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Mr Edwards entered Yale college in the year 1716, and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in September 1720, a little before he was feventeen years old. He had the character of a fober youth, and a good fcholar while he was a member of the college. In his fecond year at college, and thirteenth of his age, he read Locke on the human understanding, with great delight and profit. His uncommon genius, by which he was, as it were by nature, formed for clofenefs of thought and deep penetration, now began to exercife and difcover itself. Taking that book into his hand, upon fome occafion, not long before his death, he faid to fome of his felet friends, who were then with him, that he was beyond expreffion entertained and pleased with it, when he read it in his youth at college; that he was as much engaged, and had more fatisfaction and pleafure in ftudying it, than the moft greedy mifer in gathering up handfuls of filver and gold from fome new difcovered treasure.
Though he made good proficiency in all the arts and fciences, and had an uncommon tafte for Natural Philofophy, which he cultivated to the end of his life, with that juftnefs and accuracy of thought which was almost peculiar to him; yet Moral Philofophy or Divinity was his favourite study. In this he early made great progress.
the Honourable John Stoddard, Efq. who lived at Northampton,and who often, especially in his younger years, served the town as their reprefentative at the great and general court in Bolton; and was long head of the county of Hampshire as their chief colonel, and chief judge of the court of common pleas: and he long ferved his Majefty, and the province of the Mallachusetts-Bay, as one of his Majefty's council. He was remarkable as a politician, and for his fpirit of government: a wife counellor, an upright & skillful judge, a steady & great friend to the intereft of religion. He was a great friend & admirer of Mr. Edwards, & greatly ftrengthened his hands in the work of the miniftry while he lived. A more particular account of the life and character of this truly great man may be feen in the fermon which Mr. Edwards preached and published on the occasion of his death.
Mr Stoddard's father was Anthony Stoddard, Efq. of Bofton, a zealous congregational man. He had five wives, the firft of which, Mr Stoddard's mother, was Mrs Mary Downing, fifler to Sir George Downing, whofe other fifter married Governor Bradstreet. Mr Solomon Stoddard was their oldeft child.
He lived at college near two years after he took his firft degree, defigning and preparing for the work of the miniftry. After which, having paffed the prerequifite trials, he was licenced to preach the gospel as a candidate. And being pitched upon, and applied to by a number of minifters in New-England, who were intrusted to act in behalf of the English Prefbyterians at New-York, as a fit perfon to be fent to them, he complied with their requeft, and went to New-York, the beginning of August 1722, and preached there to very good acceptance about eight months. But by reafon of the fmallness of that fociety, and some special difficulties that attended it, he did not think they were in a capacity to fettle a minifter, with a rational profpect of anfwering the good ends propofed. He therefore left them, the next fspring, and retired to his father's house; where he spent the fummer in clofe ftudy. He was indeed earnestly folicited by the people he had been among at New-York, to return to them again; but for the reafon juft mentioned, he could not think himself in the way of his duty to gratify them.
In September 1723, he received his degree of Mafter of Arts; about which time he had invitations from feveral congregations to come among them in order to his fettlement in the work of the miniftry; but being chofen tutor of Yale college the next fpring, in the year 1724, being in the twenty-first year of his age, he retired to the college, and attended the bufinefs of tutor there above two years.
While he was in this place, he was applied to by the people at Northampton with an invitation to come and fettle in the work of the miniftry there, with his grandfather Stoddard, who, by reafon of his great age, flood in need of affiftance. He therefore refigned his tutorfhip, in September 1726, and accepted of their invitation; and was ordained in the work of the ministry at Northampton, colleague with his grandfather Stoddard, February 15. 1727, in the twenty-fourth year of his
age, where he continued in the work of the miniftry till June 22. 1750, twenty-three years and four months.
Between the time of his going to New-York and his fettlement at Northampton, he formed a number of refolutions, and committed them to writing; the particular time, and fpecial occafion of his making many of them, he has noted in his Diary which he then kept; as well as many other observations and rules, which related to his own exercises and conduct. And as these resolutions, together with the things noted in his Diary, may juftly be confidered as the foundation and plan of his whole life, it may be proper here to give the reader a taste and idea of them which will therefore be done in the following extracts..
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Containing EXTRACTS from his PRIVATE WRIT
EING fenfible 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 thefe refolutions, fo far as they are agreeable to his will, for Chrift's fake. Remember to Read over thefe RESOLUTIONS oncea-week.
1. Refolved, That I will do what foever I think to be moft to God's glory, and my own good, profit, and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any confideration of the time, whether now, or never fo many myriads of ages hence. Refolved to do whatev. er I think to be my duty, and most for the good an
advantage of mankind in general. Refolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great foever.
2. Refolved, To be continually endeavouring to find out fome new invention and contrivance to promote the fore-mentioned things..
4. Refolved, Never to do any manner of thing, whether in foul or body, lefs or more, but what tends to the glory of God; nor be, nor fuffer it, if I can avoid it.
5. Refolved, Never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I poffibly can.
6. Refolved, To live with all my might, while I do live.
(7) Refolved, Never to do any thing, which I fhould be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
9. Refolved, To think much on all occafions of my own dying, and of the common circumftances which attend death.
11. Refolved, When I think of any theorem in divinity to be folved, immediately to do what I can towards folving it, if circumftances do not hinder.
13. Refolved, To be endeavouring to find out fit : objects of charity and liberality.
14. Refolved, Never to do any thing out of revenge. 15 Refolved, Never to fuffer the leaft motions of anger to irrational beings.
17. Refolved, That I will live fo as I fhall with I had done when I come to die.
18. Refolved, To live fo at all times, as I think is best in my devout frames, and when I have clearest no.. tions of things of the gofpel, and another world.
20. Refolved, To maintain the ftricteft temperance in eating and drinking.
21, Refolved, Never to do any thing, which if I fhould fee in another, I fhould count a juft occasion to defpife him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.
24. Resolved, Whenever I do any confpicuously evil action, to trace it back, till I come to the original caufe; and then both carefully endeavour to do so no more, and to fight and pray with all my might against the original of it.
28. Refolved, To ftudy the fcriptures fo fteadily, conftantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and : plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of i the fame..
30. Refolved, To ftrive to my utmost every week". to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercife of grace, than I was the week before..
32. Refolved, To be ftrictly and firmly faithful to my truff, that that in Prov. xx. 6. a faithful man who can find ? may not be partly fulfilled in me.
37. Refolved, To inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what fin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself ; also at the end of every week, month, and year.
38. Refolved, Never to fpeak any thing that is ridiculous, or matter of laughter on the Lord's day..
! 39 Refolved, Never to do any thing that I fo much queftion the lawfulness of, as that I intend, at the fame time, to confider and examine afterwards, whether it be lawful or no except I as much queftion the lawfulness of the omiffion...
33. Refolved, Always to do what I can towards mak- . ing, maintaining, and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other refpects.
34. Refolved, In narrations never to speak any thing but the pure and fimple verity.
36. Refolved, Never to fpeak evil of any, except I have fome particular good call for it.
41. Refolved, To afk myself at the end of every day, week, month, and year, wherein I could poffibly in any respect have done better..
42. Refolved, Frequently to renew the dedication of myself to God, which was made at my baptifm; which I folemnly renewed when I was received into