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[60] both in a sweet conjunction; majesty and meekness joined together; it was a sweet and gentle, and holy majesty; and also a majestic meekness; an awful sweetness; a high, and great, and holy gentleness.

This is not the Edwards that is commonly known, and indeed he put little of this personal rapture of holiness into his published works, which were almost exclusively polemical in design. Only once, perhaps, did he adequately display this aspect of his thought to the public; and that was in the Dissertation on the nature of virtue, wherein, starting from the definition of virtue as “the beauty of the qualities and exercises of the heart,” he proceeds to combine ethics and aesthetics in an argument as subtle in reasoning as it is, in places, victorious in expression. One cannot avoid the feeling, when his writings are surveyed as a whole, that in his service to a particular dogma of religion Edwards deliberately threw away the opportunity of making for himself, despite the laxness of his style, one of the very great names in literature.

It should seem also that he not only suppressed his personal ecstasy in his works for the press, but waived it largely in his more direct intercourse with men. He who himself, like an earlier and perhaps greater Emerson, was enjoying the sweetness of walking with God in the garden of earth, was much addicted to holding up before his people the “pleasant, bright, and sweet” doctrine of damnation. Nor can it be denied that he had startling ways of impressing this sweetness on others. It is a misfortune, but one for which he is himself responsible, that his memory in the popular mind today is almost exclusively associated with certain brimstone sermons and their terrific effect. Best known of these is the discourse on Sinners in the hands of an angry God, delivered at Enfield, Connecticut, in the year 1741. His text was taken from Deuteronomy: “Their foot shall slide in due time” ; and from these words he proceeded to prove, and “improve,” the truth that “there is nothing that keeps wicked men at any moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure of God.” He is said to have had none of the common qualities of the orator. His regular manner of preaching, at least in his earlier years, was to hold his “manuscript volume in his left hand, the elbow resting on the cushion or the Bible, his right hand rarely raised but to turn the leaves, ”

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