While we were on vacation this week I read ‘Jonathan Edwards: The Great Awakener‘, which is part of Barbour Publishings, ‘Heroes of the Faith’ series. I’m sure there are many better Edwards biographies out there, but I was looking for something on the shorter end and it was good enough for a quick summary.
At times it’s difficult to wrap our minds around the lives of those who’ve gone before and often difficult to draw comparisons between our lives and there’s due to the cultural gap that exists. However, one can’t read about Edwards without a clear impression of his gifted-ness as a person. Living in the 1700s and only until the age of 55, Edwards still managed to accomplish so much. He was a gifted student growing up and known for being a thoughtful writer. He attended (what would become) Yale at age 13 and would go on to become a pastor, a missionary, play a key role in the Great Awakening, President of Princeton University, and the father of eleven children (not to mention becoming the Grandfather of the third Vice President of the United States, Aaron Burr).
Famously, while at Yale, Edwards began to write his resolutions. Numbering seventy in all, they were commitments he made to keep him focused on what God would have him do that he resolved to re-read every week as a reminder.
Edwards rose at 4am each morning and would spend thirteen hours a day in study. Every evening an hour of conversation was devoted to his wife and children. Edwards wrote almost constantly and labored diligently to prepare each Sunday’s sermon. His time in the pulpit was very profitable overall and he saw much fruit from his labors (including several revivals), however, he was eventually run out of his church in Massachusetts when he challenged the practices of the day based on the truth of God’s Word.
Edwards spent time as a missionary to the Housatonic Indians before eventually moving on to take the position of President of Princeton College. At the age of 55, Jonathan Edwards passed away as the result of a fever he contracted after taking a smallpox vaccine.
I hope to have the chance to pick up a more thorough biography at some point, but that may have to wait until after I have the opportunity to read some of his actual works first. Edwards was a key Puritan mind and an excellent example of a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus Christ.