“Jonathan Edwards’ first letter was an account of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. His first published sermon was a clear proclamation of the sovereignty of God in the work of redemption. His first book chronicled a revival. Awakening was a dominant theme of the life and ministry of Jonathan Edwards.” – Dr. Stephen J. Nichols, 2018.
In 1739 Jonathan Edwards preached a series of thirty sermons in his church at Northampton, Massachusetts. These sermons were based on Isaiah 51:8: “For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool, but my righteousness will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.” Edwards crafted a book containing these messages. He entitled the book A History of the Work of Redemption.
A History of the Work of Redemption traced God’s work of redemption from the beginning to the end of history. It was Edwards’ pronouncement of the truth of the gospel.
Whatever originality the book possesses is literary and theological. Edwards’ used figures of speech to connect the events of redemption history. These included the metaphors of a river and its tributaries, a tree and its branches, the construction of a building, the conduct of war, and “a wheel,” or “a machine composed of wheels” reminiscent of Ezekiel’s vision of the divine throne chariot and of clockwork.
The book also consists of Edwards’ examination of typology, the practice of interpreting things, persons, or events (the “type”) as symbols or prefiguration’s of future realities (the “antitype”). Protestants had restricted typology to figures, actions, and objects in the Old Testament which foreshadowed forth Christ as their antitype. Edwards interprets the New Testament typologically as well, arguing that relevant passages prefigure events in the church’s later history. Most radically, Edwards interprets nature typologically.
Finally, Edwards’ placed great emphasis on the objective and historical side of God’s act of redemption. The perspective was rare in Puritanism, which tended to stress the redemption’s application to the individual souls of sinners.
A History of the Work of Redemption is structured as follows.
I. From the Fall to the Incarnation.
A. From the Fall to the Flood.
B. From the Flood to the calling of Abraham.
C. From Abraham to Moses.
D. From Moses to David.
E. From David to the Babylonian Captivity.
F. From the Captivity to Christ.
G. Improvement of the First PERIOD.
II. From Christ’s Incarnation to his Resurrection.
A. Of Christ’s Incarnation.
B. The Purchase of Redemption.
C. Improvement of the Second PERIOD.
III. From Christ’s Resurrection the End of the World.
A. Scriptural Representations of this PERIOD.
B. How Christ was capacitated for effecting his Purpose.
C. Established Means of Success.
D. How the Success was carried on.
E. To the Destruction of Jerusalem.
A History of the Work of Redemption is available as a free download at monergism.com. Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Soli deo Gloria!