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DEATH OF PRESIDENT BURR—HIS CHARACTER—MR. EDWARDS CHOSEN HIS SUCCESSOR—LETTERS OF MRS. BURR—TO A GENTLEMAN IN SCOTLAND—TO A GENTLEMAN IN BOSTON—TO HER MOTHER—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. SHIPPEN—LETTERS OF MRS. EDWARDS. AND OF HER DAUGHTER, TO MRS. BURR—DEATH OF MRS. BURR—DEATH OF MRS. EDWARDS.
The Rev. Aaron Burr, president of the college at Princeton, and the son-in-law of Mr. Edwards, died, on the 24th of September, 1757, two days before the public commencement. He was a native of Fairfield, Connecticut, was born in 1716, and was graduated at Yale college in 1735. In 1738, he was ordained, as pastor of the Presbyterian church at Newark. In 1748, he was unanimously elected president of the college, as successor to Mr. Dickinson. Though possessed of a slender and delicate constitution, he joined, to uncommon talents for the despatch of business, a constancy of mind, that commonly secured to him success. The flourishing state of the college, at the time of has death, was chiefly owing to his great and assiduous exertions. Until the autumn of 1755, he discharged the duties, both of president and pastor of the church. 7070 In the autumn of 1756, or early in 1757, the college was removed to Princeton. Mr. Burr was greatly respected, in every station and relation of life. He was a man of acknowledged talents, of sound, practical good sense, of unimpeachable integrity, and of ardent piety. Polished in his manners, he had uncommon powers in conversation, and possessed the happy art of inspiring all around him with cheerfulness As a reasoner, he was clear and solid: and as a preacher, animated, judicious, fervent, and successful. He had warm affections, was greatly endeared to his family and friends, and was open, fair, and honourable in all his intercourse with mankind. During the period of his presidency, he secured the high esteem and confidence of all who were interested in the college.—In the latter part of July, or the beginning of August, being in a low state of health, he made a rapid and exhausting visit to Stockbridge, in a very hot, sultry season. He soon returned to Princeton, and went immediately to Elizabethtown; where, on the 19th of August, he made an attempt, before the legislature, to procure the legal exemption of the students from military duty. On the 21st, at Newark, being much indisposed, he preached an extemporaneous funeral sermon, in consequence of a death in the family of his successor. He then returned to Princeton, and, in a clxxiii few days, went to Philadelphia, on the business of the college. On the way, his disorder took the form of an intermittent fever. On his return, he learned that his friend, Governor Belcher, died at Elizabeth-town, on the 31st of August, and that he had been designated to preach the funeral sermon. His wife, perceiving his increasing illness, besought him to spare himself, and decline the undertaking; but he felt himself bound, if possible, to perform it. Having devoted the afternoon of Sept 2d, to the task of preparing the sermon, in the midst of a high fever, which was succeeded by delirium in the night, he rode the next day to Elizabeth-town, about forty miles, and, on the 4th, in a state of extreme languor and exhaustion, when it was obvious to every one, that he ought to have been confined to a sick bed, he with great difficulty preached the sermon. He returned to Princeton the following day; and his disorder immediately assumed the character of a fixed and violent fever, seated on the nerves. At the approach of death, that gospel, which he had preached to others, gave him unfailing support. He was patient and resigned, and cheered with the liveliest hope at a happy immortality.
The corporation of the college met, two days after his death, and on the same day made choice of Mr. Edwards as his successor.
Some of the circumstances, connected with the sickness and death of her husband, are alluded to in the following letter from Mrs. Burr, to a gentleman in Scotland, written soon after Mr. Burr’s decease.
I flatter myself I shall not be thought intrusive, if I acknowledge, in a few lines, the receipt of your letter, dated in August, to my late dear husband, which reached me after he was beyond the reach of all mortal things The affectionate regard that you express for one, who was dearer to me than my own life, was extremely affecting to me; nor can I forgive myself, if I neglect to acknowledge it, in terms of lively gratitude. You, Sir, had a large share, with me, in that dear good man’s heart, which he often expressed, with the warmest affection. I thought it might not be improper, to lay your letter before the trustees, as they were then convened, and it chiefly concerned the college; and then I sent it to my honoured father, the Rev. Mr. Edwards, who is chosen to succeed my dear husband; which, I hope, will be grateful to the friends of the college, in Scotland. I here enclose you, Sir, the last attempt my dear husband made to serve God in public, and to do good to his fellow-creatures—a Sermon, that he preached at the funeral of our late excellent governor. You will not think it strange, if it has imperfections; when I tell you, that all he wrote on the subject, was done in a part of one afternoon and evening, when he had a violent fever on him, and the whole night after, he was irrational.
Give me leave to beg an interest in your prayers, at the throne of grace, for a poor, disconsolate widow, and two fatherless orphans. Please to present, with great respect, my kindest regard to your lady and daughters.
I am, honoured Sir,
Your most obliged and humble servant,
The two following extracts from letters, written soon after the death of Mr. Burr, will show the strength of her own feelings, as well as her religious sentiments, and the exercises of her heart. The first is from a letter to a near friend of the family, in Boston.
“Your most kind letter of condolence gave me inexpressible delight, and at the same time set open afresh all the avenues of grief, and again probed the deep wound death has given me. My loss—Shall I attempt to say how great my loss is—God only can know—And to him alone would I carry my complaint.—Indeed, Sir, I have lost all that was or could be desirable in a creature.—I have lost all that ever I set my heart on in this world.—I need not enlarge on the innumerable amiable qualities of my late dear husband, to one that was so well acquainted with him, as you were; however pleasing it is to me to dwell on them.—Had not God supported me by these two considerations; first, by showing the right he has to his own creatures, to dispose of them when and in what manner he pleases; and secondly, by enabling me to follow him beyond the grave, into the eternal world, and there to view him in unspeakable glory and happiness, freed from all sin and sorrow; I should, long before this, have been sunk among the dead, and been covered with the clods of the valley.—God has wise ends in all that he doth. This thing did not come upon me by chance; and I rejoice that I am in the hands of such a God.”
The other is from a letter to her mother, dated at Princeton, Oct. 7, 1757. After giving some account of Mr. Burr’s death, and representing the sense she had of the greatness of the loss, which she and her children had sustained; she writes in the following words:
“No doubt, dear Madam, it will be some comfort to you to hear, that God has not utterly forsaken, although he has cast down. I would speak it to the glory of God’s name, that I think he has, in an uncommon degree, discovered himself to be an all-sufficient God, a full fountain of all good. Although all streams were cut off, yet the fountain is left full.—I think I have been enabled to cast my care upon him, and have found great peace and calmness in my mind, such as this world cannot give nor take.—I have had uncommon freedom and nearness to the throne of grace. God has seemed sensibly near in such a supporting and comfortable manner, that I think I have never experienced the like. God has helped me to review my past and present mercies, with some heart-affecting degree of thankfulness.
I think God has given me such a sense of the vanity of the world, and uncertainty of all sublunary enjoyments, as I never had before. The world vanishes out at my sight! Heavenly and eternal things appear much more real and important than ever before. I feel myself to be under much greater obligations to be the Lord’s, than before this sore affliction.—The way of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ, has appeared more clear and excellent; and I have been constrained to venture my all upon him; and have found great peace of soul in what I hope have been the actings of faith. Some parts of the Psalms have been very comforting and refreshing to my soul.—I hope God has helped me to eye his hand, in this awful dispensation; and to see the infinite right he has to his own, and to dispose of them as he pleases.
Thus, dear Madam, I have given you some broken hints of the exercises and supports of my mind, since the clxxiv death of him, whose memory and example will ever be precious to me as my own life. O, dear Madam! I doubt not but I have your and my honoured father’s prayers daily for me; but give me leave to entreat you both, to request earnestly of the Lord, that I may never despise his chastenings, nor faint under this his severe stroke; of which I am sensible there is great danger, if God should only deny me the supports that he has hitherto graciously granted.
O, I am afraid I shall conduct myself so, as to bring dishonour on my God, and the religion which I profess! No, rather let me die this moment, than be left to bring dishonour on God’s holy name.—I am overcome—I must conclude, with once more begging, that, as my dear parents remember themselves, they would not forget their greatly afflicted daughter, (now a lonely widow,) nor her fatherless children.—My duty to my ever dear and honoured parents, and love to my brothers and sisters.
From, dear madam,
Your dutiful and affectionate daughter,
“The news of his appointment to the presidency,” says Dr. Hopkins, “was quite unexpected, and not a little surprising, to Mr. Edwards. He looked on himself in many respects, so unqualified for that business, that he wondered that gentlemen of so good judgment, and so well acquainted with him, as he knew some of the trustees were, should think of him for that place. He had many objections in his own mind, against undertaking the business, both from his unfitness and his particular circumstances; yet could not certainly determine that it was not his duty to accept it. The following extract of a letter which he wrote to the trustees, will give the reader a view of his sentiments and exercises on this occasion, as well as of the great designs he was deeply engaged in and zealously prosecuting”
Stockbridge, Oct 19, 1757.
rev. and hon. gentlemen,
I was not a little surprised on receiving the unexpected notice of your having made choice of me to succeed the late President Burr, as the Head of Nassau Hall.—I am much in doubt, whether I am called to undertake the business which you have done me the unmerited honour to choose me for.—If some regard may be had to my outward comfort, I might mention the many inconveniences and great detriment, which may be sustained by my removing with my numerous family, so far from all the estate I have in the world, (without any prospect of disposing of it, under present circumstances, but with great loss,) now when we have scarcely got over the trouble and damage sustained by our removal from Northampton, and have but just begun to have our affairs in a comfortable situation, for a subsistence in this place; and the expense I must immediately be at to put myself into circumstances tolerably comporting with the needful support of the honours of the office I am invited to; which will not well consist with my ability.
But this is not my main objection. The chief difficulties in my mind, in the way of accepting this important and arduous office, are these two: First, my own defects unfitting me for such an undertaking, many of which are generally known; beside others of which my own heart is conscious.—I have a constitution, in many respects, peculiarly unhappy, attended with flaccid solids, vapid, sizy, and scarce fluids, and a low tide of spirits; often occasioning a kind of childish weakness and contemptibleness of speech, presence, and demeanour, with a disagreeable dulness and stiffness, much unfitting me for conversation, but more especially for the government of a college.—This makes me shrink at the thoughts of taking upon me, in the decline of life, such a new and great business, attended with such a multiplicity of cares, and requiring such a degree of activity, alertness, and spirit of government; especially as succeeding one so remarkably well qualified in these respects, giving occasion to every one to remark the wide difference. I am also deficient in some parts of learning, particularly in algebra, and the higher parts of mathematics, and the Greek classics; my Greek leaning having been chiefly in the New Testament.—The other thing is this; that my engaging in this business will not well consist with those views, and that course of employ in my study, which have long engaged and swallowed up my mind, and been the chief entertainment and delight of my life.
And here, honoured Sirs, (imboldened by the testimony I have now received of your unmerited esteem, to rely on your candour,) I will with freedom open myself to you.
My method of study, I from my first beginning the work of the ministry, has been very much by writing; applying myself, in this way, to improve every important hint; pursuing the clue to my utmost, when any thing in reading, meditation, or conversation, has been suggested to my mind, that seemed to promise light in any weighty point; thus penning what appeared to me my best thoughts, on innumerable subjects, for my own benefit.—The longer I prosecuted my studies in this method, the more habitual it became, and the more pleasant and profitable I found it.—The farther I travelled in this way, the more and wider the field opened, which has occasioned my laying out many things in my mind, to do this in manner, if God should spare my life, which my heart hath been much upon; particularly many things against most of the prevailing errors of the present day, which I cannot with any patience see maintained, (to the utter subverting of the gospel of Christ,) with so high a hand, and so long continued a triumph, with so little control, when it appears so evident to me, that there is truly no foundation for any of this glorying and insult. I have already published something on one of the main points in dispute between the Arminians and Calvinists; and have it in view, God willing, (as I have already signified to the public,) in like manner to consider all the other controverted points, and have done much towards a preparation for it.—But beside these, I have had on my mind and heart (which I long ago began, not with any view to publication) a great work, which I call a History of the Work of Redemption, a body of divinity in an entire new method, being thrown into the form of a history; considering the affair of Christian theology, as the whole of it, in each part, stands in reference to the great work of redemption by Jesus Christ; which I suppose to be, of all others, the grand design of God, and the summum and ultimum of all the divine operations and decrees; particularly considering all parts of the grand scheme, in their historical order.—The order of their existence, or their being brought forth to view, in the course of divine dispensations, or the wonderful series of successive acts and events; beginning from eternity, and descending from thence to the great work and successive clxxv dispensations of the infinitely wise God, in time; considering the chief events coming to pass in the church of God, and revolutions in the world of mankind, affecting the state of the church and the affair of redemption, which we have an account of in history or prophecy; till, at last, we come to the general resurrection, last judgment, and consummation of all things; when it shall be said, It as done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.—Concluding my work, with the consideration of that perfect state of things, which shall be finally settled, to last for eternity.—This history will be carried on with regard to all three worlds, heaven, earth, and hell; considering the connected, successive events and alterations in each, so far as the Scriptures give any light; introducing all parts of divinity in that order which is most scriptural and most natural; a method which appears to me the most beautiful and entertaining, wherein every divine doctrine will appear to the greatest advantage, in the brightest light, in the most striking manner, showing the admirable contexture and harmony of the whole.
I have also, for my own profit and entertainment, done much towards another great work, which I call the Harmony of the Old and New Testament, in three parts. The first, considering the prophecies of the Messiah, his redemption and kingdom; the evidences of their references to the Messiah, &c. comparing them all one with another, demonstrating their agreement, true scope, and sense; also considering all the various particulars wherein those prophecies have their exact fulfilment; showing the universal, precise, and admirable correspondence between predictions and events. The second part, considering the types of the Old Testament, showing the evidence of their being intended as representations of the great things or the gospel of Christ; and the agreement of the type with the antitype. The third and great part, considering the harmony of the Old and New Testament, as to doctrine and precept. In the course of this work, I find there will be occasion for an explanation of a very great part of the Holy Scriptures; which may, in such a view, be explained in a method, which to me seems the most entertaining and profitable, best tending to lead the mind to a view of the true spirit, design, life, and soul of the Scriptures, as well as their proper use and improvement.—I have also many other things in hand, in some of which I have made great progress, which I will not trouble you with an account of. Some of these things, if Divine Providence favour, I should be willing to attempt a publication of. So far as I myself am able to judge of what talents I have, for benefiting my fellow-creatures by word, I think I can write better than I can speak.
My heart is so much in these studies, that I cannot find it in my heart to be willing to put myself into an incapacity to pursue them any more in the future part of my life, to such a degree as I must, if I undertake to go through the same coarse of employ, in the office of president, that Mr. Burr did, instructing in all the languages, and taking the whole care of the instruction of one of the classes, in all parts of learning, besides his other labours. If I should see light to determine me to accept the place offered me, I should be willing to take upon me the work of a president, so far as it consists in the general inspection of the whole society; and to be subservient to the school, as to their order and methods or study and instruction, assisting, myself, in the immediate instruction in the arts and sciences, (as discretion should direct, and occasion serve, and the state of things require,) especially of the senior class; and added to all, should be willing to do the whole work of a professor of divinity, in public and private lectures, proposing questions to be answered, and some to be discussed in writing and free conversation, in meetings of graduates, and others, appointed in proper seasons, for these ends. It would be now out of my way, to spend time in a constant teaching of the languages; unless it be the Hebrew tongue; which I should be willing to improve myself in, by instructing others.
On the whole, I am much at a loss, with respect to the way of duty, in this important affair: I am in doubt, whether, if I should engage in it, I should not do what both you and I would be sorry for afterwards. Nevertheless, I think the greatness of the affair, and the regard due to so worthy and venerable a body, as that of the trustees of Nassau Hall, requires my taking the matter into serious consideration, And unless you should appear to be discouraged, by the things which I have now represented, as to any further expectation from me, I shall proceed to ask advice, of such as I esteem most wise, friendly, and faithful; if, after the mind of the commissioners in Boston is known, it appears that they consent to leave me at liberty, with respect to the business they have employed me in here.”
Soon after the death of President Burr, Mr. Edwards addressed a letter to his greatly afflicted daughter, fraught with all the affectionate instruction and consolation which such a father could impart. 7171 Unfortunately this letter is lost. To this she returned the following answer:
“To the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, Stockbridge
Princeton, Nov 2, 1757.
To my ever honoured father.
Your most affectionate, comforting letter, by my brother Parsons, was exceeding refreshing to me; although I was somewhat damped by hearing, that I should not see you until spring. 7272 When Mr. Edwards wrote the letter to which she refers, he did not think of going to Princeton till spring: but afterward he determined otherwise. But it is my comfort in this disappointment, as well us under all my affliction, that God knows what is best for me, and for his own glory. Perhaps I counted too much on the company, and conversation, of such a near and dear affectionate father and guide. I cannot doubt but all is for the best; and I am satisfied that God should order the affair of your removal, as shall be for his glory, whatever becomes of me.
Since I wrote my mother a letter, God has carried me through new trials, and given me new supports. My little son has been sick with a slow fever, ever since my brother left us, and has been brought to the brink of the grave; but, I hope in mercy, God is bringing him back again. I was enabled after a severe struggle with nature, to resign the child with the greatest freedom. God showed me that the children were not my own, but his, and that he had a right to recall what he had lent, whenever he thought fit; and that I had no reason to complain, or say that God was hard with me. This silenced me. But O how good is God. He not only kept me from complaining, but comforted me, by enabling me to offer up my child by clxxvi faith, if ever I acted faith. I saw the fulness there was in Christ for little infants, and his willingness to accept of such as were offered to him. ‘Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not,’ were comforting words. God also showed me, in such a lively manner, the fulness there was in himself of all spiritual blessings, that I said, ‘Although all streams were cut off, yet so long as my God lives, I have enough.’ He enabled me to say, ‘Although thou slay me, yet will I trust in thee.’ In this time of trial, I was led to enter into a renewed and explicit covenant with God, in a more solemn manner than ever before; and with the greatest freedom and delight, after much self-examination and prayer, I did give myself and my children to God, with my whole heart. Never, until then, had I an adequate sense of the privilege we are allowed in covenanting with God. This act of soul left my mind in a great calm, and steady trust in God. A few days after this, one evening, in talking of the glorious state my dear departed husband must be in, my soul was carried out in such large desires after that glorious state, that I was forced to retire from the family to conceal my joy. When alone I was so transported, and my soul carried out in such eager desires after perfection and the full enjoyment of God, and to serve him uninterruptedly, that I think my nature would not have borne much more. I think, dear Sir, I had that night a foretaste of heaven. This frame continued, in some good degree, the whole night. I slept but little, and when I did, my dreams were all of heavenly and divine things. Frequently since, I have felt the same in kind, though not in degree. This was about the time that God called me to give up my child. Thus a kind and gracious God has been with me, in six troubles and in seven.
But O, Sir, what cause of deep humiliation and abasement of soul have I, on account of remaining corruption, which I see working continually in me, especially pride. O, how many shapes does pride cloak itself in. Satan is also busy, shooting his darts. But blessed be God, those temptations of his, that used to overthrow me, as yet have not touched me. I will just hint at one or two, if I am not tedious as to length.—When I was about to renew my covenant with God, the suggestion seemed to arise in my mind, ‘It is better you should not renew it, than break it when you have: what a dreadful thing it will be, if you do not keep it!’ My reply was, ‘I did not do it in my own strength.’ Then the suggestion would return, ‘How do you know that God will help you to keep it.’ But it did not shake me in the least.—Oh, to be delivered from the power of Satan, as well as sin! I cannot help hoping the time is near. God is certainly fitting me for himself; and when I think that it will be soon that I shall be called hence, the thought is transporting.
I am afraid I have tired out your patience, and will beg leave only to add my need of the earnest prayers of my dear and honoured parents, and all good people, that I may not at last be a castaway; but that God would constantly grant me new supplies of divine grace. I am tenderly concerned for my dear brother Timothy, but I hope his sickness will not be unto death, but for the glory of God.—Please to give my duty to my honoured mother, and my love to all my brothers and sisters
I am, honoured and dear Sir,
With the greatest respect,
With the greatest respect,
Your affectionate and dutiful daughter,
While Mr. Edwards was in a state of suspense alluded to in his letter to the trustees of the college, he determined to ask the advice of a number of gentlemen in the ministry, on whose judgment and friendship he could rely, and to act accordingly. One of those invited, on this occasion, was his old and faithful friend, and former pupil, Mr. Bellamy, of Bethlem: to whom, having received from him, on the last day of November, two letters, dated on the 12th and 17th of that month, he returned, on the next day, the following answer; which, while it refers to the subject of the council, shows also, in a very striking manner, with what ease and readiness he could throw a clear and certain light on any dark and difficult passage of the word of God.
“Stockbridge, Dec. 1, 1757.
rev. and dear sir,
Yesterday I received your two letters, of the 12th and 17th of Nov.; but I saw and heard nothing of Mr. Hill. I thank you for your concern, that I may be useful in the world.—I lately wrote you a letter, informing you of our choice of a council, to sit here on the 21st of this month; and enclosed in it a letter missive to Mr. Brinsmade, who as one of the council. I hope, before this time, you have received it. Don’t fail of letting me see you here; for I never wanted to see you more.
As to the question you ask, about Christ’s argument, in John x. 34-36.. I observe,
First, That it is not all princes of the earth, who are called gods, in the Old Testament; but only the princes of Israel, who ruled over God’s people. The princes, who are called gods, in Psalm lxxxii. here referred to, are, in the same sentence, distinguished from the princes of the nations of the world. ‘I have said, Ye are gods; but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.’
Secondly, That the reason why these princes of Israel were called gods, was, that they, as the rulers and judges of God’s Israel, were types and figures of Him, who is the true King of the Jews, and the Prince of God’s people, who is to rule over the house of Jacob for ever, the Prince and Saviour of God’s church, or spiritual Israel, gathered from all nations of the earth; who is God indeed. The throne of Israel, or of God’s people, properly belonged to Christ. He only was the proper Heir to that throne; and therefore, the princes of Israel are said to sit upon the throne of the Lord, I Chron. xxix. 23.; and the kingdom of Israel, under the kings of the house of David, is called the kingdom of the Lord, 2 Chron. xiii. 8. And because Christ took the throne, as the Antitype of those kings, therefore he is said, Luke i. 32. to sit upon their throne.—Thus, the princes of Israel, in the Psal. 82 ., are called gods, and sons of God, or ‘all of them children of the Most High;’ being appointed types and remarkable representations of the true Son of God, and in him of the true God. They were called gods, and sons of God, in the same manner as the Levitical sacrifices were called an atonement for sin, and in the same manner as the manna was called the bread of heaven, and angels’ food. These things represented, and, by special divine designation, were figures of, the true Atonement, and of Him who was the true Bread of heaven, and the true angels food; in the same sense as Saul, the person especially pointed out in the Psal. 82., is called ‘the Lord’s anointed,’ or (as in the original) Messiah, or Christ, which are the same. And it is to be clxxvii observed, that these typical gods, and judges of Israel, are particularly distinguished from the true God, and true Judge, in the next sentence. Psal. lxxxii. 8 ‘Arise, o god, thou judge of the earth; for thou shalt inherit all nations.’ —This is a wish for the coming of that King, that should reign in righteousness, and judge righteously; who was to inherit the Gentiles, as well as the Jews; and the words, as they stand in connexion with the two preceding verses, import thus much—‘As to you, the temporal princes and judges of Israel, you are called gods, and sons of God, being exalted to the place of kings, judges, and saviours of God’s people, the kingdom and heritage of Christ; but you shall die like men, and fall like other princes; whereby it appears that you are truly no gods, nor any one of you the true Son of God, which your injustice and oppression also shows. But oh, that He who is truly God, the Judge of the earth, the true and just Judge and Saviour, who is to be King over Gentiles as well as Jews, would come and reign! ’—It is to be observed, that when it is said in this verse—‘Arise, O God’—the word rendered God, is Elohim—the same used in . ‘I have said, Ye are gods,’—I have said, Ye are elohim.
Thirdly, As to the words of Christ, in ‘If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came,’ I suppose that, by the word of God coming to these princes of Israel, is meant, their being set forth by special and express divine designation, to be types or figurative significations of God’s mind. Those things which God had appointed to be types, to signify the mind of God, were a visible word. Types are called the word of the Lord—as in Zech. xi. 10, 11.. and in Zech. iv. 4-6.—The word of God came to the princes of Israel, both as they, by God’s ordering, became subjects of a typical representation of a divine thing, which was a visible word of God; and also, as this was done by express divine designation, as they were marked out to this end, by an express, audible, and legible word, as in Exod. xxii. 28. and Psal. lxxxii 1.; and besides, the thing, of which they were appointed types, was Christ, who is called ‘the word of God’—Thus, the word of God came to Jacob, as a type of Christ, 1 Kings xviii.31.‘And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of Jacob, unto whom the word of the lord came, saying, Israel shall be thy name‘—The word Israel is prince of god:—Jacob being, by that express divine designation, appointed as a type of Christ, the true Prince of God, (who is called, in Isa. xlix 3. by the name of Israel,) in his prevailing in his wrestling with God, to save himself and his family from destruction by Esau, who was then coming against him, and obtaining the blessing for himself and his seed.—Now,
Fourthly, Christ’s argument lies in these words, The Scripture cannot be broken That word of God, by which they are called gods, as types of Him who is truly God, must be verified, which they cannot be, unless the Antitype be truly God.—They are so called, as types of the Messiah, or of the Anointed One, (which is the same,) or the Sanctified or Holy One, or Him that was to be sent; which were all known names among the Jews for the Messiah. (See Dan. Ix. 24, 5. Psal. lxxxix. 19, 20,. Psal. xvi. 10. John ix. 7.) But it was on this account, that those types or images of the Messiah were called gods, because He, whom they represented, was God indeed. If he were not God, the word by which they were called gods could not be verified, and must be broken. As the word, by which the legal sacrifices were called an atonement, and are said to atone for sin, was true in no other sense, than as they had relation to the sacrifice of Christ the true atonement. If Christ’s sacrifice had not truly atoned for sin; the word, which called the types or representations of it an atonement, could not be verified. So, if Jesus Christ had not been the true Bread from heaven, and angels’ food indeed; the scripture which called the type of him, the bread from heaven, and angels’ food, would not have been verified, but would have been broken.
These, Sir, are my thoughts on John x. 34., &c.
I am yours, most affectionately,
“P. S. Dec. 5.—The opportunity for the conveyance of my letters to the ministers chosen to be of the council, your way, not being very good, I here send other letters, desiring you to take the charge of conveying them with all possible care and speed.”
The gentlemen invited to the council, at his desire, and that of his people, met at Stockbridge, January 4, 1758; 7373 I have ascertained the names of only three of the members of the council—-Mr. Bellamy, Mr. Brinsmade, and Mr. Hopkins. This date is right, though it differs from that mentioned in the letter to Mr. Bellamy. and, having heard the application of the agents of the college, and their reasons in support of it; 7474 The agents of the college were Rev. Messrs. Caleb Smith and John Brainerd. Mr. Edwards’s 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. 7575 The council, at the request both the English and Indian congregation at Stockbridge, addressed a letter to the commissioners in Boston, requesting that Mr. John Brainerd might be appointed Mr. Edward’s successor;—-the Housatonnucks offering land for a settlement to the Indian congregation at Cranberry, New Jersey, if they would remove to Stockbridge.—-and another letter to the trustees of the college, requesting that they would use their collective and individual influence, to procure the appointment of Mr. Brainerd, and his removal to Stockbridge. 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 of 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 clxxviii 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; 7676 The first sermon, which he preached at Princeton, was on the Unchangeableness of Christ, in Vol. II. p. 9-19. It was upwards of two hours in the delivery; but is said to have been listened to with such profound attention, and deep interest, by the audience, that they were unconscious of the lapse of time, and surprised that it closed so soon. 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 for ever: 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 never fail you. 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.’ 7777 President Burr ordered, on his death-bed, should not be attended with pomp and cost; that nothing should be expended but what was agreeable to the dictates of christian decency; and that the sum which must be expended at a fashionable funeral, above the necessary cost of a decent one, should be given to the poor, out of his estate.
“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 his life, as some persons, who stood by, expecting he would breathe his 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 if he had written a volume. This was the only consolation to his bereaved friends, deeply sensible as they were of the loss which 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 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 23rd 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 word; he fell asleep. Death had certainly lost its sting, as to him.
Your daughter, Mrs. Burr, and her children, through clxxix 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-pox 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’s 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 of 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 with 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 covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives: and he 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 one of her daughters.
“my dear sister, william shippen.”
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 for ever.
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 affectionate sister,
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. clxxx 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 1738, in the 49th year of her age. She said not much in her sickness; being exercised, most 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 in 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. 7878 See Appendix, No. 5.
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. NATUSAPUD WINDSOR CONNECTICUTENSIUM V. OCTOBRIS. A. D. MDCCIII, S. V. PATRE REVERENDO TIMOTHEO EDWARDS ORIUNDUS, COLLEGIO YALENSI EDUCATUS;
APUD NORTHAMPTON SACRIS INITIATUS, XV FEBRUARII, MDCCXXVI-VII. ILLINC DIMISSUS XXII JUNII, MDCCL ET MUNUS BARBAROS INSTITUENDI ACCEPIT. PRÆSES AULÆ NASSOVICÆ CREATUS XVI FEBRUARII. MDCCLVIII. DEFUNCTUS IN HOC VICO XXII MARTII SEQUENTIS, S.N. AETATIS LV, HEU NIMIS BREVIS! HIC JACET MORTALIS PARS. QUALIS PERSONA QUÆRIS, VIATOR? VIR CORPORE PROCERO, SED GRACILI, STUDIIS INTENSISSIMUS, ABSTINENTIA, ET SEDULITATE, ATTENTIATO. INGENII ACUMINE, JUDICIO ACRI, ET PRUDENTIÁ, SECUNDUS NEMINI MORTALIUM. ARTIUM LIBERALIUM ET SCIENTIARUM PERITIA INSIGNIS, CRITACORUM 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. PIETATE PRÆCLARUS, MORIBUS SUIS SEVERUS, AST ALIIS ÆQUUS ET BENIGNUS. VIXIT DILECTUS, VENERATUS— SED, AH! LUGENDUS MORIEBATUR. QUANTOS GEMITUS DISCEDENS CIEBAT! HEU SAPIENTIA TANTA! HEU DOCTRINA ET RELIGIO! AMISSUM PLORAT COLLEGIUM, PLORAT ET ECCLESIA: AT, EO RECEPTO, GAUDET
CŒLUM. ABI, VIATOR, ET PIA SEQUERE VESTIGIA.
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