Studies and First Pastorate. Second son and ninth child of Jonathan Edwards the Elder; b. at Northampton, Mass., May 26, 1745; d. at Schenectady, N. Y., Aug. 1, 1801. As he received the degree of D.D. from Princeton College, he is often called "Dr." Edwards, while his father (who was not a doctor of divinity) is distinguished as "President" Edwards. He entered the grammar-school at Princeton in Feb., 1760,and was graduated at Princeton College in 1765. He became a member of the Church in 1763, studied theology with Dr. Joseph Bellamy (q.v.) 1765-1766, and was "approbated" as a preacher in Oct., 1766, by the Litchfield County Association in Connecticut. He was indefatigably diligent while at college, served as tutor, 1767-69, and received an appointment (which he declined) to a professorship of languages and logic in the college. On Jan. 5, 1769, he was ordained as pastor of the Society of White Haven, in the town of New Haven, Conn. He remained in this office more than twenty-six years. Several members of his church were advocates of the Half-way Covenant (q.v.), which he opposed. His pastorate was also disturbed by the spiritual reaction which had followed the "Great Awakening" (see REVIVALS OF RELIGION) in 1740-42, and by the demoralizing influences of the Revolutionary War. The result was his dismission from his pastorate on the 19th of May, 1795.


Pastor at Colebrook and President of Union College. In Jan., 1796, he was installed pastor of the church in Colebrook, Conn. In May, 1799, he was elected president of Union College, Schenectady, N. Y. As he had declined a professorship at Princeton, so he was prompted to decline the presidency of Union College. He applied to an ecclesiastical council for advice: the advice was in favor of his removal. He was therefore dismissed in June, and entered on the duties of his presidency in July, 1799. He discharged his duties with his accustomed fidelity. His reputation as a philosopher gave him an uncommon influence over his pupils, and his skill as a teacher heightened his reputation as a philosopher. He remained in this office, however, but a short time. About the middle of July, 1801, he was attacked by an intermittent fever, and died Aug. 1.


Works. As a theological teacher Dr. Edwards was eminently successful. He prepared certain of his father's writings for the press, and, while at Colebrook, published A Dissertation concerning Liberty and Necessity, in Reply to the Rev. Dr. Samuel West (Worcester, 1797). Besides a large number of articles in The New York Theological Magazine, over the signatures "I" and "O," he published many sermons, among them one on The Injustice and Impolicy of the Slave-trade (New Haven, 1791; Dr. Edwards, like his friend Samuel Hopkins, was an early opponent of the slave system). The most celebrated of his discourses are the three On the Necessity of the Atonement, and its Consistency with Free Grace in Forgiveness, "preached before his Excellency the Governor, and a large number of both Houses of the Legislature of the State of Connecticut, during their sessions at New Haven, in Oct., 1785, and published by request the same year." They have been frequently republished and form the basis of that theory of the atonement sometimes called the "Edwardean theory," commonly adopted by the "New England school of divines." Closely connected with this was a volume entitled The Salvation of all Men strictly Examined, and the Endless Punishment of those who Die Impenitent, Argued and Defended against the Reasonings of Dr. Chauncey in his Book Entitled "The Salvation of all Men" (1790). In 1788 he published a paper entitled Observations on the Language of the Muhhekaneew Indians, in which the Extent of that Language in North America is Shown, its Genius Grammatically Traced, and Some of its Peculiarities, and Some Instances of Analogy between that and the Hebrew, are Pointed out. This was "communicated to the Connecticut Society of Arts and Sciences, and published at the request of the Society."


Nearly all of Dr. Edwards' published writings were collected and reprinted, with a Memoir, by Tryon Edwards, a descendant (Boston, 1842).



Bibliography: Besides the Memoir by Tryon Edwards, ut sup., consult: Connecticut Evangelical Magazine, July, 1809; W. B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit, i. 653-660, New York, 1859; J. A. Stoughton, Winsor Farmes, Hartford, 1883; W. Walker, Creeds and Platforms of Congregationalism, pp. 529-530, New York, 1893; idem, in American Church History Series, iii.293-299, ib. 1894; L. W. Bacon, The Congregationalists, passim, ib. 1904; F. H. Foster, New England Theology, Chicago, 1907.