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pasture, for contemplation. And as I was walking there, and looking upon the sky and clouds, there came into my mind so sweet a sense of the glorious majesty and grace of God, as I knew not how to express. I seemed to see them both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together. It was a sweet, and gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness.
After this, my sense of divine things gradually increased, and became more and more lively, and had more of that inward sweetness. The appearance of every thing was altered. There seemed to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory in almost every thing. God's excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in every thing; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds and sky; in the grass, flowers, and trees; in the water and all nature; which used greatly to fix my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and, in the day, spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things; in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce any thing, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; although formerly nothing had been so terrible to me. Before, I used to be uncommonly terrified with thunder, and to be struck with terror when I saw a thunder-storm rising; but now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me. I felt God, if I may so speak, at the first appearance of a thunder-storm, and used to take the opportunity, at such times, to fix myself in order to view the clouds, and see the lightnings play, and hear the majestic and awful voice of God's thunder, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertaining, leading me to sweet contemplations of my great and glorious God.
Such were the decisive religious views and elevated affections with which he was blessed before he was seventeen years of age; and before he was nineteen he was licensed to preach the gospel, and was invited to supply, for a short time, the pulpit of a small Congregational church in New York. In the spring of 1723, he returned to East Windsor. Before this time he had formed for the government of his own heart and life his celebrated “Resolutions," seventy in number, which evince a firmness of religious principle, a depth of piety, a decision of character, an acquaintance with the human heart, and a comprehensiveness of views in regard to Christian duty, rare even in the most mature minds. The following are a few of these :
HIS RESOLUTIONS. 1. Resolved, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence.
2. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good of mankind in general.
3. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but to improve it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
4. Resolved, To live with all my might while I do live.
5. Resolved, Never to do any thing which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
6. Resolved, To be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
7. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge.
8. Resolved, Never to suffer the least motions of anger towards irrational beings.
9. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any one so that it shall tend to his dishonor, more or less, upon no account, except for some real good.
10. Resolved, That I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
11. Resolved. To live so at all times as I think it best, in my most devout frames, and when I have the clearest notion of the things of the gospel and another world.
12. Resolved, To maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
13. Resolved, Never to do any thing which, if I should see in another, I should account a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
14. Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.
15. Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a petition of a prayer, which is so made that I cannot hope that God will answer it; nor that as a confession, which I cannot hope God will accept.
16. Resolved, Never to say any thing at all against anybody, but when it is perfectly agreeable to the highest degree of Christian honor, and of love to mankind; agreeable to the lowest humility and sense of my own faults and failings; and agreeable to the Golden Rule; often when I have said any thing against any one, to bring it to, and try it strictly by, the test of this resolution.
17. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak any thing but the pure and simple verity.
18. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call to it.
19. Resolved, To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent; what sin I have committed; and wherein I have denied myself. Also at the end of every week, month, and year.
20. Resolved, Never to do any thing of which I so much question the lawfulness, as that I intend at the same time to consider and examine afterwards whether it be lawful or not, unless I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
21. Resolved, To inquire every night, before I go to bed, whether I have acted in the best way I possibly could with respect to eating and drinking.
22. Resolved, Never to allow the least measure of fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved, to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye; and to be especially careful of it with respect to any of our family.
23. On the supposition that there never was to be but one individual in the world at any one time who was properly a complete Christian, in all respects of a right stamp, having Christianity always shining in its true lustre, and appearing excellent and lovely, from whatever part, and under whatever character viewed ;-Resolved, to act just as I would do if I strove with all my might to be that one, who should live in my time.
In June, 1724, Mr. Edwards was elected tutor in Yale College, in which office he continued two years. He then accepted a call to settle in Northampton as a colleague to his grandfather, Rev. Solomon Stoddard. It is said that, when in ordinary health, he would spend thirteen hours every day in his study. This was too much for his constitution, which was naturally delicate, and doubtless shortened his life many years. In 1727 he was married to Miss Sarah Pierrepont, daughter of Rev. James Pierrepont, pastor of a church in New Haven. The union proved a most bappy one in every respect. By her wisdom, energy, and economy she relieved her husband from the interruptions of domestic care, and thus he was left at liberty to pursue his studies without remission.
Soon after his ordination, Mr. Edwards was permitted to witness some gratifying fruit of his labors in the conversion of a number of his people. In 1729, the Venerable Mr. Stoddard dying, the whole care of the congregation devolved on the youthful pastor; and so faithful and laborious were his ministrations that, in 1734 and 1735, the town was favored with a “revival so extensive and powerful as to constitute a memorable era in the history of that church.” In the year 1739 he commenced a series of discourses in his own pulpit, which afterwards formed the basis of his celebrated work, The History of the Work of Redemption, which was not, however, published till after his decease. In the spring of 1740 a second extensive and powerful revival of religion commenced in Northampton, which was aided by the labors of the celebrated Rev. George Whitefield, and an account of which Mr. Edwards published in 1742, under the title of Thoughts concerning the Present Revival in New England. It was immediately republished in Scotland, and brought the author into correspondence with some of the most distinguished divines of that country.
In 1743 Mr. Edwards finished a series of sermons upon the distinguishing marks and evidences of true religion, which were published in 1746, under the title of A Treatise concerning Religious Affections, and which called forth the warmest praises and thanks from the friends of true piety on both sides of tho Atlantic. In the latter part of the year 1747, David Brainerd, the celebrated missiopary, who had been laboring for many years among the Indians in different settlements in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, amidst many discouragements and with enfeebled health, with a zeal, diligence, self-denial, and perseverance which have seldom had any parallel in the history of missions, eane, on invitation, to Mr. Edwards's house, and, gradually sinking under the power of a consumptive disease, closed his life in the bosom of his friend's family on the 9th of October of that year. In 1749 Mr. Edwards prepared and published a memoir of this remarkable man, entitled An Account of the Life of the late Rev. Darid Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians, and Pastor of a Church of Christian Indiane in New Jersey.
Thus far, the life of this eminently great and pious man had not been attended by any marked or painful trials. But his path, henceforth, was to be any thing but a smooth one. He was to experience the fickleness of popular applause, and, what was still more trying, persecutions from his own Christian brethren. It having been eredibly reported that a number of the younger members of his church had in their possession immoral and licentious books, he preached upon the subjeet; whereupon the church resolved unanimously that a committee should be appointed to investigate the matter. But they had not proceeded far in their duty before it was ascertained that nearly every leading family in town had somo member implicated in the guilt. This disclosure produced an immediate reaction, and a majority of the church determined not to proceed in the inquiry; so true is it, as his learned biographer remarks, that “nothing is more apt to revolt and alienate, and even to produce intense hostility in the minds of parents, than any thing which threatens the character or the comfort of their children." The result was that great disaffection ensued, the discipline of the church was openly sot at defiance, and great declension in zeal and morals naturally followed.
But there was a cause of still deeper disaffection. Mr. Stoddard, the predecessor of Edwards, had been accustomed to receive into the church such as applied for admission, whether they gave any evidence of a change of heart or not; and Mr. Edwards continued the same practice after his ordination. At length doubts as to its rightfulness began to arise in his mind, and continued to increase with such strength that, in 1749, he disclosed to his church his change of opinion, and publicly vindicated it by bis Humble Inquiry into the Rules of the Word of God concerning the Qualifications Requisite to a Complete Standing and Full Communion in the Visible Christian Church, which was published in August of that year. This treatise at once produced great excitement in the congregation, and he became the object of bitter opposition, which continued so long that he concluded to accept a call from the church at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, whither he removed in the spring of 1751. Here he enjoyed great quiet and happiness, and was enabled to complete what for many years he had been engaged in, his immortal treatise, that on which his fame chiefly rests,—The Freedom of the Will and Moral Agency, which was published in the spring of 1754.
The fundamental doctrines which Edwards undertakes to establish in the Freedom of the WiU are, that the only rational idea of human freedom is, the power of doing what we please; and that the acts of the will are rendered certain by
some other cause than the mere power of willing; or, in other words, that they are the result of the strongest motive presented, and not brought about by the mere “self-determining power of the will;" and he has sustained his position with a degree of novelty, acuteness, depth, precision, and force of reasoning which no one ever before had reached.
In 1755 he wrote two other treatises : one A Dissertation on God's Last End in the Creation of the World; and the other A Dissertation on the Nature and End of Virtue. But these, together with his treatise on Original Sin, were not published till after his death.
On the death of the Rev. Aaron Burr, President of Princeton College, the trustees invited Mr. Edwards to succeed to that most responsible post,--the presidency of the college,—and he removed thither in the month of January, 1758. All the friends of the college, as well as the students, were highly elated at the thought of having such a man at its head, and the manner in which he entered upon his duties more than answered their highest expectations. But, alas, how vain are all human calculations! In five weeks after his introduction into office, he was cut off by the smallpox, on the 22d of March, 1758, in the fifty-fifth year of his age.
Language can hardly express the sense of loss which all good men felt that religion and learning had sustained in the death of this great man, in whose praise the most distinguished scholars on both sides of the Atlantic have been emulous to speak and write. “On the arena of metaphysics," writes Dr. Chalmers, “be stood the highest of all his contemporaries, and we know not what most to admire in him, whether the deep philosophy that issued from his pen, or the humble and childlike piety that issued from his pulpit." The venerable and learned Dr. Erskine, of Scotland, thus wrote a friend :-“The loss sustained by his death, not only by the College of New Jersey, but by the church in general, is irreparable. I do not think our age has produced a divine of equal genius or judgment." Sir James Mackintosh, in his Progress of Ethical Philosophy, says of him, “In the power of subtle argument he was, perhaps, unmatched, certainly unsurpassed, among men." Dugald Stewart-and no one can speak on such a subject with more authority than he remarks, “America may boast of one metaphysician, who, in logical acuteness and subtlety, does not yield to any disputant bred in the universities of Europe. I need not say that I allude to Jonathan Edwards." Ard Hazlitt, in his Principles of Human Actions, thus writes :-“Having produced him, the Americans need not despair of their metaphysicians. We do not scruple to say that he is one of the acutest, most powerful, and of all reasoners the most conscientious and sincere. His closeness and his candor are alike admirable."
In summing up his general character, his biographer, Dr. Miller, says, “Other men, no doubt, have excelled him in particular qualities or accomplishments. There have been far more learned men; far more eloquent men; far more active and enterprising men in the out-door work of the sacred office. But in the assemblage and happy union of those high qualities, intellectual and moral, which constitute finished excellence,--as a Man, a Christian, a Divine, and a Philosopher, he was, undoubtedly, one of the greatest and best men that have adorned this or any other country since the apostolic age.”!
Read Biography by Rev. Samuel Miller, D.D., in the 8th volume of Sparks's American Biography,