Jonathan Edwards

1703-1758


Jonathan Edwards, an American puritan theologian and philosopher, was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, to Timothy Edwards, pastor of East Windsor, and Esther Edwards. The only son in a family of eleven children, he entered Yale in September, 1716 when he was twelve years old and graduated four years later as valedictorian. He received his Masters three years later.

In 1721 he came to what he called a “delightful conviction” while meditating on 1 Timothy 1:17.  "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… 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 for ever!" Edwards delighted in the sovereignty of God recognized this as his conversion to Christ.

In 1727 he was ordained minister at Northampton and was assistant to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard.   In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, then age seventeen, daughter of James Pierpont, a founder of Yale, Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children.

Solomon Stoddard died on February 11th, 1729, leaving to his grandson with the sole ministerial charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. Throughout his time in Northampton his preaching brought remarkable religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards was a key figure in what has come to be called the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s.

Tensions flamed as Edwards would not continue his grandfather's practice of open communion and Edwards was dismissed from the church in 1750.  He moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians.

Edwards was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a popular choice, for he had been a friend of the College since its inception and was the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time.

On March 22, 1758, he died of fever following an experimental inoculation for smallpox.  He was fifty-four.  He is buried in the President's Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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