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Licensure.-Residence in New-York.-Personal Narrative continued.-His Seventy Resolutions.
He resided at College nearly two years, after he took his first degree, preparing himself for the work of the ministry; after which, having passed the customary trials, he received a license to preach. In consequence of an application from a number of ministers in New England, who were entrusted to act in behalf of the Presbyterians in New-York, he went to that city in the beginning of August, 1722, and preached there with great acceptance, about eight months. While there he found a most happy residence in the house of a Mrs Smith; whom, as well as her son Mr. John Smith, he regarded as persons of uncommon piety and purity of life, and with whom, he formed a very near and intimate christian friendship. There also, he found a considerable number of persons, among the members of that church, exhibiting the same character; with whom he enjoyed, in a high degree, all the pleasures and advantages, of christian intercourse. His personal attachment to them became strong; and their interest in him, as a man and a preacher, was such, that they warmly solicited him to remain with them for life. To decline their candid invitation, was most distressing to his feelings; but, on account of the smallness of that congregation, and some peculiar difficulties which attended it, (the nature of which, I have not discovered,) he did not think there was a rational prospect of answering, fully, the great end, which he had proposed to himself, in his profession, by his settling there as their minister. After a most painful parting, with the kind friends, under whose hospitable roof, he had so long and so happily resided, he left the city, on Friday, the 26th of April, by water, and reached his father's house, on Wednesday, the 1st of May.f Here, he spent the summer, in close study; during which, he was again earnestly requested, by the congregation in New-York, to re
*This must have been in June, or July, 1722 several months before he was aineteen years of age.
+ It is amusing to observe the time taken up in this voyage. They sailed from New-York on Friday morning, and put in at Westchester for the night. Saturday night and the Sabbath, were passed at Saybrook; and they arrived at Wethersfield, on Tuesday evening. Yet the voyage is mentioned as a plea
turn to that city, and settle among them; but his former views were not altered; and, therefore, though strongly inclined from his own feelings to gratify them, he could not comply with their wishes.
Probably, in no part of his life, had he higher advantage for spiritual contemplation and enjoyment, than in the period just mentioned. He went to New-York, in the best and happiest frame of mind. He found there a little flock of Christ, constrained from a sense of their own weakness, to "dwell together in unity," and to feel a practical sense of their dependence on God. He was in the midst of a family, whose daily influence served only to refresh and to sanctify. He had, also, much leisure for religious reading, meditation and prayer. In these circumstances, the presence of the Comforter, appears to have been a daily reality; the evidence of which, he found in that purity of heart, which enables its possessor to see God, in the peace which passeth all understanding, and the joy with which the stranger intermeddleth not. His account of this subject, is contained in the continuation of the brief narrative of his own religious history, the first part of which, is found in the last chapter, and is as follows:
"My sense of divine things seemed gradually to increase, till I went to preach at New-York; which was about a year and a half after they began; and while I was there, I felt them very sensibly, in a much higher degree, than I had done before. My longings after God, and holiness, were much increased. Pure and humble, holy and heavenly, christianity appeared exceedingly amiable to me. I felt a burning desire to be, in every thing, a complete christian; and, conformed to the blessed image of Christ; and that I might live, in all things, according to the pure, sweet and blessed rules of the gospel. I had an eager thirsting after progress in these things; which put me upon pursuing and pressing after them. It was my continual strife day and night, and constant inquiry, how I should be more holy, and live more holily, and more becoming a child of God, and a disciple of Christ. I now sought an increase of grace and holiness, and a holy life, with much more earnestness, than ever I sought grace before I had it. I used to be continually examining myself, and studying and contriving for likely ways and means, how I should live holily, with far greater diligence and earnestness, than ever I pursued any thing in my life; but yet with too great a dependence on my own strength; which afterwards proved a great damage to me. My experience had not then taught me, as it has done since, my extreme feebleness and impotence, every manner of way; and the bottomless depths of secret corruption and deceit, there was in my heart. However, I went on with my eager pursuit after more Froliness, and conformity to Christ.
The heaven I desired was a heaven of holiness; to be with God, and to spend my eternity in divine love, and holy communion with Christ. My mind was very much taken up with contemplations on heaven, and the enjoyments there; and living there in perfect holiness, humility and love: and it used at that time to appear a great part of the happiness of heaven, that there the saints could express their love to Christ. It appeared to me a great clog and burden, that what I felt within, I could not express as I desired. The inward ardour of my soul, seemed to be hindered and pent up, and could not freely flame out as it would. I used often to think, how in heaven this principle should freely and fully vent and express itself. Heaven appeared exceedingly delightful, as a world of love; and that all happiness consisted in living in pure, humble, heavenly, divine love.
"I remember the thoughts I used then to have of holiness; and said sometimes to myself, "I do certainly know that I love holiness, such as the gospel prescribes." It appeared to me, that there was nothing in it but what was ravishingly lovely; the highest beauty and amiableness-a divine beauty; far purer than any thing here upon earth; and that every thing else was like mire and defilement, in comparison of it.
"Holiness, as I then wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me to be of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature; which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness and ravishment to the soul. In other words, that it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers; enjoying a sweet calm, and the gently vivifying beams of the sun. The soul of a true christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom, to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing, as it were, in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the amidst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms, to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature-holiness, that I had so a great a sense of its loveliness, as humility, brokenness of heart and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this-to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God, might be ALL, that I might become as a little child.
"While at New York, I sometimes was much affected with reflections on my past life, considering how late it was before I began to be truly religious; and how wickedly I had lived till then: and once so as to weep abundantly, and for a considerable time together.
"On January 12, 1723, I made a solemn dedication of myself to God, and wrote it down; giving up myself, and all that I had to VOL. I.
God; to be for the future, in no respect, my own; to act as one that had no right to himself, in any respect. And solemnly vowed, to take God for my whole portion and felicity; looking on nothing else, as any part of my happiness, nor acting as if it were; and his law for the constant rule of my obedience: engaging to fight, with all my might, against the world, the flesh, and the devil, to the end of my life. But I have reason to be infinitely humbled, when I consider, how much I have failed, of answering my obligation.
“I had, then, abundance of sweet, religious conversation, in the family where I lived, with Mr. John Smith, and his pious mother. My heart was knit in affection, to those, in whom were appearances of true piety; and I could bear the thoughts of no other companions, but such as were holy, and the disciples of the blessed Jesus. I had great longings, for the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world; and my secret prayer used to be, in great part, taken up in praying for it. If I heard the least hint, of any thing that happened, in any part of the world, that appeared, in some respect or other, to have a favourable aspect, on the interests of Christ's kingdom, my soul eagerly catched at it; and it would much animate and refresh me. I used to be eager to read public news-letters, mainly for that end; to see if I could not find some news, favourable to the interest of religion in the world.
"I very frequently used to retire into a solitary place, on the banks of Hudson's River, at some distance from the city, for contemplation on divine things and secret converse with God: and had many sweet hours there. Sometimes Mr. Smith and I walked there together, to converse on the things of God; and our conversation used to turn mnch on the advancement of Christ's kingdom in the world, and the glorious things that God would accomplish for his church in the latter days. I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy scriptures, of any book whatsoever. Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart. I felt a harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words. I seemed often to see so much light exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading; often dwelling long on one sentence, to see the wonders contained in it; and yet almost every
sentence seemed to be full of wonders.
"I came away from New York in the month of April, 1723, and had a most bitter parting with Madam Smith and her son. My heart seemed to sink within me, at leaving the family and city, where I had enjoyed so many sweet and pleasant days. I went from New York to Wethersfield, by water; and as I sailed away, I kept sight of the city as long as I could. However, that night after this sorrowful parting, I was greatly comforted in God at Westchester, where we went ashore to lodge: and had a pleasant
LIFE OF PRESIDENT EDWARDS.
time of it all the voyage to Saybrook. It was sweet to me to think of meeting dear christians in heaven, where we should never part more. At Saybrook we went ashore to lodge on Saturday, and there kept the Sabbath; where I had a sweet and refreshing season, walking alone in the fields.
"After I came home to Windsor, I remained much in a like frame of mind, as when at New York; only sometimes I felt my heart ready to sink, with the thoughts of my friends at New York. My support was in contemplations on the heavenly state; as I find It was a comfort to think of that in my Diary of May 1, 1723. state, where there is fulness of joy; where reigns heavenly, calm, and delightful love, without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where is the enjoyment of the persons loved, without ever parting; where those persons who appear so lovely in this world, will really be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. And how sweetly will the mutual lovers join together, to sing the praises of God and the Lamb! How will it fill us with joy to think, that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease, but will last to all eternity."
DURING his preparation for the ministry, his residence in New York, and his subsequent residence at his father's house, he formed a series of RESOLUTIONS, to the number of Seventy, intended obvionsly for himself alone, to regulate his own heart and life; but fitted also from their christian simplicity, and spiritnal-mindedness, to be eminently useful to others. Of these, the first thirty-four* were written before Dec. 18, 1722, the time in which his Diary, as it The particular time and occasion of now exists, commences.. making many of the rest, will be found in that most interesting narrative; in which also are many other rules and resolutions intended for the regulation of his own affections, of perhaps equal excellence. It should be remembered that they were all written As he was wholly averse to before he was twenty years of age.† all profession and ostentation; and as these Resolutions themselves were plainly intended for no other eye than his own, except the eye that is omniscient; they may be justly considered as the basis of his conduct and character; the plan by which he governed the secret, as well as the public, actions of his life. As such they will deeply interest the reader, not only as they unfold the inmost mind of their author, but as they also show, in a manner most striking and convincing to the conscience, what is the true foundation of great and distinguished excellence.
* The first twenty-one were written at once, with the same pen; as were the next ten, at a subsequent sitting. The rest were written occasionally. They are all on two detached pieces of paper.
+ The last was written in August, 1793. The whole series is published now for the first time.