“Jonathan Edwards has always seemed to me the man most like the Apostle Paul.” – D. Martyn Lloyd Jones
In spite of Jonathan’s rigorous upbringing and exposure to biblical Christianity by his family, he remained unconverted. When Jonathan turned thirteen, his father Timothy enrolled him at the newly founded Collegiate School of Connecticut. The school would later be known as Yale.
Timothy Edwards received his education at Harvard. Harvard began as a Calvinistic school, but had theologically weakened under unbiblical influences. It was due to this “doctrinal erosion” that Timothy decided to enroll Jonathan at Yale, which at the time was strongly committed to Reformed theology. .
At Yale, Jonathan received an excellent college education. He studied grammar, rhetoric, logic, ancient history, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, metaphysics, ethics, natural science, Greek, Hebrew, Christian theology, natural philosophy, and classical literature. He also had a healthy education in the writings of John Calvin, John Owen, William Ames and other Puritan scholars.
Jonathan graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1720. He was at the head of his class. He delivered the valedictory address. However, he still was not a converted Christian.
Upon graduation, Jonathan immediately began pursuing a master’s degree at Yale. His studies required two years of independent study. It was during his second year of graduate studies that he received Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord (John 1:12-13). In contemplating I Timothy 1:17, he wrote, “There came into my soul, and there was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from anything I ever experienced before.”
Concerning his conversion, Jonathan would later write, “I began to have a new kind of apprehensions and ideas of Christ, and the work of redemption, and the glorious ways of salvation by Him. An inward, sweet sense of these things, at times, came into my heart; and my soul was led away in pleasant views and contemplations of them. My mind was greatly engaged to spend my time in reading and meditating on Christ, on the beauty and excellency of His person, and the lovely way of salvation by free grace in Him.”
Dr. Steven J. Lawson writes, “We live in a day of spiritual laxity. Many who confess Christ are pampering themselves to death rather than pushing themselves to holiness. Their spiritual muscles are untrained and unfit. Their wills are soft and unresolved. This is why a study of the life of Jonathan Edwards is so valuable. Considered the towering figure in American Colonial history – arguably the greatest pastor, preacher, philosopher, theologian and author America has ever produced – Edwards lived with an enlarged desire to experience personal godliness.”
May we pursue godliness in much the same way. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!