Slike strani

creased to about ninety; among whom were Hendrick, and Nicholas, and several others of their chiefs.

Such was the state of things at Stockbridge, and such the state of the Indian Mission, and of the Indian schools, when Mr. Edwards was invited to remove to that place. The family at first exerted their whole influence, to prevent his receiving an invitation from the people of Stockbridge: but, finding that the church and parish, (themselves excepted,) were unanimous in giving the invitation, and very anxious that he should accept it, that there was no chance of producing a change in the minds of the Commissioners in Boston, and that continued opposition must terminate in their own utter discomfiture; they changed their course, and professed to be highly gratified that he was coming among them.

After his return to Northampton, in the spring of 1751, Mr Edwards, before coming to a final decision, paid a visit to his Ex cellency Sir William Pepperell, at Kittery, to learn the actual views of the government, with regard to the Indian establishment at Stockbridge; and having received satisfactory assurances on this subject, he soon after announced to the people of Stockbridge, and to the Commissioners in Boston, his acceptance of their respective invitations. In the third week of June, he went again to Stockbridge, and remained there during the greater part of the ensuing month. Soon after his arrival, he addressed the following letter to the Rev. Mr. Hobby, one of the minority in the Council, which had decided on his dismission, in consequence of an occurrence, which it is proper briefly to detail. Immediately after the Protest of the Minority, against the Result of Council, was published, four of the clergymen in the majority prepared a pamphlet attacking the Protest, entitled, "An account of the conduct of the Council which dismissed the Rev. Mr. Edwards from the pastoral care of the first church at Northampton." This drew, from Mr. Hobby, "A Vindication of the Protest against the Result of the Northampton Council;" which called forth, from the same gentlemen, "A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Hobby, in answer to his Vindication," etc. This Letter contained so gross and palpable a misstatement, relative to the actual point in controversy between Mr. Edwards and his people, and to the nature of the profession, which he insisted on from those, who were to be received to the communion of the church; that Mr. Edwards felt himself called upon to contradict it from the press, which he did in the subsequent Letter.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

"I think myself obliged, in the most public manner I am able, to correct a great and very injurious misrepresentation, made publicly

concerning me, in a late pamphlet, entitled, "A Letter to the Rev. Mr. Hobby, in answer to his Vindication of the Protest against the Result of an Ecclesiastical Council met at Northampton, etc. by the Rev. Messrs. Robert Breck, Joseph Ashley, Timothy Woodbridge and Chester Williams."

"These gentlemen, who were members of the Council, which dissolved the relation between me and the church at Northampton, in professing to give an account, in this pamphlet, of what declarations both the church and I made, before that Council, of our principles, say," that Mr. Edwards declared, that he could not in conscience be active, in admitting any into the church, unless they first made a profession, THAT THEY WERE INDEED SANCTIFIED:" Whereas I declared the reverse of this, openly, and publicly, and very particularly, before that Council, in the meeting-house, a great multitude being present; for this reason, because, I had heard that such reports had been spread abroad of my opinion, I carefully commented on them, and expressly denied and contradicted them, and told the Council that there was no truth in such reports. I distinctly informed them, also, that I did not insist that persons should say that they were converted, or were christians; that this was not what I had intended by a person making a profession of godliness; and that I should not think it became persons to come, and make such a profession as this. But I told them that what I insisted on, as a proper profession of godliness on the part of any person, was this: either his professing the great things in which godliness consists; or that, in his own full belief, he saw such things in his heart, which, though he might think them not to be godliness, yet were truly such things, as the Scriptures represent as the essentials of true piety. I added that, in the latter case, if he did this seriously and understandingly, I should think he ought to be accepted; though, at the same time, he should very much doubt of his being converted; yea, if he should, through melancholy or any temptation, determine against himself, and say he did not think that he was converted; if his own scruples did not hinder him, I should think he ought to be accepted, and should be ready to admit him.

[Mr. Edwards here subjoined the testimonies of several respectable witnesses to the point in question.]

"But, because I wished to take the utmost possible care, that what I said might be well observed and understood by the Council, and this false report sufficiently corrected, I sent the same thing in to the Council in writing. I also sent in an extract from a letter, which I had previously written to the Rev. Mr. Clark of Salem Village, in the following words, viz.

"It does not belong to the controversy between me and my people, how particular, or large, the profession should be, that is required. I should not choose to be confined to exact limits, as to

that affair. But rather than contend, I should content myself with a few words, briefly expressing the cardinal virtues, or acts, implied in a hearty compliance with the covenant of grace; the profession being made, (as should appear by enquiry into the person's doctrinal knowledge,) understandingly; if there were an external conversation agreeable thereto. Yea, I should think, that such a person, solemnly making such a profession, had a right to be received, as the object of a public charity, however he himself might scruple his own conversion, on account of his not remembering the time, or not knowing the method, of his conversion, or finding so much remaining sin, etc. And, (if his own scruples did not hinder,) I should think a minister, or a church, had no right to debar such a professor, though he should say he did not think himself converted. For I call that a profession of godliness, which is a profession of the great things wherein godliness consists, and not a profession by an individual, of his own opinion of his good estate.


Northampton, May 7, 1750."

"This writing was handed round, and particularly taken notice of in the Council, and read by the members. Such abundant care did I take, that the Council might fully understand, that I by no means insisted, that a man should profess that he was sanctified or converted; and that I was so far from insisting on it, that I disliked such a kind of profession, and such terms of communion. Yet now some of the gentlemen, who were members of that Council, declare to the world from the press, that I declared this very thing to the Council, that I could not in conscience admit persons, unless they first made a profession that they were indeed sanctified. It may be said that, although I produce testimonies to the contrary, yet there are four that write in this declaration, which is sufficient to balance all my testimonies. To this I reply, that the extract from my letter to Mr. Clark of Salem Village, which was laid in before this Council, wherein the contrary was expressly declared, was in writing; and they cannot, and do not deny, that this extract, in these very words, was laid before them. And if they should deny that I ever wrote such a letter, the original is in Mr. Clark's hands; which will speak for itself, if they deny that I have truly represented it.

"That they should make such a declaration, as they have done, is the more remarkable, because this my extract from that letter was printed, long before, in the Preface to my Farewell Sermon, as a designed refutation of such kinds of reports of my opinion, and was referred to, to the same purpose, in the printed Result of the Council which sat at Northampton, which these gentlemen (p. 18) confess that they had seen. And these things from the press were very much known, and taken notice of, in that part of the country where these ministers live, long before. So that, if it were possi

ble for me to defend myself from such injurious representations, and reports, and assertions on the part of those gentlemen, as are here made, one would think it was most effectually done. Yet, notwithstanding all this, they now boldly assert to the world, that I declared that, which, instead of declaring, I, at the time, expressly, carefully and publicly denied, and also declared the very reverse of it, by word of mouth, in their hearing, and in writing addressed to themselves, and afterwards from the press, before the world. If I had perfectly held my peace, and made no declaration of any kind on the subject, and they had then published to the world that I declared this, which they have asserted, it would indeed have been strange; but still, it would have been far less surprising and injurious than now, since I have, with so much pains, declared the contrary, and taken so much care, that they should have full notice of my denying and abhorring the thing, which they say I asserted and insisted on.

"I am your friend and brother,


In the course of the spring, the Reply of the Rev. Solomon Williams, of Lebanon, Connecticut, to the Treatise of Mr. Edwards, on the Qualifications for Communion, issued from the press.* The task of preparing this work was not, originally, of the author's own seeking. As has been already mentioned, his half-brother, at the request of some of the opposers of Mr. Edwards in Northampton, began, in 1749, to collect materials for this reply. In this work, he had proceeded some distance, we know not how far, when the necessity of his embarking for England compelled him to relinquish it; and he placed his papers in the hands of his brother, in whose name the work appeared. What its character would have been, had he completed it himself, cannot now be known; but, after reading it, as it actually came forth from the hands of the two brothers, the friends of the lax mode of admission, conscious as they were of danger to their cause, from the Enquiry of Mr. Edwards, must have felt, if they did not say, " Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis, tempus eget." That the author, though he styled his work an Answer to the Treatise of Mr. Edwards, perceived it to be no easy task to furnish a real answer to his arguments, is obvious from the fact, that he continually misrepresents its design, and the nature of the question in controversy. He often asserts it to be the

*The title of this pamphlet is, "The True State of the Question concerning the Qualifications necessary to lawful Communion in the Christian Sacraments; being an Answer to the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Edwards' Book, entitled. An Humble Enquiry into the Rules of the Word of God, concerning the Qualif cations requisite to a complete standing, and full Communion, in the Visible Christian Church; by Solomon Williams, A. M." Boston, 1751.

professed and declared design of Mr. Edwards, in writing the "Humble Enquiry," to oppose Mr. Stoddard, when Mr. Edwards declared, in the Preface, that, in consequence of the necessity he was laid under, of opposing what his grandfather had strenuously maintained, he had engaged in preparing it, with the greatest reluctance that he ever undertook any public service in his life. The main question, which Mr. Edwards had discussed in the "Humble Enquiry," was, Whether candidates for admission to the Church, ought to make a Credible Profession of Piety? This was the question in debate, between him and his people. They insisted, with Mr. Stoddard, that the Lord's Supper was a converting ordinance, that unconverted men, as such, had a right to partake of it, and of course, that a credible profession of piety was not necessary to church-membership. On this point, Mr. Edwards differed from them; and he wrote the "Humble Enquiry," to convince them, that their opinion was erroneous. As to the evidence, necessary to render a profession credible, he expressly states it to be "some outward manifestation, that ordinarily renders the thing probable;" and again, he says, "Not a certainty, but a profession and visibility of these things, must be the rule of the church's proceeding."Mr. Williams, on the contrary, continually represents the main question in controversy to be, What DEGREE of evidence, the church must have, of the piety of those, she receives as members? He says, Mr. Edwards demands the highest evidence, which a man can give, of sincerity; and that he himself insists only on the lowest evidence, the nature of the thing will admit; as though both regarded actual piety, as necessary to such a profession. He then represents Mr. Edwards, as requiring so high a degree of evidence of the candidate's piety, as shall render the church certain of it, and enable them to come to an absolute and peremptory determination, that he is a truly godly person; and that his principles suppose men to be Searchers of each others' hearts.

All this is in direct contrariety to the often repeated statements of the principles, for which Mr. Edwards contended; and, as every intelligent reader of the "Enquiry" and "Answer" must ultimatelybe aware of this, and must perceive that Mr. Williams palpably avoided the main point in controversy, and discussed no point, but a subordinate one, on which he could make out no difference between himself and Mr. Edwards, except by mis-stating the plainly declared sentiments of the latter; it is difficult to explain, why he should have pursued such a course, when he had so acute an antagonist to expose the obliquity of the proceeding, except on the supposition, that, having publicly announced his design of answering Mr. Edwards, he found on trial, that he was not equal to the task, and pursued this course, to deceive the spectators of the contest. No one, who has courage to meet a real antagonist, will occupy himself VOL. I.


« PrejšnjaNaprej »