« PreviousContinue »
read Locke on the Human Understanding with much delight. His uncommon genius, by which he was naturally formed for close thought and deep penetration, now began to discover and exert itself. From his own account, he was inexpressibly entertained and pleased with that book, when he read it at college ; more so than the most greedy miser, when gather- | ing up handfuls of silver and gold from some newly discover. ed treasure. Though he made good proficiency in all the arts and sciences, and had an uncommon taste for Natural Philosophy, (which he cultivated to the end of his life) yet Moral Philosophy, including divinity, was his favorite subject, in which he made great progress in early life.
He lived at colicge nearly two years after he took his first degree, preparing for the work of the ministry. After which, having passed the usual trials, he was licensed to preach the gospel as a candidate. In consequence of an application from a number of ministers in Newengland, who were intrusted to act in behalf of the English Presbyterians in Newyork, he went to that city the beginning of August, 1722, and preached there with great acceptance about eight months. But on account of the smallness of that society, and some special difficulties that attended it, he did not think there was a rational prospect of answering the good end proposed, by his settling there as their minister. He therefore left them the next spring, and retired to his father's house, where he spent the summer in close study. He was earnestly solicited by the people to return again to Newyork ; but his former views were not altered, and therefore, however disposed to gratify them, he could not comply with their wishes.
In Sept, 1723, he received his degree of Master of Arts. About this time several congregations invited him to become their minister ; but being chosen tutor of Yale College, he chosc to continue in that retirement, and attended the business of tuition there above two years. During his stay there, he was applied to by the people of Northampton, who had some powerful motives to offer, in favor of his exercising his ministry there ; and especially that his grandfather Stoddard, by reason of his great age, stood in need of assistance. He
therefore resigned his tutorship in Sept. 1726, and accepted their invitation, and was ordained as colleague with his grandfather, Feb. 15, 1727, in the twentyfourth year of his age, and continued at Northampton twentythree years and four months,
Extracts from his Private Writings.
BETWEEN the time of his going to Newyork and his settlement at Northampton, Mr. Edwards formed a number of Resolutions, which are still preserved. The particular time, and special occasion of making many of these resolutions, he has noted in a Diary which he then kept ; where we also find many other observations and rules relative to his own exercises and conduct. As these private writings may be justly considered the basis of his conduct, or the plan according to which his whole life was governed, it may be proper here to give the reader some idea of them by the following extracts.
His Resolutions. Mr. Edwards was too well acquainted with human weakness and frailty, where the intention is most sincere, to enter on any resolutions rashly. He therefore looked to God for aid, who alone can afford success in the use of any means. This he places at the head of all his other important rules, that his dependance was on grace, while he frequently recurred to a serious perusal of them...." Being sensible that I am unable to do any thing without God's help, I do humbly intreat him by his grace to enable me to keep these resolutions so far as they are agreeable to his will, for Christ's sake." He then adds :
6 REMEMBER TO READ OVER THESE RESOLUTIONS ONCE A
1. Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory and my own good, profit and pleasure, ON THE WHOLE ; without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriads of ages hence ; to do whatever I think to be my duty, and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general.....Whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.
2. Resolved, to be continually endeavoring to find some new contrivance to promote the forementioned things.
4. Resolved, never to DO, BE, or suffer, any thing in soul or body, less or more, but what tends to the glory of God.
5. Resolved, never to lose one moment of time ; but im prove it in the most profitable way I possibly can.
6. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.f
* The Resolutions, as contained in the original manuscript, were seventy in number, a part only is here transcribed, as a specimen of the whole. The figures perfixed to them are those by which they were numbered in that manu. script ; and they are here retained for the sake of the references made to some of them in the Diary, as the reader will find in the subsequent part of these Memoirs. It may be proper to add, that we should regard the spirit of these resolutions, and of the following extracts from the Diary, without a minute a ttention to the critical nicety of his language. In fact, as these extracts were penned at a very early period of life, his style was not formed; and his chief concern was to deal plainly with himself, in the presence of God, and to record for his own private inspection what he thought might be o: most use to him in future.
* This is the full and exact import of the Latin Motto, “ Dum vivimus, vivamus ;" which was the motto of Dr. Doddridge's family arms, and which me paraphrased with so much beauty.
“ Live, while you live," the Epicure would say,
4. Resolved, never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.
9. Resolved, to think much, on all occasions, of my own dying, and of the common circumstances which attend death.
11. Resolved, when I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circamstances do not hinder.
13. Resolved, to be endeavoring to find out fit objects of charity and liberality.
14. Resolved, never to do any thing out of revenge.
15. Resolved, never to suffer the least motion of anger to irrational beings.
17. Resolved, that I will live so as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.
18. Resolved, to live so at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest notions of the gospel and another world.
20. Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking.
21. Resolved, never to do any thing, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
24. Resolved, whenever I do any evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original cause ; and then both carefully endeavor to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
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 saine.
30. Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
32. Resolved to be strictly and firmly faithful to my trust, that Prov. xx. 6. (A faithful man who can find ?) may not be partly fulfilled in me.
33. Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining, and establishing peace, when it can be done without an overbalancing detriment in other respects.
34, Resolved, never to speak in narrations any thing but the pure and simple verity.
36. Resolved, never to speak evil of any person, except some particular good call for 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 speak any thing that is ridiculous, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day.
39. Resolved, never to do any thing that I so much question the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the same time, to consider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no : Except I as much question the lawfulness of the omission.
41. Resolved, to ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.
42. Resolved frequently to renew the dedication 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 ratified this twelfth day of January, 1723.
43. Resolved, never to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and altogether God's.
46. Resolved, never to allow the least measure of any fretting or uneasiness at my father or mother. Resolved to suffer no effects of it, so much as in the least alteration of speech, or motion of my eye ; and to be especially careful of it, with respect to any of our family.
47. Resolved, to endeavor to my utmost to deny whatever is not most agreeable to a good, and universally sweet and benevolent, quiet, peaceable, contented, easy, compassionate, generous, humble, meek, modest, submissive, obliging, diligent and industrious, charitable, even, patient, moderate, forgiving, sincere temper ; and to do at all times what such a temper would lead me to. Examine strictly every week, whether I have done so.