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In his family, he practised that conscientious exactness which was conspicuous in all his ways. He maintained a great esteem and regard for his amiable and excellent consort, Much of the tender and kind was expressed in his conversation with her, and conduct towards her. He was wont frez quently to converse freely with her on matters of religion ; and he used commonly to pray with her in his study, at least once a day, unless something extraordinary prevented. The time for this, commonly was just before going to bed, after prayers in the family. As he rose very early himself, he was wont to have his family up betimes in the morning ; after which, before they entered on the business of the day, he attended on family prayers : When a chapter in the Bible was read, commonly by candle light in the winter ; upon which he asked his children questions according to their age pacity ; and took occasion to explain some passages in it, or enforce any duty recommended, &c. as he thought most pro. per.
He was thorough in the government of his children ; and, as a consequence of this, they reverenced, esteemed and love ed him. He took special care to begin his government of them in good time. When they first discovered any considerable degree of selfwill and stubbornness, he would attend to them till he had thoroughly subdued them and brought them to submit. Such prudent discipline, exercised with the greatest calmness, being repeated once or twice, was generally sufficient for that child ; and effectually established his parental authority, and produced a cheerful obedience ever after.
He kept a watchful eye over his children, that he might admonish them of the first wrong step, and direct them in the right way. He took opportunities to converse with them in his study, singly and closely, about their souls' concerns ; and to give them warning, exhortation, and direction, as he saw need. He took much pains to instruct them in the principles of religion ; in which he made use of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism ; not merely by taking care that they learned it by heart ; but by leading them into an understanding of the doctrines therein taught, by asking them questions on each any
swer, and explaining it to them. His usual time to attend to this was on the evening before the Sabbath. And, as he believed that the Sabbath, or holy time, began at sunset the evening before the day, he ordered his family to finish all their secular business by that time, or before ; when all were called together, a psalm was sung, and prayer made as an introduction to the sanctification of the Sabbath. This care and exactness effectually prevented that intruding on holy time, by attending to secular business, which is too common even in families where the evening before the Sabbath is pretended to be observed.
He was a great enemy to young people's unseasonably associating together for vain amusements, which he regarded as a dangerous step towards corrupting and bringing them to ruin. And he thought the excuse many parents make for tolerating their children in it, (viz. that it is the custom, and others' children practise it, which renders it difficult, and even impossible to restrain theirs) was insufficient and frivolous ; and manifested a great degree of stupidity, on supposition the practice was hurtful and pernicious to their souls. And when his children grew up, he found no difficulty in restraining them from this pernicious practice ; but they cheerfully complied with the will of their parents.
He allowed none of his children to be from home after nine o'clock at night, when they went abroad to see their friends and companions ; neither were they allowed to sit up much after that time, in his own house, when any came to make them a visit. gentleman desired acquaintance with his daughters, after handsomely introducing himself, by properly consulting the parents, he was allowed all proper opportunity for it; but must not intrụde on the proper hours of rest and sleep, nor the religion and order of the family.
He had a strict and inviolable regard to justice in all his dealings with his neighbors, and was very careful to provide things honest in the sight of all men ; so that scarcely a man had any dealings with him, that was not satisfied of his uprightness. He appeared to have a sacred regard to truth in his words, both in promises and narrations, agreeable to his
Resolutions. This doubtless was one reason why he was nos so full of words as many are. No man feared to rely on his veracity.
He was cautious in choosing his intimate friends, and therefore had not many that might properly be called such ; but to them he shewed himself friendly in a peculiar manner, He was indeed a faithful friend, and able above most others to keep a secret. To them he discovered himself more than to others, led them into his views and ends, and to his conduct, in particular instances : By which they had abundant evidence that he well understood human nature ; and that his general reservedness, and many particular instances of his conduct, which a stranger might impute to ignorance of men, were really owing to his uncommon knowledge of mankind.
His conversation with his friends was always profitable. He was not wont to spend his time with them in scandal and backbiting, or in foolish jesting, idle chat, and telling stories : But his mouth was that of the just, which bringeth forth wisa dom, and whose lips dispense knowledge. His tongue was as the pen of a ready writer, while he conversed about important, heavenly, divine things, which his heart was so full of, in such a natural and free manner, as to be most entertaining and instructive ; so that none of his friends could enjoy his company without instruction and profit, unless it was by their own fault.
His great benevolence to mankind discovered itself, among other ways, by the uncommon regard he shewed to the poor and distressed. He was much in recommending charity, both in his public discourses and private conversation. He often declared it to be his opinion, that professed Christians in these days are greatly deficient in this duty; and much more so than in most other parts of external Christianity. He often observed how much this is spoken of, recommended and encouraged in the holy scripture, especially in the New Testament. And it was his opinion that every particular church ought, by frequent and liberal contributions, to maintain a public stock, that might be ready for the poor and ne. ccssitous members of that church ; and that the principal
business of deacons is to take care of the poor in the faithful and judicious distribution and improvement of the church's temporals, lodged in their hands. And he did not content himself with recommending charity to others, but practised it much himself. He was forward to give on all public occasions of charity, though when it could properly be done, he always concealed the sum given. And some instances of his giving more privately have accidentally come to the knowledge of others, in which his liberality appeared in a very extraordinary degree. One of the instances was this ; upon his hearing that a poor obscure man, whom he never saw, or ány of his kindred, was by an extraordinary bodily disorder brought to great straits ; he, unasked, gave a considerable sum to a friend to be delivered to the distressed person ; hay: ing first required a promise of him, that he would let neither the person who was the object of his charity, nor any one else know by whom it was given. This may serve both as an instance of his extraordinary charity, and of his great care to conceal it.*
Mr. Edwards had the character of a good fireacher, almost beyond any minister in America. His eminence as a preacher seems to have been owing to the following things :
First, The great pains he took in composing his sermons, especially in the first part of his life. As by his early rising and constant attention to study, he had more time than most others, so he spent more time in making his sermons. He wrote most of them in full, for near twenty years after he first began to preach ; though he did not wholly confine himself to his paper in delivering them.
Secondly, His great acquaintance with divinity, and know). edge of the Bible. His extensive knowledge and great clearness of thought, enabled him to handle every subject with great judgment and propriety, and to bring out of his treasure things new and old. Every subject he handled was instruct
• As both the giver, and the object of his charity are dead, and all the ends of the proposed secrecy are answered ; it is thought not inconsistent with the abovementioned promise, to make known the fact, as it is here related.
ive, plain, entertaining and profitable ; which was much owa ing to his being master of the subject, and his great skill to treat it in a most natural, easy and profitable manner. None of his composures were dry speculations, unmeaning harangues, or words without ideas. When he dwelt on those truths which are much controverted and opposed by many, which was often the case, he would set them in such a natural and easy light, and every sentiment from step to step, would drop from his lips, attended with such clear and striking evidence, both from scripture and reason, as even to force the assent of every attentive hearer.
Thirdly, His excellency as a preacher was very much the effect of his great acquaintance with his own hcart, his inward sense and high relish of divine truths, and experimental religion. This gave him a great insight into human nature : He knew much what was in man, both the saint and the sinner. This helped him to be skillful, to lay truth before the mind so as not only to convince the judgment, but also to' touch the heart and conscience ; and enabled him to speak out of the abundance of his heart what he knew, and testify what he had seen and felt. This gave him a taste and discernment, without which he could not have been able to fill his sermons, as he did, with such striking, affecting sentiments, all suited to move, and to rectify the heart of the hearer. His sermons were well arranged, not usually long, and commonly a largé part taken up in the improvement; which was closely connected with the subject, and consisted in sentiments naturally flowing from it. But no description of his sermons will give the reader the idea of them which they had who sat under his preaching
His appearance in the pulpit was graceful, and his delivery easy, natural, and very solemn. He had not a strong, loud voice ; but appeared with such gravity, and solemnity, and spake with such distinctness, clearness and precision ; his words were so full of ideas, set in such a plain and striking light, that few speakers have been so able to command the attention of an audience. His words often discovered a great