A POSSIBILITY OF RECONCILIATION
Salvation and the "Heathen"
Most students of early New England remember the Robert Breck affair as a bizarre episode in which western Massachusetts ministers in 1735 arranged to have a young preacher from Harvard arrested and carried off to jail on charges of heresy. Students of Edwards also know that the Northampton theologian agreed that Breck was preaching dangerous heresy and publicly defended the ministers' actions. What most historians have overlooked, however, is that one of the three Breck doctrines deemed to be heretical concerned the eschatological. destiny of the "heathen," and that it was this doctrine that seemed to bother Edwards the most.1
According to his accusers, Robert Breck ( 1713-84) had told his Windham County ( Connecticut) auditors that some portions of the Scriptures were not inspired, that predestination gave "no Encouragement to Duty," and that "the heathen doing what they could would entitle 'em to salvation." It was this last accusation to which Edwards devoted the majority of his attention in his published account of the heresies.2
Edwards was probably not surprised to learn that Breck was a disciple of Thomas Chubb,3 the most accessible guide to deism in the 1730s. For as we saw in Chap-____________________