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Featured Books

Featured Books

A Treatise Concerning Religious AffectionsSummary and Reviews of A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
Freedom of the WillSummary and Reviews of Freedom of the Will
The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, Missionary to the IndiansSummary and Reviews of The Life and Diary of David Brainerd, Missionary to the Indians
The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A ReaderSummary and Reviews of The Sermons of Jonathan Edwards: A Reader
The Works of Jonathan EdwardsSummary and Reviews of The Works of Jonathan Edwards
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Jonathan Edwards

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Edwards started down this path to eminency by preaching a group of sermons that attempted a return the Calvinist roots of the Puritans.  These sermons won many Christian converts in his church and won Edwards the attention of clergy from other churches.  One of these, Reverend Benjamin Colman, asked Edwards to write an account of the revival in his church, and Edwards eventually turned this into his first published book called A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God.  One of the ways in which Edwards puts forth his Calvinist beliefs in this work is his assertion that converts seem to be convinced by God of their need of him in different ways.  Some turn to God, he wrote, because they see him as loving; some turn to God because they see him as angry; and some turn to Him because they wish to know him and have communion with Him.  This proved to Edwards that it was all in the way that God chose to convert the sinner, not in how the sinner responded, that characterized religious conversion.

After becoming a victim of church disharmony over his policies at Northampton, Edwards turned to writing as an occupation.  Edwards, dismissed by vote of his congregation, refused to return to the ministry.  Instead, he became an administrator at a mission to Natives in Stockbridge, in western Massachusetts. 

While he was still a pastor, he wrote a major study of the role emotion played in religious conversion called Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, which was an attempt at an objective, systematic study of the subject.  Edwards’ arguments were too obscure to convince a lot of his contemporaries, but later generations began using it, and theologians still use it today as a source of study.

Edwards’ most difficult work may be his Careful and Strict Enquiry into the modern prevailing Notions of that Freedom of Will Which is supposed to be essential to…Praise and a Blame, commonly called The Freedom of the Will.  Edwards in his last major work argues that human beings are born in total depravity, meaning they have no tendency toward good or evil, completely at the mercy of Fate.  The difficulty was that while a person could live by the motto, “I can do, if I will,” the will was not really free.  The highest freedom a person could reach was to do “that which is agreeable,” which by nature he was motivated to do.  Edwards died at the age of fifty-five, after a failed smallpox vaccination, or else he might well have produced more than the already astounding twenty-four published titles he had by the time he died.

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