Edwards lived in an era of dramatic social and intellectual change. Technological advances in manufacturing changed social life, especially in England. Enlightenment thought was beginning to influence the theology of America, emphasizing reason and slighting the traditional Christian view of man’s nature. Deism was popular among intellectuals in Europe and America, and some thinkers were ready to dispense with the supernatural altogether. However, working within a framework of biblical faith, Edwards did not reach the conclusion—as many persons did—that man’s reason would lead him to do the good.

Edwards worked creatively within the Calvinist tradition, believing that a return to orthodoxy would result in a great revival in America. Faced on the one hand with the rising tide of rationalism and on the other hand with religious revivals that often dispensed with reason altogether, Edwards tried to steer a middle course and maintain a balance of reason and emotion, head and heart in the Christian life.

Jonathan Edwards

1703 Jonathan Edwards born in East Windsor, Connecticut

1716 Admitted to Yale

1720 Graduates from Yale and studies there for the ministry

1722 Serves as pastor of a New York Presbyterian church for eight months

1724 Elected a tutor at Yale

1726 Called to Northampton church as assistant minister to grandfather Solomon Stoddard.

1727 Marriage to Sarah Pierrepont

1729 Death of Solomon Stoddard

1731 Delivers Public Lecture at First Church, Boston

1734 Beginning of Great Awakening in Northampton

1740 Whitefield briefly joins Edwards in revival preaching

1741 Preaches sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at Enfield

1742 Writes Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion

1746 Writes A Treatise Concerning Religious ...

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