Church, but with others, both male and female, to whom I have stood in so sacred a relation, of whom it can never be expected, that they should generally read my pamphlet. The laws of nature, and the laws of Christ, require me to love this people, to whom I have been so related, and to value their charity and esteem. I have reason also to think, that there are many of my spiritual children, who are God's dear children, in this congregation, who now entertain hard thoughts on account of my opinion. Now I ought not to be driven from hence, without opportunity to exhibit a testimony for myself before them, and so with the people at large. When I have done so, I demand nothing of them but an impartial hearing. I desire not to lord it over their consciences. They have a right to judge for themselves, and may use what means they please, to see the strength of arguments on the other side, by reading books, or conversing with ministers who differ from me in judgment.

"I humbly trust therefore, that this reverend Council will not fail to leave behind, in their Result, a direct and full expression of their judgment on this important point."

"AFTER the Agents for the Church had replied to these remarks, the Council adjourned. The next morning, I delivered in to the Council the following writing:

"I the subscriber do make the following declaration and offer :That if my people, being so advised by the Council of Churches now sitting, will hear me deliver the reasons of my opinion from the pulpit, and consider. further of the matter in controversy between me and them until the spring, when it shall be comfortable travelling, laying aside all public agitation until then, and then desire a Council of Churches in order to bring our controversy to a final issue; and will consent, being also so advised by this Council, that I shall have an equal hand in the choice of the Council with them, and that I should go out of the county into the other parts of New-England for my choice; and this Council, on a full hearing and thorough consideration of our case, can find out no way for a composition or accommodation, either by satisfying my conscience in yielding some points to the people, or by making them easy in some things in a compliance with me, or any other way which the Council in their wisdom may devise; but the people shall, after all, declare their unwillingness that I should be their pastor; I will declare it before the Council as my desire, that the people should be left entirely at their liberty, as to my continuing their pastor; and will move it to them to gratify the people's desire, in dissolving my pastoral relation to this Church, provided the Precinct will first engage to free me from rates, and will, the Council so advising, resign my pastoral office. This is that, to which I humbly propose and desire this reverend Council to ad

vise this people to consent; withal strongly advising, that, in the mean time, quietness and peace be maintained, and jangling agitations and public proceedings, tending to enkindle or uphold strife, be laid aside; and that the Lord's Supper be restored, if the people can find it in their hearts freely to consent to it, on the advice of the Council; and that this Council also endeavour to find out a way, that those, who are able and willing to make a profession of godliness, may be admitted into the Church, in a way consistent with a good conscience in both pastor and people; and that all parts of the public service of God be quietly, steadily and regularly, upheld and attended.

[blocks in formation]


"The Committee or Agents of the Church were allowed some time to consider of this proposal, and were afterwards heard in their objections against it.

"The next day, Dec. 28, the Council drew up and declared the following Result."

[A blank was left here, for the insertion of the Result of Council, but it was not filled. I have sought in vain for a copy of the Result of this Advisory Council; and have been able to ascertain, only, that they recommended,

That there should be a restoration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper;

That Pastor and People should converse freely together, about the point in controversy;

That there should be no public proceedings of any kind whatever, relative to the point in controversy; and that they also expressed the opinion,

That the Church Committee opposing Mr. Edwards' delivering his principles from the pulpit, was one probable occasion of the great uneasiness, and dissatisfaction, which had arisen between the pastor and the people.]

"Then the Council adjourned themselves to the first Wednesday in February, 1750.

"The next Sabbath, Dec. 31, I publicly read the Result of the Council to the whole congregation, and declared a readiness on my part, to comply with that result; and desired the Church to take the subject of the restoration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper into their consideration until the next Sabbath, when I proposed to put it to vote in the Church, Whether the Lord's Supper shall be administered the Sabbath following.

"The next Monday, being Jan. 1. 1750, the Precinct met again according to adjournment, and having understood that the Rev.

Peter Clark of Salem Village, had undertaken to write an Answer to my book on Qualifications for Communion, they determined to write to him, desiring him to expedite what he had undertaken. They also chose a Committee to converse with me, pursuant, as they supposed, to that clause of the result of Council, wherein they advise that the pastor and people should converse freely together, about the point in controversy. The Committee chosen, were Ebenezer Pomroy, Noah Wright, Dr. Mather, Roger Clap, Increase Clark, Deac. Cook, and Ebenezer Hunt. The Precinct meeting adjourned themselves to Monday, Feb. 12.

"Deac. Cook came to me that evening, and informed me of the appointment of this Committee, and of their design of coming to converse with me, the Wednesday following. I objected against it as a public proceeding, and so plainly contrary to the advice of the Council; but told him that I would nevertheless take the matter into consideration, until the next evening, when I would send him my thoughts and determination on the affair in writing. Accordingly, the next evening I sent him the following letter:

"To Deacon Noah Cook, in Northampton.

"On mature consideration I am confirmed in the same mind, which I expressed the last night, concerning the Committee chosen to confer with me. It appears to me altogether of the nature of a public proceeding, with respect to the present controversy. The appointment and choice of the Committee was a public proceeding. The Committee are the representatives of a public society. And if you come and confer with me, as a Committee of the Precint, you therein act in a public capacity, in the name and behalf of the Precinct; and all from beginning to end will be a public proceeding, and so plainly contrary to the advice of the Council. The appointed interview of the Committee with me cannot be understood otherwise, than as a meeting appointed for a public dispute; for though the whole parish will not be actually present, yet they will be present by their representatives, and it is to be a debate or discourse managed in behalf of the whole. The Committee are to hear my arguments, in some sort, as the ear of the society, that the whole may be influenced by it; otherwise I do not see how they can, in hearing, act in behalf of the Precinct; and if they do not act in behalf of the Precinct, how do they act as a Committee for the Precinct. This I think is not a reasonable way of proceeding, for the information of the whole parish, not tending to light and peace but the contrary, and contrary to the express words of the Council's advice, and disagreeable to the plain design of it-tending to supersede and set aside the thing at which they aimed. Therefore I must decline conferring with such a body of men together, chosen VOL. I.


as a Committee of the Precinct; but stand ready at any time to confer with freedom and friendliness with each of these brethren, or any others, coming in a private capacity, and in their own name only.

"I am your

friend and servant,
"for Jesus' sake,

Northampton, Jan. 2, 1750."



Adjourned meeting of the Preparatory Council.-Remarks of Mr. Edwards on the question, Whether he ought not to go out of the County, in the choice of the Final Council.-Council refuse to express their opinion on this point.-Mr. Edwards' Lectures on Qualifications for Communion. Attempted interference of neighbouring Clergy.-Difficulties relating to choice of Final Council.-Choice of that Council, May 3.-Meeting and Result of that Council, June 19.-Protest of Minority.

ON Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1750, the Council met again, and the subject of the pastor's going out of the County, in the choice of his part of the Decisive Council, was again very largely debated before them, by the Pastor, and the Committee of the Church, and also by some private members of the Church. Mr. Edwards' remarks upon the subject were as follows:


"IF I should attempt to prove that a vicinity of churches have no jurisdiction over particular churches within their bounds, established by a universal, unalterable rule, which ought never to be dispensed with, in any case whatever; I presume this Rev. Council would regard the attempt as wholly impertinent a needless burdening them with proofs of what nobody would ever dispute. I shall therefore take it for granted, unless it shall be questioned, that the rule of confining Councils to a vicinity, is only a general rule, from which exceptions are to be made in cases especially requiring it. Hence the only question is, Whether this be such a case or


"In order to determine this question with clearness and certainty, we must, as I observed at the session of the Council in December, previously ascertain what will be the business of the proposed Future Council. The business, obviously must determine the qualifications; and if, on a strict comparison of business and qualifications, it be found that a different Council is really requisite, from that which may be constituted of churches of the vicinity; then it will follow that a different Council must be allowed, and cannot be denied; and that, whatever may be said of any customs of churches, or of any parallel customs with regard to civil tribunals; the nature of this particular case must be looked into, and that, and that alone, must determine the matter. What the nature of the case requires, that the law of reason and justice requires, and that the Law of God requires.

« ElőzőTovább »