1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry
1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry
1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry
1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry
1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry
1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry

1724 JONATHAN EDWARDS / TIMOTHY EDWARDS. Sermon on the Greatness of the Gospel Ministry

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What a wonderful piece of unpublished Church history, passed down by direct descent through the family of Jonathan Edwards.

The present is a 24pp hand-stitched manuscript entirely in the hand of the father of Jonathan Edwards, Timothy Edwards. 

Among the many significant features of the document, perhaps most strikingly is that the sermons appears to have been preached somewhere between 1720 and 1723; this would have been the period either of Jonathan's time at Yale or immediately after Jonathan Edwards graduated from seminary and was a pulpit supply pastor for 8 months in New York City only to return to live at home, unemployed and without much prospect of a position. During this period, Jonathan has been described as serious, overly-studious, and socially inept. His experience in the New York ministry was mingled, to say the least. 

It is tempting indeed to think that his father preached this sermon on the dignity, majesty, benefit, and privilege of the Christian ministry specifically with young Jonathan on his mind; perhaps it flowed out of a private conversation between them either while in or after New York. Regardless, the proximity of time would lead us to believe that there is at least some connection between this sermon and the deep discouragement the young luminary had in College and afterward. Even more specifically, in this sermon he deals with the discouragements that come to the minister when treated poorly or the ministry is held under contempt by parishioners. Was his son's New York experience in mind? 

Given special attention in the following sermon is a series of points [six of them] describing why it is the duty of the minister to preach on particular sins and the grievous sin of being offended when a minister does so. 

Timothy Edwards [1669-1758] graduated Yale in 1691, and was licensed to preach in 1694. He pasted the church in East Windsor for 68 years consecutively, not missing a sabbath save a short season where he served as Chaplain to a group of soldiers on expedition to Canada in 1711. His wife was the daughter of prominent New England divine, Solomon Stoddard. 

It is difficult, knowing his 68 years of faithful ministry, his personal piety, the ordering of his home for family worship, not to feel that Jonathan Edwards was but a natural plant to grow in this godly soil. This perhaps even extends to semantic decision. The phrase "Glory of God" appears frequently in the present sermon; it became a life theme for Jonathan. 

Yale holds one similar notebook dating from 1728-1730 with sermon texts and "some development," in the same clear, small hand. Another with theological observations.

They also have a single leaf detailing the final sickness of Jerusha Edwards. After the sermon in our present manuscript, there are a number of accounts of the final sicknesses and deaths of parishioners which we will detail below. 

A similar partial manuscript is viewable online for comparison here: Digital Collection -Timothy Edwards' Sermon Notes (mass.edu)

The fly leaf of the present has the following three inscriptions, in order of age:

"Memoranda &c. of the Rev Timothy Edwards of East Windsor Conn, the Father of President Edwards and the great Grandfather of Mrs. Elizabeth Weld."

"To her son - Ezra Greenleaf Weld." 

"by Timothy Edwards of East Windsor, father of Jonathan E"

The manuscript itself is broken up into two sections:

1. An 8pp Sermon upon 2 Corinthians 2.16.

2. 12.5 Pages of Memoranda of the Final Sicknesses, Faith, and Deaths of Congregants at East Windsor

The sermon:

"2 Cor. 2:16. These words and who is sufficient for these things. . .

Doc[trine]. The work of a Minister of the Gospel is a very Great work.

For the ye Explication and Evidence of this Doct: ye following particulars were offered.

1. The work that the Lord Jesus Christ hath Call'd his ministers to is a work of Great Solemnity.

2. It is a work of Great Excellency

3. It is a work of Great Dignity

4. It is a work of Great Necessity

5. It is a work of Great Mercy

6. It is a work of Great Pains & Labours

7. It is a work of Great profit and benefit to them for whom it is done

8. It is a work of Great Duty to whom that are Call'd to it.

9. It is a work of Great moment and Importance in the Success of it

10. It is a work Great, yea a very great, in the Effects of it.

11. Lastly, It is a work of Great Difficulty.

Several uses have been already made of this Doct: The last Sabbath I was upon it it was mainly improved in shewing in 12 particulars the duty of ministers. I shall now make some further Improvement of it, wherein I shall endeavour to shew something of the Duty of them that sit under the Gospel to their ministers, that is too much, yea very much, neglected by many. And also take some notice of the contrary sins which are to ye Dishonour of the name of our Blessed Lord Jesus and the Grief of some of his faithfull Servants (both Ministers and private Christians) too common in the Land. And to make for ye more acceptable and profitable delivery and hearing of what I have now to say, and may hereafter say upon this subject I shall take some to open my heart to you in the following particulars.

1. I do verily believe that ye thoughts & principles spirit and practice of many in this land, and too many that are not openly prophane with respect to ministers, and vicious persons are exceeding Contrary to the Gospel of Christ and unbecoming Christians and much to the Dishonour of ye Glorious name of our Great Lord, and to the wounding of his Cause, and Interest among us, and that where by Some of his faithful servants have been greatly wrong'd and Griev'd. And their hands weakened and their spirit in danger of being not a little sunk and discouraged in their work: the Observation and thoughts where of I must Confess have been an exercising thing to me.

. . . 

3. I would in ye next place say something of what hath been upon some occations delivered in my Doctrine or Ministry in this place, which I do for ye removal of prejudices that may C's on ye spirits of any amongst us as to time's past and to make way for the doing of more Good by my ministry for Time to Come. And it is this. viz. 

It hath been my earnest Desire that this People [to whom I stand in a very near Relation] may be in all points a well instructed, well principled, and every way an excellent people. When ***** have sometimes seen cause to reprove those and those moral evils which have been too common in the land, and in particular to shew the evil of and Testifie against in my ministry such things as are Contrary to ye Duty that men owe in obedience to Christ, to Civil Rulers, and the Ministers of ye Gospel & the like, It hath been upon no way design than that, My Great aim and end in it hath not been to magnify sins, disturb, fret, or vex and expose others, but that God might be Glorified, his Son Jesus Christ obeyed and honoured by his wards universally, taking care and bearing swey to ye suppressing of sin, bearing down iniquity & increasing of holiness amongst us and by our Coming brought to walk more & more in one thing and another as becometh the Gospel. 

4. I shall in the next place mention some reasons why I desire to discourse more particularly and fully on ye subject that I have now hinted at than I have yet done. & they are these that follow. viz. because I verily believe it to be exceeding needful so to do. It is needful for ministers to disclose the whole Counsel of God, they should keep back nothing from a People that is profitable for ym

They should therefore as fully and particularly as may be open & explain all ye Commands of ye moral Law in all ye branches of ym & in this as well as others ye have now respect unto. In the days of ye Apostles whom Christ and Gospel were more prized & spiritual and heavenly things above doubly more minded than they are now, and which were the Golden Age of Christianity, whom Religion so flourished and prevailed in ye world as it never hath done since, yea even ye Great and excellent ministry of Christ, ye holy angells, and Paul sees it needfull to discourse on this subject as you may see in . . . 

If ministers should be almost wholly silent and say but little upon other subjects of Religion as ye duty of children to parents, ye evil of profaning the Sabbath, of neglecting the duty of secret prayer, &c several other things that might be mentioned, it might occasion a great neglect of duty and abounding of iniquity in ye Land respecting such things [greatly to the wounding of the interest of Christ]. 

. . . "

In the section of pastoral accounts includes Job Phelps from October 30th, 1724, Mary Elizabeth Elsworth - Aged 14, Joseph Elmer - aged 96, etc., Really full, detailed accounts of people's conversions, experiences of grace, etc., Appear to be death-bed related. 

These are in a slightly finer hand and a bit more difficult to read; legible with some care. 

A truly historic manuscript, completely unresearched and unpublished in the academic community. Worthy of institutional preservation or fine private collection.