Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Edwards, Jonathan

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EDWARDS, JONATHAN, D.D. (1629–1712), controversialist was born at Wrexham, Denbighshire, in 1629. He entered as a servitor at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1655, and took his B.A. degree in October 1659. In 1662 he was elected fellow of Jesus, and proceeded B.D, in March 1669. His first preferment was the rectory of Kiddington, Oxfordshire, which he exchanged in 1681 for that of Hinton-Ampner, Hampshire. On the promotion of John Lloyd, principal of Jesus College, to the bishopric of St. David's, Edwards was unanimously elected (2 Nov. 1686) his successor; he was made D.D. on 1 Dec. 1686, and held the office of vice-chancellor from 1689 to 1691. In 1687 he became treasurer of Llandaff, and was proctor for the chapter of Llandaff in the convocation of 1702, He held, apparently along with Hinton-Ampner, a living in Anglesea, and another in Carnarvonshire.

Edwards published the first part of his 'Preservative against Socinianism' in 1693, but the work was not completed till ten years later. His fundamental position is that Faustus Socinus is not to be allowed to rank as a heretic, but treated, like Muhammad, as the founder of a new religion (pt. i. p. 7). The Socinians, who had many passages of arms with Edwards's contemporary and namesake, John Edwards, D.D. (1637–1716) [q. v.], scarcely noticed the 'Preservative; 'in fact, by the time it was finished, the Socinian controversy was practically over, its place being already taken by the Arian controversy, initiated by Thomas Emlyn [q. v.] The title of Edwards's book was borrowed by Edward Nares, D.D. (1746–1841) [q. v.]

Edwards figures in the Antinomian controversy which agitated the presbyterians and independents of London, in consequence of the alleged anti-Calvinistic tendency of Dr. Daniel Williams's 'Gospel Truth,' 1691. Stephen Lobb, the independent, quoted Edwards as condemning the positions of Williams, but Edwards in a letter to Williams (dated from Jesus College, 28 Oct. 1697) justified the statements of Williams on the points in dispute. A controversy on original sin with Daniel Whitby, D.D., Edwards did not live to finish. He died 20 July 1712. He is buried in the chapel of Jesus College, to the repairs of which he had given nearly 1,000l. His books he left to the college library.

He published:

  1. 'A Preservative against Socinianism,' &c., pt. i. Oxford, 1693, 4to; 3rd edition, 1698, 4to; pt. ii. 1694, 4to; pt. iii. mdcxdvii, i.e. 1697, 4to; pt. iv. 1703, 4to; the Index to the four parts is by Thomas Hearne.
  2. 'Remarks on a Book … by Dr. Will. Sherlock … entitled, A Modest Examination of the Oxford Decree,' &c., Oxford, 1695, 4to.
  3. 'The Exposition given by the Bishop of Sarum of the 2nd Article … examined,' 1702 (Watt).
  4. 'The Doctrine of Original Sin … vindicated from the Exceptions … of D. Whitby,' Oxford, 1711, 8vo (Whitby replied in 'A Full Answer,' &c., 1712, 8vo). Edwards's letter to Williams appears at p. 70 of the latter's 'Answer to the Report which the United Ministers drew up,' &c., 1698, 12mo.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. 1692. ii. 898; Chalmers's Biog. Dict. 1814, xiii. 52; Edwards's works.]

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