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dency to answer the exigencies of our present circumstances; I hope you will not find me difficult or backward to a compliance. "I am your servant, for Jesus' sake,
"Northampton, Dec. 5, 1749."
"The next day, being Wednesday, Dec. 6, the Committee came again to my house; and after they were come together, the chairman, Major Pomroy, told me,―That they had further considered of our difficulties, or to that purpose, and had read my long letter; and that it was abundance of trouble and difficulty the church was put to; and that it was the voice of the Committee that it was I, that was the occasion of all this difficulty." This," said he, "I say in the name of the Committee; and that, which I am now about to say, I will say in my own name, and that is, That it may well be matter of solemn consideration to you, that you should put the church to so much trouble and difficulty. And I would advise you to take the matter into your serious and solemn consideration and contemplation. And, as to the affair we are upon, we have determined that we will not dally about the matter; and therefore we are come to this conclusion;" or words to that purpose. Then he handed me a paper, containing their conclusion in the following words:" At a meeting of the Committee of the First Church in Northampton, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 1749; Agreed by said Committee, that they will recommend to the church, that there be a Council mutually chosen by the church and Mr. Edwards, if Mr. Edwards desires to have a part in the choice, to consist of seven or nine churches, all in the County of Hampshire; to which Council the church shall represent and declare the difference and controversy, which subsists between the church and the said Edwards, respecting the Qualifications necessary to admission to complete standing in the Visible Church of Christ; and also to inform the said Council, that, since the opposition in the said church to Mr. Edwards' sentiments in the particular aforesaid is very general; and that, since Mr. Edwards, in this particular, has dissented from the church, and departed from the principles on which he was settled and ordained Pastor of said church; it is the desire of the church that Mr. Edwards may be dismissed from said church, and that his pastoral relation thereto be dissolved; and that the church shall supplicate the said Council to proceed to dismiss and release the said church and Mr. Edwards from each other, if they shall judge it best to be done; and the church shall humbly entreat the said Council, in the most impartial manner, to consider the case and desire of the church."
"After I had read this determination of the Committee, I told them that I desired opportunity for consideration until the next day,
when I would endeavour to come to a determination what I would do; which I would send them in writing, if they would meet at any place to receive it. Accordingly they appointed a meeting the next day, to receive my determination, and to conclude on their own report to the church.
"The next day, being Thursday, Dec. 7, the Precinct met according to adjournment, and adjourned themselves further until the next Tuesday, the day after the appointed church meeting.-The same day also the Committee of the church met, when I sent them a Letter, containing my determination, as I had proposed; which was as follows:
"To the Committee of the First Church in Northampton, at their meeting, Dec. 7, 1749.
"The reasons, which I have given, showing it to be just, that all Councils, called to judge or advise in our present affair, should be mutually chosen, and that I should have liberty to nominate some of the members out of the County, I think of most undeniable evidence, and that indeed the matter is so plain, that it does not properly admit of any dispute. Yet, since I find you are so resolved not to comply with what I so reasonably urge, I now, for the sake of peace, and to avoid great tumult and confusion, make you the following offer, viz.-That the ministers of this Association should be consulted, that is the seven ministers who live nearest, or the five nearest, if you think seven too many; and that it shall be left to their judgment, Whether it be not reasonable and best in this case, that I should be allowed to go out of the County for ministers or churches, to be some of the members of the Council who are to judge, whether I shall be dismissed from my pastoral office here or not?-and that, if they determine that it is best that this should be allowed, then their judgment be asked, Whether the state of things be now ripe for such a Council being called?— and, if they judge that we are not ripe for it, that we should ask their advice, How we shall conduct ourselves for the present?
"These ministers are, in the most proper sense, the ministers of the vicinity, and are all, save one, professedly on your side, in our main controversy. If we go from these, in the way of mutual choice, I insist on the liberty of going out of the County.—If you accept this offer, I now promise that, whatever the judgment or advice of these ministers shall be, in the forementioned particulars; I will make no objection against your choosing any of them to be of the future Council.
"As to your last conclusion of Dec. 5, my present determination is, not to consent to it, nor to put any such thing to vote, nor in any
LIFE OF PRESIDENT EDWARDS.
respect to have any hand in the matter; unless first advised to it
"P. S. I request of you that you would let me know what your report to the church shall be, when it is concluded upon, some time before the meeting."
"When the Committee had received and read this letter, they concluded on the following report to be made to the church; of which one of them brought me a copy the next day, as follows:
"At a meeting of the Committee of the first church in Northampton, chosen by said church to devise measures for the church to take, under their present difficulties, and to report to said church at their next meeting; the said Committee agreed to report, That they judge it prudence, and conducing to the welfare of the church, that a council of five churches in the County of Hampshire, mutually chosen by Mr. Edwards and the said church, be called, to consider and give their judgment,
"1. Whether the state of affairs in the church, or otherwise of the controversy, subsisting between Mr. Edwards and the church, be ripe for the calling of a council, to judge whether Mr. Edwards shall be dismissed from his pastoral office in said church, or not; which, if they shall determine in the affirmative, then to give their judgment,
2. Whether it be reasonable and best in this case, and agreeable to the constitution of these churches, that Mr. Edwards should be allowed to go out of the County of Hampshire, for ministers or churches, to be some of the members of a council for the purpose aforesaid. But if they shall think the state of affairs is not ripe for the calling of such a council, then
"3. To consider and advise what course the church shall take, to ripen affairs in the said church, for such a council.
"The above is what the Committee agreed to report to the church, at their next meeting.
"Attest, EBENEZER POMEROY, Ch'm. of the Com. "Northampton, Dec. 7, 1749."
"The next Monday, Dec. 11, the church met according to appointment, when, after the meeting was opened by prayer, my letter to the Committee, containing my proposed offer to the Committe, and the Committee's report, were both read. And then I read to the church what follows, containing some objections to the report of the Committee:
"You very well know that what has been insisted fore by my people, was that the neighbouring ministers should be
consulted, as a Previous Council, to give us advice what course we should take, before the calling of a Council to determine whether pastor and people should be separated; and that I objected against it-these ministers being almost universally, by their open profession, on your side in the grand controversy between you and me; --and that I insisted on it, as just and equal, that I should have a choice with you in this council of advisers; and that if those whom you chose were known to be on your side in the main controversy, I should have liberty to nominate as many who should be on my side; and that this was as just in a council, which should be called to give previous advice, as in a council which should judge concerning the affair of our separation; because such a foundation might be laid by the previous advice of the first council, as might in effect finish the whole affair. But, however, I have not been hearkened to in this matter; and one thing urged in opposition to what I insisted on, was, that according to the Platform of Church Discipline, such affairs should be judged of by those who, were of the vicinity, or neighbourhood. And finding after long urging what 1 looked upon as my due, and might claim as one of the common rights of mankind, that all my reasonings were in vain, I have now at length yielded that point, and for the sake of peace, which in the whole course of this affair I have earnestly pursued, have complied with that which you at first insisted upon,-viz. that the neighbouring ministers shall be desired to give us advice what course to take, previous to the council called to judge whether pastor and people shall be separated; and that I would leave it to them to judge, on a full view of our case, how we shall conduct ourselves. Now I think you ought not to reject what I offer, and attempt to constrain me to a compliance with the new measures, on which the Committee have agreed, for the following reasons:
"1. It would be a very unjust proceeding. The neigbouring ministers, on whom you first insisted, have indeed much to prejudice them against me in those affairs, being declaredly against me in the main controversy. But it is well known that many of the ministers of the County, who are out of the neighbourhood, have had much more to prejudice them. These neighbouring ministers are all Calvinists in their persuasion, and friends to the late revival of religion, and those who have lived in good neighbourhood and peace with me, which has not been interrupted by any remarkable breach between me and them, or any known affront or disgust which they have taken. But with regard to the other ministers of the County it is well known, that four or five of them have heretofore had the reputation of Arminians. Some others of them are known to have been strenuous opposers of the late revival of religion, for which I have been so public an advocate. And you know that the dispute about the late work in the land, is a controversy which has greatly engaged the feelings of men. There are no less
than six of them, who have either had a particular difference or controversy with me thereupon, or have in times past openly manifested towards me a personal hostility or aversion for the part I have taken herein. Another of them, one of the senior ministers of the County, has shown a strong prejudice, in this particular controversy between you and me, in something which he has said to two of the brethren of the Committee of this Church, as I have been well informed. Another of them has an own father in the town, who is one of the Committee; and several of his brothers are greatly engaged in this controversy.
"2. If the church, at the same time that they agreed to the Report of the Committee, should withal say, that, if I had any unreasonable objection against any particular minister, he should not be chosen; still, proceeding on this plan would be in many ways of unhappy consequence. It would necessitate me publicly to point out particular ministers of the County, and openly to object those things against them, which would naturally tend to excite unpleasant feelings between those ministers and me-to beget new prejudices and revive and establish old ones. And then it is wholly uncertain what the church would esteem reasonable objections; and this would open a door for new difficulties, and endless controversy about the particular members to be chosen, concerning the principles and past conduct of ministers, and probably with regard to some ministers, whether they be in the County or not it being a matter of controversy, not yet decided, concerning three, who used to be reckoned to be of the County, whether they indeed be of the Province.
"3. If the church should now depart from what they had formerly insisted on, and I have now offered in compliance with them, and should act on the measures proposed by the Committee; they would act very absurdly and inconsistently. For the Platform has heretofore been insisted on, as directing to ministers of the neighbourhood, and seems still to be insisted on in the Report of the Committee, under the name of the Constitution of these Churches; and yet this same Committee, in this very Report, insist on liberty to go out of the neighbourhood, without being limited by any other bounds than those of the County. Whereas it is those ministers whom I have proposed, and they only, who are properly the ministers of the neighbourhood. The Platform speaks of neighbourhoods, but says nothing of counties. Many of the churches of the County are no more in the way of communication with us, than some churches qut of the County. The churches in Sheffield, and some others in this County, are no more in the way of mutual concern and intercourse with us in our religious affairs, then the churches in Boston, and indeed not near so much. So that the Committee insist upon the Platform, and on our being confined to the neighbourhood, and yet at the same time insist on liberty to VOL. I.