Jonathan Edwards: Biography
Jonathan Edwards was a colonial American Congregational preacher and theologian, He is known as one of the greatest and most profound American evangelical theologians. His work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Calvinist theology and the Puritan heritage.
He started a great series of religious conversions which occurred between 1734-1750 along the East Coast and became known as the Great Awakening. Edward’s maternal grandfather Solomon Stoddard was a very influential Puritan minister.
His father was also a minister and gave the son a good education, first at home, where the boy’s mother had a more formative influence. He was the only son of eleven children. He attended newly founded Yale College (later Yale University) which was moved to New Haven in 1716, the year when thirteen-year old Edwards was admitted there to study theology. He stayed on after his graduation in 1720, and later, after a short sojourn in New York, he came to Northampton to help his grandfather in pastoral work.
In 1727 he married Sarah Pierrepont who at the age of 13 claimed that “God has manifested Himself to her mind”. One of his first significant sermons delivered to Northampton congregation demonstrates the influence of Locke’s empiricism and sensualism. For his theories he drew support from the Bible.
His important sermon: THE SINNERS IN THE HANDS OF AN ANGRY GOD
Edward’s sermons caused a change in the sentiments of many people. He preferred to show the beneficent working of Divine Will, and placed emphasis on the sensuous beauty of Divine Creation.
Although he was later dismissed from his church and silenced by his own congregation, he showed the principal way of development of religious worship in America.
Features of his work
-emphasize the sovereignty of God
-depravity of human mankind
-reality of hell
-necessity of new world conversion
-signs of true sainthood and false belief
He had mystical experience, he tried to renew Calvinism. In the 18th century- God is the prime cause, he created world and gave laws, then he stopped interfering (no miracles). He wanted to convert Indians to Christianity.