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which is next the sun, by the thaws of the spring: by this means the underpinning has been considerably disordered, which people were not sensible of, till the ends of the joists which bore up the front gallery, by the walls giving way, were drawn off from the girts on which they rested; so that in the midst of the public exercise in the forenoon, soon after the beginning of the sermon, the whole gallery full of people, with all the seats and timber, suddenly and without any warning, sunk, and fell down, with most amazing noise, upon the heads of those that sat under, to the astonishment of the congregation, the house being 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 that fell knew nothing in the time of it what it was that had befallen them; and others in the congregation knew not what it was that had happened with so great a noise; many thought it had been an amazing clap of thunder: the falling gallery seemed to be broken all to pieces before it got down; so that some that fell with it, as well as those that 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 life 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 that were thought to be almost dead at first, are 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 her recovery.
"There is none can give any account, or conceive by what means it should come to pass, that 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 it should be otherwise, than that great numbers should 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 stick of timber, and the precise place of safety where every one should sit and fall, when none were in any capacity to take care for their own preservation. The preservation seems to be most wonderful, with respect to the women and children that were in the middle alley, under the
gallery, where it came down first, and with greatest force, and where was nothing to break the force of the falling weight.
"Such an event may be a sufficient argument of a Divine Providence over the lives of men. We thought ourselves called to set apart a day to be spent in the solemn worship of God, to humble ourselves under such a rebuke of God upon us in the time of public service in God's house, by so dangerous and surprising an accident; and to praise his name for so wonderful and as it were miraculous a preservation; and the last Wednnsday 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 that 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 number of souls, where the sentiments or the style of the relator, or his inferences from matters of fact, do not appear so agreeable to every reader, we hope it will have no unhappy 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 honors 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 second hand.
Upon the whole, we declare our opinion, that this account of such an extraordinary and illustrious appearance of divine grace in the conversion of sinners, is very like by the blessing of God to have a happy effect towards the honor and enlargement of the kingdom of Christ.
May the worthy writer of this epistle, and all those his Rev. brethren in the ministry, who have been honored in this excellent and important service, go on to see their labors 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 this 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 dominion through all the ends of the earth. Amen. ISAAC WATTS. JOHN GUYSE.
London, October 12, 1737.
BY THE BOSTON MINISTERS.
WHEN the disciples of our glorious Lord were filled with sorrow upon the heavy tidings of his departure from them, he cheered their drooping spirits with that good word, "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth it is expedient for you that I go away for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." And after his ascension, he fulfilled this great and precious promise by the extraordinary effusion of his Spirit, under whose conduct and influence the "apostles went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them :" so that hen we read the Acts of the Apostles, we must say; "Not by might, nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts." And though, soon after the first days of Christianity, there was a dreadful apostasy, yet God did not wholly take his Spirit from his peeple; but raised up faithful witnesses, to testify against the heresies and corruptions of the times wherein they lived. And since Antichrist, that wicked one, has been revealed, our Lord, according to his word, has been gradually consuming him with the spirit of his mouth, in the reformation.
Nor have we in these remote corners of the earth, where Satan had his seat from time immemorial, been left without a witness of the divine power and grace. Very remarkable was the work of God's Spirit, stirring up our forefathers to leave a pleasant land, and transport themselves over a vast ocean into this then howling wilderness, that they might enjoy communion with Christ in the purity of his ordinances, and leave their children in the quiet possession of the blessings of his kingdom. And God was eminently present with them by his word and Spirit.
Yea, we need look no higher than our own times, to find abundant occasion to celebrate the wonderful works of God. Thus when God
arose and shook the earth,* his loud call to us in that amazing providence was followed, so far as man can judge, with the still voice of his Spirit, in which he was present to awaken many, and bring them to say trembling, "What must we do to be saved?" Yea, as we hope, to turn not a few from sin to God in a thorough conversion. But wheu the bitterness of death was past, much the greater part of those whom God's terrors affrighted, gave sad occasion to remember those words, Psalm lxxviii. 34, 36., "When he slew them, then they sought him and they returned and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their Rock, and the high God their Redeemer. Nevertheless, they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongue." And there has since been great reason to complain of our speedy return to our former sins, notwithstanding some hopes given of a more general reformation. Yea, when more lately, it pleased God to visit many of our towns with a very mortal distemper, to that time in a manner unknown; whereby great numbers of our hopeful children and youth have been cut off, many very suddenly, and with circumstances exceedingly distressing and awful; yet, alas! we have not generally seen nor duly considered God's hand stretched out against us; but have given him reason to complain, as of his ancient people, "Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more." And accordingly his anger is not turned away; but his hand is stretched out still. A plain proof of this awful truth, that the most awakening dispensations can no farther humble and do us good, than as it pleaseth God to accompany them with his Spirit, and so command his blessing upon them. But when the Almighty will work by such means, or without them, who can hinder him? He acts with sovereign liberty and irresistible power. "The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit." John iii. 8. Such was his wonderful work at Northampton, and the neighboring towns in the county of Hampshire, and some other places. The Holy Spirit was in a plentiful and extraordinary manner poured out on persons of every age and condition, without such remarkable providences going before to awaken them; as the dew falls in the night, and yet the effects appeared as the light which goeth forth. So that we might well admiring say, what has God wrought! Great was the number of them who published the wonders of the divine power and grace; declaring with humility what God
*The Earthquake of October 29, Anno 1727.