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LIFE OF PRESIDENT EDWARDS.
doubtless would have been as much against it, if he had foreseen
"If the objection should arise in the minds of any of the members of the Rev. Council,-That, if I should be allowed to preach my doctrine to my people, there might be some danger of infecting neighbouring churches; I hope I need not say much in answer to such an objection. Plain justice must not be hindered and suppressed, for fear of some imagined accidental inconveniences. 66 FIAT JUSTITIA, RUAT CŒLUM.' The wiser Heathen could say, The neighboring ministers have as much liberty to preach and defend their principles, among their people, as I desire to have among mine, and can do it with far greater advantages than I expect to enjoy. Doubtless they will use this liberty, and would take it ill if any one should attempt to restrain them. And I trust they are very willing to do to others, as they wish others to do to them.
"II. That the state of things is not ripe for calling the proposed Council, is apparent from the frame and temper of mind which my people have hitherto been in, and especially of late.
"I am sensible that an Ecclesiastical Council, in their advice, are not to proceed by any uncertain conjectures concerning the secrets of men's hearts. But yet, in adapting their advice to the state of a people, they doubtless are to have a regard to those What the temper of the things which are visible and notorious. minds of this people, at least of the governing part of them, has been hitherto and especially of late, has been as manifest, as any thing concerning the state of a people can be. It cannot be hid: It is manifest, not only it must needs be visible to all around us. from the customary conversation of the people in private houses, but from the whole tenor of their public proceedings-from the methods which have been taken, from the measures adopted, from the proceedings of Church meetings, and Precinct meetings, and their Committees, from the speeches which have been publicly made, and the acts which have been publicly done. It would occupy a great deal of time to set forth all the particulars. But this is needless; as the Council has heard the Narrative of our proceedings up to this day.
"The temper which the people have manifested, I humbly conceive, ought to be the more observed by the Rev. Council, and to have the greater influence on their determination, because I have never offered this people any provocation; unless yielding, and condescending, and taking the utmost care to avoid offending them, has been a provocation. I have sought peace, and pursued it, and have striven to my utmost to avoid occasions of strife. I never have clogged them in any reasonable proceeding in this affair, though against myself. I told them long ago, even at the very first interview with the church,-That, if they insisted on calling a Council immediately, who should have power to finish our whole controversy, I would not oppose or hinder it, though I could not advise to it. I have yielded to them, from time to time, in every thing, wherein I could do it with a good conscience. That after examining the subject by the aid of the sacred Scriptures, in the best manner I am able, I have adopted, and still hold, the sentiments which I have publicly professed, with regard to the Qualifications for full communion in the Visible Church; and that too, with the fullest expectation of being driven from my ministerial office, and stripped of a maintenance for my numerous family;-I admit. Whether in all this I have acted in the fear of God, with a good conscience, and in the integrity of my heart, this Rev. Council may judge. This one thing excepted, if it be an exception,I have given my people no sort of occasion, in any respect whatsoever, for any violent proceeding, or the least vehemence; unless yielding and submitting, for peace sake, be just warrant for their insulting me the more. For evidence of all this, I appeal to the Narrative of our proceedings, which has been read here publicly, in the hearing of you all.
"Now I think the temper and frame of mind, which my people discover, and their violent manner of proceeding hitherto, must lay a bar in the way of taking the important step of dissolving the relation between me and them for the present; and that on two ac
"1. Such a temper and frame is, manifestly, utterly inconsistent with a proper and just hearing, and considering, the reasons which I have to offer for myself, in that thing which is the grand controversy between me and them. So that if it could be proved, that they had all read my book through, which it is apparent they are far from having done, yet merely in this, they do not discharge themselves. They ought to give a fair hearing at least, with some degree of calmness, candor and coolness of consideration; but from facts, which are open and public, it is evident that they have been notoriously far from it. Hearing, in a high degree of fermentation of mind, manifested by continued outward irregularity and precipitation of proceeding, is no fair hearing, and ought not to stand for any thing, or to be regarded as any hearing at all by wise and just judges. Hence it is most plain that my people are now bound
to give me a fair hearing, before they can justly demand a dissolution of my pastoral relation; and with equal clearness is it manifest, that means must first be used with them, to bring them to another temper of mind, before any such demand can be heard or accepted.
"2. It is in itself utterly unfit and unbecoming in a christian church, to proceed to an affair so deeply affecting their spiritual welfare, as the dismission of their pastor, in such a temper of mind: especially of one who has been so long their pastor, and between whom and them such a state of things has subsisted as between me and this people. The Apostle says to the Church of Corinth, "Let all things be done with charity ;"-and surely it is unbecoming churches of the Lamb of God, to manage their religious affairs of the greatest importance, in a ferment and tumult; which ought to be managed with great solemnity, deep humiliation, submission to the awful frowns of heaven, and humble dependence on God, and with fervent prayer and supplication. But for a church to undertake such an affair, in such a manner as this, will be most unbecoming the Gospel, greatly to the dishonour of God and religion, and eminently calculated to prevent the divine blessing.
"The reverend Council will also perceive, that the consequence of my being driven away in this manner will be in many respects exceedingly pernicious.
"1. It would be a great and most extensive injury to the credit and interest of religion. For the story to be circulated, that the people of Northampton,-a people heretofore so often and remarkably distinguished by the divine favour,-drove away their minister. in the midst of so much heat and contention; I need not say how it will wound religion abroad.
"2. It will be a great wrong to this Church; not only as they will thereby bring guilt on themselves, but will exceedingly wound their own reputation and interest in the country, and render difficult the future settlement of the ordinances of the Gospel among them.
"3. It will be a great injury to me.
"4. If the people are countenanced in these measures by a Council, so far as to advise to such an issue, which the people seek with such a temper, and in such a tumultuous manner; it will in its consequences be a great injury to other churches and ministers, as it will directly encourage similar proceedings in case of differences between minister and people. This case is likely to be very famous; the eyes of the whole country are greatly drawn upon it, to observe the management and issue of it. It will be likely to be long remembered, and will therefore be so much the more likely to be of extensive and lasting influence as a precedent.
"Hence I humbly conceive that there is no ripeness in the present state of things, for any immediate measures, in order to bring
about this event, unless violence of spirit and of conduct be regarded as the ripeness of a christian church for managing their religious concerns of the most solemn nature, and of the greatest importance. Indeed this seems to be the notion, which many of the church have had, of such a ripeness, from their earnestly driving the matter, at the last Precinct meeting, to have me voted out of town before this Council assembled; i. e. to have it voted, that the people desired that I should be gone, so that the Council might see that they were ripe. But I trust that this reverend Council have greater wisdom, than to entertain the same notion of a ripeness for such a proceeding; and I humbly conceive that they will see it to be indispensably necessary, that first the utmost endeavours be used to bring the people to juster views and a better temper, before they advise to any steps in order to an immediate separation. And I beseech the Council to use their utmost and most prudent endeavours, that, if finally we are separated, we may part with one another fairly and peaceably.
"I also request of this reverend Council that they would do me the justice in their Result,-not merely to advise the people disjunctively, either to read my book, or to hear my reasons from the pulpit; but to give it as their opinion that I have a right to preach, and that, if I do preach, the people are obliged to hear me. I hum bly conceive, that this will be no more than the case requires, for three reasons:
"1. If such disjunctive advice be left, it will not tend so much in any measure to ripen our affairs for an issue; for then indeed they will neither hear me preach, nor be likely to read my book. It will be said that the number of copies is small. The disinclination is great. It will be supposed that the Council do not wish a very strict scrutiny, whether they have read it or not. The whole matter will be left at loose ends, and in great uncertainty. Thus it will tend greatly to embarrass our affairs, and lengthen out our
"2. My people complain, many of them, that on this subject they cannot understand me. Now if, unawares, I have spoken to them a language they cannot understand, let me have an opportunity to explain myself. Surely it will not be proceeding with christian moderation and charity-to say at once, "You have been mistaken in your manner of pleading your cause; you have spoken to us inadvertently, so that we have wholly misapprehended your meaning; but since you have thus failed of making us understand you, your mouth shall now be stopped, and we will give you no farther opportunity to speak for yourself."
"3. I ought, before I leave this people, to whom I have so long stood in such a relation, to have an opportunity given me, to leave with them a testimony for myself, in that matter which proves so great an offence to them, not only with those who are in the
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