JONATHAN EDWARDS AND BENJAMIN FRANKLIN
Two EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY Americans, Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin, represent sharply contrasted aspects of the intellectual complex of their time. Edwards ( 1703-58), one of the few Americans who have made significant contributions to philosophy and theology, won international fame for his forceful and original thought in both fields. Franklin, on the other hand, concerned himself with politics, physical science, and practical ethics, leaving metaphysics out of account. Both were among the most distinguished colonial stylists, although they wrote very differently, and each gave more memorable literary expression to his way of thought than any American contemporary. Their intellectual attitudes were poles apart, but each was immensely important in its relation to the development of basic American ideas.
Jonathan Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale with a high record when not quite seventeen, studied theology, preached in a Presbyterian pulpit in New York, and in 1724 came back to Yale as a tutor. In 1727 he went to Northampton, Massachusetts, to share a pastorate with his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. In the same year he married Sarah Pierrepont of New Haven, who seems to have been temperamentally a mystic. He said that at times God "comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding great delight" so "that she hardly cares for anything except to meditate on him."1
Stoddard died in 1729 and Edwards succeeded to his pulpit where he preached until 1750 when he was dismissed by his congregation which disagreed with him about standards for admission to the church. He preached a noble farewell sermon and moved to Stockbridge, then a frontier settlement, to serve as a missionary to the Indians and a minister____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Literature of the American People:An Historical and Critical Survey. Contributors: Arthur Hobson Quinn - Editor. Publisher: Appleton-Century-Crofts. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1951. Page number: 106.
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