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mind, he sent his love, his ardent love, to his old friends, expressed his unmeasured confidence in the Bible, — the first and last book of his life’s study, and then he breathed out his spirit, just as an infant falls asleep. He died as he had lived, and as all who knew him expected that he would die, - humble, self-distrustful, considerate, loving. He walked thoughtful along the banks of Jordan; he stepped his feet in the waters, carefully and silently; he reserved his triumphs until he had pressed the solid ground of the other shore.” Ibid. pp. 356 – 359.
He died at Athens, Georgia, Tuesday, April 20, 1852. The body was immediately taken to Charleston, and thence to New York and Andover, where he was, the next week, buried beside his little son, in the quiet and beautiful cemetery on the hill. A more precious burden was never borne along tha grass-grown pathway ; richer dust was never gathered to its kindred dust within that secluded inclosure. The form which many delighted to watch in its thoughtful movements, along the well known thoroughfares, will sleep there undisturbed till the morning of the resurrection; but his life cannot fail of accomplishing much of that for which he consecrated it to the highest objects, and his memory will be fragrant for many generations.
It was during the vacation at the Theological Seminary, that the funeral took place. On the reassembling of the students, a funeral discourse was delivered by Professor Park, from the text, The Disciple that Jesus loved. Mr. Edwards would have shrunk, almost as if wounded, from even so remote a comparison of himself with the least of the sacred company; yet never was text more fitly chosen. Seldom or never has a human life more beautifully corresponded to the example here referred to.
We find that we have left ourselves little room for gathering up the scattered threads to interweave them into a fuller and more complete estimate of his life, and of the value of his labors. But this, with many of our readers, will by no means be necessary. We might compare him with Dr. Arnold for fidelity, and enthusiasm, and devotion to the noblest purposes, and with Neander for learning, diligence, and thorough unworldliness of character; and indeed, with many more of the finer
and more generous scholars and men of our times and of other times. For, in the breadth and catholicity of his sympathies, he seemed to resemble those who differed widely from each other. But we must refer our readers to the memoir itself for a more full delineation of his character, to many elements of which we have not so much as alluded, feeling confident that the more thoroughly it is studied, the more worthy will it seem of admiration.
Of the writings of Professor Edwards, we have reserved to ourselves too little space to speak as they deserve. He never uttered a sentence for the mere sake of saying it, nor ventured a criticism for the purpose of exhibiting his own skill. In his own department of Biblical interpretation, he never disguised a difficulty, or satisfied himself with a partial explanation, nor did he state an obnoxious truth in terms less ample than it seemed to require. A hearty lover and worshipper of truth, he was less frequently seduced than most men by the “ idols of the market, the theatre, or the cave.” It is possible that the simplicity and directness of his writings may, at first, prevent some from fairly estimating their substantial excellence. But we value them as indicating the methods by which he was always educating himself for some higher unattained good, as well as for the truths they establish. His style is instinct with life; not a cold, though beautiful form, but a soft, pliant, breathing, living creation. One feels that he is in contact with a living mind; that a vital energy, ever active, yet not over stimulated, is causing this abundant production; the fields seem to grow more verdant as we wander through them, the trees are bowing to the earth with their load of ripe and ripening fruit, and the birds are singing among the branches.
Among the more interesting of these writings, as showing the spirit with which he came to his work, is the Inaugural Address, delivered on taking the chair of Hebrew at Andover. It is marked by his usual fullness of thought and refined taste. He delivered it at a time when all the consolations of the Book, in connection with which his instructions were to be given, were needed by him. Few who were present that day, can forget the subdued and touching tone in which he uttered
tence near the close, “yet the experience of almost
every day warns us that the fairest earthly hopes bloom only for the grave.” It was a fit caution against too sanguine expectations to any one just entering upon a new enterprise ; but to his heart it had a deep significance, for he had lately been called to part with a little son, to whom he had given a name which he always loved to speak, George Herbert, and who, although not four years old, had become the almost constant companion of his father in his walks. The depth of anguish occasioned by this affliction was in accordance with the profoundness of his love, and with the hopes which he had garnered up in this child. For a long time, his heart refused to be comforted, and there is one who will always remember how an allusion, months afterward, to West's painting of “Death on the Pale Horse," seemed to strike him almost like a blow.
“ Our little George,” he writes after his death, “ the delight of our existence, left us on Saturday morning last, at eight o'clock.” — “We shall see his face no more. The dispensation is doubtless ordered in infinite justice and mercy, but now clouds and darkness seem to rest upon it. Our habitation is desolate and our hearts are sick with grief. It appears to me to be impossible to live without him. He had so identified himself with every thing which I did, that it seems like tearing away a part of my own life. I have sometimes said, with the disciples, “Let me go and die with him.” Vol. i. p. 348.
To those who knew Professor Edwards but slightly, it might seem strange that he was listened to with so much delight as a preacher, and was called so often to address public assemblies on occasions where the graces and freedom of oratory are usually expected. But those who heard him felt the charm, though they might not be able to detect its causes. It lay not only in the richness or beauty of thought, of thought saturated with affection, but also in an indescribable heartiness and sincerity ; in a high moral earnestness with which he seemed inspired, and which impelled every utterance, - that sweet informing spirit which would imperceptibly melt into the heart of the hearer, and, before he was aware, allure every gentle and pious affection to meet it. His manner would perhaps, at first, be uninteresting to a stranger; and yet it was so honest and unaffected, — that countenance, with VOL. LXXVII. —NO. 160.
its noble expanse of forehead, would so light up as he rose to the climax of the thought which moved him, that it must have been a hard, or coarse, or superficial nature, which would cling to an outward infelicity, and not rather be deeply touched by the beauty and strength of the soul. How distinctly we can see him, now stooping over the pulpit, (his eyes, from some slight defect of vision, requiring him to bend close to the manuscript,) and then, as the sentence drew to its close, rising to the full erect posture, and standing for a moment, still and firm, as if planting himself anew on the truth he had just developed, his countenance beaming with a suppressed radiance, and his eye moving gently for an instant over his hearers, as if looking to recognize some sign of sympathy.
The address, in these volumes, which will give the best idea of Mr. Edward's method on such occasions is, perhaps, that on The Roman Catholic Religion in Italy. We would gladly stop to give an analysis of it, and a few extracts, to show the candor and excellence of the discussion. But we pass to the selection of one or two passages from the Review of Wordsworth, written in 1836, which show both his own spirit, and the love with which he regarded the poet whose works he was so familiar with. He is enumerating some of the causes of the unpopularity of the poet.
“ We fear, however, that the causes of this general dislike to Wordsworth lie deeper. We apprehend that there are certain things connected with the intellectual and active habits of the people of this country not wholly favorable to a proper estimate of a great poet. This tendency in the general mind is developed in various ways. There is a resolute repugnance to the authority of distinguished names. In past ages, concurrence in judgment on the part of a few leading minds was considered to be probable evidence of the soundness of that judgment. But such concurrence now is regarded as a suspicious circumstance. The illustrious dead are dragged forth to meet the ordeal of a keen and unsanctified criticism. We cannot comfort ourselves with the memory of Socrates, but we must be confronted with the charges of some sophist or some tanner. We cannot exalt the human mind by recalling the names of Lord Bacon and of Robert Hall, but at the risk of hearing bribery laid at the door of the one, and opiumeating at that of the other. Every point in the moral character of a great man must be vindicated, before we can touch the productions which he has left as a precious legacy for all time.
“ This habit of eagle-eyed and unhallowed criticism prevails in this country. A great name must have some opprobrious mark attached to it, because the man who wears that name is not absolutely perfect, or because the ardor of true genius has not been, in every instance, united to a most scrupulous accuracy. Now when we open the pages of an author of any repute, we need to cherish reverence and humility. We must have some faith in his power to enlighten and instruct us. We must not carry a hard heart in our bosoms, nor a tomahawk in our hands. We must throw aside prejudice, and be ready to weigh, inwardly digest, love, and treasure up. Wordsworth has spent a long life in the study of his noble art. He is educated in the mysteries of his calling. In addition to a large measure of natural sensibility, he has qualified himself by a patient study of nature and of the human faculties. Is he then not entitled to our confidence ? May we not challenge for him, as a passport to his writings, what multitudes in our days are so willing to abjure, - a worthy name, a high authority?
“ There is, moreover, in this country, too much of sectarian judgment. An author must be of our political or religious creed, or we cannot tolerate him. He must entertain precisely the same notions with ourselves on the questions of liberty, church and state, the authority of bishops, etc. If one of another communion furnishes a book of poetry, our first questions are: Does he believe in the divine right of kings? Is he sufficiently anti-popish? Is there not some political or religious heresy couched under his hexameters ? Such extreme suspiciousness shows that we are in some doubt about the foundations of our own faith. It also indicates a state of heart totally unfit to come into the presence of a master-spirit of our race. It may be important, in some respects, to know that Lord Bacon was a churchman, and a chancellor, and not wholly free from the sin of believing in alchemy. But what have these things to do with the general estimate of his writings ? So of Wordsworth. His views on church government, and on republicanism, may not coincide with those generally entertained in this country. But can we not rise superior to such considerations ? Is he not a man and a poet? Does he not treat of human sympathies? Does he not speak a universal language? Has he not shed a benign light on the truth which is never to perish, — on questions interesting to man in all states and stages of his being ? We look on the poet as the benefactor of our race. In perusing his works, we feel a new interest, not alone in our English descent; a new bond of affection, not alone for our mother speech. The poet has enlarged the sphere of human knowledge; he has quickened the sympathies of our common humanity.” Vol. ii. pp. 186 - 188.