After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology

By Oliver D. Crisp; Douglas A. Sweeney | Go to book overview

14
Great Admirers of the
Transatlantic Divinity
SOME CHAPTERS IN THE STORY OF BAPTIST
EDWARDSIANISM

Michael A. G. Haykin

It w[ould] be well if all Christians w[ould] labor earnest-
ly after the investigation of truth, without being unduly
influenced either by their attachment to old ideas and phrases
on the one hand, or by the affectation of novelty on the other
.

JOHN RYLAND, Jr.1

IT WAS AS an advocate of revival that Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was first read by English Baptists in the “long” eighteenth century. Representative in this regard was Benjamin Beddome (1717–1795), the Baptist minister of Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds. A local revival that took place under his ministry in the early months of 1741 was quite significant for the shape of his long ministry at this church, which lasted from 1740 till his death in 1795. Around forty individuals were converted, including John Collett Ryland (1723–1791), a leading, though eccentric, Baptist minister in the latter half of the eighteenth century.2 It may well have been this taste of revival that helped make Beddome a cordial friend to those who were involved in the evangelical awakenings of the mid-eighteenth century—men such as George Whitefield (1714–1770) and the Mohegan Indian preacher Samson Occom (1723–1792)3— and gave him an ongoing hunger to read of revival throughout the Englishspeaking world. Certainly, within a year of the Bourton awakening Beddome purchased a copy of Edwards’s The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (1741), which would have given him a sure foundation for thinking about and laboring for revival.4

-197-

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