Home  »  Volume XV: English COLONIAL AND REVOLUTIONARY LITERATURE EARLY NATIONAL LITERATURE: PART I  »  § 12. President of the College of New Jersey; Death

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XV. Colonial and Revolutionary Literature; Early National Literature, Part I.

IV. Edwards

§ 12. President of the College of New Jersey; Death

In 1757 his son-in-law, the Rev. Aaron Burr, died, and Edwards was chosen by the Trustees of the College of New Jersey to succeed him as president. Edwards hesitated, stating frankly to the Trustees his disabilities of health and learning, but he finally accepted the offer. He left his family to follow him later, and arrived in Princeton in January, 1758. Smallpox was in the town, and the new president was soon infected. His death took place on 22 March, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. His last recorded words were: “Trust in God and ye need not fear.”

The child was indeed father of the man, and it was peculiarly fitting that he who from youth upward had been absorbed in the idea of God should have died with the sacred word on his lips. But what shall be said of the fearlessness—and there is no reason to question the perfect sincerity of his spiritual joy—in the breast of one who had made terror the chief instrument of appeal to men and had spent his life in fighting for a dogma which the genial author of The One-Hoss Shay thought no decent man could hold without going crazy? To understand that charge properly we must throw ourselves back into the age in which Edwards lived.