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Source: The Puritan in England and New England by Ezra Hoyt Byington, D.D. - Member of the American Society of Church History. Boston: Roberts Brothers 1896.

The Case of Reverend Robert Breck of Springfield.

Chapter VII.

p.342

Robert Breck of Springfield, was the son of Rev. Robert Breck of Marlboro, of whom the "Boston News-Letter" said: "He was an able minister, a man of great learning in the original languages of the Bible, and in philosophy, and also a man of great courage and prudence." His grandfather was Captain John Breck, "a very ingenious and worthy man." His great-grandfather was Edward Breck, a man of wealth and influence in England, who came to this country in 1636 and settled in Dorchester.

Robert Breck was born in Marlboro, Massachusetts July 25, 1713 and entered Harvard College at the age of thirteen. His rank as a scholar is indicated by the fact that the President and Fellows awarded to him the honorary prize of thirty pounds as a

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"sober, diligent and promising student, and candidate for the ministry." It has been stated that he studied theology with his father, but as the father died the year after his son was graduated, it is probable that he continued his studies without an instructor. He began to preach while he was very young, according to the custom of those times. He was hardly more than twenty when we find him preaching in Scotland, a parish in Windham County, Connecticut, and at various times other places in that Colony. The young and un-trained preacher was very free and bold in his utterances, and very early subjected him-self to the charge of heresy, a charge which some of the pastors of the vicinity were disposed to press to his injury.

Some time in May, 1734, the First Church in Springfield invited him to preach as a candidate for settlement. He came and preached to the acceptance of the people, so that after about three months the church and parish gave him a call and proposed terms of settlement. He had then just passedhis twenty-first birthday.

Soon after he came to Springfield there were reports passing from one to another that he was not sound in the faith. The people listened to his sermons, but failed to detect any-thing that

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savored of heresy. So far as the pamphlets [Narrative of the Proceedings of those ministers of Hampshire County that have disapproved the Settlement of Mr. Robert Breck, Boston, 1736.] which were published at the time, on both sides, give us infor-mation, it wasnot claimed that there was anything unsound in his religious teachings after he came to Springfield. The reports all came from Connecticut. A letter was received from a minister in that Colony, which stated that "Mr. Breck was not a suitable person to be employed in the ministry," and named Rev. Thomas Clap of Windham, afterwards President of Yale College and two others as persons who were responsible for the charges. This letter was put into the hands of Mr. Breck who went at once to Windham to confer with Mr. Clap in respect to the accusations. Mr. Clap was not satisfied with the result of the conference and so wrote a long letter to the Hampshire Association of Ministers, in which he set forth the four charges against the young candidate for the pastorate.

1. That he had denied that the passage in I John v.7, concerning the "three that ber record in heaven," and also the passage in John viii, concerning the woman taken in adultery, were of divine inspiration.

2. That he had also denied the necessity of Christ's satisfaction to divine justice for sin, and had said that God might, consistent with His justice, forgive sin without any satisfaction.

3. That he had preached that the heathen, who livedup to the light of nature, would be saved. Christ would be in some way revealed to them; or they would be saved in some other way.

4. That there was a general report that he had stolen books from the college library, while a student and that he had been expelled from college for that offence; and further, that when Mr. Clap had informed him of these reports, he had denied them, a denial which was now known to be false.

In addition to all this, it was stated in other letters that Mr. Breck had said publicly "If the decrees of God were absolute, he saw no encouragement for men to try to do their duty, for let them do what they would, they could not alter their condition; and that we were not under obligation any further than we had power." On the ground of these statements, it was charged that he was an Arminian.

IV.

These charges were the basis of the opposition to the settlement of Mr. Breck. In reply to the charges he claimed that it was unjust to use

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against him expressions which he might have made use of in his earliest sermons, at a time when his views were quite immature; that these expressions did not express his settled opinions; that some of them had never been used in his sermons, but only in oral discussion with pastors with whom he was discoursing for the sake of clearing his own mind; and also that some of these statements were not inconsistent with the Confession of Faith. He asked to be judged not by these early sermons, but by the sermons he had preached in his present pulpit; and he repeatedly invited those who questioned his ortho-doxy to satisfy themselves by an examination as to his views in theology.

In respect to the charge of taking books from the library he admitted that there had been a technical offence, which gave some color to the charge, but claimed that the offence, such as it was, was the fault of a boy of thirteen, and that it was so trivial that the faculty did not make it a matter of formal discipline, and that his subsequent deportment had been so exemplary that they had selected him as the student most worthy to receive the honorary prize. Mr. Breck also stated that he had never denied that there had been some foundation for the story, but had only denied it in the exaggerated from in which it had been reported. These are the leading

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points in the case as it is presented in the pamphlets and in the manuscripts which have been preserved.

Mr Breck was informed that these reports had excited a degree of prejudice against him among the ministers of the vicinity, and that if he were to accept the call they might refuse to ordain him. He was also informed that they had exerted more or less influence with some members of his congregation. He therefore decided to refer the matter again to the people. He knew that he had the confidence of a large majority of his congregation and that some of the pastors of the vicinity were satisfied as to his integrity and his orthodoxy, so that there would be no serious difficulty in securing ordination.

"If one council will not do it," he said, "another will." With these views he stated, in his reply to the call, that while he was disposed, on some accounts to accept their invitation, he did not think the provision for his temporal support was sufficient, and that he could not accept the call unles they should see the way clear to increase it.

The people were not quite agreed in the matter, and did not think it expedient to increase the salary. So that Mr. Breck finally declined the call and returned to his friends in Boston.

V.

But the people were not satisfied. The records of the parish show that the majority believed that his settlement had been prevented by the inter-meddling of "some persons of note who had sent writings to some of the ministers of this vicinity." The parish, therefore, appointed a committee, November 8th, to find out how much ground there was for the charges against Mr. Breck and also to learn more definitely the views of the ministers. In response to their inquiries six of the pastors, among whom we find the name of Jonathan Edwards, signed a paper, which reads as follows:

"Upon consideratio of the case of Mr. Robert Breck, represented to us in some letters from Windham and Norwich, we thin it advisable that the people of Springfield do no further make their application to him."

The committee reported, and the people considered the advice. Six weeks later, the free-holders and other inhabitants assembled according to law, voted "that application be made to the worthy Mr. Robert Breck to preach the word of God to us in this place, in order to a settlement." This vote was passed by a decisive majority, and a committee was chosen to proceed to Cambridge, make investigations

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ask advice, and act according to their best judgment. The result was that Mr. Breck re-turned to Springfield and began to preach again. This open disregard of the advice of the ministers of the vicinity seems to have been unusual, and it had the effect to lead them to enter more directly into the case. A majority of them seem to have thought that it would be an infringement of their rights for the people to settle a minister within the county in opposition to their advice. The next stage in the business was the effort of the Associatio to investigate the charges against Mr. Breck. They entered into correspondence with various parties in Connecticut; and also induced Mr. Breck to write to Mr. Clap, and endeavor to make his peace with him. They invited Mr. Breck to attend the meeting of the Association in April, 1735 and make such statements as he thought proper with reference to the charges.

He seems to have accepted their proposals in good faith. He wrote a letter to Mr. Clap in which he made such acknowledgements and concessions as he thought proper, but he failed to satisfy that gentleman. He also read to the Association a paper which was quite satis-factory to some of the pastors, but not to the majority. Six out of thirteen ministers now took his part, and remained his friends to the end. He next asked the Association to satisfy themselves as to

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his theological views by an oral examination. The majority declined to do this on the ground that charges were already pending against him. At this stage of the business a committee from the First Parish appeared before the Association to inquire "what impediment if any, there was to the settlement of Mr. Breck; and if such impediment existed, how it could be removed."

VI.

This was designed to open the way for a formal examination of the charges of Mr. Clap and others from Connecticut. Mr. Breck and his friends were prepared to welcome such an in-vestigation; but they asked to be permitted to name one or two of the persons who were to pass upon the case. The Association appointed seven of their own members to her the whole case, and to give their judgment. It was pointed out to them that several of these gentlemen had already prejudged the case, and expressed their opinion publicly. Mr. Breck offered to go on with the investigation if one of the committee would retire or if, that gentleman remaining, he might call in two unprejudiced persons from outside the county. These propositions were declined by the majority, and so the proposed investigation failed.

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At this stage of the business the First Church in Springfield, on the 17th of April re-newed their call to Mr. Breck and one week later the parish voted to concur. It appeared that a decided majority of the church and congregation were very earnest to secure the permanent settlement of the young preacher as their pastor. It remained to be seen whether the minority of the people, aided by the majority of the Association would be able to prevent it. Mr. Breck, made wiser by the experiences of the year, acted with a degree of prudence and forsight which he had not before shown. He first sent a communication to the people in which he said that in the peculiar circumstances of this case, he should seek advice from his friends before he gave an answer to their call. He went soon after to Boston and requested the pastors of that town, who were well-known throughout the Province, to examine him as to his views in theology. This they did, and as a result gave him a certificate* that they had found him sound in the faith. They say, "These may certify that on the 8th day of May, 1735, we discoursed with Robert Breck, M.A.,

footnote: *This certificate was signed by:
Benjamin Coleman
Joseph Sewall
John Webb
William Cooper
Thomas Foxcroft
Samuel Checkley
Joshua Gee
Mather Byles - One of them said afterwards, "I can assure you that his examination was not a slight one, if the ability and fidelity of the eight ministers that were concerned in it can be relied on."

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to our good satisfaction, concerning his orthodoxy in the great doctrines of Christianity as believed and professed in the churches of Christ in New England, agreeable to the Westminster Confession of Faith; and so recommend him to the grace of God, and are his brethren in Christ."

With this indorsement he returned to Springfield and on the 28th of July accepted the call. The next step was to select a council for his ordination. The excitement in Springfield ran very high. Four members of the church presented a protest, which was entered upon the records. Twenty seven members of the parish sent to Mr. Breck a remon-strance against his course in accepting the call before submitting himself to the judge ment of the ministers of the Association as to his orthodoxy and as to his character. Mr. Breck replied that the council would be the proper tribune to pass upon all these questions.

VII.

In the end the church voted by a decided majority, to call a council for his installation They selected four churches within the county designating them by the names of their pastors and left it with the pastor-elect, with a committee of the church, to select an equal number of churches outside the county. The council, as

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finally agreed upon consisted* of the church in Hatfield, Rev. William Williams, pastor. Hadley, Rev. Isaac Chauncy, pastor; Suffield, Rev. Ebenezer Devotion, pastor; Sunderland, Rev. William Rand, pastor; Brattle Street Church, Boston, Rev. William Cooper, pastor; Second Church, Boston, Rev. Samuel Mather, pastor; the New Brick Church, Boston, Rev. William Welstead, pastor; and the church in Sudbury, Rev. william Cooke, pastor. The Council was to meetin october 7th.

Those who opposed the settlement of Mr. Breck denied the legality of the council for two reasons:

First, because the votes of the church disignated the pastors, instead of the churches to which they ministered; and because these votes left it with the pastor-elect and a committee of the church to select a part of the churches; and,

Secondly, because the church had no right to call churches from outside Hampshire County. It was replied, on the part of the church that what was done by

footnote: *Mr. Williams was the oldest minister in the county, being 70; Isaac Chauncey Harvard Coll. 1693) was grandson of President Chauncy; Ebenezer Devotion, Harvard Coll. 1707; William Rand, Harvard Coll. 1724; William Cooper born 1694, Harvard Coll. 1712, junior pastor with Dr. Coleman, "there was not a more decided Calvinist than he, yet he was a staunch advocate of religious liberty," - was elected President of Harvard Coll. 1737; Samuel Mather son of Cotton Mather, Harvard Coll. 1723 D.D. - "was charged with looseness of doctrine," William Welstead, Harvard 1716 "an excellent Christian gentleman and an exemplary minister;" William Cooke, Harvard 1716.

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its committees, chosen for the purpose, was done by itself - that the letter missive, which went in the name of the church, was addressed to all the churches by name and that they had elected delegates to the council, showing that they understood the invitation. It was also claimed that they had a right to go outside the county for members of the council, as there was nothing in the Cambridge Platform to forbid it; and that in this case it was necessary in order to secure an impartial council.

It is not easy to understand, at this distance of time, the intense interest which this case excited not only at Springfield, but in other parts of New England. The members of the council from Boston went to Springfield a week in advance of the meeting of the council in order to consult with the ministers of the vicinity and learn from them directly the grounds of their opposition. How abundant the leisure of those pastors of the olden time! It is a hundred miles from Boston to Springfield and the stage coaches or ministerial chaises, of those days would be more than one day on the journey. Yet they went from town to town in the Connecticut valley, and tried to induce the pastors to sub-mit their complaints against Mr. Breck to the council. When the time for the meeting of the council came, the ministers of the county were present in Springfield to watch the

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proceedings and to use their influence to prevent the ordination. The President of Yale College was also there, as the champion of orthodoxy to direct the measures of the opposition. Rev. Thomas Clap and a number of the other pastors from Connecticut were there, with documents to be presented to the council. It was confidently asserted by the opponents of Mr. Breck that whatever the council might do, "there would be no ordination."

In order to secure the fulfilment of this prediction, the dissatisfied members of the parish had induced three Justices of the Court of Sessions to come from Northampton to Springfield, with the purpose of using the authority of the Court, if necessary, to pre-vent the council from completing the service for which it had been convened. It was afterwards proved before the General Court that it was at first intended to arrest all the members of the Council who had come from outside the county, and lock them up in jail, on the ground that their attempt to sit as members of a council in Hampshire County was an unlawful act, - an usurpation of power, - to the great injury of the minority. Warrants were actually made out for their arrest, but as one of the Justices was doubtful as to their right to issue them, this plan was abandoned.

The second plan was to arrest Mr. Breck and hold him in custody until the council should adjourn.

p.356

VIII.

We may well suppose that when the day for the Meeting of the Council came business was suspended in Springfield and that the people were eagerly watching the proceedings. The Council met in the morning, not in the church, but in the house of Mrs. Brewer, the widow of the last pastor. Seven of the eight churches invited were represented by pastors & delegates. The church in Hatfield, of which the venerable William Williams was pastor, declined to respond, on the ground that the Council was irregular and illegal.

The Council organized by choosing Rev. William Cooper of Boston, Moderator. Their first act was to invite the church - as well the minority as the majority - to lay all the facts in the case before them. Two papers were presented. The first was a remonstrance against the right of "the body calling itself a council" to ordain Mr. Breck, signed by William Pynchon Jun'r Esq and others of the minority of the parish. The second was a protest against the right of the council to act in the case, signed by six pastors of the county.

The council, after considering these papers, and the reasons which were set forth in support of them, voted: "That the elders and other delegates here assembled are an

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ecclesiastical council, properly called by the First Church in Springfield to join in the regular carrying on of the ordination of Mr. Breck, and are ready to hear, judge and act in the case."

The Council next called upon those who objected to Mr. Breck to present the evidence in support of the charges which they made against him. This they declined to do, on the ground that they could not recognize the body then in session as a regular and legal council. The Moderator next asked Rev. Mr. Clap and Rev. Mr. Kirkland, the authors of the charges, to let the council know whatever they knew against the candidate, which might disqualify him for the ministry.

Mr. Clap proceeded to read a number of documents, most of them sworn to before a magistrate, with reference to the preaching of Mr. Breck while he was in Connecticut. These papers cover the whole case and constitute the evidence on which the minority based their opposition. They were printed in full in the pamphlet published by the Hampshire ministers. Just as Mr. Clap finished reading the papers and before Mr. Breck had commenced his reply, an officer entered the room with a warrant for the arrest of "Robert Breck, gentleman," and for the bringing him forthwith before the court then in session in the town-house. "To answer for such things as should be objected to him." Mr. Breck was taken by

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the officer from the council and carried to the town-house. Proclamation was made that any persons who knew about the principles or the character of Mr. Breck should come for-ward and give testimony. Mr. Clap and Mr. Kirkland came forward and presented the evidence which they had just read to the council with some additional statements. Mr. Breck was also examined by the Justices as to his theological opinions. The evidence tended to show that he was not sound in the faith, and also that he had charged various persons with misrepresentation and falsehood. The old charge of taking books from the college library was also referred to in the testimony as a matter of common report. The proceedings seem to have been of the nature of an inquiry into the character of the candidate and his fitness to be a settled minister under the laws of the Province.

These proceedings of the secular power had the effect, of course, of suspending the session of the ecclesiastical council. Before adjourning, however, they sent a vigorous protest to the court, in which they say that they "consider it a duty not only to the church in Springfield, but to all churches which they represent, and to all the churches of Christ throughout the Province, to inform the court that when they sent their office to apprehend Mr. Breck they were regularly and legally convened in council at the desire of the

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church in Springfield for the regular carrying on the ordination of said Mr. Breck, according to the order of the gospel in the churches of New England, and were actually hearing the charges against him when the court saw fit to wrest the case out of their hands." Having sent their protest, the council waited for the result. Mr. Breck was held in custody until night; and the Justices gave orders to their officer to hold him till the next day. But certain members of the council gave their word that he should appear when called for and he was permitted to go to his lodgings.

The council reassembled early in the morning, and continued the hearing of the case. Mr. Clap and Mr. Kirkland made oral statements as to the additional testimony they had given in court. The Justices soon sent for Mr. Breck, and held him until late in the afternoon when they made out a warrant which directed the sheriff to take him to Windsor in the Colony of Connecticut, and deliver him into the custody of the Country Court "there to answer for those things which might be objected against him." He was taken to Windsor and delivered to the officers of the Court. He was permitted to give bonds for his appearance at a subsequent time to answer to a charge concerning the doctrines which he had preached while within that Colony.

These proceedings increased very much the

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excitement among the people of Springfield. The church appointed a committee to attend him, "in token of respect as their pastor-elect, and the people gave evident marks of their affection for him as he went through the town." The next day they assembled in the meeting-house to pray for his safe return. The record says: "It was a large and weeping assembly." A day or two later, Mr. Breck returned to Springfield and the council resumed its sessions. They considered more fully the charges and the testimony for and against him and listened to his reply. The decision paper in the case was a Confession of Faith which he drew up for the satisfaction of the council as a statement of his mature opinions conderning the leading truths of Gospel.*

*In this confession which is too long to insert entire, he declares his belief in one God, who is also triune; in the Holy Scriptures, which are of devine authority and which have been preserved by God's providence "pure and incorrupt;" in the decrees of God, by which whatsoever comes to pass in time has been foreordained from all eternity, - "yet so as not to take away the Will of His creatures or make Himself as the Author of sin;" in the providential government of the world; in the first covenant with Adam; in his fall from his first estate, which involved the race "in his guilt and corruption;" in the covenant of redemption and the vicarious sacrifice of the God-man, "which satisfied divine justice for the sins of the elect, and reconciles them to God;" in the work of the Holy Spirit, "Who makes effectual application of the benefits of Christ's redemption to the souls of men;" "in the ability of fallen man to that which is spiritually good and the necessity of effectual calling by the Almight Spirit; in the imputation of the righteousness of Christ for their justification; in the work of sanctification; in the final perseverance of the saints; the eternal separation of the righteous from the wicked; the righteous for life eternal and the wicked for everlasting punishment."

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It is a serious and definite statement, following substantially the Westminster Confession, and, by implication, renouncing most of the errors which he had been accused of preaching in Connecticut. After the reciting the statement of his belief he said, "This is the scheme of Christian doctrine which I have learned from the Holy Scriptures and which I shall think myself obliged to teach othes in the best manner I am able while at the same time I put them that profess to believe in mind that they be careful to main-tain good works. It is my prayer that my knowledge of these things may be enlarged, my faith of them confirmed, and that I may be enabled always to keep the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." This Confession was satisfactory to the whole council. It was read by a man on horseback to a great crowd of people who assembled in the street in front of the house in which the council was holding its sessions. And was subsequently read by the candidate to the congregation at his ordination.

The council, after a full consideration of the case, came to a result in which they said, that they found that Mr. Breck hd been regularly called by a very great majority

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to the church and precinct of Springfield; and also that he was sound in the faith and of good conversation; so that they advise the people "to continue their regards for him." "Nevertheless," they say, "having met with an unusual interposition and hindrance in carrying on the work upon which we were called, we do not think it advisable to proceed furthe herein at this time but that this council be adjourned" to meet in Boston, October 21st. The Moderator remained in Springfield over the Sabbath and read this result to the congregation.

The object of the adjournment was not only to allow time for the excitement to subside, but also to test the legality of the interference of the secular authorities with the work of the council. Two weeks later, the church appointed a committee to bring the matter before the General Court.

This committee presented a memorial to the General Court on the 25th of November in which they stated the fact of the call of Mr. Breck by a very great majority of the church and precinct, and the convening of a council for his ordination and say that "on the day appointed for that solemnity,

John Stoddard Esq
Timothy Dwight Esq

his Majesty's Justices of the Peace for the County of Hampshire,

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had caused him to be arrested and taken from the aforesaid ecclesiastical council, and brought him before them, and that they examined him touching divers points of doctrine, and, further, that by a warrant from the said Justices, he was sent to Windsor, in the Colony of Connecticut, where he was bound over by the County Court to answer to a charge touching on his doctrines."

They ask the General Court to decide whether these proceedings have been according to law, and if not, to grant such redress as the case admits. The Journals of the General Court show that the case was vey fully considered by that body. It was first assigned to the 5th of December at which time the papers were read. It was voted to inquire into the matter of complaint, and to appoint a committee to report what action ought to be taken. Notice was sent to the Justices at Northampton and to other parties interested. The General Court heard not only the committee from Springfield, but Mr. Breck, and the Moderator of the council, and various other persons. The matter was before the Court December 5th and 6th, 9th, 24th, 26th and 27th.

The decision was:

First that the council was duly called and was properly and legally a council according to the usages of the churches.

Secondly, that the Justices had no right to "interrupt the church

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and ecclesiastical council while they were, in the exercise of their just rights, investigating the case,"

Strengthened by this decision the council, which had been continued by successive adjournments, reassembled at Springfield on the 27th of January, 1736 and, "finding that the people did abide firm in their choice of Mr. Breck, and their desire to have him as their pastor," they proceeded to ordain him as pastor of their church. The sermon was preached by Mr. Cooper, the Moderator from Matthew xiii, 3. In this sermon which was printed, Mr. Cooper bears this testimony in respect to the young pastor: "I think myself bound to testify, on this occasion, that in all this time I never heard one hard word drop from you respecting any person of any order. I have seen your tears, admired your silence and hope God has heard your prayers. May the fruit of all be to humble you, to prove you and to make you a greate blessing to this church and to the people."

X.

Those who were opposed to Mr. Breck made one more effort to prevent him from continueing as the minister of the church. They signed a complaint to the Court of Sessions for the county,

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which set forth that the church in Springfield was destitute of a minister duly settled according to law; that one Robert Breck had taken upon himself the office of pastor under pretnce that he had been ordained; that the said Breck is not qualified, according to the laws of this Province to be a Gospel minister, inasmuch as he is not orthodox in his be-lief, and not of good conversation; that, according to law, there can be no money raised for the settlement and support of any person in the ministry but such as are orthodox and of good conversation. They therefore ask the court to make such order in the premises "that some suitable person may be settled in the pastoral office of said church, it being contrary to the law of this Province and the peace of the King, that a person of such principles and conversation should take upon himself the office of a minister, or that the said church should be destitute of a settled minister."

The Court took this petition into consideration on the 2nd of March and summoned the church and parish to appear and answer the complaint. The parish appointed a committee of five of which:

William Pynchon Jun'r Esq was Chairman.

to represent them before the court and instructed them to "carry the case as far as necessary, from court to court to a final determination of the matter."

As there is no further reference

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to the case in the records of the parish, it is probable that it never came before the court for trial.

These proceedings were followed by a number of pamphlets, which are the authentice sources of the information concerning these matters. The first was published in Boston, 1736, a few months after the ordination had taken place. It is entitled "A Narrative of the Proceedings of those Ministers of the County of Hampshire that have disapproved the Settlement of Mr Robert Breck." It is a vigorous pamphlet of about one hundred pages. This was followed by the same year by "An Answer to the Hampshire Narrative." It is said to have been written by the Rev. William Cooper of Boston. The next year appeared another thicker pamphlet, with the title, "A Letter to the Author of the Answer to the Narrative."

XI.

While these proceedings in court and this war of pamphlets were going on, the young pastor set himself to conciliate the opposition among his people. He gave himself to the duties of his office with exemplary fidelity. It is said of him that if he wished for any favor he would ask it from some one of his people who had been unfriendly.

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Such an expression of his confidence won their good will. He chose his wife wisely also. He married a few weeks after his ordination Eunice Brewer, the daughter of Rev. Brewer, his predecessor, who had been unversally loved and revered. He invited Rev. Stephen Williams of Longmeadow who had been one of most decided of his oponents to perform the marriage ceremony; and this act of courtesly is said to have modified his opposition. In a few years he was accepted by his brethren in the ministry as well as by his people as a minister, "able, learned, orthodox and of good conversation."

Mr. Breck was the pastor of the church in Springfield forty eight years. The church grew with the town and its minister became a man of great influence in the Connecticut valley. It is more than a hundred years since his death; but the traditions concerning him at Springfield are still fresh and he is held in great esteem and veneration. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Lathop of West Springfield, who had been a student in divinity under him. In this sermon he said, "His intellectual powers were naturally superior, and were brightened by his education, and enlarged by an extensive acquaintance with men and books. He accustomed himself to a close manner of reasoning and thinking and filled up his time with diligent application.

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History was his amusement, divinity his study; he excelled in both especially the latter. He was an accomplished gentleman, and an exemplary Christian. His attendance on the duties of his profession was constant, his preparations for the sanctuary were mature, his public prayers were deliberate and solemn, his sermons were full of thought, dressed in the most proper language, and communicated in the easiest manner. His religious sentiments were formed on a careful examination of the Scriptures without servile attachement to sects or systems. His turn of thinking was liberal yet Scriptural, exalted yet humble."

Such was the man as he seemed to his contempories at the close of the pastorate of half a century.



Transcribed by Janice Farnsworth

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