John Thornton, letter, to Eleazar Wheelock, 1772 February 28

ms-number772178

abstractThornton writes a lengthy letter mentioning the conflict with Kirkland, doubt that the Trust in England will confirm Wheelock's charter, and rumors that the college is to come under Episcopal management. He believes that Wheelock is too trusting of Ralph Wheelock, and that Occom has been unfairly treated.

handwritingFormal handwriting is stylized, yet clear and legible. The address is written in a different, unknown hand.

paperThe address is on a single large sheet; otherwise, the letter is comprised of two large sheets folded in half to make four pages. The paper is in good-to-fair condition, with light-to-moderate staining and wear. Repair work has been done on holes and heavy creases.

noteworthyIn the list of dates that begins the letter, the abbreviation “do” is likely an abbreviation for “ditto,” meaning, in this context, “in or of the month already named. “Ap” is likely an abbreviation for “anno praeterito,” meaning “the year that has just passed” (O.E.D.). An “x” written above the trailer on five recto appears to be a library mark. Also on five recto, an editor, likely 19th-century, has added the note “school & College distinct” below the trailer. This note has not been included in the transcription.

EventsFundraising Tour of Great Britain

Modernized Version Deletions removed; additions added in; modern spelling and capitalization added; unfamiliar abbreviations expanded.

  Dear Sir 
Since my last I duly received your several favors of the 11th  January 20th June 1st August 29th do 9th September and 31st October Ap and I  should have wrote you long since had I known what to  say, but I was much comforted by the last with the glad  tidings that you and Mr. Kirkland had met I come to the  Agreement to put it out of the power of evil minded Peo  ple to break into that harmony that ought ever to sub  sist between those of the same Views; by disbelieving all  false insinuations relative to each other and ever coming  to an explanation between yourselves, I hope this will  be steadfastly adhered to in future and that you will be  enabled to see the Cloven foot, whenever any Person  shows a tendency to prejudice you against that valuable  Minister, who indeed in this unhappy difference has  acted as few besides himself Would have done and I shall  ever highly value and esteem it for it and all considered  he has made as few mistakes as could be expected, as  indeed my Dear sir he harboured not the evil reports  that were falsely suggested against you, but ever  spoke with becoming regard and respect of your Character  it is for best to bury all that is past and not so much  as to think of it, but I must with my usual unreserve 
Received May. 16th 1772   
  tell you that I think your Parental regard to your Son  Ralph, has blinded your Eyes to some misconduct of his  and that Mr. Woodward has not been so single Eyed as I  would wish all to be in so glorious a Cause, I don’t mean  to enter on any discussions, but rather what I say is by  way of caution that neither of them may have it in their  power to injure the Redeemers Cause through the sides of  Mr. Kirkland if they should be so unwise as to attempt it  but be you forewarned and thereby forearmed, so as not to listen  to the Subtle Adversarys poison, should he be prevalent  enough to obtain an Eve to administer it, I know how  hard it is to know no one after the flesh and to look th[gap: tear]  all to him with whom we have to do, but that Lord  who strengthens is Almighty, and he requires not  more then he will enable us to perform, when we are  armed from his heavenly Storehouse, all things are  possible, not only so but they are made easy through the  divine influence, may the Lord ever guide you by his  Counsel till he receives you to glory, and keep you watchful  and mindful that those who have not the Spirit of Christ  are none of his.  Your Drafts are duly taken Care of and whenever your  occasions further require assistance I have (through mercy 
wherewithal to assist you and at any time you may draw for  One or Two Hundred pounds on your private account or  more if you find it needful to set you quite clear as  it must relieve your mind and be in every view desirable  to stand quite clear of debt, I assure you the Gentlemen  of the Trust are disposed to do all they consistently can  to strengthen your hands that you need be under no  apprehensions of failure therein I was glad to find  you had guarded against blending the accounts of the  School and the College, in which you have acted wisely  I feared much your being involved thereby that it was  an ease to my mind to see my fears were groundless  and that consequently my Credit given on that score  was unnecessary, I own I doubt much whether your  Charter will be confirmed on this side, as we don’t see  it in the light you do; the Trustees will soon have  a Meeting and then you will hear from them about th[illegible][guess: at]  as well as other matters, but I don’t think an Interview  would tend to clear things as you imagine; many  Men will be of many minds and opinions, upon the whole  you have an admirable good set of Trustees and I believe  they are as disposed to favor you as you could wish  and you need fear nothing harsh from them, but go  on with confidence, keep always in mind Jesus reigns 
who has all hearts at Command, he makes our enemies to be  at peace with us and brings good out of evil, continue simple and  keep in mind that as his ways are in the Sea and we can not  trace them, we must not pretend to make our Mountain  strong, but our strength consists in the acknowledgement of  our weakness and looking to him continually step by step to  direct us in all our ways, let us never go forth but with  his presence and when we feel a void let us humbly wait  and be still and he will shine upon us, surely it is his Work  and not ours and he knows best how to carry it on, and unless  when we have done our duty to the utmost we rest it as  wholly as if we had done nothing we shall find a Canker  in our Gourd and experience a blight instead of a blessing  you will know my dear Friend that nothing is simpler  nor plainer then the path of duty and it seems easy  but is unaccountably difficult, and we are often called  on to groan being burdened by indwelling Sin, that  even when we would do good evil is present with us  and we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves  but blessed be God our Souls being restored, we can  triumph in Christ and be more then Conquerors over all  and draw from his fullness grace to help in our every hour  of need, for with him is plenteous redemption and we  are strengthened with might by his spirit in the inner Man 
That the Adversary and many of his Party will oppose you  is undoubtedly true and it is not less so that if you look  on them you will embitter your own Spirit, therefore  let us go on unweariedly in the fear of the Lord disregard  ing those on the right and on the left and we shall be safe  the danger is abundantly more from false Friends than  from open Enemies, but blessed be God they are all  Tethered and can’t pass the bounds prescribed them  whereas we know all things are ours both present and  to come for we are Christs and Christ is Gods.   Mr. Occom seems to me to have been hardly treated  and that I fear has been one means of driving him to  his unjustifiable Conduct, I had rather stand in  his Shoes than in those who have a much better  opinion of themselves and exceed him abundantly in  putting the best gloss on every thing; the best respecting  them is only considered and the worst of him, it should  be remembered he has been taken from that scene  of life that made labor and the greatest parsimony  habitual to him and it is not in human Nature  to return to it with that alacrity which is expected from him  If people that Judge harshly would make his Case 
their own, they would be compassionate instead of severe  O how differently would they judge! and pray look to his Case  and Dr. Whitakers, and see who was benefited and yet Mr. Occom  was the Instrument (under God) that was the means of  collecting all the Money and Had the Doctor come  without him the disgrace would have all fell to  his share, whereas poor Occom proved the ScapeGoat  and I am much mistaken if a day is not at hand  that a veil will be drawn over his great Infirmities  and his heart be found upright with God, do my  dear Sir show him all the kindness you consist[illegible][guess: on]ly  can, he will not prove unworthy of your Patronage  I never was more deceived then in him if he is  not an Israelite indeed; his trials have been very  great, I trust he will set right at last —  Assist him with whatever you please from me I am  very willing my heart yearns towards him and I love  him unfeignedly that I can’t but feel for him  I am very glad to hear Mr. Avery is gone to Oneida  and that the Lord seems to be smiling on the good  work you are engaged in I trust the [illegible][guess: mou]ths of 
all our adversaries will be stopped, I sent Dr. Erskine  of Edinburgh a Copy of the Agreement between you  and Mr. Kirkland and endeavoured to remove some  prejudices I found he had imbibed to the prejudice  of your new School, as I got an extract of a Letter  he wrote Mr. Davidson of Braintree last September  as follows — “By accounts from America one Mr. Kirkland  “a missionary among the Oneida and Tuscarora Indians  “has been wonderfully blessed and in the judgement of Charity  “many of his hearers savingly converted. There has been  “nothing equal to this since Mr. David Brainerd and  “yet he might have starved for Dr. Wheelock had not  “our board of Correspondents and the London Commissioners  “at Boston taken him under their care. The Doctor instead  “of employing Missionaries, Schoolmasters or Catechists  “has alienated the greatest part of the Monies collected  “in England to creating a new College in New Hampshire  “the Charter of which where he is named first President  “is conceived in such artful terms, that that College  “will soon fall under Episcopal management, and had  “not this been in view, the ease with which he  “procured a Charter, when Mr. Whitefield was refused  “it can hardly be accounted for —” 
I shall not cease to pray that the Lord may long  strengthen you in your Work and for your Work, it is hard  Service that forms Veterans, as you have often seen  in the Book of the way to Zion, may you be enabled  to say with a departed Friend of mine under very severe  Discipline, “I have great Confidence — great submission  “no complaining. The Word to Christians goes beyond  “all this “in every thing give thanks” Hard as this  “may seem under great bodily trials etc. I have no objection  “to it, and the real sense of my own mind is, thankful  “for Christ — thankful for every thing”— I shall be  always glad to hear from you, may you and yours  be growing up in the love of Christ devoted Servants  of the Cross, live daily upon the will of God and enjoy  yourselves in nothing else  praised be God there seems  a great revival in this Land  in various parts while those  that preserve the form only  are making great strides to cast that entirely off and  Luxury and dissipation surely never were more prevalent   
I am always  Dear Sir  Yours affectionately   John Thornton 
To the Rev. Dr. Wheelock 
From Esq. Thornton  February 28. 1772. 
To  The Rev.  Eleazar Wheelock DD:  President of Dartmouth‐  College at Hanover  New Hampshire Mr. Chace
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