Jonathan Edwards - Presbyterian

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Puritan Board Graduate
From Sean Michael Lucas' Blog

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jonathan Edwards: Presbyterian?

[Note: I received a photocopy of this article from Wayne Sparkman, director of the PCA Historical Center. I thought it was so interesting that I would post it here. It was originally addressed to R. J. Breckinridge, editor of the Baltimore Literary and Religious Magazine, and published here in The Presbyterian.]

Ashbel Green, "President Edwards a Presbyterian," The Presbyterian (12 January 1839): 201.

Philadelphia, Nov. 12th 1838

Rev. and Dear Sir:--I have recollected, since I last saw you, that the fact has already been published, which I then mentioned to you in conversation;--and in regard to which you requested me to furnish you with a written statement. In the Christian Advocate, the 10th volume--the volume for the year 1832, and in the No. for March of that year, page 128--after having mentioned a class of Congregationalists, who, in my estimation, were eminent for genuine piety, I added as follows:--"We should have put down here, the name of the great President Edwards; but he was, in sentiment, a decided Presbyterian, and left a manuscript in favor of Presbyterian church government; as his son, the second President Edwards, distinctly admitted to us not long before his death. Beside, the elder Edwards was either a member of the Presbytery of New Brunswick, at the time of his death, or would soon have been so, if his lamented decease, shortly after his becoming President off the College at Princeton, had not prevented."

The admission referred to in the foregoing extract, was made in consequence of an inquiry put, by me, to Dr. Edwards, as he and I were walking together to the place of meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church, then in session in this city. I do not recollect the year. I had heard a report, which I think must have come either from my father or from my colleague Dr. Sproat,--both of whom were contemporaries and admirers of the first President Edwards--that he had written a tract, or an essay, in favor of Presbyterian church government; and I was glad to take the opportunity which at this time offered, to ascertain from his son the truth or fallacy of the report. The inquiry resulted in the distinct admission that the report which I had heard was true.

I spoke to Dr. Edwards, of printing the tract or essay, in question; but he did not seem to favor the idea, and I forbore to press it. He said, that the manuscript referred to, was among several other unpublished papers of his father, which, as I understood him, were then in his hands. Into whose hands they have passed, since the death of Dr. Edwards, is unknown to me.

Respectfully and affectionately, Yours,
Ashbel Green

Posted by Sean Michael Lucas at 9:22 AM


Puritan Board Sophomore
It is my understanding that Edwards did change some of his views, before his death. His estimate of some aspects the revival changed.


Puritanboard Librarian
The Works of President Edwards: With a Memoir of His Life (1830), Vol. I, p. 412 (Letter from Jonathan Edwards to John Erskine dated July 5, 1750):

You are pleased, dear Sir, very kindly to ask me, whether I could sign the Westminster Confession of Faith, and submit to the Presbyterian form of Church Government; and to offer to use your influence to procure a call for me, to some congregation in Scotland. I should be very ungrateful, if I were not thankful for such kindness and friendship. As to my subscribing to the substance of the Westminster Confession, there would be no difficulty; and as to the Presbyterian Government, I have long been perfectly out of conceit of our unsettled, independent, confused way of church government in this land; and the Presbyterian way has ever appeared to me most agreeable to the word of God, and the reason and nature of things; though I cannot say that I think, that the Presbyterian government of the Church of Scotland is so perfect, that it cannot, in some respects, be mended.
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