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(See p. 10.)
I HAVE not been able to ascertain the names of any of the children of Richard Edwards, by his first marriage, except the eldest. Among those by the second marriage were John, Hannah, and Daniel.
The Hon. DANIEL EDWARDS, the youngest son, was born in the year 1700. He entered Yale College in 1716, the same year with his nephew, Jonathan Edwards, and was his classmate and roommate, and afterwards his fellow-tutor in that seminary. He was distinguished for his acquisitions as a scholar, and for his talents as an instructor. He chose the law as his profession, and early rose to eminence. In 1728, he married a Miss Sarah Hooker, by whom he had five children, two sons and three daughters; all of whom died in infancy, except Sarah, who married Mr. George Lord, and died in October, 1764, as did her husband in October 1765, leaving one son.
The following sketch of the life and character of Mr. Edwards, who died at New-Haven, September 6, 1765, in the 65th year of his age, and was there buried, is taken from the Sermon of the Rev. Edward Dorr, Pastor of the first church in Hartford, occasioned by his death.
"God has seen fit to take away one, who for many years has been an honour and an ornament to this church and congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ, and a great blessing to it. His place is now vacant among us, and we shall see his face no more. I shall not attempt to give his character at large; as he was born and brought up among you, and spent the greater part of his life in this place, you all know that he was a gentleman of great worth and usefulness. Nature had furnished him with distinguished natural powers. He had a liberal education, and but few among us ever made a greater proficiency in useful learning, than he did. He was early called to public improvement,as a tutor in the college, where his name is remembered with honour to this day. Since he left the college, he has generally been employed in important stations, in the service of the government, and in all has so conducted, as to obtain the approbation of the public. For many years, he was a member of the Council, Judge of Probate for the District of Hartford, and one of the judges of the Superior Court. In all these important trusts, he shone with honour. He was an able councillor, an upright judge, and a faithful magistrate; a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that did well. In all the public affa rs, which he sustained, neither his ability nor integrity has ever been impeached. If we view him in private life, his character was very
amiable. From his youth up, he hath been unblemished. He was a good neighbour, a kind and faithful friend, a person of strict truth and honesty, not easily carried away by slight impressions, but uniform, steady and even, in his principles and conduct. He has been for many years a professor of our holy religion; and you are all witnesses, that he was a devout and constant attendant on the worship and ordinances of God, and exhibited in his life and conversation an excellent pattern of uniform, constant and steady, obedience to the laws of the gospel. As he lived, so he died, calm, composed, and resigned to God. Death, the king of terrors, was no terror to him. His conscience was unreproaching, and he received the final summons without surprise, relying on the merits of a glorious Redeemer; and through him expecting a triumphant entrance into the joys of his Lord. While he lived, he bore a principal part in all public affairs among us. He was a real friend to all mankind, to this town, to this church and society in particular, and constantly sought its best interests. We shall feel the loss of him, wherever we turn our eyes; especially in this stormy day, when able and faithful men are so much needed. The Colony, the Council, and the Supreme Court will feel the loss. We in this church and society, especially, must sensibly feel the stroke, as there was no man, on whose kind counsel and friendly advice, we could more safely rely than his. A great and good man is taken away from us; and he has been taken away in an evil day, a day of perplexity and trouble. God grant, that a double portion of his excellent spirit may rest on some of us, and that this heavy breack may be sanctified to us all for good! Oh, let us follow that good example, which he has left us, and study peace as he did. And let us earnestly pray the great Lord of the Universe, with whom is the residue of the Spirit, that he would raise up worthy men to fill his place, in the government, and among ourselves."
I have before me, while writing, a closely written manuscript of ninetysix pages, foolscap 8vo. by the Rev. Timothy Edwards of East-Windsor, and eldest son of Richard Edwards, Esquire, headed, "Some things written for my own use and comfort, concerning the life, and death, of my very dear and ever honoured father, Mr. Richard Edwards, late of Hartford, who died April 20, 1718, on the Sabbath in the forenoon, being the ninth day of his sickness, and the 71st year of his age, he being then very near seventy one years old, having been born in May 1647."
The following brief abstract of this account will not be uninteresting to those, who respect the memory of departed piety and worth; especially, as it is an accurate moral picture of the man, who moulded the character of the father and instructor of President Edwards. As far as is consistent with brevity, the language of the original is exactly preserved.
He was naturally, of a strong healthy constitution, well-formed and comely, and of uncommon vigour, activity, and nimbleness of body--characteristics, for which he was distinguished until the close of life. He had a clear voice and ready utterance, and expressed himself not only with ease and propriety, but with uncommon energy and effect. He was naturally cheerful, sprightly, and sweet-tempered, of a ready wit, had a mind well stored with knowledge, particularly the knowledge of history and theology, and in conversation was uncommonly pleasant and entertaining. He
was sober and considerate, a man of great courage, resolution and perseverance; had a clear and strong understanding, a sound judgment, and a quick, sharp insight into men and things; and was capable of almost any kind of business. He was in the full sense of the phrase a man of business, distinguished for his wisdom and forecast; had uncommon prudence and discretion in the management of his own affairs, and was extensively consulted in matters of weight and difficulty, by others.
Though natively quick and warm when provoked or affronted, he had acquired the self government, which became him as a man and a christian; though firm and inflexible in the discharge of his duty, he was yet easy to be intreated. He was candid and charitable in his estimate of the conduct of others, kind and affectionate in his feelings, liberal and generous in the use of his property, obliging in his disposition, willing to devote his time and services to the good of his fellow-men, readily forgiving injuries on the slightest acknowledgment, but yielding nothing to pride and haughtiness of spirit. He was uniformily courteous, affable, and easy of access; free and familiar with his children and servants, and with the poorest and humblest of his neighbours; and at the same time tender-hearted and compassionate, easily melting into tears, while witnessing either examples of kindness and generosity, or scenes of affliction and sorrow, and doing what lay in his power to relieve the wants and distresses of others. He had a manly ingenous spirit, was accustomed to deal very faithfully and thoroughly with his fellow men about their faults and miscarriages, and did not fear, on any proper occasion, to tell any man plainly what he saw amiss in his conduct.
He was a sincere and faithful friend, never disappointing those who trusted in him; and it was no difficult matter for any honest man, however humble his circumstances, in a just cause, especially if he was oppressed and unable to defend himself, to secure his friendship. "Such confidence," says the writer, "have I in my father's faithfulness, that, under God, I could venture my estate, my good name, and even my life, in the hands of such a friend. In all his dealings with his fellow-men he was eminently just, honest, and upright. Though his business was very extensive and continued through a long life, and though I had the best opportunity of knowing his concerns, I never knew him attempt to wrong any individual, or do any thing, which discovered the least shadow of deceit or dishonesty. On the contrary, he abhorred all base underhand management, scorned and hated all that was little, unfair and unworthy, and in freedom from dissimulation, hypocrisy, and any design to do wrong, was among those who excel."
In all the various relations of his life, his character was truly estimable. He was hospitable and courteous to strangers, and charitable to the poor, and was ever ready to sympathize with the afflicted, to plead the cause of the widow and the fatherless, and to help those, who wanted both friends and money to help themselves. He was an affectionate, tender, careful husband, one of the best of fathers to his children, a just and kind master, esteemed and beloved by his neighbours, a good and punctual paymaster, and of a credit always unimpeached. He was not only faithful, in managing the concerns of others; but equitable, in his demands for services rendered, often indeed rendering them for nothing; just and moderate in his profits, gentle and accommodating towards his debtors, often bearing with them, year after year, if they were poor and honest. He was also merciful to his beast.
He had an excellent spirit of government---having wisdom to govern not only himself, but others---so that he was both feared, and loved, by his children, and servants, and all who were under his control. "I cannot say
that he discovered no infirmities, but they were much outweighed by his virtues."
In the existence and constant presence of God, he appeared not only to believe, but to delight. The fear of God seemed habitually before his eyes, so that nothing probably would have tempted him to do that, which he really thought would offend him. Twice every day, he worshipped God in his house, by reading the Scriptures and prayer. Other religious books were read in their season in the family, and that to an extent rarely surpassed. His conversation with, and his letters to, his children were full of religious instruction. He laid great stress on the promises of God to the righteous, and his threatenings to the wicked; fully expecting and look. ing for the accomplishment of both. He habitually and attentively observed the dispensations of Providence; ever acknowledging with thankfulness his goodness to him and his; and regarding every affliction as an immediate chastisement from God, so that he heard the voice of the rod and him that appointed it. Rarely does any christian express so solemnizing and heart-affecting a sense, of the great and awful dispensations of Providence, towards individuals, or towards the world at large.
"He hated vice and wickedness, wherever he saw it, and abhorred to justify or make light of sin, whether committed by strangers, or by his own near relatives: always discovering in this respect a just, conscientious, impartial spirit, and appearing to frown upon it even more in his children, than in others.
"In prayer, he seemed to draw very near to God, with peculiar solemnity and reverence, with exalted views of his greatness and goodness, and with a supreme regard to his glory. He appeared to cherish an admiring sense of the wisdom, the power and the goodness, of God, in contemplating the works of creation and providence, and the riches of his grace as unfolded in the work of redemption. The truth of God, he studied and understood, as well as loved and obeyed.
"Few men administer christian admonition and reproof, with so much faithfulness, discretion and solemnity, or with so much success; and few receive it with more humility, meekness and self-application. His feelings on religious subjects were at once strong and tender: often discovering themselves at public worship, in family prayer, and in religious reading and
"He took peculiar care, that his family sanctified the Sabbath, and ap peared himself conscientiously to keep it holy. On the morning of every sacramental Sabbath, he regularly spent a long time alone, in religious retirement. He was abundant, in his religious instructions and admonitions to his family, on every proper occasion, and regularly every Sabbath afternoon in enforcing the sermons of the day, and the instructions of the book which was then read. "From my own observation of other religious families, with which I have been familiarly acquainted, I have reason to believe that few children, even of christian parents, are as much counselled and instructed." He loved and honoured the faithful ministers of Christ, for their work's sake; and was a sincere and hearty friend to his own minister; actively and zealously exciting others to help and befriend him, and resolutely and successfully opposing and bearing down those, who arrayed themselves against him.
*The Rev. Timothy Woodbridge. This gentleman was the minister of Hartford from 1685 to 1732: he was highly respected for his talents and worth. An interesting sketch of his character is given by the Rev. Timothy Edwards, in his Election Sermon, preached in 1732.
In his religion, he was far from being ostentatious; and the applause of men he regarded as nothing, in comparison with that testimony of a good conscience, which would enable him to appeal to the heart-searching God, for the sincerity and uprightness of his conduct. He appeared to love the real disciples of Christ, for their piety; disregarding the distinctions of sect and party, and receiving all his brethren, who were received by Christ. Though possessed of property, he realized, in an unusual degree, the vanity of worldly good, and placed but a slight dependence on riches, honours, or pleasures, as the means of permanent happiness. "Surely," says his son, "this world was not my father's god; his chief good was something better and nobler, than this present life can afford." He appeared habitually sensible of the frailty of his nature, and of the nearness of his own death, often conversing on death and the judgment, in a truly devout and edifying manner, and frequently observing, near the close of life," I carry my life in my hand every day; I am daily looking and waiting, until my change come." Few christians, indeed, seem more conversant with their own death, more careful to prepare for it, or more ready to meet it.
In the government of God, he seemed habitually to rejoice. His sense of the evil of sin was peculiarly deep; he was patient and submissive under sufferings, was willing to suffer for Christ's sake, and was free from the fear of death. He appeared to be truly humbled under a sense of his own sins, to mourn over sin, and to wage a constant warfare against it, to love the way of salvation revealed in the gospel, to cherish a sacred regaid to the glory of God, and the interests of religion, and to entertain exalted views of the character and glory of Christ. "Though he never," says his son," gave me an account of his conversion at large; yet on various occasions, in conversation, he has alluded to the great change then wrought in his views and affections, with regard to temporal and spiritual objects, particularly to worldly good, the warfare with sin, the hope of reconciliation to God, and a title to eternal life." He appeared eminently to trust in God, to cherish a deep sense of his dependence, and to lead a life of faith. "Though I have now been in the ministry," he adds, "nearly four and twenty years, and, during that period, have often had much private conversation with many of the truly pious, I do not remember that I have met with any, who seemed more truly to lead such a life, than my dear father; and to such a life he habitually advised and directed his children, both in his conversation and in his letters. Writing to me on an important subject, he says, I leave you, in this, and all your affairs, to the direction and guidance of the Fountain of wisdom and goodness, who, I doubt not, will guide you into the best and safest course, if you trust in him, and by faith commit your ways to him. Make the glory of God your main end, and depend on him by a lively faith in his promise; for He is faithful who hath promised, that they who wait on him shall not want any good thingthat is, any that is really good for them.'In a letter addressed to me, when I was with the army at Albany,* then on an expedition to Canada, he thus writes--I have nothing new to write to you, but merely to revive 'what I have said formerly, that, since God, in his all-wise providence, has 'called you to this present service, you put your whole trust in him, to carry you through it, who never fails any who put their trust in him. You may expect to meet with difficulties, but still God is all-sufficientthe same God in all places, and in all conditions ;-therefore commit