The Writings of Jonathan Edwards: Theme, Motif, and Style

By William J. Scheick | Go to book overview

[2]
Reason and Intuition: Early Sermons

I N 1727 Edwards completed his second year as tutor at Yale and accepted the post of assistant to his grandfather, the Reverend Solomon Stoddard of Northampton. Although in 1728 he preached a sermon entitled "The Excellency of Christ" which proved quite popular -- "I had been earnestly importuned for a copy of it for the press," he later explained 1 -- his first major work appeared in 1731, two years after Solomon Stoddard's death, when he delivered in Boston a sermon which was to become his first publication: God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man's Dependence upon Him in the Whole of It. Between 1733 and 1735 Northampton underwent a religious revival or, as Edwards expressed it, a time "of extraordinary effusion of God's Spirit."2 Although the town had been subject to several such revivals during the years under Stoddard's pastorate, this event particularly moved the youth of the community. The insecurity of their lives is, for instance, the focus of "Pressing into the Kingdom of God," a sermon Edwards delivered during this time in which he reminds his audience of "the repeated deaths of young persons amongst us."

With the revival several heretical notions resurfaced regarding man's ability to do something on his own initiative toward achieving salvation. These ideas had reared their heads time and

____________________
1
"Preface," Discourses on Various Important Subjects, Nearly Concerning the Great Affair of the Soul's Eternal Salvation, in Works ( Dwight), 5:350.
2
"Pressing into the Kingdom of God," Works ( Dwight), 5:474. The following two quotations are also from this sermon (5:476, 473).

-17-

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The Writings of Jonathan Edwards: Theme, Motif, and Style
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Title Page 1
  • [1] - Nature and the Mind: Early Writings 3
  • [2] - Reason and Intuition: Early Sermons 17
  • [3] - Parents and Children: Works of the Postrevival Period 40
  • [4] - Affections and the Self: Writings During The Great Awakening 67
  • [5] - Virtue and Identity: Last Works 112
  • [6] - Pastor and Prophet: Conclusion 140
  • Works Cited 151
  • Index 155
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