Sunday, February 5, 2012

Edward D Griffin 1770 - 1837

Edward D. Griffin planned to become a minister but upon entering his senior year at Yale; he realized that he didn't know Jesus Christ as his lord and savior. He turned to study law for the idea of becoming a minister without faith in Christ was horrifying to him. Edward Griffin was born on January 6, 1770 to a prominent wealthy family living in East Haddam, Connecticut.

He became miserable after falling ill and being confined to a sickbed in July of 1791. Griffin contemplated these thoughts:

If I cannot bear this for a short time, how can I bear the pains of hell forever?”

The thoughts of eternal punishment continued to torment him for three months. Within those months he eventually trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

Consequently, he began to question his decision to study law and become a lawyer. On a Sunday after church, he ascended the steps to his room and thoughtfully contemplated:

And why should not you be a minister?”

By the time he reached the top of the staircase; he resolved to thoroughly investigate the issue. He earnestly sought direction from God through prayer and by searching through the Holy Scriptures. He would open his Bible and read a passage which repeatedly pointed him in the direction of the ministry.

The Scriptures gave him direction toward “preaching the everlasting gospel and plucking souls as brands from the burnings.” Edward Griffin was certain that he had been called to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ after reading his Bible for less than forty-five minutes.

Griffin attended Yale College; graduated with honors and joined the Congregational church when he began theological studies. On October 31,1792, he received his license to preach.

Griffin was trained by Jonathan Edwards Jr. and served as pastor in various Congregational churches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. He began his ministry at a Congregational church in New Hartford, Connecticut in 1795.

He became the pastor of churches in New Salem; New Hartford, Connecticut; New Orange, and in Newark, New Jersey. Reverend Edward Griffin became the professor of preaching at Andover Seminary in 1808. He became the pastor of Park Street Church in Boston between 1811 and 1814. Between the years of 1821 and 1836 Griffin served as the president of Williams College.

A national revival known as the Second Great Awakening was occurring throughout America during Griffin's ministry. Revival fires began to spread throughout the nation after years of decline following the American Revolution. Edward Griffin played an important role in the spiritual awakening that was occurring in the frontiers of Kentucky and the institutions of higher learning on the East coasts.

Griffin believed that revival was the result of an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and not the efforts of man. His preaching was passionate as was his praying. He urgently appealed to sinners to be reconciled to God through Christ. He sought to stay true to the Scriptures always displaying the kindness of God even when engaged in controversy.

Griffin held to his maxim: 
“Crush heresy, but spare the heretic.”

During the Second Great Awakening the frontier's of Kentucky and the halls of Princeton and Yale were consumed with persons seeking Christ. From 1790, when the revival began, America entered a remarkable era for the next forty-five years.

The history of his life seems little less than the history of one unbroken revival; and it would perhaps be difficult to name the individual in our country since the days of Whitefield who has been instrumental of an equal number of hopeful conversions.”

Edward Griffin was a man of God who came into God's harvest fields during the early days of the revival. In God's providence, he arrived in God's perfect timing when the harvest was made ready through prayer.

In 1829, one who heard Edward Griffin while in New Jersey described his preaching filled with love and brokenness which empowered his oratory.

During most of the sermon his face was wet with tears, and for nearly an hour he spoke to us with such tender and appealing sentences that it seemed as if his hearers must cry out in an agony of fear and trembling...But what a climax the ending was! It was a wonder how he endured the strain so long that he had not given up physically exhausted. The mental agony, the heartbreaking sympathy, were enough to break an angel down! When he fell on his knees as if he had been knocked on the head with an ax, with outstretched arms, tears coursing down his face, he cried out; “Oh! My dying fellow sinners, I beseech you to give your heart to the Savior now. Give your life to Jesus Christ, do not putt it off! Do not leave this house without dedicating yourself to His service, lest you be left at last to cry, the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved.”

Edward Griffin was keenly aware of his own personal need to drink of the Fountain of Living Waters. The man of God, an instrument of true revival, is fashioned in the secret place of prayer. Griffin described the transforming effects of a personal encounter with the Living God. is only when the open face we behold the glory of the Lord that we are changed from glory to glory. A view of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, is the faith which purifies and produces good works. When God is seen in all the majesty of His glory, in the awful purity of His holiness, the Christian cannot, dare not willingly sin. He pants after universal purity with groanings that cannot be uttered. This is the faith 'which worketh by love.' Under the influence of these views the Christian knows what is to be moved to action by the love of God in Christ...”

His wife's health required them to travel to New Jersey in 1800. While he was in New Jersey, Griffin received a call to become the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Newark. In Griffin's era, there was a great deal of cooperation between Congregationalists and Presbyterians. Sometimes there were referred to as “Presbygationalists.” Griffin became the co-pastor with Dr. Alexander McWhorter. After serving in Boston at a later date, he returned to Newark in 1815 and became the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church which had been newly founded.

Reverend Griffin was also involved in helping to found the American Bible Society. He also offered his services to the United Foreign Missionary Society. Three colleges offered him the presidency of their respective institutions. He eventually accepted the call from Williams College of Massachusetts and was inaugurated as president of the college in 1821. He chose to remain with the college until 1836 when he resigned due to his failing health.

Newark Presbyterian Church was among the largest churches in the nation. Griffin left Newark Presbyterian to become the professor of pulpit eloquence at Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. He assumed his new position after leaving Newark for Boston accompanied by five students. Lewis LeCount Conger was among the five students who accompanied him on his journey to Boston. Conger whom Griffin had grown to love deeply fell seriously ill. Reverend Griffin sought to console and comfort the family of the young seminary student. Edward Griffin began to correspond with Conger's family informing them of his condition and seeking to comfort their hearts.

January 2, 1810 
My Dear Sir, 
"How often have you and your dear family said, “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.” What a blessing it is that he has the appointment of all our changes and trials...You have given a son to Christ, and if he has work for him on the earth, he will preserve him, and make him a blessing to the church; but if he has other designs, he will, I doubt not, take him to himself." 

"...Lewis has the typhus fever. His mind is weak; but he loves to hear of the name of Christ, and will listen with deep interest and tender affection to every thing that is said about the blessed Savior...I beseech you, my dear friends...Prepare for every thing which God has in store for you...May God Almighty support you, my dear friends, under this trial, is my prayer."

January 3, 1810 

"We do little else but pray for him; and the whole college is crying with tears, “Spare him, spare him!” ...I cannot but humbly and earnestly pray that God will spare him for your sakes, and for ours, and for the sake of Christ."

January 6, 1810 

"The Almighty God support you, my dear friends, under the trial you must feel. I wish will all my heart that I had something agreeable to communicate. And I have – Jesus of Nazareth reigns. The infinite God is happy. And our dear Lewis is happy. Ah, my heart, why this aching and trembling? The will of God is done. Lewis himself wished that the will of God might be done. And I am confident that he does not wish to oppose it now...Lewis left these abodes of pain this morning at 10 o'clock..." 

"No young man was ever more beloved...He has not lived in vain...He has been the means of good to some souls; and by his influence on the college, has probably been indirectly the means of some good to thousands..."

January 7, 1810 
"My friends, it is all the appointment of heaven. Eternal wisdom fixed it that he should die at this time and place... 

Think not my dear friends, that you have lost your pains in giving him an education. No, you have been fitting him for more than a pulpit – for a higher throne in heaven...There it is! Think not of him on a bed of sickness, in a land of strangers...Think of him on Mount Zion. There is all that is Lewis. The rest is mere dust. We have not lost him. He is only gone a little before us...There we shall soon find him and enjoy him again, and forever – far more than we ever did in this world... 

Your afflicted and affectionate friend,"

God's anointing was upon Reverend Edward Griffin who received the blessing of a history almost unequaled in the history of the Christian church in America for his ministry was one of nearly continuous revival.

Wherever Griffin preached, people were drawn by the Holy Spirit to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Under his ministry more people were converted to Christianity than under the preaching of any other man of God since George Whitefield during the 1st Great Awakening.

There were only eighteen students out of the entire student body of Williams College who were not Christians while he was president of the college.

In his old age, Edward Griffin diligently pursued a greater intimacy with his Lord and Savior. While thirsting for more of Jesus he declared:

"I long and pray for high communion with God and for affections more ardent and delightful than I have ever felt before."

He departed from this world after giving his grandchildren and servants a challenge to meet him in heaven. His passion to save the lost continued till his death. He declared to his grandsons:

You must give your heart to the Savior. Don't put it off another hour.”

Edward D. Griffin entreated his granddaughter: 
“Give your heart to the Savior while you are young.”

After he experienced failing health Griffin moved to Newark and lived with his daughter and her family.

He had a slight paralytic stroke a few years before his death. Eventually, he experienced a dropsical condition in which he retained fluids in his chest.

Griffin was neither disheartened nor sad but was expectant. He gladly anticipated being with the One to whom he introduced to others through his preaching and ministry. A friend who was visiting with Griffin expressed her desire to be as faithful as Griffin. She expressed to him her wish to experience God's kindness when she died. He replied to her: 

“Don't say that again, sister; it is not because I am good, but because Christ has died.”

Through his words and demeanor the contemporary reader finds a calm confidence in the sovereignty God who orders all things according to His divine will for good to those who believe him. 

A local minister, “alluding to the providence which brought him back to Newark, beautifully remarked: “It was fitting that he who came in his youth to teach us how to live should come, when his head was gray, to show us how to die.” (Sprague, p. 237)

In the early morning hours Edward Door Griffin fell asleep and awoke in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Reverend Edward D. Griffin left this world to appear before his Lord and Savior on November 8, 1837.

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