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SECT. VI. Fourth difficulty, The designs of eril-minded persons to hinder
E. Pemberton, A. M.
Reflections and Observations
SURPRISING WORK OF GOD,
CONVERSION OF MANY HUNDRED SOULS,
AND THE NEIGHBOURING TOWNS AND VILLAGES OF NEW HAMPSHIRE,
IN NEW ENGLAND;
Letter lo the Rev. Dr. Colman, of Boston.
BY THE FIRST EDITORS, Dr. ISAAC WATTS, AND
Dr. JOHN GUYSE.
The friendly correspondence which we maintain with our brethren of New England, gives us now and then the pleasure of hearing some remarkable instances of divine grace in the conversion of sinners, and some eminent examples of piety in that American part of the world. But never did we hear or read, since the first ages of christianity, auy event of this kind so surprising as the present Narrative hath set before us. The Rev. and worthy Dr. Colman of Boston, had given us some short intimations of it in his letters; and upon our request of a more large and particular account, Mr. Edwards, the happy and successful minister of Northampton, which was one of the chief scenes of these wonders, drew up this bistory in an epistle to Dr. Colman:
There were some useful sermons of the venerable and aged Mr. Wm. Williams, published late in New England, which were preached in that part of the country during this season of the glorious work of God in the conversion of men; to which Dr. Colman subjoined a most judicious and accurale abridgment of this epistle: and a little after, by Mr. Edwards' request, he sent the original to our hands, to be communicated to the world under our care here in London,
We are abundantly satisfied of the truth of this narrative, not only from the pious character of the writer, but from the concurrent testimony of many other persons in New England; for this thing was not done in a corner. There is a spot of ground, as we are here informed, wherein there are twelve or fourteen towns and villages, chiefly situate in New Hampshire, near the banks of the river of Connecticut, within the compass of thirty miles, wherein it pleased God, two years agu, to display his free and sovereign mercy in the conversion of a great multitude of souls in a short space of time, turning them from a formal, cold, and careless profession of christianity lo the lively exercise of every christian grace, and the powerful practice of our holy religion. The great God has seemed to act over again the miracle of Gideon's fleece, which was plentifully watered with the dew of heaven, while the rest of the earth round about it was dry, and had no such remark, able blessing.
There has been a great and just complaint for many years among the ministers and churcbes in Old England, and in New, (except about the time pf Ibe late earthquake there) that the work of conversion goes on very
on the braces that are inserted into the posts and beams of the house. It has done so more than ordinarily this spring; which seems to have been occasioned by the beaving of the ground through the extreme frosts of the winter past, and its now settling again on that side which is next the sun, by the spring thaws. By this means, the under-pinning has been consider ably disordered; which people were not sensible of till the ends of the joists which bore up the front gallery, were drawn off from the girts on which they rested by the walls giving way. So that in the midst of the pube Jic exercise in the forenoon, soon after the beginning of sermon, the whole gallery-full of people, with all the seats and timber, suddenly and without any warning-sunk, and fell down with the most amazing noise upon the heads of those that sat under, to the astonishment of the congregation. The house was filled with dolorous shrieking and crying ; and nothing else was expected than to find many people dead, and dashed to pieces.
The gallery in falling seemed to break and sink first in the middle ; so that those who were upon it were thrown together in heaps before the front door. But the whole was so sudden, that many of them who fell, knew nothing at the time what it was that had befallen them. Others in the congregation thought it had been an amazing clap of thunder. The falling gallery seemned to be broken all to pieces before it got down; so that some who fell with it, as well as those who were under, were buried in the ruins; and were found pressed under heavy loads of timber, and could do nothing to help themselves.
But so mysteriously and wonderfully did it come to pass, that every Jife was preserved ; and though many were greatly bruised, and their flesh torn, yet there is not, as I can understand, one bone broken or so much as put out of joint, among them all. Some who were thought to be almost dead at first, were greatly recovered ; and but one young woman seems yet to remain in dangerous circumstances, by an inward hurt in her breast : but of late there appears more hope of ber recovery.
None can give account, or conceive, by what means people's lives and limbs should be thus preserved, when so great a multitude were thus imminently exposed. It looked as though it was impossible but that great numbers must instantly be crushed to death, or dashed in pieces. It seems unreasonable to ascribe it to any thing else but the care of Providence, in disposing the motions of every piece of timber, and the precise place of safety where every one should sit, and fall, when pone were in any capacity to care for their own preservation. The preservation seems to be most wonderful, with respect to the women and children in the middle ally, under the gallery, where it came down first, and with greatest force, and where there was nothing to break the force of the falling weight.
Such an event may be a sufficient arguinent of a divine Providence over the lives of men. We thought ourselves called to set a part a day to be spent in the solemn worship of God, to humble ourselves under such a rebuke of God upon us in time of public service in his house by so dangerous and surprising an accident; and to praise his name for so wonderful, and as it were miraculous a preservation. The last Wednesday was kept by us to that end; and a mercy in which the hand of God is so remarkably, evident, may be well worthy to affect the hearts of all who hear it.
Thus far the letter. But it is time to conclude our Preface. If there should be any thing found in this narrative of the surprising conversion of such numbers of souls, where the sentiments or the style of the relater or bis inferences from matters