« ZurückWeiter »
of fact, do not appear so agreeable to every reader, we hope it will have no unbappy influence to discourage the belief of this glorious event. We must allow every writer his own way; and must allow him to choose what particular instances he would select from the numerous cases which came before him. And though he might have chosen others perhaps, of more significancy in the eye of the world, than the woman and the child, whose experiences he relates at large ; yet it is evident he chose that of the woman, because she was dead, and she is thereby incapable of knowing any bonours or reproaches on this account. And as for the child, those who were present, and saw and heard such a remarkable and lasting change, on one so very young, must necessarily receive a stronger impression from it, and a more agreeable surprise than the mere narration of it can communicate to others at a distance. Children's language always loses its striking beauties at se cond-hand.
Upon the whole, whatever defects any reader may find, or imagine in this narrative, we are well satisfied, that such an eminent work of God, ought not to be concealed from the world : and as it was the reverend author's opinion, so we declare it to be ours also, that it is very likely that this account of such an extraordinary and illustrious appearance of divine grace in the conversion of singers, may, by the blessing of God, have a happy effect upon the minds of men, towards the honour and enlargement of the kingdom of Christ, much more than any supposed imperfection in this representation of it can do injury.
May the worthy writer of this epistle, and all those his reverend brethren in the ministry, who have been lionoured in this excellent and important service, go on to see their labours crowned with daily and persevering success! May the numerous subjects of this surprising work hold fast what they have received, and increase in every christian grace and blessing ! May a plentiful effusion of the blessed Spirit, also, descend on the British isles, and all their American plantations, to renew the face of religion there ! And we intreat our readers in both Englands, to join with us in our hearty addresses to the throne of grace, that tbis wonderful discovery of the hand of God in saving sinners, may encourage our faith and hope of the accomplishment of all his words of grace, which are written in the Old Testament and in the New, concerning the large extent of this salvation in the latter days of the world. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, and spread thy domiDion through all the ends of the earth. Amen. LONDON,
ISAAC WATTS, Oct. 12, 1737.
Rev. and Honoured Sir,
AVING seen your letter to my honoured uncle Williams of Hatfield, of July 20, wherein you inform him of the notice that has been taken of the late wonderful work of God, in this and some other towns in this country, by the Rev. Dr. Watts and Dr. Guyse of London, and the congregation to which the last of these preached on a monthly day of solemn prayer ; as also, of your desire to be more perfectly acquainted with it, by some of us on the spot: and having been since informed by my uncle Williams that you desire me to undertake it ; I would now do it, in as just and faithful a manner as in me lies,
A general Introductory Statement,
The people of the country, in general, I suppose, are as sober, orderly, and good sort of people, as in any part of New England; and I believe they have been preserved the freest by far of any part of the country, from error, and variety of sects and opinions. Our being so far within the land, at a distance from sea-ports, and in a corner of the country, has doubtles been one reason why we have not been so much corrupted with vice, as most other parts. But without question, the religion and good order of the county, and Vol. III,
purity in doctrine, has, under God, been very much owing to the great abilities, and eminent piety, of my venerable and honoured grandfather Stoddard. I suppose we have been the freest of any part of the land from unhappy divisions and quarrels in our ecclesiastical and religious affairs, till the late lamentable Springfield contention*.
Being much seperated from other parts of the province, and having comparatively but little intercourse with them, we have always managed our ecclesiastical affairs within ourselves. It is the way in which the country, from its infancy, has gone on, by the practical agreement of all; and the way in which our peace and good order has hitherto been maintained.
The town of Northampton is of about 82 years standing, and has now about 200 families; which mostly dwell more compactly together than any town of such a size in these parts of the country. This probably has been an occasion, that both our corruptions and reformations have been, from time to time, the more swifty propagated from one to another through the town. Take the town in general, and so far as I can judge, they are as rational and intelligent a people as most I have been acquainted with. Many of them have been noted for religion; and particularly remarkable for their distinct knowledge in things that relate to heart religion, and christian experience, and their great regards thereto.
I am the third minister who has been settled in the town. The Rev. Mr. Eleazer Mather, who was the first, was ordained in July, 1669. He was one whose heart was much in his work, and abundant in labours for the good of precious souls. He bad the high esteem and great love of his people, and was blessed with no small success. The Rev. Mfr. Stoddard who succeeded him, came first to the town the November after his death ; but was not ordained till September 11, 1672, and died February 11, 1728-9. So that he continued in the work of the ministry here, from his first coming to town, near 60 years. And as he was eminent and renowned for his gifts and grace; so he was blessed, from the beginning, with extraordinary success in his ministry, in the conversion of many souls. He had five harvests, as he called them. The first was about 57 years ago, the second about 53; the third about 40; the fourth about 24; the fifth and last about 18 years ago. Some of these times were much more remarkable than others, and the ingathering of souls more plentiful. Those about 53, and 40, and 24 years ago, were much greater than either the first or the last : but in each of them, I have heard my grandfather say, the greater part of the young people in the town, seemed to be mainly concerned for their eternal salvation.
* The Springfield Contention relates to the settlement of a minister there, which occasioned too warm debates between some, both pastors and people, that were for it, and others that were against it, on account of their different appre. hensions about his principles, and about some steps that were taken to procure luis ordination.
After the last of these, came a far more degenerate time, (at least among the young people) I suppose, than ever before: Mr. Stoddard, indeed, had the comfort, before he died, of seeing a time where there were no small appearances of a divine work among some, and a considerable ingathering of souls, even after I was settled with him in the ministry, which was about two years before his death; and I bave reason to bless God for the great advantage I had by it. In these two years there were nearly twenty that Mr. Stoddard hoped to be savingly converted; but there was nothing of any general awakening. The greater part seemed to be at that time very insensible of the things of religion, and engaged in other cares and pursuits. Just after my grandfather's death, it seemed to be a time of extraordinary dulness in religion. Licentiousness for some years greatly prevailed among the youth of the town; they were many of them very much addicted to night-walking, and frequenting the tavern, and lewd practices, wherein some, by their example, exceedingly corrupted others. It was their manner very frequently to get together, in conventions of both sexes, for mirth and jollity, which they called frolicks ; and they would often spend the greater part of the night in them, without regard to any order in the families they belonged to: and indeed family government did too much fail in the town. It was become very customary with many of our young people to be indecent in their carriage at meeting, which doubtless would not have prevailed in such a degree, had it not been that my grandfather through his great age, (though he retained his powers surprisingly to the last) was not so able to observe them. There had also long prevailed in the town a spirit of contention between two parties, into which they had for many years been divided; by which they maintained a jealousy one of the other, and were prepared to oppose one another in all public affairs.
But in two or three years after Mr. Stoddard's death, there began to be a sensible amendment of these evils. The young people shewed more of a disposition to hearken to counsel