biography, carnal pleasures, Christian biography, Christian ministry, Christian training, Christianity, gravitas, gravity, Jonathan Edwards, pastors, piety, Protestant, samuel hopkins, seriousness, sobriety, young men, young pastors, youth
Samuel Hopkins wrote the first biography of Jonathan Edwards, The Life and Character of the Late Reverend, Learned, and Pious Mr. Jonathan Edwards (Boston: 1765). The biography is of particular value because Hopkins intimately knew Mr. Edwards, even residing with the Edwards family for a time. Early on in the biography, Hopkins recounts some of Edwards’s personal writings and resolutions. This brings him to the following reflection, which I deemed valuable enough insight to share here:
¶It is to be lamented, that there is so much reason to think, there are so few instances of such early piety in our day.
If the Protestant world abounded with young persons of this stamp; with young men, who were preparing for the work of ministry, with such a temper, such exercises, and such resolutions, what a delightful prospect would this afford of the near approach of happier days than the church of God has ever yet seen!
What pleasing hopes that the great, the merciful Head of the church was about to send forth labourers, faithful successful labourers into his harvest; and bless his people with ‘pastors which shall feed them with knowledge and understanding!’
¶But if our youth neglect all proper improvement of the mind; are shy of seriousness and strict piety; choose to live strangers to it, and keep at a distance from all appearance of it; are wanton, and given to carnal pleasures; what a gloomy prospect does this afford!
If they, who enter into the work of the ministry, from a gay, careless and what may justly be called a vicious life, betake themselves to a little superficial study of divinity, and soon begin to preach, while all the external seriousness and zeal they put on its only from worldly motives, they being without any inward, experimetal [sic] acquaintance with spiritual, divine things, and even so much as any taste for true divinity, no wonder if the churches ‘suck dry breasts,’ and there are many ignorant watchmen” (23-24).