Jonathan Edwards and His Legacy -- By: Michael A. G. Haykin

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:3 (Summer 1995)
Article: Jonathan Edwards and His Legacy
Author: Michael A. G. Haykin

Jonathan Edwards and His Legacy 1

Michael A. G. Haykin

When D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones read his paper on “Jonathan Edwards and the Crucial Importance of Revival” at the Westminster Conference in 1976, he confessed that the paper was “one of the most difficult tasks I have ever attempted.” 2 Part of the reason for this, Lloyd-Jones admitted, was the immense influence Edwards had had upon him personally. 3 But there was also the fact that Edwards was a spiritual and theological giant. “I am tempted,” Lloyd-Jones said, “perhaps foolishly, to compare the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas, and Jonathan Edwards to Mount Everest!” And as he faced “this great peak pointing up to heaven,” Lloyd-Jones continued, he could feel like a weak “little climber.” 4 If Lloyd-Jones felt so daunted by Edwards, how much more does this writer! My only hope is similar to that of Lloyd-Jones: “to give some glimpses of this man and his life, and what he did,” with the goal of persuading you to read Edwards for yourself. 5

Edwards was born on October 5, 1703, in a town far from the centers of influence and power, East Windsor, Connecticut. His parents both came from well established New England Puritan families. His father, Timothy Edwards (1669–1758), the pastor of the Congregational church in East Windsor, was first cousin to the well-known Puritan theologian and historian Cotton Mather (1663–1728), while his mother, Esther (1672–1770), was the daughter of Solomon Stoddard (1643–1729), a prominent Congregationalist pastor in New England. Stoddard was especially renowned for his fervent preaching and for the recurrent revivals which his congregation in Northampton, Connecticut, had experienced.

Jonathan, the only son of eleven children, received his early education from his father and older sisters. At the age of thirteen he entered the Collegiate School of Connecticut in New Haven, Connecticut, which would later be renamed Yale College. Although he had been raised in an extremely godly home, and graduated from the Collegiate School in 1720 at the

head of his class academically, Edwards had neither inner peace nor saving faith. Writing later of his life at this time, Edwards said that it was characterized “by great and violent inner struggles” 6 Edwards stayed at the college for another two years after graduation in 1...

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