Rare 1742 Jonathan Edward Church Covenant Discovered
A copy of the printed covenant of the Northampton, Massachusetts church was discovered in June, 2019, by the staff of Haaswurth Books. This covenant was written by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards and printed in at Boston in 1742. The only other recorded printed copy was in the library at Andover.
The Haaswurth Books catalogue entry reads, in part:
[Edwards, Jonathan]. Copy of a Covenant, Enter'd into and subscribed, by the People of GOD at Northampton, and own'd before GOD in his House as their Vow to the LORD, and made a solemn Act of publick Worship, by the Congregation in general, that were above fourteen Years of Age, on a Day of Fasting & Prayer for the Continuance and Increase of the gracious Presence of GOD in that place. March 16. 1741, 2. [Boston]: 1742. First Edition. 8-pp. pamphlet, first leaf nearly detached, closely trimmed at top affecting some words, wear and chipping to edges, evidently issued without wrapper or tp., faint stain at one edge throughout. Pamphlet.
The second known copy of this item, the first is in the collection at Andover. No place or publisher is noted; "most likely it was privately printed in Boston in 1742." It does not appear in any bibliographical reference. It is known from Edwards' Dec. 12, 1743 letter to Thomas Prince, which is published in the periodical Christian History (Jan. 1743).
"The covenant of 1742, which bears all the marks of Edwards' composition, was consented to in a special ceremony on March 16, 1742....The week before...he preached a sermon justifying the covenant renewal. Seeking to bind the recent converts to the church, as well as encourage the preservation of revival spirit, Edwards told his people that by this act they were 'subscribing to the head' and joining the commonwealth of God."
Created in the midst of the Great Awakening, the covenant refers to the "blessed manefestations and frutes of his gratious presentse in this town both formerly and Lately: and particularly In the very late Spiritual revival: and Adouring the glorious & wonderfull mighty power and grace of god manifested in the present out powering of his Spirit in many parts of this Land..." It emphasizes proper treatment of neighbors, to not defraud or "Rong" them. The youth of the church are admonished to maintain proper morality and church attendance, and all are instructed and challenged to avoid sin and to live uprightly. Quotations and information from Church and Pastoral Documents (WJE Online Vol. 39), Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University.
This rare item was sold to a private collector.