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Products>The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 19: Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738

The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 19: Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738

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Jonathan Edwards achieved the greatest sustained mastery of the sermon form between January 1734 and December 1738—a time in which he also kindled his first revival. The Northampton revival spread to neighboring towns and villages, as did Edwards’ renown. And the sermons of these years exhibit not only splendid rhetoric but also figural intricacies and tonal nuances that reveal his maturity as a writer.

During this period Edwards delivered probably four hundred sermons and lectures. Of the fewer than half that survive, some extend the reach of the previous dozen years of his ministry, others engage speculative theological issues, others touch on pastoral life, and still others deal with conversion and, in time, declension. Edwards also wrote a full account of the Northampton revival, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, which was published in 1737 in London and Edinburgh and within a year was reprinted there, issued in Boston in three printings, and translated into German. In addition, near the end of the period Edwards put together Discourses on Various Important Subjects, five sermons about the Awakening and the only gathering of sermons he saw through the press.

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“To determine persons’ condition, it should not so much be inquired what profession they make, and how they pretend, and how they talk, and what stories they tell of themselves, as what spirit they savor of. They give the best evidence, the best grounds abundantly, for others to entertain charitable thoughts concerning ’em, that besides their making a good profession, they seem to be persons of an excellent spirit.” (Page 697)

“Ruth forsook all her natural relations, and her own country, the land of her nativity, and all her former possessions there, for the sake of the God of Israel; as every true Christian forsakes all for Christ.” (Page 307)

“Because this history seems to be typical of the calling of the Gentile church, and indeed of the conversion of every believer.” (Page 307)

“The firmness of resolution in using means in order to it, is the way to have means effectual. There are means appointed in order to our becoming some of the true Israel, and having their God for our God; and the thorough use of these means, is the way to have success; but not a slack or slighty5 use of them. And that we may be thorough, there is need of strength of resolution, a firm and inflexible disposition, and bent of mind to be universal in the use of means, and to do what we do with our might, and to persevere in it.” (Page 313)

“Our resolutions to cleave to and follow those that are turning to God, and joining themselves to his people, ought to be fixed and strong, because of the great difficulty of it. If we will cleave to them, and have their God for our God, and their people for our people, we must mortify and deny all our lusts, and cross every evil appetite and inclination, and forever part with all sin. But our lusts are many and violent.” (Page 312)

Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) is considered one of America’s greatest theologians. While attending Yale College, he encountered the same Calvinism that had influenced his own Puritan upbringing.

Three years after Edwards was ordained as a minister, the First Great Awakening began in his church, which prompted Edwards to study conversion and revival within the context of Calvinism. During the revival, Edwards preached his most famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” and penned many of his most popular works, including Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, and Life and Diary of the Rev. David Brainerd.

In 1757, Edwards reluctantly became president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton University), where he hoped to complete two major works—an expansion of his treatise on the history of redemption and a study of the harmony of the Old and New Testaments. The Works of Jonathan Edwards (26 vols.) is a massive collection containing five decades’ worth of study and scholarship on and from Edwards.

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