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which may be proceeded in for the present, until our present unhappy controversies can be brought to an issue."-Some objections were made against this particularly, that it was high time that the whole affair was brought to an issue, with regard to the admission of others, as well as of those who stood ready to make a profession of godliness. But he who made the objection, afterwards explained himself only to mean, that some course ought speedily to be taken to prepare things for an issue; and particularly, that advice should be asked concerning measures to be taken, in order to the people being generally informed of my reasons for my opinion respecting Qualifications for full communion in the church: the people being now in no way to be informed, there being but few of my books in the town, and that they had not been generally read, and were not likely to be, at least for a very long time, which others confirmed. He therefore proposed, that some of the neighbouring ministers should be consulted, with regard to a proper course to be taken by the church, in order to a proper information of the grounds of my opinion, that things might be speedily ripened for an issue.
"Upon this, some offered it as their opinion, that I had better deliver the reasons of my opinion from the pulpit. Others objected against it; and it was alleged by some, that there had been sufficient information of the reasons of my opinion already, or to that purpose, that the leading part of the Church had read my book, or most of the leading men in the church, and that it was therefore time that a Council was called, to bring the controversy to an issue. I then made the Church this offer, That, if they insisted upon it, I would not oppose a Council being called, which should give us advice in our affairs in general, and which should have power; if they saw fit, to bring our whole controversy to an issue; though I could not advise to it, as not supposing the state of things to be ripe for it. The people appearing to be of very different minds, about the matters which had been discoursed of, they were referred for further consideration to the next Sabbath, and it was determined that the Fast should not be until the Thursday following that Sabbath.
"The next day being Monday, Oct. 16, a number of the inhabitants of the Precinct drew up and signed the following writing, directed to the Committee of the Precinct, viz.
"To the Precinct Committee for the first Precinct in Northampton :
"We, the subscribers, desire that there may be a Precinct meeting as quick as may be, for the Precinct to take into consideration Mr. Edwards' doctrine, with respect to the admission of members into full communion into the church.
"1. We desire that Mr. Edwards, by the Precinct, or by a committee which the Precinct shall appoint, may be friendlily and in a
LIFE OF PRESIDENT EDWARDS.
christian manner treated with, and entreated to recede or come back from his principles, which he has pretended to maintain in his late book, against his own practice, and Mr. Stoddard's practice and principles, with respect to the admission of church members: which, if he refuses,
"2. To see if the Precinct will come into his notions or principles, about the admission of church members: which, if the town refuse,
"3. Then to determine whether the Precinct do not think that it will be more for the honour of God, and more likely to promote the interests of religion, and peace and comfort in the Precinct, to endeavour after a separation, or any thing else, which the Precinct shall see cause to come into: which we desire may be done in the most friendly and christian manner possible.
"John Hunt, Gad Lyman, Ephraim Wright, Josiah Pomeroy, Jonathan Strong, Jr., John Lyman, James Lyman, Jonathan Hunt, Joseph Wright, Gideon Lyman, Seth Pomeroy.
"Northampton, Oct. 16, 1749."
"Accordingly the committee issued a warrant, in terms agreeable to this demand, and a Precinct meeting was warned to be on the very next Thursday, and it was convened on the day appointed, viz, Thursday, Oct. 19. At the meeting it was moved and insisted on by some, that it should be put to vote, Whether I should not be desired to deliver the reasons of my opinion from the pulpit? and it passed in the negative. And there being several, who objected against proceeding on the business specified in the warrant, that it was very improper, seeing we had agreed upon a day of fasting and prayer, to seek light from God, that such steps should be taken before that day was passed, the meeting was therefore adjourned for a fortnight.
"The next Sabbath, Oct. 22, the Church was stayed, according to the Sabbath before, and it was proposed that there should be some farther discourse, on what had been proposed the preceding Sabbath, concerning asking the advice of neighbouring ministers, about the admission of such persons, as stood ready to make a profession of godliness, into the church, without delaying until our whole controversy should be brought to an issue. It was urged, that it was uncertain whether our affairs, in general, could be brought to a speedy issue; that, if a council should be called which should have the power to issue them, it was uncertain whether they would think it best immediately to put them to an issue; and particularly that it was questionable, whether they would think our affairs ripe for an issue, until the generality of the church had either read or heard the reasons of my opinion and conduct, with regard to the admission of members. Then it was said by one of the brethren, that it would be proper to see whether the church would agree to what
I had proposed, with regard to the admission of those persons; inasmuch as the church had never yet passed any vote upon it, however it had indeed been negatived by the church committee. Yet it was time enough to ask advice of ministers, when it was seen that the church and pastor could not agree. Whereupon it was put to vote, Whether the church would allow those, who were able and willing to make a profession of godliness, to be admitted into the church, in the way of publicly making such a profession, for the present, till our controversy could be brought to an issue; and there were but few votes for it. Then the forementioned proposal was put to vote, viz. To ask advice of neighbouring ministers, concerning this matter; and for this also there were but few votes.
Then another thing was proposed to the Church, viz. That the Church would manifest their willingness, that I should declare the reasons of my opinion from the pulpit; seeing it was a thing, that seemed to be acknowledged, and not disputed, that the members of the church in general had not been, nor were likely to be, informed of my reasons in any other way; and that it was most reasonable, that they should be informed, before they proceeded to act any thing, as determining whether I should be cast out of my pastoral office, it being an affair of vast consequence to me and my family. I told them that I asked a manifestation of their consent, not because I doubted of my right to preach what, I was satisfied, was the counsel of God, without asking their consent; but I chose to proceed in the most peaceable manner possible, and in that way that would tend most to prevent occasion of strife. After very much said against it by many of the brethren, it was put to vote in the following words :-"i desire that the brethren would manifest their consent, that I should declare the reasons of my opinion, relating to Full Communion in the Church, in Lectures appointed for that end, not as an act of authority, or as putting the power of declaring the whole counsel of God out of my hands, but for the sake of peace, and to prevent occasions of strife."-It passed in the
Then I told the Church, that one thing yet remained, which I desired of them, viz. That it should be left to a few of the neigh bouring ministers, whether it be not, all things considered, reasona ble, that I should be heard in this matter from the pulpit, before the present affair should be brought to an issue? Some things were objected with much strenuousness against it; and I was charged with very much abusing the church, by my management with respect to the admission of members. One said, that if I preached for my opinion, somebody else ought to be allowed to preach against it. I replied, that my business was to defend my own opinion: the brethren might use what means they pleased, for the defence of the contrary opinion, or to that purpose. After much said by many of
the brethren, the leaving this matter to neighbouring ministers, was put to vote, and passed in the negative.
"The next Thursday, Oct. 26, we had our fast, according to appointment.*
"The next week, on Thursday, Nov. 2, 1749, the Precinct met again, according to their adjournment, and chose a committee of nine, to confer with me, and consider what measures are proper to be taken, in order to issue the dispute between me and my peo ple, concerning Qualifications for full communion in the church, or to that purpose; and then adjourned themselves to Thursday, the week following. The same committee came to me the next day, and told me for what they were chosen by the Precinct, and asked me whether I had any measures to propose. I told them, that I had already proposed what I supposed to be reasonable; in that, in the first place, I had proposed, that my people should give me a fair hearing of the reasons of my opinion from the pulpit, and that they should previously manifest their consent to it; seeing that such previous manifestation of consent, would so evidently tend to peace, and to prevent tumults or ferments; and secondly, that when they had refused this, I had proposed, that it should be left to some of the neighbouring ministers, Whether it was not reasonable that they should comply with this proposal. And I told the committee, that I still insisted upon it as a reasonable thing, that they should consent to hear my reasons from the pulpit, and told them withal, that they might, if they pleased, use means to know what could be said on the other side. They might either employ ministers to preach against it in my pulpit, or they might get whom they pleased to write and publish his reasons against it.
They then told me that, before they came, they had agreed to make me this offer, viz. "That if I would consent to it, they would endeavour to bring the Precinct to yield, that I should preach in defence of my opinion, either on Lectures appointed for that end, or on the Sabbath, as I pleased; provided I would first draw out each sermon, that I intended to preach, at large in a legible character, and give it to them, and give them opportunity to carry it to some minister, that he might see it, and prepare an answer to it, before I delivered it; and that then I might deliver it, if I would consent that he should, from the pulpit, deliver his answer immediately after it." I told them, that, "at present, I could not think it to be my duty to comply with this proposal, unless it were also allowed, that I should beforehand see the discourse of my antagonist, as he was to see mine, that I might stand on even ground with him."
"I then gave them some reasons, why I thought it not a regular proceeding, for the Precinct to take the consideration and manage
A blank was left here in the MS. probably to give some account of this fast, but it was not filled up.
ment of this Ecclesiastical affair into their hands, in the manner they had done. But they insisted on it, that it was not irregular. They then went away without concluding any thing.
"The next Monday, Nov. 6, the Committee met again by themselves, at another house, and concluded upon, and drew up, the following report:
"At a meeting of the Committee, chosen by the first Precinct of Northampton, to concert what measures are proper for said Precinct to take, in order to issue the dispute, between the Rev. Mr. Edwards, minister of said Precinct, and the Precinct, respecting the admission of persons to complete standing in the Christian Church; said Committee determined to report, that they judge that it is expedient, that the Precinct endeavour that there may be a meeting of the Church in said Precinct, to see if the Church will apply to some of the neighbouring ministers, for their advice and counsel, respecting measures to be taken by the Church in the said affair; which application to the ministers aforesaid, said Committee judge the best expedient in the present difficulty; which conclusion the Committee came into unanimously, having previously conferred with Mr. Edwards, that they might the better determine what would conduce to the end aforesaid.
Ebenezer Pomeroy, John Clark, Joseph Wright, Noah Cook, Samuel Mather, Noah Wright, Ebenezer Hunt, Seth Pomeroy, Joseph Hawley.
Northampton, Nov. 6, 1749.”
"This writing was shown to me by one of their number, the Wednesday following, on the evening before the Precinct-meeting, to which they were to make their report.
"The next day, Thursday, Nov. 9, the Precinct met again, according to adjournment, to receive the Report of the Committee; and then I sent the following letter to the Precinct :
"DEAR FRIENDS AND BRETHREN,
"I never heard that any such thing was proposed, or thought of by the Committee of the Precinct, as is proposed in their Report, until yesterday; their determination was shown me last night, by a messenger from them, one of their number; and I have had no opportunity to confer with the Committee about it, or to offer any objection to them against their proposal. I therefore think it requisite, that I should at this time signify to you the reasons, why the thing proposed by them appears to me not to be regular or reasonable.
"1. As the Proposal of the Committee is expressed, they desire that a church meeting should be warned, to see if the Church will not call a Council, or meeting of ministers, to advise to mea