Today is the birthday of Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758).
American revivalist preacher, philosopher, and theologian, Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening and oversaw some of the first revivals in 1733–35 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts.
He attended Yale University (then Collegiate School of Connecticut) in 1716 just before reaching the age of 13, at a time when entrance into college required fluency in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Four years and one intense conversion later, he graduated as valedictorian, received his Masters of Divinity from Yale in 1722 and went on to become one of America’s most renowned theologians and philosophers, and, according to Yale’s website, “a testimony to Yale’s mind-altering powers.” Righto.
Today there is still a college at Yale named after him (their mascot is, of course, a spider) and there is the Jonathan Edwards Center whose mission is “to support inquiry into the life, writings, and legacy of Jonathan Edwards by providing resources that encourage critical appraisal of the historical importance and contemporary relevance of America’s premier theologian.”
Here are his 70 Resolutions, which ought to be read on a regular basis.
Keeping in mind #20 (Resolved, to maintain the strictest temperance in eating and drinking), I will toast old JE tonight.
The first instance that I remember of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, I Timothy 1:17, “Now unto the King, eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen.” As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven; and be as it were swallowed up in him forever! I kept saying, and as it were singing, over these words of Scripture to myself; and went to pray to God that I might enjoy him; and prayed in a manner quite different from what I used to do, with a new sort of affection. (The Works of Jonathan Edwards)