Saturday, August 04, 2012


Surely all of my readers have heard of Jonathan Edwards. He was a great man of God and likely the greatest  American theologian ever. God used him mightily, along with George Whitefield and Gilbert Tennant, and some other lesser known preachers, in the Great Awakening that took place in America in the 1700s. It was probably the greatest move of God ever in the United States. Some historians have said that the Great Awakening laid the foundation for the American Revolution. Perhaps so, but I do know that it started a revival fire that burned for many years in this land. Many lives were changed. 

At the time the Great Awakening began, Mr. Edwards was the pastor of a church in Northampton, MA  It was on July 7,1731 that he preached in Boston, The Public Lecture, which was later published as God Glorified—Man’s Dependence, which was his first public attack on Arminianism. The emphasis of the lecture was on God's absolute sovereignty in the work of salvation: that while it behooved God to create man pure and without sin, it was of his "good pleasure" and "mere and arbitrary grace" for him to grant any person the faith necessary to incline him or her toward holiness, and that God might deny this grace without any disparagement to any of his character. In 1733, a Christian revival began in Northampton and reached an intensity in the winter of 1734, and the following spring, that it threatened the business of the town. In six months, nearly 300 were admitted to the church. That message in Boston may well be the spark that started the Great Awakening. 

About 1735 there was a reaction against the revival. So many were touched by it, but not all repented. There were a few in such despair that they committed suicide. This caused the revival to cool; it is said, except in parts of Connecticut. However, despite these setbacks and the cooling of religious fervor, word of the Northampton revival and Edwards's leadership role had spread as far as England and Scotland. It was at this time that Edwards was acquainted with George Whitefield, who was traveling the Thirteen Colonies on a revival tour in 1739–40. The two men may not have seen eye to eye on every detail. Whitefield was far more comfortable with the strongly emotional elements of revival than Edwards was, but they were both passionate about preaching the Gospel. They worked together to orchestrate Whitefield's trip, first through Boston and then to Northampton. When Whitefield preached at Edwards's church in Northampton, he reminded them of the revival they had experienced just a few years before. This deeply touched Edwards, who wept throughout the entire service, and much of the congregation too was moved. 

Revival began to spring up again, and Edwards preached his most famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, in Enfield, Connecticut in 1741. Though this sermon has been widely reprinted as an example of "Fire and Brimstone" preaching in the colonial revivals, this is not in keeping with Edward's actual preaching style. Edwards did not shout or speak loudly, but talked in a quiet, emotive voice. He moved his audience slowly from point to point, towards an inexorable conclusion: they were lost without the grace of God. While most 21st-century readers notice the damnation looming in such a sermon text, historian George Marsden reminds us that Edwards' was not preaching anything new or surprising: "Edwards could take for granted... that a New England audience knew well the Gospel remedy. The problem was getting them to seek it." That very well seems to be our major problem in this day; sinners taking seriously the Gospel. 

 Many were saved in that time through the ministries of these men. You can read the entire story in several books, including The Great Awakening by Joseph Tracy; Banner of Truth, London. That particular one is out of print, but you can buy a digital Kindle edition at Amazon for only $5.99.  

Now I want to share with you some of Edwards’ powerful words. Please read and reflect on them.  
As a voice from the past, God's mighty man raises His Standard high,
that God's Truth should not be lost in these
Last Days of deception.

"He being dead yet speaketh"

(Hebrews 11:4 ). 

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)  
God has laid himself under no obligation,
by any promise to keep any natural man
out of hell one moment.
God certainly has made no promises
either of eternal life,
or of any deliverance or preservation
from eternal death,
but what are contained in the covenant of grace,
the promises that are given in Christ,
in whom all the promises are yea and amen."

-fr   From Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards        
           (To download PDF version) 
“Though true grace has various degrees, and there are some that are but babes in Christ, in whom the exercise of the inclination and will, towards divine and heavenly things, is comparatively weak; yet everyone that has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things, with such strength and vigor that these holy exercises do prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections, and are effectual to overcome them: for every true disciple of Christ "loves him above father or mother, wife and children, brethren and sisters, houses and lands: yea, than his own life."”
“Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from divine light shining into the soul. This spiritual light is the dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing so powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark world. This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Savior.”
“They that are truly converted are new men, new creatures; new not only within, but without; they are sanctified throughout, in spirit, soul and body; old things are passed away, all things are become new; they have new hearts, and new eyes, new ears, new tongues, new hands, new feet…they walk in newness of life, and continue to do so to the end of life.”
Religious Affections, pp. 313-14
 “And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them,
chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them
support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.”
     "It would be a great defect and not perfection in the sovereign and supreme Judge of the world
      to be merciful in such a sense that He could not bear to have penal justice executed. The
      Scriptures everywhere represent the mercy of God as free and sovereign, not that the exercises
      of it are necessary so that God cannot bear that justice should take place" 
“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.”
 "All the fruits of the Spirit which we are to lay weight upon as evidential of grace, are summed
up in charity, or Christian love; because this is the sum of all grace. And the only way, therefore,
in which any can know their good estate, is by discerning the exercises of this divine charity in
their hearts; for without charity, let men have what gifts you please, they are nothing."
"A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God's power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God's wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him."
Published by Charles Woodruff- email:             


Marianne Lordi said...

Thanks for this post, Charles. I always marvel at how Edwards would give the uncompromised truth without waver. He said it like it was and he didn't care who he offended. Better to offend someone with the truth than to have them die to destruction with a lie! People of this age want to hear a soft spoken gospel that tickles their ears. However, the gospel that gives life and the power to triumph over evil is being compromised in most pulpits. We have come so far from the truth that to speak it now is to bring charges of intolerance and hate speech. It is a sad time that we live. I just read a quote by Bunyan who said, "Faith sees more in one promise of God to help, than in all other things to hinder. But unbelief, notwithstanding God's promise, saith, 'How can these things be?''. I wish now we had more men like these to preach the gospel.

–John Bunyan, Come and Welcome t

charles said...

You are always so faithful and kind. That was one of the things that impressed me regarding Edwards. He was kind, but very serious. I have always been drawn to 'no nonsense' preachers. It helps me stay focused on Jesus Christ. This is what we must do,stay focused on Him. Without that we are conquered!

Andy Underhile said...

Charles, Do you know what the source is for the quote you have by Edwards about God's revelation? I posted it and have been harassed for it because I didn't list the source.

Thanks, Andy Underhile

charles said...

Andy,I want to thank you for your visit to our blog. I am glad you enjoyed the piece by Jonathon Edwards. I am truly sorry you had to be harassed for republishing the piece on revelation. Of course it has been over a year since I published this. I have many quotes by Edwards in my files. He wrote much, and I am sure this piece can be found in his published works. I spent some time trying to find it, but did not succeed.However I did find online the exact quote several times, but no origin was given. The best thing I can do at this moment is refer you to Look for "The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards" by John Carnick (8/1/2008). He has this and several other good quotes by Edwards.You can also look under Google using the full quote and see 2 full pages of references. I hope this helps. God bless you.

Andy Underhile said...

I researched this quote for a a few days. I located what seems to me to be the source of the quote. I believe it to be a paraphrase, or perhaps a modernized rendering of a section of Religious Affections III.1. The wording is not identical, but it is so close that this must be the source.

charles said...

Very good Andy. I figured it was Religious Affections, but was not sure. Like I said, he wrote a lot of stuff, most of it very good.Please look over all my blogs. I am a little behind, but am going to put some new stuff on the blogs. Thanks for your prayers.