Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)
Jonathan Edwards, when he was 14, was eagerly reading philosophy as a student at Yale.
According to his biography at Christianity today:
He also was a young man with profound spiritual sensitivities. At age 17, after a period of distress, he said holiness was revealed to him as a ravishing, divine beauty. His heart panted “to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all, that I might become as a little child.”
This combination of intellect and piety characterized Edward’s whole life.
On July 8th, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon based on Deuteronomy 32:35 which reads: “Their foot shall slide in due time.” This sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” may be the only thing today’s American Christian would know about him. The title leaves an impression, but have you read this classic? Here’s a quote from the sermon:
Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock.
In context, a spiritual revival had broken out in his congregation in 1734 and was still ongoing. Rev. Edwards was not a fiery, judgmental preacher. People who heard him observed, “He scarcely gestured or even moved, and he made no attempt by the elegance of his style or the beauty of his pictures to gratify the taste and fascinate the imagination… [he convinced] with overwhelming weight of argument and with such intenseness of feeling.” He appealed to his congregation to flee God’s wrath and they responded.
God’s Glory by Jonathan Edwards
Edwards is called America’s greatest theologian.
In God’s Passion for His Glory, John Piper writes about Edwards’ influence on him. In the preface to his book, Piper writes: “This book is witness to my calling as a secondary teacher, not a primary one. Jonathan Edwards is a primary teacher in the Christian church; I am secondary.” The second part of his book contains and explains Edwards’ full essay, The End for Which God Created the World, with outlines and footnotes. Follow the link for a free download (255 pages) or to order the book.
I downloaded Piper’s book and then decided to order a hardcover. I’m eager to study the glory of God with John Piper and Jonathan Edwards. Here are some quotes from Jonathan Edwards’essay, The End for Which God Created the World:
“The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.”
“The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.”
“All that is ever spoken of in the Scriptures as the ultimate end of God’s works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God.”
- Christianity Today’s Biography: Jonathan Edwards, America’s Greatest Theologian
- What is “God’s Glory”?—Jonathan Edwards’ Theology at HonorShame.com, a blog focusing on the question: What is the gospel for honor-shame cultures?
- Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God: a Sermon Preached at Enfield, Jouly 8th, 1741 at a Time of Great Awakenings, and Attended with Remarkable Impressions on Many of the Hearers by Jonathan Edwards