« ElőzőTovább »
in comparison of it, the light of the Natural Sun is as darkness ; and hence, when he shall appear in his glory, the brightness of the Sun shall disappear, as the brightness of the little stars do, when the Sun rises. So says the prophet Isaiah, “ Then the Moon shall be confounded, and ihe Sun shall be ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and before his ancients, gloriously,” Isa. xxiv. 23. But, although his light is thus bright, and his beams go forth with infinite strength; yet, as they proceed from the Lamb of God, and shine through his meek and lowly human nature, they are supremely soft and mild, and, instead of dazzling and overpowering our feeble sight, like a smooth ointment or a gentle eyesalve, are vivifying and healing. Thus on them, who fear God's name, “the Sun of Righteousness arises, with healing in his beams,” Mal. iv. 2. It is like the light of the morning, a morning without clouds, as the dew on the grass, under whose influence the souls of his people are as the tender grass springing out of the earth, by clear shining after rain. Thus are the beams of his beauty, and brightness, fitted for the support and reviving of the afflicted. He heals the broken in spirit, and bindeth up their wounds. When the spirits of his people are cut down by the scythe, he comes down upon them, in a sweet and heavenly influence, like rain on the mown grass, and like showers that water the earth.(Ps. lxxi. 6.)
“But especially are the beams of Christ's glory infinitely softened, and sweetened, by his love to men, the love that passeth knowledge. The glory of his person consists, pre-eminently, in that infinite goodness and grace,
of which he made so wonderful a manifestation, in his love to us. The apostle John tells us, that God is Light; (1 John, i. 5.) and again, that God is Love; (1 John, iv. 8.) and the light of his glory is an infinitely sweet light, because it is the light of love. But especially does it appear so, in the person of our Redeemer, who was infinitely the most wonderful example of love, that was ever witnessed. All the perfections of the Deity have their highest manifestation in the Work of Redemption, vastly more than in the Work of Creation. In other works, we see him indirectly; but here, we see the immediate glory of his face. (2 Cor. iii. 18.) In his other works, we behold him at a distance; but in this, we come near, and behold the infinite treasures of his heart. (Eph. iii. 8, 9, 10.) It issa work of love to us, and a work of which Christ is the author. His loveliness, and his love, have both their greatest and most affecting manifestation in those sufferings, which he endured for us at his death. Therein, above all, appeared his holiness, his love to God, and his hatred of sin, in that, when he desired to save sinners, rather than that a sensible testimony should not be seen against sin, and the justice of God be vindicated, he chose to become obedient unto death, even the ' the cross. Thus, in the same act, he manifests, in the high ceivable degree, his infinite hatred of sin, and his infini
sinners. His holiness appeared like a fire, burning with infinite vehemence against sin; at the same time, that his love to sinners appeared like a sweet flame, burning with an infinite fervency of benevolence. It is the glory and beauty of his love to us, polluted sinners, that it is an infinitely pure love; and it is the peculiar sweetness and endearment of his holiness, that it has its most glorious manifestation in such an act of love to us. All the excellencies of Christ, both divine and human, have their highest manifestation, in this wonderful act of his love to men-his offering up himself a sacrifice for us, under these extreme sufferings. Herein have abounded toward us the riches of his grace, in all wisdom and prudence. (Eph. i. 8.) Herein appears his perfect justice. Herein too, was the great display of his humility, in being willing to descend so low for us. In his last sufferings, appeared his obedience to God, his submission to his disposing will, his patience, and his meekness, when he went as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth, but in a prayer that God would forgive his crucifiers. And how affecting this manifestation of his excellency and amiableness to our minds, when it chiefly shines forth in such an act of love to us.
“ The love of Christ to men, in another way, sweetens and endears all his excellencies and virtues; as it has brought him into so near a relation to us, as our Friend, our elder Brother, and our Redeemer; and has brought us into so strict an union with him, that we are his friends, yea, members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Eph. v. 30.)
“We see then, dear Madam, how rich and how adequate is the provision, which God has made for our consolation, in all our afdictions, in giving us a Redeemer of such glory, and such love; especially, when it is considered, what were the ends of this great manifestation of beauty and love, in his death. He suffered, that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow, and to impart everlasting consolation. He was oppressed and afflicted, that we might
, be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death, that we might have the light of life. He was cast into the furnace of God's wrath, that we might drink of the rivers of his pleasures. His soul was overwhelmed with a flood of sorrow, that our hearts might be overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.
“We may also well remember, in what circumstances our Redeemer now is. He was dead; but he is alive, and he lives forev
Death may deprive us of our friends here, but it cannot deprive us of this our best friend. We have this best of friends, this mighty Redeemer, to go to, in all our afflictions; and he is not one, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. He has suffered far greater sorrows, than we have ever suffered; and if we are actually united to him, the union can never be broken,
but will continue when we die, and when heaven and earth are dissolved. Therefore, in this, we may be confident, though the earth be removed, in him we shall triumph with everlasting joy. Now, when storms and tempests arise, we may resort to him, who is a hiding place from the storm, and a covert from the tempest. When we thirst, we may come to him, who is as rivers of water in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to him, who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Having found him, who is as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit will be sweet to our taste. Christ said to his disciples, “ In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but in me ye shall have peace.” If we are united to him, we shall be like a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out its roots by the river, that shall not see when heat cometh, but its leaf shall ever be green, and it shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall it cease from yielding fruit. He will now be our light in darkness; our morning-star, shining as the sure harbinger of approaching day. In a little time, he will arise
. on our souls, as the Sun in his glory; and our Sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud-no veil on his face, or on our hearts; but the Lord shall be our everlasting light, and our Redeemer our glory.
“ That this glorious Redeemer would manifest his glory and love to your mind, and apply what little I have said on this subject, to your consolation, in all your afflictions, and abundantly reward your kindness and generosity to me, while I was at Kittery; is the fervent prayer, Madam, of
“ Your Ladyship’s most obliged
“ JONATHAN EDWARDS."
The repeated afflictions of a widowed sister, in the beginning of the next year, occasioned the following letter to his father, containing some allusions to the state and circumstances of his own family.
“To the Reverend Timothy Edwards, East Windsor.
“ Stockbridge, Jan. 27, 1752. 6 HONOURED SIR,
“We have lately heard the sorrowful tidings of the death of two of Sister Backus'* children, as we are informed both at your house; which is the occasion of Cousin Eunice returning from Stockbridge at this time; she having a desire to see her mother and surviving sisters at Windsor, on this melancholy occasion. are much affected with sister's great and heavy afflictions, and lament the death of two such likely promising children, in their early youth. It is my earnest desire, that it may be sanctified to us of this family. I desire your prayers, that it may be so; particularly to those that are young in the family; that they may be awakened by it to diligent preparation for death; and that we all may take notice of our distinguished mercies, with a becoming thankfulness to God. I look upon it as a great favour of Heaven, that you, my Parents, are still preserved in the land of the living, to so great an age. I hope, by the leave of Divine Providence, to make you and sister Backus a visit in the spring. We are, through mercy, in our ordinary state of health, except that little Betty don't seem of late to be so well, as she was in the summer. If she lives till spring, I believe we must be obliged to come again to the use of the cold bath with her. My wife and children are well pleased with our present situation. They like the place far better than they expected. Here, at present, we live in peace; which has of long time been an unusual thing with us. The Indians seem much pleased with my family, especially my wife. They are generally more sober and serious than they used to be. Beside the Stockbridge Indians, here are above sixty of the Six Nations, who live here for the sake of instruction. Twenty are lately come to dwell here, who came from about two hundred miles beyond Albany. We expect our son and daughter Parsons will remove hither in a short time. Many of their goods are already brought up.”
* Mrs. Backus the fifth sister of Mr. Edwards was now a widow. Her hus. band, the Rev. Simon Backus of Newington, (Wethersfield,) was designated by the Connecticut Legislature, as chaplain to the troops sent to Louisburgh in 1746, to prevent its recapture by the French. He died there soon after his arrival. The vessel, containing his effects, and a considerable sum contributed by the gentlemen of the army for his family, was cast away on its return; and the family were left in very indigent circumstances.
[After alluding to the indigent circumstances of his sister Mrs. Backus, and her family, and mentioning that himself and Mrs. Edwards had done every thing for his niece, which was in their power, he proceeds.]
I hope some of her friends will be kind to her in this respect. There are perhaps none of her uncles, but are much better able to help her, than I am at this time; who, by reason of lately marrying two children, and the charge of buying, building and removing, am, I suppose, about £2000 in debt, in this Province money. * I
* I suppose that this means £2000 old lenor, as it was then called ; the value of which continually varied, but has been commonly estimated at 6s. 8d. sterjing to the pound.
should be glad if sister Mary would suggest it to brother Ellsworth to do something for her. If she don't care to do it in her own name, let her do it in mine, as doing the errand from me. Please to give my duty to my mother, and my love to sister Mary. My wife is at this moment from home. My children give their duty to their Grandparents, and aunts, and love and affectionate condolence to their mournful surviving cousins. "I am, honoured Sir,
5. Your dutiful son,
“ JONATHAN EDWARDS."
The allusion to his pecuniary circumstances, made by Mr. Edwards in the preceding letter, requires explanation. What was the actual amount of his salary at Northampton, I have not been able to ascertain ; but he speaks of it, in one of his letters, as “the largest salary of any country minister in New-England.” Soon after his settlement there, he purchased a valuable homestead, with the requisite lands for pasturage and fuel, and erected a commodious dwelling-house. These, by the strictest economy, had all been paid for, before his dismission. It was several years, however, after his removal to Stockbridge, before he could sell his property at Northampton. In the mean time, he was under the necessity of purchasing another homestead, and of erecting another dwellinghouse at Stockbridge. The debt thus incurred, added to the expense of removing his family, subjected them for a time to very serious pecuniary embarrassments and his daughters, who had received not only an enlightened, but a polished, education, readily lent their aid, to relieve the family from the existing pressure. For this purpose, they occupied their leisure in making lace and embroidering, in tambouring and other ornamental work, and in making and painting fans : all of which, in the existing state of the country, found a ready market at Boston.* At length, the sale of his property in Northampton relieved him from debt, and placed his family in more pleasant circumstances.
On the 5th of February, 0. S. Mr. Gideon Hawley, a young gentleman of a liberal education, and of great prudence, firmness and integrity, arrived in Stockbridge. He had been appointed, by the Commissioners, the school-master of the Mohawk and other Iroquois children, and entered immediately on the duties of his office. He was ordained as a minister and missionary, July 31, 1754, N. S. Mr. Edwards found him a most faithful and use
* So severe was this pressure, for a considerable time, that Mr. Edwards found himself necessitated to practice the most rigid economy, in every thing-even in the article of paper. Much of what he now wrote, for his own use, was written on the margins of useless pamphlets, the covers of letters, and the remnants of the silk paper used in making fans.