23, 176 1, and shortly afterwards became your pastor.
He had the oversight of this church for many years ;
voluntarily resigned his office, when he found the cause,
which was so near and dear to his heart, sinking under
his hands ; but continued preaching to the people, till
they obtained another minister, the person who ntnv ad-
dresses you, in the procuring of whom he was not inactive.
" After this, Mr. Edwards purchased a plantation in
Newark, New-Castle county, State of Delaware, and
* It is s'lid, that the church in Philadelphia, sent to Ur. Gill of London, to
assist them in obtaining a pastor ; but that they required so many accomplish-
ments to be united in him, that the Dr. wrote them back, that he did not know
as he could find a man in England who would answer their description ; in-
forming them, at the same time, that Mr. Morgan Edwards, who was then
preaching in five, in the county of Sussex, came the nearest of any one whr-
could be obtained.
Biography of Morgan Edwards. 297
moved thither with his family in the year 1772 ; he con-
tinued preaching the word of life and salvation in a num-
ber of vacant churches, till the commencement of the
American war. lie then desisted, and remained silent,
till after the termination of our revolutionary troubles,
and a consequent reconciliation with this church. He
then occasionally read lectures in divinity in this city,
and other parts of Pennsylvania; also in New- Jersey,
Delaware, and New-England ; but for very particular
and affecting reasons* could never be prevailed upon to
resume the sacred character of a minister.
" Our worthy friend departed this life, at Pencader,
New-Castle county, Delaware State, on Wednesday the
28th of January, 1795, in the 73d year of his age ; and
was buried, agreeable to his own desire, in the aisle of
this meeting-house, with his first wife and their children ;
her maiden name was Mary Nunn, originally of Cork,
in Ireland, by whom he had several children, all of whom
are dead, excepting two sons, William and Joshua ; the
first, if alive, is a military officer in the British service ;
the other is now present with us, paying this last publick
tribute of filial affection to the memory of a fond and pi-
ous parent. Mr. Edwards's second wife was a Mrs.
Singleton, of the State of Delaware, who is also dead, by
whom he had no issue.
" Several of Mr. Edwards's pieces have appeared in
print, viz. 1. A Farewell Discourse, delivered at the Bap-
tist meeting-house in Rye, Feb. 8, 1 76 1 , on Acts xx. 25, 26.
And now, behold, I know that ye #//, among whom I have gone
* The delicate circumstances in which Dr. Rogers was placed, at the time
he delivered this discourse, was probably the reason why he was not more ex-
plicit on the subject here referred to. It is said that Mr. Edwards, in the midst
of his troubles, was guilty, in a few instances at least, of using intemperately an
antidote, too often resorted to in the time of trouble. And as he had always
maintained the sentiment, that it was improper for a minister of the gospel,
after what may be called a ca/iital fall, ever again to resume his ministerial
office, he, for the remainder of his days, carried his belief into practical oper-
ation. It is painful to have occasion to relate an affair, so much against the
reputation of a man so good and great as Mr. Edwards, his slips ami mistakes
notwithstanding : but it is hoped the Baptists generally will profit by the un-
pleasant story ; and that those ministers, (and some it must be acknowledged
there are) who are so unhappy as to be left to similar fails, would imitate his
example, instead of crowding themselves forward, with their bespattered gar-
ments, to the grief of their brethren, and to the injury of the cause which they
endeavour to promote. A preacher, whose reputation is sullied, either by wom-
en or wine, (his greatest foes) is like a broken looking-glass,which may be mencl-
td, it is true, so as to do its former service; but it will always be a broken thinjf,
VOL, 2, 3*
Biography of Morgan Edwards.
preaching the kingdom of 'God r , shall sec my face no more:
fore, I take ycu to record this day, that I am pure from the
blood of all men. This passed through two editions, 8vo.
2d. A Sermon preached in the College of Philadelphia, at
the ordination of the Rev. Samuel Jones, (now D.D.)
with a narrative of the manner in which the ordination
was conducted, 8vo. 3d. The Customs of Primitive
Churches, or a set of Propositions relative to the Name,
Materials, Constitution, Powers, Officers, Ordinances, &c.
of a Church ; to which are added,' their proofs from
Scripture, and historical narratives of the manner in
which most of them have been reduced to practice, 4to.
This book was intended for the Philadelphia!! Associa-
tion, in hopes they would have improved on the plan, so
that their joint productions might have introduced a full
and unexceptionable treatise of church discipline. 4th.
A New-Year's Gift ; a Sermon preached in this house,
Jan. 1, 177O, from these words, This year thou shah die ;
which passed through four editions. \Vhat gave rise*
* " It has often been said, that when great men err, they err egregiouslv.
So did Mr. Edwards in the instance to which his biographer here refers. Led
by a mere foolish impulse, and not by Scripture, the gixxl man persuaded him-
self, that he should die on a certain day, and accordingly fireachcd his own
funeral sermon ; but the event did not answer to the prediction : "tic could not
die for his life." Wisdom was learnt from tolly, and many said, we fume the
Scripture to walk by; a more sure ivord than voices, new revelations and im-
pulses, to 'which ive do well to take heed, as to a light that fikineth in a dark
filace. This was a teaching lesson. - The late excellent Mr. George White-
held was, in his earlier days, under a similar delusion. His wife \v-is with
child ; he conjectured she would bring forth a son ; she did they culled his
name John; in all this there was no harm ; but Mr. Whitefield believed that
the child was not onlv to be continued to him, but to be a preacher of the ev-
erlasting srospel. "Satan was permitted," says he, "to give me some wrong
impressions. whereby, as I now hnd, 1 mi&ai filled several texts of Scripture.
About a week, after the birth of the child, his father baptised him in the Tab-
ernacle. Thousands went away big with hopes, that the child would hereaf-
ter be. employed in the work of the ministry, and Mr. Whitenekl as much sa
as any of them ; but little John died when he was about four months old, with-
out being great in the sight of the Lord, as his father had promised himself.
Tui.s mistake was over-ruled in mercv, and the great and good man himself
thus concludes the narrative of this afiair, (letter 547th, vol. 2d of his works :)
" I hope what happened before his birth, and since at his death, has taught
me such lessons, as, if duly improved, may render his mistaken parent more
sober minded, more experienced in Satan's devices, and consequently more
useful, in his future labours, to the church of God." How proper, that minis-
ters and Christians should learn from these instances, to avoid all enthusiastick.
impulses, and be concerned to put God's meaning on God's word !"
I find that some of Mr. Edwards's friends are unwilling to admit that he in-
tended the discourse above mentioned for his funeral sermon. But I have been
assured by one of his most confidential friends, that the story is literally true ;
and that he did actually request one of the senior ministers in the Philadelphia
Bhgfmphy of Morgan Edwards. 299
to this discourse will probably be recollected for many
years to come. 5th. Materials towards a History of the
Baptists in Pennsylvania, both British and German, dis-
tinguished into First-day, Keithian, Seventh-day, Tunker,
and Rogerene Baptists, 12mo. 1792. The motto of
both volumes is, Lo ! a people that dwell alone, and shall
not be reckoned among the nations. 7th. A Treatise on the
Millennium, sth. A Treatise on the New Heaven andNcw
Earth : this was re-printed in London. 9th. Res Sacra, a
Translation from the Latin. The subject of this piece is
an enumeration of all the acts of publick worship, which
the New-Testament styles offerings and sacrifices ; among
which, giving money for religious uses is one ; and there-
fore, according to Mr. Edvvards's opinion, is to be done in
the places of publick worship, and with equal devotion.
" Besides what he gave to his intimate friends as to-
kens of personal regard, he has left behind him 42 vol-
umes of sermons, 1 1 2 sermons to a volume, all written in
a large print hand ; also about a dozen volumes in quar-
to, on special subjects, in some of which he was respon-
dent, and therefore they may not contain his own real
sentiments. These, with many other things, unite to shew
that he was no idler.
" He used to recommend it to ministers to write their
sermons at large, but not to read them in the pulpit ; if
he did, he advised the preacher to write a large, fail-
hand, and make himself so much master of his subject,
that a glance might take in a whole page. Being a good
classick,and a man of refinement, he was vexed with such
discourses from the pulpit as deserved no attention, and
much more to hear barbarisms ; because, as he used to
say, " They were arguments either of vanity or indo-
lence, or both ; for an American, with an English gram-
mar in his hand, a learned friend at his elbow, and close
application for six months, might make himself master
of his mother tongue."
" The Baptist churches are much indebted to Mr.
Edwards. They will long remember the time and tal-
Association, to preach a sermon at his interment Although Mr. Edwards
lived twenty-five years after this event, yet he did actually die, at the time, in
a figurative sense. And it is reported of him, that he said to a friend, some
time after this unpleasant affair happened, that he was mistaken in his impul-
ses ; for he thought it was the man, and not the minister, that should die.
300 Biography of Morgan Edwards.
ents he devoted to their best interests both in Europe
and America. Very far was he irom a selfish person.
When the arrears of his salary, as pastor of this church,
amounted to upwards of ^37^, and he was put in
possession of a house, by the church, till the princi-
pal and interest should be paid, he resigned the house,
and relinquished a great part of the debt, lest the church
should be distressed.
" The College of Rhode-Island is also greatly behold-
en to him for his vigorous exertions at home and abroad,
in raiding money for that institution, and for his particu-
lar activity in procuring its charter. This he deemed
the greatest service he ever did for the honour of the
Baptist name. As one of its first sons, 1 cheerfully make
this publick testimony of his laudable and well-timed
" In the first volume of his Materials, he proposed a
plan for uniting all the Baptists on the continent in one
body politick, by having the Association of Philadelphia
(the centre) incorporated by charter, and by taking one
delegate out of each Association into the corporation ;
but finding this impracticable at that time, he visited the
churches from New-Hampshire to Georgia, gathering
materials towards the history of the whole. Permit
me to add, that this plan of union, as yet, has not SUC T
" Mr. Edwards was the moving cause of having the
minutes of the Philadelphia Association printed, which
he could not bring to bear for some years ; and there-
fore, at his own expense, he printed tables, exhibiting
the original and annual state of the associating churches.
" There was nothing , uncommon in Mr. Edwards's
person ; but he possessed an original genius. By his
travels in England, Ireland and America, commixing
with all sorts of people, and by close application to read-
ing, he had attained a remarkable ease of behaviour in
company, and was furnished with something pleasant
or informing to say on all occasions. His Greek Testa-
ment was his favourite companion, of which he was a
complete master ; his Hebrew Bible next, but he was
not so well versed in the Hebrew as in the Greek lan-
guage ; however, he knew so much of both as author: -
Biography of Benjamin Foster. 3O1
sed him to say, as he often did, that the Greek and
Hebrew are the two eyes of a minister, and the trans-
lations are but commentaries ; because they vary in
sense as commentators do. He preferred the ancient
British version above any other version that he had
read ; observing: that the idioms of the Welsh fitted
those of the Hebrew and Greek, like hand and glove.
" Our aged and respectable friend is gone the way of
all the earth ; but he lived to a good old age, and with
the utmost composure closed his eyes on all the things
of time. Though lie is gone, this is not gone \vith
him ; it remains with us, that the Baptist interest was
ever uppermost with him, and that he laboured inore to
promote it, than to promote his own ; and this he did, be-
cause he believed it to be the interest of Christ above any
in Christendom. His becoming a Baptist was the effect
of previous examination and conviction, having been
brought up in the Episcopal church, for which church
he retained a particular regard during his whole life."
BENJAMIN FOSTER, n. D. late pastor of the first Bap-
tist church in the city of New- York, descended from
respectable parents of the Congregational church, and
was born at Danvers, in the county of Essex, Massachu-
setts, June 12, 1750.
Agreeably to the custom of his native State, he receiv-
ed the early part of his education at the town school ;
and as he evinced, from his tender years, a remarkably
devout and pious disposition, his parents devoted his
whole time to academical pursuits in that seminary, in
order to fit him for the University, where they intended
to fix him, as soon as his age would admit of his remov-
al from under their immediate care. At the age of
eighteen, he was placed at Yale College, in Connecticut,
at that time under the direction of the learned and pious
President Dagget, where he soon distinguished himself,
no less by his religious and exemplary life, than by his
assiduity and success in classical literature.
About this time, several tracts relative to the proper
subjects of baptism, and also to the scriptural mode of
302 Biography of Benjamin Foster.
administering that divine ordinance having made their
appearance, the matter was considerably agitated in col-
lege, and fixed on as a proper subject for discussion.
Mr. Foster was appointed to defend infant sprinkling.
To prepare himself for the dispute, he used the utmost
exertion : he endeavoured to view the question in every
light in which he could possibly place it : he carefully
searched the Holy Scriptures, and examined the history
of the church from the times of the Apostles. The re-
sult however was very different from what had been ex-
pected ; for when the day appointed for discussion arriv-
ed, he was so far from being prepared to defend infant
sprinkling, that, to the great astonishment of the officers
of the college, he avowed himself a decided convert to
the doctrine, that only those who profess faith in Christ
are the subjects, and that immersion only is the mode of
Christian baptism ; and of which he continued, ever af-
ter, a steady, zealous and powerful advocate.
His mind was impressed with serious concern at an
early period, but he had nearly arrived at manhood be-
fore he obtained a satisfactory evidence of his having
passed from death unto life. While a youth, his tempta-
tions to blaspheme, were often so strong, that, as he re-
lated to some pious friends, he has laid fast hold of his
lips, to prevent himself from sinning against his Creator.
He graduated about the year 177'^, soon after which
he was baptized, and joined the church in Boston, of
which Samuel Stillman, D. D. was pastor, under wiu.-e
fostering care he applied himself to the study of divinity,
and took upon himself the charge of the Baptist church
in Leicester, Massachusetts, over which he \vas the same
year regularly ordained as pastor. During his residence
in that place, he published a tract, entitled, " The Wash-
ing of Regeneration, or the Divine Rite of Immersion,"
in answer to a treatise on the subject of baptism, written
by the Rev. Mr. Fish. And soon after he published his
" Primitive Baptism defended, in a letter to the Rev. Mr.
John Cleaveland ;" in both of which he discovered con-
siderable erudition, great depth of argument, and much
Christian charity. After having continued at Leicester
for several years, his connexion with that church was
dissolved, and he preached a short time in his native
Biography of Benjamin Foster. 30*
(own of Danvers ; but as neither Danvers nor Leicester
afforded him the use of such books as were necessary for
a person of his studious turn, he accepted of an invitation
to take upon him the pastoral care of a church in New-
port, Rhode-Island, where he soon had the satisfaction
to find, that his sphere of usefulness was considerably
enlarged, and his means of study greatly improved.
On an invitation from the first Baptist church in New-
York, lie paid them a visit in 1788, and after having
preached there for a short time, received an unanimous
call to settle amongst them as their pastor. Upon his
return to Newport, he consulted with his church, who,
though highly pleased with the eminent services of their
learned and faithful teacher, were unwilling to throw any
obstacle in the way, which might impede his removal to
a place, where his ministerial labours might still be more
extensively useful. He therefore accepted the call to
New-York ; and having taken upon him the pastoral
charge of that church in the autumn of the same year,
continued in that station till the time of his death.
In September 1 792, the degree of D. D. was conferred
upon him by the college of Rhode-Island, in consequence
of a learned publication of his, entitled, " A Disserta-
tion on the seventy weeks of Daniel ; the particular and
exact fulfilment of which prophecy is considered and
From the time Dr. Foster set out as a gospel minister,
he was uniformly assiduous in the discharge of all the
duties of his office ; nor did his zeal in the service of his-
Master abate, as he advanced in life ; for during his last
twelve or fourteen years, it was his constant practice to
preach from four to six sermons every week. But the
yellow fever, which committed so great havock in New-
York, during the autumn of 179, put a period to the
usefulness of this worthy man. This dreadful malady
had begun to prevail, and several of his friends had sunk
under its malignity. In their last illness, Dr. Foster was
frequent in his visits, when he prayed with them and ad-
ministered the soothing consolations of religion. As he
was one of those whom no appearance of danger couid
intimidate from persevering in what he considered to be
the path of duty,he was not unwilling to visit those scenes-
304 Biography of Daniel Fristoe.
of affliction, from which, at that time, many of the best
of men shrunk back with terror. He was, however,
seized with the disorder, and after an illness of a very
few days, expired, August 26, 1798, to the great and al-
most irreparable loss of his church, aged 49 years.
Dr. Foster, as a scholar, particularly in the Greek,
Hebrew and Chaldean languages, has left few superiors.
As a divine., he was strictly Calvinistick, and full on the
doctrine of salvation by free grace. As a preacher, he was
indefatigable. In private life, he was innocent as a child
and harmless as a dove, fulfilling all the duties of life
with the greatest punctuality. The following inscrip-
tion on a handsome marble over his grave, in the Bap-
tist buryirig-ground in New-York, written by an em-
inent Presbyterian clergyman of that city, is an en-
comium justly due to his memory : " As a scholar and
divine he excelled ; as a preacher he was eminent ; as a
Christian he shone conspicuously ; in his piety he was
fervent ; the church was comforted by his life, and i
now laments his death."
Dr. Foster was twice married, and in both instances
was blest with a pious and excellent companion. His
first wife, who was Elizabeth Green, daughter of Rev.
Thomas Green of Leicester, died August 19, 1793 ; and
his second was Martha, daughter of Mr. James Bingham
of New- York, whom he survived but a very short time.
She died July 27, 1798.
DANIEL FRISTOE was born at Chappawomsick, Staf-
ford county, Virginia, December 7, 1739. He was bred
an Episcopalian, but embraced the Baptist sentiments
soon after they began to prevail in Virginia, and was
baptized by his spiritual father, David Thomas. When
young, he received a liberal English education, and
though fond of fashionable amusements, was not addict-
ed to the grosser vices of the times.
His conversion was brought about on this wise.
When about 23 years of age, his curiosity led him to go
:i considerable distance to hear a Baptist preacher, whose
name is not known. While at the meeting, his horse
Biography of Daniel Fristoe. 20J
strayed away, which obliged him to tarry all night at
the place. In the course of the evening, many came in,
who had lately been converted, and who. by entering
freely into religious conversation, brought strange things
to his ears, and awakened his attention to eternal things.
He returned home with much seriousness and solicitude,
and after labouring a while under great distress of mind,
was brought into the liberty of the gospel. He now
began exhorting, but was soon called by his brethren
to the ministry. His course was short but rapid, and
the success which attended his labours, appears to have
been unusually great. About the year 177-J-, he wry?
sent as a messenger from the Ketockton to the Phiia-
delphia Association. Here he caught the small-pox, and
after a short tour of preaching in New- Jersey, return-
ed to Philadelphia, and began his journey homeward, but
was laid by at Marcus-Hook, a small town, a few miles
below the city, where he died in the 3,5th year of his
age. His remains were carried back to Philadelphia, and
buried in the Baptist ground.
The following extract from Mr. Fristoe's journal,
which has been preserved by Mr. Edwards, contains the
most interesting account of his ministry, which I have
been able to obtain ; for his biography has been almost
" Saturday, June 15, 1771. This day I began to act as
an ordained minister, and never before saw such mani-
fest appearances of God's working and the devil's raging
at one time and in one place. My first business was to
examine candidates for baptism, who related what God
did for their souls in such a manner as to affect many
present : then the opposers grew very troublesome, par-
ticularly one James Nayler, who, after raging and railing
for a while, fell down and began to tumble and beat the
ground with both ends, like a fi->h when it drops off the
hook on dry land, cursing and blaspheming God all the
while ; at last a <rentleman. offered ten shillings to anv
that would bind him and take him out of the place,
which was soon earned by some stout fellows who stood
by. Sixteen persons were adjudged fit subjects of bap-
tism. The next day being Sunday, about 20(X) people
came together; many more offered for baptism, 13 of
VOL. 2. 39
!jOi> Biography of John Gano,
whom were judged worthy. As we stood by the water,
the people were weening and crying in a most extraor-
dinary manner ; and others cursing and swearing, and
acting like men posseted. In the midst of this, a tree
tumbled down, being overloaded with people, who, Zic-
cheus-llkc, had climbed up to see baptism administered ;
the coming down of that tree occasioned the adjacent
trees to fall also, being loaded in the same manner ; but
none was hurt. When the ordinance was administered,
I I had laid hands on the parties baptized, we sang
those charming words of Dr. Watts, " Come^ we who lo-ve
Lor:/," <::c. The multitude sang and wept and smil-
ed in tears, holding up their hands and countenances to-
wards heaven, in such a manner as I had not seen before.
In going home, I turned to look at the people, who re-
mained by the water side, and saw some screaming on
the ground, some wringing their hands, some in extacies
of joy, some praying, others cursing and swearing, and