The Fertile Soil and Frightful Tragedies
Plowing of fallow ground – America at the end of the 18th century had lost some of its spiritual passion. Some have called this a "Spiritual Dullness" that was characterized as boredom with Gospel. God's grace poured out on this apathy in a controversial movement that we now call the 1st Great Awakening.
During this time, Princeton was in its infancy.
During the fall of 1739 the college was a log house containing 7 or 8 worthy ministerial candidates. George Whitefield visited them and wrote that they were "almost ready".
“The devil will certainly rage against them; but the work is of God and will not come to nought” George Whitefield
Good Providence and Problems at Yale-
The revival had a lot of fallout. David Brainerd was expelled at Yale for “intemperate, indiscreet zeal”. This mis-step was sovereignly used by God to ready men for change.
It caused Jonathan Edwards and others to begin the plan that became Princeton.
New Jersey College received its charter from the Governor on Oct 22- 1746. The intial board of trustees consisted of 4 ministers and 3 laymen of the Presbyterian Church- all but one was a Yale grad.
NJC (Princeton) was modeled after the English dissenting academies:
Emphasizing religion, math, English
Encouraging scientific research- "confident in its ability to reveal truth".
The original mission of the college was to raise up ministers AND men that will be useful in other learned professions. The graduates would become "ornaments of the State and Church".
EARLY DAYS AND HARD TIMES
The school had 8-10 students in 1st year. The 1st President died 41/2 months later. Aaron Burr took over and was frequently visited by Jonathan Edwards and Whitefield. Burr died at 41- the job of teaching, administration, and fund raising put him in his grave.
The next day the trustees picked Jonathan Edwards- Jan 1758- He died in March 1758 of a small pox vaccination. They loved him much and encouraged the vaccination to preserve him.
The school then chose Samuel Davies in May 1759, but he died in 1761 on pneumonia at age 37.
The college became dismayed and “spread a gloom all over the country”.
The hard times were about to turn, however, as John Witherspoon reluctantly agreed to take over the struggling school.