Dickinson, Jonathan

Dickinson, Jonathan D.D.. a Presbyterian minister and President of Princeton College, was born at Hatfield, Mass., April 22, 1688, and graduated at Yale 1706. After being engaged for some time in the study of theology, he was licensed and ordained in 1709. His field of labor embraced Elizabethtown, Rahway, Westfield, Connecticut Farms, Springfield, and Chatham, N. J. In 1717 he joined the Philadelphia Presbytery, where he continued to exercise his ministry for nearly forty years. In the great Whitefieldian revival he stood up firmly in defense of the genuineness of the work, and on one occasion at least Whitefield is known to have preached in his parish to an immense congregation. Still he had no sympathy with the prevailing fanatical tendencies of the time, and manifested the utmost caution in discriminating between a true and false religious experience. He published a tract bearing on this subject, written with great vigor and discrimination. After the division of the Presbyterian Church in 1741 into the Synods of New York and Philadelphia, each synod was intent on making provision to train up young men for the ministry. Dickinson was the acknowledged leader of the Synod of New York, as he had been of the old Synod of Philadephia before the separation, and he is supposed to have had a primary influence in originating the College of New Jersey. A charter for a college having been obtained from the acting governor of the colony, the institution, which took the name of Nassau Hall, went into operation, with Jonathan Dickinson as its president, though, in taking upon himself this new office, he did not relinquish any of his duties as a pastor. It did not commence its operations till 1746, and his death occurred on the 7th of October, 1747. His publications include A Defence of Presbyterian Ordination (1724); Four Sermons on the Reasonableness of Christianity (1732); Five Discourses on Points of Christian Faith, etc. (1741); A Display of God's special Grace (1742); Reflections on Regeneration, with a Vindication of the received Doctrine (1745); A Vindication of God's sovereign free Grace (1746); A second Vindication, etc. (1748); and several detached sermons. Sprague, Annals, 3, 14.

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