length to which a Calvinistic logician of genius was compelled by his own scheme to go. We still see the tall, sweet-faced man, worn by his daily twelve hours of intense mental toil, leaning on one elbow in the pulpit and reading from manuscript, without even raising his gentle voice, those words which smote his congregation into spasms of terror and which seem to us sheer blasphemy.
Yet the Farewell sermon
of 1750 gives a more characteristic view of Edwards
's mind and heart, and conveys an ineffaceable impression of his nobility of soul.
His diction, like Wordsworth
's, is usually plain almost to bareness; the formal framework of his discourses is obtruded; and he hunts objections to their last hiding-place with wearisome pertinacity.
Yet his logic is incandescent.
Steel sometimes burns to the touch like this, in the bitter winters of New England
, and one wonders whether Edwards
's brain was not of ice, so pitiless does it seem.
His treatise denying the freedom of the will has given him a European reputation comparable with that enjoyed by Franklin
in science and Jefferson
in political propaganda.
It was really a polemic demonstrating the sovereignty of God, rather than pure theology or metaphysics.