The New Zealand Evangelist
As a Christian, he was singularly eminent, to specify only one or two points; his observation of the Sabbath was such at to make it, throughout, a day of religion; so that not only were his conversation and reading conformed to the great design of the day, but he page 89 allowed himself in no thoughts or meditations, which were not decidedly of a religious character. It was his rule not only to search the scriptures daily, but to study them so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that he might perceive a regular and obvious growth in his knowledge of them. By prayer and self application, he took care to render them the means of progressive sanctification. His constant, solemn converse with God in the exercises of secret religion made his face, as it were, to shine before others.
As a preacher, his graphic manner of presenting truth, was perhaps, his peculiar excellence. ‘I enquired of Dr. West,’ says one of his biographers, ‘whether Mr. Edwards was an eloquent preacher’ He replied, “If you mean by eloquence, what is usually intended by it in our cities; he had no pretentions to it. He had no studied varieties of the voice, and no strong emphases. He scarcely gestured, or even moved; and he made no attempt by the elegance of his style, or the beauty of his pictures, to gratify the taste, and fascinate the imagination. But, if you mean by eloquence, the power of presenting an important truth before an audience, with overwhelming weight of argument, and with such intenseness of feeling, that the whole soul of the speaker is thrown into every part of the conception and delivery; so that the solemn attention of the whole audience is riveted, from the beginning to the close, and impressions are left that cannot be effaced; Mr. Edwards was the most eloquent man I ever heard speak,” As the result of his whole character, we are led to regard him as, beyond most others, an instructive preacher, a solemn and faithful preacher, an animated and earnest preacher, a most powerful and impressive preacher, in the sense explained, and the only true sense, a singularly eloquent preacher, and through the blessing of God, one of the most successful preachers since the days of the apostles.
As a theologian, he is distinguished for his Scriptural vieas of divine truth. Even the casual reader of his works can scarcely fail to perceive that, with great labour, patience, and skill, he derived his principles from an extensive and most accurate observation of the word of God. The number of passages which he adduces from the scriptures, on every important doctrine, the critical attention he has evidently given them, the labour in arranging them, and the skill and integrity with which he derives his general conclusions from them is truly astonishing.
Another characteristic of his theology, is the extensiveness of his views. In his theology, as in his mind, there was nothing narrow; no partial, contracted views of a subject; all was simple, great, and sublime. His mind was too expanded to regard the distinctions of sects and churches. He contended for nothing but the truth; he aimed at nothing but to promote holiness and salvation. The effects of his labours so exactly coincide with the effects of the Gospel, that no denomination can ever appropriate his name to itself, or claim him as its own. He belonged, in his feelings, to no church but the church of Christ.
For general readers, his “History of Redemption “is one of the most useful and popular of his writings.