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NARRATIVE OF SURPRISING CONVERSIONS.
TO THE REV. DR. COLMAN,
Reverend and Honored Sir,
Having seen your letter to my honored 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 county, 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.
The people of the county in general, I suppose, are as sober, and 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 doubtless 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 country, and their purity in doctrine, has, under God, been very much owing to the great abilities, and eminent piety, of my venerable and , honored 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.*
We being much separated from other parts of the province, and having comparatively but little intercourse with them, have from the beginning, till now, 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 eighty-two years standing, and has now about two hundred familes; which mostly dwell more compactly together than any town of such a bigness in these parts of the country; which probably has been an occasion that both our corruptions and reformations have been, from time to time, the more swiftly 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 understanding a people as most I have been acquainted with: Many of them have been noted for religion, and particularly, have been 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 that has been settled in the town: The Reverend Mr. Eleazar Mather, who was the first, was ordained in July 1669. He was one whose heart was much in his work, abundant in labors for the good of precious souls; he had the high esteem and great love of his people, and was blessed with no small success. The Rev. Mr. 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 sixty years. * * 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 apprehensions about his principles, and about some steps that were taken to procure his ordination.