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JONATHAN EDWARDS, D.D.
Dr. Jonathan Edwards, President of Union College, \n Schenectady, was the second son of President Edwards, of iNew Jersey, arid was born at Northampton, May 2(J, 174;?. Jn his childhood he was aboy of great promise; but his earlv life was attended With very discouraging circumstances. He was afflicted with an inflarhmatory weakness iri his eyeS, which prevented his learning to read until a later period than is common. This complaint resisted many and longcontinued medical applications. At length, by the repeated shaving of his head for long continuance, the inflammation in some degree abated, so that he was able to apply; in a jnoderate degree, to the rudiments of learning, and to revive in his anxious parents a hope that he would not be entirely lost, even io the literary world." It was during his childhood also, that the unhappy contest at Northampton WaS at its height, between his father and the church there, which terminated in a final separation; whereby the assiduous attention of his affectionate parents was necessarily much diverted from hiirii .
When Mr. Edwards and his family remdved from Northampton to Stockbridge, his Son Jonathan was but six years bid. There was no school in the settlement but one, which was common to the Indians and the white children; and there were so few of the latter, either in the school or the town, that he was iri danger of forgetting entirely the English tongue. However, whilst here, he learned the language of the Mohekaneew; or Stockbridge Indians, so perfectly, that the natives frequently observed he spoke exactly like an. Indian. This language he retained in a good degree througit life; and some inten^tin^ remarks un'ou it were coitunu;:;
win. <- 7,
338 MEMOIR OF J. EDWARDS, D. D.
cated by him to the Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences' and published at their request.
His father had a strong desire, in subserviency to the openings of Providence, and growing evidences of grace in this beloved.child, that he might become a missionary among the Aborigines:—a noble wish, worthy of so great a mind, and so beTievolenta heart! Accordingly, in October, 1755, when he was about ten years of age, he was sent, with the Rev. Gideon Hawley (sifice of' Mashpee, on Cape Cod) to Oughquauga, on the Susquehannah River, in order to learn the language of the Oneida Indians. Oughquauga was in a wildernerness, at the distance of about one hundred miles from any English settlement. At this place he continued but about four months, by reason of the war which broke out between England and France, and extended itself into their colonies. Whilst he was with these Indians he made rapid progress in acquiring their language, and in engaging their affections. They were so much pleased with his attainments and his amiable disposition, that, when they thought their settlement exposed to inroads from the French, *they took him upon their shoulders, and carried him many miles through the wilderness, to a place which they deemed secure.
His father died in 1758; but it was not till he had almost completed hi* fifteenth year that he seriously commenced the study of the Latin language, at a grammar-school in .Prince-town, New Jersey; but he made such progress, that, iu September, 1761, he was admitted a member of the college over which his father had presided for a short time before his death; and, in Sept. 1765, he received' the degree of Bachelor of Arts.
While he was at college, and during the time of a general awakening in Princetown, he obtained a hope of his reconciliation to God, through Jesus Christ, under the impressive preaching ei' the late Dr. Finley, then President of the College.
The following Dedication of himself to the service of God, which was made by him at that time, was found among his papers after his decease: —
.Yassau Hall, Sept. 17, 1763.
•I, Jonathan Ed-ward*, Student of the College in New Jersey, on this seventeenth day of September, 1763, being the day before the first time 1 proposed to draw near the Lord's table, after juuch thought and consideration, as well-as prajer to Alraighl) God for hi* assistance, resolved, by I he grace of God* to- e»l«r*irit6 an express act of self-dedication to the ssrvice of God, as being a thing highly reasonable in its own nature', and that Blight he of eminent service to keep me steady in my Christian course, to louse me out of sloth and indolence, and uphold me in the day of temptation. ,
'Eternal and ever-blessed God! 1 desire, with the deepest humiliation and rbussment of soul, to come iu the name and for the sake of Jesua Christ, and present myself before thee, sensible of my infinite unworthiness to appear before thee, especially on such an occasion as this, to enter into a covenant wilb thee. But, notwithstanding-my Sjds have made such a separation between tiiee and my soul, I brteech thee, through Christ thy Sun, to vouchsafe thy presence with me, and acceptance of the best sacrifice which I can make. 1 do, O Lord!' in hopes of thy assisting grace, solemnly make an entire and perpetual surrender of all that 1 am ami have unto thee, being determined, in thy strength, to renounce all former lords who have had dominion over me, every lust ef the eye, of the fl. sh, and of the mind, and to live entirely devoted to thee and thy service. Townee do \ consecrate the powers of my mind, with whatever improvements thou hast already, or shaft be pleased hereafter to grant me in the literary way j purposing, if it be thy good pleasure, to pursue my studies assiduously, that I may be better prepared to act in any sphere of life in which thou shalt place me. I do solemnly dedicate all my possessions, my time, my influence over otbers, to be all used for thy glory.
• To thy direction I resign myself and all that I have, trusting all future contingencies in thy hands, and may thy will in all things, and not mine, he done! Use me, O Lord, as an instrument of thy service! I beseech thee number me among thy people! May I he clothed with the righteousness of thy Son! Ever impart to me, through him, all needful supplies of thy purifying and cheering Spirit! I beseech thee, 0 Lord I that thou wouldst enable me to live according to this my vow, constantly avoiding all sin; and, when I shall come to die, in that solemn and awful hour may I remember this my covenant; and do thou, O Lord! remember it too, and give my departing spirit ah abundant admit.an. e into the realms of bliss!— and if, when 1 am laid in the dust, any surviving friend should meet with this memorial, may it he a means of good to him; and do ihou Bdmil him to partake of the blessings of thy covenant of grace, through Jesus the geat Mediator; to whom with thee. O Father, Mid ihy Holy Spirit, be everlasting praises ascribed by saints and angels I Amen.*
When he had finished the usual course of studies at college, he entered more particularly upon the study or" divinity, the favourite study of iris life, under the instruction of the iate Kev. Dr. Joseph Bellamy, at Bethlehem, in Connecticut;
In October, 1766, he was licenced to preach the gospel by the Association of the County-of Litchfield; and, in 1707, was appointed a Tutor in the College at Prince town, where he pontinued two years.
During his residence here, he was invited to preach to the Society of Whitehaven, in the town of Newhaven, in Connecticut, and ordained to the pastoral charge Jan. 5, 1769; and continued there until May, 17Q5, when he was dimisscd by an Ecc.esiastical Council, at the mutual request-of the pastor and the society, after a residence among them of about six-and-twnty years. For several years previous to his dismission, some uneasiness had subsisted among them, arising from a difference of religious opinions. The peculiar sentiments whence the uneasiness originated, and which were adopted by some of the leading men among his parishioners, were of a nature quite opposite to his own sentiments, and indeed to those of the same society at the time he was ordained among them. This may be justly considered as the principal eause ©f the separation between Dr. Edwards and his