« ElőzőTovább »
it, then it appears amiable to me, and I wish I had done it, and see that none of these feared inconveniences follow.
Monday morning, Aug. 12. The chief thing, that now makes me in any measure to question my good estate, is my not having experienced conversion in those particular steps, wherein the people of New England, and anciently the Dissenters of Old England, used to experience it. Wherefore, now resolved, never to leave searching, till I have satisfyingly found out the very bottom and foundation, the real reason, why they used to be converted in those steps.
Tuesday morning, Aug. 13. Have sinned, in not being careful enough to please my parents. Afternoon..-I find it would be very much to my advantage, to be thoroughly acquainted with the Scriptures. When I am reading doctrinal books, or books of controversy, I can proceed with abundantly more confidence: can see on what footing and foundation I stand.
Saturday noon, Aug. 17. Let there, in the general, be something of benevolence in all that I speak.
Tuesday night, Aug. 20. Not careful enough in watching opportunities of bringing in christian discourse with a good grace. Do not exercise myself half enough in this holy art; neither have I courage enough to carry it on with a good grace. Vid. Sept. 2.
Saturday Morning, Aug. 24. Have not practiced quite right about revenge; though I have not done any thing directly out of revenge, yet, I have perhaps, omitted some things, that I should otherwise have done; or have altered the circumstances and manner of my actions, hoping for a secret sort of revenge thereby. I have felt a little sort of satisfaction, when I thought that such an evil would happen to them by my actions, as would make them repent what they have done. To be satisfied for their repenting, when they repent from a sense of their error, is right. But a satisfaction in their repentance, because of the evil that is brought upon them, is Revenge. This is in some measure, a taking the matter out of God's hands when he was about to manage it, who is better able to plead it for me. Well, therefore, may he leave me to boggle at it.-Near sunset. I yet find a want of dependence on God, to look unto him for success, and to have my eyes unto him for his gracious disposal of the matter: for want of a sense of God's particular influence, in ordering and directing all affairs and businesses, of whatever nature, however naturally, or fortuitously, they may seem to succeed; and for want of a sense of those great advantages, that would follow therefrom: not considering that God will grant success, or make the contrary more to my advantage; or will make the advantage accruing from the unsuccessfulness, more sensible and apparent; or will make it of less present and outward disadvantage; or will some way, so order the circumstanees, as to make the unsuccessfulness more easy to bear; or several, or all of
these. This want of dependence, is likewise for want of the things mentioned, July 29.-Remember to examine all Narrations, I can call to mind; whether they are exactly according to verity.
Wednesday night, Aug. 28. When I want books to read; yea, when I have not very good books, not to spend time in reading them, but in reading the scriptures, in perusing Resolutions, Reflexions, &c., in writing on Types of the Scripture, and other things, in studying the Languages, and in spending more time in private duties. To do this, when there is a prospect of wanting time for the purpose. Remember as soon as I can, to get a piece of slate, or something, whereon I can make short memorandums while travelling.
Thursday, Aug. 29. Two great Quærenda with me now are: How shall I make advantage of all the time I spend in journeys? and how shall I make a glorious improvement of afflictions.
Saturday-night, Aug. 31. The objection, which my corruptions make against doing whatever my hands find to do with my might, is, that it is a constant mortification. Let this objection by no means ever prevail.
Sabbath Morning, Sept. 1. When I am violently beset with worldly thoughts, for a relief, to think of Death, and the doleful circumstances of it.
Monday Afternoon, Sept. 2. To help me to enter with a good grace, into religious conversation; when I am conversing on morality, to turn it over by application, exemplification or otherwise, to christianity. Vid. Aug. 28 and Jan. 15.-At night. There is much folly, when I am quite sure I am in the right, and others are positive in contradicting me, in entering into a vehement, or long debate upon it.
Saturday, Sept. 7. Concluded no more to suffer myself to be interrupted, or diverted from important business, by those things, from which I expect, though some, yet but little profit.
Sabbath Morning, Sept. 8. I have been much to blame, for expressing so much impatience for delays in journeys, and the like.
Sabbath Evening, Sept. 22. To praise God, by singing Psalms in prose, and by singing forth the meditations of my heart in prose. Monday, Sept. 23. I observe that old men seldom have any advantage of new discoveries, because they are beside the way of thinking, to which they have been so long used. Resolved, if ever I live to years, that I will be impartial to hear the reasons of all pretended discoveries, and receive them if rational, how long soever I have been used to another way of thinking. My time is so short, that I have not time to perfect myself in all studies: Wherefore resolved, to omit and put off, all but the most important and needful studies.*
*The remainder of the Diary is on a subsequent page.
His Tutorship.-Sickness.—Invitation to Northampton.-Personal Narrative continued.-Diary concluded.
IN Sept., 1723, he went to New-Haven, and received his degree of Master of Arts, when he was elected a Tutor in the College. About this time, several congregations invited him to become their minister; but, being fond of study, both by nature and habit, and conscious how much it would promote his own usefulness, in his profession, he wisely declined their proposals. As there was no immediate vacancy, in the office of Tutor, he passed the ensuing winter and spring at New-Haven, in study, and in the occasional discharge of the active duties of his profession, and in the beginning of June, 1724, entered on the instruction of a class in the College.
The period of his tutorship, was a period of great difficulty. For a long time, before the election of Mr. Cutler to the office of Rector, the College had been in a state of open revolt against the legal government, and, as we have already seen, had withdrawn from New-Haven. Two years after his election, in Jan. 1721, there was an universal insurrection of the students, which, though after considerable effort, apparently quieted, resulted in a state of extreme disorder and insubordination, beyond any thing, that had been known before.* In 1722, Mr. Cutler, one of the Tutors, and two of the neighbouring ministers, renounced their connexion with the Presbyterian Church, and publicly declared themselves Episcopalians. The shock, occasioned by this event, was very great, in the College, in the town, and throughout the colony; and a series of controversies grew out of it, which lasted for many years. In consequence of this, the offices of these gentlemen were vacated, and the College was left, for four years, without a Head: the Trustees residing, by turns, at the College, and each, in rotation, acting as vice-rector, for a month. Fortunately however for the institution, during this bereavement, it had three gentlemen, in the office of Tutor, of distinguished talents and scholarship, and of great resolution and firmness of character:-Mr. William Smith, of the class of 1719, and chosen Tutor in 1722; Mr. Edwards;
These facts are particularly mentioned, in a letter from Mr. Edwards to his father.
and Mr. Daniel Edwards, his uncle, class-mate and room-mate, who was chosen in Sept. 1724. On these three gentlemen, all of whom were young men, devolved, almost exclusively, the government and instruction of the College; yet, by their union, energy, and faithfulness, they introduced among the students, in the room of their former negligence and misrule, habits of close study, and exact subordination; and, in no great length of time, rendered the institution, beyond what it had long been, flourishing aud prosperous. The late President Stiles, who, though a member of College a considerable time after this period, was personally acquainted with the three gentlemen, and knew well the history of their administration, has left an eulogy on the three united, of the highest character. "The Honourable William Smith, the Honourable Daniel Edwards, and the Rev. President Edwards, were the pillar Tutors, and the glory of the College, at the critical period, between Rector Cutler and Rector Williams. Their tutorial renown was great and excellent. They filled and sustained their offices, with great ability, dignity, and honour. For the honour of literature, these things ought not to be forgotten."
In Sept. 1725, immediately after the commencement, as he was preparing to set out for his father's house, he was taken suddenly ill, at New-Haven; but, hoping that the illness was not severe, and anxious to be at home if he was to be sick, he set out for Windsor. The fatigue of travelling, only increased his illness, and he was compelled to stop at North-Haven, at the house of the Rev. Mr. Stiles, where he was confined, by severe sickness, about three months during the greater part of this time, his mother was constantly with him. Her husband, writing to her on the 20th of October, begs her to spare herself. "I am afraid, you are taking too great a burden on yourself, in tending your son, both day and night. I beg of you, therefore, not only to take care of him, but of self also. Accept, rather, of the kindness of the neighbours, in watching over again, than outbid your own strength, which is but small, by overdoing." She could not leave him, till about the middle of November; and it was some time in the winter, before he could go to his father's house. In this sickness, he speaks of himself, as having enjoyed new, and most refreshing, manifestations of the presence and the grace of God.
After he had held the office of Tutor, upwards of two years, with the highest reputation, he received proposals, from the people of Northampton, to become their minister. Many circumstances conspired, to prompt his acceptance. He was familiarly acquainted with the place, and people. The Rev. Mr. Stoddard, his grandfather, a man of great dignity, and of singular weight and influence in the churches, in consequence of his advanced age, stood in need of his assistance, and wished him to be his colleague. His parents, and his other friends, all desired it. The situation was,
in itself, respectable, and the town unusually pleasant. He therefore resigned his tutorship, in Sept. 1726, and accepted of the invitation.
Those, who are conversant with the instruction and government of a College, will readily be aware, that the period, of which we have now been speaking, was a very busy portion of Mr. Edwards's life; and, if they call to mind the circumstances of the institution, and the habits of the students, when he entered on his office, they will not need to be informed, that the discharge of his official duties, must have been accompanied with constant care, and distressing anxiety. It is a rare event in Providence, that so heavy a responsibility is thrown, publicly, on three individuals so young, and so destitute of experience, and of the knowledge of mankind; and the business of instruction and government, must have occupied their whole time, and exhausted their whole strength.
In such a state of things, it was not possible, that he should find the same leisure, for christian conversation, for retirement and spiritual contemplation, as he had found in New-York. There, his business was, chiefly, to enjoy here, it was to act. There, the persons, with whom he came in contact, continually, even as members of Christ's family, were possessed of uncommon excellence here, they were a very perverse part of a very different family. There, his attention was drawn, by the objects around him, to heavenly things: here, it was necessarily confined, almost all the time, to this world. There, when retiring for prayer, and heavenly contemplation, his mind sought communion with God, in all its energy and freshness: here, when it was worn out by toil, and exhausted by perplexities. The change in the current of thought and feeling, must, therefore, have been great; and, (so much is the mind prone to measure its religious state, by the amount of daily enjoyment, and so little, by the readiness to encounter trials, and to perform laborious and self-denying duties,) it is not surprizing, that he should have regarded this change, as evidence of perceptible and lamentable declension in religion. Such, he in fact regarded it; as we shall find, both from his Narrative and Diary; yet, it is by no means certain, that his views of the subject were altogether correct.
The young Christian has usually a season of leisure, given him in the Providence of God, in which to become acquainted with the members of that family, into which he has lately been introduced, and with those objects, with which, as a spiritual being, he is thenceforward to be conversant. His time and his strength are given chiefly to the Scriptures, to prayer, to meditation, and to religious conversation; and he is delightfully conscious, that his communion is with the Father, and the Son Jesus Christ, through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, as well as with "the whole famVOL. L