Jonathan Edwards

“In 1735–37, a revival swept through Northampton. About it Edwards wrote, “A great and earnest concern about the great things of religion and eternal world became universal in all parts of the town…the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner and increased more and more; souls did, as it were, by flocks come to Jesus Christ.”

Overnight, the town was transformed. The citizens sang hymns in the streets, the tavern closed, the young people pursued God in bands, and it was impossible to get into church unless one arrived hours early.

Then in 1740, like a great flash flood, the Great Awakening rolled through New England, and Northampton was included. It was at this time that Edwards preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at Enfield with such remarkable results. It is estimated that 10 percent of New England was converted during this time. Imagine today 28 million converted in 2 years. Picture every church in your town doubling or tripling in the next 2 years, and you have some grasp of the enormity of what happened.” – William Farley

Trying to define what it looks like to treasure Christ can easily be reflected in the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards. His passion for the supremacy of God in all things overshadowed his own life, and it was his heart to pursue Christ above and beyond anything this world had to offer.  His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God’s holiness.  Very few have been able to capture this vision of God as Edwards was so gifted to be able to convey. This page is but a memorial to one of the world’s most important and influential theologians.

A God-sized Vision

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of Him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.”

 

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2003 Desiring God Conference

One of the reasons that the world and the church need Jonathan Edwards three hundred years after his birth is that his God-entranced vision of all things is so rare and yet so necessary. Mark Noll wrote about how rare it is:

Edwards’ piety continued on in the revivalist tradition, his theology continued on in academic Calvinism, but there were no successors to his God-entranced world view . . . The disappearance of Edwards’s perspective in American Christian history has been a tragedy.

Conference Messages

  1. A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: Why We Need Jonathan Edwards 300 Years Later
  2. Speaker Interviews, Session 1  Sarah Edwards: Jonathan’s Home and Haven
  3. Jonathan Edwards: The Life, the Man, and the Legacy
  4. Speaker Interviews, Session 2
  5. Joy’s Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven
  6. The Glory of God and the Reviving of Religion  How Jonathan Edwards Got Fired, and Why It’s Important for Us Today
  7. Pursuing a Passion for God Through Spiritual Disciplines: Learning from Jonathan Edwards
  8. A Divine and Supernatural Light Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God 

What is missing is the mind-shaping knowledge and the all-transforming enjoyment of the weight of the glory of God. The glory of God-holy, righteous, all-sovereign, all-wise, all-good-is missing. God rests lightly on the church in America. He is not felt as a weighty concern. David Wells puts it starkly, “It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world.” It is an overstatement. But not without warrant.

What Edwards saw in God and in the universe because of God, through the lens of Scripture, was breathtaking. To read him, after you catch your breath, is to breathe the uncommon air of the Himalayas of revelation. And the refreshment that you get from this high, clear, God-entranced air does not take out of the valleys of suffering in this world, but fits you to spend your life there for the sake of love with invincible and worshipful joy.

Free e-book Resources from Desiring God

Twenty-five hundred people gathered in Minneapolis in October 2003 to celebrate the 300th birthday of Jonathan Edwards (1703- 1758), considered by many to be “the greatest philosopher-theologian yet to grace the American scene.”1 The conference, hosted by Desiring God Ministries, was entitled “A God-Entranced Vision of All Things: The Unrivaled Legacy of Jonathan Edwards.”

This book is a continuation and expansion of that tercentenary celebration, with the aim of introducing readers to Edwards, and more importantly, to his “God-entranced vision of all things.” This vision is not properly Edwards’s, but God’s. God is the designer and definer of reality, and all of life must be lived to his glory. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), working “heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Col. 3:23).

Jonathan Edwards said it best: “the whole is of God, and in God, and to God, and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair.”

This is the God-given, God-centered, God-intoxicated, God-entranced vision of all things. Edwards did not invent this vision. But God gave him the grace to articulate this vision as well as or better than anyone ever has.

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John Piper writes of Jonathan Edwards “But even more important than making all things his own in unique ways was his riveted focus on God, and his unwavering passion to see all that could be seen of God in this life.

“To live with all my might, while I do live” was his resolution. He applied it mainly to the pursuit of God. Thus he resolved again, “When I think of any theorem in divinity to be solved, immediately to do what I can towards solving it, if circumstances do not hinder.”

The channel where this passion for God flowed was the channel of unremitting, prayerful thinking on the truths of Scripture. Hence he resolved once more “to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.” Which means in the end that Edwards too was a secondary teacher—as are all honest Christian pastors and theologians. “He was a man who put faithfulness to the Word of God before every other consideration.”

Jonathan Edwards believed entirely “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.”

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Favorite Works of Jonathan Edwards

In the Words of Jonathan Edwards

“Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory, and my own good, profit and pleasure, in the whole of my duration, without any consideration of the time, whether now, or never so many myriad’s of ages hence. Resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most for the good and advantage of mankind in general. Resolved to do this, whatever difficulties I meet with, how many and how great soever.”

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