Jonathan Edwards’ fateful decision to repudiate the church admission practices of his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, provoked a bitter dispute with his parishioners that led to his dismissal in 1750. Scholars have long debated the meaning of this crucial turning point in Edwards’ pastoral career. For early biographers, the Northampton communion controversy served as an index of eighteenth-century religious decline. More recent studies situate Edwards’ dismissal within a series of local quarrels over his salary, the “Bad Book” affair, conflicts with the Williams family, and the paternity case of Elisha Hawley. This essay is the first a series that reexamines the tangled religious context of the communion controversy through newly discovered historical documents. The first installment explores the conflict from the perspective of David Hall, a little-known clergyman from central Massachusetts who participated in the dismissal proceedings.

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Copyright © 2013, The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. This article first appeared in Jonathan Edwards Studies: 3:2 (2013), 282-294.

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