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up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool; but my righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” The eight first were delivered during that month, the eight next in the two following months, and the whole series, thirty in all, was completed before the close of August. After explaining the text, he derives from it the following doctrine. “ The Work of Redemption is a work, which God carries on from the fall of man to the end of the world.” The subject was one in which Mr. Edwards felt the deepest interest; but he appears never to have repeated the Series of Discourses to his people. What his ultimate intentions were, we may learn, however, from the following extract of a letter, written by him many years afterwards : “I have had on my mind and heart, (which I long ago began, not
I 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 is to be the grand design of all God's designs, and the summum and ultimum of all God's 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 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 is 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; which is a method which appears to me the most beautiful and entertaining, wherein every 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.”
From this it is obvious, that he long cherished the intention of Pe-writing and enlarging the work, and of turning it into a regular
Treatise; but this design he never accomplished. We shall have occasion to allude to this work hereafter.
The sixth daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, was born June 24, 1740, and named SUSANNAH.
The circumstances, which caused the remarkable attention to religion, which began in 1734, to decline, were chiefly local in their nature, and limited in their influence, either to Northampton, or to the County of Hampshire. The consequence was, that it continued to exist, in various sections of the country to the East, the South and the West, during the five following years. By the astonishing work of grace at Northampton, an impulse had been given to the churches of this whole western world, which could not soon be lost. The history of that event, having been extensively circulated, had produced a general conviction in the minds of christians, that the preaching of the gospel might be attended by effects, not less surprising, than those which followed it in Apostolic times. This conviction produced an important change in the views, and conduct, both of ministers and churches. The style of preaching was altered : it became, extensively, more direct and pungent, and more adapted to awaken the feelings and convince the conscience. The prayers of good men, both in public and private, indicated more intense desires for the prevalence of religion, and a stronger expectation that the word of God would be attended with an immediate blessing. As the natural result of such a change, revivals of religion were witnessed in numerous villages in New-Jersey, Connecticut and the eastern parts of NewEngland ; and, even where this was not the case, Religion was so extensively and unusually the object of attention, during the period specified, that the church at large seemed preparing for events of a more interesting nature, than any that had yet been witnessed. .
In consequence of the high reputation, which Mr. Edwards had acquired as a powerful and successful preacher, and as a safe and wise counsellor to the anxious and enquiring, he received frequent invitations from churches, near and more remote, to come and labour among them for a little period; and with the consent of his people, (his own pulpit always being supplied,) he often went forth on tfiese missionary tours, and found an ample reward in the abundant success which crowned his labours. . In this, his example was soon followed by several distinguished clergymen in Connecticut and New-Jersey. In one of these excursions, he spent some little time at Enfield in Connecticut, where he preached, on the 8th of July, 1741, the well known sermon, entitled, SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD, from Deut. xxxi. 35; which was
the cause of an immediate and general Revival of religion throughout the place. It was soon afterwards published.
On the 2d of September following, he preached the Sermon, entitled, “ The Sorrows of the bereaved spread before Jesus," at the funeral of his uncle, the Rev. William Williams of Hatfield, a gentleman highly respected for his sound understanding, piety, and faithfulness as a minister. This sermon was immediately afterwards published.
Commencement of a second Great Revival of Religion, in the
Spring and Summer of 1740.-Visit of Mr. Whitefield at
WHILE Mr. Edwards was thus occasionally serving his Divine Master abroad, he found, also, that his labours at home began to be attended with similar success. A great reformation in morals, as well as religion, had been the consequence of the preceding Revival of religion. Associations for prayer and social religion, had been regularly kept up, and a few instances of awakening and conversion had all along been known, even at the season of the greatest stupidity. In the Spring of 1740, there was a perceptible alteration for the better; and the influence of the Spirit of God was most obvious on the minds of the people, particularly on those of the young, in causing greater seriousness and solemnity, and in prompting them to make religion far more generally the subject of conversation. Improprieties of conduct, too often allowed, were more generally avoided; greater numbers resorted to Mr. Edwards to converse with him respecting their salvation; and, in particular individuals, there appeared satisfactory evidence of an entire change of character. This state of things continued through the summer and autumn.
On the evening of Thursday, the 16th of October, 1740, Mr. Whitefield came to Northampton to see Mr. Edwards, and to converse with him respecting the work of God in 1735, and remained there until the morning of the 20th. In this interval, he preached five sermons, adapted to the circumstances of the town, reproving the backslidings of some, the obstinate impenitence of others, and summoning all, by the mercies with which the town had been distinguished, to return to God. His visit was followed by an awakening among professors of religion, and soon afterwards by a deep concern among
the young, and there were some instances of hopeful conversion. This increased during the winter; and in the spring of 1741 Religion became the object of general attention,
On Monday, Mr. Edwards, with the Rev. Mr. Hopkins of West Springfield, his brother-in-law, and several other gentlemen, accompanied Mr. Whitefield on the east side of the river as far as East Windsor, to the house of his father, the Rev. Timothy Edwards. While they were thus together, he took an opportunity to converse with Mr. Whitefield alone, at some length, on the subject of Impulses, and assigned the reasons which he had to think, that he gave too much heed to such things. Mr. Whitefield received it kindly, but did not seem inclined to have much conversation on the subject, and in the time of it, did not appear convinced by any thing which he heard. He also took occasion, in the presence of others, to converse with Mr. Whitefield at some length, about his too customary practice of judging other persons to be unconverted; examined the scriptural warrant for such judgments, and expressed his own decided disapprobation of the practice. Mr. Whitefield, at the same time, mentioned to Mr. Edwards his design of bringing over a number of young men from England, into NewJersey and Pennsylvania, to be ordained by the two Mr. Tennents. Their whole interview was an exceedingly kind and affectionate one; yet Mr. Edwards supposed, that Mr. Whitefield regarded him somewhat less, as an intimate and confidential friend, than he would have done, had he not opposed him in two favourite points of his own practice, for which no one can be at a loss to perceive, that he could find no scriptural justification. Each however regarded the other, with great affection and esteem, as a highly favoured servant of God; and Mr. Edwards, as we shall soon see, speaks of Mr. Whitefield's visit to Northampton, in terms of the warmest approbation.
In the month of May, a private Lecture of Mr. Edwards's was attended with very powerful effects on the audience, and ultimately upon the young of both sexes, and on children, throughout the town; and during the summer, and the early part of the autumn, there was a glorious progress in the work of God on the hearts of sinners, in conviction and conversion, and great numbers appeared 10 become the real disciples of Christ.
Among the clergy, who at this period occasionally left their own congregations, and went forth as labourers into the common field to gather in the harvest, one of those, who were most distinguished for their activity and success, was the Rev. Mr. Wheelock, of Lebanon, afterwards the President of Dartmouth College. In the following letter from Mr. Edwards to this gentleman, he urges him to visit Scantic, a feeble settlement in the northern part of his father's parish : the inhabitants of which were too remote to attend public worship regularly at East-Windsor, and yet too few and feeble to maintain it themselves.