Christian History Timeline: Jonathan Edward’s World

EDWARDS LIVED IN AN ERA of dramatic social and intellectual change. Technological advances in manufacturing changed social life, especially in England. Enlightenment thought was beginning to influence the theology of America, emphasizing reason and slighting the traditional Christian view of man’s nature. Deism was popular among intellectuals in Europe and America, and some thinkers were ready to dispense with the supernatural altogether. However, working within a framework of biblical faith, Edwards did not reach the conclusion—as many persons did—that man’s reason would lead him to do the good.

Edwards worked creatively within the Calvinist tradition, believing that a return to orthodoxy would result in a great revival in America. Faced on the one hand with the rising tide of rationalism and on the other hand with religious revivals that often dispensed with reason altogether, Edwards tried to steer a middle course and maintain a balance of reason and emotion, head and heart in the Christian life. 

Jonathan Edwards

1703 Jonathan Edwards born in East Windsor, Connecticut

1716 Admitted to Yale

1720 Graduates from Yale and studies there for the ministry

1722 Serves as pastor of a New York Presbyterian church for eight months

1724 Elected a tutor at Yale

1726 Called to Northampton church as assistant minister to grandfather Solomon Stoddard.

1727 Marriage to Sarah Pierrepont

1729 Death of Solomon Stoddard

1731 Delivers Public Lecture at First Church, Boston

1734 Beginning of Great Awakening in Northampton

1740 Whitefield briefly joins Edwards in revival preaching

1741 Preaches sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” at Enfield

1742 Writes Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion

1746 Writes A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections

1747 Death of David Brainerd at Edwards’ home

1748 Beginning of dissension in Edwards’ church

1750 Farewell Sermon at Northampton

1751 Settles in Stockbridge as pastor to settlers and missionary to Indians

1754 Writes Freedom of the Will

1755 Writes Nature of True Virtue

1757 Chosen president of College of New Jersy (Princeton)

1758 Inaugurated president at Princeton

1758 Dies of smallpox March 22

World Events

1701 Thomas Bray, representative of Bishop of London, organizes Society for Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts;

1701 Collegiate School (later called Yale) founded

1702 Anne Queen of England (to 1714) Queen Anne’s War (colonial phase of War of Spanish Succession, concluded by Treaty of Utrecht, 1713)

1702 Cotton Mather writes Magnalia Christi Americana, ecclesiastical history of New England

1703 John Wesley born

1704 Death of English philosopher John Locke, a major influence on Edwards Weekly Review, first American newspaper, published in Boston

1707 Act of Union unites England and Scotland under name Great Britain

1707 Isaac Watts’ Hymns and Spiritual Songs alters course of English hymnody

1709 First mass emigration of Germans to America (Pennsylvania)

1709 Piano invented

1710 Bishop George Berkeley’s Principles of Human Knowledge

1711 Steele and Addison publish The Spectator, gentleman’s newspaper with commentary on news, literature, and art

1712 Last execution for witchcraft in England

1712 Newcomen steam pump, new aid to coal mining

1713 Treaty of Utrecht ends War of Spanish Succession

1714 German philosopher Liebniz’ Monadology, a rebuttal to mechanistic views of man

1714 George I, first Hanoverian King of England (to 1727)

1715 Death of Louis XIV of France. Succeeded by great-grandson

1717 Inoculation against smallpox introduced into England by Lady Mary Wortley Montague

1719 Protestant dissenters tolerated in Ireland

1719 Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe

1721 Czar Peter the Great of Russia subordinates church to state, replaces Patriarch with Holy Synod

1721 Robert Walpole is Britain’s first Prime Minister (to 1742)

1722 Herrnhut founded as Moravian settlement in Saxony by Count von Zinzendorf

1723 Christianity banned in China

1723 Death of architect Christopher Wren, designer of St. Paul’s cathedral

1726 Gilbert Tennent leads revival in New Jersey

1726 Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

1727 Death of Isaac Newton, whose work Edwards admired

1727 George II King of England (to 1760)

1729 North and South Carolina created as crown colonies

1731 Expulsion of Protestants from Saltzburg. Many emigrate to America

1732 Birth of George Washington

1732 Georgia established as colony under James Oglethorpe

1732 First edition of Poor Richard’s Almanack published by Benjamin Franklin

1733 J.S. Bach’s B-Minor Mass

1733 John Kay invents flying shuttle used in textile mills

1735 Linnaeus’ Systema Naturae, outlining his system of taxonomy of plants

1735 Freedom of the press established in New England by Zenger case

1736 Witchcraft statutes repealed in England

1736 Joseph Butler’s Analogy of Religion written as rebuttal to Deism

1738 John Wesley’s Aldersgate experience, leading to the Methodist Revival

1739 War of Jenkins’ Ear between England and Spain (to 1742)

1740 Frederick the Great reigns as King of Prussia (to 1786)

1740 Samual Richardson’s Pamela, sometimes regarded as first modern English novel 

1741 American Presbyterians split over issue of revivalism

1742 First performance of Handel’s Messiah

1742 Jews expelled from Russia

1744 First Methodist General Conference

1744 King George’s War (colonial phase of War of Austrian Succession, ended in 1748)

1744 Painter and engraver William Hogarth’s illustrations for Marriage a la Mode

1746 College of New Jersey (Princeton) founded

1747 Actor David Garrik becomes manager of Drury Lane Theatre

1747 Samuel Johnson begins publication of his Dictionary of the English Language

1748 Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws

1749 Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones

1751 Currency Act restricts issuance of paper money in New England

1751 First volume of French Encyclopedia, published as a monument to reason

1754 French and Indian War (to 1763)

1755 David Hume’s Natural History of Religion, denying supernaturalism in religion

1755 Lisbon earthquake kills 30,000 people

1756 Birth of Mozart

1759 Quebec falls to the British

1759 Voltaire’s Candide

By the Editors

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

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