“Awakening was a dominant theme of the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards.” – Stephen J. Nichols, 2018.
“Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1–8 (ESV)
Jonathan Edwards was committed to the biblical doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Throughout the 1730’s, he consistently preached the doctrines of God’s grace to the congregation of Northampton. He understood that true conversion, along with true revival, is solely the product of the Holy Spirit’s work through the preaching of the Word of God by the faithful man of God.
In 1734, Edwards preached a sermon titled A Divine and Supernatural Light. “When dead souls rise to new life, when blind eyes see the beauty of the gospel, and when deaf ears hear the transforming truth of the redemptive work of Christ—all of this is because of the divine and supernatural light. It is not a human or a natural light. Spiritual awakening comes from heaven above,” Edwards stated,
Edwards was not only concerned about the conversion of the lost, but also deeply concerned about the spiritual growth and maturity of his believing congregation. He faced the challenge of promoting godliness within the Northampton church that often seemed to lapse into spiritual indifference. The fervent task of the faithful pastor has remained the same.
“To correct the errors into which some had fallen during the last years of (Solomon) Stoddard’s pastorate, Edwards focused his preaching in the early 1730’s on common, specific sins. He urged people to repent and to embrace the gospel by faith, explains Dr. Joel Beeke. ”
Edwards’ sermons resulted in a series of spiritual “awakenings” at Northampton. Edwards described, in his first book entitled Faithful Narrative of Surprising Conversions in the winter of 1734-1735, that young people and their parents responded to biblical truth with renewed interest. They began examining both their public and private behavior.
“People who visited Northampton noticed the change of spiritual climate and returned to their homes bearing Edwards’s message. Meanwhile, independently of Northampton, the Holy Spirit brought revival to other places as well,” Dr. Beeke states.
The periodic awakenings which took place in the Connecticut River Valley in the mid to late 1730’s would serve as a prelude for what the Lord would bring forth in the early 1740’s throughout the American colonies and beyond. More to come.
Soli deo Gloria!