Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Also I set watchmen over you, saying, Hearken to the sound of the trumpet. But they said, We will not hearken.
~ Jeremiah 6:16-17
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
~ 2 Timothy 4:2-5
Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.
~ 1 Timothy 4:15-16
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
~ Romans 12:12
I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O LORD, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
~ Psalm 40:9-10
These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.
~ Titus 2:15
Life of President Edwards, by S.E. Dwight. The following contains excerpts from Chapters 30 and 31, concerning the life of Jonathan Edwards.
Letter of Mr. Edwards, to the Trustees of the College.–Letter of Mrs. Burr, to her father.-Letter to Dr. Bellamy Council dismiss Mr. Edwards.- Inauguration as President.–First Sermon at Princeton.-Sickness.-Death.-Letter of Dr. Shippon.- Letters of Mrs. Edwards, and of her daughter, to Mrs. Burr.- Death of Mrs. Burr.-Death of Mrs. Edwards.
” Accordingly, having had, by the application of the Trustees of the College, the consent of the Commissioners of the “Society in London, for propagating the Gospel, in New England, and the parts adjacent,” to resign their mission; he girded up his loins,
The gentlemen invited to the Council, at his desire, and that of his people, met at Stockbridge, January 4, 1758;* and, having heard the application of the agents of the College, and their reasons in support of it; Mr. Edwards’ own representation of the matter; and what his people had to say, by way of objection, against his removal; determined that it was his duty, to accept of the invitation to the Presidency of the College. When they published their judgment and advice to Mr. Edwards and his people, he appeared uncommonly moved and affected with it, and fell into tears on the occasion, which was very unusual for him, in the presence of others; and soon after, he said to the gentlemen who had given their advice, that it was matter of wonder to him, that they could so easily, as they appeared to do, get over the objections he had made against his removal.f But, as he thought it his duty to be directed by their advice, he should now endeavour cheerfully to undertake it, believing he was in the way of his duty.
” Accordingly, having had, by the application of the Trustees of the College, the consent of the Commissioners of the “Society in London, for propagating the Gospel, in New England, and the parts adjacent,” to resign their mission; he girded up his loins, and set off from Stockbridge for Princeton, in January. He left his family at Stockbridge, not to be removed till the spring. He had two daughters at Princeton ; Mrs. Burr, and Lucy, his eldest daughter, that was unmarried. His arrival at Princeton was to the great satisfaction and joy of the college. And indeed all the greatest friends to the college, and to the interests of religion, were highly satisfied and pleased with the appointment.”
It was a singular fact, that, soon after his arrival at Princeton, he heard the melancholy tidings of the death of his father. It occurred on the 27th of January, 1758, in the 89th year of his age.
“The corporation met as soon as could be with convenience, after his arrival at the college, when he was, by them, fixed in the president’s chair. While at Princeton, before his sickness, he preached in the college-hall, sabbath after sabbath, to the great acceptance of the hearers ;* but did nothing as president, unless it was to give out some questions in divinity to the senior class, to be answered before him; each one having opportunity to study and write what he thought proper, upon them. When they came together to answer them, they found so much entertainment and profit by it, especially by the light and instruction, Mr. Edwards communicated, in what he said upon the questions, when they had delivered what they had to say, that they spoke of it with the greatest satisfaction and wonder.
“During this time, Mr. Edwards seemed to enjoy an uncommon degree of the presence of God. He told his daughters he once had great exercise, concern and fear, relative to his engaging in that business; but since it now appeared, so far as he could see, that he was called of God, to that place and work, he did cheerfully devote himself to it. leaving himself and the event with God, to order what seemed to him good.
“The small pox had now become very common in the country, and was then at Princeton, and likely to spread. And as Mr. Edwards had never had it, and inoculation was then practised with great success in those parts, he proposed to be inoculated, if the physician should advise to it, and the corporation would give their consent. Accordingly, by the advice of the physician, and the consent of the corporation, he was inoculated February 13th. He had it favourably, and it was thought all danger was over; but a secondary fever set in, and, by reason of a number of pustules in his throat, the obstruction was such, that the medicines necessary to check the fever, could not be administered. It therefore raged till it put an end to his life, on the 22d of March, 1758, in the 55th year of his age.
“After he was sensible that he could not survive that sickness, a little before his death, he called his daughter to him, who attended him in his sickness, and addressed her in a few words, which were immediately taken down in writing, as near as could be recollected, and are as follows “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 forever: and I hope she will be supported under so great a trial, and “submit cheerfully 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 “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 that way, I would have it disposed of to charitable uses.
“He said but very little in his sickness : but was an admirable instance of patience and resignation, to the last. Just at the close of life, as some persons, who stood by, expecting he would breath mis last in a few minutes, were lamenting his death, not only as a great frown on the college, but as having a dark aspect on the interest of religion in general; to their surprise, not imagining that he heard, or ever would speak another word, he said, “Trust in God, and ye need not fear.” These were his last words. What could have been more suitable to the occasion ! And what need of more! In these there is as much matter of instruction and support, as !! he had written’ a volume. This was the only consolation to bereaved friends, deeply sensible, as they were of the loss W they, and the church of Christ, had sustained in his death : God is All-Sufficient, and still has the care of His church.
“He appeared to have the uninterrupted use of his reason to the last, and died with as much calmness and composure, to all appearance, as that with which one goes to sleep.”
The physician, who inoculated and constantly attended him, in his sickness, addressed the following letter to Mrs. Edwards, on this occasion : “ To Mrs. Sarah Edwards, Stockbridge.
“Princeton, March 22, 1758.
“Most DEAR AND VERY WORTHY MADAM,
“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 accordingly inoculated with them, the 23d of last month; and although he had the smallpox favourably, 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 interest 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, than he; not so much as one discontented expression, 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-por the heaviest of all, whom I have inoculated, and little Sally, far the lightest; she has but three in her face. I am sure it will prove serviceable to her future health.
“I conclude, with my hearty prayer, dear Madam, that you may be enabled to look to that God, whose love and goodness you have experienced a thousand times, for direction and help, under this most afflictive dispensation of his providence, and under every other difficulty, you may meet with here, in order to your being more perfectly 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 feeble state of health, when she was preparing to pay a visit, first to her sister, Mrs. Hopkins, at West Springfield, and then to her mother, Mrs. Edwards, of Windsor, in consequence of the death of Mr. Edwards’ father. What her feelings were, and those of her family, under this unexpected and overwhelming dispensation, can be more easily conceived than described.
“She had long told her intimate friends, that she had, after long struggles and exercises, obtained, by God’s grace, an habitual willingness to die herself, or part with any of her most near relatives. That she was willing to bring forth children for death; and to resign up him, whom she esteemed so great a blessing to her and her family, her nearest partner, to the stroke of death, whenever God should see fit to take him. And when she had the greatest trial, in the death of Mr. Edwards, she found the help and comfort of such a disposition. Her conduct on this occasion, was such as to excite the admiration of her friends; it discovered that she was sensible ol the great loss, which she and her children had sustained in his death; and, at the same time, showed that she was quiet and resigned, and had those invisible supports, which enabled her to trust in God wila quietness, hope, and humble joy.”
A few days afterwards, she addressed the following Letter to Mrs. Burr.
“Stockbridge, April 3, 1758.
MY VERY DEAR CHILD,
“What shall I say ! A holy and good God has cover a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our adore his our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me ago goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; good God has covered us with has my heart. O what a legacy 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 daughters.
“MY DEAR SISTER,
“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, sister, how many calls have we, one upon the back of another. O, I beg your prayers, that we, who are young in this family, may be awakened and excited to call more earnestly on God, that he would be our Father and friend forever.
“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 continuing city, therefore let us seek one to come. The chapter that he read was Acts the 20th. O, how proper; what could he have done more. When he had got out of doors he turned about,—“I commit you to God,” said he.–I doubt not but God will take a fatherly care of us, if we do not forget him. “I am your ever affectionate sister,
“ SUSANNAH EDWARDS.”
“ Stockbridge, April 3, 1758.
“ Mrs. Burr and her children were inoculated, at the same time that her father was, and had recovered when he died. But after she was perfectly recovered, to all appearance, she was suddenly seized with a violent disorder, which carried her off in a few days; and which, the physician said, he could call by no name, but that of a messenger, sent suddenly, to call her out of the world. She died, April 7, 1758, sixteen days after her father, in the 27th year of her age. She was married to Mr. Burr, June 29, 1752. They had two children, a son and a daughter.
“Mrs. Burr exceeded most of her sex, in the beauty of her person, as well as in her behaviour and conversation. She discovered an unaffected, natural freedom, towards persons of all ranks, with whom she conversed. Her genius was much more than common. She had a lively, sprightly imagination, a quick and penetrating discernment, and a good judgment. She possessed an uncommon degree of wit and vivacity; which yet was consistent with pleasantness and good nature; and she knew how to be facetious and sportive, without trespassing on the bounds of decorum, or of strict and serious religion. In short, she seemed formed to please, and especially to please one, of Mr. Burr’s taste and character, in whom he was exceedingly happy. But what crowned all her excellencies, and was her chief glory, was religion. She appeared to be the subject of divine impressions, when seven or eight years old; and she made a public profession of religion, when about fifteen. Her conversation, until her death, was exemplary, as becometh godliness.”—She was, in every respect, an ornament to her sex, being equally distinguished for the suavity of her manners, her literary accomplishments, and her unfeigned regard to religion. Her religion did not cast a gloom over her mind, but made her cheerful and happy, and rendered the thought of death transporting. She left a number of manuscripts, on interesting subjects, and it was hoped they would have been made public; but they are now lost.
Mrs. Edwards did not long survive her husband. In September, she set out, in good health, on a journey to Philadelphia, to take care of her two orphan grand-children, which were now in that city; and had been, since the death of Mrs. Burr. As they had no relations in those parts, Mrs. Edwards proposed to take them into her own family. She arrived there, by the way of Princeton, Sept. 21, in good health, having had a comfortable journey. But, in a few days, she was seized with a violent dysentery, which, on the fifth day, put an end to her life, October 2d, 1758, in the 49th year of her age. She said not much in her sickness…of the time, with violent pain. On the morning of the day she died, she apprehended her death was near, when she expressed her entire resignation to God, and her desire that he might be glorified in all things; and that she might be enabled to glorify him to the last : and continued in such a temper, calm and resigned, till she died.
Her remains were carried to Princeton, and deposited with those of Mr. Edwards. Thus they, who were in their lives remarkably lovely and pleasant, in their death were not much divided. Here, the father and mother, the son and daughter, were laid together the grave, within the space of a little more than a year, though a few months before, their dwelling was more than 150 miles apart: two Presidents of the same College, and their consorts, than whom, it will doubtless be hard to find four persons, more valuable and useful!
By these repeated strokes, following in quick succession, the American Church, within a few months, sustained a loss, which probably, in so short a space of time, will never be equalled, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards lived together, in the married state, above thirty years; in which time, they had eleven children, three sons, and eight daughters. The second daughter died, Feb. 14, 1748. The third daughter was Mrs. Burr. The youngest daughter, Elizabeth, died soon after her parents.
The Trustees of the College erected a marble monument, over the grave of Mr. Edwards, which has the following inscription :
M. s. Reverendi admodum Viri, JONATHAN EDWARDS, A. M.
Collegii Novæ Cæsariæ Præsidis. Natus apud Windsor Connecticutensium V. Octobris.
A. D. MDCCII, 8. v. Patre Reverendo Timotheo Edwards oriundus,
Collegio Yalensi educatus; Apud Northampton Sacris initiatus, xv Februarii,
MDCCXXVI-VII. Ilinc dimissus xxit Junii, MDCCL.
Et Munus Barbaros instituendi accepit. Præses Aula Nassovicæ creatus xvi Februarii,
MDCCLVIII. Defunctus in hoc Vico xxn Martii sequentis, 8. N.
Ætatis LV, heu nimis brevis!
Hic jacet mortalis pars. Qualis Persona quæris, Viator?
Vir Corpore procero, sed gracili, Studiis intensissimis, Abstinentia, et Sedulitate,
Attenuato. Ingenii acumine, Judicio acri, et Prudentia,
Secundus Nemini Mortalium. Artium liberalium et Scientiarum peritia insignis, Criticorum sacrorum optimus, Theologus eximius,
Ut vix alter æqualis; Disputator candidus ; Fidei Christianæ Propugnator validus et invictus; Conconiator gravis, serius, discriminans; Et, Deo ferente, Successu
Felicissimus. Pictate præclarus, Moribus suis severus,
Ast aliis æquus et benignus. Vixit dilectus, veneratusSed, ah! lugendus
Moriebatur. Quantos Gemitus discedens ciebat! Heu Sapientia tanta! heu Doctrina et Religio! Amissum plorat Collegium, plorat et Ecclesia:
At, eo recepto, gaudet
Cælum. Abi, Viator, et pia sequere Vestigia.
Concluding Remarks. The writer of the preceding pages regrets, at least as sincerely as any of his readers, that the collection of facts, which they contain, is not more full and complete; yet, in consequence of the long interval, which has elapsed since the death of President Edwards, they are all, which, after much time, and labour and travel, he has been able to discover. Such as they are, they constitute, with his writings, the body of materials, from which we are to form our estimate of his character, as an intelligent and moral being.
In reviewing them, it is delightful to remember, in the outset, that, so far as the human eye could judge, the individuals of both the families from which he derived his descent, were, as far back as we can trace them, distinguished for their piety. Each married pair, in both lines, with that care and conscientiousness, which so generally marked the Pilgrims of New England, and their Puritan ancestors, trained up their children in the fear of God; and continued, through life, to supplicate daily the Divine favour, on them and their descendants, in all succeeding generations. Their prayers, ascending separately and successively indeed, were yet embodied in their influence, and from Him, who showeth mercy to thousands of generations of them that love him, and keep his commandments” called down concentrated blessings on their common offspring. So full, so rich, were these blessings, as bestowed on the subject of this memoir, that, perhaps, no one example on record furnishes a stronger encouragement to parents, to wrestle with God for the holiness and the salvation of their posterity.
It was owing to the moral influence thus exerted, and to the Di vine favour thus secured, that, when we review the childhood and youth of Mr. Edwards, we find them not only passing with out a stain upon his memory, but marked by a purity and excellence, rarely witnessed at so early a period of life. The religious impressions, made upon his mind in childhood, were certainly frequent, deep, and of long continuance, and had a powerful upon his ultimate character; yet the estimate, formed of nature by different persons, will probably be different. estimate of them was, unquestionably, that they were not of real religion.
The circumstances, which led him to this conclusion, were these two:
First, That, after he had cherished the hope of his own conversion, for a considerable period, and had experienced a high degree of joy, in what he regarded as communion with God, he lost imperceptibly this spirituality of mind, relinquished for a season the ” constant performance” of the practice of secret prayer, and cherished many affections of a worldly and sinful character:
Secondly, That, when he recovered from this state of declension, his views of divine truth, particularly those connected with the Sovereignty of God, were in many respects new, and far more clear and delightful, than any which he had previously formed.
Without calling in question the fact, that a given individual has, on some accounts, decidedly superior advantages for judging of his own christian character, than others enjoy ; and without presuming to decide on the correctness of the estimate, thus formed by Mr. Edwards; it may not be improper to state various circumstances, which lead me to suspect, that it may perhaps have been erroneous: 1. The declension, of which he complains, appears to have been chiefly, or wholly, a declension in the state of the affections. 2. Those impressions began, when he was seven or eight years of age, and were so powerful and lasting, as to render religion the great object of attention, for a number of years. As made on the mind of such a child, they were very remarkable, even if we suppose them to have resulted in piety. 3. The season of his declension commenced soon after his admission to college, when he was twelve years of age. That a truly pious child, in consequence of leaving his early religious connections and associations, and especially the altar and the incense of the parental sanctuary, of removing to a new place of residence, of entering on a new course of life, of forming new acquaintances and attachments, of feeling the strong attractions of study, and the powerful incentives of ambition, and of being exposed to the new and untried temptations of a public seminary, should, for a season, so far decline from his previous spirituality, as to lose all hope of his own conversion, is so far from being a surprizing event, that, in ordinary cases, it is perhaps to be expected. Piety, at its commencement in the mind, is usually feeble ; and especially is it so, in the mind of a child. How often are similar declensions witnessed, even at a later age. Yet the subject of such backsliding, though, during its continuance, he may well renounce the hope of his conversion, does not usually regard the period of his recovery, as the commencement of his christian life.-4. He had not, at this period, made a public profession of religion ; and, of course, was not restrained from such declension by his own covenant, by communion with christians, or by the consciousness, that, as a visible christian, his faults were subjected to the inspection and the censure of the surrounding world. 5. Though charitable in judging others, he was at least equally severe in judging himself. 6. He appears, at a very early period, to have formed views of the purity of the christian character of the degree of freedom from sin, and of the degree of actual holiness, requisite to justify the hope of conversion-altogether more elevated in their nature, than the truth will warrant. 7. That his views of divine truth-particularly of the Sovereignty of God-should have opened, after the age of twelve, with so much greater clearness and beauty, as to appear wholly new, was to have been expected from the nature of the case. 8. At a subsequent period, when his mind was incessantly occupied by the unusual perplexities of his tutorship, he complained of a similar declension. 9. The purity, strength and comprehensiveness, of his piety, as exhibited immediately after his public profession of christianity, was so much superior to what is frequently witnessed, in christians of an advanced standing, as almost to force upon us the conviction that it commenced, not a few months before, at the time of his supposed conversion, but at a much earlier period of life. Rare indeed is the fact, that holiness is not, at its commencement in the soul, “ as a grain of mustard-seed, which is the least of all seeds;” and though in the rapidity of its growth, it differs widely in different soils, yet time is indispensably necessary, before its fruits can cover the full-grown plant, like the clusters on the vine. These considerations, and particularly the last, have led me to believe, that the early religious impressions of Mr. Edwards are to be regarded, as having been the result of a gracious operation of the Spirit of God, upon his heart.
Under this happy influence, exerted in childhood, his character was formed. It prompted him then to study the Scriptures, to love prayer, to sanctify the sabbath, and to pay an unusual attention of the duties of religion. It inspired him with reverence towards God, and made him afraid to sin. It rendered him conscientious in the performance of every relative duty, in manifesting love and gratitude, honour and obedience, towards his parents, kindness and courteousness towards his sisters, and the other companions of his childhood, respect and deference to his superiors, and good will to all around him. It led him also, at a very early period, to overcome that aversion to mental labour, which is so natural to man, and to devote himself with exemplary assiduity to the great duty, daily assigned him, of storing his mind with useful knowledge. Some of our readers, we are aware, may perhaps regard the recollect of his earlier years, as of little importance; but those, who chen common sympathies, with the whole body of evangelical christians, in the deep interest which they feel in his character and efforts, an who reflect, that the foundation of that character and of those forts was then laid, will require of us no apology for thus extend the comparative innocence and purity, the docility and amiableness, the tenderness of conscience, the exemplary industry, and the ardent thirst for knowledge, which characterized this vernal season of his life.
The development of mental superiority, in the childhood and youth of Mr. Edwards, was certainly uncommon, if not singular. Boys of the age of eleven and twelve, even when receiving every aid from their parents and instructors, and when feeling the influence of all the motives, which they can present, are usually unwilling, in any branch of natural science, to examine, so as thoroughly to comprehend, the discoveries and investigations of others. Still more unwilling are they to make this examination, when no such aid is furnished, and no such inducements are presented. But rare indeed is the instance, in which the attention of such a boy has been so far arrested, by any of the interesting phenomena, in either of the kingdoms of nature, that he has been led, without prompting, and without aid, to pursue a series of exact observations and discoveries, as to the facts themselves; to search out their causes; and, as the result of the whole, to draw up and present a lucid, systematic and well digested, report of his investigations.The examination of the character and habits of the Wood-spider, made of his own accord by Edwards, at the age specified, and pursued through a long series of observations and deductions, evinces a power of attention, and an accuracy of conclusion, which would have qualified him at that time, if possessed of the proper instruments and specimens, for almost any investigations of Natural History. The Report of it, also, if we except the childishness of some of its phraseology, which, indeed, only adds to its interest, is as well arranged and luminous, as the well-written papers, which we now find in the Journals of Science. Perhaps it may be questioned, whether higher evidence of a mature and manly mind, in so young a child, has hitherto been presented to the world.
After the lapse of a little more than a year, just as he attained the age of fourteen, we find him entering on pursuits of a still higher character. Few boys of that age have sufficient strength of intellect, to comprehend the Essay ON THE HUMAN UNDERSTANDING. Of those who have, but a small proportion can be persuaded to read it; and a much smaller, still, are found to read it voluntarily, and of choice. We find Edwards, however, at this period of life, not only entering on this work, of his own accord, and with deep interest, but at once relinquishing every other pursuit, that he may devote himself wholly to the philosophy of the mind; and, to use his own language, “enjoying a far higher pleasure in the perusal of its pages, than the most greedy miser finds, when gathering up handfuls of silver and gold, from some newly discovered treasure.” Nor is this all. While reading the work of Locke, he presents himself before us, not as a pupil, nor simply as a critic; but in the higher character of an investigator, exploring for himself the universe of minds, and making new and interesting discoveries. Fortunately his investigations are preserved, and may be compared with the efforts of other distinguished men, at the same period of life, in other countries and in other ages. And if any one of all those efforts discovers greater perspicacity and mental energy, than the “ NOTES ON THE MIND;” particularly, the articles entitled, Bang, Space, Motion, Genus, the Will, and Excellency; we are yet to learn where it is to be found, and who was its author. The discussion of the very important and difficult question, in the last of these articles, WHAT IS THE FOUNDATION OF EXCELLENCY — of Excellency in its most enlarged acceptation, in things material and spiritual, in things intellectual, imaginative and moral,- is not only original, as to its youthful author, and profound, but is even now, we believe, in various respects, new to the investigations of philosophy.* The NOTES ON NATURAL SCIENCE, furnish similar proofs of high mental superiority; and, by their variety of topics, their general accuracy, and their originality, evince a power and comprehension, discovered by only here and there an individual, when possessed of the full maturity of his faculties. His habits of thinking and reasoning, at this time of life, appear to have been as severe, as exact and as successful, as those of the most accomplished scholars usually are, in the vigour of manhood. The plan of study, itself, which he then formed, of studying with his pen; and of immediately, and of course, employing the principles of the science he was examining, which had been already detailed and demonstrated by others, in the discovery of new principles,-is at least equal evidence of the same superiority. So vigorous was the mental soil, that the seeds of thought could not be implanted therein, without being quickened at once, and made to grow into a rich and abundant harvest. Looking at these two series of Notes, in connection with the plan of study under which they grew, and then comparing them, by the aid of recollection, with the efforts of other children and youths of uncommon promise; we instinctively ask, When, and where, has the individual lived, who has left behind him substantial proofs, that he has possessed, at the same age, a mind more powerful, comprehensive or creative?
These conclusions are only confirmed, by the survey of his succeeding years. Though drawn away from the entire devotional his mind to his collegiate studies, by (what were to him) the alluring blandishments of Mental philosophy, he yet sustained in his class the first standing as a scholar; and, though leaving college when sixteen, he was not too young to receive its highest honours. ing entered the desk at eighteen, he was, after a few trials, desigua ted by a number of gentlemen of a superior character, for a very important and difficult station; to which, as well as to various other interesting fields of labour, he received most pressing invitations.
The extraordinary difficulties and perplexities of the college, while he was one of its officers, sufficient as they were to have overwhelmed a common mind, only served to furnish him and his colleagues a fairer opportunity, to show forth the superiority of their own character. By their wisdom and fidelity, the college was preserved and enlarged, when in imminent danger of ruin; and the period of their administration will ever be regarded, as one of the most important eras in its history.
While the review of the childhood and youth of Mr. Edwards thus forces upon us the conviction, that, in the early development of extraordinary mental powers, he has had few equals; and enables us to reflect, with pleasure, that these powers were never prostituted to folly, or to vice, but, from the beginning were faithfully devoted to the great end for which they were given; it also leads us to remark, that his character, as a moral being, was thoroughly formed and established, at a very early period of life. Like a dutiful child, he listened, indeed, to the counsels of his parents, as to the principles by which his conduct should be regulated; but he also examined for himself the foundations of those principles, and, having discovered that they were firm and immoveable, formed out of them a series of rules, for the systematic regulation of his own conduct. These rules, particularly as exemplified in the journal of his daily life, evince not only a pure and transparent sincerity, and the greatest openness of soul towards God; as well as an inspection, metaphysically accurate, of his own mind, and a thorough acquaintance with his own heart ; but a knowledge of his duty,–to God, his fellow-men and himself,–and a conscientiousness in performing it, which are usually the result of great wisdom and piety, combined with long experience. They grew, obviously, out of a disposition to turn every occurrence of life to a religious use, and thus to grow wiser and better, continually, under the course of discipline, to which the providence of God subjected him.