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And he thought the excufe many parents make fortolerating their children in it, (viz. that it is the cuftom, and others children practice it, which renders it difficult, and even impoffible to reftrain theirs,) was infufficient and frivolous; and manifefted a great degree of ftupidity, on fuppofition the practice was hurtful and pernicious to their fouls. And when fome of his children grew up he found no difficulty in reftraining them from this pernicious practice; but they cheerfully complied with the will of their parents here. in. He allowed not his children to be from home after nine o'clock at night, when they went abroad to fee their friends and companions; neither were they allowed to fit up much after that time, in his own house, when any came to make them a vifit. If any gentleman defired acquaintance with his daughters, after handfomely introducing himself, by properly confulting the parents, he was allowed all proper opportunity for it, and a room and fire, if needed: but muft not intrude on the proper hours of reft and fleep, nor the religion and order of the family.
He had a ftri& and inviolable regard to justice in all his dealings with his neighbours, and was very careful to provide for things honeft in the fight of all men; fo that fcarcely a man had any dealings with him, that was not confcious of his uprightnefs. He appeared to have a facred regard to truth in his words, both in promifes and narrations, agreeable to his Refolutions. This doubtlefs was one reafon why he was not fo full of words as many are: No man feared to rely on his veracity.
He was cautious in chufing his intimate friends, and therefore had not many that might properly be called fuch; but to them he fhewed himself friendly in a peculiar manner. He was indeed a faithful friend, and able above moft others to keep a fecret. To them he discovered himself more than to others; led them into his views and ends in his condu& in particular inftances; by which they had abundant evidence that he well underflood human nature, and that his general refervednefs,
edness, and many particular inftances of his conduct, which a ftranger might impute to ignorance of men, were really owing to his uncommon knowledge of man
His conversation with his friends, was always favory and profitable: in this he was remarkable, and almoft fingular. He was not wont to spend his time with them -in fcandal, evil-fpeaking, and back-biting, or in foolifh jefting, idle chat, and telling ftories; but his mouth was that of the juft, which bringeth forth wifdom, and his lips difperfeth knowledge. His tongue was as the pen of a ready writer, while he converfed about im. portant, heavenly, divine things, which his heart was fo full of, in fuch a natural and free manner, as to be most entertaining and inftructive; so that none of his friends, could enjoy his company without inftruction and profit, unless it was by their own fault.
His great benevolence to mankind discovered itself, among other ways, by the uncommon regard he fhew.. ed to liberality, and charity to the poor and diftreffed. He was much in recommending this, both in his pub.. lic difcourfes and private converfation. He often declared it to be his opinion, that profeffed Chriftians, in these days, are greatly deficient in this duty, and much more fo than in most other parts of external Chriftianity. He often obferved how much this is fpoken of, recommended, and encouraged in the holy fcripture, efpecially in the New-Teftament. And it was his opinion, that every partiuclar church ought, by freequent and liberal contributions, to maintain a public stock, that might be ready for the poor and neceffitious members of that church; and that the principal bufinefs of deacons is to take care of the poor in the faithful and judicious diftribution and improvement of the church's temporals lodged in their hands. And he did not content himself with only recommending charity to others, but prêtifed it much himfelf; though according to his Master's advice, he took great care to conceal his deeds of charity; by which means, doubtless most of his alms.deeds
alms-deeds will be unknown till the refurrection, whch if known, would prove him to be as great an inftance of charity as any that can be produced in this age. This is not mere conjecture, but is evident many ways. He was forward to give on all public occafions of charity; though, when it could properly be done, he always concealed the fum given. And fome inftances of his giving more privately have accidentally come to the knowledge of others, in which his liberality appeared in a very extraordinary degree. One of the inftances was this: upon his hearing that a poor obfcure man, whom he never faw, or any of his kindred, was by an extraordinary bodily diforder, brought to great ftraits, he, unasked, gave a confiderable fum to a friend to be delivered to the diftreffed perfon; having firft required a promife of him, that he would let neither the person who was the object of his charity, nor any one else, know by whom it was given. This may serve both as an inftance of his extraordinary charity, and of his great care to conceal it:*
Mr Edwards had the moft univerfal character of a
good preacher of almoft any minifter in this age. There were but few that heard him, who did not call him a good preacher, however they might diflike his religious principles, and be much offended at the fame truths when delivered by others; and most admired him above all that ever they heard. His eminency as a preacher feems to be owing to the following things:
First, The great pains he took in compofing his fermons, efpecially in the first part of his life. As by his early rifing, and conftant attention to his study, he had more time than most others; fo he spent more time in making his fermons. He wrote moft of his fermons all out, for near twenty years after he first began to preach; though he did not wholly confine himself to his notes in his delivering them.
*As both the giver, and the object of his charity are dead, and all the ends of the propofed fecrecy are answered, it is thought not inconfiftent with the above-mentioned promife, to make known the fact, as it is here related.
Secondly, His great acquaintance with divinity, his ftudy and knowledge of the Bible; his extensive and univerfal knowledge, and great clearness of thought, enabled him to handle every subject with great judgment and propriety, and to bring out of his treasury things new and old. Every fubject he handled was inftructive, plain, entertaining, and profitable; which was much owing to his being master of the subject, and his great skill to treat it in a moft natural, eafy, and profitable manner. None of his compofures were dry fpeculations,or unmeaning harrangues, or words without ideas. When he dwelt on those truths which are much controverted and oppofed by many, which was often the cafe, he would fet them in fuch a natural and easy light, and every fentiment, from ftep to ftep would drop from his lips, attended with fuch clear and striking evidence, both from fcripture and reason, as even to force the affent of every attentive hearer.
Thirdly, His excellency as a preacher was very much the effect of his great acquaintance with his own heart, his inward fenfe, and high relifh of divine truths, and the high exercife of true experimental religion. This gave him a great infight into human nature; he knew what was in man, both the faint and the finner. This helped him to skill, to lay truth before the mind, fo as not only to convince the judgment, but touch the heart and confcience; and enabled him to speak out of the abundance of his heart, what he knew, and testify what he had feen and felt. This gave him a taste and difcerning, without which he could not have been able to fill his fermons, as he did, with fuch striking, affe&ting fentiments, all fuited to folemnize, move, and rectify the heart of the hearer. His fermons were well connected, not usually long, and commonly a large part taken up in the improvement; which was clofely connected with the subject, and confifted in fentiments naturally flowing from it.
But no defcription of his fermons will give der the idea of them, which they had who fat under his
preaching, or have even read: fome of his difcourfeswhich are in print. There is a great number now in manufcript, which are probably as worthy the view of the public, and at least tend as much to inftru&t and quicken Chriftians, as most that have been published in this century.
His appearance in the defk was with a in the desk was with a good grace, and his delivery easy, natural, and very folemn. He had not a strong, loud voice; but appeared with such gravity and folemnity, and spake with fuch diftinctnefs, clearnefs, and precifion; his words were fo full of ideas, fet in fuch a plain and ftriking light, that few fpeakers have been fo able to command the attention of an audience as he. His words often difcovered a great degree of inward fervour, without much noife or external emotion, and fell with great weight on the minds of his hearers. He made but little motion of his head or hands in the defk; but spake fo as to discover the motion of his own heart, which tended in the most natural and effectual manner to move and affect others.
As he wrote his fermons out at large for many years, and always wrote a confiderable part of most of his public difcourfes; fo he carried his notes into the desk.. with him, and read the most that he had wrote; yet he was not fo confined to his notes, when he had wrote at large, but that, if fome thoughts were fuggefted while he was fpeaking, which did not occur when writing, and appeared to him pertinent and firiking, he would deliver them; and that with as great propriety and fluency, and often with greater pathos, and attended with a more fenfible good effect on his hearers, than all he had wrote.
Though, as has been obferved, he was wont to read fo confiderable a part of what he delivered, yet he was far from thinking this the best way of preaching in general; and looked upon his ufing his notes, fo much as he did, a deficiency and infirmity; and, in the latter part of his life, was inclined to think it had been be tter