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07 f 

Vol. I. Edwards i q ^ 




His Birth. His elementary Education. His col 
legiate Course. His early Piety 3 


His License to preach the Gospel. His temporary 
Residence in the City of New York. His Tutor 
ship in Yale College. The further Developement 
of his Talents and Piety 23 


His Settlement as a Pastor at Northampton. 
Ministerial Habits. Marriage. His first 
Publication. Ministerial Success. Second 
and third Publications. His European Cor 
respondence 50 



The Disorders which attended the Revival of Re 
ligion. The Treatise on Religious Affections. 
Memoirs of Brainerd. European Corre 
spondence continued 85 


Origin and History of his Troubles at Northamp 
ton. Publication of his Work on Church 
Communion. Dismission from his Pastoral 
Charge. Invitation to settle at Stockbridge . . 102 


His Removal to Stockbridge. Difficulties and 
Trials there. Indefatigable Labors. New and 
important Publications. His Election to the 
Presidency of New Jersey College .... 126 


His Removal to Princeton. Letter to the Board 
of Trustees. Inauguration. Sickness and 
Death. His Epitaph. His Family ... 146 


Estimate of his Character. Estimate of Dr. 
Chalmers. Robert Hall. Dr. Erskine.Sir 



Henry Moncreiff. Sir James Mackintosh. 
Professor Taylor. Dugald Stewart. Dr. 
Green. Dr. Middleton. Dr. Priestley. Gen 
eral Statements 171 


His Writings. Remarks on his Styk. 
" Thoughts on the Revival of Religion." 
" Treatise on Religious Affections."" Me 
moirs of Brainerd." " Essay on the Free 
dom of the Will."" On Original Sin." 
" History of Redemption." " Qualifications 
for Communion." " Last End of the Cre 
ation." " Nature of True Virtue." Ser 
mons. Other Posthumous Works. General 
Views 214 










His Birth. His elementary Education. His 
collegiate Course. His early Piety. 

WE owe scarcely any debt to our generation 
more obvious, or more important, than to record, 
for the benefit of coming times, the lives of men 
eminent for their talents, their intellectual culture, 
and their pure and elevated virtue. We owe to 
the dead themselves the duty of commemorating 
their actions, of cherishing their reputation, and 
of perpetuating, as far as possible, the benefits 
which they have conferred upon us. This is 
especially the case, when their eminence is of 
such a peculiar character as to present, at every 
step, an example adapted not to dazzle, but to in 
struct, to guide, and to animate. It was quaintly 
said by one of the kings of Aragon, " Dead men 
are our best instructors." With living men, and 
passing measures, there is, ordinarily, connected 
so much prejudice and passion, that we are often 


insensible .to. their most impressive lessons. But, 
>wfleii death 1 -has set - his. seal upon the character 
of a departed worthy, and the din of conflict has 
passed away, we are prepared to receive the full 
benefit of his example. 

Hence it is that the character and the workg 
of some men become more precious to the com 
munity every year that we recede from the period 
of their departure from the scene of action. No 
one can doubt that this is the case with regard to 
the life of the great and good man whose history 
and portrait there will now be an attempt to ex 
hibit. The writer of these pages, in undertaking 
the task assigned to him, of compiling the follow 
ing memoir, felt that he was venturing on the per 
formance of a duty as arduous as it was honora 
ble. He considered himself as called upon, not 
to be the apologist of a party, but faithfully to 
exhibit one of the greatest of men just as he was, 
and to endeavor to render his history and char 
acter useful to the great cause to which he con 
secrated his life. Whatever may be the measure 
of his success, this is his great object. For the 
same purpose, the view taken will be more ex 
tended and minute than, in ordinary cases, is 
deemed proper for the present work. In taking 
this course, the supposition can scarcely be ad 
mitted that it will be regretted by intelligent 


JONATHAN EDWARDS was born at East Wind 
sor, Connecticut, on the 5th day of October, 
1703. His parents were, the Reverend Timothy 
Edwards, for sixty-four years the beloved and 
venerated pastor of the Congregational Church 
of East Windsor ; and Esther Stoddard, daughter 
of the Reverend Solomon Stoddard, who was, for 
more than half a century, pastor o r the church 
of Northampton, Massachusetts, and, in his day, 
one of the most eminent ministers of New Eng 
land for piety, talents, pastoral fidelity, and useful 
ness. The families of Edwards and Stoddard 
were both of English descent, and had been both 
distinguished, for several generations, for piety, 
intellectual vigor, and commanding influence in 
their respective spheres of duty. William Ed 
wards, Esquire, the great-grandfather of Jonathan, 
was the first of his family who came to America, 
about the year 1640, and settled in Hartford, as 
a respectable merchant ; and Anthony Stoddard, 
Esquire, the grandfather of Esther Stoddard, ap 
pears to have emigrated from the West of Eng 
land, about the same time, and to have taken up 
his abode in Boston ; in what profession is un 

The character of Esther Stoddard, the mother 
of the subject of this memoir, was no less emi 
nent than that of her husband. She is repre 
sented, by tradition, as a woman of distinguished 


strength of mind, of superior education, peculiarly 
fond of reading, and of ardent piety ; and, of 
course, as well adapted to adorn and to bless the 
large domestic circle committed to her care. She 
was the mother of eleven children. The subject 
of this memoir was the fifth child of his parents 
in order, and their only son. 

Young Edwards received all the early part of 
his education under his paternal roof at East 
Windsor. His father was eminent among his 
clerical brethren as a Latin, Greek, and Hebrew 
scholar, and was, for many years, in the habit 
of receiving under his tuition, and preparing for 
college, a number of young men destined for 
the learned professions. He also instructed his 
daughters in the same branches of knowledge, as 
are usually required in candidates for admission 
into the college classes. Under the direction of 
this enlightened, pious, and affectionate parent, 
aided by his elder sisters, who had preceded him 
in these branches of instruction, the subject of 
this memoir commenced the study of the Latin 
language at six years of age. 

Of the character or history of these eaily 
studies, little is known, excepting that it may be 
inferred, from the accuracy and maturity of his 
attainments in classical literature, and in Hebrew, 
in after-life, that the foundation, in these depart 
ments of knowl ?dge, was now carefully and skil- 


fully laid. From the earliest period of his educa 
tion with which we are acquainted, his intellectual 
culture seems to have been marked by an ardent 
thirst for knowledge, a desire to go to the bottom 
of every subject, and, what might have been ex 
pected, as the natural consequence, indefatigable 
diligence. He was early taught, by his excellent 
father, to use the pen abundantly ; to study with 
it habitually in his hand ; to make a record of his 
doubts, his difficulties, and his comments on every 
subject, and to bring all his knowledge to the test 
of expressing it on paper for himself. In a word, 
it seems to have been a leading principle of his 
father, in regard to this son, and indeed all his 
children, to encourage them, from their tenderest 
years, to engage frequently in letter-writing, and 
every other kind of composition, as one of the 
best means of intellectual discipline. That this 
early habit exerted much influence on his subse 
quent studies and investigations, and contributed, 
in no small degree, to give a character to his 
after-life, cannot be doubted. 

Nor did he confine his attention, at this tender 
age, to those studies which usually employ the 
mental faculties in their earlier developement. 
Nothing that came in his way seems to have 
escaped his inquisitive and active powers. The 
science of nature, as well as of the mind and of 
morals, all had attractions for him, and all engaged 


a portion of his attention. The humble record 
of his reply, at ten years of age, to a fellow- 
student, who had advanced the notion that the 
soul is material, certainly evinces a capacity of 
connected thought on such subjects, and a power 
of humor and sarcasm, truly rare in a child. And 
his detailed notice and speculations on the habits 
of the Wood-Spider, two years afterwards, show a 
degree of wakefulness, activity, and discrimmatiop 
of mind, a habit of close attention, and a power 
of philosophical speculation, altogether extraor 

In the year 1716, this remarkable youth en 
tered Yale College at New Haven, a few days 
before the completion of the thirteenth year of 
his age. That institution was then not only in 
its infancy, but likewise laboring under many and 
serious disadvantages. It had been founded at 
Saybrook, in 1701 ; but the rector or president 
resided at Killingworth, eight or ten miles distant 
from Saybrook, because he continued to be the 
pastor of a church at the former place, and his 
people refused to consent to his dismission from 
them. All the students, therefore, during the in 
cumbency of the Reverend Mr. Pierson, the first 
rector, resided and studied at Killingworth. The 
commencements, however, were constantly held 
at Saybrook, which was the nominal and legal 
seat of the college. 


After the death of the first rector, in 1707, his 
successor, the Reverend Mr. Andrews, appointed 
rector pro tempore, also continued for twelve years 
to hold the office in conjunction with that of pas 
tor of the church at Milford, more than forty miles 
distant from Saybrook. So that when young Ed 
wards entered the college, the students were scat 
tered in several places, owing to a struggle in 
respect to its ultimate location. Thirteen resided 
at New Haven, fourteen at Wethersfield, and four 
at Saybrook. The distance of the rector s resi 
dence from the places of study and tuition greatly 
diminished both his influence and his usefulness. 
Both the instruction and government of the in 
stitution were chiefly conducted by the tutors. 
Owing to this, and other untoward circumstances, 
the state of the college, at the time referred to, 
was peculiarly unfriendly to tranquil and profitable 

But such were the love of knowledge and the 
manly firmness of young Edwards, that no diffi 
culty appalled him ; no agitation turned him aside 
from his prescribed course. He surmounted all 
obstacles, and showed that he was able to mark 
out a course for himself. Though his fellow- 
students became disorderly, and, at length, mu 
tinous, yet he took no part in the mutiny and 
insubordination which surrounded him, but studied 
with diligence and success ; and such were his 


dignity and scholarship, that he maintained, by the 
acknowledgment of all, the highest standing in 
his class, and the entire respect and confidence 
of his fellow-students, notwithstanding his refusal 
to unite with them in their disorderly proceedings. 
No part of his collegiate studies seems to have 
been slighted, much less overlooked. All of them 
appear to have engaged his close and faithful at 
tention. On all of them he seems to have laid 
out his strength. Here, as under his father s roof, 
he continued the habit of using the pen continu 
ally in all his studies. 

It is presumed to be very rare indeed that 3 
boy of fourteen years of age ever thinks of look 
ing into such a book as Locke s " Essay on thf 
Human Understanding." But that such a youtL 
should not only look into it, but enter with delight 
into its philosophy and its arguments, is a fact of 
which there are probably few examples. Yet- 
such was the case with the subject of this memoii 
In his second year in college, he not only read 
the work in question with interest, but declared 
that, in the perusal of it, he enjoyed a far higher 
pleasure " than the most greedy miser finds, when 
gathering up handfuls of silver and gold from some 
newly-discovered treasure." This fact shows the 
bent, as well as the wakeful activity, of his mind. 
To this department of study he manifested an 
insatiable fondness to the end of life, But in 


every department, to which his attention was 
turned, he was a devoted student. In mathe 
matics, in natural philosophy and astronomy, and 
in moral science, as well as in the philosophy of 
the human mind, he appears to have been deter 
mined to take nothing on trust, but to think, to 
inquire, and to judge for himself. The manuscript 
notes, which he left on all these subjects, bear a 
very striking character. They evince a mind 
ardent in the pursuit of knowledge, and deter 
mined to digest and make his own every thing 
that he received from books, or from his teachers, 
and even a disposition, at that early age, to push 
his inquiries beyond them all. 

The close of his collegiate course corresponded 
with this reputation. It was not only honorable, 
but so in the highest degree. In September, 
1720, a few days before the completion of his 
seventeenth year, he received the first degree in 
the arts ; and, at the Commencement, had assigned 
to him not only the most eminent, but almost the 
sole and accumulated honor awarded to his class. 

The mind of this extraordinary youth, as might 
have been expected from the character of his 
parents, was early and carefully directed in the 
channel of moral and religious culture. His fa 
ther s family seems to have been a scene of the 
most pure and refined intellectual and moral in 
fluence, as well as of the mos sound and enlight- 


ened piety. Perhaps in no domestic circle in the 
land, were habits of thought, of intelligence, of 
literary taste, of industry, and of religion in all its 
loveliness, more conspicuous than in that of which 
he was a member. There is no human influence 
better adapted to exert a happy power in forming 
the character of a young man, than the society of 
cultivated, refined, and virtuous sisters. In this 
respect, young Edwards was peculiarly favored. 
Himself the only son, associated with ten sisters 
of enlightened, polished minds, and engaged, to a 
considerable extent, in the same studies with him 
self, he manifested all that softness, refinement, 
and moral correctness, which the society of such 
sisters was eminently adapted to impress. He 
was in a school fitted to impart the finest moral 
finish to intellectual culture. Even before his 
mind was brought under the governing influence 
of religious truth, his amiable spirit, his modesty, 
his docility, his dutifulness to his parents, his fra 
ternal kindness and attention, and his uniform 
respectfulness and regularity, all demonstrated 
that his domestic training had been of the most 
benign and happy character. And hence, during 
his collegiate course, amidst all the disorders into 
which his fellow-students were betrayed by their 
peculiar and unhappy circumstances, he seems to 
have stood aloof from all their turbulence ; to 
have maintained a prudent, firm, inoffensive, dig- 


nified course, and yet not to have forfeited the 
respect or the good will of his companions in 

He had no participation in that ignoble char 
acter, which is too often found in the classes of 
colleges ; the character of those who, while they 
boast of their spirit and manliness, have not the 
moral courage to do as their own consciences tell 
ihem they ought in a season of disorder and re 
bellion. There is no more miserable cowardice, 
than that which governs young men in public 
literary institutions, who cannot summon firmness 
of mind enough to separate themselves from dis 
orderly, mutinous companions ; but are dragged 
on, in a course which they secretly condemn, and 
which may lead not only to their injury and dis 
grace, but to their irretrievable ruin. We have, in 
the character of the noble youth before us, an 
example of one who manifested all the softness 
and refinement of the most plastic nature, united 
with all the decision, moral courage, and elevation 
of spirit, that marked the finest specimen of mod 
est heroism. 

The first religious impressions of any remarka 
ble character, made on the mind of young Ed 
wards, seem to have occurred in the seventh or 
eighth year of his age. They were made during 
a season of unusual religious attention in his fa 
ther s church. According to his own modest 


account, he was for many months nuch affected, 
and seriously concerned about the things of re 
ligion, and his soul s salvation. He was abundant 
in religious duties ; used to pray five times a day 
in secret ; spent much time in religious conversa 
tion and prayer with other boys ; united with 
them in erecting a booth, as a place of social 
worship, in a neighboring retired place ; and often 
felt much flow of affection and pleasure when 
engaged in the exercises of religion. In a few 
months, however, these impressions and habits 
gradually wore off, and he returned to his former 
state of comparative carelessness. His own de 
liberate estimate, afterwards, of his exercises at 
this period, was that they were spurious, and by 
no means partook of the nature of genuine piety. 
A different estimate, however, has been formed 
by some of his pious friends. They suppose that, 
even then, the germ of true religion was implanted 
in his heart, which, amidst some subsequent back 
sliding, never wholly perished. 

Toward the latter part of his course in college, 
impressions of a more deep, genuine, and perma 
nent character seem to have been made on his 
heart. To this period he referred the commence 
ment of his life as a Christian. His own account 
of the event is in the following language. 

" I was brought to seek salvation in a manner 
that I never was before. I felt a spirit to part 


with all things in the world for an interest in 
Christ. My concern continued and prevailed, 
with many exercising thoughts and inward strug 
gles ; but yet it never seemed to be proper to ex 
press that concern by the name of terror. From 
my childhood up, my mind had been full of ob 
jections against the doctrine of God s sovereignty 
in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and 
rejecting whom he pleased. It used to appear 
like a horrible doctrine to me. But I remember 
the time very well when I seemed to be con 
vinced and fully satisfied as to this sovereignty 
of God, and his justice in thus eternally disposing 
of men according to his sovereign pleasure. But 
I never could give an account how, or by what 
means, I was thus convinced ; not in the least 
imagining at the time nor for a long time after, 
that there was any extraordinary influence of 
God s spirit in it ; but only that now I saw fur 
ther, and my reason apprehended the justice and 
reasonableness of it. However, my mind rested 
in it ; and it put an end to all those cavils and 

" And there has been a wonderful alteration in 
my mind with respect to the doctrine of God s 
sovereignty, from that day to this ; so tha I scarce 
ever have found so much as the rising of an ob 
jection against it, in the most absolute sense, m 
God s showing mercy to whom he will show 


mercy, and hardening whom he will. But 1 
have often, since that first conviction, had quite 
another kind of sense of God s sovereignty than 
I had then. I have often, since, had not only a 
conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doc 
trine has very often appeared exceedingly pleas 
ant, bright, and sweet. Absolute sovereignty is 
what I love to ascribe to God. But my first con 
viction was not so. The first instance that I re 
member of that sort of inward, sweet delight in 
God and divine things, that I have lived much 
in since, was on reading these words, 1 Timothy, 
i. 17. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, in 
visible, the only wise God, be honor and glory 
for ever and ever, Amen. As I read the words, 
there came into my soul, and was as it were 
diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the 
Divine Being ; a new sense, quite different from 
any thing I ever experienced before. Never any 
words of Scripture seemed to me as these words 
did. I thought with myself, how excellent a 
Being that was, and how happy I should be, if 
I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him 
m heaven, and be, as it were, swallowed up in 
him for ever. I kept saying, and as it were sing 
ing, over these words of Scripture to myself, and 
went to pray to God that I might enjoy him ; and 
prayed in a manner quite different from what 1 
used to do, with a new sort of affection. 


" From about that time, I began to have a new 
kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and 
the work of redemption, and the glorious way of 
salvation by him. An inward, sweet sense of 
th?se things, at times, came into my heart, and 
my soul was led away in pleasant views and con 
templations of them. My mind was greatly en 
gaged to spend my time in reading and meditating 
on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of his 
person, and the lovely way of salvation by free 
grace in him. I found no books so delightful to 
me, as those which treated of these subjects. 
Those words, Canticles ii. 1, used to be abun 
dantly with me. They seemed to me sweetly 
to represent the loveliness and beauty of Jesus 
Christ. The whole book of Canticles used to 
be pleasant to me, and I used to be much in 
reading it about that time, and found, from time 
to time, an inward sweetness, that would carry 
me away in my contemplations. This I know 
not how to express otherwise, than by a calm, 
sweet abstraction of soul from all the concerns of 
this world ; and sometimes a kind of vision, or 
fixed ideas and imaginations of being alone in the 
mountains, or some solitary wilderness, far from 
all mankind, sweetly conversing with Christ, and 
wrapped and swallowed up in God. The sense 
I had of divine things would often, of a sudden, 
kindle up, as it were, a sweet burning in my 

i. 2 


heart ; an ardor of soul that I know not how to 

" Not long after I first began to experience 
these things, I gave an account to my father of 
some things that had passed in my mind. I was 
pretty much affected by the discourse which we 
had together; and, when the discourse was end 
ed, I walked abroad alone in a solitary place in 
my father s 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 
know not how to express. I seemed to see them 
both in a sweet conjunction ; majesty and meek 
ness 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 

"After this, my sense of divine things gradually 
increased, and became more and more lively, and 
had more of that inward sweetness. The appear 
ance of every thing was altered. There seemed 
to be, as it were, a calm, sweet cast, or appear 
ance 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 uncom 
monly 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 oppor 
tunity 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 thun 
der, which oftentimes was exceedingly entertain 
ing, leading me to sweet contemplations of my 
great and glorious God. 

" While thus engaged, it always seemed natural 
for me to sing or chant forth my meditations, or 
to speak my thoughts in soliloquies, with a singing 
voice. I had vehement longings of soul after 
God and Christ, and after more holiness, where 
with my heart seemed to be full, and ready 
to break ; which often brought to my mind the 
words of the Psalmist, Psalm cxix. 20. My soul 
breaJceth for the longing it hath I often felt a 


mourning and lamenting in my heart, that I had 
not turned unto God sooner, that I might have 
had more time to grow in grace. My mind was 
greatly fixed on divine things ; indeed almost per 
petually in the contemplation of them. 

" I spent most of my time in thinking of divine 
things, year after year; often walking alone in 
the woods and solitary places for meditation, so 
liloquy, and prayer, and converse with God. It 
was always my manner, at such times, to sing 
forth my contemplation. I was almost constantly 
in ejaculatory prayer, wherever I was. Prayer 
seemed to be natural to me, as the breath by 
which the inward burnings of my heart had vent. 
The delights, which I now felt in the things of 
religion, were of an exceedingly different kind 
from those before mentioned, that I had when a 
boy ; and what then I had no more notion of, 
than one born blind has of pleasant and beautiful 
colors. They were of a more inward, pure, soul 
animating and refreshing nature. Those former 
delights never reached my heart, and did not 
arise from any sight of the divine excellency of 
the things of God; or any taste of the soul- 
latisfying and life-giving good there is in them." 

Such were the decisive religious views and ele 
vated affections with which the subject of this 
memoir was blessed, when he was between six 
teen and seventeen years of age. To some 


readers a portion of his language may appear to 
indicate an excited imagination, and a state of 
feeling bordering on enthusiasm. But such an 
estimate will not be made by any, who have had 
an opportunity of attending to the subsequent 
writings of this illustrious man, or who have con 
templated the strongly -marked character of his 
piety in after-life. The truth is, he entered more 
heartily and thoroughly into the character of the 
great objects of pious emotion than most Chris 
tians do ; and no wonder that he spake a corre 
sponding language. 

In all his Diary, his language on the subject of 
personal religion is more strong and fervid than 
is common, chiefly because his piety was more 
deep and ardent, as well as more enlightened, 
than is commonly found even in zealous, devoted 
believers. As his intellectual superiority to most 
men appeared even in his early youth, so the 
character of his piety, from its very commence 
ment, bears the stamp of unusual depth, fervor, 
clearness, and governing power. It is probable 
that those, who are most capable of appreciating 
religious character, after comparing all the me 
morials of this eminent man in relation to his 
religious exercises, will be of the opinion that a 
more edifying example of piety, sober and scrip 
tural, as well as elevated, is rarely to be found 
in the church of God. His divine Master was 


evidently training him, from his earliest youth, in 
the school of sanctified experience, as well as 
of intellectual culture, for those eminent services 
in the department of practical piety, as well as 
of theological investigation, which he was des 
tined afterwards to render to his generation. 

The date of his first making a profession of 
religion by uniting himself with the church, is not 
precisely known. It was, probably, about the 
time of his leaving college, or soon after the 
completion of the seventeenth year of his age. 



His License to preach the Gospel. His tempo 
rary Residence in the City of New York. 
His Tutorship in Yale College. The fur* 
ther Developement of his Talents and Piety. 

THE subject of this memoir, after completing 
his undergraduate course at New Haven, returned 
to the college, and spent nearly two years in con 
nexion with it, diligently prosecuting his theologi 
cal studies with a view to the gospel ministry. 
During this time, his piety seems to have been 
fervent, active, and growing. In June or July, 
1722, after the usual preparatory trials, he re 
ceived a license to preach the gospel, a few 
months before the completion of his nineteenth 
year. Almost immediately after beginning to 
preach, he was selected by some ministers of 
New England, who had been intrusted with the 
choice of a candidate for that purpose, to visit the 
city of New York, and preach to a small body 
of Presbyterians, who had been recently organ 
ized, as a church, under peculiar circumstances, 
in that city. 

The first Presbyterian Church in the city of 


New York was organized in 1716 ; and their first 
pastor was the Reverend James Anderson, a na 
tive of Scotland, who had been, for several years 
before, the pastor of a church at New Castle, in 
Delaware. The church prospered under his min 
istrations, and erected a commodious edifice in 
Wall Street, near Broadway, in 1719. But still 
the congregation, though not large enough to ad 
mit of an advantageous division, was not entirely 
united. A number of them, having been accus 
tomed to the less regular and rigid habits of the 
Congregational churches of South Britain and of 
New England, were not pleased with the strict 
Presbyterianism, according to the Scottish mod 
el, which Mr. Anderson endeavored to enforce. 
They charged him with ecclesiastical domination, 
and also with an interference in the temporal con 
cerns of the church. On these accounts the un 
easiness of the dissatisfied party became at length 
so great, that, in the year 1722, they drew off 
from the body of the congregation, formed them 
selves into a separate church, and worshipped 
apart for a number of months. 

This new society, soon after their organization, 
as before stated, received the subject of this me 
moir to preach as a candidate for settlement. He 
came to them in the month of August, 1722, and 
supplied their pulpit, with much acceptance, until 
the following April. But, finding the congrega- 


tion too small to support a minister, and perceiv 
ing some unexpected difficulties to arise, he left 
the city, and returned to East Windsor. The 
impression, which he left on the minds of this 
people, seems to have been not only favorable, 
but very strongly so. Some of them, indeed, 
appear to have conceived for him a very warm 
attachment. Accordingly he was, soon afterwards, 
earnestly solicited by them to pay them another 
visit. But, judging from what he saw when 
among them, that it was not his duty to become 
their pastor, he declined a compliance with their 
second invitation. Whether they ever called any 
other preacher, and how long they continued in 
a state of separation from the main body of the 
church, is not known. It is believed, however, 
that, soon after Mr. Edwards left them, they per 
ceived the impossibility of their going on with 
comfort, as a separate congregation, and quietly 
returned to their old connexion. 

Mr. Edwards appears to have passed his time 
in New York with pleasure and profit. His let 
ters and diary of that date, indicate unusual corn- 
fort in religion, and a deep impression of the kind 
ness and Christian affection of the little flock to 
which he ministered. 

During the time that he passed in theological 
study at New Haven, in the city of New York> 
and in his subsequent residence for a number of 


months at his father s house in East Windsor, he 
formed a number of resolutions for the govern- 


ment of his own heart and life, which, though 
evidently intended for his own private use alone, 
have, happily, been left on record for the use 
of after times. These resolutions are seventy in 
number, and were all formed and committed to 
writing before he was twenty years of age. No 
abridgment or general description would be doing 
justice, either to the resolutions themselves, or to 
the memory of him who formed them. They 
are here recited at length, under the persuasion 
that a more instructive and impressive memorial 
can scarcely be presented to the minds of young 
men ; and also that no intelligent reader can rise 
from the perusal of them without the conviction, 
that he, who formed them at such an early age, 
must have had a firmness of religious principle, 
a depth of piety, a decision of character, an ac 
quaintance with the human heart, and a compre 
hensiveness of views in regard to Christian duty, 
truly rare in the most mature minds. 


" Being sensible that I am unable to do any 
thing without God s help, I do humbly entreat 
him by his grace, to enable me to keep these 
resolutions, so far as they are agreeable to hi? 
will, for Christ s sake. 


" Remember to read over these resolutions once 
a week. 

" 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. Resolved, to do whatever I think to be 
my duty, and most for the good of mankind in 
general. Resolved so to do, whatever difficulties 
I meet with, how many soever, and how great 

" 2. Resolved, To be continually endeavoring 
to find out some new contrivance and invention 
to promote the forementioned things. 

" 3. Resolved, If ever I shall fall and grow 
dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these 
resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when 
I come to myself again. 

" 4. Resolved, Never to do any manner of 
thing, whether in soul or body, less or more, but 
what tends to the glory of God ; nor be, nor suffer 
it, if I can possibly avoid it. 

"5. Resolved, Never to lose one moment of 
time, but to improve it in the most profitable way 
. possibly can 

" 6. Resolved, To live with all my might while 
I da live. 

" 7. Resolved, Never to do any thing which I 


should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of 
my life. 

"8. Resolved, To act, in all respects, both 
speaking and doing, as if nobody had been so 
vile as I, and as if I had committed the same sins, 
or had the same infirmities or failings as others ; 
and that I will let the knowledge of their failings 
promote nothing but shame in myself, and prove 
only an occasion of my confessing my own sins 
and misery to God. 

"9. Resolved, To think much, on all occa 
sions, of my own dying, and of the common cir 
cumstances which attend death. 

" 10. Resolved, When I feel pain, to think of 
the pains of martyrdom and of hell. 

"11. Resolved, When I think of any theorem 
in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what 
I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not 

" 12. Resolved, If I take delight in it as a 
gratification of pride or vanity, or on any such 
account, immediately to throw it by. 

" 13. Resolved, To be endeavoring to find out 
fit objects of charity and liberality. 

" 14. Resolved, Never to do any thing out of 

" 15. Resolved, Never to suffer the least mo 
tions of anger towards irrational beings. 

"16. 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. 

" 17. Resolved, That I will live so, as I shaU 
wish I had done when I come to die. 

" 18. Resolved, To live so at all times, as J 
think it best, in my most devout frames, and when 
I have the clearest notion of the things of tht? 
gospel and another world. 

" 19. Resolved, Never to do any thing whicl 
I should be afraid to do, if I expected it wouk 
not be above an hour before I should hear the last 

" 20. Resolved, To maintain the strictest tem 
perance in eating and drinking. 

"21. 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. 

" 22. Resolved, To endeavor to obtain for my 
self as much happiness in the other world, as I 
possibly can, with all the might, power, vigor, and 
vehemence, yea, violence, 1 am capable of, or 
can bring myself to exert, in any way that can 
be thought of. 

" 23. Resolved, Frequently to take some de- 
I.berate action, which seems most unlikely to be 
done for the glory of God, and trace it back to 
the original intention, designs, and ends of it ; and, 
if I find it not to be for God s glory, to repute i 
as a breach of the fourth resolution. 


" 24. Resolved, Whenever I do any conspicu 
ously evil action, to trace it back till I come to 
the original cause ; and then, both carefully to 
endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray 
with all my might against the original of it. 

44 25. Resolved, To examine carefully and con 
stantly what that one thing in me is, which causes 
me in the least to doubt of the love of God ; and 
to direct all my forces against it. 

"26. Resolved, To cast away such things as 
I find do abate my assurance. 

" 27. Resolved, Never wilfully to omit any 
thing, except the omission be for the glory of 
God ; and frequently to examine my omissions. 

" 28. 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. 

" 29. Resolved, Never to count that a prayer, 
nor to let that pass as a prayer, nor that as a peti 
tion of a prayer, which is so made, that I cannot 
hope that God will answer it ; nor that as a con 
fession, which I cannot hope God will accept. 

" 30. Resolved, To strive every week to be 
brought higher in religion, and to a higher exer 
cise of grace than I was the week before. 

"31. Resolved, Never to say any thing at all 
against anybody, but when it is perfectly agree 
able to the highest degree of Christian honor, and 


of love to mankind ; agreeable to the lowest hu 
mility 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. 

" 32. Resolved, To be strictly and firmly faith 
ful to my trust, that that in Proverbs, xx. 6, A 
faithful man, who can find 1 may not be partly 
fulfilled in me. 

" 33. Resolved, To do always towards making, 
maintaining, and preserving peace, when it can be 
done without an overbalancing detriment in other 

" 34. Resolved, In narrations, never to speak 
any thing but the pure and simple verity. 

" 35. Resolved, Whenever I so much question 
whether I have done my duty, as that my quiet 
and calm is thereby disturbed, to set it down, and 
also how the question was resolved. 

C 36. Resolved, Never to speak evil of any, 
except I have some particular good call to it. 

" 37. 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. 

" 38. Resolved, Never to utter any thing thai 
is sportive, or matter of laughter, on a Lord s 


" 39. Resolved, Never to do any thing ot 
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 ncit, unless I a& 
much question the lawfulness of the omission. 

" 40. 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 

"41. Resolved, To ask myselt, at the end of 
every day, week, month, and year, wherein 1 
could possibly, in any respect, have done better. 

" 42. Resolved, Frequently to renew the dedi 
cation of myself to God, which was made at my 
baptism ; which I solemnly renewed when I was 
received into the communion of the church ; and 
which I have solemnly remade this 12th day of 
January, 1723. 

" 43. Resolved, Never, henceforward, till I die, 
to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely 
and altogether God s ; agreeably to what is to be 
found in Saturday, January 12th, 1723. 

" 44. Resolved, That no other end but religion 
shall have any influence at all on any of my ac 
tions ; and that no action shall be, in the least 
circumstance, any otherwise than the religious end 
will carry it. 

"45. Resolved, Never to allow any pleasure 
or grief, joy or sorrow, nor any affection at all, noi 


any degree of affection, nor any circumstance re 
lating to it, but what helps religion. 

" 46. Resolved, Never to allow the least meas 
ure of fretting or uneasiness at my fatner or moth 
er. 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 w th 
respect to any of our family. 

"47. Resolved, To endeavor, to my utmost, 
to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good 
and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peace 
able, contented and easy, compassionate and gen 
erous, humble and meek, submissive and obliging, 
diligent and industrious, charitable and even, pa 
tient, moderate, forgiving, and sincere temper; and 
to do, at all times, what such a temper would lead 
me to, and to examine, strictly, at the end of 
every week, whether I have so done. 

" 48. Resolved, Constantly, with the utmost 
niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, 
to be looking into the state of my soul, that I 
may know whether I have truly an interest in 
Christ or not ; that, when I come to die, I may 
not have any negligence respecting this, to re 
pent of. 

" 49. Resolved, That this shall never be, if I 
can help it. 

" 50. Resolved, That I will act so, as I think 

I. 3 


I shall judge would have been best and most 
prudent, when I come into the future world. 

"51. Resolved, That I will act so, in every 
respect, as I think I shall wish I had done, if I 
should at last be damned. 

(( 52. I frequently hear persons in old age sa) 
how they would live, if they were to live thei" 
lives over again. Resolved, that I will live ju?1 
so as I can think I shall wish I had done, sup 
posing I live to old age. 

"53. Resolved, To improve every opportunity, 
when I am in the best and happiest frame of 
mind, to cast and venture my soul on the Lord 
Jesus Christ, to trust and confide in him, and 
consecrate myself wholly to him ; that from this 
I may have assurance of my safety, knowing that 
[ confide in my Redeemer. 

" 54. Resolved, Whenever I hear any thing 
spoken in commendation of any person, if I think 
it would be praiseworthy in me, that I will en 
deavor to imitate it. 

" 55. Resolved, To endeavor, to my utmost, 
so to act as I can think I should do, if I had 
already seen the happiness of heaven, and hell 

" 56. Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the 
least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, 
however unsuccessful I may be. 

" 57. Resolved, When I fear misfortunes and 


adversity, to examine whether I have done my 
duty, and resolve to do it, and let the event be 
just as Providence orders it. I will, as far as I 
can, be concerned about nothing but my duty and 
my sin. 

" 58. Resolved, Not only to refrain from an 
air of dislike, fretfulness, and anger in conversa 
tion ; but to exhibit an air of love, cheerfulness, 
and benignity. 

" 59. Resolved, When I am most conscious of 
provocations to ill-nature and anger, that I will 
strive most to feel and act good-naturedly ; yea, 
at such times to manifest good-nature, though I 
think that in other respects it would be disadvan 
tageous, and so as would be imprudent at other 

" 60. Resolved, Whenever my feelings begin 
to appear in the least out of order, when I am 
conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the 
least irregularity without, I will then subject my 
self to the strictest examination. 

"61. Resolved, That I will not give way to 
that listlessness which I find unbends and relaxes 
my mind from being fully and fixedly set on re 
ligion, whatever excuse I may have for it ; that 
what my listlessness inclines me to do, is best to 
be done, &c. 

" 62. Resolved, Never to do any thing but my 
duty, and then, according to Ephesians vi. 6 8 


to do it willingly and cheerfully, as unto the Lord, 
and not to man ; knowing, that whatever good any 
man doth, the same shall he receive of the Lord. 

" 63. 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 ex 
cellent 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. 

"64. Resolved, When I find those groan- 
ings which cannot be uttered, of which the 
Apostle speaks, and those breakings of soul 
for the longing it hath, of which the Psalmist 
speaks, Psalm cxix. 20, that I will promote them 
to the utmost of my power, and that I will not 
be weary of earnestly endeavoring to vent my 
desires, nor of the repetitions of such earnest 

" 65. Resolved, Very much to exercise mysell 
in this, ill my life long, namely, with the greatest 
openness of which I am capable, to declare my 
ways to God, and lay open my soul to him, all 
my sins, temptations, difficulties, sorrows, fears, 
hopes, desires, and every thing, and every cir 
cumstance, according to Dr. Man ton s Sermon on 
the 11 9th Psalm 


"66. Resolved, That I will endeavor always 
co keep a benign aspect, and air of acting and 
speaking, in all places and in all companies, ex 
cept it should so happen that duty requires other 

"67. Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, 
What am I the better for them? what good I 
have got by them, and what I might have got by 

" 68. Resolved, To confess frankly to myseL 
all that which I find in myself, either infirmity 01 
sin ; and, if it be what concerns religion, also to 
confess the whole case to God, and implore need 
ed help. 

" 69. Resolved, Always to do that which I 
shall wish I had done, when I see others do it. 

" 70. Let there be something of benevolence 
in all that I speak." 

A number of these resolutions have been so 
often repeated and adopted by eminent men since 
the days of Edwards, and are, on this account, so 
familiar to the minds of intelligent readers, that 
their real character and bearing, as formed more 
than a hundred years ago by an inexperienced 
youth under twenty years of age, who, perhaps, 
had rarely seen such a code, or any thing like 
it before, are seldom adequately appreciated. We 
cannot help pausing again to direct the reader s 
attention to them, as evincing a depth of prao 


tical wisdom ; a delicacy and strength of consci 
entiousness ; an honesty of desire to kr ow and 
correct his own infirmities ; a firmness and con 
stuncy of religious purpose ; a moral purity and 
elevation, and an habitual spirituality of mind, 
which are peculiarly worthy of being sought by 
every young man who wishes to act a part corre 
sponding with his rational and immortal nature, 
and from which the most advanced and devoted 
Christian may derive profit. There is indeed in 
them, not merely a specimen of moral purity, 
but of the moral sublime, as beautiful as it is 

In the month of September, 1723, Mr. Ed 
wards attended the Commencement of Yale 
College, and received the degree of Master of 
Arts. At the same time he was elected to the 
office of tutor in that institution. But, as it was 
not necessary that he should enter on the dis 
charge of the duties of that office for a number 
of months, he passed the succeeding winter and 
spring at New Haven, in diligent theological study. 
During this time, he was invited by several con 
gregations to undertake the pastoral office over 
them ; but, sensible of the importance of more 
mature and enlarged knowledge, he declined all 
those invitations, contented himself with the occa 
sional exercise of his pulpit talents, and directed 
his mind with ardor to writing and reading on 


professional subjects, until the following June. 
Here is another evidence of an enlarged and 
elevated mind. He "magnified" the importance 
and responsibility of the office which he sought. 
Many a young man, since, as well as before his 
time, of narrow views and crude knowledge, has 
rushed into the pastoral office with scarcely any 
of that furniture which enables the shepherd of 
souls "rightly to divide the word of truth"; but 
JONATHAN EDWARDS, with a mind of superior 
grasp and penetration, and with attainments al 
ready greater than common, did not think three 
fall years of diligent professional study enough to 
prepare him for thi:> arduous work. He could 
not prevail on himself to accept a pastoral charge, 
until, after his collegiate graduation, he had de 
voted six years to close and appropriate study 
A similar estimate on the same subject was formed 
long before by a kindred mind. John Calvin, 
after he had published the first edition of his " In 
stitutions of the Christian Religion," that wonder 
ful monument of learning, piety, and talents, did 
not consider himself as sufficiently mature in 
knowledge to undertake the pastoral office, and 
was on his way to Strasburg, for the purpose of 
further pursuing his studies, when he was con 
strained, by irresistible importunity, to stop at 
Geneva, and there give his aid to the friends of 
the Reformation. When will young men, un- 


speakably inferior to these master-minds, both in 
capacity and attainment, learn to resist that spirit 
of superficial, presumptuous haste, which is hur 
rying them prematurely into the pulpit, and bur 
dening the church, to a lamentable extent, with 
" blind leaders of the blind " ? 

In the month of June, 1724, Mr. Edwards 
commenced his actual attention to the duties of 
a tutor in Yale College. It has been already 
mentioned, that during his connexion with the 
college as an undergraduate, the state of the in 
stitution was far from tranquil or flourishing. The 
period of his residence in it as a tutor was marked 
with new and serious difficulties. From January, 
1721, to the Commencement in 1722, the stu 
dents were, the greater part of the time, in a state 
of the most distressing insubordination and dis 
order. At the Commencement in 1722, the Rev 
erend Mr. Cutler, the rector, and one of the 
tutors, declared themselves converts to Episco 
pacy. This declaration resulted in their imme 
diate removal from office ; and the college was 
for four years without a presiding head. 

In this exigency, each of the trustees agreed to 
act as vice-rector, for a month in turn ; and the 
instruction of the classes, and the details of gov 
ernment, were devolved almost entirely on the 
tutors. It was happy for the college, that, in 
these circumstances, t.hev had tutors of such rare 


accomplishments as were those of young Edwards 
and his colleagues. The singular union in Mr. 
Edwards, of gravity, dignity, fine talents, accurate 
scholarship, eminent piety, and remarkably gentle 
and respectful manners, could scarcely fail of con 
ciliating the respect and attachment of a body of 
students. His colleagues seem in some degree to 
have resembled him. Under their administration, 
the institution might really be said to flourish. 
President Stiles pronounced them " the pillar tu 
tors, and the glory of the college at the critical 
period " under consideration. 

It is the remark of Lord Bacon, that " reading 
makes a full man ; conversation a ready man ; 
and writing an exact man." He might have 
added, that teaching includes, and has a ten 
dency to extend and rivet, the advantages of all 
three. It is wonderful that young men, who 
prize accurate and digested knowledge, do not 
more generally appreciate the value, as a mental 
discipline, of engaging in the business of instruc 
tion. There can be no doubt that young Edwards 
derived essential advantage from filling the office 
of tutor for more than two years. True, it inter 
rupted, in a considerable degree, his professional 
studies ; and he appears to have thought that it 
interfered not a little with his comfort, and es 
pecially with his progress, in religion. But that 
this employment served to arrange and digest 


his knowledge ; that it contributed to enlarge his 
views both in literature and science, and to render 
those views more systematic and practical ; that 
it aided him in the work of professional instruc 
tion as long as he lived ; and that it imparted to 
his whole character more of that firmness, energy, 
skill in managing minds, and self-confidence, which 
were of essential use to him in after-life, none 
will, for a moment, doubt. 

And, even with respect to his growth in grace, 
his occupations as tutor, if they served to diminish 
his opportunities for tranquil and devout retire 
ment, were well adapted to show the need of re 
ligion ; to exemplify the power of religion ; and 
to prepare him to return to his former privileges 
with more zeal and real enjoyment. Nay, more ; 
when a tree is advancing toward maturity, it is 
no doub* benefited by calm seasons and genial 
weather. But even the wind and the storm, with 
all their untoward appearances, are means of bene 
fit, by causing it to take deeper root, and to be 
come more firmly fixed in the soil. So the un 
wearied labor and the continual anxiety of a 
college officer, situated as was young Edwards, 
had a tendency to ripen his spiritual judgment, 
to confirm his religious principles, and to give 
the whole man a more steadfast, rooted, and de 
termined character. 

In the course of the second year of his tutor- 


ship, he was visited with a severe attack of illness, 
which confined him to the house for nearly three 
months. During this illness, and especially in 
the progress of his recovery from it, he appears 
tc have manifested the strength of religious prin 
ciple and the consolations of religious hope nearly, 
if not quite, as much as at any previous period. 
And although he himself, as before suggested, 
made a less favorable estimate of his religious 
state at this time, than before, it may be doubted 
whether his apprehension was well founded to any 
serious extent. It is certain, however, that his 
Diary about this time was not so full, and does 
not appear to have been so punctually kept as 

Mr. Edwards, during his connexion with the 
college at New Haven, as well as afterwards, was 
in the habit of frequently setting apart days for 
special prayer arid self-examination, accompanied 
with fasting. Nor did he regard the duty of fast- 
ing us some modern sciolists in religion affect to 
consider it, as a mere metaphorical fast, that is, 
as " fasting in spirit"; as only a season of "special 
abstinence from sin." To act upon this principle 
is solemn mockery. It is setting at nought all 
the representations of this duty, either by precept 
or example, in the word of God, or in the ex 
ample of the most eminently godly men in all 
ages. Just as well might men talk of paying 


their debts in spirit, or of performing deeds of 
charity only in spirit. Mr. Edwards considered 
literal abstinence from food, either entire or par 
tial, according to the state of his health and other 
circumstances, as essentially included in this duty 

Generally on these days, the state of his mind, 
as recorded in his Diary, seems to have borne a 
very marked character. The following extracts 
from that record will serve to show, that there was 
no real decline, at the time of its date, in his deep 
moral sensibility, his sacred and delicate conscien 
tiousness, and his ardent desire to mortify all sin, 
and to grow in every grace and virtue. 

" Friday night, October 1th, 1723. I see 
there are some things quite contrary to the sound 
ness and perfection of Christianity, in which al 
most all good men do allow themselves, and where 
innate corruption has an unrestrained, secret vent, 
which they never take notice of, or think to be 
no hurt, or cloak under the name of virtue ; which 
things exceedingly darken the brightness, and hide 
the loveliness, of Christianity. Who can under 
stand his errors ? Oh that I might be kept from 
secret faults ! " 

" Thursday, October 18th. To follow the ex 
ample of Mr. B., who, though he meets with 
great difficulties, yet undertakes them with a smil 
ing countenance, as though he thought them but 
little, and speaks of them as if they were very 


u Tuesday night, December 3lst. Concluded 
never to suffer, nor express, any angry emotions 
of mind, more or less, except the honor of God 
calls for it in zeal to him, or to preserve myselt 
from being trampled on." 

" Monday, February 3d, 1724. Let every thing 
have the value now which it will have on a sick 
bed ; and frequently, in my pursuits, of whatever 
kind, let this question come into my mind, How 
much shall I value this on my death-bed ? " 

" Wednesday, February 5th. I have not, in 
times past, in my prayers, enough insisted on the 
glorifying of God in the world ; on the advance 
ment of the kingdom of Christ, the prosperity of 
the church, and the good of man. Determined, 
that the following objection is without weight, 
namely ; that it is not likely that God will make 
great alterations in the whole world, and over- 
turnings in kingdoms and nations, only for the 
prayers of one obscure person, seeing such things 
used to be done in answer to the united prayers 
of the whole church ; and that, if my prayers 
should have some influence, it would be but im 
perceptible and small." 

" Thursday, February 6th. More convinced 
than ever of the usefulness of free religious con 
versation. I find by conversing on natural phi 
losophy, that I gain knowledge abundantly faster, 
tnd see the reason of things much more clearly, 


than in private study ; wherefore, earnestly to 
seek, at all times, for religious conversation ; and 
for those with whom 1 can, at all times, with profit 
and delight, and with freedom, so converse. 

" Saturday, February 2%d. I observe, that 
there are some evil habits which do increase and 
grow stronger, even in some good people, as they 
grow older; habits that much obscure the beauty 
of Christianity ; some things which are according 
to their natural tempers, which, in some measure, 
prevails when they are young in Christ, and, the 
evil disposition having an unobserved control, the 
habit at last grows very strong, and commonly 
regulates the practice until death. By this means, 
old Christians are very commonly, in some re 
spects, more unreasonable than those who are 
young. I am afraid of contracting such habits, 
particularly of grudging to give, and to do, and 
of procrastinating." 

" Tuesday, July 7th. When I am giving the 
relation of a thing, remember to abstain from al 
tering, either in the matter or manner of speaking, 
so much as that, if every one, afterwards, should 
alter as much, it would at last come to be properly 

" Tuesday, February 10th, 1725. A virtue 
which I need in a higher degree, to give lustre 
and beauty to my behavior, is gentleness. If I 
had more of an air of gentleness, I should be 
much mended." 


-June llth. To set apart days of meditation 
on particular subjects ; as, sometimes, to set apart 
a day for the consideration of the greatness of my 
sins ; at ano*.her, to consider the dreadfulness and 
certainty of the future misery of ungodly men ; at 
another, the truth and certainty of religion; and 
so of the great future things promised and threat 
ened in the Scriptures." 

The last extract deserves particular notice, inas 
much as it illustrates, in a very striking manner, 
one of the great peculiarities of the character of 
Edwards. He was unwilling, even at this early 
age, to do any thing slightly or superficially. His 
object seems to have been to go to the bottom of 
every subject that he touched ; and, above all, did 
he manifest this with respect to sacred things. 

It is supposed that most pious men, and even 
those who are fervently pious, in setting apart 
days for special devotion, are wont to comprehend 
among the objects of their serious consideration a 
variety of topics, such as their sins, their mercies, 
their duties, their failures, their prospects, and all 
in the same exercise. No doubt this compre 
hensive plan is, to a certain extent, at all times 
proper. But the subject of this memoir seems 
to have found it for his edification, at least on 
some occasions, to select seasons of special retire 
ment and devotion for dwelling on particular sub 
jects with peculiar ser ousness, and in a more 


thorough and extended manner than usual. He 
would labor for hours to keep a given subject, or 
class of subjects, before his mind, and to enter 
into them as deeply and extensively as possible, 
until his own mind was deeply affected by them. 

One of the greatest defects of most pious men, 
and of most intellectual men, is the want of the 
power and the habit of continuous meditation. 

No one was ever eminently devout, or emi 
nently successful in the work of investigation, who 
had not, in some good degree, attained this im 
portant habit. To be able to look at a subject 
closely, with fixed attention, and for a considerable 
time together, is essential to the art of conversing 
deeply with our own hearts, or examining any im 
portant question in the most profound and happy 
manner. This precious art Edwards diligently 
cultivated, and to a very unusual degree attained ; 
and the benefit of it was abundantly manifest, both 
in the depth of his piety, and the distinguished 
success of his moral and theological investigations. 

As he strove to go to the bottom of every sub 
ject in his intellectual inquiries, so he seems es 
pecially to have resolved to be superficial in noth 
ing pertaining to the duties of the closet. He 
was willing to take time for meditation, as well as 
for prayer ; to dwell on important subjects bearing 
on the religion of the heart, until he, in some 
measure, grasped the length and breadth, and 


depth and height, of their real character, and 
until his mind was, in some good degree, affected 
with their practical importance. There are few 
points in the history of this great man more wor 
thy of being closely studied and diligently imi 
tated. There is perhaps scarcely any defect, 
which more lamentably cleaves to the habits, the 
attainments, and the efforts of even good men, 
than that of superficiality. In scholarship, in 
theological furniture, in practical piety, in the 
duties of devotion, and in benevolent enterprise, 
few things seem to be more needed than going 
to work, in every thing, in that thorough manner, 
which characterized the excellent subject of this 
memoir. He seemed to feel in every thing, in 
searching his own heart as well as in investigating 
truth, or in any way attempting to benefit his 
fellow-men, that he was acting for eternity. 



His Settlement as a Pastor at Northampton. 
Ministerial Habits. Marriage* His first 
Publication Ministerial Success. Second 
and third Publications. His European Cor 

DURING the summer of 1726, when Mr. Ed 
wards had held the office of tutor for a little more 
than two years, he received a pressing invitation 
to undertake the pastoral office at Northampton, 
as a colleague to his grandfather, the Reverend 
Solomon Stoddard, who had been for more than 
half a century the highly venerated and beloved 
pastor of the Congregational church in that town. 
The people of Northampton were of course well 
acquainted with the character and standing of 
their pastor s grandson, and earnestly desired to 
obtain his services. Their pastor was warmly 
attached to the promising youth by the joint ties 
of consanguinity and high esteem, arid was no tass 
desirous of receiving him as a colleague. And 
Mr. Edwards, on his part, had been, on a variety 
of accounts, long attached to the people and the 
place, and was predisposed to regard with favor 
their proposals He accepted their call ; and on 


the 15th day of February, 1727, in the twenty 
fourth year of his age, he was ordained to the 
work of the gospel ministry, and installed co- 
pastor of the church of Northampton. 

Here his ministrations were highly acceptable, 
and his external situation at least such as promised 
an unusual amount of ministerial comfort. Located 
in one of the most beautiful towns in New Eng 
land, connected with a people more than com 
monly intelligent and polished, and united in the 
pastoral relation with one on every account so 
beloved and venerated, there seemed to be no 
outward circumstance wanting to render his situa 
tion pleasant and promising. In one respect, in 
deed, and that the most important, the town was 
by no means prosperous. The state of religion 
was low. The church, it is true, during Mr. 
Stoddard s ministry, had been blessed with several 
extensive and powerful revivals of religion, in the 
course of which, large additions had been made 
to their numbers. But for some time before Mr. 
Edwards s settlement among them, their spiritual 
condition had been by no means favorable ; and 
the greatly advanced age of Mr. Stoddard forbade 
the hope of his being much longer useful among 

Mr. Edwards addressed himself to his ministry 
m Northampton, with all that seriousness and dili 
gence which might have been expected from a 


man so well furnished for his work, and so deeply 
impressed with a sense of its importance. He 
resumed those habits of close study which had 
distinguished him almost from his infancy. He 
did not content himself with constant and careful 
preparation for the pulpit, but spent a large por 
tion of each week in the diligent study of the 
original Scriptures, and in theological investiga 
tion on the most extended scale. He also con 
tinued, or rather now employed to a greater ex 
tent than ever, the habit of studying with pen 
in hand ; making notes on every book which he 
studied ; recording his thoughts on every impor 
tant subject which came before his mind; and 
daily adding to that mass of manuscripts which 
he began to form several years before, and which 
now accumulated more rapidly under his hands. 

His habit was, when in his ordinary health, to 
spend thirteen hours every day in his study. His 
ordinary health was, indeed, extremely delicate ; 
and to maintain it in tolerable comfort required 
unceasing care. Nor would it have been possible 
for him to sustain the amount of study which has 
been stated, had not his daily attention to bodily 
exercise, his system of vigilant abstemiousness in 
eating and drinking, and his constant regard to all 
the means of bodily and mental relaxation and 
refreshment within his reach, been kept up with 
undeviating punctuality. All these he maintained 


with sacred care from day to day, as a religious 

His most favorite form of exercise seems to 
have been that of riding on horseback. And 
even this, with a sort of insatiable greediness for 
knowledge, he rendered subservient to his plans 
of study. He would ride out several miles, taking 
his pen and ink and paper with him ; and, alight 
ing in some forest or grove, he would meditate ; 
and, as thoughts which he considered valuable 
occurred to him, he committed them in a hasty 
manner to writing. And even when he was rid 
ing along, if any thing which he deemed worth 
preserving came into his mind, he would alight, 
take out his writing apparatus, and make a memo 
randum of it, sufficiently intelligible to secure the 
thought in a more permanent form when he re 
turned home. In this manner he seldom returned 
from a ride without bringing with him hints and 
suggestions adapted to serve as the basis of im 
portant theological inquiries, or to throw light on 
some peculiarly rich or difficult passage of holy 
Scripture. And if, in the course of the night, 
any thought which he considered as worth re 
membering arose in his mind, he would imme 
diately rise, light a candle, and commit enough 
of it to writing to serve as a memorial of the 
whole train, to be afterwards distinctly recorded. 

Tn this way did this wonderful man pass his 


time, employing every waking moment not occu 
pied in devotion, either in the eager acquisition 
of knowledge, or in imparting it to others for their 
temporal and eternal benefit. " So exact was the 
distribution of his time," says his biographer, " and 
so perfect the command of his mental powers, 
that, in addition to his preparation of two dis 
courses in each week, his stated and occasional 
lectures and his customary pastoral duties, he con 
tinued regularly his "Notes on the Scriptures," 
his " Miscellanies," his " Types of the Messiah," 
and his " Prophecies of the Messiah in the Old 
Testament, and their Fulfilment." Such were the 
earlier, as well as the later habits of a man, who 
was, probably, enabled to accomplish more, not 
only for his cotemporaries, but also for the per 
manent benefit of the church of God, than any 
other single individual of our country, of the age 
in which he lived. 

On the 28th of July, 1727, Mr. Edwards was 
married to Miss Sarah Pierrepont, daughter of the 
Reverend James Pierrepont, pastor of a church 
in New Haven. Mr. Pierrepont was a minister 
highly respectable for talents, usefulness, and in 
fluence. He was one of the leading founders and 
patrons of Yale College ; one of its board of 
trustees ; and, in the infant state of the institution, 
read lectures to the students, as professor pro tem- 
vore of moral philosophy. The " Saybrook Plat" 


form," if tradition be correct, was drafted by him 
His father, John Pierrepont, Esquire, was a re 
spectable gentleman, a native of England, who 
migrated from that country toward the close of 
the preceding century, and settled in Massachu 

Perhaps no event of Mr. Edwards s life had a 
more close connexion with his subsequent comfort 
and usefulness than this marriage. Miss Pierre 
pont was a lady, who, to much personal attraction, 
added an unusual amount of those intellectual and 
moral qualities, which fit their possessor to adorn 
the most important stations. She had an under 
standing much above the ordinary grade ; an edu 
cation the best that the country afforded ; fervent, 
enlightened piety ; and an uncommon share of that 
prudence, dignity, and polish, which are so pecu 
liarly valuable in the wife of a pastor. From a 
very early period after their union, she seems to 
have taken on herself the whole management of 
her family, and thus to have relieved her husband 
from all the anxieties and interruptions of domestic 
care, and left him at liberty to pursue his studies 
without remission. In short, he appears to have 
been completely relieved by her from all secular 
concerns. Her wisdom, energy, economy, and 
persevering industry enabled her to preside over 
a large family, and manage her children with sin 
gular felicity, fidelity, and acceptance. 


Iideed, Mr. Edwards was so eminently blessed 
in the partner of his life, that a large share of the 
comfortable health which he enjoyed with so frail 

body, and of the tranquil, happy leisure with 
which he was favored for study, were to be as 
cribed, under God, to the unremitting care, skill, 
and enlightened assiduity of the best of wives, 
who devoted herself to his comfort with peculiar 
diligence arid success. Nor were the happy ef 
fects of her eminent accomplishments confined to 
her own family. She was highly popular among 
the members of his congregation, and established 
an influence over them, and especially with the 
female part of them, which greatly promoted the 
interests of religion in the parish, and which 
proved an important aid to him in the discharge 
of his pastoral duties. It is impossible to estimate 
how far the domestic relations of the greatest and 
best of men may make or mar their usefulness. 
Above all, none can measure the importance of a 
wise, pious, and prudent wife to a minister of the 
gospel. In the case of Edwards, it pleased the 
great Head of the church to order every thing 
concerning him in such a manner, as to make the 
most of the powers, which he had given him for 
serving the church and his generation. 

Very soon after the ordination of Mr. Edwards 3 
lie was permitted to witness some gratifying fruit 
of his labors. There was a sensible increase of 


attention and of serious inquiry among his people, 
and about twenty hopeful converts were brought 
into the communion of the church. This religious 
attention, though never very extensive or power 
ful, continued for nearly two years, and in no 
small degree encouraged the youthful pastor as 
well as his paternal coadjutor in labor. 

In February, 1729, a little more than eighteen 
months after Mr. Edwards s marriage, his vener 
able grandfather and colleague, Mr. Stoddard, was 
removed by death at a very advanced age, and 
the whole care of a large congregation devolved 
on our youthful pastor. In a short time after 
ward, by the increased pressure of his cares, and 
especially by the excess of his application to 
study, his health was so far impaired, that he 
was obliged to desist from preaching, and to be 
absent from his flock for several months. After 
his return, his labors seem to have been pursued 
for several years with their wonted diligence, vig 
or, and acceptance, but without any considerable 
measure of that visible success for which he, no 
doubt, earnestly longed and prayed. Indeed, after 
the decline of that effusion of the Holy Spirit 
which almost immediately succeeded his ordlna 
tion, the state of his church, as to vital piety and 
even correct morals, became sensibly worse, and 
greatly discouraged and distressed him. 

In July, 1731, Mr. Edwards visited Boston, and 


among other public ministrations, preached at the 
Thursday Lecture, which had been for many years 
maintained in that town. The discourse appeared 
to the ministers and others who heard it so excel 
ient and reasonable, that a copy of it was re 
quested for publication. With much reluctance 
he complied with the request. It was printed, 
with a preface by the Reverend Messrs. Prince 
and Cooper, highly venerated pastors of Boston, 
commending it in strong language. This was Mr. 
Edwards s first publication. The text was 1 Co 
rinthians, i. 29, 30. It appears among his printed 
works, under the title of " God glorified in Man s 
Dependence." It is an excellent sermon, and 
might have been expected to gratify intelligent 
and pious hearers. The general subject was a 
favorite one of the author, and often occupied his 
heart and employed his pen afterwards. 

Prior to the year 1732, as has been already 
hinted, the state of religion in the church at 
Northampton had been lamentably low and de 
clining. Early in that year, the appearance of 
things began to be more favorable. A number 
of the young people became more sober and at 
tentive to the means of grace. Several mis 
chievous practices, which had been common, and 
not unpopular in the town, were gradually aban 
doned The vigilant and faithful pastor observing 
this, and anxious that his people should proceed 


inderstandingly , as well as conscientiously, in all 
things, as the religious awakening gained ground, 
took up several important subjects in the pulpit, 
both doctrinal and practical, and treated them in 
a deeply solemn and impressive manner. The 
result was, that by the blessing of God on the 
indefatigable labors of his servant in 1733, 1734, 
and 1735, especially in the last named year, the 
town was favored with an extensive and powerful 
revival of religion ; so extensive and powerful, 
indeed, as to constitute a memorable era in the 
history of that church. 

A variety of circumstances, both preceding and 
attending this revival, are worthy of notice. Im 
mediately before its commencement, the Arminian 
controversy had occupied a large share of the 
public attention in that part of New England, and 
had been conducted with zeal and in some cases 
with oreat warmth. Some of the friends of re- 


ligion in Northampton deprecated the introduction 
of this controversy into their church, as like y to 
exert an unhappy influence on the public mind, 
and to suspend, if not destroy, the religious atten 
tion which was evidently becoming more powerful 
and general. 

Mr. Edwards judged differently. Believing the 
Arminian errors to have a most pestiferous influ 
ence in their bearing on the great subject of sal 
vation by grace, and feeling confident that a time 


of general awakening to the interests of religion, 
instead of being unfavorable, was rather friendly 
to a serious consideration of the subject, he de 
termmed, in spite of the fears and in opposition to 
the counsels of many of his friends, to introduce 
the main branches of the controversy into the 
pulpit. He accordingly preached a series of able 
and solemn sermons on the subject, which, though 
severely censured at the time by some of his own 
people, and by a still greater number in the neigh- 
ooring churches, ultimately produced a powerful 
and happy effect ; and, instead of interrupting or 
diminishing the religious attention among the peo 
ple of his charge, were instrumental in rendering 
it more deep and extensive. Among the dis 
courses delivered on this occasion, were the well- 
known sermons afterwards printed, on " Justifica 
tion by Faith alone ; " " Pressing into the King 
dom of God ; " " Ruth s Resolution," and " The 
Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners." It 
is not wonderful, that he should consider discourses 
of this kind as adapted to do good at any time, 
and especially in a moment of peculiar religious 
attention. They are indeed, in one sense, polem 
ical in their character ; for they are employed in 
" contending earnestly " for the fundamental truths 
of the gospel ; but they have nothing of the acri 
mony of controversy. On the contrary, they are 
characterized by that power of evangelical reason- 


ing, that awfulness of solemnity, and that tender 
ness of appeal, which might have been expected 
to become instrumental in commencing a revival 
of religion, instead of arresting one after it had 

Accordingly the effect was most manifest and 
happy. The religious attention, which had before 
disclosed a very promising character, now assumed 
an aspect of the most impressive and animating 
kind. It extended to every part of the town and 
neighborhood, and became the absorbing subject 
of attention and conversation in all companies. 
Scarcely a family or even an individual of the con 
gregation remained unconcerned. Almost every 
house furnished one or more monuments of the 
power of divine grace. The most thoughtless 
and licentious, and even a number of the most 
systematic and determined opposers of religion, 
were arrested in their course, and made to bow 
to the power of the Gospel. Persons of all ages, 
ranks, and professions were among the hopeful 
subjects of sanctifying grace. The learned and 
the ignorant, the profligate and the decent, and 
about an equal number of both sexes, were hope 
fully brought into the kingdom of Christ. In the 
whole, more than three hundred persons from a 
state of carelessness became, as was hoped, real 
Christians in the course of a few months. This 
number, in a town not containing at that time 


more than two hundred families, was certainly 

The whole aspect of the town was changed. 
The power of religion, if it did not govern every 
heart, certainly exerted an influence in every 
house, and commanded a solemnity of attention 
unknown before. The habits of the young people, 
which had, for several preceding years, given so 
much uneasiness to the best part of the church, 
were entirely laid aside. Docility and order were 
now their reigning characteristics, even in those 
few cases in which piety had not taken possession 
of their hearts. The kingdom of God, in this 
case, remarkably verified the inspired description 
" It was not in word, but in power ; " a powei 
which seemed, in some degree, to pervade the 
whole population. A careless person could scarce 
ly be found in the whole neighborhood. The truth 
is, at the close of the revival, almost the whole 
adult population of the town was found in the 
communion of the church. 

From the full and interesting account given of 
this work of grace by Mr. Edwards himself, it 
appears to have been conducted throughout in a 
calm, rational, Scriptural manner, without fanati 
cism or disorder, and to have resulted, as to the 
character of its fruits, to the honor of religion, 
and greatly to the edification of the church. He 
informs us also, that the doctrinal instruction which 


was instrumental in commencing and extending 
this revival, was the sound, orthodox system which 
the Puritan fathers had been preaching for more 
than a hundred preceding years. The doctrines, 
the proclamation of which was so eminently 
blessed, he expressly tells us, were the total de 
pravity of human nature ; the entire moral im 
potence of the sinner ; the sufferings and death 
of Christ as the substitute of his people ; their 
justification solely by his imputed righteousness, 
received by faith alone; and the absolute sove 
reignty of God in the dispensation of his grace. 
These, he assures us, were the doctrines which 
he constantly preached, and which he ever found 
most effectual in awakening men to a sense of 
their danger, and leading them to the Savior. 

Among those who advised Mr. Edwards to ab 
stain from preaching on the Arminian controversy, 
was a wealthy and respectable family in a neigh 
boring town, related to Mr. Edwards, but who 
had become strongly infected with Arminian er 
rors, and felt unwilling to have them attacked 
The course which he took in opposition to their 
advice, incurably offended and alienated them. 
They ceased not to be his bitter enemies, and to 
do all in their power to injure him as long as he 

Toward the close of 1735, the religious atten 
tion declined. The few, who had passed through 


it unmoved, were hardened into still deeper indif 
ference. Another class who had been excited 
and alarmed, but not sanctified, relapsed into their 
former carelessness ; and the intense feeling even 
of the truly pious, which had been so long ex 
cited and kept on the stretch, in a considerable 
degree lost its intensity, and returned to its ordi 
nary state. So much for what may be called the 
natural and ordinary causes of the decline in ques 
tion. Besides these, there were, in the opinion 
of Mr. Edwards, some other considerations, which 
had an influence unfriendly to the continuance 
and extension of the revival. These were two 
or three instances of " enthusiastic delusion " in 
neighboring towns, which, in the view of some, 
threw discredit on the cause of vital piety ; and an 
ardent controversy respecting the settlement of a 
minister, which arose in a town at some distance 
from Northampton, which not only agitated the 
church more immediately interested in the event, 
but extended its unhappy influence to some of 
the most remote churches of the colony. 

It cannot be doubted that a scene such as has 
been described, brought a great increase of labor 
to Mr. Edwards, and put to a severe test his frail 
bodily health. His public labors in the pulpit anc 
in the lecture-room were, of course, greatly mul 
tiplied ; and his study was almost every day, for 
months together, constantly thronged with anxious 


inquirers. Visiters from the neighboring towns 
also flocked to Northampton, and many of them 
resorted to the pastor for instruction and counsel. 
In addition to all this, the wonders of the scene 
attracted the attention of many pastors from ad 
jacent as well as more distant churches, who very 
naturally sought the company and the counsel of 
him, who was permitted to enjoy so wonderful a 
share of ministerial success. 

Seldom has a pastor been placed in circum 
stances more adapted to try his strength, and, 
indeed, to overwhelm him with an amount of 
labor beyond the power of any one to endure. 
But Mr. Edwards was wonderfully sustained un 
der it all. With a constitution of extreme deli 
cacy and feebleness, amidst all the accumulation 
of labors which he was called to endure, his 
health was mercifully preserved. He experienced 
most eminently the truth of that promise, " As 
thy day is, so shall thy strength be." That he 
was favored at this time with a large increase 
of Christian affection and zeal, there can be no 
doubt. Probably, indeed, as his spiritual stature 
was greater than that of any individual around 
him, so it may be supposed that he participated 
more largely than any other in that hallowed grati 
tude and joy which could not fail to be a constant 
and a richly sustaining cordial to the spirit. 

But it would be unjust to the memory of one 

I. 5 


of the most excellent of women not to say, that 
the unremitting attentions and care of Mrs. Ed 
wards contributed greatly on this, as on all similar 
occasions, to promote the health and comfort ot 
her husband, and, under God, the efficiency of 
his spiritual labors. Although she was at this time 
the mother of three children, and under the ac 
cumulating burden of those peculiar cares which 
occupy the faithful mother, she found time to aid 
her husband not a little at this interesting and 


trying season. She seems to have devoted her 
self to his comfort with an assiduity which never 
grew weary, and to have rendered him invaluable 
aid in meeting and conversing with the female 
portion of those, who visited him for conversation 
and counsel. Indeed, so intelligent and deep was 
her piety, so sound her understanding, and so 
winning her address, that probably few pastors 
were better qualified to converse with and counsel 
the anxious inquirer, than this excellent woman. 
She not only devoted herself every day to the 
work of doing good, but she appeared 
to act under the impression, that there was no 
way in which she could more effectually and ex 
tensively promote the Redeemer s kingdom and 
glory, than by promoting the comfort, alleviating 
the burdens, and aiding the labors of the vener 
ated minister of his church, with whom she was 
30 closely allied. 


With regard to the state of Mr. Edwards s own 
mind during this wonderful scene, and after it had 
closed, he has left a very distinct and ample 
record. He seems to have enjoyed religion dur 
ing this period, as highly, if not more highly, than 
ever before. Perhaps, in deep humility ; in fixed 
devotedness to the service and glory of Christ ; in 
an habitual impression of the evil of sin, and the 
beauty and excellence of conformity to the will 
of God ; in an adoring acquiescence in Jehovah s 
sovereignty, and in the largeness and depth of his 
views of the plan of salvation, he manifested a 
decisive increase of attainment. It was evident, 
that while the people of his charge had so exten 
sively profited by the work of grace which they 
had been permitted to witness, their pastor him 
self had experienced a very perceptible addition 
to his spiritual stature from all that he had passed 

It pleased God to employ this revival not only 
as a means of great good at home, but also of 
making Mr. Edwards more known abroad, and 
of introducing him to a foreign correspondence, 
which was evidently connected with no small ben 
efit to him in the end. In May, 1735, in answer 
to a letter of inquiry from the Reverend Dr. Col- 
man, of Boston, he wrote a brief account of the 
work of divine grace at Northampton, which was 
published by Dr. Colman, and immediately for- 


warded to the Reverend Dr. Watts and the Rev 
erend Dr. Guyse, of London. These latter gen 
tlemen felt so much interest in the account, that 
they sought for more information. He was, there 
fore, induced to prepare a much larger account, 
also in the form of a letter to Dr. Colman, dated 
November, 1736, which was published in London 
under the title of a " Narrative of Surprising Con 
versions," with an Introduction by Dr. Watts and 
Dr. Guyse, and extensively read b}^ the friends 
of religion in England. In 1738, this " Narra 
tive " was republished in Boston, with a highly 
commendatory Preface by four of the senior min 
isters of the town. The Boston edition was 
accompanied with five Discourses, four of which 
were before mentioned, on the following subjects, 
namely, " Justification by Faith alone ; Ruth s 
Resolution ; Pressing into the Kingdom of God ; 
the Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners, 
and the Excellency of Jesus Christ." This vol 
ume was extensively circulated, and was supposed 
to have been followed by an influence in many 
cases highly important and salutary. 

In the year 1739, Mr. Edwards commenced 
a series of discourses in his own pulpit, which 
formed the basis of his celebrated work, afterward* 
published, entitled "The History of the Work of 
Redemption." The whole series, consisting of 
thirty, was begun in March, and finished before 


tho close of the following August These dis 
courses do not seem to have been at first prepared 
with any view to publication, but solely for the 
benefit of his own people. There is abundant 
evidance, however, that the great subject to which 
the} related was deeply interesting to his mind ; 
that his views of it became more enlarged and 
interesting, the longer he considered it ; and that 
he conceived the plan, if his life and health were 
spared, to reconstruct and prepare the whole with 
much care for the press. Indeed, his earnest de 
sire to devote much time and labor in maturing 
this work is mentioned in his letter to the trustees 
of the College of New Jersey, as one objection 
to his accepting the presidency of that institution. 
It was never published during his life ; and, al 
though of great value, as it came from the press 
after his decease, he never had an opportunity of 
bestowing upon it that mature revision and com 
pletion, which he earnestly desired. 

In the spring of 1740, a second extensive and 
powerful revival of religion commenced in North 
ampton. It again very much pervaded the town, 
and large numbers were added to the church. In 
the autumn of that year, the Reverend George 
"Wmtefield, whose apostolical and eminently useful 
labors in Europe and America will long be re 
membered with adoring gratitude, on his second 
visit to the American colonies, went to North amp. 


ton for the purpose of seeing and conversing with 
Mr. Edwards. Their interview was highly inter 
esting. Mr. Whitefield spent four days with him, 
preached five sermons in his pulpit, and afterwards 
accompanied him, with some other friends, to East 
Windsor, for the purpose of paying their respects 
to Mr. Edwards s venerable father. 

The labors of this wonderful man in Northamp 
ton were blessed to the spiritual benefit of many 
individuals, and were instrumental in continuing 
and extending that happy state of religious at 
tention, which had preceded his seasonable visit. 
Mr. Edwards himself seems to have regarded this 
visit of the great English evangelist with peculiar 
pleasure, and to have attached no small impor 
tance to his labors at Northampton. His minis 
trations in other parts of New England were, 
beyond all doubt, eminently instrumental in pro 
moting the interests of real religion. 

In the course of the revival with which North 
ampton and a number of neighboring towns were 
favored, in 1740, and the two or three following 
years, the disorderly practice of lay-preaching 
commenced, and gained considerable ground in 
various parts of New England. Mr. Edwards 
set himself in opposition to it with all the decision 
and zeal, which might have been expected from 
that union of piety and wisdom, which he so emi 
nently possessed. The following letter, addressed 


by him, in 1742, to a beloved young friend, who 
had laid himself open to censure in this respect, 
is so instructive and excellent, that it is worthy 
of being here recorded. 

Northampton, 18 May, 1742. 

" I am fully satisfied by the account your father 
has given me, that you have gone out of the way 
of your duty, and done that which did not belong 
to you, in exhorting a public congregation. I 
know you to be a person of good judgment and 
discretion, and can, therefore, with the greater 
confidence put it to you, to consider with your 
self what you can reasonably judge would be the 
consequence, if I and all other ministers should 
approve and publicly justify such things as lay 
men s taking it upon them to exhort after this 
manner. If one may, why may not another? 
And if there be no certain limits or bounds, but 
every one that pleases may have liberty, alas ! 
what should we soon come to ? If God had not 
seen it necessary that such things should have 
certain limits and bounds, he never would have 
appointed a certain particular order of men to that 
work and office, to be set apart to it in so solemn 
a manner in the name of God. The Head of 
the church is wiser than we, and knew how tc 
regulate things in his church. 


" It is no argument that such things are right, 
that they do a great deal of good for the present, 
and within a narrow sphere; when at the same 
time, if we look on them in the utmost extent of 
their consequences, and on the long run of events, 
they do ten times as much hurt as good. Ap 
pearing events are not our rule, but the law and 
the testimony. We ought to be vigilant and cir 
cumspect, and look on every side, and as far as 
we can, to the further end of things. God may, 
if he pleases, in his sovereign providence, turn 
that which is most wrong to do a great deal of 
good for the present ; for he does what he pleases. 
I hope you will consider the matter, and for the 
future avoid doing thus. You ought to do what 
good you can by private, brotherly, humble ad 
monitions and counsels ; but it is too much for you 
to exhort public congregations, or solemnly to set 
yourself, by a set speech, to counsel a room full 
of people, unless it be children, or those that are 
much your inferiors, or to speak to any in an 
authoritative way. Such things have done a vast 
deal of mischief in the country, and have hin 
dered the work of God exceedingly. 

"The Reverend Mr. Gilbert Tennent has lately 
wntten a letter to one of the ministers of New 
England, earnestly to dissuade from such things. 
Your temptations are exceeding great. You had 
need to have the prudence and humility of ten 


men. If you are kept humble and prudent, you 
may be a great blessing in this part of the land ; 
otherwise, you may do as much hurt in a few 
weeks as you can do good in four years. You 
migh: be under great advantages by your pru- 
denct to prevent these irregularities and disorders 
in your parts, that prevail and greatly hinder the 
work of God in other parts of the country. But, 
by such things as these, you will weaken your 
own hands, and fill the country with nothing but 
vain and fruitless and pernicious disputes. Per 
sons, when very full of a great sense of things, are 
greatly exposed ; for then they long to do some 
thing, and to do something extraordinary ; and 
then is the Devil s time to keep them upon their 
heads, if they be not uncommonly circumspect and 

" I hope these few lines will be taken in good 
part, from your assured friend, 


The letter of Mr. Tennent, to which Mr. Ed 
wards refers, is also still extant, and is in the same 
strain of decisive and ardent exhortation against 
the disorder, which is the subject of his warning. 
Their remonstrances and exhortations ultimately 
prevailed. The irregularity in question was, 
gradually, though with no small difficulty, put 
down ; but not until it had wellnigh been the 


means of bringing the Gospel ministry, in many 
places, into contempt, and of pouring much dis 
credit on the cause of religion. The most unfa 
vorable anticipations of these eminent men were 
more than realized. 

In the midst of the religious attention, with 
which Mr. Edwards was now surrounded, and 
which also prevailed in many other parts of New 
England, he attended the Commencement at New 
Haven, and, being there called upon to preach, he 
delivered his well-known and able sermon, en 
titled, " Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the 
Spirit of God." It was so highly approved by 
the clergy and other friends of religion who heard 
it, that a copy of it was immediately requested 
for the press. It was accordingly soon afterwards 
printed in Boston, with a warmly commendatory 
Preface by the Reverend Mr. Cooper, one of the 
ministers of that town ; and, shortly after, was re- 
pubhshed in Scotland with a similar Preface, from 
the pen of the Reverend Mr. Willison, one of 
the most venerable and excellent ministers of the 
church of Scotland. This sermon had a wide 
circulation, and was considered as eminently use 
ful, by placing the cause of revivals of religion in 
a just and Scriptural light; guarding against lifeless 
formality on the one hand, and enthusiasm and 
fanaticism on the other. 

The religious attention with which Northampton 


was favored, and which the singular wisdom and 
piety of Mr. Edwards were instrumental, under 
the divine blessing, of guarding against any sig 
nal disorders, extended over a large part o r the 
then American colonies. Mr. Whitefield travelled 
extensively in every part of the country, and 
preached incessantly ; and his ministry was every 
where singularly blessed. The Reverend Messrs. 
Gilbert and William Tennent, both at that time 
pastors in New Jersey, also abounded at the same 
period in evangelical labors, both in New England 
and in the Middle colonies ; while Mr. Buell of 
Long Island, Mr. Wheelock of Connecticut, and 
a number of other zealous and excellent ministers, 
itinerated extensively in preaching the Gospel, in 
company with Mr. Edwards, or at his request. 
He invited them to Northampton, where they la 
bored with signal success ; and he himself devoted 
a number of months to journeying and preaching 
in various parts of the country. 

In consequence of the divine blessing on these 
ministrations of the word, a revival of religion 
more extensive and powerful than ever occurred, 
before or since, was vouchsafed to the American 
churches. The wonderful triumphs of Gospel 
truth with which the labors of those excellent 
men were attended, will long be remembered by 
the friends of piety, and can never be called to 
mind without gratitude and praise to Him, who has 


" the residue of the Spirit." More than one hun 
dred and fifty congregations in New England, New 
York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and 
Virginia, and as far south as South Carolina and 
Georgia, were visited and greatly blessed. Many 
thousands of individuals, there is reason to believe, 
were brought into the kingdom of Christ during 
that revival ; many old churches were greatly en 
larged, and new ones established in places before 
destitute of the means of grace ; and a new im 
pulse, and much more favorable aspect, given to 
the cause of religion in general in the American 

Amidst these animating scenes, in which the en 
lightened friends of piety greatly rejoiced, some 
circumstances of an adverse and painful character 
occurred. On the one hand, the whole work was 
opposed and ridiculed with great zeal by the ene 
mies of vital piety ; and, on the other hand, it 
was disgraced by the enthusiasm and folly of some 
of its professed friends. Disorders were permitted 
to interpose, which exceedingly grieved many in 
telligent Christians, and exerted, in a number of 
places, a most unfavorable influence on the great 
interests of vital piety. 

The unhappy effects of lay-preaching were be 
fore mentioned. This mischievous practice was 
indulged to a considerable extent in different parts 
of New England, and always with unfavorable 


results. But lay-preaching was not the only dis 
order which crept in to mar the beauty, and di 
minish the power of this glorious work of grace. 
Bodily agitations, in some cases apparently vol 
untary ; hideous and appalling outcries ; enthusi 
astic addresses to the imagination ; the praying 
and exhorting of females in public ; and attempts 
to decide on the spiritual condition of individuals 
by the countenance, &c , were encouraged in va 
rious places, and exceedingly grieved the hearts 
of judicious Christians. The language of harsh 
censure, and of uncharitable denunciation, as "un 
converted," as "blind leaders of the blind," as 
" devout conductors to hell," was directed against 
some of the best ministers of Christ in the com 
munity, because they disapproved of these irregu 

Public confessions of secret sins were warmly 
urged, and actually made ; and crimes altogether 
unsuspected brought to light, to the disgrace of 
Christian character, and the destruction of do 
mestic peace. The consequence was, that scenes 
and measures which were, no doubt, intended to 
make a salutary impression, were made the sub 
jects of unhallowed speculation, and the themes 
of a thousand tongues. All these were urged 
with the confidence of oracular wisdom ; and who 
ever ventured to lisp any thing like doubt or op 
position, was publicly stigmatized as an enemy to 
revivals, and an opposer of vital piety. 


Among those who took the lead in this fanatical 
and disorderly conduct, one individual obtained 
such an unhappy preeminence, that his case ought 
not only to be recorded, but to be kept before 
the public mind as a salutary warning. This was 
the Reverend James Davenport, a great-grandson 
of the excellent and venerable John Davenport, 
the first minister of New Haven, and, at that time, 
pastor of a church at Southhold, on Long Island. 
Mr. Davenport was then a young man, and had 
been for some time esteemed a pious and faithful 
minister. Hearing of the signal effusions of the 
Holy Spirit with which God had been pleased 
to favor many parts of New England, he, about 
the year 1741, made a visit to Connecticut, and 
shortly afterwards to Massachusetts, everywhere 
preaching abundantly, and entering with warmth 
into the spirit of the prevailing revivals. 

He soon, however, became animated by a furi 
ous zeal, and, imagining that he was called to take 
a special lead in the work, he began to set at 
nought all the rules of Christian prudence and 
order, and to give the most unrestrained liberty to 
his fanatical feelings. He raised his voice to the 
highest pitch in public services, and accompanied 
his unnatural vehemence and cantatory bawling 
with the most vehement agitations of body. He 
encouraged his hearers to give vent, without re 
straint, both to their distress and their joy, by 


violent outcries in the midst of public assemblies. 
He pronounced those who were thus violently 
agitated, and who made these public outcries, to 
be, undoubtedly, converted persons. He openly 
encouraged his new converts to speak in public, 
and brought forward many ignorant and unquali 
fied persons, young and old, to address large as 
semblies, in his own vehement and magisterial 
manner. He led his followers in procession 
through the streets, singing psalms and hymns. 
He claimed a kind of prescriptive right to sit in 
judgment on the character of ministers of the 
Gospel. He went from place to place under 
taking to examine ministers as to their spiritual 
state, and to decide with confidence whether they 
were converted or not ; and, when his judgment 
was unfavorable, he would often, in his public 
prayers, denounce them as graceless persons, and 
call upon the people to pray for their conversion. 
Those who refused to be examined by him, he, 
of course, placed on the reprobated list. He, 
made his public prayers the medium of harsh 
and often indecent attack on these ministers and 
others, whom he felt disposed on any account 
to censure. He taught his followers to govern 
themselves by impulses and enthusiastic impres 
sions, rather than by the word of God ; and rep 
resented all public services, in which there was 
not some visible agitation, or some audible outcry, 


as of no value. He warned the people against 
nearing the ministers whom he denounced as un 
converted, representing it as a dreadful sin to do 
so ; and, on more than one occasion, publicly re 
fused to receive the sacramental symbols in par 
ticular churches where he was present at the com 
munion, because he doubted the piety of the 
pastors. Congregations were exhorted to eject 
their ministers; and dissatisfied minorities were 
encouraged to break off, and form new churches ; 
and in this way a number of congregations were 
greatly weakened, and others nearly destroyed. 

In a number of churches, Mr. Davenport had 
his blind and servile imitators, who propagated and 
extended these disorders, and, by their unhallowed 
mixtures with the .work of grace, filled the minds 
of many with prejudices against the whole, as 
fanaticism and delusion ; made the very name of 
a revival odious in the ears of many intelligent 
Christians ; distracted and divided many congre 
gations ; and gave rise to multiplied evils, which, 
in two thirds of a century afterwards, had not 
entirely disappeared. 

Although Mr. Whitefield, who has been not 
improperly styled " the prince of preachers," was 
exceedingly active in the revival of religion which 
has been described, and was instrumental in doing 
extensive and incalculable good in the American 
churches ; yet it cannot be denied that some, not 


the worst indeed, but some of the irregularities 
referred to, received from him more countenance, 
especially in the early part of his ministry, than 
they ought to have done. This he and his co 
adjutors afterwards confessed and lamented with 
Christian candor, and did all in their power to 
correct the error. There is ample evidence that 
Mr. Edwards saw this mistake in Mr. Whitefield 
at their first interview, and set himself modestly, 
but firmly, to bear testimony against it, but without 
immediate success. It was not until some of its 
unhappy fruits had begun to be disclosed, that the 
ardent mind of Mr. Whitefield recognised and 
corrected the irregularity. 

It may well be supposed, that while Mr. Ed 
wards rejoiced in the triumphs of divine grace 
which he was permitted to witness, he could not 
be an unconcerned spectator of the enthusiastic 
and fanatical aberrations which were evidently in 
juring the cause of vital piety. The scenes of 
irregularity and disorder, which have been de 
scribed, greatly distressed him ; and he remon 
strated against them with the greatest zeal. For, 
although his own church was less infected with 
these disorders than almost any other, yet it was 
not wholly free from them. The infection of 
fanaticism, caught from irregular men in neighbor 
ing towns, could not be wholly shut out from 
Northampton. But, besides finding some portion 

i. 6 


of the evil to be corrected among his own people, 
his love for the cause of truth, and for the welfare 
of souls, was so enlarged, disinterested, and ardent, 
that he could not remain idle while any thing was 
to be done, or any error remained to be cor 
rected. In this exigency he wrote and published 
his " Thoughts concerning the Present Revival 
of Religion in New England." It is probable 
that a more instructive and valuable work, on the 
subject to which it relates, was never presented 
to the religious public. It treats of the nature 
and evidences of genuine revivals of religion ; of 
the errors and evils into which their ardent friends 
are apt to fall ; and what ought to be done to 
promote them. And it is drawn up with so much 
practical wisdom ; so much spiritual discernment ; 
such remarkable acquaintance with the human 
heart ; with such marked aversion to every thing 
like enthusiasm or extravagance ; and, at the same 
time, with such rational and Scriptural ardor of 
pious affection, that it was received by the friends 
of vital piety, on its first appearance, with a de 
gree of approbation seldom manifested toward any 
work so intimately connected with public feeling ; 
and it has ever since been regarded as a practical 
religious classic, by a very large portion of the 
Christian public. Its fervent piety ; its wonderful 
sagacity and discrimination ; the absence of all ex- 
ravagant feeling, though written in the midst of 


strong excitement ; and the clearness of its Scrip 
tural instruction, have been the wonder and the 
praise of all succeeding times. It was published 
in 1742; and, amidst all the discussions and pub 
lications in regard to revivals which have attracted 
attention for nearly a hundred years, it has quietly, 
and by common consent, taken its place at the 
summit of all that has been written on that mo 
mentous subject. 

This work was immediately republished in Scot 
land, and not only attracted the attention and the 
praise of a large number of the friends of truth 
and piety in that country, but also rendered the 
author, more than ever, an object of esteem and 
reverence among all at home and abroad, who had 
an opportunity of perusing it. Accordingly, in 
1743, Mr. Edwards was introduced to an ex 
tensive epistolary intercourse with several distin 
guished ministers of the Church of Scotland, who, 
attracted by his writings, solicited a correspond 
ence with him, which he maintained for a number 
of years with assiduity and interest. Of this num- 
oer, his first correspondent was the Reverend John 
M c Laurin, of Glasgow, one of the most eminent 
of them, both for talents and piety. To him 
succeeded the Reverend William McCulloch, of 
Cambuslang ; the Reverend John Robe, of Kil- 
syth ; the Reverend Thomas Gillespie, of Carnoch ; 
the Reverend John Willison, of Dundee, and the 


Reverend Dr. John Erskine, then minister of Kir- 
kintilloch, afterwards of Edinburgh. These gen 
tlemen seemed to enter with cordiality into the 
genuineness and glory of the American revivals of 
religion, and appear to have enjoyed something of 
the same blessing in their own respective congre 
gations. Mr. Edwards s correspondence with the 
last-named gentleman did not begin quite so early 
as that which he maintained with the others ; but it 
was peculiarly interesting, and continued as long as 
Mr. Edwards lived. Dr. Erskine was remarkable 
for qualities peculiarly suited to the taste and the 
habits of his American friend. To great ardor of 
piety, and to singular fidelity and diligence in his 
pastoral cnarge, he added an unusual thirst for 
knowledge, and unceasing diligence in the culti 
vation of his mind, even to old age. While, 
therefore, he received with the deepest interest 
the successive publications of Mr. Edwards, as 
they issued from the press, he was careful, on his 
part, to search out and send to Mr. Edwards such 
new and rare works as, at the distance of the 
latter from the great libraries of Europe, he might 
have found it difficult to procure. It is evident, 
from remaining records, that this correspondence 
was highly gratifying to both parties, and was 
deemed by each substantially profitable. 



The Disorders which attended the Revival of 
Religion. The Treatise on Religious Affec 
tions. Memoirs of Brainerd. European 
Correspondence continued. 

IT has been seen, in the preceding chapter, that 
the disorders, which, unhappily, crept in to grieve 
the pious, and disturb the peace of some of the 
churches, in the course of the revival of religion 
which has been described, gave rise to a number 
of ecclesiastical difficulties. Troublesome indi 
viduals, actuated by enthusiasm, or by spiritual 
pride, became schismatics, and greatly weakened 
the hands of ministers. Dissatisfied and turbulent 
minorities withdrew from the ministry of their 
pastors, and set up rival congregations. In these, 
and in a variety of other forms, weak, rash, and 
enthusiastic persons became instrumental in pro 
ducing discord, strife, and division in churches 
before peaceful and happy. 

In such difficulties, no man was resorted to for 
counsel more frequently, or had more influence in 
restoring peace and order, than Mr. Edwards 
He became the counsellor and guide, not only of 
those who addressed him by letter from distant 


congregations, but also of many who came to 
Northampton to consult him in person. Perhaps 
on no occasions do his ardent piety, his knowledge 
of human nature, and his practical wisdom and 
prudence appear more conspicuous, than in the 
manner in which he gave counsel in such perplex 
ing cases. Lifted, by the grace of his Master, 
above the morbid excitement with which he was 
called to deal, he addressed both aggrieved and 
offending parties with such " meekness of wis 
dom," as seldom failed to produce a beneficial 
effect. In perusing the specimens that remain 
of these counsels, it is difficult to say, which ought 
most to be admired, the calm and heavenly 
spirit which pervades them, or the comprehensive 
and judicious views of the laws and interests of 
the church of God, which constantly appear. 

But this great and good man now felt himself 
called to attempt a more extensive and permanent 
service to the great cause of vital piety. The 
seasons of religious attention through which he 
had passed, and the various forms of delusion 
which he had witnessed, convinced him that there 
was an urgent demand for some popular treatise, 
more clear and discriminating than he had yet 
seen, for distinguishing true religion from its vari 
ous counterfeits. On this subject he was aware 
that great diversity of opinion prevailed. Some, 
who adopted the formal and frigid Arminian sys- 


tern of Dr. Whitby, scarcely admitted the need, 
or even the reality, of any thing which Edwards 
regarded as genuine heart religion. Others at 
tached essential importance to strong impulses 
and visible excitement ; and whenever they saw 
great apparent zeal and ardor of affection, what 
ever countervailing evils might appear, recognised 
the evidence of conversion as a matter of course. 
Some taught that real religion did not consist at 
all in the affections, but wholly in the external 
conduct ; while others were not willing to sanction 
any evidence of piety but that which included, 
not merely internal exercises, but also the precise 
time, place, and order of certain prescribed feel 
ings, which they were pleased to consider as 
indispensable. In fine, there were those who 
considered every thing which they had witnessed 
in the religious attention around them, however 
disorderly, as worthy of approbation, and nothing 
to be condemned ; while not a few, disgusted by 
the irregularities which had occurred, pronounced 
the whole enthusiasm and delusion. 

Amidst this diversity of opinion, it seemed de 
sirable that some " master spirit," who had been 
" taught of God," and who to ardent piety add 
ed great natural discernment and rich experi 
ence, and who enjoyed a large measure of pub 
lic confidence, should step forward, and enlighten 
and guide the religious public. Though Mr 


Edwards did not claim this character for himself, 
yet such he really was. Being firmly persuaded, 
on the one hand, that the religious attention, in 
which he had been allowed to participate, was a 
genuine work of God, in which the friends of 
piety had reason to rejoice ; and, on the other, 
that much of a spurious and fatally deceptive 
character had, in various places, mingled with the 
work of the Holy Spirit ; he resolved to devote 
particular attention to the distinguishing marks and 
evidences of true religion. 

For this purpose, while the religious attention 
was still going on, he commenced in 1742, and fin 
ished early in 1743, a series of Sermons, founded 
on 1 Peter, i. 8. These were successively deliv 
ered in his own pulpit. Soon afterwards, the 
substance of these discourses was divested of its 
original dress, and thrown into the form of a 
continued and connected "Treatise concerning 
Religious Affections. " This volume was first 
published in 1746. It was immediately repub- 
lished in England and Scotland, and drew from the 
friends of enlightened, Scriptural piety, on both 
sides of the Atlantic, the warmest praises and 

This work, as most of the friends of vital piety 
agree, is not only entitled to a place in the very 
first rank of treatises on practical religion, but 
many consider it as occupying the first place in 


the list. It is certainly a noble monument of spir 
itual skill, wisdom, and fidelity. As a thorough, 
systematic, comprehensive, and richly instructive 
view of the subject of which it treats, it may be 
safely said, it has no superior. The first princi 
ples, as well as the practical details of vital piety, 
are delineated as by a workman that " needed not 
to be ashamed," and qualified " rightly to divide 
the word of truth." It is probable that the dis 
criminating marks of true and false religion were 
never found drawn with a stronger, or a more dis 
tinct and faithful hand, in any uninspired volume, 
than in this work. The degree of favor which it 
has received for nearly a century among all evan 
gelical denominations, and which, amidst all the 
changes of fashion and taste in reading, it retains 
to the present hour, and that in a measure rather 
increasing than diminishing, is certainly a very 
extraordinary attestation of its excellence. 

The intimate friendship which subsisted be 
tween Mr. Edwards, and the celebrated Mr. Da 
vid Brainerd, missionary to the Indians, is well 
known. Their acquaintance began in September, 
1743, when Mr. Edwards was at New Haven, at- 
.eiding the annual Commencement. Mr. Brain 
erd had fallen under the severe discipline of the 
college, in consequence of some indiscreet remarks, 
uttered in the ardor of his religious zeal, respecting 
trie opposition of two of the faculty to the preach- 


ing of Mr. Whitefield. For these remarks, in 
those days of excitement and heat, he was publicly 
expelled. This event had occurred early in the 
winter of the preceding year, when he was in his 
third year in college. Brainerd was now at New 
Haven for the purpose of seeking a reconciliation 
with the faculty, and requesting the privilege of 
graduating with the class from which he had been 
ejected. For this purpose he made a very explicit 
and humble acknowledgment of his fault, and im 
plored forgiveness. But, though his own request 
was fortified by the intercession of a number of re 
spectable friends and graduates of the college, it 
failed of success. Mr. Edwards deeply sympa 
thized with him in his wishes and his failure ; and, 
in the course of their interviews, had so many op 
portunities of witnessing the humility, the meek 
ness, and the deep and tender conscientiousness 
of this young servant of Christ, that a foundation 
was now laid for a most endeared friendship be 
tween them ; a friendship which brought Mr. 
Brainerd to spend a considerable portion of his 
time in the family of Mr. Edwards, and finally, 
four years after their acquaintance began, to die 
under his hospitable roof. 

In 1744, a number of ministers belonging to 
the Church of Scotland, among whom were all the 
correspondents of Mr. Edwards, deeply impressed 
with the conviction that the state of the church 


and the *vorld called loudly for united and extra 
ordinary prayer to God, " that he would deliver 
the nations from their miseries, and fill the earth 
with his glory," communicated to Mr. Edwards a 
proposal for that purpose. The plan which they 
proposed was, that, for the ensuing two years, all 
Christians, universally, who chose to concur in the 
exercise, should set apart a port on of time, on 
Saturday evening and Sabbath morning, every 
week, to be spent in special and united prayer for 
the objects specified ; and that they should still 
more solemnly observe a stated day in each quar 
ter of the year, to be spent either in private, social, 
or public prayer, as the case might be, for the 
effusion of the Holy Spirit on the church and the 

Mr. Edwards received this proposal with warm 
approbation, and immediately addressed himself to 
the task of communicating and earnestly recom 
mending it to the American churches. The plan 
was adopted and acted upon by a number of the 
ministers and churches of New England. Toward 
the close of the two years, during which it was 
proposed to continue this united and extraordinary 
prayer, another communication came from Scot 
land, proposing the continuance of the sacred en 
terprise for an indefinite period. Mr. Edwards 
again heartily seconded the plan, and, in 1746, 
for the purpose of promoting it, first preached a 


series of sermons on the subjec to his own people, 
and soon afterwards published them, in the form 
of a treatise, entitled, " An Humble Attempt to 
promote Explicit Agreement and Visible Union 
among God s People, in Extraordinary Prayer for 
the Revival of Religion, and the Advancement of 
Christ s Kingdom on Earth, pursuant to Scripture 
Promises and Prophecies concerning the Last 
Time." This work was immediately reprinted in 
England and in Scotland, and had a wide circula 
tion there, as well as in this country. The union 
proposed was adopted and maintained by many of 
the American churches, for more than half a cen 
tury ; until, finally, the " Monthly Concert in 
Prayer," for the revival of religion, and the con 
version of the world, was proposed by some pious 
ministers of England, in 1784, to be observed on 
the first Monday evening of every month ; which 
gradually gained ground in the religious commu 
nity, at home and abroad, until it has come to be 
extensively adopted by the churches in every 
quarter of the globe. 

It might have been expected that a treatise de 
signed to answer the purpose contemplated by the 
" Humble Attempt," just alluded to, would have 
been constructed on the principles of an epheme 
ral production, short, animating, and intended to 
arouse, rather than to instruct. But it really 
seemed as if Mr. Edwards was incapable of doing 


any thing superficially, or upon a small scale. 
Whatever he undertook to discuss at all, he was 
constrained to discuss profoundly and thoroughly ; 
presenting it in all its aspects ; meeting all its 
difficulties ; anticipating and answering all objec 
tions ; prostrating all its adversaries ; and not only 
appearing a conqueror, but " more than a con 
queror." Charles the Second, of England, is re 
ported to have said of the celebrated Dr. Barrow, 
that " he was the most unfair preacher he ever 
heard ; for that, when he undertook to treat any 
subject in the pulpit, he never left any thing to be 
said by any other man." This remark really may 
be applied still more strongly to Mr. Edwards. 
Instead of making his " Humble Attempt " a 
pamphlet of twenty or thirty pages, as most men 
would have done, he made it a volume ; rich, 
instructive, carefully reasoned, and of permanent 
value. He treats, with his wonted ability and 
care, of the nature and characteristics of the 
" Latter Day Glory " ; of the certainty of its fu 
ture occurrence ; of the encouragements to pray 
and labor for its hastening, and of the objections 
which have been urged against a compliance with 
the duty recommended. No production of his 
pen was destined to " perish in the using." On 
all subjects, he wrote, not for his contemporaries 
alone, but for posterity. 

Mr. David Brainerd, soon after Mr. Edwards s 


acquaintance with him commenced in 1743, as 
before related, engaged in missionary labor among 
the Indians, in different settlements, in New York, 
New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This labor he 
pursued, amidst the pressure of disease and many 
discouragements, for more than three years, with 
a zeal, diligence, self-denial, and perseverance, 
which have seldom had any parallel in the history 
of missions, and with a very gratifying measure of 
success, especially in regard to that portion of the 
Indians which was located at what is now called 
Crosswicks, in New Jersey. 

In the month of May, 1747, that devoted 
young missionary, after taking leave of the In 
dians in the preceding March, in consequence of 
declining health, and visiting some of his relatives 
and friends in Connecticut, went to Northampton, 
having been invited by Mr. Edwards to take up 
his abode at his house. He spent a part of the 
ensuing summer in travelling for the benefit of his 
health ; but, continuing to decline, he returned to 
Northampton, toward the close of the following 
July, and, gradually sinking under the power of a 
consumptive disease, closed his life in the bosom 
of Mr. Edwards s family, on the 9th of October, 
1747, in the 30th year of his age. Mr. Edwards 
preached the sermon at his funeral, from 2 Cor 
v. 8, which was speedily published, and which 
now appears in his collected " Works," under thp 


title, " True Saints, when absent from the Body, 
are present with the Lord." 

The circumstances of Mr. Brainerd dying under 
Mr. Edwards s roof, and committing to his care 
his Diary and all his other papers, added to the 
warm Christian friendship which subsisted between 
them, naturally led Mr. Edwards to form the 
plan of writing and publishing an extended Me 
moir of that devoted young missionary. Accord 
ingly, he undertook this service, and prepared the 
volume which was published at Boston in 1749, 
under the following title, " An Account of the 
Life of the late Reverend David Brainerd, Mis 
sionary to the Indians, from the Honorable Society 
in Scotland, for the Propagation of Christian 
Knowledge ; and Pastor of a Church of Chris 
tian Indians in New Jersey." In this volume, as 
in all his other works, the author treats of nothing 
slightly or cursorily. His object evidently was to 
render it as richly instructive in practical Chris 
tianity, and as luminous and safe a guide to anx 
ious inquirers, as possible. 

Brainerd was, probably, one of the most deeply 
pious men of his time. No one can peruse his 
Diary, which makes up so considerable a portion 
of this volume, without perceiving that he had a 
depth of humility, an habitual tenderness of con 
science, an elevation of sentiment and affection, 
and an insatiable thirst after the promotion of the 


Redeemer s kingdom, and the salvation of men, 
which but few men have ever manifested. One 
feature of his character, and one only, seemed to 
demand special caution on the part of his biogra 
pher. His natural temperament was inclined to 
melancholy. This infirmity gave a tincture to 
most of his mental operations, and is distinctly 
perceptible in many of his religious exercises. 
This circumstance called for great caution and 
spiritual skill, in holding up his character to view 
for the instruction of others. 

In executing his task, Mr. Edwards has acquit 
ted himself in a manner equally honorable to his 
piety and his wisdom. He has exhibited Brainerd 
peculiarly self-denied, consecrated, and heavenly- 
minded as he was. He has shown him to us as 
an example of a mind "tremulously apprehensive 
of sin ; loathing it in every form, and for its own 
sake ; avoiding even the appearance of evil ; ris 
ing habitually above all terrestrial considerations ; 
daily advancing in holiness ; finding his only en 
joyment in seeking the glory of God ; " and con 
strained by the love of Christ, as " the ruling 
passion " of his life ; and, at the same time, has 
faithfully put his readers on their guard against the 
prominent infirmity of the character which he un 
dertook to delineate. The " Reflections " on the 
Memoirs of Brainerd, are rich and masterly. And 
the whole work is one of those, which ought to be 


studied by every minister of the Gospel, and 
every candidate for the sacred office. Few un 
inspired books are better adapted to expose enthu 
siasm and every kind of spurious religion, and to 
" try the spirits " of men, and especially of min 
isters of the gospel, " whether they are of God." 

Mr. Edwards was now continuing to maintain a 
diligent and pleasant correspondence with a num 
ber of friends in Scotland, to which reference was 
before made. To Mr. M c Culloch, Mr. Gillespie, 
Mr. Willison, and particularly to Dr. Erskine, he 
seems to have written about this time frequently 
and largely. The last-named gentleman, especial 
ly, entered with zeal and eagerness into all Mr. 
Edwards s plans of literary and theological enter 
prise ; procured and sent him a number of books, 
which were not to be found in the American libra 
ries or bookstores ; and thus not a little facilitated 
his inquiries, and the prosecution of his labors as 
an author. 

The influence of this correspondence too, on 
Mr. Edwards s own mind, was, no doubt, happy. 
He found, that his works were received with deep 
respect and gratitude on the other side of the At 
lantic. To a mind so peculiarly modest as his, 
the numerous testimonies of this fact must have 
imparted a gratifying impulse, and given him new 
encouragement to proceed in his labors. The in 
telligence, also, which he was frequently receiving 

i. 7 


from these correspondents, respecting the state 
of the churches in distant parts of the world, and 
the doctrinal instruction, arid other means, by 
which genuine piety appeared to be promoted, 
served to enlarge his interest, as well as his knowl 
edge, in regard to the Redeemer s kingdom, and 
greatly to confirm his confidence in that Scriptural 
system, to the propagation of which he had devot 
ed his life. At the same time, while Mr. Ed 
wards himself was thus benefited, it was made 
evident, by this correspondence, that the printed 
works and the letters of Mr. Edwards were doing 
much good in Great Britain, by promoting the 
cause of truth and of vital piety wherever they 
were read, and by strengthening the hands of 
those beyond the Atlantic, who were like-minded 
with himself; and who, by means of their Ameri 
can correspondent, were kept constantly informed 
of the deeply interesting scenes which were pass 
ing in the new world. 

From this correspondence the fact is ascer 
tained, that Mr. Edwards, several years before he 
left Northampton, had planned a work which re 
sulted in his volume on the " Freedom of the 
Will." In his first letter to Dr. Erskine, dated in 
1747, he says to his revered correspondent ; " I 
have thought of writing something particularly and 
largely on the Arminiari controversy, in distinct 
discourses on the various points in dispute, to be 


published successively, beginning first with a dis 
course concerning the Freedom of the Will and 
Moral Agency ; endeavoring fully and thorough 
ly to state and discuss those points of liberty and 
necessity, moral and physical inability, efficacious 
grace, and the ground of virtue and vice, reward 
and punishment, blame and praise, with regard to 
the dispositions and actions of reasonable crea 

Such was the first intimation of the plan of that 
great work. And, as his well-known habit was to 
make abundant use of his pen in meditating on 
the subjects which occupied his attention, the 
probability is, that he began to write much on the 
subject of the work in question, even thus early ; 
not in the actual composition of the treatise, as it 
afterwards appeared, but in collecting materials, 
noting down thoughts, and maturing his views on 
the great principles, which he afterwards placed in 
so strong a light. Such a mind as his could not 
be idle, when it had once formed so noble and 
interesting an outline. 

In the month of June, 1749, Mr. Edwards was 
called to preach at the ordination of the Reverend 
Job Strong, in the town of Portsmouth, New 
Hampshire. On that occasion, he delivered a 
sermon on John xiii. 15, 16, entitled, " Christ the 
Example of Ministers." It was soon afterwards 


published, and is to be found in the eighth vol 
ume of his works. 

In the correspondence of Mr. Edwards with 
his Scottish friends, he was, about this time, in 
volved in an amicable controversy with one of 
their number, the Reverend Mr. Gillespie, of 
Carnock, in respect to some of the sentiments 
taught in the volume on " Religious Affections." 
Mr. Gillespie called in question a number of the 
positions on practical subjects, taken by Mr. Ed 
wards. This led to an extended epistolary dis 
cussion between the years 1746 and 1750, in 
which the clearness, the comprehensive views, 
and the excellent spirit of Mr. Edwards appear to 
great advantage. His superiority to his corre 
spondent is very striking, and his defence of his 
own work highly instructive and satisfactory. 

In the month of June, 1748, Colonel John 
Stoddard, a son of Mr. Edwards s grandfather and 
colleague, one of the most important members of 
the church at Northampton, was removed by 
death. On this occasion Mr. Edwards delivered 
a sermon from Ezekiel xix. 12, which was soon 
afterwards published under the following title ; 
" God s awful Judgments in breaking the strong 
Rods of the Community." When the sermon 
was delivered and published, it is probable that 
neither the author nor those who solicited its pub- 


lieation, were adequately aware of the exemplifi 
cation which was soon to be given of the justness 
of its title. Colonel Stoddard was one of the 
most venerable and influential men in Massachu 
setts. He was greatly distinguished for the vigor 
of his understandirigj the energy and decision of 
his character, the fervor of his piety, and the 
steadfastness of his support of every thing friendly 
to evangelical truth and order. His removal was, 
indeed, taking away one of the main pillars of so 
ciety. The greatness of his loss, and the want of 
men like-minded, the subject of this memoir was 
destined, in the course of a few short months, 
painfully to experience, in the troubles which 
arose to shake the church of Northampton to its 



Origin and History of his Troubles at North 
ampton. Publication of his Work on Church 
Communion. Dismission from his Pastoral 
Charge. Invitation to settle at StocJcbridge. 

UNTIL the year 1744, Mr. Edwards seems to 
have had a firm hold of the confidence and affec 
tions of his congregation. The friends of piety 
among them regarded him with the warmest ap 
probation and love, and considered themselves as 
eminently favored with the labors of an able and 
faithful minister of Christ. Large numbers of 
them owned him as their spiritual father, and felt 
toward him that peculiar attachment which such 
a filial relation is adapted to inspire. And even 
the worldly and impenitent part of his charge, 
while they felt , themselves reproved by the holi 
ness of Jhjs, life,. ajid-the purity of his doctrine, 
were yet proud; of .their minister, as, by the ac 
knowledgment of all, one of the greatest and best 
men in the country. His consort and family, too, 
had won the affections of the people, and were 
eminently popular. Up to the year just men 
tioned, perhaps no minister in New England could 
be considered as more likely to live and die be- 


loved and honored by his congregation. But 
more than once have the loudest " hosannas " of 
praise been immediately succeeded by the furious 
denunciation, " Crucify ! Crucify ! " This versa 
tility Mr. Edwards experienced. In the year just 
mentioned, an event occurred, which in some de 
gree alienated from him a number of individuals, 
and which, though somewhat remotely, yet un 
doubtedly prepared the way for that rupture, which 
terminated in his departure from Northampton. 

The occurrence alluded to was this. It being 
credibly reported, that a number of the young 
people, members of his church, had in their pos 
session licentious books, which they were employ 
ing for immoral purposes, he thought it his duty 
to take notice of the rumor ; and, being satisfied 
that it was well founded, he prepared and de 
livered a solemn and pointed sermon against the 
sin charged on the young people. After the ser 
mon, he communicated to the members of the 
church the information which he had received. 
They voted, with great unanimity, that the matter 
ought to be judicially inquired into, and appointed 
a committee of their own number to cooperate 
with the pastor in making the inquiry. But when 
the pastor, after the appointment of this com 
mittee, publicly read the names of the persons 
who were requested to attend the meeting of the 
committee either as accused persons, or to bear 


testimony against the accused, without discrimi 
nating the classes in which the persons named 
respectively stood, it appeared that there was 
scarcely a leading family in the whole town to 
which some of the persons summoned, either as 
inculpated, or as witnesses, did not belong, or 
were not nearly related. 

This disclosure produced an immediate reaction. 
A majority of the church determined not to pro 
ceed in an inquiry which appeared likely to give 
pain to so many families, and to issue to the 
discredit of so many of their children ; and, as 
attention to children furnishes one of the surest 
avenues to the hearts of their parents, so 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 consequences 
were unhappy. A number of the young people 
were incurably disaffected to their pastor. Too 
many of their parents sympathized with this feel 
ing. The discipline of the church was openly set 
at defiance. The hands of Mr. Edwards were 
greatly weakened. His ministry, from that time, 
was attended with but little success. The church 
manifestly declined both in zeal and in morals. 
And a foundation seemed thenceforward to be 
laid for that irritable and mutinous state of the 
popular feeling, which issued, in a few years, in 


most extraordinary excitement and violence, and, 
finally, in the ejection from his pastoral charge of 
a great and good man, " of whom his people were 
not worthy." 

Whether the course taken on this occasion by 
Mr. Edwards was the wisest that could have been 
adopted, or whether the revulsion which occurred 
in the minds of a body of parents, on finding so 
many of their children painfully implicated, was 
not such as ought to have been anticipated and 
guarded against, are questions, which it were now 
unavailing to ask, and not easy to answer. But 
that a people, who had witnessed so much evi 
dence of the purity of their pastor s motives and 
the benevolence of his heart, a people who had 
seen so much evidence of a peculiar blessing at 
tending on his ministry, should have been capable 
of treating him with so much harshness and injus 
tice, especially when, a short time before, they 
had unanimously concurred with him in judgment 
that something ought to be done, is a memorable 
example of the blindness and violence of popular 
feeling, even in a population ordinarily of the most 
enlightened, sober, and reflecting character. 

The rankling uneasiness and alienation produced 
by this case of discipline, or rather of frustrated 
discipline, was soon succeeded by another diffi 
culty still more serious and intractable in its na 
ture. The church of Northampton had been 


originally founded, as all the early churches of 
I\ew England were, on the principle of strict com 
munion, that is, a profession of real friendship to 
Christ was considered as an indispensable qualifi 
cation for communion. Of course, none were ad 
mitted to church-membership but those who were 
regarded, in a judgment of charity, as truly pious. 
The venerable Mr. Stoddard, the grandfather and 
colleague of Mr. Edwards, about the beginning 
of the eighteenth century, effected an alteration 
in the opinion and practice of the church in rela 
tion to this matter. He adopted and preached the 
opinion, that the Lord s Supper was designed to 
be a converting ordinance ; that genuine piety 
was not necessary in order to a proper and accep 
table approach to it ; and consequently that persons 
who knew themselves to be entirely destitute of 
faith and repentance, if they were sober and moral, 
might, with propriety, unite themselves with the 
visible professing people of God. This doctrine, 
and a corresponding practice, Mr. Stoddard suc 
ceeded in establishing in his church, not, indeed, 
without considerable opposition both among his 
own people and from abroad. Some pious min 
isters, indeed, opposed it with warmth, as a most 
unhappy departure from the spirit and purity of 
Christian fellowship. But it was soon peaceably 
acquiesced in by the church of Northampton, and 
adopted by a number of other churches in New 


For this change it is not difficult to account. 
Almost all the first settlers of New England were 
professedly pious men, and in full communion in 
the church. Especially were all the leaders and 
guides of society, as a matter of course, chosen 
from among the professors of religion. No one 
else was thought of for a public station. Hence, 
in process of time, church-mem Dership came to 
be considered as an indispensable qualification for 
civil office. Not to be a communicant, was a 
kind of public stigma, which effectually prevented 
any one from being invested with the honors of 
the state, especially those of the higher grade. 
And therefore, when the spirit and prevalence 
of piety had greatly declined, the old habit ren 
dered many who had no real love for religion, still 
desirous of being regularly enrolled as members 
of the church. This feeling, of course, as it 
probably had no small influence in giving birth 
to the lax doctrine in question, so it, no doubt, 
served to render that doctrine highly acceptable 
to worldly men. Nor can we wonder, not only 
that the doctrine in question should be highly 
popular among the votaries of secular ambition, 
but that the strongest worldly prejudices and in 
terests should be embarked in its support, and 
that all attempts to set it aside should be, to a 
large portion of the community, peculiarly odious. 

Facts of this kind are highly instructive and 


admonitory. No alliance, however indirect or re 
mote, between the church and the state, has ever 
existed without interfering with the purity of the 
church, and lowering the standard of piety The 
moment a profession of religion becomes, in any 
way, either by direct civil enactment, or by the 
force of public sentiment, a qualification for civil 
office, a door is opened for imparting to the church 
a worldly bias, and subjecting it to a worldly in 
fluence. From that moment, the purity and sim 
plicity of Christian truth cannot fail to be ex 
posed, and seldom fails to be actually invaded and 

When Mr. Edwards became the colleague of 
his grandfather, he acquiesced in the lax doctrine 
which he found established, and continued to act 
in conformity with it for twenty years. We are 
told, indeed, that, from the first, he had doubts, 
and that these doubts painfully increased until 
the year 1749, when he formally disclosed to his 
church his change of opinion, and publicly vindi 
cated it by his " Humble Inquiry into the Rules 
of the Word of God, concerning the Qualifications 
requisite to a complete Standing and full Com 
munion in the visible Christian Church ; " which 
came from the press in August of that year. This 
work is generally considered, both by friends and 
foes, as one of the ablest, perhaps the most com 
plete and powerful, ever written in support of the 


doctrine which it advocates. The public disclo 
sure made by this treatise immediately threw the 
congregation into a flame, and he became the ob 
ject of fierce, unbridled resentment. Though he 
manifested, in all that he said and did, the deepest 
conscientiousness ; and though he vindicated him 
self, both from the pulpit and the press, with all 
the meekness and gentleness which so eminently 
shone in his character ; still the opposition to him 
was heated ana unrelenting to a wonderful degree 
Great pains were taken to prevent the circula 
tion and reading of the book which he had pub 
lished for explaining and vindicating his senti 
ments. Finding this, he proposed to undertake 
a more formal discussion of the matter in con 
troversy than he had hitherto undertaken, in a 
series of sermons in his own pulpit. Such a dis 
cussion, however, the church, when consulted on 
the subject, refused to allow, or to hear. The 
clamor increased. The opposition became more 
ardent and extended. Every proposal which he 
made for a calm hearing, or for an amicable ad 
justment of the difficulty, by referring it to an 
appropriate ecclesiastical council, was met with a 
resolute and acrimonious refusal. Notwithstanding 
this refusal, he determined, with characteristic firm 
ness, whether the people would hear, or whether 
they would forbear, to proceed and discuss the 
subject in controversy from his pulpit. He did 


so at considerable length. But very few of the 
members of his own congregation attended the 
discussion. The church was indeed crowded with 
auditors ; but they were chiefly drawn from the 
neighboring churches ; a small portion, it is prob 
able, by concurrence in sentiment with the preach 
er, and a deep interest in the prevalence of the 
principle for which he contended ; but a great 
majority from very different motives. 

This discussion, however, produced no favorable 
effect on the sentiments or feelings of the people. 
On the contrary, they manifested every day a 
stronger desire that Mr. Edwards should withdraw 
from his pastoral charge among them, and leave 
them at liberty to choose another minister. For 
this purpose, they urged that an ecclesiastical 
council should be called, according to the usage 
of the Congregational churches, to deliberate on 
the case, and to advise and sanction the dissolution 
of his pastoral relation. To this Mr. Edwards 
consented, on certain conditions of the most rea 
sonable and equitable kind. These the congre 
gation strenuously opposed, and the selection and 
assembling of a council was delayed for a number 
of months. At length, however, on the 22d of 
June, 1750, a mutual council met at Northamp 
ton, and, after deliberate inquiry and consideration 
of the subject, decided, by a majority of one, 
that the diversity of opinion between him and the. 


people of his charge concerning ecclesiastical com 
munion, was so serious and fixed, that the pastoral 
relation between him and them could no longer 
with propriety be continued, and ought to be dis 
solved ; and they accordingly dissolved it. 

Against this decision the minority of the council 
entered a solemn protest, declaring, that, in their 
opinion, the difference between the parties was 
not so essential as to render a separation neces 
sary ; and also that the proper steps to heal the 
breach and bring about a reconciliation, had not 
been taken ; and, at the same time, bearing a 
strong testimony to the ardent piety, faithfulness, 
and preeminent qualifications of Mr. Edwards as 
a pastor, and expressing a confident hope that, 
though painfully separated from the church at 
Northampton, he would be acceptable and made 
a rich and permanent blessing in some other part 
of the church. 

In fomenting and extending this sad controversy, 
there were individuals out of Northampton who 
were bitterly opposed to Mr. Edwards, and ex 
erted no small influence in exciting hostility against 
him. Among these were several members of a 
large, wealthy, and influential family in a neighbor 
ing town, kinsmen of his own, before alluded to, 
who had been totally alienated from him a number 
of years before, partly from private and personal 
pique, and partly from their opposition to his re- 


ligious opinions. All the branches of this family 
manifested toward him, for a number of years, a 
most malignant spirit, and seemed to take peculiar 
delight in opposing and injuring him whenever it 
was in their power. 

Through the whole of this agitating and dis 
tressing scene, the conduct of Mr. Edwards was 
a signal example of self-possession, meekness, and 
patience. That the treatment he received was 
in a high degree unjust and oppressive, all im 
partial beholders were agreed. This some of 
those, who had been leaders in the protracted 
course of excitement and popular violence, after 
wards acknowledged with the strongest expres 
sions of regret. He had a few friends in the 
congregation, who seem to have concurred with 
him in his offensive opinions, and who loved him 
still. But they were borne down by an infuriated 
and overwhelming majority. Nor was there any 
human tribunal of appeal to which the oppressed 
pastor could resort for the redress of his griev 
ances. The Congregational system, in such cases, 
affords no adequate relief. For, although a coun 
cil may be called for the purpose of adjusting dif 
ferences, yet the case under consideration shows 
how difficult it is, and, in some cases, how im 
possible, to obtain any other than an exparte coun 
cil. And, even after it is formed and convened, 
such a body in that system, has no real authority 


Its powers are merely advisory. Its advice may 
be followed or rejected by the parties at pleasure. 
And, although the council, in this case, could not 
strictly be called an ex parte one, in the technical 
sense of that phrase, yet it was so in reality, in 
spite of every effort that could be made to have 
it otherwise. It was made up of a majority of 
the known opposers of Mr. Edwards, and of some 
who had indulged the feelings of ardent adver 
saries. In all the proceedings, however, of the 
people and of the council, he was enabled " in 
patience to possess his soul." All his communi 
cations were marked with a degree of dignity, 
mildness, self-respect, and Christian equity, which, 
although they failed of making any favorable im 
pression on the minds of an excited congregation 
at the time, have been ever since admired by 
the religious community as a noble monument of 
Christian forbearance and submission. 

The ungrateful treatment which Mr. Edwards 
received from his people, and the unseemly vio 
lence with which he was ejected from his pas 
toral charge, have frequently, on account of his 
high reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, been 
adduced as furnishing a strong presumptive argu 
ment against those forms of church government 
which vest in the people the choice of their own 
ministers, and the power of dismissing them when 
they cease to be acceptable. Remarks to this 

i. 8 


amount, very sweeping in their import, and very 
severe in their tone, have especially been made by 
British writers in reference to this case. There 
is, no doubt, some degree of truth in these re 
marks ; and yet the use which has been made 
of Mr. Edwards s case, under this aspect of it, 
can be admitted only in part. For, on the one 
hand, that the body of the members of every 
church ought to have the privilege of choosing 
their own pastors, may be confidently maintained 
on the ground both of reason and Scripture ; and 
that no people ought to be compelled to retain as 
their pastor one from whom they are alienated, 
and who no longer promotes their edification, must 
be regarded as an undoubted principle of pastoral 
settlement. The benefit of the many must ever 
be considered as more important than the con 
venience and comfort of an individual. 

On the other hand, that there ought to be some 
regular, authoritative, and known provision for in 
terposing between popular violence, in seasons of 
prejudice and passion, and an oppressed pastor^ 
seems equally unquestionable. Not for the pur 
pose of compelling an alienated people to retain 
a pastor whom they had ceased to respect or 
love ; but to secure his rights to protect him from 
injury, to guard the people from injuring them 
selves, and to effect his separation from them 
without an infringement of any of those laws, 


which the King of Zion has laid down for the 
government of his church. Such a tribunal was 
needed in the case of this great and good man. 
He recognised the want of it in terms which 
evinced the most feeling sense of its importance 
But it was not furnished by the system of ecclesi 
astical order with which he was connected, and 
of course he had no official protection from the 
violence of popular excitement. 

There is no doubt, however, that the people 
of Northamption were far from acting in this affair 
from their own unprompted judgment and feelings 
alone. Many of the pastors and magistrates in the 
surrounding country, feeling their own principles 
and practice assailed by his published opinions, 
entered into this controversy against Mr. Edwards 
with no little warmth, and contributed, it is well 
known, in a considerable degree, to kindle the 
flame among his people, and to excite them to 
more unrelenting and violent measures than they 
would, probably, have otherwise adopted. 

When the decision of the mutual council, de 
claring that, in their opinion, his pastoral relation 
ought to be immediately dissolved, was commum 
cated to Mr. Edwards, he determined, at once, 
to acquiesce in it, and to take leave of a flock to 
which he had been so long bound by ties of the 
most solemn and interesting kind. For this pain- 
fill event he began immediately to prepare, and 


in a few days afterwards preached his farewell 
sermon, which was soon published at the request 
of some of the hearers, and which is found among 
his collected works. The deep, unaffected solem 
nity of this discourse ; the elevation and fidelity 
of its sentiments ; the pious solicitude which it 
manifests for the best interest of the people of 
his late charge, and its freedom from any thing 
like acerbity of language or spirit, place it in the 
very first rank of farewell sermons. Like the 
Master whom he served, he appeared, after all 
the unkind and violent treatment which he had 
received, to forget himself, and to be absorbed by 
the tenderest concern for the everlasting welfare 
of his adversaries. Indeed his whole conduct in 
this trying affair presented an example of disin 
terestedness and purity of principle which has 
seldom been equalled. 

It may not appear obvious to some, why Mr. 
Edwards, when he found the members of his 
church so fixed and ardent in their opposition to 
his newly-disclosed sentiments, should still so ear 
nestly desire, and so importunately urge them to 
attend to a further exhibition of them from the 
pulpit and the press. It was by no means his 
principal object to disarm their resentment, ana 
retain his place. He considered the doctrine and 
practice, which they had hitherto adopted and 
pursued, and which he was now constrained to 


oppose, as highly mischievous in their tendency , 
as adapted to corrupt the church ; to inspire false 
hopes ; to oppose the prevalence of genuine piety, 
and, of course, to destroy the souls of men. No 
wonder that, under these impressions, he earnestly 
desired to be heard in defence of his principles ; 
that he besought the people with much entreaty 
to attend on the discussion ; and that, finding their 
obstinacy invincible, he was more affected by their 
opposition to what he deemed important truth, 
than by a concern for his own comfort. 

The situation in which Mr. Edwards was now 
placed was painful and discouraging in a very high 
degree. Ejected from his pastoral charge ; de 
prived of his temporal support ; thrown on the 
world with a large, increasing, and helpless family ; 
frowned upon by most of the neighboring min 
isters, magistrates, and churches, and having no 
prospect of being invited to any other pastoral 
charge, his prospects were indeed dark and dis 
tressing. But the record of his feelings at the 
time displays great equanimity, founded in that 
humble trust in the sovereign wisdom and benig 
nity of God, of which his whole life was an emi 
nent example. 

During these painful and protracted difficulties, 
which agitated, not Northampton merely, but a 
large number of the churches of New England, 
Mr. Edwards kept his correspondents in Scotland 


constantly informed of his trials and prospects. 
And it is hardly necessary to say, that they took 
a deep interest in his affairs, not only on account 
of their high estimate of his personal character, 
but also on account of the important principles of 
church-membership involved in the controversy. 
Their letters to him on the occasion were expres 
sive of the warmest regard and sympathy. Dr. 
Erskine, with characteristic zeal and public spirit, 
went further. He invited Mr. Edwards to Scot 
land, and urged him to take a pastoral charge in a 
church there, where his talents and worth would 
be likely to be more justly appreciated. To this 1 
proposal, the following is the reply of his perse 
cuted American friend. 

" You are pleased, dear Sir, very kindly to ask 
me whether I could sign the Westminster Confes 
sion of Faith, and submit to the Presbyterian forrp 
of church government ; and to offer to use you; 
influence to procure a call for me to some congre 
gation in Scotland. I should be very ungrateful, 
if I were not thankful for such kindness and 
friendship. As to my subscribing to the substance 
of the Westminster Confession, there would be 
no difficulty ; and as to the Presbyterian govern 
ment, I have long been out of conceit of our un 
settled, independent, confused way of church gov 
ernment in this land ; and the Presbyterian way 
has ever appeared tc me most agreeable to the 


word of God, and the reason and nature of things ; 
though I cannot say that I think that the Presby 
terian government of the Church of Scotland is 
so perfect, that it cannot, in some respects, be 

" But as to ray removing, with my numerous 
family, over the Atlantic, it is, I acknowledge, at 
tended with many difficulties that I shrink at. 
Among other things, this is very considerable, that 
it would be on uncertainties, whether my gifts 
and administrations would suit any congregation, 
that should send for me without trial ; and so 
great a thing as such a removal, had need be on 
some certainty as to that matter. If the expecta 
tions of a congregation were so great, and they 
were so confident of my qualifications, as to call 
me at a venture, having never seen nor heard me, 
their disappointment might possibly be so much 
the greater, and they the more uneasy, after ac 
quaintance and trial. My own country is not so 
dear to me but that, if there were an evident pros 
pect of being more serviceable to Zion s interests 
elsewhere, I could forsake it. And I think my 
wife is fully of this disposition." 

For the reasons mentioned in this communica 
tion, Mr. Edwards did not comply with Dr. Ers- 
kine s proposal to remove to Scotland, but deter- 

* He, no doubt, referred, in this remark, to its various 
points of connexion with the civil government 


mined to await the direction of Providence in hiss 
own country. He remained, with his family, at 
Northampton nearly six months after he was dis 
missed from his pastoral charge, not knowing 
whither to direct his course, or how to dispose of 
his evangelical labors. 

During the earlier part of this period, when the 
church from which he had been dismissed was 
without a supply for its pulpit, Mr. Edwards was 
invited to preach ; but still the invitation was al 
ways given with manifest reluctance, and with a 
marked purpose to avoid any engagement, from 
week to week, for more than a single Sabbath. 
After a short time, however, such was the hos 
tile feeling of the people, that, toward the latter 
end of November following his dismission, the 
committee for supplying the pulpit called the 
congregation together for the purpose of ascertain 
ing whether it was their wish that Mr. Edwards 
should be invited, in any case, to supply their pul 
pit. A large majority voted, " that it was not 
agreeable to their minds, that he should preach 
among them." From that time forth, when he 
was in the town, and there was no other minister 
to supply the pulpit, the members of the church 
carried on the devotional exercises of the sanctua 
ry, and consented to be without preaching, rather 
than invite him to address them ! 

A number of those, who took the lead in this 


course of malignant and shameful violence, were 
afterwards convinced of their error and sin, and 
acknowledged it with the deepest humiliation. 
One of them, especially, a lawyer of talents and 
eloquence, who was relied upon as the principal 
advocate of the infuriated majority, a few years 
afterwards, not only saw the mistake and the crim 
inality of his course, but humbled himself before 
God and the church in a long letter, still on rec 
ord, which breathes a spirit of self-reproach and 
contrition peculiarly marked and intense in its 

Justice also requires that it be stated, that 
amidst these scenes of bitter and intractable oppo 
sition from the majority of the church, it is not to 
be understood that Mr. Edwards had no decided 
friends left among the people. This was by no 
means the case. There was a small but firm 
and affectionate minority, who adhered to him 
with strong and unalterable attachment, deeply 
lamented the unworthy treatment which he re- 
eived, and had every disposition to sustain and 
comfort him to the utmost of their power. The 
number of his open friends and advocates in 
the congregation would, indeed, have been much 
larger, had not the rage and violence of the ma 
jority been such, that whoever appeared friendly 
to him, became immediately odious, and an object 
of much opposition, from the mass of the people 


But in the midst of all the odium attempted to 
be heaped upon them, the small and affectionate 
minority just referred to, continued his firm and 
active friends. They urged him to remain in the 
town ; insisted that they were able and willing to 
support him ; and proposed that they should form 
another church, of which he should take the pas 
toral charge. To this Mr. Edwards, though he 
had no other eligible prospect of settlement or sup 
port, strongly objected. He feared that it would 
be impossible for him to remain in the town, in 
any connexion, without perpetuating and increasing 
the spirit of strife and division, and thus doing 
more harm than there was a prospect of his doing 
good. Being desirous, however, to treat the 
wishes of his attached friends with all possible re 
spect, he consented that an ecclesiastical council 
should be convened to judge of the propriety of 
forming a new church, and of his consenting to 
take charge of it. 

A council was accordingly assembled for this 
purpose, on the 15th of May, 1751. The oppo 
nents of Mr. Edwards, imagining that the conven 
ing of this council was part of a plan for reversing 
the proceedings of the former council, and restor 
ing him to his old pastoral charge, were exceed 
ingly excited, gave way to great violence of feel 
ing, and assailed the venerable council and Mr. 
Edwards in a manner equally unjust and offensive 


The council, after a deliberate survey of .he whole 
ground, advised, agreeably to the judgment previ 
ously expressed by Mr. Edwards, that the plan 
of forming a new church, and constituting him its 
pastor, be abandoned, and that, for the sake of 
promoting the peace of the congregation, he should 
leave Northampton. 

These devoted friends, however, though not 
permitted to retain this faithful and venerable man 
as their pastor, could not be prevented from testi 
fying their gratitude and respect by much kindness. 
And, although they were by no means the most 
wealthy or conspicuous members of the civil com 
munity, they considered it as their privilege, as 
well as duty, to minister to his temporal wants 
His friends in Scotland also, finding that he could 
not be induced to leave America, and take up his 
abode among them, with a Christian generosity 
and public spirit, as honorable to themselves as to 
the object of their attention, fearing that, amidst 
the persecution which he endured, he might, with 
his large and expensive family, be reduced to 
straits, contributed and sent to him a considerable 
sum of money for his relief. 

In justice to the character of this great and 
good man, it ought to be stated, that, when he was 
conducting his inquiries concerning the qualifica 
tions for communion, and perceived the conclusion 
to which they wers leading him, he foresaw the 


difficulties in which, if he should follow his con 
scientious convictions, he might probably be in- 
voKed. And when his mind was finally made up 
on the system which he thenceforward adopted, 
before it was publicly made known, he intimated 
to some of his friends, that, if he should disclose 
and maintain that system, his impression was, that 
it must issue in his dismission and disgrace ; for 
that his new opinions would never be tolerated or 
forgiven by those whose habits, feelings, and sta 
tion in the church bound them to an opposite 

He foresaw, that most of the neighboring cler 
gy, and all the surrounding churches, would be 
against him ; and that the people of his charge 
would probably cast him off, and leave him to 
want and beggary. Yet he went forward, without 
turning to the right hand or the left. How large 
a portion there was here of that spirit, which ani 
mated the primitive martyrs, and which impelled 
them fearlessly to pursue what they were con 
vinced was the path of duty, at the risk, and 
sometimes at the expense of the certain forfeiture 
of all their temporal comforts, and even of life it 
self, it is unnecessary to remark. Jonathan Ed 
wards had, evidently, drunk deep into that spirit 
and was enabled, by the grace of God, to exem 
Dlify it with no small share of a martyr s fortitude. 

In the month of Decembe", 1750, six months 


after his dismission from his pastoral charge, Mr 
Edwards received proposals from the church in 
Stockbridge, a town in Massachusetts, about forty 
miles west of Northampton, to become their pas 
tor, and, about the same time, an offer from the 
" Commissioners at Boston," acting in the name 
of " The Society in London, for propagating the 
Gospel in New England, and the Parts adjacent," 
to be employed by them as a missionary to the 
Housatounucks, a tribe of Indians, at that time 
located in Stockbridge and its immediate vicinity 
For the purpose of judging whether it was his 
duty to accept these proposals, he went to Stock- 
bridge early in the month of January, 1751, and 
remained there several months, ministering to the 
church in that place, which had invited him to be 
its pastor, and also preaching, by means of an in 
terpreter, to the Indians. Soon after the close 
of this protracted visit, he declared his acceptance 
both of the pastoral charge to which he had been 
called, and of the Indian mission, and determined 
to remove to the scene of his future labors. 



His Removal to Stockbridge. Difficulties ana 
Trials there. Indefatigable Labors. New 
and important Publications. His Election 
to the Presidency of New Jersey College. 

MR. EDWARDS having declared, in the spring 
of 1751, his acceptance of the double charge to 
which he had been called at Stockbridge, returned 
to that place, and entered on its duties in the 
month of June, of that year. Early in the fol 
lowing August, he removed his family from North 
ampton to Stockbridge, and in a few days after 
ward was installed pastor of the church in the 
latter place. 

Among the many testimonies of the high re 
spect and affectionate sympathy which his treat 
ment at Northampton had excited, one occurred 
about this time. He had scarcely been installed 
at Stockbridge, before a special messenger arrived 
with an invitation from a body of Presbyterians 
in Virginia, inviting him to become their pastor, 
and pledging to him a generous support. This 
invitation he would probably have accepted, 
had it arrived a few months, or even weeks, 
earlier. But, having been just installed, he did 


not feel himself at liberty so soon to lea re his 
new charge. 

The congregation in Stockbridge was, at the 
time of his settlement in it, an infant and feeble 
one, in what was then a frontier settlement. It 
was made up partly of Indians, and partly of 
white settlers, who had been drawn thither by 
plans for the improvement of the Indians. The 
Reverend John Sergeant, a pious and faithful mis 
sionary, had occupied the same station for a num 
ber of years prior to Mr. Edwards s call thither, 
and had deceased in 1749. 

Mr. Edwards found the white population of 
Stockbridge in a very divided and discordant state, 
and the Indian mission in a situation by no means 
desirable. An elder member of the same selfish 
and hostile family, which had sought to do him 
hurt during his troubles at Northampton, unhap 
pily resided in Stockbridge, and, by his perverse 
and grasping policy, had rendered himself exceed 
ingly odious both to the Indians and the white 
settlers around him. This man seems to have 
done all that he could to prevent Mr. Edwards 
from accepting the call to that place, and, after 
he was settled there, to weaken his hands, to di 
minish his influence, and, if it had been possible, 
to effect his removal from the mission. Indeed, 
that malignant family might be considered as the 
evil genius of this great and good man ; as some 


member of it seemed to be ever busy in con 
triving mischief against him, and throwing every 
possible obstacle in the way of his comfort and 

It was fortunate for Mr. Edwards, that this man s 
unjust and cruel conduct toward the Indians had 
destroyed his influence with them, and that his 
avaricious and arrogant disposition had alienated 
from him almost all the white inhabitants of the 
town. Still this adversary was constantly busy in 
schemes of encroachment and mischief, and was, 
for several years, one of the principal troublers 
of the mission and of the town, and especially 
of Mr. Edwards, whose sterling integrity and im 
movable firmness he found the greatest obstacle 
to the accomplishment of his plans. And although 
his power of doing personal mischief in his own 
immediate vicinity was very small, yet still his 
family influence in the Board of Commissioners 
at Boston, and through them, and his other con 
nexions with the parent Society in London, ena 
bled him, for a time, to thwart the measures of 
the real friends of the Indians, and greatly to im 
pede the plans laid for their temporal and spiritual 
improvement. The wisdom, fidelity, and decision 
of Mr. Edwards, however, were constantly made, 
in the good providence of God, to foil and control 
this "troubler of Israel," until, at length, mor 
tified and discouraged by his repeated defeats, he 
removed from the town. 


The letters which Mr. Edwards wrote during 
these conflicts to Sir William Pepperell, whose 
attention had been strongly drawn to the Indians 
at Stockbridge, to the Commissioners at Boston, 
and to his correspondents in Scotland, give a 
most impressive view, on the one band, of the 
untiring spirit of malignity and mischief with 
which he and the Indian mission were assailed ; 
and, on the other, of the calm, Christian firmness 
and fidelity, with which he met his adversaries, 
and maintained the cause of humanity and righ 
teousness. It was, truly, in this case, the friend of 
religion and of human happiness meeting the ene 
mies of both, who were willing to sacrifice every 
thing to their cupidity, their ambition, and their 
pride, and putting them to flight by those weapons 
alone, which are " mighty through God to the 
pulling down of strong holds." 

In the dispensations of Providence toward this 
excellent man, while we see not a little that is 
mysterious and perplexing, we also see much, 
the wisdom and benignity of which we are able 
to discern. Had he remained in Northampton, 
especially had he continued in a pastoral relation 
to so large a church, while in a state so agitated 
and divided as during the last five or six years 
of his connexion with it, it may be doubted 
whether several of his most important publica 
tions would ever have been given to the world. 

i. 9 


It was probably one of the designs of the Head 
of the church, in removing him from such a laoo- 
rious and distracting scene, to afford him more 
of that calm retirement and leisure, which were 
?o desirable for the completion of works requiring 
close and protracted thought, and much profound 

His unjust and cruel expulsion, therefore, from 
Northampton, however painful to his own feelings, 
and however disgraceful to the members of that 
church, and to the neighboring clergy, who were 
most active in effecting it, was evidently overruled 
for good. It not only drew the attention of a 
large portion of the American churches to a most 
important discussion, and held up his character in 
a conspicuous and highly interesting light to the 
religious public ; but it became the means of in 
troducing him to a scene of more retirement, more 
tranquil study, and also of giving his friends in 
Great Britain and on the continent of Europe, a 
deeper interest in his character and his works. 
It happened in this case, as it has happened a 
thousand times before, that every stroke inflicted 
upon him by the hand of error or of malice, did 
but serve to call into fuller view his intellectual 
and moral excellence, and thus to exalt his repu 
tation, and extend his permanent usefulness. 

The labors of Mr. Edwards in Stockbridge were 
multiplied and arduous. He preached twice in 


each week to the white inhabitants of the town, 
and once, by an interpreter, to the Indians. Be 
sides these duties, his numerous daily avocations 
of a more private nature, as pastor and as mis 
sionary, and especially in fulfilling the trust reposed 
in him with regard to the instruction and care of 
the Indian children, formed an amount of labor 
quite enough to employ the whole time of an 
ordinary man. In addition to these stated em 
ployments, the first two or three years of his resi 
dence in that town were marked with many vex 
atious attempts, on the part of certain persons 
already referred to, to turn the funds devoted to 
the Indians to their own aggrandizement, to injure 
Mr. Edwards himself, and, if possible, to remove 
him from his office ; which laid him under the 
necessity of employing much time, in a variety 
of ways, to counteract these insidious arts, and 
to defend from oppression and cruelty his interest 
ing charge. 

Besides all this, he was seized in the month ol 
June, 1754, with a severe fever, from which he 
did not recover until the following January, and 
which greatly enfeebled his constitution ; to which 
may be added, that the war with the French and 
Indians which immediately succeeded, and was 
particularly distressing to the frontier settlements, 
and to Stockbridge among the rest, painfully 
nterrupted his favorite pursuits. The ordinary 


arrangements of society in the town were broken 
up. Soldiers were quartered at his house, eating 
up his substance, and deranging the order of his 
family. Such was the series of vexations and 
trials to which this excellent man was subjected, 
even after his escape from the popular rage and 
injustice at Northampton. 

Yet, even amidst these scenes, he found time 
for some of his most successful intellectual efforts. 
And during the last three or four years of his resi 
dence in Stockbridge, he enjoyed, perhaps, as fa 
vorable an opportunity for undisturbed study as in 
any period of his life. 

The first product of his pen in this place was a 
reply to a publication of the Reverend Solomon 
Williams, of Lebanon, Connecticut, on the sub 
ject of Qualifications for Communion, which had 
created so much difficulty in Northampton. Mr. 
Williams had written, in answer to Mr. Edwards s 
( Humble Inquiry concerning the Qualifications 
for Full Communion in the visible Church," pub 
lished in 1749, a pamphlet, which he entitled, 
" The true State of the Question concerning Qual 
ifications for lawful Communion in the Christian 
Sacraments." This pamphlet had been printed at 
the expense of the church at Northampton, and 
carefully distributed among all the inhabitants of 
the town, for the purpose of invalidating the work 
of their old pastor. It seems never to have been 


regarded by the public as very powerful ; yet Mr 
Edwards deemed a reply to it advisable. Accord 
ingly, in November, 1752, he published an answer, 
under the title of " Misrepresentations Corrected, 
and Truth Vindicated, in Reply to the Reverend 
Solomon Williams," &ic. To this he added a Let 
ter to his late flock at Northampton. This pub 
lication has generally been considered, like the 
original work, to which it is a sequel, as distin 
guished for fairness and force of reasoning, zeal for 
the truth, and tender concern for the everlasting 
welfare of those who had evil requited him for all 
his faithful and affectionate labors. 

In the month of September, 1752, Mr. Ed 
wards visited Newark, in the State of New Jersey, 
where one of his daughters resided, who had been 
married, a few weeks before, to the Reverend 
Aaron Burr, President of the College of New 
Jersey, which was then established temporarily at 
Newark, and several years afterwards removed to 
Princeton. During this visit, which comprehend 
ed both the public Commencement in the col 
lege, and the annual meeting of the Synod of 
New York, he preached before the Synod a ser 
mon of peculiar solemnity and excellence, from 
James ii. 19, entitled, " True Grace distinguished 
from the Experience of Devils," which was soon 
afterwards printed at the request of that body. 
This sermon is found among his collected works, 


and will ever be regarded as a faithful, weighty, 
and impressive discourse. 

Several years before Mr. Edwards left North 
ampton, he had planned, as we have seen in a 
preceding chapter, a Treatise on the Freedom of 
the Will, and Moral Agency, in opposition to the 
Arminian System. He had, no doubt, thought 
much on this subject, and probably committed 
some of his thoughts to writing before his dismis 
sion. Indeed, this great subject seems to have 
engaged his attention even while he was an under 
graduate at college, and to have been a favorite 
object of attention ever since. And the probabil 
ity is, that no month had passed, for a number of 
years, in which he had not written something in 
reference to it. But he was painfully diverted 
from the execution of his plan by the troubles at 
Northampton. These agitating troubles, together 
with the embarrassments which attended his mis 
sion for the first year or two at Stockbridge, had 
so engrossed his mind, that he made but little 
progress in the execution of his plan. 

Toward the latter part of the summer of 1752, 
however, he resumed his attention to the subject, 
and about the middle of April, 1753, he announ 
ced to the Reverend Dr. Erskine of Scotland, that 
he had almost finished the first draft of his far- 
famed treatise on the " Freedom of the Will." 
The proposals for printing it were soon afterwards 


issued in Boston ; but, in consequence of waiting 
for the result of subscription papers sent to Scot 
land, the work was not actually published until 
the spring of 1754. Such a work, supposing it 
to be written with any degree of retired leisure 
that can be imagined, and after many years of 
close and persevering study, would do honor to 
the most powerful mind that ever engaged in men 
tal labor. But when it is considered that the plan 
of it was formed in scenes of distraction and sor 
row ; that it was resumed and prosecuted in the 
midst of hindrances and interruptions, which would 
have discouraged a common man ; and that the 
actual composition of the work seems to have 
been completed in less than half a year, it must 
oe regarded as a most extraordinary example of 
intellectual power. 

In the spring of 1755, after his recovery from 
the sickness which, during the latter half of the 
preceding year, had greatly distressed and en 
feebled him, his active mind, instead of seeking 
repose, sought for new fields of indefatigable labor. 
To elucidate truth and duty for the benefit of his 
fellow-men was his ruling passion. He now com 
menced the composition of two treatises, which he 
considered as relating to fundamental points in the 
system of theology. The one was " A Disserta 
tion on God s Last End in the Creation of the 
World ; " and the other " A Dissertation on the 


Nature of true Virtue." Neither of these Disser 
tations was published during the author s life ; nor 
does either of them seem to have been entirely 
prepared for the press by himself. They were 
both published for the first time together, in Bos 
ton, in the year 1765, and, like all his writings, 
bear the stamp of his great mind. 

The first of these Dissertations contains no new 
doctrine. That God s last end in the creation of 
the world was his own glory, is not only taught 
with great distinctness in the word of God ; but 
had been recognised, for centuries before this time, 
in all evangelical systems of theology. But it is 
probable that this doctrine had never been so 
clearly illustrated, exhibited with so much philo 
sophical accuracy, or fortified with such perfect 
demonstration, by any writer before Mr. Edwards. 
He touched nothing that he did not set in a new 
light, and establish with additional evidence. 
Some inferences since deduced from the doctrine 
of this Dissertation, he would, probably, never 
have sanctioned. But of this more hereafter. 

If, among the works of this great man, there 
be any at which the sound theologian will hesitate, 
it is, perhaps, to be found in the second of these 
two Dissertations, namely, that on the " Nature of 
true Virtue." It is impossible, indeed, to peruse 
that Dissertation without perceiving the workman 
ship of the same acute and masterly mind, which 


appears in all his other writings. But it may be 
doubted whether he has, with the same perfect 
success as in most other cases, established his 
main position, which is, that true virtue essentially 
consists in a love to being in general; in other 
words, that our love to every object ought to be 
in proportion to the amount or quantity of its be 
ing. The following objections to this doctrine, by 
the late Reverend Robert Hall, a great admirer 
of Edwards, and, undoubtedly, one of the most 
able and eloquent men that Great Britain has pro 
duced within the last half century, seem to have 
no small weight. 

1 . " The good of the whole (of being in gen 
eral) is a motive so loose and indeterminate, and 
embraces such an infinity of relations, that, before 
we could be certain what action is prescribed, the 
season of action would be past. 

2. " Virtue, on these principles, is an utter im 
possibility ; for the system of being, comprehend 
ing the great Supreme, is infinite ; and, therefore, 
to maintain the proper proportion, the force of 
particular attachment must be infinitely less than 
the passion for the general good ; but the limits 
of the human mind are not capable of any emo 
tion so infinitely different in degree. 

3. " Since our views of the extent of the um 
verse are capable of perpetual enlargement, ad 
mitting that the sum of existence is ever the same 


we must turn back at each step to diminish the 
strergth of particular affections, or they will be 
come disproportionate; so that the balance must 
be continually fluctuating, by the weights being 
taken out of one scale and put into the other. 

4. " If virtue consist exclusively of love to 
being in general, or attachment to the general 
good, the particular affections are, to every pur 
pose of virtue, useless, and even pernicious ; for 
their immediate, nay, their necessary tendency is 
to attract to their objects a proportion of attention, 
which far exceeds their comparative value in the 
general scale. To allege that the general good is 
promoted by them, will be of no advantage to the 
defence of this system, but the contrary, by con 
fessing that a greater sum of happiness is attained 
by a deviation from, than by an adherence to its 
principles, unless its advocates mean by the love 
of being in general the same thing as the private 
affections, which is to confound all the distinctions 
of language, as well as the operations of the mind. 
Let it be remembered, we have no dispute re 
specting what is the ultimate end of virtue, which 
is allowed on both sides to be the greatest sum of 
happiness in the universe. The question is merely ? 
What is virtue itself; or, in other words, what are 
the means appointed for the attainment of that 
end ? " 

" There is little doubt," Mr. Hall adds, " from 


some parts of Mr. Godwin s work entitled, ( Po 
litical Justice, as well as from his early habits of 
reading, that he was indebted to Mr. Edwards for 
his principal arguments against the private affec 
tions ; though, with a daring consistence, he has 
pursued his principles to an extreme, from which 
that most excellent man would have revolted with 
horror. The fundamental error of the whole sys 
tem arose, as I conceive, from a mistaken pursuit 
of simplicity ; from a wish to construct a moral 
system, without leaving sufficient scope for the in 
finite variety of moral phenomena and mental 
combination ; in consequence of which its advo 
cates were induced to place virtue exclusively in 
some one disposition of mind ; and, since the pas 
sion for the general good is undeniably the noblest 
and most extensive of all others, when it was 
once resolved to place virtue in any one thing, 
there remained little room to hesitate which should 
be preferred. It might have been w r orth while to 
reflect, that in the natural world there are two 
kinds of attractions ; one which holds the several 
parts of individual bodies in contact ; another, 
which maintains the union of bodies themselves 
with the general system ; and that, though the 
union in the former case is much more intimate 
than in the latter, each is equally essential to 
the order of the world. Similar to this is the 
relation which the public and private affections 


Dear to each other, and their use in the moral 
system." * 

The next important work which engaged the 
attention of Mr. Edwards, was his treatise on 
" Original Sin." When this work was begun, and 
how long he was employed in its composition, 
cannot now be certainly known. The date of the 
Author s Preface is May 26th, 1757. This is 
sufficient evidence that he had then prepared it 
for the press. A few of the first sheets were 
printed in the course of that year, and passed un 
der the revision of the venerable author ; but the 
whole work did not come from the press until the 
spring of the year 1758, a few weeks after his 
decease. This work has been considered by some 
as the greatest production of his pen. Though it 
is probable that such an estimate will hardly be 
sustained by the best judges, yet, in clearness, 
comprehensiveness, and force, it stands next to 
his work on the Freedom of the Will." 

The success of Mr. Edwards at Stockbridge, 
especially among the Indians, the most prominent 
and interesting part of his charge, was not great. 
This unfavorable result, considering a variety of 
circumstances attending his labors, was by no 
means wonderful. The Indians, during almost 
the whole time of his connexion with them, were 
placed in a situation very unfriendly to their moral 

* Sermon on Modern Infidelity. 


and spiritual improvement. The white people in 
their neighborhood were a constant source of em 
barrassment and corruption. Ardent spirits were 
furnished to them to a great extent by the un 
principled traders. The funds contributed for 
their benefit, both in Europe and America, were 
either embezzled or strangely perverted to the 
purposes of secular gain, by men who were un 
happily vested with agencies for the management 
of their affairs ; to which may be added, that the 
war which raged during several of the years which 
Mr. Edwards spent at Stockbridge, in which the 
French had contrived to engage many of the 
Indian tribes against Great Britain and the colo 
nies, served to keep in an uneasy and agitated 
state the body of Indians belonging to this settle 
ment, to diminish their confidence in those who 
professed to be their benefactors, and to turn away 
their attention from the best objects. 

In fact, during the whole of Mr. Edwards s 
residence at this missionary station, there were 
constantly causes in unhappy operation, which 
tended to interrupt the tranquillity of the settle 
ment, and to introduce the elements of suspicion, 
jealousy, and resentment among the Indians. And 
although Mr. Edwards himself was not only faith 
ful both to their temporal and spiritual interests, 
but indefatigably employed in promoting both, to 
the extent of his power ; and although he uni- 


formly enjoyed their confidence and affection, 
they were continually so annoyed and injured by 
others, as to keep their minds in a state of 
constant excitement, and to fill them with preju 
dices against many who bore the Christian name. 
Whatever might have been the influence of these 
causes on their minds, the fact is, that few of 
them seem to have been brought under the power 
of the Gospel while Mr. Edwards was with them. 
Individuals, indeed, of their number, now and 
then became hopefully pious ; but no general or 
extended revival of religion among them evei 
occurred under his ministry. 

It may be doubted whether the history of the 
world has ever presented an example of a small 
community, existing in the bosom of a larger, and 
accounted inferior to the latter in intelligence and 
general standing, which, in these circumstances, 
continued to flourish, and to become, progres 
sively, more numerous, intelligent, virtuous, and 
happy. Such a people, in spite of every effort 
to prevent it, are commonly despised and treated 
as inferiors. They most frequently come into 
contact with the most unprincipled and base of 
the superior community. They seldom fail to be 
oppressed and corrupted, and, therefore, weakened. 
They, of course, want that sense of character and 
self-respect, that generous emulation to rise to 
true excellence, which are so unspeakably useful, 


and indeed indispensable in the social system. 
Hence they are apt, in these circumstances, to 
degenerate in character, to diminish in numbers, 
and finally to waste away, and either perish alto 
gether, or feel compelled to remove. 

This has ever been the case with a free black 
population surrounded by white people. And if 
any facts, supposed to wear a different aspect with 
respect to the Indians, have been presented under 
the labors of an Eliot, a Brainerd, and some more 
recent examples, it is believed they were only 
temporary appearances. Good was done ; indi 
viduals were converted to the knowledge and love 
of the truth ; a few cases of pure and elevated 
character appeared ; but the stability, the purity, 
and the growth of the inferior community could 
not be maintained. It dwindled, or took refuge 
in a more remote and insulated situation. In these 
remarks nothing more is intended than to express 
an opinion on the intellectual and moral aspect of 
the subject. Whatever may be the plan of treat 
ment pursued by the government of the superioi 
community, whether it be wise or foolish, just or 
oppressive, the result may be hastened or retarded 
by circumstances peculiarly favorable or otherwise ; 
but the general result, without a miracle, will be 
ever the same. 

If this opinion be correct, we need not wonder 
that even under the ministry of Edwards, with all 


his talents, wisdom, preeminent fidelity, and inde 
fatigable diligence in the service of the Indians, 
his success was not greater ; that in spite of every 
thing that human power could accomplish, such 
counteracting causes were continually in operation, 
as thwarted his efforts, and, except in a few cases, 
disappointed his hopes. 

While Mr. Edwards was going on in his retired, 
studious course, fulfilling his official duties, and 
preparing works for the benefit of the church of 
God, and to bless millions in after-ages, an event 
occurred which was destined to give a new direc 
tion and most interesting aspect to his few re 
maining days. That event was the death of the 
Reverend Aaron Burr, president of the College 
of New Jersey, at Princeton. President Burr 
had married Esther, the third daughter of Mr. 
Edwards, in 1752. He had presided over the 
college nearly ten years with growing acceptance 
and honor, and had, a few months before, removed 
with the institution from Newark to Princeton, to 
take possession of the buildings just completed for 
its reception ; when, in the meridian of life and 
of usefulness, it pleased God to remove him by 
death in the autumn of 1757, two days before 
the annual Commencement. 

The trustees of the College, of course, came 
together at that anniversary ; and, deliberating on 
the severe bereavement with which they had been 


visited, they turned their attention without delay to 
the choice of a successor. Their suffrages were 
soon directed to Mr. Edwards, who had visited 
the college five years before, at a public Com 
mencement ; whose persecution in Northampton 
had given him a deep and general interest in the 
hearts of the religious public ; whose invaluable 
writings were circulated in every part of the coun 
try ; and whose connexion with their late Presi 
dent formed another attraction of no ordinary 
strength. He was elected to the Presidentship 
of the College on the 27th of September, 1757, 
and measures were immediately taken to inform 
him of his election, and to secure his acceptance 
of the office 

i. 10 



His Removal to Princeton. Letter to tht 
Board of Trustees. Inauguration. Sick 
ness and Death. His Epitaph. His Family. 

To effect the removal of Mr. Edwards to 
Princeton, it was not only necessary to obtain 
his own consent, but also that of the Commis 
sioners in Boston, who had the charge of the 
Indian mission in Stockbridge, and in whose em 
ployment he had been for six years. The latter, 
by suitabJe representations, was soon effected. A 
gentleman of excellent character was recommend 
ed to the Board as a successor, and their consent 
obtained to release Mr. Edwards from his charge. 

But to remove the difficulties, which existed in 
the mind of Mr. Edwards himself, was not so 
easily accomplished. In a letter which he wrote 
to the Board of Trustees of the College, in an 
swer to their communication, announcing his ap 
pointment, and soliciting his acceptance of it, he 
expressed himself in a manner which ndicated 
much mental conflict. As this letter has been 
referred to already, and will be alluded to again 
in the following pages ; and as it is, on some ac 
counts, one of the most characteristic productions 


that ever came from the author s pen, it is judged 
best to give the greater part of it at length. It 
is in the following words. 

" Stockbridge, 19 October, 1757. 
" I was not a little surprised, on receiving the 
unexpected notice of your having made choice 
of me, to succeed the late President Burr, as the 
head of Nassau Hall. I am much in doubt, 
whether I am called to undertake the business, 
which you have done me the unmerited honor to 
choose me for. If some regard may be had to 
my outward comfort, I might mention the many 
inconveniences and great detriment, which may 
be sustained by my removing with my numerous 
family so far from all the estate I have in the 
world, (without any prospect of disposing of it, 
under present circumstances, but with great loss,) 
now when we have scarcely got over the trouble 
and damage, sustained by our removal from North 
ampton, and have but just begun to have our af 
fairs in a comfortable situation for a subsistence in 
this place ; and the expense I must immediately 
bw at, to put myself into circumstances, tolerably 
comporting with the needful support of the honors 
of the office [ am invited to ; which will not well 
consist with my ability. 

"But this is not my main objection. The chief 


difficulties in my mind, in the way of accepting 
that important and arduous office, are these two ; 

" First, my own defects, unfitting me for such an 
undertaking, many of which are generally known j 
beside others of which my own heart is conscious 
[ have a constitution in many respects peculiarly 
unhappy, attended with flaccid solids, vapid, sizy, 
and scarce fluids, and a low tide of spirits ; often 
occasioning a kind of childish weakness and con- 
temptibleness of speech, presence, and demeanor, 
with a disagreeable dulness and stiffness, much 
unfitting me for conversation, but more especially 
for the government of a college. This makes me 
shrink at the thoughts of taking upon me, in the 
decline of life, such a new and great business, at 
tended with such a multiplicity of cares, and re 
quiring such a degree of activity, alertness, and 
spirit of government ; especially as succeeding one 
so remarkably well qualified in these respects, giv 
ing occasion to every one to remark the wide dif 
ference. I am also deficient in some parts of learn 
ing, particularly in algebra, and the higher parts of 
mathematics, and in the Greek classics ; my Greek 
learning having been chiefly in the New Testa 

" The other thing is this ; that my engaging in 
this business will not well consist with those views, 
and that course of employ, in my study, which 
bave long engaged and swallowed up my mind, 


and been the chief entertainment and delight of 
my life. 

" And here, honored Sirs, (emboldened, by the 
testimony I have now received of your unmerited 
esteem, to rely on your candor,) I will with free 
dom open myself to you. My method of study, 
from my first beginning the work of the ministry, 
has been very much by writing ; applyibg myself, 
in this way, to improve every important hint; pur 
suing the clue to my utmost, when any thing in 
reading, meditation, or conversation, has been sug 
gested to my mind, that seemed to promise light 
in any weighty point ; thus penning what appeared 
to me my best thoughts, on innumerable subjects, 
for my own benefit. The longer I prosecuted 
my studies in this method, the more habitual it 
became, and the more pleasant and profitable I 
found it. The farther I travelled in this way, 
the more and wider the field opened, which has 
occasioned my laying out many things in my mind, 
to do in this manner, if God should spare my life 
which my heart hath been much upon ; particu 
larly many things against most of the prevailing 
errors of the present day, which I cannot with 
any patience see maintained (to the utter sub 
verting of the Gospel of Christ) with so high a 
hand, and so long continued a triumph, with so 
little control, when it appears so evident to me 
that there is truly no foundation for any of lltis 


glorying and insult. I have already published 
something on one of the main points in dispute 
between the Arrninians and Calvinists, and have 
it in view, God willing, (as I have already signified 
to the public,) in like manner to consider all the 
other controverted points, and have done much 
towards a preparation for it. 

" But, beside these, I have had on my mind and 
heart (which I long ago began, not with any view 
to publication,) a great work which I call a c His 
tory of the Work of Redemption, a body of divin 
ity in an entire new method, being thrown into the 
form of a history ; considering the affair of Chris 
tian theology, as the whole of it, in each part, 
stands in reference to the great work of redemp 
tion by Jesus Christ, which I suppose to be, of 
all others, the grand design of God, and the sum- 
mum and ultimum of all the divine operations 
and decrees ; particularly considering all parts of 
the grand scheme in their historical order, the 
order of their existence, or their being brought 
forth to view in the course of divine dispensations, 
or the wonderful series of successive acts and 
events, beginning from eternity, and descending 
from thence to the great work and successive dis 
pensations of the infinitely wise God, in time ; 
considering the chief events coming to pass in 
the church of God, and revolutions in the world 
of mankind, affecting the state of the church and 


the affair of redemption, which we have an ac 
count of in history or prophecy, till, at last, we 
come to the general resurrection, last judgment} 
and consummation of all things ; when it shall be 
said, c It is done ; / am Alpha and Omega, the 
beginning and the end ; concluding my work, 
with the consideration of that perfect state of 
things which shall be finally settled, to last for 
eternity. This history will be carried on with 
regard to all three worlds, heaven, earth, and hell; 
considering the connected, successive events and 
alterations in each, so far as the Scriptures give 
any light ; introducing all parts of divinity in that 
order which is most Scriptural and most natural, 
a method which appears to me the most beautiful 
and entertaining, wherein every divine doctrine 
will appear to the greatest advantage, in the 
brightest light, in the most striking manner, show 
ing the admirable contexture and harmony of the 

" I have also, for my own profit and entertain 
ment, done much towards another great work, 
which I call the ( Harmony of the Old and New 
Testament, in three parts. The first, considering 
the prophecies of the Messiah, his redemption 
and kingdom ; the evidences of their references 
to the Messiah, &c. ; comparing them all one 
with another ; demonstrating their agreement, true 
scope, and sense; also considering all the various 


particulars wherein those prophecies have then 
exact fulfilment, showing the universal, precise, 
and admirable correspondence between predictions 
and events. The second part, considering the 
types of the Old Testament, showing the evidence 
of their being intended as representations of the 
great things of the Gospel of Christ, and the 
agreement of the type with the antitype. The 
third and great part, considering the harmony of 
the Old and New Testament as to doctrine and 

" In the course of this work, I find there will 
be occasion for an explanation of a very great 
part of the holy Scriptures ; which may, in such 
a view, be explained in a method, which to me 
seems the most entertaining and profitable, best 
tending to lead the mind to a view of the true 
spirit, design, life, and soul of the Scriptures, as 
well as their proper use and improvement. 

" I have also many other things in hand, in 
some of which I have made great progress, which 
I will not trouble you with an account of. Some 
of these things, if divine Providence favor, I 
should be willing to attempt a publication of. So 
far as I myself am able to judge of what talents I 
have, for benefiting my fellow-creatures by word, 
I think I can write better than I can speak. 

" My heart is so much in these studies, that I 
cannot find it in my heart to be willing to put 


myself into an incapability to pursue them any more 
in the future part of my life, to such a degree as 1 
must, if I undertake to go through the sam* 3 courso 
of employ, in the office of president, that Mr. 
Burr did, instructing in all the languages, and tak 
ing the whole care of the instruction of one of the 
classes, in all parts of learning, besides his other 
labors. If I should see light to determine me to 
accept the place offered me, I should be willing 
to take upon me the work of a president, so far 
as it consists in the general inspection of the 
whole society ; and to be subservient to the 
school, as to their order and methods of study and 
instruction, assisting myself in the immediate in 
struction in the arts and sciences (as discretion 
should direct, and occasion serve, and the state 
of things require), especially of the senior class ; 
and, added to all, should be willing to do the 
whole work of a professor of divinity in public 
and private lectures, proposing questions to be 
answered, and some to be discussed in writing 
and free conversation, in meetings of graduates and 
others, appointed, in proper seasons, for these ends. 
It would be now out of my way to spend time in 
a constant teaching of the languages, unless it be 
the Hebrew tongue, which I should be willing to 
improve myself in, by instructing others. 

" On the whole, I am much at a loss, with 
respect to the way of duty, in this important affair ; 


I am in doubt, whether, if I should engage 
in it, I should not do what both you and I would 
be sorry for afterwards. Nevertheless, I think the 
greatness of the affair, and the regard due to so 
worthy and venerable a body, as that of the trus 
tees of Nassau Hall, require my taking the mat 
ter into serious consideration. And, unless you 
should appear to be discouraged by the things 
which I have now represented, as to any further 
expectations from me, I shall proceed to ask ad 
vice of such as I esteem most wise, friendly, and 
faithful ; if, after the mind of the Commissioners 
in Boston is known, it appears that they consent 
to leave me at liberty, with respect to the busi 
ness they have employed me in here." 

This letter is a very striking document. The 
unaffected and deep humility, which it manifests, is 
not more remarkable than the largeness of the 
views which it discloses, and the insatiable desire 
for improving m knowledge, and for serving his 
generation in that way for which he considered 
himself as best adapted, which it strongly ex 
presses, and which seemed ever to fill his mind. 

The objections which he urged, the trustees of 
the college endeavored to obviate, and urged him 
to dismiss. To their solicitations were added the 
opinions of some of his most enlightened and 
pious friends, whom he had consulted, and who 


generally concurred in advising him to accept of 
the station offered him. These united influences 
finally prevailed. It was not, however, until the 
ecclesiastical council, summoned to consider the 
case, gave a decisive judgment in favor of his re 
moval, that he declared his acceptance of the 

This council met at Stockbridge, January 4th, 
1758 ; and after having heard the representation 
of Mr. Edwards, and the objections to his removal 
offered by the people of his charge, on the one 
hand ; and, on the other, the plea in behalf of his 
removal, presented and zealously urged by the 
Reverend Caleb Smith and the Reverend John 
Brainerd, who appeared in behalf of the college, 
they decided that it was his duty to accept of the 
presidency to which he was called. When 
the council publicly announced their judgment 
and advice to Mr. Edwards, and to the people of 
his church, he appeared much moved, and burst 
into tears, a thing very unusual with him in the 
presence of others ; and soon afterwards remarked 
to the members of the council, that it was a 
matter of wonder to him, that they could so easily, 
as they appeared to have done, obviate the objec 
tions which he had urged against his removal. 
But, as he thought it his duty to be governed by 
their aavice, he determined cheerfully to acquiesce 
in their decision, and repair to the scene of his 
future labor. 


Accordingly in the month of January , 1758, in 
a lew days after the decision of the council, he 
set out from Stockbridge for Princeton. He left 
his family in Stockbridge, with the intention of re 
moving them to his new residence in the spring. 
He had with him two daughters, Mrs. Burr, the 
widow of the late president, and Lucy, his fifth 
daughter, who afterwards married Mr. Wood- 
bridge. His arrival in Princeton was an event of 
great joy to the college and its friends ; and, in 
deed, all who took an interest in the promotion of 
sound learning, in union with evangelical piety, 
were greatly rejoiced to see such a man taking 
charge of an important literary institution, and 
were ready to congratulate the guardians of the 
college on their happy choice. 

In a few days after his arrival in Princeton, he 
received intelligence of the death of his venerable 
father, who departed this life on the 27th of Jan 
uary, in the eighty-ninth year of his age, after an 
unusually protracted ministry of great acceptance 
and usefulness. 

Mr. Edwards spent several weeks in Princeton, 
before the board of trustees could conveniently 
come together, and, of course, before his formal 
introduction to the presidentship could take place. 
During this time, as the college was then in ses 
sion, he preached every Sabbath in the college 
chapel, to the great acceptance of his hearers 


His first sermon was on the " Unchangeableness 
of Christ," from Hebrews xiii. 8. The tradition 
is, that he was more than two hours in the deliv 
ery of the discourse ; but that it was so peculiarly 
instructive and solemn, and delivered with so 
much earnestness, that his hearers, in their absorb 
ed attention, were unconscious of the lapse cf 
time, and surprised that it closed so soon. 

He did nothing during this interval in the way 
of instruction in the college, except giving out 
rome questions in theology to the senior class, to 
be answered before him ; each one having an op 
portunity, and being expected, to study and write 
on each, for exhibition at a future meeting. When 
they came together to answer these questions, we 
are informed, they found their interviews so in 
structive and interesting, and especially the re 
marks of the President elect, so rich and original, 
that they spoke of those occasions with the great 
est delight and admiration. 

During this period, Mr. Edwards appeared to 
enjoy peculiar comfor* in religion. He intimated 
to his daughters that he had suffered strong con 
flicts of mind, and many fears, with respect to his 
removal, and engaging in so arduous and responsi 
ble a sphere of labor , out that he had become 
fully persuaded, that he was called of God to do 
as he had done, and that he enjoyed the tranquil 
and confident assurance that he had followed the 
path of duty. 


The board of trustees of the college met on 
the 16th day of February, 1758, on which day 
he was solemnly inaugurated as president, taking 
the oaths of office, and having the college public 
ly and formally committed to his charge. At the 
same time he was qualified as a trustee of the col 
lege, and took his seat accordingly. 

Neither the President, nor either of his daugh 
ters then with him, had had the small-pox. In 
oculation for that disease, though many years 
before introduced into America, was neither so 
common, nor deemed so safe, as it has since be 
come. Cases of that complaint now existed at 
Princeton, and it was likely to spread. It was 
therefore judged best by the friends and physician 
of Mr. Edwards, that he and his daughters should 
submit to inoculation. The board of trustees 
of the college, being in session when the proposal 
was made, were consulted, and gave their consent 
to the measure. A skilful physician was engaged 
to come from Philadelphia for the special purpose 
of inoculating him and his daughters, which was 
accordingly performed on the 23d of February. 

He appeared to have the disease favorably, and 
it was thought, after the lapse of the usual time 
from its commencement, that it had nearly com 
pleted its course, and that all danger was over. 
But a secondary fever supervened ; and, by reason 
of the great number of pustules in his throat, the 


obstruction was such that the necessary medicines 
and dietetic preparations could not be administered ; 
the consequence of which was, that the disease 
went on gathering strength until it put an end to 
his life, on the 22d day of March, 1758, in the 
fifty-fifth year of his age, and just five weeks after 
his introduction into office. 

After he became sensible that he could not long 
survive, he called his daughter Lucy, who had 
faithfully and affectionately attended him in his 
illness, and addressed her in a few words, to the 
following effect. " Dear Lucy, it seems to me 
to be the will of God that I must shortly leave 
you ; therefore give my kindest love to my dear 
wife, and tell her that the uncommon union which 
has so long subsisted between us, has been of such 
a nature as, I trust, is spiritual, and therefore will 
continue for ever ; and I hope she will be sup 
ported under so great a trial, and submit cheer 
fully to the will of God. And as to my children, 
you are now like to be left fatherless ; which I 
hope will be an inducement to you all to seek a 
Father who will never fail you. And as to my 
funeral, I would have it to be like Mr. Burr s ; 
and any additional sum of money that might be 
expected to be laid out in that way, I would have 
disposed of to charitable uses." 

President Burr, on his death-bed, had directed 
that his funeral should be conducted without pomp 


or cost ; that nothing should be expended but 
what was required by the dictates of Christian 
decency ; and that the sum which would have 
been necessary for a fashionable funeral, beyond 
the cost of a plain and decent one, should be 
given to the poor out of his estate. 

Mr. Edwards said very little during his illness, 
but set an admirable example of patience and 
resignation to the last. He enjoyed the unin 
terrupted exercise of his reason throughout the 
whole. Just at the close of life, as some persons 
who stood by, expecting he would breathe his last 
in a few minutes, were lamenting his death, not 
only as a great frown on the college, but as leaving 
a dark aspect on the interest of religion in gen 
eral, to their surprise, not imagining that he heard, 
or would ever speak more, he said, " Trust in 
God, and ye need not fear." These were his last 
words. He, soon after, calmly, and without a 
struggle, fell asleep. 

The physician who attended him and his family 
on this occasion, was Dr. William Shippen, of 
Philadelphia, a gentleman of great professional 
eminence, who felt with the deepest sympathy 
the value of the life which had been committed 
to his care, and the mournful character of the 
bereavement which had occurred to the college, 
to his family, and to the public. On the same 
day on which the decease of his illustrious patient 


occurred, he addressed the following letter to the 
afflicted widow, at Stockbridge. 

"Princeton, 22 March, 1758. 


" I am heartily sorry for the occasion of my 
writing to you, by this express ; but I know you 
have been informed, by a line from your excellent, 
lovely, and pious husband, that I was brought here 
to inoculate him and your dear daughter Esther, 
and her children, for the small-pox, which was 
then spreading fast in Princeton ; and that, after 
the most deliberate and serious consultation with 
his nearest and most religious friends, he was ac 
cordingly inoculated, with them, the 23d of last 
month ; and, although he had the small-pox favor 
ably, yet, having a number of them in the roof 
of his mouth and throat, he could not possibly 
swallow a sufficient quantity of drink to keep off 
a secondary fever, which has proved too strong for 
his feeble frame ; and this afternoon, between two 
and three o clock, it pleased God to let him sleep 
in that dear Lord Jesus, whose kingdom and in 
vest he has been faithfully and painfully serving 
all his life. And never did any mortal man more 
fully and clearly evidence the sincerity of all his 
professions, by one continued, universal, calm, 
cheerful resignation, and patient submission to the 
Divine will, through every stage of his disease 

L 11 


than he ; not so much as one discontented ex 
pression, nor the least appearance of murmuring, 
through the whole. And never did any person 
expire with more perfect freedom from pain ; not 
so much as one distorted hair ; but, in the most 
proper sense of the words, he fell asleep. Death 
had certainly lost its sting as to him. 

" Your daughter, Mrs. Burr, and her children, 
through the mercy of God, are safely over the 
disease, and she desires me to send her duty to 
you, the best of mothers. She has had the small 
pox the heaviest of all whom I have inoculated, 
and little Sally for the lightest. She has but 
three in her face. I am sure it will prove ser 
viceable to her future health. 

"I conclude with my hearty prayers, dear 
Madam, that you may be enabled to look to that 
God whose love and goodness you have expe 
rienced a thousand times, for direction and help, 
under this most afflictive dispensation of his prov 
idence, and under every other difficulty you may 
meet with here, in order to your being more per 
fectly fitted for the joys of Heaven hereafter. 

"I am, dear Madam, your most sympathizing 
and affectionate friend, and very humble servant, 


This letter reached Mrs. Edwards while in a 
very feeble state of health, when she was pre- 


paring to pay a visit, first to a sister at West 
Springfield, and then to her mother-in-law at 
Windsor, who had lately become a widow, by the 
death of President Edwards s father. What her 
feelings were on receiving the unexpected and 
sad intelligence which it contained, may be more 
easily imagined than described. It is worthy of 
remark, however, that some time before, she had 
told some of her intimate friends, that, after many 
struggles and counter exercises, she had obtained, 
by God s grace, an habitual willingness to die her 
self, or to give up her nearest and dearest relatives 
whenever ;ie might please to call for them. Ac 
cordingly, when this heavy trial came, she was 
enabled to sustain it with the most exemplary 
composure ind submission. A few days after she 
received th<3 intelligence, she addressed the fol 
lowing letter to her daughter, Mrs. Burr. 

" Stockbridge, 3 April, 1758. 


" What shall I say ? A holy and good God has 
covered us with a dark cloud ! Oh that we may 
kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths ! 
The Lord has done it. He has made me adore 
his goodness that we had him so long. But my 
God lives ; and he has my heart. Oh what a 
_egcy my husband and your father has left us ! 


We are all given to God ; and there I am, and 
love to be. 

" Your ever affectionate mother, 


On the same sheet was the following letter 
from one of her daughters. 

" Stockbridge, 3 April, 1758. 

" My mother wrote this with a great deal of 
pain in her neck, which disabled her from writing 
any more. She thought you would be glad of 
these few lines from her own hand. 

" O dear sister, how many calls have we, one 
upon the back of another! Oh, I beg your prayers 
that we, who are young in the family, may be 
awakened and excited to call more earnestly on 
God, that he would be our father and friend for 

" My father took leave of all his people and 
family, as affectionately as if he knew he should 
not come again. On the Sabbath afternoon he 
preached from these words ; We have no con 
tinuing city; therefore let us seek one to come 
The chapter that he read was Acts the 20th. 
Oh how proper ! What could he have done more ? 
When he had got out of doors, he turned about 
and said, f I commit you to God. I doubt not 


but God will take a fatherly care of us, if we 
do not forget him. 

" I am your ever affectionate sister, 


Mrs. Burr and her children were inoculated at 
the same time with her father, and had recovered 
prior to his death. But, after she was, to all ap 
pearance, perfectly recovered, she was suddenly 
seized with a violent disorder, which carried he" 
off in a few days ; and which the physician said 
he could call by no name but that of a mes 
senger, sent suddenly to call her out of the world. 
She died April 7th, 1758, sixteen days after her 
father, in the 27th year of her age. She left two 
children, a son and a daughter. Her son was the 
late Aaron Burr, once Vice-President of the 
United States, who died in September, 1836. 
Her daughter afterwards married the Honorable 
Judge Reeve, of Connecticut, and died a number 
of years ago. Mrs. Burr was, in every respect, 
an ornament to her sex ; being equally distin 
guished for her personal beauty, the suavity of her 
manners, her literary accomplishments, and her 
ardent piety. She combined a lively imagination, 
a delicate wit, and great intellectual acuteness, 
with a correct judgment. When only seven or 
eight years of age, she became hopefully pious, 
arid made a profession of religion at a very early 


period of life. Her conduct to the last adorned 
her profession. Her death was peaceful and hap 
py. She left a number of manuscripts on inter 
esting subjects, which it was hoped would be 
made public ; but they are now lost. 

Mrs. Edwards did not long survive her husband 
In the September following his death she set out, 
in good health, on a journey to Philadelphia, for 
the purpose of attending to her two orphan grand 
children, who were now in that city, under the 
hospitable roof of Dr. Shippen, where they had 
been since the death of Mrs. Burr. As they had 
no relatives there, Mrs. Edwards intended to take 
them into her own family. She arrived in Phila 
delphia, by way of Princeton, in safety, after a 
comfortable journey. But, in a few days after 
her arrival, she was seized with a violent dysen 
tery, which, on the fifth day after her seizure, ter 
minated her life, on the 2d day of October, 1758. 
Though exercised with severe pain during the 
greater part of her illness, she manifested great 
composure and resignation ; and, when she became 
sensible that her end was approaching, she ex 
pressed an earnest desire to be entirely conformed 
to the will of God in all things, and to glorify him 
to the last. In this joyful and triumphant frame 
she departed. Her remains were carried to 
Princeton, and deposited with those of Mr. Ed 
wards. They had lived together in the married 
state a little more than thirtv years. 


The trustees of the college assembled in a few 
days after the demise of their beloved and revered 
President, and, having passed a vote respecting his 
salary honorable to their liberality, ordered a mon 
ument to be placed over his grave, in the cemete 
ry at Princeton, and provided for it the following 

M. S. 

Reverend! admodum Viri, 


Collegii Novse Caesarese Prsesidis. 

Natus apud Windsor, Connecticutensium, 

V. Octobris, 


Patre reverendo Timotheo Edwards oriundus ; 

Collegio Yalensi educatus ; 
Apud Northampton sacris initiatus, XV. Februaru, 


Illinc dimissus XXII. Junii, MDCCL. 

Et Munus Barbaros instituendi accepit. 

Prceses Aulse Nassovicae creatus XVI. February 


Defimctus in hoc Vico XXII. Martii sequentis, S. N 
^Etatis LV. heu nimis brevis ! 

Hie jacet mortalis pars. 

Qualis Persona, quaeris, Viator ? 

Vir corpore procero, sed gracili, 

Studiis intentissimis, abstinentia, et sedulitate 

Ingenii acumine, Judicio acn, et Prudential 

Secundus nemini Mortalium. 
Artium liberalium et Scientiarura peritia insignia, 


Criticorum sacrorum optimus, Theologus eximiua, 

Ut vix alter sequalis ; Disputator Candidas ; 

Fidei Christian Propugnator validus et invictus 5 

Concionator gravis, serius, discriminans, 

Et, Deo ferente, successu 


Pietate prseclarus, Moribus suis severus, 

Ast aliis sequus et benignus. 

Vixit dilectus, veneratus 

Sed, ah ! lugendus 


Quantos gemitus discedens ciebat! 

Heu Sapientia tanta ! heu Doctrina et Religio 

Amissum plorat Collegium, plorat et Ecclesia; 

At, eo *ecepto, gaudet 

Abi, Viator, et pia sequere vestigia. 

The person of Mr. Edwards, as will be gath 
ered from the foregoing epitaph, was tall and slen 
der. He was a little more than six feet in stature 
His countenance was strongly marked with intelli 
gence and benignity; and his manners were pe 
culiarly expressive of modesty, gentleness, and 
Christian dignity. His voice, in public speaking, 
was rather feeble, and he had little or no gesture. 
Yet such were the gravity of his manner, the 
weight and solemnity of his thoughts, and the evi 
dent earnestness of his delivery, that few preach 
ers were listened to with more fixed attention, 
or left a more deep and permanent impression. 

Mr Edwards was the father of eleven children ; 


three sons and eight daughters. One of these, 
his second daughter, died eleven years before him, 
in the 17th year of her age. All the rest surviv 
ed him, and some of them a number of years.* 
One only of his sons became a minister of the 
Gospel. This was his second son, Jonathan, who 
greatly resembled his venerable father in meta 
physical acuteness, in ardent piety, and in the 
purest exemplariness of Christian deportment. 
But the resemblance to his illustrious parent did 
not stop here. There was a remarkable likeness 
in their whole history. Jonathan Edwards, Junior, 
took the pastoral charge of a church in New Ha 
ven, where he remained about twenty-seven years. 
At the end of that time, though bearing an un 
blemished and excellent Christian and ministerial 
character, he was dismissed by the desire of the 
people of his charge. 

From New Haven he removed to Colebrook, a 
small congregation, in a remote, frontier part of 
Connecticut, not far from Stockbridge, of which 
he remained pastor about three years. At the 
end of this time, he was invited to the presidency 
of Union College, at Schenectady, which he ac 
cepted ; from which office he was removed by 
death, in a few months after entering on its du 
ties, in the fifty-sixth year of his age, almost 

* Pierrepont, the youngest child, died April 14, 1826. 


exactly the same age which his father had reached 
at the close of his course.* 

* After his removal to Schenectady, a friend, one day, 
in conversation, reminded him of the remarkable similar 
ity of his history, thus far, to that of his father. He re 
cognised it as striking. Upon which his friend added, 
Well, Sir, if the likeness is to be continued, your next 
removal will be to the grave." This prediction, if it 
may be so called, was realized in a few months. 



Estimate of his Character. Estimate of Dr. 
Chalmers. Robert Hall. Dr. ErsJcine. 
Sir Henry Moncreiff. Sir James Mackin 
tosh. Professor Taylor. Dug aid Stewart. 
Dr. Green. Dr. Middleton. Dr. Priest 
ley. General Statements. 

THE most competent judges, in respect to botn 
intelligence and impartiality, for the last fifty years, 
have been unanimous in ascribing to President 
Edwards a place in the very first rank of great 
men. Indeed his character was so singularly full- 
orbed and complete, that the most sober and faith 
ful portrait of it must appear, to those who have 
not studied it, to encroach on the extravagance 
of eulogy. But those who had no partiality in 
his favor, and even those who must have been 
powerfully repelled by his theological creed, have 
indulged in unqualified praise. A few of the tes 
timonies to this amount shall stand in the front of 
those views of the subject, which it is intended to 
present before we close our memoir of this extra 
ordinary man. 

The following estimate by the Reverend Dr. 
Chalmers, of Scotland, shall occupy the first pla e 
in our list of testimonials. 


cannot take leave of EDWARDS without 
testifying the whole extent of the reverence that 
we bear him. On the arena of metaphysics, he 
stood the highest of all his contemporaries, and 
that, too, at a time when Hume was aiming his 
deadliest thrusts at the foundations of moralit), 
and had thrown over the infidel cause the whole 
eclat of his reputation. The American divine af 
fords, perhaps, the most wondrous example, in 
modern times, of one who stood richly gifted both 
in natural and in spiritual discernment; 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 ; whether when, as an author, he deals 
forth upon his readers the subtilties of profoundest 
argument, or when, as a Christian minister, he 
deals forth upon his hearers the simplicities of the 
Gospel ; whether it is, when we witness the im 
pression that he made, by his writings, on the 
schools and high seats of literature, or the impres 
sion that he made, by his unlabored addresses, on 
the plain consciences of a plain congregation. 

" In the former capacity, he could estimate the 
genuineness of the Christianity, that had before 
been fashioned on the person of a disciple ; but 
it was in the latter capacity, and speaking of him 
as an instrument, that he fashioned it, as it were, 
tvith his own hands. In the former capacity, he 


sat in judgment as a critic, on the resemblance 
that there was between the seal of God s word, 
and the impression that had been made on the 
fleshly tablet of a human heart ; in the latter ca 
pacity, he himself took up the seal, and gave the 
imprinting touch, by which the heart is conformed 
to the obedience of the faith. The former was 
a speculative capacity, by which he acted as a 
connoisseur, who pronounced on the accordancy 
that obtained between the doctrine of the Bible, 
and the character that had been submitted to its 
influence ; the latter was an executive capacity, 
under which he acted as a practitioner, who 
brought about this accordancy, and so handled 
the doctrine of the Bible, as to mould and sub 
ordinate thereunto the character of the people 
with whom he had to deal. Tn the one he was 
an overseer, who inspected and gave his deliver 
ance on the quality of another s work ; in the 
other, he was the workman himself; and while, 
as the philosopher, he could discern, and discern 
truly, between the sterling and the counterfeit in 
Christianity ; still it was as the humble and de 
voted pastor, that Christianity was made, or Chris 
tianity was multiplied, in his hands. 

" Now conceive these two faculties, which were 
exemplified in such rare and happy combination 
m Edwards, to be separated the one from the 
other, and given respectively to two individuals. 


One of these would then be so gifted, as mat he 
cculd apply the discriminating tests, by which to 
judge of Christianity ; and the other of them 
would be so gifted, as that, instrumentally speak 
ing, he could make Christians. One of them 
could do what Edwards did from the pulpit ; 
another of them could do what Edwards did from 
the press. Without such judges and overseers 
as the former, the faith of the Christian world 
might be occasionally disfigured by the excesses 
of fanaticism ; but, without such agents as the lat 
ter, faith might cease to be formed, and the abuses 
be got rid of only by getting rid of the whole 
stock upon which such abuses are occasionally 

" To judge of an impression requires one species 
of talent ; to make an impression requires another. 
They both may exist in a very high degree, as 
in the case of Edwards. But they may also 
exist apart ; and often, in particular, may the lat 
ter of the two be found in great efficiency and 
vigor, when the former of the two may be utterly 
wanting. The right way for a church is to en 
courage both these talents to the uttermost ; and 
not to prevent the evils of a bad currency, by 
laying such an arrest on the exercise of the latter 
talent, as that we shall have no currency at all." * 

* Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns, Vol. 1. 
po 318 -322. 


The celebrated Robert Hall, of England, un 
doubtedly one of the most profound and eloquent 
men that his country has produced for the last 
three quarters of a century, always spoke of Ed 
wards as a most extraordinary man, as a profound 
and original thinker, and as decidedly a greater 
man than Dr. John Owen, with whom he has 
been often compared. He declared, that he had 
perused and reperused his works on the " Will," 
and on " Religious Affections," before he was nine 
years of age, with intense interest, and that he 
continued to study his works for sixty years, with 
undiminished pleasure.* 

The venerable and learned Dr. Erskine, of 
Scotland, in a letter concerning Mr. Edwards s 
death, written to the Reverend Mr. McCulloch, 
of CamKislang, speaks thus ; " The loss sustained 
by his death, not only by the College of New 
Jersey, but by the church in general, is irrepara 
ble. I do not think our age has produced a divine 
of equal genius or judgment." f 

The Reverend Sir Henry Moncreiff Well- 
wood, also of Scotland, the contemporary, friend, 
and biographer of Dr. Erskine, speaking of Ed- 
wards s work on the Will, expresses the follow 
ing opinion. " He was not indebted to any other 
writer for the most important part of his materials, 

* Hall s Works, Vol. III. pp. 4, 65, 79. 

f Erskine s Life, by Sir H. Moncreiff Wellwood, p. 5224 


which he appears to have drawn almost entirely 
from his own reflections and resources. Though 
in many points he coincides with the opinions of 
authors, whose productions do not appear to have 
reached him, it is impossible to deny, that the 
structure and ingenuity of his arguments are his 
own, or to withhold from him the praise of an 
original writer." * 

The estimate of Edwards by Sir James Mack 
intosh, the learned and eloquent advocate, and 
the friend of Robert Hall, is expressed in the fol 
lowing strong terms, speaking of himself and 
his beloved friend, when together at the Universi 
ty at Aberdeen, " We lived together in the same 
house, and were both very disputatious. He led 
me to the perusal of Jonathan Edwards s book on 
Free Will, which Dr. Priestley had pointed out 
before. I am sorry that I never yet read the other 
works of that most extraordinary man, who, in a 
metaphysical age or country, would certainly have 
been deemed as much the boast of America, as 
his great countryman, Franklin." f In another 
work he speaks of Edwards, by way of eminence, 
as " the metaphysician of America," and express 
es the opinion that, " in the power of subtile argu 
ment, he was, perhaps, unmatched, certainly wr- 
surpassed among men."$ 

* Erskine s Life, p. 217. 

f Memoirs of Sir J. Mackintosh, Vol. I. p. 22. 

* Progress of Ethical Philosophy, p. 108. 


Professor Taylor, the author of the " Natural 
History of Enthusiasm," and other admired works, 
in his " Essay on the Application of Abstract 
Reasoning to the Christian Doctrines," prefixed 
to an edition of Edwards on the Will, speaks in 
the following language of that illustrious writer 
" Whatever may, in the next age, be the fate of 
the Inquiry concerning the Freedom of the 
Will, (in the present age it holds all its honors 
and authority,) it may be safely predicted, that at 
least as an instance of exact analysis, of profound 
or perfect abstraction, of conclusive logic, and of 
calm discussion, this celebrated essay will long sup 
port its reputation, and will continue to be used as 
a classic material in the business of intellectual 
education. If literary ambition had been, as cer 
tainly it was not, the active element of the au 
thor s mind, (as it was the single motive in the 
mind of his contemporary and admirer, Hume,) and 
if he could have foreseen the reputation of his 
Essay on Free Will, he need have envied very 
few aspirants to philosophic fame. What higher 
praise could a scientific writer wish for, than that 
of having, by a small and single dissertation, re 
duced a numerous and a powerful party, in his 
own and other countries, and from his own day 
to the present time, to the sad necessity of mak 
ing a blank protest against the argument and infer 
ence of the book, and of saying the reasoning of 

I. 12 


Edwards must be a sophism, for it overthrows our 
doctrine? And then, if we turn from theology to 
science, from divines to philosophers, we see the 
modest pastor of the Calvinists of Northampton, 
assigned to a seat of honor among sages, and al 
lowed (if he will lay aside his faith and his Bible) 
to speak, and to utter decisions, as a master of 

" The Life of Edwards should be perused by 
every one who reads his Essay on Freedom 
of Will. Let it be said, that his style of Chris 
tianity might have borne some corrections ; and 
let it also be admitted, that in his modesty, and 
his low estimation of himself, and in his love of 
retirement, his melancholic temperament had an 
influence. After every deduction of this sort has 
been made, it must be granted, that this eminent 
man, whose intellectual superiority might have en 
abled him to shine in European colleges of learn 
ing, displayed a meek greatness of soul, which 
belongs only to those who derive their principles 
from the Gospel. How refreshing is the contrast 
of sentiments, which strikes us in turning from the 
private correspondence of men who thought of 
nothing beyond their personal fame as philosophers 
or writers, to the correspondence and diary of a 
man like Edwards ! In the one case, the single, 
paramount motive, literary or philosophic varii- 
tv, lurks in every sentence ; unblushingly shows 


itself on many a page, and, when most concealed, 
is concealed by an affectation as loathsome as the 
fault it hides. But how much of this deformed 
self-love could the most diligent detractor cull from 
the private papers or works of the President of the 
College of New Jersey ? We question if a single 
sentence, which could be fairly construed to betray 
the vanity or ambition of superior intelligence, is 
anywhere to be found in them. Edwards daily 
contemplated a glory, an absolute excellence, 
which at once checked the swellings of pride, 
and sickened him of the praise, which his powers 
might have won from the world. 

" Edwards (though, in listening to his own ac 
count of himself, one would not think it) was c 
man of genius. We mean imaginative, and open 
to all those moving sentiments, which raise high 
souls above the present scene of things. Among 
the reasons which inclined him to excuse him 
self from the proffered presidency, he alleges, 
first, his own defects, unfitting him for such an un 
dertaking, c many of which are generally known, 
says he, besides others, which my own heart is 
conscious of. I have a constitution in many re 
spects peculiarly unhappy, attended with flaccid 
solids, vapid, sizy, and scarce fluids ; and a low 
trde of spirits, often occasioning a kind of childish 
weakness, and contemptibleness of speech, pres 
ence, and demeanor ; with a disagreeable dulresa 


and stiffness, much unfitting me for conversation, 
but more especially for the government of a eol 
lege. This description of his mental conforma 
tion is curious, physiologically, as an anatomy of a 
mind so remarkable for its faculty of abstraction 
May we not say, that this very poverty of con 
stitution, this sluggishness and aridity, this feeble 
pulse of life, was the very secret of his extraordi 
nary power of analysis ? The supposition leads to 
speculations concerning the physical conditions of 
the mind, which must not here be pursued ; but it 
may be remarked, in passing, that it must be from 
the copious collection, and right use, of facts of 
this sort, that progress will be made (if ever) in 
the science of mind. 

" But, notwithstanding the apparent coldness of 
his temperament, Edwards was manifestly suscep 
tible, and in no common degree, of those emo 
tions which are rarely conjoined with the philo 
sophic faculty. Let an instance be taken from his 
Diary. c There seemed to be, as it were, a calm, 
sweet cast, an appearance of divine glory in al 
most 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 blue sky ; in the grass, flowers, trees ; in the 
water, and all nature, which seemed greatly to fix 
my mind. I often used to sit and view the moon 
for continuance, 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 contem 
plations of the Creator and Redeemer. And 
scarce any thing among all the works of nature 
was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning ; for 
merly nothing had been so terrible to me. While 
thus engaged, it always seemed natural to me to 
sing or chant forth my meditations, or to speak i.jy 
thoughts in soliloquies with a singing voice. 

" That Edwards, by constitution of mind, was 
more than a dry and cold thinker, might be proved 
by many passages even in his Essay on Free 
Will, as well as his less abstruse writings. He 
was master, in fact, of a simple eloquence of no 
mean order ; ( Holiness, as I then wrote down 
some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me 
to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm 
nature, which brought an inexpressible purity, 
brightness, peacefulness, and ravishment to the 
soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a 
field or garden of God, with all manner of pleas 
ant flowers ; all pleasant, delightful, and undisturb 
ed, enjoying a sweet calm, and the gently vivifying 
beams of the sun. The soul of a true Christian, 
as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like 
such a little white flower as we see in the spring 
of the year, low and humble, on the ground ; 
opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beam* 


of the sun s glory ; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm 
rapture ; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy ; stand 
ing peacefully and lovingly in the midst of other 
flowers round about ; all, in like manner, opening 
their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. 
There was no part of creature holiness that I had 
so great a sense of its loveliness, as humility, 
brokenness of heart, and poverty of spirit ; and 
there was nothing I so earnestly longed for. My 
heart panted, after this, to lie low before God, as 
in the dust, that I might be nothing, and that God 
might be all, that I might become as a little child. 

" These sentiments were not the exuberances 
of a youthful, melancholic ardor, but gave tone to 
the character and conduct of the man through 
life. To accomplish the will of God on earth 
was the ruling motive of his soul ; and to have 
sought his own glory, he would have thought an 
enormous departure from true virtue. If his defi 
nition of true virtue be liable to objection, his ex 
emplification of it showed him to have understood 
practically the secret of all substantial goodness " * 

If these paragraphs have appeared long to the 
reader, let it be recollected that they express the 
opinion of one eminent man concerning another* 
still more eminent, whose character is worthy of 
being closely studied, and which, unless it be thus 
studied, will never be adequately appreciated. 

* Essay on the Application, &c., Note A, pp. 18-21. 


The judgment of the celebrated Dugald Stewart 
concerning one, whose writings hold so impor 
tant a place in the philosophy of the human mind, 
will be regarded with respect by all competent 
critics. That distinguished man, after having spo 
ken at large of the systems of Locke and Leib 
nitz, of Berkeley and Condillac, expresses himself 
thus concerning President Edwards ; " There is, 
however, one metaphysician, of whom America 
has to boast, who, in logical acuteness and sub- 
tilty, does not yield to any disputant bred in the 
universities of Europe. I need not say that I 

The Reverend Dr. Ashbel Green, one of the 
successors of the subject of this memoir in the 
presidency of New Jersey College, presents the 
following high estimate of the character of Ed 
wards. " His own sentiments," meaning those of 
himself, the writer, " in contemplating the life and 
labors of President Edwards, are those of pro 
found and affectionate veneration; so much so, 
that he knows not, that he has ever read or heard 
of a man, of whom he has been disposed to say, 
with more truth and ardor than of Mr. Edwards, 
* I would wish to be such a man. He was cer 
tainly the possessor of a mighty mind. As such, 
his reputation has been steadily advancing ever 
since his death ; till at length the British writers, 
notwithstanding their tardiness in duly accrediting 
American genius and talents, have classed him 


among the great masters of reasoning. But the 
highest excellence of his character was, that his 
great powers of mind were deeply sanctified, and 
unreservedly consecrated to the glory of God, and 
the good of mankind. He was, in the estimation 
of the writer, one of the most holy, humble, and 
heavenly-minded men, that the world has seen 
since the Apostolic age. 

" His learning was not various. Having early 
devoted himself in the most unreserved manner to 
the service of God in the Gospel ministry, his 
studies always had a reference, either direct or 
collateral, to theology. But, thus employed, such 
a mind as his could not fail to acquire science and 
erudition, to a considerable extent; while, in its 
favorite pursuits, eminence of the first distinction 
would certainly be reached. In knowledge of the 
sacred Scriptures, and in every thing relating to 
theology, he had few equals. In reasoning on 
theological subjects, he had, in the day in which 
he lived, no superior. By saying this, the writer 
does not mean to subscribe to every conclusion in 
theology at which this great man arrived, any 
more than, in expressing his admiration of the 
powers of Mr. Locke, he would be understood to 
adopt all that is said in the { Essay on the Human 
Understanding. Mr. Edwards s manner or style 
of writing has no claims to elegance. His lan 
guage is not select he is utterly regardless of any 


thing like harmony in the structure of his periods ; 
and he takes little care to avoid a frequent repeti 
tion of the same words and phrases. His whole 
attention is given to his thoughts. But, in con 
veying these, he is wonderfully successful. His 
meaning is clearly communicated, and carefully 
guarded. And, in his practical writings, he is often 
both powerful and pathetic. 

" Is not such a writer, all other considerations 
notwithstanding, really eloquent ? That calm, and 
close, and patient thinking, of which his works 
give such abundant proof, seem to indicate a tem 
perament not easily excited. Yet the fact was 
otherwise. His Resolutions and Diary show, that 
he was a man of great sensibility, and of ardent 
affections. When those whom he consulted on 
the propriety of his accepting the presidency of 
the College, unanimously advised his acceptance, 
he burst into tears in their presence ; and it ap 
pears that he frequently retired to his study, to 
conceal from others the emotions which he felt." * 

The Reverend Erasmus Middleton, the com 
piler of the " Evangelical Biography," in his 
sketch of Mr. Edwards s life, expresses himselt 
thus ; " We are now to speak of a man of whom 
it is not easy to speak with justice, without seem 
ing to border on adulation ! The strength of his 

* Discourses delivered in the College of New Jersey 
Notes, pp. 317, 318. 


mind overcame what are usually insuperable diffi 
culties in the way of the generality. Perhaps his 
genius acted more forcibly from not being fettered 
with academical clogs, which other geniuses, of an 
elevated rank, could never endure. I need only 
mention Milton, Dryden, and Swift, in confirma 
tion of such an opinion. He was certainly not 
in the highest class of learned men ; for his times, 
his duties, and his means did not allow of such 
an attainment ; but he was far more happily em 
ployed, both for himself and for others ; and he 
has given such proofs of a mind uncommonly in 
vigorated and enlightened, that it is matter of joy 
it was not engrossed by studies, which would have 
only rendered him the admiration of a few, instead 
of allowing him to be the instructer of all. He 
had, in short, the best and sublimest sort of knowl 
edge, without being too much encumbered with 
what was unnecessary to, or beneath, his calling."* 
Even the celebrated Dr. Priestley, with all the 
decision and ardor of his opposition to the the 
ology of Edwards, speaks of his work on the 
Will, in the following strong language ; " If any 
person at a proper time of life, with his mind 
divested of vulgar prejudice, possessed of the ne 
cessary preparatory knowledge, and likewise of 
some degree of fortitude, which is certainly neces 
sary for the steady contemplation of great and 

* Evangelical Biography, Vol. IV. 


interesting subjects, should choose to inquire seri 
ously into this business, (the doctrine of necessity,) 
I would recommend to him, besides the study (for 
the mere perusal is saying and doing nothing al 
all) of Dr. Hartley s Observations on Man/ 
Mr. Jonathan Edwards s Treatise on Free Will. 
This writer discusses the subject with great clear 
ness and judgment, obviating every shadow of 
objection to it ; and, in my opinion, his work is 
unanswerable." * 

Dr. Priestley, indeed, while he speaks thus, 
strenuously opposes the Calvinistic conclusions 
which Edwards deduces from the leading doctrine 
of his book, and thinks it much better adapted to 
sustain those of the Socinian school. This, how 
ever, might have been expected from his known 
bias and feelings in relation to the whole subject. 

Such is a specimen of the manner in which 
some of the most competent and impartial judges 
speak of the subject of this memoir. We are now 
prepared to take a general survey of a character, 
which will be more venerated the more it is 
studied, and which has been seldom equalled in 
any age or country. 

That his intellectual powers were of the highest 
order, as before said, is agreed on all hands. 
Those who are hostile to his theological opin 

* Examination of Reid s " Inquiry into the Human 
Mind," Preface. 


ions, as well as those who concur in them, are 
unanimous in awarding to him this honor. Dr. 
Green did but speak the language of all compe 
tent judges, when he said, as quoted in the fore 
going extract, " He had a mighty mind." In com 
prehension and vigor of intellect, in acuteness of 
perception, in the power of close attention, and 
of profound and thorough abstraction, and in the 
rare talent of being able to hold a subject before 
his mind, until it was patiently and fully examined, 
he had, perhaps, no superior in any age. 

Sir Isaac Newton is said to have modestly re 
marked concerning himself, that if he excelled 
common men in any thing, it was chiefly in the 
power of continuous, patient thought, until the 
subject of thought was thoroughly explored. It is 
probable that Edwards, had he been interrogated 
concerning himself, would have been disposed to 
give the same modest account of his own mind. 
But both he, and the illustrious British philoso 
pher, deserved a higher character. He possessed, 
in an eminent degree, not only the power of pa 
tient thought, but also a depth of penetration, a 
clearness of perception, and a compass and force 
of mental grasp, which have seldom been ex 

To these powers were added those of a re 
markably solid and correct judgment, a capacious 
and retentive memory, and an imagination which, 


though it never aimed to dazzle and fascinate by 
the creation of splendid pictures, did really some 
times form pictures of the most skilful, touching, 
and beautiful character. The example of this 
produced by Professor Taylor, in a preceding 
page, is very striking ; and many others, no less 
impressive, are to be found in various parts of his 
writings, both in those of his youth, and those 
composed in more advanced age. While the qual 
ities of sedateness and profundity might be said 
preeminently to have characterized his mind, he 
was by no means, as Taylor observes, a mere 
dry and cold thinker. He was, in no small de 
gree, imaginative, and capable of that delightful 
exercise of fancy, and of those strongly impulsive 
emotions, which are seldom found united with a 
large share of the philosophic temperament. 

But while this extraordinary man rose so high 
in the scale of intellectual greatness, his moral 
and religious elevation was still more remarka 
ble. It may be doubted whether the annals of 
Christian character, since the days of apostolic 
devotion, have presented an example of more in 
telligent, fervent, governing piety, than that which 
appeared to reign in the heart, and to guide the 
life, of this excellent man. In all the records of 
his religious views and exercises which he left, 
there is manifest a degree of sincerity and child 
like simplicity, and, at the same time, that heav- 


enly ardor of affection, and that honest yielding 
ol the whole heart and life to the inflaence of 
sanctified principle, which marked a man supreme 
ly in earnest in what he professed to feel. 

His recorded Resolutions and his Diary, taken 
in connexion with the known temper and habits 
of his life, exhibit such entire consecration to the 
will and glory of God ; such deep humility and 
meekness ; such humble, tender, and habitual re 
liance on the righteousness and strength of the 
Redeemer ; such an affectionate sense of depend 
ence on the aid of the Holy Spirit ; such abound 
ing and delight in prayer, and in all the duties of 
the closet ; such peculiar vigilance and candor of 
self-examination ; and such evidence of a fixed, 
undeviating resolution to do what he thought right, 
whatever self-denial or sacrifice it might cost him, 
as marked a strength of holy principle, an ha 
bitual elevation of sentiment and affection, and 
an unreservedness of consecration to God, truly 
rare even among eminently pious men. We some 
times witness a fervor of devotion almost raptur 
ous, which does not seem to be borne out by the 
nabitual temper and life. This was not the case 
with Edwards. There was in the daily habit of 
his mind, and of his conduct, a degree of sacred 
conformity to what he deemed truth and duty, 
even in the face of opposition, that to most men 
would have been appalling, which may, without 


impropriety, be styled the majesty of Christian 
integrity and of Christian conscientiousness. 

The tendency of elevated piety to enlarge, as 
well as to purify the mind, has been often and 
justly maintained. When intellectual and moral 
excellence are united, they mutually strengthen, 
balance, and adorn each other. This interesting 
fact, it is believed, was remarkably exemplified in 
the history of President Edwards. His peculiar 
piety evidently shed on his whole character, and 
on all his powers, a grandeur of glory, the influ 
ence of which will last as long as his memory. 
"His fervent piety early and constantly directed 
his powers to objects above all others suited to ex 
pand and exalt them. It summoned him, by the 
strongest motives, to diligence in the improvement 
of time, and of advantages for intellectual culture. 
It purified his mental vision from the corruptions 
of prejudice, and the bias of unholy inclinations 
and passions. And it gave him a peace of mind, 
which left his powers undiverted and unoppressed 
by the common anxieties of mankind." * It was, 
in a word, the habitual employment of his great 
powers on objects worthy of his rational and im 
mortal nature, and adapted to promote the tempo 
ral and eternal welfare of his fellow-men, which 
at once augmented his diligence, elevated his 

* Christian Spectator, New Series, Vol. V. p. 357. 


affections, nourished a sublime disinterestedness 
girded him with a strength, patience, and persever 
ance almost superhuman, in the midst of pressing 
difficulties, and prepared him for some of the 
greatest services by which it is given to man to 
benefit the church and the world. 

It was this union of great talents with eminent 
piety, that rendered this excellent man so wise and 
safe a counsellor in all cases of doubt and difficul 
ty. Perhaps there was no man in the country, 
whose advice was more frequently solicited, or 
more highly prized than his. And, if we may 
judge by the specimens which remain of the way 
in which he fulfilled this duty, he seldom failed 
to discharge it in an able and edifying manner. 
On the one hand, the known fervor of his piety 
was such as to give his judgment great weight 
with the friends of vital religion ; and, on the oth 
er, such was the public confidence in his experi 
ence, discernment, and practical wisdom, that he 
was enabled with success to oppose enthusiasm 
and fanaticism whenever they appeared, and thus 
10 render the most important service to the inter 
ests of religion, in a day when such service was 
peculiarly needed. 

To this important service rendered to the churcl 
n his day, the venerable President Green referred, 
when, in treating on the importance of the union 
of piety and science, he alluded to his excellent 
predecessor in office, in the following terms 


" Of these attainments our own Dickinson and 
Edwards were illustrious examples. Among the 
very first men of their time in this country, for in 
tellectual strength and furniture, they were still 
more distinguished for piety than for learning. In 
their day enthusiasm appeared in the church to 
which they belonged. Few other men could gain 
an audience of the deluded ; but these men ob 
tained it, because the reality and eminence of their 
piety were questioned by none. They spoke and 
wrote so as happily to correct the spreading evil, 
and the good which they effected was great and 
lasting." * 

The record of these services forms a very im 
portant chapter in the ecclesiastical history of the 
United States. 

Mr. Edwards s thirst for knowledge was pe 
culiar and insatiable. Though placed, through 
out the whole of his college course, in circumstan 
ces extremely unfavorable to literary improve 
ment ; and though situated, during the greater part 
of his professional life, in a retired and compara 
tively obscure country town, remote from large 
libraries, of which, indeed, the American colonies 
then contained few of even tolerable size ; yet, 
such was nis love of knowledge and his indefatiga- 

* Discourses delivered in the College of New Jersey, 

DD. 13, 14. 
I. 13 


ble diligence, that he far outstripped most of his 
clerical brethren on this side of the Atlantic in 
solid learning. His learning, indeed, was not 
either so extensive or so various as that of some 
of his contemporaries ; but in all the branches of 
knowledge which he studied in his collegial course, 
he was a more than ordinary proficient. In Hebrew 
literature, as well as in Latin and Greek, he was 
unusually accomplished ; and in metaphysical, 
moral, and theological science, he had probably 
read and thought more profoundly than any othei 
American divine. 

And although mathematical science might not 
be supposed to be one of those, which lie very 
much in the way of a man, who was zealously de 
voted to the labors of the Gospel ministry, yet so 
great was his love of all knowledge that could 
possibly be turned to a useful account, and so just 
his estimate of the tendency of this branch of sci 
ence to discipline and improve all the intellectual 
powers, that we are told he continued to retain 
and extend his knowledge of mathematics, and of 
several auxiliary departments of study, to the end 
of life. 

But his devotion to growth in knowledge was 
not bounded by these early and general efforts to 
improve his mind. For many years, when at 
home, and in his usual health, he spent more than 
half of every twenty-four hours in his study. He 


devoured with eagerness every important book, re 
lating to his favorite branches of study, which he 
could procure from any quarter. He constantly 
made his correspondence with learned friends, 
both in Europe and America, subservient to this 
pursuit. And even in those letters which he 
wrote to his friends in Scotland, during the pen 
dency of what might be supposed to be his ab 
sorbing troubles, both in Northampton and Stock 
bridge, his desire to obtain information of all new 
or useful books, and of every thing relating to the 
state and prospects of the Christian church, was 
manifested in a very striking manner. As the 
pagan conqueror of old " thought nothing done, 
while any thing remained to be done," so this 
illustrious devotee to knowledge and to duty 
appeared to think that he knew nothing, as long 
as any thing remained to be known, and within the 
reach of human industry. 

His character as a preacher was very high, but 
altogether peculiar. In solidity, instructiveness, 
and solemnity in the pulpit, it is probable no 
occupant of that sacred place ever excelled him. 
His voice, indeed, was feeble ; he made very little 
use of gesture ; and of the refinements of rhetoric 
in composition, and of the graces of oratory in de 
livery, he was in a great measure destitute. Yet, 
notwithstanding all this, he was an eminently 
popular preacher. His services, in this character; 


were eagerHy sought after far and near; and 
wherever he went, the impression which he made 
was great, and sometimes wonderful. 

Cases are recorded in which sermons of two 
hours in length were listened to with a solem 
nity, and followed by an impression, of the most 
extraordinary kind. Though in the graces and 
power of a most wonderful delivery, he could not 
be compared with his contemporary and friend, 
Mr. Whitefield ; yet occasions not unfrequently 
occurred in which the point, the weight, and the 
awful solemnity of his discourses, left an impres 
sion on large assemblies quite as strong, and quite 
as permanent, as most of the sermons of that most 
extraordinary man. 

The truth is, Mr. Edwards might be called, 
without any abuse of terms, an eloquent preacher. 
That public speaker may, undoubtedly, be said to 
be eloquent, who habitually makes a deep impres 
sion on a popular assembly. It is vain to oppose 
theory to facts. The most impressive speaker is 
ever the most eloquent. 

If it should be asked, then, Was Edwards an 
eloquent preacher? we answer, if by eloquence 
be meant the power of gratifying the taste, and 
pleasing the imagination, and moving the natural 
affections of an audience, and by these means 
exciting the highest admiration of the speaker, 
probably no man had ever less of eloquence, who 


had at the same time so great a power over the 
minds of his hearers. But, if eloquence is to be 
understood in its appropriate signification, as the 
art or power of persuading ; if it is to be meas 
ured by its effects on the understanding, the con 
science, and the will, or by the arguments and 
motives it addresses to men, as rational and moral 
agents, we certainly do not know the preacher 
who has a juster title to the appellation. Not 
withstanding his manner of delivery, like that ol 
his writing, was plain, and he stood almost mo 
tionless in the pulpit, and rarely raised his eyes 
from his notes, and did not affect the modulations 
of voice which aim at emotion, yet would he fix 
the eyes and attention of his audience by the 
weight of his matter, and the deep solemnity and 
earnestness of his manner, for an hour together, 
while his words pierced the soul, and left impres 
sions which were not soon effaced, and which were 
often followed by the most salutary consequences. 
When he was invited to preach at Enfield, the 
inhabitants of the town were in such a state of 
religious indifference, that, in the language of the 
historian of Connecticut, " when they (the neigh 
boring clergymen) went to the meeting-house, the 
appearance of the assembly was thoughtless and 
vain. The people hardly conducted themselves 
with common decency. When Mr. Edwards 
preached, before the sermon was ended, the 


assembly seemed deeply impressed and bowed 
down with an awful conviction of their sin and 
danger. There was such a breathing of distress 
and weeping, that the preacher was obliged to 
speak to the people and desire silence, that he 
might be heard." * 

The incessant, persevering diligence of Mr. 
Edwards was another feature in his character, 
worthy of notice and commemoration. Though 
endowed with incomparably more talent than most 
men, he did not allow himself to rely on talents 
alone for securing their great end. His whole life 
seems to have been one continued scene of inde 
fatigable effort to make progress in every species 
of improvement, intellectual, literary, and moral, 
that might qualify him more perfectly to answer 
the great end of his being. His application to the 
great duties of his office, and especially to those 
of his study, was incessant and wonderful. He 
considered the price of his time as " above ru 
bies " ; and the methods, which he employed to 
guard against the waste of a moment, are worthy 
of imitation. 

Besides all the hours which he ordinarily spent 
in his study, he made all his rides or walks for 
exercise, as related in a preceding chapter, tribu 
tary to his studious habits. He took his pen, ink, 

* Christian Spectator, Old Series, Vol. III., p. 313. 
TrumbulPs History of Connecticut, p. 145. 


and paper always with him, and in the shady 
grove in which he alighted or walked, he com 
mitted to writing, perhaps, some of his most inter 
esting trains of thought. He frequently arose in 
the middle of the night, to record something which 
had occurred to his mind, and which he feared he 
might lose if it were not then secured. And in 
all his journeys, whether taken for relaxation or 
on business, he was continually endeavoring to 
gather up the means of improvement or of useful 
ness, with as much greediness as that with which 
the miser gathers up gold. In short, his aim 
seems to have been never to be for a moment 
idle, and never to allow himself to be occupied 
about matters not likely to turn to some useful 
account in advancing those great interests for which 
alone he considered it as desirable to live. One 
is ready to wonder how a person with so feeble 
and delicate a frame as his, could endure such in 
cessant and long-continued sedentary labor, and 
accomplish such an amount of writing, amidst all 
those perplexing anxieties and trials, which would 
have disqualified most men for any connected in 
tellectual exercise whatever. 

The habits of Edwards, in this respect, may be 
strikingly compared with those of the venerable 
Calvin. They began to publish about the same 
time of life, and they died almost precisely at the 
same age. The following picture of the labors 


ci* the latter is drawn by the Reverend Dr. 
Professor of Divinity in Trinity College, Dublin, 
in a work dedicated to Archbishop Usher, his 
friend and patron. After remarking, that of "that 
great instrument of God s glory, John Calvin, he 
had almost said, as once it was of Moses, that 
there arose not a prophet since like him in Israel, 
nor since the Apostles days was before him," he 

"What shall I speak of his indefatigable in 
dustry, almost beyond the power of nature, which, 
paralleled with our loitering, will, I fear, exceed 
all credit ? It may be the truest object of admira 
tion, how one lean, worn, spent, and wearied body 
could hold out. He read every week of the year 
through three divinity lectures. Every other week, 
over and above, he preached every day, so that 
(as Erasmus said of Chrysostom) I know not 
whether more to admire his constancy, or theirs 
that heard him. Some have reckoned his yearly 
lectures to be one hundred and eighty-six, and his 
yearly sermons to be two hundred and eighty-six. 
Every Thursday he sat in the presbytery. Every 
Friday, when the ministers met to confer upon dif 
ficult texts, he made as good as a lecture. Besides 
all this, there was scarce a day that exercised him 
not in answering, either by word of mouth, or wri 
ting, the doubts and questions of different churches 
tnd pastors ; yea, sometimes, more at once ; so 


that he might say, with Paul, the care of all the 
churches lieth upon me. And not a year passed, 
wherein, over and above all these former employ 
ments, some great volume in folio or other came 
not forth." * 

It may be asked, how did men so peculiarly frail 
and feeble endure and accomplish so much ? How 
did such men as Calvin, and Baxter, and Ed 
wards, who would scarcely have been thought to 
have bodily strength enough to bear them out in 
writing a single volume, contrive to write more 
almost than some literary men can find time to 
read ? It is well known of all three of these illus 
trious men, that they were as remarkable, not 
merely for their temperance, but for their peculiar 
habits of abstinence, as they were for their indus 
try. But, no. doubt, one great reason, under Godj 
why they were borne above their exhausting habits 
of study, is to be sought in a different considera 
tion. Why is it that some great military com 
manders, brought up in luxury, and accustomed 
all their lives to self-indulgence, have been found 
capable, in seasons of great danger and exposure, 
of bearing more exhausting toil than the most 
hardy private soldier under their command ? The 
reason is, undoubtedly, to be found in the fact, 
that the commander has more mind and more 

* Mi-ddleton s Biographia Evangelica, Vol. II. p 57. 


numerous intellectual and moral stimulants applied 
to that mind, than has the private soldier. His 
intelligence, courage, zeal, and ambition bear him 
onward in efforts and sufferings, under which an 
other, destitute of the same excitements, would 

The same principle applies to men of the char 
acter just mentioned, in the great field of moral 
and spiritual action. If Calvin, Baxter, or Ed 
wards had possessed less elevated piety ; less ardor 
of zeal ; less comprehension of mental vision, to 
discern the importance of the subjects on which 
they wrote ; less moral courage ; less holy confi 
dence in the principles which they espoused ; less 
absorbing interest in the great matters in which 
they labored, their strength would sooner have 
given way, and their productions would have been 
far inferior, in quantity as well as in quality, to 
those with which the Master blessed his church 
by their instrumentality. 

With all the meekness and benevolence of 
President Edwards, he was more than once in 
volved in controversy ; and hence several of his 
most important works are controversial in their 
character. Tn his polemical labors, he appears to 
quite as much advantage as in his didactic ; or 
rather his peculiar powers as a reasoner shine with 
a brighter lustre in the former than in the latter. 
His spirit as a controvertist was unusually exem- 


plary. Perhaps there never was a more candid 
or fair disputant, or one whose governing aim more 
habitually was, not victory, but simply the dis 
covery and establishment of truth. Hence, while 
he treats his adversaries not only with decorum, 
but with much of the Christian spirit, he demol 
ishes their strongest fortifications, and hunts them 
out of all their retreats and fastnesses, with a skill 
and a force scarcely ever exceeded ; anticipates 
objections more numerous and more plausible than 
even his opponents themselves imagined ; demon 
strates the truth, by showing the inconsistency and 
absurdity of the opposite error, and brings a va 
riety of trains of argument to bear on the same 
point with combined and overwhelming power ; 
and all this with a gravity, a seriousness, and an 
evident abhorrence of sophistry or evasion, which 
make as deep an impression as his arguments. 

It has been alleged by some, that in his single 
controversy with Mr. Williams, respecting "Quali 
fications for Communion," he is sometimes un 
necessarily severe. But, probably, few impartial 
judges will be of this opinion. If he fastens ab- 
lurdity on his adversary, could he fairly avoid it ? 
The annals of controversy, it is believed, fur- 
OLsh few examples of a disputant more free from 
personality or irascible temper, who more uni 
formly manifests the sincerity and the force of 


honest conviction, or who more fairly meets and 
refutes the strongest arguments of his adversaries. 

The domestic character of Edwards was emi 
nently amiable and exemplary. In the relations 
of husband, father, and the authoritative heaJ 
of a family, his habits were all highly ornamental 
to the Christian profession. As he was singular]) 
happy, as before stated, in the conjugal relation, 
being blessed with a companion whose intelligence, 
piety, prudence, and affectionate attention to his 
comfort, and to all the affairs of her household, 
peculiarly fitted her to promote his happiness ; so 
his treatment of her was uniformly respectful and 
affectionate. It was his constant practice to prav 
with her in his study at least once every day. 

Nor was his attention to his children less vigi 
lant or affectionate. It was his habit when at 
home, every evening, after tea, to sit an hour with 
his family in pleasant conversation, entering with 
interest into the feelings and concerns of his chil 
dren, and striving to render his intercourse with 
them at once gratifying and instructive. In this 
conversation the great subject of religion nevei 
failed, in a greater or less degree, to occupy a 
place. And, although he was accustomed to leave 
the entire management of all his temporal con 
cerns to his wife, who was admirably fitted to con 
duct them in the wisest and happiest manner, yet ; 
in the government and discipline of their children 


ne did not, as many studious men have too often 
done, leave his wife to toil and struggle alone ; but, 
when attention to this subject became necessary, 
he entered into it with all the zeal of a tender, 
sympathizing husband and an anxious father; 
manifesting a readiness to share the burden, and 
a desire to discharge the duty, of a faithful parent. 
And it is a pleasing comment on this fact, to state, 
that almost all his children manifested the fruit 
of his pious fidelity by consecrating themselves 
in heart and life to the God of their father. 

One signal and mournful exception, in the case 
of his youngest son, is well known, and will prob 
ably occur to most of the readers of these pages. 
He was deprived of both his parents at the age 
of eight years, and, of course, knew nothing ot 
either their example or instruction when he stood 
most in need of both. Though high in talent, 
and honorable in office, he never walked in the 
ways of his venerable father. 

The conduct of President Edwards with respect 
to his temporal affairs was worthy of his ele 
vated character. It has been already more than 
once stated, that every thing pertaining to the 
secular concerns of his family was committed en 
tirely to Mrs. Edwards. And although his pecu 
niary circumstances were always narrow, yet, by 
her pmdence, economy, and singular skill in man 
agement, the family was made comfortable, and 


the children were educated in a manner becoming 
their station in life. Mr. Edwards was so unre 
servedly devoted to his pastoral labors and to his 
beloved studies, that he knew scarcely any thing 
respecting the revenues or the expenditures of his 
household. Nay, in regard to some portions oi 
his property and circumstances, many of his pa 
rishioners and friends were much better informed 
than himself. 

It is not intended to recommend this entire ab 
straction from domestic provisions and cares to 
every minister of the Gospel. In many cases, it 
would inevitably lead to the grossest disorder, in 
justice, and bankruptcy. But it is intended to 
recommend the general spirit of this great and 
good man, in regard to worldly affairs, to every 
incumbent of the sacred office. The spirit of 
worldly acquisition, whether directed to petty gains, 
or to large and grasping accumulation, has been 
fatal to the character and usefulness of thousands 
of ministers of the Gospel in every age, and is, in 
its own nature, adapted to destroy their influence, 
in all cases, as ministers of religion. 

Will the mass of mankind really believe an am 
bassador of Christ to be in earnest, who, while he 
exhorts them to live above the world ; to " look, 
not at the things which are seen and temporal, but 
at the things which are not seen and eternal ; " in 
a word, to have their treasure and their hearts in 


Heaven, and to be daily ascending thither in holy 
contemplation and spiritual desires, at the same 
time sets a striking example in his own person ot 
an inordinate disposition to gather and to lay up 
treasures upon earth ? In fact, if a minister can 
possibly avoid even the ordinary and justifiable de 
gree of attention to his worldly affairs ; if he can, 
by any means, without suffering, or doing wrong 
keep himself entirely aloof from secular matters, 
he will be more likely to make a salutary impres 
sion, and to add force to all his professional labors 

In every age of the church, the most useful 
ministers have been poor. To say nothing of the 
Apostle Paul, who, while he strongly and stead 
fastly maintained, that ministers of the Gospel 
were entitled to a comfortable support, declined, 
in some cases, to receive one himself, but " labor 
ed, working with his own hands, that he might not 
be chargeable " to those to whom he ministered ; 
to say nothing of this, as resting upon an ex 
traordinary principle, it is a notorious fact, that by 
far the greater number of those ministers, who 
have been most distinguished for their servi 
ces to the cause of truth and of piety, have 
voluntarily submitted to poverty. Augustine, 
probably the most eminently useful man that 
lived, from the days of the Apostles to the days 
of Luther, with abundant opportunities of gaining 
wealth, preferred poverty. Luther himself, and 


Melancthon, and Calvin were all destitute of 
property, and willingly so, and lived, from year 
to year, upon the scantiest stipend.* 

It seems to be an important part of the purpose 
of God, concerning such men, that they should 
be divested of all worldly anxieties and cares, and 
that their undivided attention should be given to 
their " work of faith, and labor of love." Ed 
wards manifested his wisdom in standing aloof 
from every thing like worldly gain, and even from 
worldly care. The spirit of it seemed to be dead 
in him. The consequence was, that he enjoyed 
religion far more than he could otherwise have 
done ; that his mind was in a more favorable state 
for examining and embodying truth ; that his 
writings were more numerous, and rich in their 
character ; and that he was incomparably more 
useful to his generation than he could have been, 
had be been characterized even by the ordinary 
amount of the worldly spirit. Happy would it be 
for the church, and for themselves, if the ministers 
of religion, at all times, bore a nearer resemblance 
to Edwards, in this as well as in other respects. 
The desire of money-making is disgraceful to their 

* Luther, on one occasion, when he thought himself 
about to die, solemnly thanked God that he had always 
kept him poor, and had given him nothing to bequeath to 
his family. Nor did Calvin appear to be at all less in 
different to wealth. 


character, and has been found, in all ages 5 most 
injurious to the interests of religion. No matter 
how learned, how eloquent, how active a clergy 
man may be, if he be infected with the spirit of 
sordid gam, it will be "like dead flies in the 
apothecary s ointment," offensive and ruinous to 
his whole influence. 

It is worthy of remark, however, that, narrow 
as were the pecuniary circumstances of this dis 
tinguished man, he always found something to give 
to the cause of religion, and to his suffering fellow 
men. But in the true spirit of the Gospel, he did 
this without ostentation, and often with studied 
concealment. Some of the most remarkable ex 
amples of his beneficence came to light after his 

The social character of Mr. Edwards was 
exemplary and amiable. His manners and habits, 
indeed, were not of that polished and easy sort, 
which naturally results from spending much time 
in social circles. He seldom visited his people, 
unless they were sick or otherwise afflicted, or, for 
some peculiar reason, desired his presence. His 
devotion to study was wholly inconsistent with the 
employment of much time in indiscriminate visits. 
These haoits cannot be recommended to pastors in 
general ; but u is difficult to see how he coald 
have accomplished the great objects for which he 

I. 14 


was so peculiarly fitted, had he taken any other 
course . 

In mixed society, and especially with those with 
whom he was imperfectly acquainted, he was re 
served, and appeared rather distant. But with his 
intimate friends he was free, cheerful, and pleasant. 
To that flow of animal spirits, which is the parent 
of vivacity, he was in a great measure a stranger. 
His habitual appearance in company was that of 
the grave, contemplative, heavenly-minded man, 
gentle, retiring, dignified, and of few words, unless 
drawn out by inquiries, which opened a door for 
instruction, of which he was ever ready to avail 
himself. He never appeared so well as when he 
had an opportunity of enlightening the ignorant, 
or counselling inquirers on the most important of 
all subjects. 

There was one striking trait in the character of 
Mr. Edwards, which, as it rendered him less fond 
of mixed companies, so it made him more re 
served and silent, and often, of course, less inter 
esting, when he happened to be thrown into them. 
This was his sacred regard to the government of 
the tongue, and his deep impression of the multi 
plied and endless evils flowing from vain and un 
bridled conversation. He had discernment enough 
from his youth, to perceive, that those who joined 
freely in conversation in mixed companies, in 
which the characters of the absent were frequently 


discussed, and principles and subjects of great deli 
cacy hastily pronounced upon, must often be in 
volved in circumstances of strong temptation, if 
not of serious embarrassment. He had the wis 
dom, too, to feel, as he advanced in life, that men 
in public stations, especially in the sacred profes 
sion, were often most painfully implicated by a 
single unguarded word uttered in a social circle 
Hence, in this respect, he was peculiarly cautious 
Perhaps no man ever more sacredly governed his 
tongue by the laws of Christian prudence and be 
nevolence. His aim was, never to speak evil of 
another, but upon the most obvious and undoubted 
call of duty ; and never to listen to any thing of 
the kind from others, if he could possibly avoid it. 
He was, therefore, "slow to speak"; and, when 
he did speak, his " words were few and well 

These habits were of incalculable benefit to 
him in all his social intercourse. He was, of 
course, seldom involved in litigation ; was seldom 
called to the trouble of defending or explaining 
what he had spoken ; and seldom had the morti 
fication of finding that he had wounded feelings, 
or injured character, by unguarded conversation. 
The importance of these things is acknowledged 
by all ; but is seldom felt, and really made a rule 
of life, but by the eminently wise. 

Such is the character left by Jonathan Ed 
wards to the church and the world. Some 


distinguished men have been so unhappy as to waste 
the first years of their lives in folly and profligacy, 
and to devote only the latter half of their course, 
and sometimes even less than half, to the cause of 
truth and righteousness. This was the case, as is 
well known, with Cyprian, one of the early fathers 
of the church ; with the celebrated Augustine ; 
and, in later times, with the excellent John New 
ton, one of the highest modern examples of 
devoted, active piety, to say nothing of many oth 
ers who might be mentioned. No such disadvan 
tage marked the life of the subject of this memoir. 
His course, from his early youth to the day of his 
death, was exemplary, luminous, and useful. He 
was never chargeable with wasting his time and 
talents in the pursuits of sin. If not truly pious 
at the early age of twelve or thirteen years, he at 
least had the appearance and the general demeanor 
of true religion ; and, from the close of his colle 
giate course until the termination of his earthly pil 
grimage, his life presented one continued series of 
faithful labors for " serving his generation by the 
will of God." It pleased God to bear him on, 
from the beginning to the end of life, without a 
spot ; and to enable him, while he was engaged in 
intellectual and moral exercises of the highest im 
portance, to exhibit a purity and wisdom of de 
portment adapted to adorn and set the stamp of 
.ruth on all his labors. Perhaps no uninspired 


man, since the days of the Apostle Paul, could, 
with more truth, adopt the language of that emi 
nent minister of Jesus Christ ; " I have fought 
a good fight, I have finished my course, I have 
kept the faith" It may be doubted whether a 
man of purer character ever lived. 

Other men have, no doubt, excelled him in par 
ticular qualities or accomplishments. There have 
been far more learned men ; far more eloquent 
men ; far more enterprising and active men, in the 
out-door work of the sacred office. But, in the 
assemblage and happy union of those high quali 
ties, intellectual and moral, which constitute finish 
ed 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. 



His Writings. Remarks on his Style. * 
" Thoughts on the Revival of Religion" 
" Treatise on Religious Affections" " Me 
moirs of Brainerd." " Essay on the Free 
dom of the Will." " On Original Sin." 
" History of Redemption." " Qualifications 
for Communion." "Last End of the Cre 
ation. " Nature of True Virtue." Ser 
mons. Other Posthumous Works. General 

THE writings of President Edwards are numer 
ous ; more voluminous, it is believed, than those 
of any other American divine. The last and 
fullest edition of his works is comprised in nine 
large and closely printed octavo volumes ; * 
which, if printed in a type worthy of them, and 
in the best modern style, would make at least 
twenty full-sized volumes of the same class. 

And as his writings are more voluminous than 
those of any other American divine ; f so there 

* Edited by the Reverend Sereno E. Dwight, D. D., a 
great-grandson of President Edwards, in ten volumes, 
8vo. (the first containing a new and enlarged Life of 
the author,) New York, 1829. 

f Thirty-three works in all. 


is no risk in asserting, that they bear a higher rep 
utation, have been more extensively read, and 
have held a more commanding authority in public 
estimation, than any other. Indeed, for the last 
half century, it may be safely affirmed, that no 
other American writer on the subject of theology 
has been so frequently quoted, or had any thing 
like such deference manifested to his opinions, as 
President Edwards. By the pen of this extraor 
dinary man, one work has been furnished, which 
serves as a text-book in colleges and universities ; 
several, which the profoundest divines regard as 
the ablest, on their respective subjects, in any lan 
guage ; and a large number, which have found a 
place on the shelves of almost all the families in 
the United States, in which a taste for sound doc 
trine and intelligent piety prevails. 

And yet it is well known, that this high charac 
ter and extensive circulation of his writings have 
not arisen, as in some other cases, from any thing 
peculiarly attractive in their style. To this point 
he never seems, especially in early life, to have 
directed particular attention. Intent only on his 
weighty and important thoughts, he was not so 
licitous about the dress in which they were pre 
sented. Hence his style is circuitous, sometimes 
tedious, never elegant, and often loaded and per 
plexed. Both his choice and his arrangement of 
lerms are frequently untasteful ; he repeats the 


same words and phrases in the same paragraph 
again and again, without scruple ; he is in a great 
measure regardless, both of euphony and harmony 
of diction ; and the result of the whole is, in 
many cases, less distinct and impressive than is 
desirable. His biographer tells us, that he had 
never paid any attention to his style, until a short 
time before he left Northampton, when a copy of 
" Sir Charles Grandison," one of Richardson s 
novels, having been sent to him, he read it with 
no small interest, admired its beautiful, flowing 
language, and, for the first time, received an im 
pression of the importance of style, after which 
he directed more particular attention to the sub 
ject. In the judgment of that gentleman, those 
works which, after the time just mentioned, he 
himself prepared for the press, manifested increas 
ed and successful attention to this point. 

Still, however, it is worthy of notice, that, al 
though the style of this great man is destitute of 
many of those qualities which would have invest 
ed with far greater attraction his rich and weighty 
matter, yet few writers have more perfectly suc 
ceeded in conveying their meaning. Though the 
language in which he clothes his thoughts is sel 
dom neat or attractive, yet he seems incapable of 
quitting a subject until he has exhibited it so plain 
ly, that it is impossible to misapprehend his ideas. 
Though circuitous in expressing his meaning, it is 


ultimately made precise and clear ; though some 
times tedious in his process, he never fails to reach 
his conclusion in the most distinct manner ; and, 
though the reader is sometimes wearied with the 
number and minuteness of the subterfuges into 
which he traces his opponents, it is plainly seen, in 
the end, to be the best means of ultimately saving 
time, of anticipating cavil, and of attaining truth. 

Justice also requires, that another remark be 
made on the style of this eminent writer, especial 
ly in relation to that of his Sermons. There is 
something in it, as there was in his manner of de 
livering in the pulpit what he had written, alto 
gether peculiar. Though destitute of graceful 
ness and elegance, there is about it an unaffected 
solemnity and earnestness, adapted to take hold of 
the mind with singular force. It is impossible not 
to see, that the writer forgets himself; forgets the 
judgment or approbation of those whom he ad 
dresses ; and is intent only on conveying and im 
pressing truth for their everlasting benefit. It is 
presumed that no one can deliberately peruse his 
well-known Sermon, entitled, " Sinners in the 
Hands of an angry God," or that entitled, " The 
Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners," 
and feel at all surprised, that he, who was capable 
of the awful representations and pathetic plead 
ings exhibited in those discourses, should be re 
garded as a most solemn and impressive preacher 


In reviewing the writings of this distinguished 
divine, it is not intended to make a minute estimate 
of all his publications in detail, but only of those 
leading works, which have held the highest place 
in public esteem, and been considered as most 
eminently useful. 

Of these, the earliest in order is that entitled, 
st Some Thoughts concerning the Present Revival 
of Religion in New England," &ic. It is general 
ly supposed that this is the most complete, judi 
cious, and satisfactory work on the subject of which 
it treats, in the English or any other language. 
In deep spiritual discernment, in fervent piety, in 
sober, cautious, practical wisdom, it stands unri 
valled. While the author manifests himself to be 
a warm friend to revivals of religion, and an en 
lightened judge of what deserves this character, 
he discovers peculiar skill in " separating the pre 
cious from the vile," and in laying down those 
principles which may enable his readers to dis 
criminate, not only between genuine and spurious 
revivals of religion, but also between those things 
in genuine revivals, which are from God, and 
ought to be encouraged, and those which, though 
connected with a genuine work of grace, ought to 
be regarded as blemishes of the work, and, of 
course, to be discouraged and avoided. 

Of the deep piety and peculiar spiritual skill 
manifested in this work, the eloquent Dr. Chal- 


mers, of Scotland, speaks in the following strong 

" If human talent be available to the purpose 
of demonstrating the character of the seal, it is 
also, in so far, available to the purpose of judging 
on the accuracy of the impression. The work, 
perhaps, which best exemplifies this, is that of 
President Edwards on the conversions of New 
England, and in which he proposes to estimate 
their genuineness, by comparing the marks that 
had been left on the person of the disciple, with 
the marks that are inscribed on the book of the 
law and of the testimony. He was certainly much 
aided, in his processes of discrimination on this 
subject, by the circumstance of being a genuine 
convert himself, and so of being furnished with 
materials for the judgment in his own heart, and 
that stood immediately submitted to the eye of 
his own consciousness. But yet no one could, 
without the metaphysical faculty wherewith nature 
had endowed him, have conducted so subtile, and, 
at the same time, so sound and just an analysis, as 
he has done ; and no one, without his power of 
insight among the mysteries of our nature, (a 
power which belonged to his mind, according to 
its original conformation,) could have so separated 
the authentic operation of the woid upon the 
character, from the errors and the impulses of hu 
man fancy. 


" It is true that none but a spiritual man could 
have taken so minute a survey of that impression 
which the Holy Ghost was affirmed to have made, 
through the preaching of the word, upon many, 
in a season of general awakening. But few, also, 
are -the spiritual men, who could have taken so 
masterly a survey ; and that, just because they 
wanted the faculties, which could accomplish their 
possessor for a shrewd and metaphysical discern 
ment among the penetralia of the human consti 
tution. It is thus that, by the light of nature, one 
may trace the characters which stand out upon 
the seal ; and, by the light of nature, one may be 
helped, at least, to trace the characters that are 
left upon the human subject, in consequence of 
this supernal application. Fanaticism is kept in 
check by human reason, and the soberness of the 
faith is vindicated. The extravagance of all pre 
tenders to a spiritual revelation is detected and 
made manifest ; and the true disciple stands the 
test he is submitted to, even at the bar of the nat 
ural understanding.^ * 

The next work in chronological order, which 
demands our notice, is the well-known " Treatise 
concerning Religious Affections." In this work, 
the author treats, first, of the nature of the affec 
tions, and their importance in religion ; secondly, 

* The Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns 
Vol. I. p. 316-318. 


of what are no certain signs that religious affec 
tions are gracious, or that they are not; and, 
thirdly, of what are distinguishing signs of truly 
gracious and holy affections. The great excel 
lence of this treatise is not that it lays down new 
or original marks of Christian character. For the 
author, in delineating the negative and positive 
signs of true religious affections, constantly refers 
to Calvin, Ames, Burgess, Shepard, Flavel, Owen, 
Stoddard, and others, as having taught, long be 
fore, the same doctrine with himself on the great 
evidences of practical piety. But, although all 
the leading thoughts are such as are found in the 
Word of God, and adopted and urged from time 
to time by other writers, the distinguishing ex- 
ceLence of the work of Edwards is, that it is more 
full, systematic, and complete than any preceding 
treatise on the same subject ; that it takes more 
deep, clear, and comprehensive views, and search 
es out hypocrisy and self-deception from their 
lurking-places, with more skill, fidelity, and perse 
vering patience. 

The style of this treatise is by no means attrac 
tive. Few works would more advantageously 
admit of abridgment. The original is, in some 
of its parts, unnecessarily extended, and is occa 
sionally too abstruse for many readers. Accord 
ingly, the Managers of the American Tract Socie 
ty, deeply impressed with the peculiar excellence 


of this work, have caused it to be judiciously 
abridged, and, in this form, have adopted it as one 
of the bound volumes acceptable and honored 
among all denominations of Christians, which they 
have resolved, as far as possible, to circulate 
throughout the world, wherever the English lan 
guage is known. 

The following remarks on this work by the 
Reverend Sir Henry Moncrieff Wellwood, ol 
Edinburgh, will serve to show the impartial esti 
mate of a distinguished foreigner. 

" In point of language, this book is undoubtedly 
defective, like all the writings of Jonathan Ed 
wards. Though his ideas are always precise, his 
sentences are often embarrassed, and his reasoning, 
though it goes deep into the human character, and 
very successfully lays open the secret recesses of 
the human heart, is frequently more intricate and 
metaphysical than his subject required, or than is 
suited to the capacity of every reader. But, with 
all its defects, his treatise on Religious Affections, 
though he had never written any thing besides, 
would have placed him in the first order of en 
lightened and practical divines. It requires an 
intimate knowledge of the human heart, as well 
as of practical religion, to enable a reader to ap 
preciate its value. But, the more attentively the 
argument contained in it is considered, and is ap- 


plied to real characters, it will always appear so 
much the more interesting and conclusive." * 

Of the " Memoir of David Brainerd," which 
comes next in order, so much was said in the 
chapter which records the date of its publication, 
that there is no need of adding more here. It is 
one of those standard works, the value of which 
no subsequent productions of the same class have 
superseded or impaired. It ought to be read by 
every Christian who can obtain access to it. But 
every minister of the Gospel, and, above all, every 
missionary, ought to study it with intense interest 
and prayer. 

But no publication of President Edwards has 
been so universally lauded and honored as his 
Essay on the Freedom of the Will." Thou 
sands who took no interest in his theological opin 
ions, and who felt no regard for his portrait of 
practical piety, have been filled with admiration 
by the metaphysical acuteness, and the power of 
profound and subtile argument, which so highly 
distinguish that work. This, undoubtedly, of all 
the productions of his pen, places his intellectual 
character in the strongest and most striking light. 
It cannot be denied, indeed, that some of the in 
discreet friends of this great man have claimed 
for him the honor of more entire originality, as to 

* Life of Erskine, p. 198 


the main doctrines of this Essay, than can with 
iustice be awarded to him 

The fundamental doctrines which he undertakes 
to establish, are, that the only rational idea of hu 
man freedom is, the power of doing as we please ; 
and that the acts of the will are rendered certain 
by some other cause than the mere power of 
willing ; in other words, that they are not brought 
about by the mere " self-determining power of the 
will." Now, with regard to neither of these po 
sitions can it be justly said that our author was 
strictly original. Both these doctrines were taught, 
with considerable distinctness, by Augustine, in his 
controversy with Pelagius ; by Luther, in his work 
De Servo Arbitrio ; and by Turretin, and almost 
all the Calvinistic writers of Geneva and Holland, 
during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. 
The essential features of the same philosophical 
doctrine were also presented by Hobbes, in his 
" Letter on Liberty and Necessity," soon after the 
middle of the seventeenth century ; by Leibnitz, 
in his controversy with Dr. Clarke, and his other 
metaphysical writings, early in the eighteenth cen 
tury ; and still more luminously and strongly by 
Anthony Collins, in his " Philosophical Inquiry 
concerning Human Liberty," which had been 
puolished more than thirty years prior to the ap 
pearance of the work of Edwards. 

It is certain, however, that he had never seen 


the publication of Hobbes, and it is highly proba 
ble that that of Collins was equally unknown to 
him. But it can hardly be supposed that what 
had been said on the same subject, by some other 
writers, had entirely escaped his notice. Yet, 
after all, in making this statement, we deny to our 
illustrious countryman but a small portion of the 
honor which his most partial friends would wish to 
award him. So much remains which may justly 
be ascribed to him, that we subtract little from his 
substantial fame. H:5 great mind was nobly and 
most powerfully exercised in enlarging the territo 
ry and increasing the light of truth. He certain 
ly appears an original in the invention and exhi 
bition of arguments against error, but not in dis 
covering the main truth which he states respecting 
the liberty of the will. The connexion between 
motives and volitions, the liberty of choice in 
man, and the certainty of the futurition of hu 
man voluntary actions, in short, every thing in 
moral necessity consistent with free agency, were 
understood and embraced before his day. Still 
they had never been either so clearly presented, 
or so successfully demonstrated, as they were by 
him. He certainly stated and sustained them with 
a degree of novelty, acuteness, depth, precision, 
and force of reasoning, which no one of his pre 
decessors, nor all together, had ever reached. 
Hence, when his book appeared, his correspon- 

I. 15 


dents and others, in Great Britain, considered 
him as having rendered a great and essential ser 
vice to the cause of truth ; and some of the learn 
ed divines of Holland communicated to him their 
warmest thanks for having thrown new T and im 
portant light on one of the most interesting poi- 
tions of mental and theological science. 

Dr. Priestley, indeed, incautiously tells us, that 
" Edwards hit upon the true philosophical doctrine 
of necessity, which he scruples not to assert, that 
no other Calvinist ever did before." * If Dr, 
Priestley had been as well acquainted with Cal- 
vinistic writers as he was with those of some other 
classes, he would not have made such an asser 
tion. It is a mistake. Many Calvinistic writers 
before Edwards had espoused, substantially, his 
leading doctrine. It is well known, that the views 
of Leibnitz were adopted by many of the conti 
nental as well as other Calvinistic divines; of which 
Stapfer, to name no others, was a conspicuous ex 
ample. It is possible that Edwards was the first 
Calvinistic divine, who, in his speculations on this 
subject, freely employed the word necessity, though 
even this is not certain ; but, at any rate, all the 
chief ideas, which he indicated by this term, were 
recognised before, and it may be doubted whether 
his use of that term tended to promote the cause 
of truth. 

* Examination of Dr. Reid s Inquiry, &c. Preface 


When it is said that Hobbes, Collins, and sev 
eral other philosophical writers, who lived before 
Edwards, taught, substantially, the same doctrine 
concerning human liberty as he did, it is always 
to be remembered, that those writers agreed with 
him only in some leading philosophical principles ; 
that their inferences from those principles, and the 
practical use which they made of them, were 
widely different from his ; indeed such as he 
not only rejected, but regarded with abhorrence. 
They, and others who have joined their ranks 
since, deduced from their radical doctrine either 
an infidel or semi-infidel system, of the most mis 
chievous character. Whereas Edwards demon 
strated that the orthodox system of free grace, 
taught so luminously in the New Testament, re 
vived by Augustine, maintained by the witnesses 
of the truth through the dark ages, and finally 
brought again to light, and inculcated with so 
much zeal by Luther, Calvin, and the other re 
formers, could not be successfully maintained with 
out assuming his leading doctrine. 

It cannot indeed be denied, that, a little before 
Mr. Edwards s book appeared, some pious men 
deemed in the main orthodox, such, for example, 
as Watts, Doddridge, and others, of the same 
school, whose writings had great circulation in 
America, had taught a doctrine concerning human 
liberty altogether untenable, and wholly subver- 


sive of some most precious theological truths. 
The weak and absurd theory of Archbishop King 
was evidently adopted by these eminent men, and 
exerted an injurious influence. Mr. Edwards saw 
and lamented this. He perceived, in his own 
neighborhood, that Arminian principles were evi 
dently gaining ground, both among ministers and 
people, from the simple admission of the self- 
determining power of the will. He saw that, as 
long as men entertain the opinion, that all their 
moral acts are independent of God, that all gen 
uine moral agency must be self-originated, and 
that unless they have the power themselves of 
originating all holy acts, they cannot be free or 
responsible, they could neither appreciate nor re 
ceive the Gospel as a system of grace. He, there 
fore, justly supposed that it would be rendering 
a most important service to the cause of philo 
sophical truth, as well as of practical Christianity, 
to show the true and essential nature of the free 
dom of the will, what is necessary to lay a just 
foundation for praise or blame, and the real char 
acter of that inability to obey the commands of 
God, under which unrenewed men labor. This 
he undertook, and this he performed with the 
most triumphant success, with a degree of success 
which has been the admiration of the most com 
petent judges from the hour in which his Essay 
was published to the present time. 


The work on the " Freedom of the Will " has 
now been before the public more than eighty 
years, but has never yet received any thing that 
deserved to be called an answer. The Reverend 
Dr. James Dana, of New Haven, and the Rev 
erend Dr. Samuel West, of New Bedford, each at 
tempted a refutation of it in a volume of consid 
erable size, but, in the opinion of all competent 
judges, without approaching the attainment of 
their object.* Dr. Reid and Dugald Stewart, of 
Scotland, have also, like some other inferior men, 
attempted to set aside the doctrine of Edwards, 
and establish an opposite system ; but so feebly, 
and with so little success, that the cause of oppo 
sition to the illustrious American may be con 
sidered as desperate. 

" Edwards," says the author of the " Natural 
History of Enthusiasm," " Edwards achieved, in 
deed, his immediate object, that of exposing to 
contempt in all its evasions the Arminian notion 
of contingency, as the blind law of human voli 
tions ; and he did more, he effectively redeemed 
the doctrines called Calvinistic from that scorn 

* The attack of Dr. West was ably repelled by Jona 
than Edwards, Jr., D. D., the second son of President 
Edwards, and himself afterwards President of Union Col 
lege. Dr. Edwards s reply also included a notice o^ Dr. 
Dana s attack. 


with which the irreligious party within and without 
the pale of Christianity would fein have over 
whelmed them. He taught the world to be less 
flippant ; and there is reason also to surmise, 
(though the facts are not to be distinctly intro 
duced,) that, in the reaction which of late has 
counterpoised the once triumphant Arminianism 
of English Episcopal divinity, the influence of 
Edwards has been much greater, than those who 
have yielded to it have always confessed." 

" Calvinism, as distinguished from Arminian 
ism, encircles or involves great truths, which, 
whether dimly or clearly discerned, whether de 
fended in Scriptural simplicity of language or de 
formed by grievous perversions, will never be 
abandoned while the Bible continues to be de 
voutly read, and which, if they might indeed be 
subverted, would drag to the same ruin every doc 
trine of revealed religion. Zealous, dogmatical, 
and sincere Arminians little think how much they 
owe to the writer, who, more than any other in 
modern times, has withstood their inconsiderate 
endeavors to impugn certain prominent articles 01 
the Reformation. Nay, they think not, that to the 
existence of Calvinism they owe their own, as 
Christians. Yet as much as this might be af 
firmed and made good, even though he who should 
undertake the task were so to conduct his argu 


ment, as might make six Calvinists in ten his 
enemies." * 

" This celebrated treatise must be allowed to 
have achieved an important service for Christi 
anity, inasmuch as it has stood like a bulwark in 
front of principles which, whether or not they may 
have hitherto been stated in the happiest manner, 
are of such consequence, that if they were once 
and universally abandoned by the church, the 
church itself would not long make good its oppo 
sition to infidelity. 

" The diffidence and the Christian humility, or 
the retired habits, of the American divine pre 
vented, perhaps, his entertaining the thought, that 
he might be listened to by philosophers, as well as 
by his brethren, the ministers of religion. Sup 
posing himself to write only for those, who ac 
knowledged, as cordially as he did, the authority 
of Scripture, he scrupled not to make out his 
chain of reasoning, indifferently, of abstractions 
and of texts, and, especially in the latter portion 
of his treatise, readily took the short Scriptural 
road to a conclusion, which must have been cir- 
cuitously reached in any other way. Just and 
peremptory as these conclusions may be, they 

* Essay on the Application of Abstract Reasoning to 
the Christian Doctrines, originally published as \T\ Intro 
duction to Edwards on the Will, p 20. The writer of 
this Essay is a layman of the Church of England. 


commanded no respect out of the pale of the 
church ; nay, they rather excited the scorn of 
those who naturally said, * If these principles could 
have been established by abstract argument, a 
thinker so profound as Edwards, and so fond of 
metaphysics, would not have proved them by the 

" Skeptics of all classes (it has ever been the 
practice and policy of the powers of evil to build 
with plundered materials,) availing themselves 
greedily of the abstract portions of the inquiry, 
and contemning its Biblical connectives and con 
clusions, carried on the unfinished reasoning in 
their own manner ; and, when they had completed 
their edifice of gloom and fear, turned impudently 
to the faithful, and said, Nay, quarrel not with 
our labors ; the foundations were laid by one oi 
yourselves. " * 

The work of Edwards next in order, both of 
time and importance, is entitled, " The Great 
Christian Doctrine of Original Sin defended." 
This volume was in the press at the time of the 
author s decease ; and, although the whole of it 
had not received his final correction, yet he in 
tended and prepared it for publication. 

Of this work, the Reverend Sir Henry Mon- 
creifF Wellwood, of Edinburgh, in his life of Dr. 

* Ibid., pp. 18, 19. 


ILrskine, thus speaks ; " This book, for ingenuity 
or originality, or for vigorous and acute argument, 
is inferior to nothing else which the author has 
written. It is common, indeed, to reject without 
examination, the doctrine which he maintains, as 
either untenable or absurd. But it will not be 
easy to produce a publication, in which his argu 
ment has been fairly met by those who have 
most affected to despise his conclusions. " * 

The Reverend George Hill, D. D., Principal 
of St. Mary s College, Aberdeen, in treating on 
the subject of original sin, also speaks of this work, 
in the following terms. " This opinion is sup 
ported in all the Calvinistic systems of divinity by 
nearly the same arguments. But, in stating the 
grounds of it, I shall take, as my principal guide, 
Mr. Edwards, formerly president of the College 
of New Jersey, in America, who has written able 
treatises upon the different branches of the Cal 
vinistic system, and whose defence of the doctrine 
of original sin contains the fullest and acutest 
answers that I have seen to the objections com 
monly urged against that doctrine." f 

In this work, as in the preceding, the originality 
and power of the author appear, not in teaching 
any thing absolutely new ; for he teaches the old 
Calvinistic doctrine, as exhibited by the Reformers, 

* Life of Erskine, pp. 225, 226. 

f Lectures on Theology, Vol. II. p. 336, 8vo ed. 


and by the venerable men who succeeded them 
in Great Britain and on the continent of Europe, 
and is careful at every step to produce abundant 
testimony not only from the Word of God, but 
also from the works of preceding writers. He 
distinguishes between original and actual sin. 
He represents the former as consisting in a moral 
taint or corrupt nature, anterior to all moral acts, 
and expressly denominates that corrupt nature sin 
ful. And he also maintains the imputation of 
Adam s first sin to his posterity. The following 
short quotations will place this statement beyond 
all doubt. 

In the first sentence of his treatise he says, 
" By original sin, as the phrase has been most 
commonly used by divines, is meant the innate 
sinful depravity of the heart. But yet, when the 
doctrine of original sin is spoken of, it is vulgarly 
understood in that latitude, as to include not only 
the depravity of nature, but the imputation of 
Adam s first sin ; or, in other words, the liable- 
ness or exposedness of Adam s posterity, in the 
divine judgment, to partake of the punishment 
of that sin. So far as I know, most of those who 
hold one of these, have maintained the other, and 
most of those who have opposed one, have op 
posed the other. And it may, perhaps, appear in 
our future consideration of the subject, that they 
are closely connected, and that the arguments 
which prove the one, establish the other ; and that 


there are no more difficulties attending the allow 
ing of one than the other." 

That Edwards represents innate depravuy o* 
heart as universal, and that he does not sen pie tc 
call this depravity sinful, will be doubted by none 
who are acquainted with his work. To establish 
this, no specific quotations are deemed necessary. 

But he also maintains that the imputation of 
Adam s first sin to all his posterity, is taught with 
great plainness in Holy Scripture. On Romans 
v. 12-21, he remarks, " As this place in gene 
ral is very full and plain, so the doctrine of the 
corruption of nature derived from Adam, and also 
the imputation of his first sin, are both clearly 
taught in it. The imputation of Adam s one 
transgression is indeed most directly and frequent 
ly asserted. We are here assured that by one 
man s sin, death passed upon all; all being ad 
judged to this punishment, as having sinned in 
that one man s sin ; and it is repeated, over and 
over, that all are condemned, that many are dead, 
many made sinners, &c., by one man s offence, 
by the disobedience of one, by one offence. And 
the doctrine of original depravity is also here 
taught, when the Apostle says, By one man sin 
entered into the world, having a plain respect to 
that universal corruption and wickedness, as well 
as guilt, which he had before largely treated of." * 

* See Treatise on Original Sin, Part II. Chap 4 


Again he says ; " Though the word impute is 
not used with respect to Adam s sin ; yet it is said, 
All have sinned, which, respecting infants, can be 
true only of their sinning by this sin. And it is 
said, By his disobedience many were made sinners; 
and that judgment came upon all men by that sin; 
and that, by this means, death (the wages of sin) 
passed upon all men. Which phrases amount to 
full and precise explanations of the word impute ; 
and do therefore more certainly determine the 
point really insisted on." * 

And that President Edwards, in this work, con 
tends for the immediate imputation of Adam s sin 
to his posterity, is evident from a variety of passa 
ges. He expressly says, " Both guilt or exposed- 
ness to punishment, and also depravity of heart, 
came upon Adam s posterity just as they came 
upon him, as much as if he and they had all co 
existed, like a tree with many branches ; allowing 
only for the difference necessarily resulting from 
the place Adam stood in, as head or root of the 
whole, and being first and most immediately dealt 
with, and most immediately acting and suffering. 
Otherwise, it is as if, in every step of proceeding, 
every alteration in the root had been attended, at 
the same instant, with the same steps and altera 
tions throughout the whole tree, in each individ 
ual branch. I think this will naturally follow on 


the supposition of there being a constituted one 
ness or identity of Adam and his posterity in this 
affair." * 

And this oneness or identity of Adam and his 
posterity, he distinctly explains, not as a natural 
or personal, but as a moral or covenant identity, 
laying a foundation for the undoubted fact, reveal 
ed in Scripture, that, while the personal acts of 
Adam did not, and could not become the personal 
acts of his posterity, the liabilities or responsi 
bilities of the one attached to the other. 

These statements are due to the cause of tru .h, 
and to the memory of President Edwards. Per 
haps the sentiments of few men in modern times 
have been more misrepresented than his. It is 
one of the many testimonies to the peculiar eleva 
tion and weight of his character in public esteem, 
that so many errorists take shelter under his wing, 
and are fond of claiming to agree with him. In 
this way opinions have been ascribed to that great 
and good man, which are not only not to be foui;d 
in his writings, but which he has solemnly and in 
express terms repudiated ; and which, had they 
been ascribed to him while living, he would have 
renounced with abhorrence. 

On the whole, this work, though it affects no 
novelties, will, doubtless, be regarded by every 
competent judge, as by far the most comprehen 

* Ibid., Part IV Chap. 3. 


sive, corap ete, profound, and demonstrative work 
on the subject of which it treats, to be found in 
any language. Like all the principal works of 
the author, it goes to the bottom of the subject ; 
wields every argument with the hand of a master ; 
guards every avenue of hostile approach ; arrays 
and answers more numerous and plausible objec 
tions than even his adversaries had ever adduced ; 
and all with a candor and earnestness, which ex 
hibit an advocate at once sincere in his convic 
tions, and confident in the importance and preva 
lence of truth. 

Another systematic work of this excellent man 
has deservedly enjoyed a high degree of public 
esteem, and will be more admired, the more it is 
examined. The work referred to is " The Histo 
ry of Redemption." It has been already stated, 
that this volume was not prepared by the author 
for the press ; and that it was not published until 
many years after his decease. The substance of 
it was originally delivered, in the form of a series 
of sermons, at Northampton, in 1739. In his 
letter to the trustees of the College, he speaks of 
his plan of digesting and extending it in such a 
manner as to form a complete body of divinity, 
extending from the beginning to the end of the 
world, and combining a complete view of Gospel 
truth, illustrated by sacred and profane history. It 
was left wholly unfinished at his death. The 


manuscript, many years after the author s decease, 
was remitted by his son, then residing at New 
Haven, to Dr. Erskine, of Edinburgh, who re 
duced it from the form of sermons to that of a 
treatise, and first published it in that city, in 1777. 

Although this work appears under all the dis 
advantages which its history, just given, must ob 
viously imply, it is regarded, by all competent 
judges, as a noble structure, the excellence of 
which, while it enlightens and gratifies, excites 
deep regret that the author did not live to finish 
it. The plan is admirable ; the outline, sublime ; 
the spirit, devout and elevating ; and the whole re 
sult, adapted to enlarge the views and raise the 
devotion of the theological inquirer. The wn* r 
in which the author combines sacred and pro 
fane history is at once striking and delightful 
The use which he makes of historical facts, for 
elucidating and confirming truth, is highly interest 
ing. And the happy manner, in which he illus 
trates the providence by the word of God, shows 
the hand of a workman abundantly furnished in 
divine as well as human knowledge. 

Had the venerable author been permitted to 
complete this work on the plan which he propos 
ed, it would probably have been the best system 
of divinity ever presented to the church ; rich in 
truth ; truth teeming with the life of historical in 
cident ; truth standing forth in all the prominence, 


solemnity, and power of Jehovah s recorded deal 
ings with his church and people ; exhibiting his 
works and his word uniting their testimony to 
show forth his glory. As it is, however, it de 
serves to be read again and again by every Chris 
tian, and especially by every candidate for the 
holy ministry ; as presenting the inspired history 
in a new light ; as evincing a deep acquaintance 
with Scripture ; as suggesting trains of thought, 
and connexions of truth, of the most instructive 
and interesting kind ; as leading to views of the 
Redeemer s kingdom, at once simple and obvious, 
yet invested with a grandeur and glory of no or 
dinary character ; and the whole resplendent with 
a spirit of practical piety, as pure as it is ele 


The next publication in size and importance, 
made by Mr. Edwards, is his treatise on " Qualifi 
cations for full Communion in the visible Church." 
This work, the reader will recollect, was occa 
sioned by the well-known difference of opinion 
between him and the people of Northampton, in 
regard to the proper candidates for church com 
munion, and which finally led to the dissolution 01 
his pastoral relation among them. It has ever 
been regarded as holding the very first rank among 
those works, which support that side of the ques 
tion which it maintains. No adequate answer tr 
t has ever been given. That of Mr. Williams, 


to which Mr. Edwards, as before stated, wrote a 
reply, was generally regarded as feeble and alto 
gether unsuccessful. It is not recollected that 
any thing more worthy of notice has since ap 
peared. But what places the power of this work 
in the strongest light, is the consideration of it? 
actual effects. Although, at the time of its pub 
lication, the doctrine of lax communion, as held 
by the venerable Stoddard, which it opposed, Wbo 
general in New England, and maintained not only 
with zeal, but with zeal of the most ardent and 
uncompromising kind ; yet, in a few years after 
the appearance of this treatise, an entire revolu 
tion was effected in almost all the evangelical 
churches of New England, so that, in spite of 
all the prejudice and interest which plead so pow 
erfully against the introduction of his doctrine, it 
is now as rare to find an orthodox church in that 
part of the United States, which does not adopt 
and act upon it, as it once was to find one, that 
regarded it with any degree of approbation. That 
the work of Edwards had a principal instrumen 
tality in effecting this change, there can be no 

The Dissertations of Edwards on " God s Last 
End in the Creation of the World," and on " The 
Nature of True Virtue," next claim our attention. 
These works, though no doubt intended for the 
press, yet, as before mentioned, were not fully 

I.IG 16 


prepared for publication by the venerable author, 
and were not actually made public until nearly 
thirty years after his decease. In the former, he 
maintains that God s " last end in the creation of 
the world, was the manifestation of his own glory 
in the highest happiness of his creatures;" and in 
the latter, that " the essence of true virtue consists 
in the love of Being in general." These Disser 
tations bear the impress of the author s profound 
and powerful mind, and are well worthy of an 
attentive perusal. Yet it may be seriously doubted 
whether their general influence on the theology 
of our country has not been on the whole unfa 

It is true, the great principle, that God made 
all things for his own glory, is as old as the Bible, 
and has made a very distinct and important part 
of the system of every orthodox divine from the 
days of the Apostles to the present time. As to 
this point, there is nothing new in the Dissertation 
of Edwards, except, perhaps, that he has placed 
it in a stronger ight, and established it by more 
abundant, profound, extended, and irrefragable 
reasoning, than any preceding writer. But with 
this incontrovertible doctrine he combined specu 
lations and conclusions concerning the highest 
happiness of the creatures of God, which some 
of the most judicious divines, both in Europe and 
America, have been constrained to regard as open- 


ing the way to questionable and unsafe results. If 
his doctrine be considered as naturally leading to 
the theory of Optimism, that is, to the doctrine 
that God, in the work of creation, has formed a 
system, which will secure the greatest amount of 
happiness that is possible, a doctrine which has 
entered so largely into the plan of many American 
theologians since his day, it cannot be regarded as 
having forwarded the great interests of sober and 
Scriptural theology. It would be unfair, however, 
to make him responsible for the inferences drawn 
by others from a work which he never lived to 
finish, and which, had he foreseen, he would prob 
ably have been ready to reject. 

With regard to the Dissertation on the " Nature 
of True Virtue," one of the most learned and able 
divines, who have adorned the American church 
within the last thirty years, once said, in the hear 
ing of the writer of these pages, that there was 
no human leader whom he was more disposed to 
venerate and to follow, than President Edwards; 
but that, at the doctrine of this work alone, among 
all his writings, he was compelled to hesitate. We 
have seen, in a preceding page, the estimate made 
of its leading doctrine by the acute and eloquent 
Robert Hall, of Great Britain. If the theory be 
liable to the objections urged by that eminent man, 
they are certainly most serious in their import. 
Perhaps, too, we may trace to the leading doctrine 


of this Dissertation, the position, that, to constitute 
real piety, " disinterested affection " must be car 
ried so far as to amount to a " willingness to be 
damned for the glory of God yi ; a position which, 
ihough not recognised by Edwards, has been so 
prominent in the system of many American di 
vines who professed to regard him as their theo 
logical leader. There can be no doubt that his 
profound and benevolent mind would have re 
jected such an unreasonable and revolting infer 
ence. But it really seems difficult to stop short 
of this position, if his theory of virtue or holiness 
be fully adopted. 

The aberrations of small men are commonly 
productive of little mischief, excepting to them 
selves. But it not unfrequently happens, that 
even the minor mistakes of those great and good 
men, who have shone as lights of the first magni 
tude in their respective generations, betray their 
less discerning admirers into errors of a still more 
serious character than their own. Few men can 
be charged, with less propriety than President Ed 
wards, with not foreseeing all the consequences of 
their respective theories ; but it is confidently be 
lieved, that, if he had foreseen the use which 
has been since made of the doctrine of this Dis 
sertation, he would either have shrunk from its 
publication, or have guarded its various aspects 
with additional care. 


With respect to the Sermons of our author, they 
bear a peculiar and strongly -marked character. It 
might have been expected, that the pulpit dis 
courses of so profound a metaphysician would 
have abounded much more in cold and chilling 
abstraction and demonstration, than in pathetic and 
solemn appeals to the conscience and the heart. 
But this is by no means the case. Though their 
style, as we have seen, is not remarkable for 
either polish or brevity, but rather the reverse ; 
and though their structure is far from being gen 
erally conformed to the most established canons 
of sacred rhetoric ; yet, in weight of thought, in 
richness of instruction, in solemnity and tenderness 
of appeal, and in skill and pungency of applica 
tion, they are equalled by few discourses in any 
language. When read at the present day, they 
render perfectly credible all the accounts which 
his biographers give us of the deep impression 
often made by them on popular assemblies. 

Several of these Sermons are worthy of special 
notice. Among this class are Jive in the fifth 
volume, most of which were preached during the 
most remarkable and powerful revival of religion 
by which his ministry was ever distinguished. Of 
thes3 Sermons, one of the most striking features 
is their full and zealous maintenance of the old 
Calvinistic doctrines, particularly that of the na 
tive moral impotence of man, the sovereignty o / 


God in the dispensations of his grace, and justifi 
cation solely by the imputed righteousness of 
Christ. These were the doctrines, which he did 
not scruple to teach in the old, established lan 
guage of the Bible and the Reformers, and which 
he found most "quick and powerful " in awaken 
ing, convincing, and converting the impenitent, 
and in building up believers in faith and holiness. 
And the same doctrines were prominent in the 
ministry of Whitefield and of all the able men, 
who were contemporary and cooperated with Ed 
wards, and whose preaching was, perhaps, more 
extensively blessed to the enlargement of the Re 
deemer s kingdom, than that of any individuals 
since their day. To the denial of a federal rela 
tion between Adam and his posterity, and between 
Christ and his people, and to the unscriptural 
dream of an indefinite atonement, it is evident that 
Edwards and his friends were entire strangers. 

The remaining works of this eminent man are 
chiefly those which were published many years 
after his decease, and which would seem never to 
have been intended by him for publication. These 
are " Miscellaneous Observations on Important 
Theological Subjects," "Miscellaneous Remarks 
on Important Theological Controversies," "Types 
of the Messiah," and " Notes on the Bible." In 
all of them there is weighty, important matter 
and many marks of the great mind of the author 


In the two first-named articles, especially, there 
is much matter of great valr.e, of the propriety 
of publishing which there could be no doubt. 
But, with respect to the two latter, it is by no 
means probable that the author himself, if it had 
been possible to consult him, would have con 
sented to their publication. Nevertheless, we do 
not regret that his friends have judged otherwise. 
Every thing from the pen of such a man is wor 
thy of attention, and of being treasured in the 
memory. And if the circumstances, in which 
these parts of his works were first committed to 
the press, could be constantly borne in mind, no 
injury would ever accrue to his venerated memory. 
In estimating the influence of the writings of 
Edwards, there may be some room to doubt 
whether it has been altogether and throughout 
that of unmixed good. It has been questioned 
whether the writings of this distinguished man 
have not promoted a spirit of abstruse, metaphysi 
cal speculation in discussing Christian doctrine, 
in the pulpit and from the press, among the clergy 
in a large part of the United States. To him, 
this mode of discussion appeared to be natural. 
He loved to look at every subject with the acute- 
ness of metaphysical precision. And although he 
seldjm allowed the abstruse plan of investigation 
to intrude in examining plain and practical sub 
jects, yet, with all his wisdom, he sometimes feU 
into this error. 


It has been already hinted, that one of the 
faults of his profound and noble work on " Re 
ligious Affections," is, that in some of its p iarts it 
is altogether too abstruse for many readers. From 
admiration of his invaluable writings, the transition 
was easy to an imitation of his manner. And 
imitators, it is well known, are much more apt 
to copy that which is faulty, than that which is 
commendable. His imitators were not always so 
careful as he, for the most part, was to confine 
metaphysics to their appropriate field. The spirit 
of speculation began to be inordinately indulged. 
A fondness for philosophizing in religion became 
almost as rife as in the days of Duns Scotus and 
Thomas Aquinas. Inferences have been deduced 
from his writings which he never sanctioned ; un 
til, at length, principles have been openly imputed 
to him, which it was one of the main objects ol 
his laborious life to oppose and put down. 

The general influence, however, of his writings 
was benign and happy. They probably did more 
for half a century after his decease to stem the 
flood of Arminian and Pelagian errors, which, 
when he published his work on the Will, was 
setting in on the American churches, especially 
in New England, than all other uninspired writings 
put together. Their influence is great still. And 
although not a few of his professed admirers are, 
insidiously, attempting to turn his heavy artillery 


against that very citadel which it was his honor to 
have long and successfully defended, yet the im 
position, it is hoped, will soon terminate, and pub 
lic credulity be effectually disabused. 

But the powerful influence of the writings of 
Edwards extended far beyond the native country 
of their author. Of this, abundant proof has al 
ready been given. The fact is, these writings 
have given a complexion to the theology of Great 
Britain, as well as of America, to an extent not 
easy to be definitely measured. Their important 
influence in modifying the opinions of the cele- 
orated Dr. Andrew Fuller, Dr. John Ryland, and 
several eminent evangelical men in the English 
establishment, is too well known to need more 
specific details. Many of the most profound and 
learned divines, who have adorned the old as well 
as the new world for the last three quarters of a 
century, have not been ashamed to acknowledge 
themselves largely indebted to the subject of this 
memoir in regard to all the great departments of 
theology on which he has written. 

Such is a brief and rapid survey of the writings 
of one of the most extraordinary men that ever ap 
peared in any age or nation. That a man situated 
as he was, in a retired residence, far from the 
.iterary retreats and ample libraries of the learned ; 
without a neighbor who could materially aid him 
in his inquiries ; ever exposed to the interruptions 


of a busy, an active, and generally of a troubled 
life, should, in spite of such obstacles, produce so 
many works adapted to instruct the most learned, 
to aid the most industrious, and to bless the church 
of God in its most precious interests and its most 
distant generations, is one of those remarkable oc 
ourrences, which the literary as well as the pious 
man is called upon to contemplate with admira 
tion and gratitude. The minister of religion, 
whatever may be his creed or his denomination, 
will, of course, consider the history and character 
of this distinguished ornament of his profession, 
as worthy of careful study, and in some respects, 
unquestionably, of studious imitation. But there 
is something, in the character which has been ex 
hibited, adapted to profit every one who looks 
upon it, and especially every young man who is 
beginning to cultivate the powers which God has 
given him, and to prepare for serving his genera 
tion and posterity in a manner most honorable to 
his rational nature, and best fitted to enable him 
to live when he is dead. 

The pious patriot, when he looks back with 
grateful acknowledgments on Washington, and 
other great benefactors of the community, whom 
God has raised up to accomplish his merciful pur 
poses toward our beloved country, feels that he 
is cherishing sentiments as reasonable as they are 
dutiful. Eqi al y rational and becoming is it to 


acknowledge the benignant purpose of God in re 
gard to the moral and religious interests of man 
kind, when he raises up men eminently endowed 
to instruct the church and the world, to resist the 
encroachments of fanaticism and error, and to pre 
pare the way, by writing, by preaching, and by 
example, for the extended establishment of truth 
and righteousness. When those who cherish these 
sentiments shall direct their attention to one and 
another, to whom the reflection is applicable, they 
will see, it is believed, peculiar reason to rejoice 
and be g- \teful for the life and the labors of 





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