Religious thought of Dr. John Edwards of Cambridge (1637-1716)
Ray, Hermon Stevens
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It was my original hope to make the theology of Charles Simeon and his influence within the Church of England the subject of my research. However, inasmuch as "the apostle of the Cambridge Evangelicals" had already been studied by others, I was grateful to the Very Reverend Hugh Watt, D.D., D.Litt., former Principal of the New College, Edinburgh, for his suggestion to study, instead, Dr. John Edwards. Edwards was a distinguished, but now forgotten, predecessor of Simeon at Holy Trinity Church. My interest, therefore, has been divided between the theological and historical aspects of seventeenth century religion, and their continuing or recurring influence upon the eighteenth century awakening. This accounts for the space devoted to the period of Edwards's life and that which followed, and to the survey of the works of his "successors" both prominent and obscure, in Calvinistic thought. The thesis has been limited to the subject; yet, to examine the background and the later significance of his ideas seemed a vital part of the task. It will be observed that, for the sake of a more readable text, quotations from Edwards's works have been edited as regards spelling and punctuation. The sense of the passages, however, has been carefully maintained. A number of titles, moreover, received abbreviation in the Bibliography and footnotes. The aim, then, has been to discover and delineate the doctrines of the man in the light of his predecessors, contemporaries, and those who followed in his train. Little did the writer hope for as much significance as has been found; but the material has made the outline of the chapters. The thesis has grown from the reading of, and about, this voluminous writer of Cambridge, and the problem has been to limit the number of pages. Edwards brought introduction to several brilliant minds of the two centuries in which he lived. I thank him for this noble introduction to them and have sought to enter with sympathy into the experiences of their humbler contemporary in thinking and preaching.