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affections of his people, equal to what Mr. Holyoke had; and continues to this day, laboring in word and doctrine among them; with whom also I live in brotherly correspondence.
I have attended many ordinations, and have been chosen moderator and ordainer at most of them. Numerous Councils I have been called to by contending churches, where we have generally, though not always, restored peace. I will venture to mention to you a few of them.
A Council was called to sit upon a case wherein a minister had suspended a deacon and a captain from communion for their ill treatment of him, and bad language to him. (If I should mention the instances, it would surprise you.) Dr. Colman's, Mr. Foxcroft's, Mr. Webb's churches, out of Boston, our church, Mr. Prescott's, Mr. Chipman's, from the neighboring towns, were called. The Boston churches came with six, eight, and ten messengers; we in the country, with one or two at the most. They were strangers to the people and the circumstances of the affair; they came prejudiced against the minister for his tyranny, as they called it, though he was really one of the humblest, meekest men upon earth. We knew both minister and people, and their circumstances, having been upon Council there before, upon a like occasion. The Boston churches carried all the votes very strongly against the minister for his tyranny in punishing two such brethren so severely upon so slight an occasion, as they esteemed it. I informed them, that the neighboring churches had sat in Council, upon an affair like this, (I mean a quarrel, though not a suspension,) wherein these two men were concerned; that we had treated them with all gentleness and goodness, convinced them of their error, and brought them to acknowledge their fault; that therefore those two brethren were to be considered as upon their good behavior; and their falling into the same fault, with more of ill will and behavior, was a great aggravation of their present crime. But the Boston churches went on condemning the minister and clearing the brethren. I observed to the moderator, I was afraid if they proceeded after this manner, (for we of the country voted not with them,) they would entirely ruin the success of the ministry in this place. When the people saw that their minister was so sharply reproved and severely condemned, (as he was in their votes,) for no just cause, and the brethren acquitted of all blame, though there was abundant occasion to condemn them, they would look upon him as unworthy of the ministerial office. They replied, they could take care of that in the Result. We spent the day, and the whole night, till the sun shone in at our windows, ere we had finished the debates, and all the votes were passed. Then the Boston churches rose, pocketed the papers, got their horses, and were going from us. I said to them, "Gentlemen, remember there is no Result drawn." The moderator said, "We have the papers and votes, and can draw a Result out of them at Boston." I replied, "Can you, sir? Assure yourselves, there will be some of us so faithful, as publicly to inform the world, that it was not the Result of this Council." The Dr. was quite sick, and forced to stay, and in complaisance to him many others stayed also, though some ministers and brethren were gone from us. I was greatly concerned at the deplorable state of this church, took the Rev. Mr. Webb aside, and showed him wherein we now left them worse than we found them. He agreed in my sentiments. 1 then proposed to him for us to try if we could bring the minister and brethren to an agreement among themselves; that he should take the two brethren, (for they esteemed him their peculiar friend,) and try what he could bring them to; and I would use my endeavors with the minister. I soon found the humble minister ready to comply with any reasonable methods to restore peace, and to ask forgiveness, if he had said or done amiss. Mr. Webb labored above an hour with the brethren in vain; and prevailed with me to try what I could do with them. I went into the room where they were with others, and after salutation, sat down, and fell into transient discourse with the mixed company, and gradually brought on the present affair, without applying to any in particular. I perceived the deacon, in his discourse, stood much upon his honor. I then applied myself directly to him, and said, "Deacon, I am persuaded you never did yourself so much honor in all your life, as you would do, if you would but be a little active and condescending in healing this breach." He said, "How so, sir?" I endeavored to show him how. He seemed to listen to me. I thought it best striking while the iron was hot, and said, "Come, deacon, shall I draw up something for you both to sign, which I think will heal the breach ?55 He said, "You may, if you please." Accordingly, I drew a very general acknowledgment, read it to him, and he made exceptions to the words, "our reverend pastor." I said to
him "Mr. was certainly the pastor of their church, as
he was a deacon of it, and why then should he not be styled so?" Then he said the minister ought to acknowledge his fault, as well as they. I assured them, that he was very ready to do it. Upon which they both signed the writing. Having, through divine assistance, overcome the difficulty, I went with them immediately to the Council, whom I had persuaded to stay; and sent for the minister from another room, who presently came. I then said, "The deacon and captain were willing to do themselves the honor of putting an end to this controversy; and I knew the minister stood ready to join with them in it; therefore I would read to them what the brethren had to offer." I then began to read the draught they had signed; and at the word pastor, the deacon said, "Pastor! pastor! he is none of my pastor." "Well,
deacon," said I, "we will then say, the reverend Mr. ."
"Reverend!" said the deacon, "I can't call him reverend." Upon which one of the brethren of the Council, who had been warm in the deacon's favor, hastily started up, and was about to utter what I thought would spoil all. I therefore beckoned to him, with my hand and eye, to sit down, and say nothing; he took my meaning, and sat down. Then I proceeded,—" Come, deacon, though you don't allow him to be a pastor and reverend, yet we all do, and in respect to us you should let the words stand." He consented to it. I then read all over again, and the deacon and captain acknowledged it as theirs, and that they had set their hands to it. The Council gladly received it. The minister then humbly expressed his sense of his own weakness, and feared that, in the day of temptation, he had not conducted himself as he should have done; and begged his brethren's forgiveness, wherein he might have said or done any thing offensive to them; "and from this time," said he, "my brethren, let us live in love and peace."
As soon as the parties were gone out of the room, the gentleman whom I stopped, said to me, "Sir, I did not think the deacon had been such a kind of man; he should never have had my votes, if I had known his temper and behavior, which I have now seen something of." I smiling, told him, "We of the neighborhood knew him, and therefore could not vote with them." The Council thanked me for the pains I had taken, and rejoiced in the happy issue which Providence had brought the difficult affair to; and I bless God, that he was pleased to improve so weak an instrument in restoring peace to a divided church.
Another church having a difficult affair before them, wherein many of them were offended with their minister, newly settled, upon presumptions that he had * * *, after a Council of churches in the neighborhood, and the churches of Boston, failed of issuing the matter, the said church agreed with the aggrieved brethren to call our church, Mr. Holyoke's, and Mr. Prescott's, more than eighty miles off, and four of the neighboring churches, all of which had not yet been concerned in the affair, to sit in Council, and give our judgment, and bound themselves to abide by our Result. The distant churches went the journey, though in the depth of winter, and when we came to the place, found that none of the churches of the neighborhood had seen cause to meet us. It seems, the aggrieved hearing of our coming, which they did not expect, laid discouragement in the way of their neighbors, and prevented their coming. We adjourned from Thursday evening to the next Monday, eleven o'clock, to give opportunity to send to those churches, and desire them to give us a meeting. The messenger from the aggrieved, as we learned by one that accompanied him, rather discouraged than encouraged them to come to us. However, one of them, the Rev. Mr. Brown, came on Monday. The next day, we formed the Council, chose one Moderator, and entered upon business. The aggrieved being called in, and asked what they had to lay before us, one of the chief of them said to me, "Sir, I think you ought not to act here, because you have given your judgment already." 1 asked him, "Wherein?" He said, "I heard you should say, you would travel a thousand miles to save a man from being condemned without any evidence against him." I told him, "I believed I had said so; but, sir," said I, "is this your case?" Having heard what they had to say on both sides, I took care to draw every vote as plain and strong as possible, founded on a text of Scripture, pointed to in the margin; and every vote passed, without exception from one of the Council. They then put me upon drawing the Result, which was done so that every member of the Council concurred in it; the texts being placed in the margin of the Result. We then went into
public, read our Result, and observed to them, they could not but know it would have been unrighteous in us to condemn any man, when there was no evidence against him, and they themselves had been so cautious, as to desire we would observe they did not accuse him; exhorted them to live in peace; prayed with and for them; and then left them with copies of our Result: and the good end was very much answered. When the copy of the Result was laid before the Boston ministers, the Rev. Peter Thacher, of Boston, was pleased to say, "He thought there had not been more of the presence of God in any Council, since the Apostles' days, than was in this; and he looked upon the Result as a pattern to all Councils for the time to come." So it pleased God to make use of weak instruments, that the power may the more evidently appear to be of him. To God be all the glory. I will mention one more instance wherein I was concerned, between a minister newly settled, and some of his church, who taxed him with impure speech and action, before his ordination. One of the offended waited upon him alone, told him the crime, and desired Christian satisfaction; but obtained none. He then took two of the brethren with him, went to the minister, charged him with the crime, and desired satisfaction, before these brethren. They received none from him. This was followed with an open rupture in the church. A Council was called, some of the Boston churches, and others, of which our church was one. Somebody had advised the minister to bring an action of slander and defamation against the brother that had waited upon him, desiring satisfaction. He had no more thought than to comply with the advice. The affair was now depending with the Council. Dr. C. Mather wrote to me, as nearest to the place of the Court's sitting, (at Salem,) to attend the Court, and endeavor to prevent their proceeding in it. I did so; and dining with the Court, I observed to the Judges, that when such an action came on, I had somewhat to offer, with their leave, if they would please to let me know when. They told me I should have liberty, and they would notify me in a proper time. In the afternoon the action was called. The attorney for the plaintiff opened the case. I asked leave of the Court to ask the plaintiff a question. They gave me leave. I then asked the minister "If he knew of any other time and company, wherein he accused him, besides that of