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her I loved her, and was so fond as to think that she loved me : she said had a great respect for me. I told her, I had made her an offer, without asking any advice; she had so many to advise with, that twas an hindrance. The Fire was come to one short Brand besides the Block, which Brand was set up in end; at last it fell to pieces, and no Recruit was made: She gave me a Glass of Wine. I think I repeated again that I would go home and bewail my Rashness in making more haste than good Speed. I would endeavour to contain myself, and not go on to sollicit her to do that which she could not Consent to. Took leave of her. As came down the steps she bid me have a Care. Treated me Courteously. Told her she had enter'd the 4th year of her Widowhood. I had given her the News-Letter before: I did not bid her draw off her Glove as sometime I had done. Her Dress was not so clean as somtime it had been. Jehovah jireh! Midweek, 9 9th Dine at Bro?' Stoddard's: were so kind as to enquire of me if they should invite M answer'd No.
JONATHAN EDWARDS, A. M., PRESIDENT OF
Imagine a tall, thin, delicate man with a pure and saintly face, ascending into the lofty pulpit of the colonial days. He reads his sermon in a clear voice, keeping his eyes fixed upon his notes. He makes no gestures, he pays small attention to the harmony of his sentences, repetitions are of little matter to him, awkward phrasings are an insignificant detail. One thing only is of importance to his mind, and that is the doctrine which he believes himself called by the eternal God to proclaim. Edwards's power lay in his logical reasoning, in his forgetfulness of himself, and above all in the earnest, solemn manner which was the token of his conviction of the absolute truth of his utterance. He preached one hour, two hours. His hearers listened spellbound, or, as once happened with an audience thought to be especially trivial and irreverent, broke into such wails and moans of sorrow for their sinfulness that he was obliged to beg them to be silent that his voice might be heard.
The extracts chosen are from the edition of his works edited by his great-grandson, Sereno E. Dwight, 1871.
Of Sarah Pierrepont, who afterward became his Wife
They say there is a young lady [in New Haven] who is loved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight, and that she hardly cares for anything, except to meditate on him that she expects after a while to be received up where he is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that he loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from him always. There she is to dwell with him, and to be ravished with his love and delight for ever. Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction. She has a strange sweetness in her mind and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being. She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested himself to her mind. She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no one knows for what. She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.
From "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”
The God that holds you over the pit of hell much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his
sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince and yet, it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night; that you was suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep. And there is no other reason to be given, why you have not dropped into hell since you arose in the morning, but that God's hand has held you up. There is no other reason to be given why you have not gone to hell, since you have sat here in the house of God, provoking his pure eyes by your sinful wicked manner of attending his solemn worship. Yea, there is nothing else that is to be given as a reason why you do not this very moment drop down into hell.
From "The Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will."
There is no great difficulty in showing . . . that the mind must be influenced in its choice by something that has a preponderating influence upon it, but also how it is so. A little attention to our own experience, and a distinct consideration of the acts of our own minds, in such cases, will be sufficient to clear up the matter.
Thus, supposing I have a chess-board before me; and because I am required by a superior, or desired by a friend, or on some other consideration, I am determined to touch some one of the spots or squares on the board with my finger. Not being limited or directed, in the first proposal, to any one in particular; and there being nothing in the squares, in themselves considered, that recommends any one of all the sixty-four more than another; in this case, my mind determines to give itself up to what is vulgarly called accident, by determining to touch that square which happens to be most in view, which my eye is especially upon at that moment, or which happens to be then most in my mind, or which I shall be directed to by some other
such like accident. Here are several steps of the mind proceeding (though all may be done, as it were, in a moment). The first step is its general determination that it will touch one of the squares. The next step is another general determination to give itself up to accident, in some certain way; as to touch tha which shall be most in the eye or mind at that time, or to some other such like accident. The third and last step is a particular determination to touch a certain individual spot, even that square, which, by that sort of accident the mind has pitched upon, has actually offered itself beyond others. Now it is apparent that in none of these several steps does the mind proceed in absolute indifference, but in each of them is influenced by a preponderating inducement. So it is in the first step, the mind's general determination to touch one of the sixty-four spots the mind is not absolutely indifferent whether it does so or no; it is induced to it, for the sake of making some experiment, or by the desire of a friend, or some other motive that prevails. So it is in the second step, the mind determining to give itself up to accident, by touching that which shall be most in the eye, or the idea of which shall be most prevalent in the mind, &c. The mind is not absolutely indifferent whether it proceeds by this rule or no; but chooses it, because it appears at that time a convenient and requisite expedient in order to fulfil the general purpose. And so it is in the third and last step, which is determining to touch that individual spot which actually does prevail in the mind's view. The mind is not indifferent concerning this; but is influenced by a prevailing inducement and reason; which is, that this is a prosecution of the preceding determination, which appeared requisite, and was fixed before in the second step.
ROGER WILLIAMS, FOUNDER OF PROVIDENCE 1599-1683
Entirely aside from the question of literary merit, the following letter by Roger Williams is of value in showing the character of the writer and the patience with which he bore his troubles.
His Key is a phrase-book of the language of the Massachusetts Indians, probably the only interesting phrase-book ever written. For each chapter he chooses a subject, gives the words and phrases pertaining to it, describes the customs of the Indians that would naturally come to mind in that connection, and often, as in the case of the chapter from which quotation is made, closes with some original verses on the subject.
From a letter written by Roger Williams from Providence, June 22, 1670, to Major Mason. Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Vol. I, for the year 1792.
When Roger Williams Founded Providence
When I was unkindly and unchristianly, as I believe, driven from my house and land and wife and children (in the midst of New-England winter, now about 35 years past) at Salem, that ever honoured Governour Mr. Winthrop privately wrote to me to steer my course to the Nahigonset-Bay and Indians for many high and heavenly and publike ends, incouraging me from the freenes of the place from any English claims or pattents. I took his prudent motion as an hint and voice from God, and waving all other thoughts and motions, I steered my course from Salem (though in winter snow which I feel yet) unto these parts, wherein I may say Peniel, that is, I have seene the face of God.
I first pitch't and begun to build and plant at Secunk, now Rehoboth, but I received a letter from my antient friend, Mr. Winslow, then Governour of Plymmouth, professing his oune and others love and respect to me, yet lovingly advising me, since I was fallen into the edge of their bounds and they were loth to displease the Bay, to remove but to the other side of the water, and then he said I had the country free before me, and might be as free as themselves, and wee should be loving neighbours togeather. These were the joynt understandings of these two eminently wise and christian Governours and others, in their day, togeather with their councell and advice as to the freedome and vacancie of this place, which in this respect and many other