Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening: From the Publisher

THIS IS OUR FOURTH ISSUE THIS YEAR and completes our first year as a quarterly publication. Four other issues appeared as an “occasional” publication. Thus, we now have published eight issues.

We still have no paid or fulltime staff and management, and administration is done on a volunteer basis. We are most thankful to those who have worked long and hard to make this magazine possible.

We are also indebted to you readers who take the time to write and give us your suggestions. Several future issues are now in process as a direct response to reader recommendations.

When we first started, a dedicated Christian young person, a college graduate, asked with a straight face: “Is there enough material available to keep on publishing in the future?” No joke. Perhaps you can appreciate our actual dilemma—what do we choose to extract from the seemingly inexhaustible mine of resources.

Jonathan Edwards is the first American to be treated in a full issue. The selection needs no justification. You will want to read more Edwards after reading this issue. The Banner of Truth Trust (Box 621, Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013) has published The Works of Jonathan Edwards in two thick volumes of very small print. The strain on the eyes is more than compensated by the 2000 pages of food for the mind and heart. They have other Edwards volumes in more comfortable print including his works on the revival and love.

You will recall from our Zwingli issue that a decisive point in the Reformation came at the Colloquy of Marburg in 1529 when Zwingli and Luther agreed on all points of doctrine except the Lord’s Supper and so went their separate ways. The Lord’s Supper was also the issue when Edwards’ congregation dismissed him as pastor at Northampton, Massachusetts. They would not accept his position that unbelievers should not be admitted to the Lord’s table.

Edwards’ farewell sermon is a classic. He commented to his flock:

“As you would seek the future prosperity of this society, it is of vast importance that you should avoid contention.
“A contentious people will be a miserable people. The contentions which have been among you, since I first became your pastor, have been one of the greatest burdens I have labored under in the course of my ministry—not only the contentions you have had with me, but those which you have had with one another, about your lands and other concerns—because I knew that contention, heat of spirit, evil speaking, and things of the like nature, were directly contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and did in a peculiar manner, tend to drive away God’s Spirit from a people, and to render all means of grace ineffectual, as well as destroy a people’s outward comfort and welfare.
“Let me therefore earnestly exhort you as you would seek your own future good, hereafter to watch against a contentious spirit. ‘If you would see good days, seek peace, and ensue it’ (I Peter 3:10–11). Let the late contention about the terms of Christian communion, as it has been the greatest, be the last. I would, now as I am preaching my farewell sermon, say to you, as the apostle to the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 13:11 ‘Finally brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God oft love and peace shall be with you.’ ”
By the Editor

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #8 in 1985]

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