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off, or if there be any thing else done, or published, in England or Scotland, that remarkably affects the interests of religion.
“I have, with this letter, sent Mr. Bellamy's True Religion Delineated, with a sermon of mine at Mr. Strong's ordination; of which I ask your acceptance, as a small testimony of gratitude for your numerous favours to me. I ask a constant remembrance in your prayers, that I may have the presence of God under my unusual trials, and that I may make a good improvement of all God's dealings with me. My wife joins with me in most cordial salutations to you and Mrs. Erskine.
"I am, dear Sir,
"Your affectionate and obliged
"At length," observes Dr. Hopkins, "a great uneasiness was manifested, by many of the people of Northampton, that Mr. Edwards should preach there at all. Upon which, the Committee for supplying the pulpit, called the town together, to know their minds with respect to that matter; when they voted; That it was not agreeable to their minds that he should preach among them. cordingly, while Mr. Edwards was in the town, and they had no other minister to preach to them, they carried on public worship among themselves, and without any preaching, rather than invite him.*
"Every one must be sensible," observes Dr. Hopkins, who was himself an occasional eye-witness of these scenes, "that this was a great trial to Mr. Edwards. He had been nearly twenty-four years among that people; and his labours had been, to all appearance, from time to time greatly blessed among them: and a great number looked on him as their spiritual father, who had been the happy instrument of turning them from darkness to light, and plucking them as brands out of the burning. And they had from time to time professed that they looked upon it as one of their greatest privileges to have such a minister, and manifested their great love and esteem of him, to such a degree, that, (as St. Paul says of the Galatians,) “ if it had been possible, they would have plucked out their own eyes, and given them to him." And they had a great interest in his affection: he had borne them on his heart, and carried them in his bosom for many years; exercising a tender concern and love for them for their good he was always writing, contriving, labouring; for them he had poured out ten thousand fervent prayers; in their
*This vote appears to have been passed in the latter part of November, a few weeks only before Mr. Edwards received proposals of settlement, which he ultimately accepted.
good he had rejoiced as one that findeth great spoil; and they were dear to him above any other people under heaven.-Now to have this people turn against him, and thrust him out from among them, stopping their ears, and running upon him with furious zeal, not allowing him to defend himself by giving him a fair hearing; and even refusing so much as to hear him preach; many of them surmising and publicly speaking many ill things as to his ends and designs! surely this must come very near to him, and try his spirit. The words of the psalmist seem applicable to this case, "It was not an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it; neither was it he that hated me, that did magnify himself against me, then I would have hid myself from him. But it was THOU-my guide and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company."
"Let us therefore now behold the man!-The calm sedateness of his mind; his meekness and humility in great and violent opposition, and injurious treatment; his resolution and steady conduct through all this dark and terrible storm, were truly wonderful, and cannot be set in so beautiful and affecting a light by any description, as they appeared in to his friends, who were eye-witnesses.
"Mr. Edwards had a numerous and chargeable family, and little or no income, exclusive of his salary; and, considering how far he was advanced in years; the general disposition of people, who want a minister, to prefer a young man, who has never been settled, to one who has been dismissed from his people; and what misrepresentations were made of his principles through the country; it looked to him not at all probable, that he should ever have opportunity to be settled again in the work of the ministry, if he was dismissed from Northampton: and he was not inclined, or able, to take any other course, or go into any other business to get a living: so that beggary as well as disgrace stared him full in the face, if he persisted in his principles. When he was fixed in his principles, and before they were publicly known, he told some of his friends, that, if he discovered and persisted in them, it would most likely issue in his dismission and disgrace; and the ruin of himself and family, as to their temporal interests. He therefore first sat down and counted the cost, and deliberately took up the cross, when it was set before him in its full weight and magnitude; and in direct opposition to all worldly views and motives. And therefore his conduct, in these circumstances, was a remarkable exercise and discovery of his conscientiousness; and of his readiness to deny himself, and to forsake all that he had, to follow Christ.-A man must have a considerable degree of the spirit of a martyr, to go on with the steadfastness and resolution with which he did. He ventured wherever truth and duty appeared to lead him, unmoved at the threatening dangers on every side.
"However, God did not forsake him. As he gave him those inward supports, by which he was able in patience to possess his soul, and courageously row on in the storm, in the face of boisterous winds beating hard upon him, and in the midst of gaping waves threatening to swallow him up; so he soon appeared for him in his providence, even beyond all his expectations. His correspondents, and other friends, in Scotland hearing of his dismission, and fearing it might be the means of bringing him into worldly straits, generously contributed a considerable sum, and sent it over to him.
"And God did not leave him, without tender and valuable friends at Northampton. For a small number of his people, who opposed his dismission from the beginning, and some, who acted on neither side, but after his dismission adhered to him, under the influence of their great esteem and love of Mr. Edwards, were willing, and thought themselves able, to maintain him: and insisted upon it, that it was his duty to stay among them, as a distinct and separate congregation, from the body of the town who had rejected him.
"Mr. Edwards could not see it to be his duty to remain among them, as this would probably be a means of perpetuating an unhapdivision in the town; and there was to him no prospect of doing the good there, which would counterbalance the evil. However, that he might do all he could to satisfy his tender and afflicted friends; he consented to ask the advice of an Ecclesiastical Council. Accordingly a Council was called, and met at Northampton on the 15th of May 1751.-The town on this occasion was put into a great tumult. They, who were active in the dismission of Mr. Edwards, supposed, though without any good ground, that he was contriving with his friends, again to introduce himself at Northampton." A meeting of the church was summoned, and a Committee of the church appointed; who, in the name of the church, drew up a Remonstrance against the proceedings of the Council, and laid it before that body. The character of this instrument may be learned, from the subsequent confession of one of the Committee of the church that signed it, who was principally concerned in drawing it up, and very active in bringing the church to accept of it, and to vote that it should be presented to the Council. To use his own language, it was" every where interlarded with unchristian bitterness, and "sarcastical and unmannerly insinuations. It contained divers di"rect, grievous and criminal charges and allegations against Mr. "Edwards, which, I have since good reason to suppose, were all "founded on jealous and uncharitable mistakes, and so were real"ly gross slanders; also many heavy and reproachful charges upon "divers of Mr. Edwards' adherents, and some severe censures of "them all indiscriminately; all of which, if not wholly false and "groundless, yet were altogether unnecessary, and therefore highly "criminal. Indeed I am fully convinced that the whole of that
"composure, excepting the small part of it relating to the expediency of Mr. Edwards' resettlement at Northampton, was totally "unchristian, a scandalous, abusive, injurious libel against Mr. "Edwards, and his particular friends, especially the former, and highly provoking and detestable in the sight of God; for which I am heartily sorry and ashamed; and pray I may remember it, "with deep abasement and penitence, all my days."
After this Remonstrance of the church had been read before the Council, they immediately invited the Committee, by whom it was signed, to come forward, and prove the numerous allegations and insinuations, which it contained; "but they refused to appear and support any of their charges, or so much as to give the gentlemen of the Council any opportunity to confer with them, about the affair depending, though it was diligently sought;" and though, by presenting the Remonstrance, they had virtually given the Council jurisdiction, as to the charges it contained, yet they utterly refused to acknowledge them to be an Ecclesiastical Council. The Council then invited the Church, as a body, to a friendly conference, to see if some measures could not be devised for the removal of the difficulties, in which the ecclesiastical affairs of the town were involved; but, although this was earnestly and repeatedly moved for, on the part of the Council, it was repeatedly and finally denied on the part of the church.
"The Council having heard what Mr. Edwards, and those who adhered to him, had to say; advised, agreeably to the judgment of Mr. Edwards, that he should leave Northampton, and accept of the invitations, which he had received, to take charge of the Indian Mission, as well as of the church and congregation, at Stockbridge: of which a more particular account will be given further on.
As a proper close to this melancholy story, and to confirm and illustrate what has been related, the following LETTER from Joseph Hawley, Esq. to the Rev. Mr. Hall of Sutton, published in a weekly newspaper in Boston, May 19th, 1760, is here inserted. The reader, who has perused the preceding pages, will not need to be informed, that this gentleman, though certainly less violent, and far less malignant, than some of his associates, was not only very active in the transactions of this whole affair, but a principal leader in it, and the man, on whose counsels and conduct the opponents of Mr. Edwards especially relied. He was a near kinsman of Mr. Edwards, and a lawyer of distinguished talents and eloquence.* "To the Rev. Mr. Hall, of Sutton.
"I have often wished, that every member of the two Ecclesias
The father of Mr. Hawley married REBECKAH, the fifth daughter of the Rev. Mr. Stoddard, the sister of Mr. Edwards' mother.
tical Councils, that formerly sat in Northampton, upon the unhappy differences, between our former most worthy and Rev. Pastor, Mr. Jonathan Edwards, and the church here, whereof you were a member; I say, Sir, I have often wished, every one of them truly knew my real sense of my own conduct in the affair, that the one and the other of the said Councils are privy to. As I have long apprehended it to be my duty, not only to humble myself before God, for what was unchristian and sinful in my conduct before the said Councils, but also to confess my faults to them, and take shame to myself before them; so I have often studied with myself, in what manner it was practicable for me to do it. When I understood that you, Sir, and Mr. Eaton, were to be at Cold-Spring at the time of the late council, I resolved to improve the opportunity, fully to open my mind there to you and him thereon; and thought that probably some method might be then thought of, in which my reflections on myself, touching the matters above hinted at, might be communicated to most, if not all, the gentlemen aforesaid, who did not reside in this county. But you know, Sir, how difficult it was for us to converse together by ourselves, when at Cold-Spring, without giving umbrage to that people; I therefore proposed writing to you upon the matters, which I had then opportunity only most summarily to suggest; which you, Sir, signified would be agreeable to you. I therefore now undertake what I then proposed, in which I humbly ask the divine aid; and that I may be made most freely willing, fully to confess my sin and guilt to you. and the world, in those instances, which I have reason to suppose fell under your notice, as they were public and notorious transactions, and on account whereof, therefore, you, Sir, and all others who had knowledge thereof, had just cause to be offended at me.
"And in the first place, Sir, I apprehend that, with the church and people of Northampton, I sinned and erred exceedingly, in consenting and labouring, that there should be so early a dismission of Mr. Edwards from his pastoral relation to us, even upon the supposition that he was really in a mistake in the disputed point: not only because the dispute was upon matters so very disputable in themselves, and at the greatest remove from fundamental, but because Mr. Edwards so long had approved himself a most faithful and painful pastor to the said church. He also changed his sentiments, in that point, wholly from a tender regard to what appeared to him to be truth; and had made known his sentiments with great moderation, and upon great deliberation, against all worldly motives, from mere fidelity to his great Master, and a tender regard to the souls of his flock, as we had the highest reason to judge. These considerations now seem to me sufficient; and would, (if we had been of a right spirit) have greatly endeared him to his people, and made us to the last degree, reluctant to part with him, and disposed us to the exercise of the great