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

By William J. Scheick | Go to book overview

[5]
Virtue and Identity: Last Works

I N 1750 a council was called to determine whether Edwards and the Northampton congregation could be reconciled. It decided by a majority of one vote that the minister should depart from his parish. Although Edwards had anticipated this outcome, the decision troubled him deeply. There is ample evidence that his dismissal weighed heavily on his mind throughout the remaining years of his life. He knew that, like everything else, this event was a sign from God; the trouble was, however, to determine whether God was displeased with the minister or with the parishioners of Northampton. He knew that most probably the congregation was at fault; yet did not his dismissal also point to his failure as well? In a letter dated July 1, 1751, he wrote: "I would be far from so laying all the blame of the sorrowful things that have come to pass, to the people, as to suppose that I have no cause of self-reflection and humiliation before God on this occasion. I am sensible that it becomes me to look on what has lately happened, as an awful frown of heaven on me, as well as on the people."1 Once more he found himself searching his heart for some insight into the mysterious ways of God; for, as he had remarked in his diary as early as 1722 concerning such trials, "God intends when we meet with them, to desire us to look back on our ways."2

Ten days after his formal dismissal he delivered a sermon, later published as A Farewel-Sermon Preached at the First Pre

____________________
1
The Great Awakening, ed. C. C. Goen, pp. 564-565.
2
Dwight, Life of Edwards, p. 77.

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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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