The prologue narrates both the formative years of Bentley's life before his call to the East Church in 1783 and also the history of that church before that date. Born the son of an artisan father in Boston's North End in 1759 but educated at Harvard thanks to his own intellectual skills and the financial largesse of his maternal grandfather, Bentley began and continued through his life straddling two social worlds, a tension that would later help drive his ideological changes. Meanwhile, members of the East Church were no longer satisfied with their pastor after the Revolutionary War. They wanted a corresponding change of leadership in their own spiritual community. They could not easily dismiss their existing pastor, but they could call an assistant pastor in order to bring the conflict to a head. In Bentley they found their man and in 1783 invited him up to Salem.
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