Jonathan Edwards was born October 5, 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut. Edwards’s father, Timothy, was pastor of the church at East Windsor, Connecticut. His mother, Esther, was a daughter of Solomon Stoddard, pastor of the church at Northampton, Massachusetts.
Jonathan was the fifth child and only son among 11 children. He grew up in an atmosphere of Puritan piety, affection, and learning. Jonathan was trained for college by his father and elder sisters, all of whom received an excellent education. Edwards’ future ministry as a pastor and theologian was certainly grounded by his childhood.
One biographer of Edwards writes, “Edwards was reared with the rigorous Christian piety of his Calvinistic Puritan heritage. His father’s congregation in East Windsor was visited with seasons of revival and Edwards was not left untouched by them. His spiritual life had its ups and downs and there were times when Edwards thought he had true faith in Christ. But it was not until he was a college student that he “closed with Christ” in a saving way.”
Edwards enrolled in Yale College in 1716. He was just shy of his thirteenth birthday. While at Yale, he became acquainted with John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. During his college studies, Edwards also kept notebooks labeled “The Mind,” “Natural Science,” (containing a discussion of the atomic theory), “The Scriptures” and “Miscellanies.”
One historian explains, “Edwards was fascinated by the discoveries of Isaac Newton and other scientists of this time period. Before he was called to full-time ministry work in Northampton, he wrote on various topics in natural philosophy, including flying spiders, light, and optics. While he worried about those of his contemporaries who seemed preoccupied by materialism and faith in reason alone, he considered the laws of nature to be derived from God and demonstrating his wisdom and care. Edwards’s written sermons and theological treatises emphasize the beauty of God and the role of aesthetics in the spiritual life.”
Edwards continued to be interested in science even after his graduation from Yale. Although many European scientists and American pastors found the implications of science pushing them towards the false theology called Deism, Edwards believed the natural world was evidence of God’s masterful design (Psalm 19). Throughout his life, Edwards often went into the woods as a favorite place to pray and worship the Lord in the beauty and solace of God’s creation.
Take the opportunity today to bask in the beauty of God’s creation. Go for a walk, or even a bike ride, and use it as a time for prayer and worship. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!