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deviate from the Platform, and to depart from the neighbourhood. Yea they are yet more absurd; for one grand point that is in controversy between us, is,-Whether we shall have liberty to go from the neighbourhood, for any Council? And yet they insist upon liberty to go from the neighbourhood, in the first place, for a Council, to determine, Whether we shall have liberty to go from the neighbourhood; which is the most gross and palpable inconsistency.
"As to the determination of your forefathers, thirty-six years ago, That they would be subject to a Council of the Churches of the County; you, of this generation, never looked on it as any constitution for you, nor have you ever, in one instance, conformed to it; For you never have yet in any one instance, since I have been your Pastor, referred any thing to a Council of Churches, but to Consistories of another nature. And besides the plain design of that vote was, that all the churches of the County taken together should be consociated as a Standing Council, agreeably to the Presbyterian Principles of Mr. Stoddard, who was the first mover in that affair, and drew that Vote.
"And moreover what I now offer, viz. That our affairs should be referred to the ministers of the Association, to which we belong, is much more agreeable to the design of that Vote, since the state of the County is so exceedingly altered from what it was then, being divided into different associations, and not only so, but become so much larger, the number of churches vastly increased, and more dispersed, at a great distance one from another. This alteration in the state of the County, renders it impracticable for the churches to abide by that determination, so as to be obliged, on every emergency wherein they need counsel, to call a Council of the whole County, consisting of near sixty members, from such distant places.
"On the whole, I renewedly insist upon it, that the offer I make you is in itself highly reasonable and fair, yea, that therein I evidently depart from my just right in compliance with you, that, if possible, our affairs may be proceeded in with peace and without tumult. What I now propose, is what you yourselves have, until now, insisted on; and I apprehend there can be no imaginable reason why it should now be departed from, unless it be to lay me under still greater disadvantages, and to have opportunity to bring in such into the Council, as are still more prejudiced against me."
One thing further I objected, which was against the manner of the draught of the Committee's report, which it is needless now to rehearse.
"On this ensued much discourse. It was insisted that, in my mentioning the seven or five next neighbouring ministers, if these were allowed to be the Council, it would be my choosing all the Council myself: and inasmuch as I before appeared so much
against leaving these matters with them, but now complied, the church had reason to suspect that I had discovered something concerning these ministers, which the church knew not of; which was a sufficient reason why the church should not comply with my proposal.
"I added one thing further to my proposal, viz. That five should be taken out of the seven next neighbouring ministers by mutual choice. But there appeared no inclination to comply with this.
"After this, some of the people proposed to me, Whether I would be willing that a Council of churches should be called out of this neighbourhood, instead of a Council of Ministers. I replied that it seemed altogether needless and trifling, to put the churches to so much trouble, as to meet in Council, only to tell us whether we were ripe for a Council, and to advise us as to the manner of calling a Council. But however I would not break with the church on such a point, if they greatly insisted on it. But as soon as I had thus complied with it, no more was said about it at that meeting.
"After this it was once and again proposed to me, and by several persons, Whether I was willing that the matter should be referred to three ministers mutually chosen out of the seven ?-because then it was urged that there might be somewhat of a choice. I somewhat hesitated about it, thinking the number too small; yet finally complied; but as soon as I complied, the matter was entirely dropped, and no more said about it.
"Last of all, it was proposed by one of the leading brethren of the church, that the whole eight ministers of which the Association consisted be called together, with liberty of objecting, on each side, against any of the members, after they were come together; the objections to be judged of by the rest. I also manifested my readiness to comply with this. But nothing was said by the church, whether they would comply with this or not; and nothing was done at this meeting, but the meeting was adjourned until the next day at two o'clock.
"The next day, Dec. 12, the Precinct met again, at one o'clock, according to adjournment, and adjourned themselves further to the next Monday, Dec. 16.
"The same day the church met again, according to their adjournment, at 2 o'clock; when, after long debating and much earnest talk till after sun-down, the church at length passed the following Votes:
1. That a Council should be called to advise us under our present difficulties, previous to any Council that may be called to judge whether Pastors and People should be separated; and that it should 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 we are not ripe for it, we should ask their advice, How we should conduct ourselves for the present. "2. That the Council should consist of five ministers, mutually chosen out of the seven nearest ministers.”
"After this vote was passed, it was urged that it should be five churches, instead of five ministers; to which I yielded, after some objecting; and then the following Vote was passed:
"3. That the Council shall be a Council of Churches. only there shall be liberty given to both Pastor and People, if they have any objections against any of the Messengers that shall be chosen, as unfit persons to judge in these matters, to offer their objections before the Council when met, who shall judge of the validity or sufficiency of those objections."
"Then we proceeded to nominate churches. I first nominated the church of South Hadley; but this was objected against; and a writing was produced under the hands of Ebenezer Pomroy and his Wife, testifying some things which they had heard the minister of South Hadley, the Rev. Mr. Woodbridge, say, manifesting his mind in some of those things of which the Council were to judge. After considerable discourse on the matter, the church finally refused to allow that church to be of the Council. And the following churches were agreed upon, viz. the First Church in Hadley, the Church in Hatfield, the Church in Sunderland, the Church of Cold Spring, and the Second Church in Northampton.
"Then the church proceeded to choose agents to represent them and manage their cause before the Council, and they chose the Hon. Ebenezer Pomroy, Lieut. Noah Wright, and Mr. Joseph Hawley.
"Then several of the brethren earnestly urged, that the affair of our attending the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper should be reconsidered, insisting that this Ordinance ought to be upheld among us. After some discourse it was put to vote,-Whether the Church, en second consideration, thought it best, that that Ordinance should be upheld, and accordingly a Sacrament speedily appointed?—and passed in the Negative, by a very great majority. Then the church meeting was dissolved.
"Mr. Joseph Hawley having been absent, when chosen one of the Agents of the Church, afterwards came to me, desiring me to inform the church, that he declined serving in that capacity. Ac
cordingly, I stayed the church, on the Sabbath, Dec. 17, and informed them of it; when some of the brethren desired to know the reason why he declined serving. Upon which he gave this reason, That his judgment was so different from that of the church, in those points which were referred to the judgment of the Council, that he could not in conscience plead before the Council, for those things on which the church insisted, or to that purpose.Then it was put to vote, whether the church would add any other to those who had already been chosen.*
"The next Monday, Dec. 18, the Precinct met again, according to adjournment; when it was proposed to the Precinct, and much urged by some of the principal men, that the Precinct should, by a vote, manifest their desire that I should not continue their minister, unless I altered my opinion, and a draft for such a vote was proposed by the Moderator; but others much opposing it, as not proper before the advice of a Council had been asked, it was not put to vote.
"At this meeting, the Precinct voted to send to Major Lyman, of Suffield,† and hire him to come and plead their cause at the approaching Council; and appointed a man to go to him for that end. Then the meeting was adjourned for a fortnight."
*The result of this vote is not mentioned.
The Hon. PHINEAS LYMAN, an eminent Counsellour at Law, and afterwards Major-General, first in the Provincial Service, and then in the British Army. He declined the proposed service.
Meeting of Previous Council.-Remarks of Mr. Edwards, on the question, Whether he ought not to be allowed to go out of the county, in the choice of the Final Council.-Remarks of Mr. Edwards, on the question, Whether the state of things was ripe for a Final Council.-Proposal of Mr. Edwards.-Result.-Adjournment.-Measures of both parties.
"THE next week on Tuesday, Dec. 26, the Council that was chosen, met;* and this Narrative, viz. the preceding part of it, was read to them. And then they proceeded to hear both what the Pastor and the Agents of the Church had to offer on those articles, which the Council had been desired to judge of, and advise in." On the question, Whether it was not reasonable and best, that he should be allowed to go out of the county, for Ministers or Churches to be some of the members of the Council, who were to judge, whether he should be dismissed from his pastoral office, or not;-Mr. Edwards submitted to the Council the following remarks:
"In order to determine-Whether I ought to be allowed to go out of the county, in my choice of a part of the Council, which is to decide on the question of my dismission; it should be particularly considered-What the business of such a Council will be. And here I would observe,
"1. That the business of that Council will not be to judge, Whether my opinion, on the point in controversy, be right, or not; for that would be only to determine, Whether my opinion and theirs be the same; which is supposed to be a thing perfectly known before the calling of the Council. On such a point, the opinion of ministers and churches cannot easily be hid, and they will be chosen on each side, because they are either of the one opinion or of the other.
"2. Nor will it be the main business of that Council, to judge,— Whether, or no, I should finally continue the pastor of this church, if the people, after all fair means used, and all proper steps taken to effect an accommodation, should finally desire that I should not
*The ministers who composed this Council, were, the Rev. Chester Williams of Hadley, the Rev. Mr. Woodbridge of Hatfield, the Rev. Mr. Billings of Cold Spring, (Belchertown,) and the Rev. Mr. Judd of West-Hampton. The names of the Delegates are not known.