highest way of Mr McAdam" – another brother said the question for us can we receive Mr McAdam's letter commending our brother – another said I will put it the other way "can we refuse it?" – Mr Elliott felt he wanted to keep the meeting clear of any complication to which another replied saying that if we refused this letter we should at once commit ourselves and adopt Mr Raven's teaching of which we here know nothing. Mr Elliott had spoken very unkindly to me on Friday and I told him how I felt it and now I had something to say to him which I did in very plain words too and told him I thought he had acted unworthily in seeking to put me outside for a conscientious difficulty Mr Raven's teaching had created in my mind as well as many others – that he had received all the bitterness of Mr Oliphant's mind against Mr Lowe and others who had exposed its unscriptural character and had never read his paper. In the end every brother in the meeting was happy in giving me the right hand of fellowship and one of them asked Mr Elliott why he could not. This he did afterward and invited me over to his house – I then walked about half a mile to the station with him and he returned to Wynburg, where there is a small meeting too.

    Yesterday Lord's day Mr McAdam's letter was read and I broke bread and through the Lord's mercy I greatly enjoyed the meeting and was happy in my soul in the little part I took in it. All appear to have enjoyed the time. Before leaving the room some sister in the meeting said that Mr McAdam and the company at St Leonard's had gone out of fellowship – this intelligence she had received by the last mail. If it is true I had not heard of it when I left England. I knew the meeting was not likely to receive Mr Raven's doctrines. Mr Elliott came over from Wynburg and took the gospel in the evening which I much enjoyed and I told him after the meeting the gospel he had preached was the gospel I had through grace believed and did not intend to surrender for another. There was not a trace of the new thing in it. A few of the brothers are accustomed to preach in the open air on Lord's day evenings and they asked me to accompany them and we had a good time together.


    Unforunately there is no easy search option, but this can be done through google, using a search term like "site: Raven".