« PrejšnjaNaprej »
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.
“JONATHAN EDWARDS. “Northampton, Dec. 27, 1749."
“ 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.
SA 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. J.
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,
“JONATHAN EDWARDS. ** 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
a 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.
“If I may be allowed to recapitulate very briefly some of the remarks then made, in order to refresh the memories of the Council, I observe, That the business of the Future Council will not be, to decide, Whether my opinion, On the Qualifications for Communion, is right or not?
--because we know the opinion and practice of every man, who will be chosen, before he comes. Nor will it be, Whether a shall remain the minister of Northampton, if, afier all proper steps are taken to effect an accommodation, the people still desire my dismission?---because, when that shall have been done, I will trouble no Council any farther, than barely to give me leave to relinquish my pastoral office. But their business will be to decide, 1, 11 hether they ought not to make some attempts to effect an accommodation of our difficulties ? and, if this be decided in the negative, 2, Whether all has been done by both parties, which justice requires to be done, previous to a separation ? and, if this be decided in the affirmative, to state in their result, 3, What are the grounds of my dismission; how far I am innocent; and how far I may be recommended, as deserving future employment in the ministry. If this Rev. Council will closely consider the matter, they will easily see that these things must constitute their business.
“ And if this be so, the question,-- What qualifications does this business require ?-amounts to simply this.- Is Impartiality, as to the two contending parties, a qualification absolutely necessary in those who are to judge between them?-To determine this, let each of the points, which must be submitted to the Future Council, be viewed. If means of accommodation are to be used, ought not those, who are to act as mediators, to be in the middle between the parties to be reconciled. If they are to judge with regard to the mutual rights and claims of the two parties, and to decide whether each has done all that the other may fairly require, previous to a separation; does not settling points of equity, between
a two parties at variance, require even balances. And if they are to pronounce before the world, on the conduct of the pastor in this controversy, as well as on his general character; may he not justly demand that the tribunal which is to do this shall be impartial ?
“If these things are plain, and I cannot but think that every person of sober thought will own them to be self-evident; then the only things to be determined are these two, 1, What constitutes an essential defect of impartiality as to the two parties in this case? 2, Whether the defect can be supposed to belong to a Council constituted of the churches in this vicinity ?
“ As to the first point, it must obviously be admitted, to be a radical defect in the impartiality of the Council, if the members of it are all on one side, or are all known to side with one of the parties against the other, on the main point in controversy. What can be more plain than, that a balance cannot be even, and therefore