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what were the grounds of them, (of both which he was fenfible the most of them were quite ignorant,) before they took any step for a feparation between him and his people. But that he might do nothing to increase the tumult, but on the contrary take all those steps, which he could with a good confcience, that tended to peace, he firft propofed the thing to the church's ftanding committee; fuppofing, that if he entered on the subject · publicly with their confent, it would prevent the ill confequences which otherwife he feared would follow. But the most of them would by no means confent to it, but ftrenuously oppofed it. Upon which he gave it over for the prefent, as what in fuch circumftances would rather raise a tumult, and blow the fire up to a greater height, than answer the good ends propofed.

Mr Edwards being fenfible that his principles were not understood, and much mifreprefented through the country; and finding that his people were in too much of a heat calmly to attend to the matter in controverfy then, and were in a difpofition even to refufe to hear him preach upon it, propofed to print what he had to fay on the point, as this feemed to be the only way left him to have a fair hearing. Accordingly his people confented to put off the calling a council, till what he fhould write was published. But they manifefted great uneasiness in waiting before it came out of the press. And when it was publifhed, it was read but by very few of them. Mr Edwards, being fenfible of this, renewed his propofal to preach upon it: and, at a meeting of the brethren of the church, asked their consent in the following terms: "I defire that the brethren "would manifeft their confent, that I fhould declare "the reasons of my opinion relating to full commun"ion in the church, in lectures appointed for that end: not as an act of authority, or as putting the power of "declaring the whole counfel of God out of my hands, "but for peace fake, and to prevent occasion of ftrife.” But it paffed in the negative.



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Mr Edwards then proposed that it should be left to a few of the neighbouring minifters, whether it was not, all things confidered, reasonable that he fhould be heard in this matter from the pulpit, before the affair fhould be brought to an issue. But this alfo passed in the negative.

However, he, having had the advice of the ministers and meffengers of the neighbouring churches, who met at Northampton to advise them under their difficulties, proceeded to appoint a lecture, in order to preach on the fubject, propofing to do fo weekly till he had finifhed what he had to fay. On Monday there was a precinct or fociety meeting, in which a vote was paff ed to choose a committee to go to Mr Edwards, and defire him not to preach lectures on the subject in controverfy, according to his declaration and appointment. And accordingly proceeded to choose a committee of three men for this purpose, who waited on him, and did their errand. However, Mr Edwards thought proper to proceed according to his propofal; and accordingly preached a number of fermons till he had finished what he had to fay on the fubject. Thefe lectures were very thinly attended by his own people; but great numbers of ftrangers from the neighbouring towns attended them, fo many as to make above half the congregation. This was in February and March 1750..

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The calling a decifive council to determine the matter of difference between paftor and people, or rather to difmifs the paftor from his church and people, (for the delay of which a great deal of impatience had been publicly manifefted,) was now more particularly attended to by Mr Edwards and the church.

Mr Edwards had before this infifted upon it, from time to time, that they were by no means ripe for such a procedure, (as they had not yet given him a fair hearing in defence of his caufe; which, if they would do, perhaps the need of fuch a council would be fuperfeded.) And befides, he thought there was abundant public evidence, that they were not yet in a temper fuited



to attend on, and be active in fuch a transaction, as the diffolving of the relation between them and their pastor ; which would, as things then flood, probably be the event. He obferved, That it was exceedingly unbecoming churches of the Lamb of God to manage their religious affairs of greateft importance in a "ferment and tuinult, which ought to be managed "with great folemnity, deep humiliation, and fubmiffion to the awful frowns of heaven, humble depend"ence on God, and with fervent prayer and fupplication to him. That therefore for them to go about such an affair, in such a manner as they did, would "be moft unbecoming the gofpel, greatly to the "difhonor of God and religion, and a way in which a people cannot expect a bleffing. That fuch a great "affair as this should be gone about with calm confid"eration; but that fuch a temper as the people were "then in, was wholly inconfiftent with this.".

But having used all the means which he could think of within his power to bring them to a more calm and charitable temper, and to hear and weigh what he had to fay in his own defence, with attention and candor ; and finding that nothing prevailed, but rather the tu mult and uproar was increafed, he confented that a decifive council fhould be called without any further delay.

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But a difficulty attended the choice of a council, which was for fome time infuperable. It was agreed that the council fhould be mutually chofen, one half by the paftor, and the other half by the church; but the people infifted upon it, that he fhould be confined to the county in his choice. Mr. Edwards thought this an unreasonable restraint on him, as it was known that the minifters and churches in that county were almost u. niverfally against him in the controverfy that divided him and his people, and made the two parties. He indeed did not fuppofe that the bufinefs of the proposed - council would be to determine whether his opinion, which was the occafion of the difficulty between him

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and his people, was right or not; or that what they were to judge of, depended upon this. But their bufinefs would be---to fee and determine whether any poffible way could be devifed for an accommodation between a paftor and people, and to ufe their wisdom. and endeavour in order to this. And if they found this impracticable, they muft determine, whether things were now ripe for a feparation; whether what ought in juftice to be previous to a feparation had already actually been done, fo that there was nothing further in juftice to be demanded by either of the parties concerned, before a separation fhould take place. And if he was difmiffed by them, it would be their business to set forth to the world in what manner and for what cause he was difmiffed; how far he was innocent, and whether he might yet be employed in the work of the ministry, &c. All which were matters of great importance to him, and required upright and impartial judges. And confidering the great influence a difference in religious opinions has to prejudice men one against another, and the clofe connection of the point, in which moft of the minifters and churches in the county differed from him, with the matter to be judged of, he did not think they could be reafonably looked upon fo impartial judges,. as that the matter ought to be wholly left to them. Befides, he thought the cafe being fo new and extraordi nary, required the ableft judges in the land. For thefe, and fome other reasons, which he offered, he infifted apon liberty to go out of the county for thofe members of the propofed council in which he was to have a choice. In this, as was juft now faid, the people firenuously and obftinately oppofed him. They at length agreed to leave the matter to a council confift ing of the minifters and meffengers of the five neigh. bouring churches; who, after they had met twice upon it, and had the cafe largely debated before them, were equally divided, and therefore left the matter undetermined.


However, they were all agreed, that Mr Edwards ought to have liberty to go out of the county for fome of the council. And at the next church meeting, which was on the 26th of March,-Mr Edwards offered to join with them in calling a council, if they would confent that he fhould choose two of the churches out of the county, in cafe the council confifted of but ten churchThe church however refused to comply with this at one meeting after another repeatedly; and proceeded to warn a church meeting and choofe a moderator, in order to act without their pastor,


But, to pass by many particulars, at length, åt a meeting of the church, warned by their paftor, May 3. they voted their consent to his proposal of going out of the. county for two of the churches that fhould be applied to. And then they proceeded to make choice of the ten minifters and churches, of which the council fhould confift. Accordingly the churches were fent to, and the council convened on the 19th of June. Who, after they had made fome fruitless attempts for a compofition between the paftor and church, paffed a resolve, by the majority of one voice* only, to the following purpose: "That it is expedient that the paftoral relation between Mr Edwards and his church be immediately diffolved, if the people ftill perfift in defiring it." And it being publicly put to the people, whether they ftill infifted on Mr Edwards's difmiffion from the pastoral office over them? A great majority (above two hundred against twenty,) zealously voted for his dismisfion. And he was accordingly difmiffed June 22. 1750.

The diffenting part of the council, entered their proteft against this proceeding, judging that it was too much in a hurry, as they were by no means ripe for a feparation,

* One of the churches which Mr Edwards chofe did not fee fit to join the council. However, the minifter of that church being at Northampton at the fitting of the council, was defired by Mr Edwards and the church to fit in council and act, which he did. But there being no meffenger from the church, the council was not full, and there was a difparity; by which means doubtlefs, there was one vote more for an immediate difmiffion, than against it.

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