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PREACHED AT THE FIRST PRECINCT IN
AFTER THE PEOPLE'S PUBLIC REJECTION OF THEIR MINISTER, AND RENOUNCING THEIR RELATION TO HIM
AS PASTOR OF THE CHURCH THERE,
JUNE 22, 1750.
It is not unlikely, that some of the readers of the following Sermon may be inquisitive concerning the circumstanca es of the difference between me and the people of Northampton, that issued in that separation between me and them, which occa. sioned the preaching of this farewell sermon. There is, by no means, room here for a full account of that matter : But yet it seems to be proper, and even necessary, here to correct some gro88 misrepresentations, which have been abundantly, and (it is to be feared) by some affectedly and industriously made, of that difference : Such as, that I insisted on persons being assured of their being in a state of salvation, in order to my admitting them into the church ; that I required a particular relation of the method and order of a person's inward experience, and of the time and manner of his conversion, as the test of his fitness for Christian communion ; yea, that I have undertaken to set up a fure church, and to make an exact and certain distinction between saints and hypocrites, by a pretended infallible discerning of the state of men's souls ; that in these things I had fallen in with those wild people, who have lately appeared in Newengland, called Separatists ; and that I myself was become a grand Sefaratist ; and that I arrogated all the power of judging of the qualifications of candidates for communion wholly to myself, and insisted on acting by my solea uthority, in the admission of members into the church, &c.
In opposition to these slanderous representations, I shall at present only give my reader an account of some things which I laid before the council, that separated between me and my people, in order to their having a just and full view of my principles relating to the affair in controversy.
Long before the sitting of the council, my people had sent le the Reverend Mr. Clark of Salem village, desiring him to write in opposition to my principles. Which gave me occasion to write $0 Mr. Clark, that he might have true information what my principles were. And in the time of the sitting of the council, I did, for their information, make a public declaration of my principles before them and the church, in the meeting house, of the same import with that in my letter to Mr. Clark, and very much in the same words : And then, afterwards, sent in to the council in writing, an extract of that letter, containing the information I had given to Mr. Clark, in the very words of my letter to him, that the council might read and consider it at their leisure, and have certain and satisfactory knowledge what my principles were. The extract which I sent to them was in the following words.
“ I am often and I do not know but pretty generally, in the country, represented as of a new and odd opinion with respect to the terms of Christian communion, and as being for introducing a peculiar way of my own. Whereas, I do not perceive that I differ at all from the scheme of Dr. Watts, in his book entitled, The rational Foundation of a Christian Church, and the Terms of Christian Communion ; which, he says, is the common sentiment of all reformed churches. I had not seen this book of Dr. Watts' when I published what I have written on the subject. But yet, I think my sentiments, as I have expressed them, are as exactly agreeable to what he lays down, as if I had been his pupil. Nor do I at all go beyond what Dr. Doddridge plainly shews to be his sentiments, in his Rise and Progress of Religion, and his Sermons on Regeneration, and his Paraphrase and Notes on the New Testament. Nor indeed, Sir, when I consider the sentiments you have expressed in your letters to Major Pomroy and Mr. Billing, can I perceive but that they come exactly to the same thing that I maintain pose the sacraments are not converting ordinances : But that, as seals of the covenant, they presuppose conversion, especially in the adult ; and that it is visible sainiship, or, in other words, a credible profession of faith and repentance, a solemn consent to the gospel covenant, joined with a good conversa