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(as it was taken from his mouth in writing) was, that « a man may be a visible saint, and yet there be no sufficient grounds for our charity, that he is regenerate.” Quite contrary to what Mr. Williams maintains. Another of his corollaries was in these words, “ a minister or church may judge a man a saint, and upon good grounds, and not have grounds to judge him regenerate.” He proposed this enquiry, “ do not such as join themselves to the church, covenant, not only to be visible saints, but saints in heart ?” The answer was in the negative ; quite contrary to Mr. Williams. Another was, “ does not a visible saint imply a visibility of grace, or an appearance of it ?” The answer was, “ not always." Quite contrary to Mr. Williams. Another was, “ Is it not hypocrisy in any man, to make a profession of religion, and join himself to the church, and not have grace ?" The answer was in the negative ; also quite contrary to Mr. Williams. But these sermons of Mr. A-y, were highly approved by the generality of the people of Northampton, as agrecable to their minds.
And the controversy, as I have stated it in my book, was the controversy in which the church and I appeared before the council, who determined our separation, when we each of us declared our sentiments before them : The point of difference was entirely the matter of profession, and the thing to be made visible ; not the degree of evidence or visibility. No hint was given as though we both agreed, that true piety or gospel holiness was the thing to be made visible, and that such only should be received as are truly godly persons in the eye of the church's judgment (as Mr. Williams holds) and that we only differed about the proper grounds of such a judg. ment.
And therefore it is apparent, it was this controversy, and its consequences, that were the ground of my separation from my people ; and not any thing like the controversy which Mr. Williams professes to manage in his answer. This controversy, when it came out in Mr. Williams's book, was new in Northampton, and entirely alien from all the dispute which had filled that part of the country, and a great part of Neweng
land, with noise and uproar, for about two years and an half, The thing which Mr. Williams over and over allows to be true, was the very samę, both in effect and in terms, which the peo, ple had been most yehemently fighting against, from week to week, and from month to month, during all this time : And therefore the design of my writing led and cbliged me to maintain that position or doctrine of mine, which was the occasion of this debate.
And, be it so, that I did suppose this position was contrary to Mr. Stoddard's opinion, and was opposed by him, * and therefore thought St in my preface to excuse myself to the world for differing from him ; did this oblige me, in all that I wrote for the maintaining my position, to keep myself strict. ly to the words which he had expressed his question in, and to regulate and limit myself in every argument I used, and objection I answered, by the terms which he made use of in proposing his opinion and arguments ? And if I have not done it, do I therefore deserve to be charged before the world with changing the question, with unfair treatment of Mr. Stod dard, with surprisingly going off from his argument, with disa serving the cause of truth, &c.
It would have been no great condescension in Mr. Williams if he had allowed that I knew what the question was, which was disputed between me and my people, as well as he, in a distant part of the country : Yea, if he had acknowledged, that I was as likely as he, to understand Mr. Stoddard's real senti ments and practice ; since I was in the ministry two years with him, as copasior of the same church, and was united with him in ecclesiastical administrations, in admitting members, and in examining them as to their qualifications, and have stood for more than twenty three years in a pastoral relation to bis church, most intimately acquainted with the nature of its constitution, its sentiments and method of administration, and all its religious concerns, have myself beçn immediately concerned in the admission of more than three quarters of its present members, and have had the greatest occasion to look
* Whether I was mistaken in this, will appear in the sequel.
into their way of admission, and have been acquainted with every living member that Mr. Stoddard had adınitted before my coming ; and have been particularly informed, by inany of them, of the manner of Mr. Stoddard's conduct in admitțing them, their own apprehensions concerning the terms of their admission, and the profession they made in order to it; and also the sentiments of the whole of that large town, who were born and brought up under his ministry, concerning his constant doctrine and practice, relating to the admission of members, froin their infancy. Whereas, Mr. Williams from his youth had lived in another part of the country, at seventy miles distance.
Observing Mr. Williams's Misrepresentations of
the principles and tenets, delivered in the book which he undertakes to answer.
MR. WILLIAMS does very greatly misrepresent the opinion I am of, and the principles I maintain in my book, in many respects.
I. He says, p. 5. “ The whole argument, and indeed the whole controversy turns upon this single point, viz. What is that evidence, which by divine appointment the church is to have, of the saintship of those who are admitted to the outward privileges of the covenant of grace ? Mr. Edwards seems to suppose, this must be the highest evidence a man can give of sincerity, and I apprehend it to be the lowest evidence the nature of the thing will admit." But this is very strange, since I had particularly declared in my stating of the question (p. 5.) that the evidence I insisted on, was some outward mani. feetation, that ordinarily rendered the thing probable. Which
shews that all I insisted on, was only, that the evidence should amount to probability. And if the nature of the case will ad-mit of some lower kind of evidence than this, or if there be any such thing as a sort of evidence that does not so much as amount to probability, then it is possible that I may have some controversy with him and others about the degree of evidence : Otherwise it is hard to conceive, how he should contrive to make out a controversy with me.
But that the reader may better judge, whether Mr. Williams truly represents me as supposing that the evidence which should be insisted on, is the highest evidence a man can give of sincerity, I would here insert an extract of a letter which I wrote to the Rev. Peter Clark of Salem Village, a twelvemonth before Mr. Williams's book was published : The original is doubtless in Mr. Clark's bands. In that letter, I declared my sentiments in the following words : “ It does not belong to the controversy between me and my people, how particular or large the profession should be that is required. I should not choose to be confined to exact limits as to that matter. But rather than contend, I should content myself with a few words, briefly expressing the cardinal virtues, or acts implied in a hearty compliance with the covenant of grace ; the profession being made (as should appear by inquiry into the person's doctrinal knowledge) understandingly ; if there were an external conversation agreeable thercto. Yea, I should think that such a person, solemnly making such a pofession, had a right to be received as the object of a public charity, however he himself might scruple his own conversion, on account of his not remembering the time, not knowing the method of his conversion, or finding so much remaining sin, &c. And (if his own scruples did not hinder)* I
* I added this, because I supposed that such persons as judge themselves unconverted, if of my principles, respecting qualifications for communion, would scruple coming, and could not come with a good conscience : But if they were of Mr. Stoddard's principle. viz. That unconverted men might lawfully come, neither a man's being of that opinion, nor his judging himself unconverted, would hinder my receiving him who exhibited proper evidence to the church of his being a convert,
should think a minister or church had no right to debar such a professor, though he should say, he did not think himself converted. For I call that a profession of godliness, which is a profession of the great things wherein godliness consists, and not a profession of his own opinion of his good estate."
Northampton, May 7, 1750.
In like manner I explained my opinion, very particularly and expressly, before the council that determined my separation from my people, and before the church, in a very public manner in the meetinghouse, many people being present, near a year before Mr. Williams's book was published ; and to make it the more sure, that what I maintained might be well observed, I afterwards sent the foregoing extract of my letter to Mr. Clark of Salem village, into the council. And, as I was informed, it was particularly taken notice of in the council, and handed round among them, to be read by them.
The same council, having heard that I had made certain draughts of the covenant, or forms of a public profession of religion, which I stood ready to accept from the candidates for communion, they, for their further information, sent for them. Accordingly I sent them four distinct draughts or forms, which I had drawn up about a twelvemonth before, (near two years before the publishing of Mr. Williams's book) as what I stood ready to accept (any one of them) rather
than contend and break with my people. The two shortest .. of those forms were as follows.
One of them was, “ I hope, I do truly find a heart to give up myself whollo to God, according to the tenor of that covenant of grace which was sealed in my baptism, and to walk in a way of that obedience to all the commandments of God, which the covenant of grace requires, as long as I live.
The other, “ I hope, I truly find in my heart a willingness to comply · with all the commandments of God, which require me to giro