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ing Sabbath. So the Character of his daily Conversation, was A Trembling Walk with God. Now to take true Measures of his Conversation, one of the best Glasses that can be used, is the Diary, wherein he did himself keep the Remembrances of many Remarkables that passed betwixt his God and himself; who indeed A sufficient Theatre to one another. It would give some Inequality to this part of our Church History, if all the Holy Memoirs left in the Private Writings of this Walker with God, should here be Transcribed : But I will single out from thence a few Passages, which might be more agreeably and profitably exposed unto the World.
[Magnalia, book iii, “ Lives of Many Reverend, Learned, and Holy Divines (arriving such from Europe to America) by whose Evangelical Ministry the Churches of New-England have been Illuminated,” chapter 5, section 17.]
JOHN ELIOT AND THE INDIAN LANGUAGE
The First Step which he judg'd necessary now to be taken by him, was to learn the Indian Language; for he saw them so stupid and senseless, that they would never do so much as enquire after the Religion of the Strangers now come into their Country, much less would they so far imitate us, as to leave off their beastly way of living, that they might be Partakers of any Spiritual Advantage by us : Unless we could first address them in a Language of their own. Behold, new Difficulties to be surmounted by our indefatigable Eliot! He hires a Native to teach him this exotick Language, and with a laborious Care and Skill, reduces it into a Grammar which afterwards he published. There is a letter or two of our Alphabet, which the Indians never had in theirs; tho' there were enough of the Dog in their Temper, there can scarce be found an R in their Language; (any more than in the Language of the Chinese, or of the Greenlanders) save that the Indians to the Northward, who have a peculiar Dialect, pronounce an R where an N is pronounced by our Indians; but if their Alphabat be short, I am sure the Words composed of it are long enough to tire the Patience of any Scholar in the World; they are Sesquipedalia Verba, of which their Linguo is composed; one would think,
they had been growing ever since Babel, unto the Dimensions to which they had now extended. For instance, if my Reader will count how many Letters there are in this one Word, Nummatachekodtantamooonganunnonash, when he has done, for his Reward I'll tell him, it signifies no more in English, than our Lusts, and if I were to translate, our Loves; it must be nothing shorter than Noowo mantam movonkanunonnash. Or, to give my Reader a longer Word than either of these, k'ummogkodonattoottu mmooetitcaongannunnonash, is in English, Our Question : But I pray, Sir, count the Letters ! Nor do we find in all this Language the least Affinity to, or Derivation from any European Speech that we are acquainted with. I know not what thoughts it will produce in my Reader, when I inform him, that once finding that the Daemons in a possessed young Woman, understood the Latin and Greek and Hebrew Languages, my Curiosity led me to make Trial of this Indian Language, and the Dæmons did seem as if they did not understand it. This tedious Language our Eliot (the Anagram of whose Name was TOILE) quickly became a Master of; he employ'd a pregnant and witty Indian, who also spoke English well, for his Assistance in it; and compiling some Discourses by his Help, he would single out a Word, a Noun, a Verb, and pursue it through all its Variations : Having finished his Grammar, at the close he writes, Prayers and Pains thro' Faith in Christ Jesus will do any thing! And being by his Prayers and Pains thus furnished, he set himself in the Year 1646 to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, among these Desolate Outcasts.
[Magnalia, book iii, part 3, part 3.]
(Jonathan Edwards was born, of ministerial stock, at East Windsor, Conn., Oct. 5, 1703, the same year as John Wesley. For the greater part of his life he was a parish minister of immense influence with his congregation. He was settled at Northampton, Mass., in 1727, where he remained until 1750. Dismissed for his views on qualifications for full communion, he was shortly called to Stockbridge, where he remained six years. But he was also known far beyond the borders of his parish as a preacher, and in the latter half of his life he became famous at home and abroad by his works on metaphysical theology, particularly The Freedom of the Will, 1754, and Original Sin, 1758. In 1757 he was called to Princeton as President, but died the next year, on March 22. His metaphysics and theology, and his powers as a logician, matters a little aside from the following study, are excellently presented in a Life by Rev. A. V. G. Allen, Boston, 1891. The standard text of his works, which has been followed in the extracts, is that of the so-called Worcester edition of 1809, reprinted in New York in 1847.]
JONATHAN EDWARDS and Benjamin Franklin are like enormous trees (say a pine and an oak), which may be seen from a great distance dominating the scrubby, homely, second growth of our provincial literature. They make an ill-assorted pair, — the cheery man of the world and the intense man of God, — but they owe their preëminence to the same quality. Franklin, it is true, is remarkable for his unfailing common sense, a quality of which Edwards had not very much, his keenest sense being rather un
But it was not his common sense, but the cause of his common sense, namely, his faculty of realization, that made Franklin eminent. This faculty is rare among men, but it was possessed by Franklin to a great degree. His perceptions of his surroundings
material, intellectual, personal, social, political — had power to affect his mind and action. He took real account of his circumstances.
Now this power of realization was the one thing which makes Edwards remarkable in literature. It is true that he was very
devout, very logical, very hard-working, but so were many other men of his time. The remarkable thing about Edwards (and it explains his other qualities) was that he realized his thoughts, and through that fact alone made his hearers realize them. Doubtless the things that were real to Edwards were not the things that were real to Franklin. The things that were real to Franklin were phenomenal to Edwards and of little concern to him. Franklin, intensely curious about the processes of nature, managed to snatch the lightning from the clouds; but Edwards, who regarded all externality as the thought of God, was content, as a rule, to wander in the woods, intent on the Creator and oblivious of the creation. Franklin, extremely interested in the political affairs of the day, snatched also the sceptre from the tyrant or helped to snatch it. Edwards took no concern in current politics, but devoted his life to restoring a rebellious world to its lawful God. Franklin may have thought Edwards a fanatic, and Edwards would have thought Franklin a reprobate. But they were men of much the same sort of mental power.
There can be no doubt that Edwards conceived his ideas in a manner more vivid, lively, forcible, firm, steady” than most people. Hence his ideas were powers within him, as other people's were not : they made him do this and that, as other people's do not. “Once more," says his biographer (of our own time), "he was overcome and burst into loud weeping, as he thought how meet and suitable it was that God should govern the world, ordering all things according to his own pleasure." We can receive that idea into our minds without disturbance of any kind ; with Edwards it often had physical consequences. It is often said that Edwards pressed his logic too far. The fact was that certain ideas were real to him. Hence he was led to state, for instance, that “when the saints in heaven shall look upon the damned in hell, it will serve to give them a greater sense of their own happiness.” Few persons reading the sermon on The Wicked Useful in their Destruction Only, will dissent from its doctrine on any logical ground. We dissent from it because the ideas called up are too feeble to hold their own before the inconsistent ideas of sympathy, tolerance, indifferentism, humanity, which are more real to us than they were to Edwards.
It is this power of realizing his conceptions, making them forces in his mind, that made Edwards great. He went to Enfield once and preached to a congregation which had assembled in a very ordinary any-Sunday mood. In his quiet way, leaning upon one arm and without gesture, his eye fixed upon some distant part of the meeting-house, he preached a sermon which New England “has never been able to forget.” The congregation was aroused beyond belief: he had not gone far before the tears and outcries drowned his voice, and he paused to rebuke his hearers and to bid them allow him to go on. Few of us, probably, have ever seen such an effect caused by the spoken word alone. Turn to the sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, and see if you
find an explanation of such emotion in others, or if you feel any especial emotion yourself. The ideas will be wholly unreal to many of us, as unreal as the legends of King Arthur, or even more so; they have no force when we conceive them. They were real to Edwards, and he made them real to his congregation : to Edwards they were but minor corollaries of ideas which sustained and uplifted him ; to the congregation they were at the time all-powerful and of terrible effect.
As we read Edwards to-day we can perceive this power, but we cannot do much more. We cannot realize his ideas ourselves until we devitalize a whole host of ideas of our own time. We must probably content ourselves with imagining what has been. Nor is it especially profitable to examine the technical means by which he succeeded in the great aim of literature. Edwards is an example of the power of unrhetorical rhetoric. His most marked rhetorical means were negative : he instinctively avoided what was likely to stand between him and his hearer, and so his personality had full sway. But Edwards’ literary significance at present lies chiefly in the fact that he was a New Englander who made the world aware of the New England mind. That he should have been a theologian was natural ; so was Cotton Mather, chiefly, who had performed a somewhat similar service half a century before. Each had presented what had long been the dominant factor in New England life.
EDWARD EVERETT HALE, JR.