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great care with regard to the settlement of a minister, to sce to it who, or what manner of person he is that you settle ; and particularly in these two respects.
(1.) That he be a man of thoroughly sound principles in the scheme of doctrine which he maintains.
This you will stand in the greatest need of, especially at such a day of corruption as this is. And in order to obtain such a one, you had need to exercise extraordinary care and prudence. I know the danger. I know the manner of many young gentlemen of corrupt principles, their ways of conceal. ing themselves, the fair specious disguises they are wont to put on, by which they deceive others, to maintain their own credit, and get themselves into others' confidence and im, provement, and secure and establish their own interest, until they see a convenient opportunity to begin more openly to broach and propagate their corrupt tenets.
(2) Labor to obtain a man who has an established charace ter, as a person of serious religion and fervent piety.
It is of vast importance that those who are settled in this work should be men of true piety, at all times, and in all places ; but more especially at sometimes, and in some towns and churches. And this present time, which is a time wherein religion is in danger, by so many corruptions in doctrine and practice, is in a peculiar manner a day wherein such ministers are necessary. Nothing else but sincere piety of heart is at all to be depended on, at such a time as this, as a securi, ty to a young man, just coming into the world, from the prevailing infection, or thoroughly to engage him in proper and successful endeavors to withstand and oppose the torrent of error, and prejudice, against the high, mysterious, evangelical doctrines of the religion of Jesus Christ, and their genuine effects in true experimental religion. And this place is a place that does peculiarly need such a minister, for reasons obvious to all.
If you should happen to settle a minister who knows nothing truly of Christ, and the way of salvation by him, nothing experimentally of the nature of vital religion ; alas, how will you be exposed as sheep without a shepherd ! Here is need of one in this place, who shall be eminently fit to stand in the gap, and make up the hedge, and who shall be as the chari. ots of Israel, and the horsemen thereof. You need one that shall stand as a champion in the cause of truth and the power of godliness,
Having briefly mentioned these important articles of advice, nothing remains, but that I now take my leave of you, and bid you all farewell ; wishing and praying for your best prosperity. I would now commend your immortal souls to Him, who formerly committed them to me, expecting the day, when I must meet you again before Him, who is the Judge of quick and dead. I desire that I may never forget this people, who have been so long my special charge, and that I may never cease fervently to pray for your prosperity. May God bless you with a faithful pastor, one thal is well acquainted with his mind and will, thoroughly warning sinners, wisely and skilfully searching professors, and conducting you in the way to eternal blessedness. May you have truly a burning and shining light set up in this candlestick ; and may you, not only for a season, but during his whole life, and that a long life, be willing to rejoice in his light.
And let me be remembered in the prayers of all God's people that are of a calm spirit, and are peaceable and faithful in Israel, of whatever opinion they may be with respect to terms of church communion.
And let us all remember, and never forget our future solemn meeting on that great day of the Lord ; the day of infallible decision, and of the everlasting and unalterable sentence.
THE RESULT OF A COUNCIL OF NINE CHURCHES, MET AT
NORTHAMPTON, JUNE 22, 1750.
AT A COUNCIL OP NINE CHURCHES, VIZ.
THE church in Enfield, Rev. Peter Reynolds, pastor; Mr. Edward Collins, delegate.
Sheffield, Jonathan Hubbard, pastor ; Mr. Daniel Kellogg, delegate.
Sutton, David Hall, pastor; Mr. Jonathan Hall, delegate.
Reading, William Hobby, pastor ; Mr. Samuel Bancroft, delegate.
The first church in Springfield, Robert Breck, pastor'; Mr. Thomas Stebbins, delegate.
Sunderland, Joseph Ashley, pastor ; Mr. Samuel Montague, delegate.
Hatfield, Timothy Woodbridge, pastor ; Oliver Partridge, Esq. delegate.
The first church in Hadley, Chester Williams, pastor ; Mr. Enos Nash, delegate.
Pelham, Robert Abercrombie, pastor ; Mr. Matthew Gray, delegate.
CONVENED at the call of the first church in Northampton, together with the elder of the church in Cold Spring, * added by the consent of both the pastor and church of North ampton, in order to advise to a remedy from the calamities arising from the unsettled, broken state of the first church in Northampton, by reason of a controversy subsisting about the qualifications for full communion in the church.
The Reverend Mr. Hubbard was chosen moderator, and the Reverend Mr. Williams scribe.
The council, after seeking the divine presence and direction, had the matter in controversy laid before them, and finding the sentiments of the pastor and church concerning
* Reverend Mr. Billing,
the qualifications necessary for full communion, to be diamet. rically opposite to each other ; the pastor insisting upon it as necessary to the admission of members to full communion, that they should make a profession of sanctifying grace ; whereas the brethren are of opinion that the Lord's supper is a converting ordinance, and consequently that persons, if they have a competency of knowledge and are of a blameless life, may be admitted to the Lord's table, although they make no such profession : And also finding that, by reason of this diversity of sentiments, the doors of the church have been some years, so that there has been no admission : And not being able to find out any method wherein the pastor and brethren can unite ; consistent with their own sentiments, in admitting members to full communion : The council did then, according to the desire of the church, expressed in their letters missive, proceed to consider of the expediency of dissolving the relation between pastor and people ; and, after hearing the church upon it, and mature deliberation of the case, the ques. tions were put to the members of the council severally ;
1. Whether it be the opinion of this council that the reverend
Mr Edwards, persisting in his principles, and the church in theirs in opposition to his, and insisting on a separation, it is necessary that the relation between pastor and people bo
dissolved ? Resolved in the affirmative. 2. Whether it be expedient that this relation be immediately
dissolved ? Passed in the affirmative.
However, we take notice that notwithstanding the unhappy dispute which has arisen, and so long subsisted between the pastor and church of Northampton, upon the point before mentioned, we have had no other objection against him, but what relates to his sentiments upon the point aforesaid, laid before us: And although we have heard of some stories spread abroad, reflecting upon Mr. Edwards' sincerity with regard to the change of his sentiments about the qualifications for full communion ; yet we have received full satisfaction that they are false and groundless : And although we do not all of us agree with Mr. Edwards in our sentiments upon the point, yet we have abundant reason to believe that he took much pains to get light in that matter; and that he is uprightly following the dictates of his own conscience; and with great pleasure reflect upon the Christian spirit and temper he has discovered in the unhappy controversy subsisting among them ; and think ourselves bound to testify our full charity towards him, and recommend him to any church or people agreeing with him in sentiments, as a person eminently qualified for the work of the gospel ministry.
And we would recommend it to the Rev. Mr. Edwards and the first church in Northampton, to take proper notice of the heavy frown of divine Providence, in suffering them to be reduced to such a state as to render a separation necessary, af. ter they have lived so long and amicably together, and been mutual blessings and comforts to each other.
And now, recommending the Rev. Mr. Edwards, and the church in Northampton, to the grace of God we subscribe,
JONATHAN HUBBARD, Moderator,
In the name of the Council.
CHESTER WILLIAMS, Scribe.