Jonathan Edwards and Divine Harmony


Communicativeness and the Harmony of Reality: Describing the Distinctive Features of Jonathan Edwards’ Theology and Work

I once regarded grand theories about Jonathan Edwards as artificial and reductionistic. However, this opinion did not survive my own research. It turns out that the idea of macroscopic theories is actually fairly consonant with the character of Edwards’ work, much of which was concerned with reconstructing the larger picture of God’s glorious work in creation and redemption. Moreover, I cannot but agree with those who say that Edwards must be understood holistically.[1] Doing this inevitably requires constructing some kind of model that describes Edwards as a whole. The differences between doing this much and espousing a grand theory are not all that great. If there is any difference at all, it might be in the distinction between merely describing a figure and attempting to explain him (recall my reductionism objection), but theories can do the former without necessarily encroaching into the latter.  

So larger theories might not be all that alien to Edwards, they are integral to a holistic understanding, and they need not be reductionistic. Without going as far as to say such theories are necessary, they are certainly useful tools for the student of Edwards. What, then, is my theory? To summarise what I deal with at length elsewhere, it consists of two interrelated claims about Edwards’ theology and methodology.[2] The first claim is that Edwards’ distinctive theological insight—what makes him characteristically Edwards and not, say, Calvin—can be summed up by his statement in Miscellany 332: ‘God is a communicative being.’[3] The second claim is that Edwards’ distinctive methodology was to interpret the harmony in and among the media of revelation (Scripture, nature and history). In other words, his project was to discern and re-communicate the harmony of reality.

I think these claims make sense of Edwards’ work from several angles. For instance, Gerald McDermott has taught us about Edwards’ lifelong struggle against Deism.[4] If you were to state the basic Deist polemic against Christianity, it would be the non-communicativeness of God and the disharmony of reality. God has not spoken to us, at least not in terms of words recorded in a book. Nature and philosophy are at odds with Christianity, history is at odds with Scripture, and the two testaments of Scripture are at odds with each other. Edwards replies that, on the contrary, there is perfect harmony in and among all these things. Furthermore, this entire universe exists for the very purpose of God’s ultimately unified, harmonious communication to us.

In this article, we shall look at what I would consider the three most significant elements of the corpus for any grand theory. If a theory cannot be squared with how Edwards understood his own religious experience, his vocation, and with the concerns of his projected master projects, then it is not serving its intended purpose very well. Thus we will look at Edwards’ ‘Personal Narrative,’ his doctrine of the ministry, and, most importantly, common threads between the unfinished ‘Great Works.’ First we need to take an abbreviated look at how these distinctive concerns—divine communicativeness and the interpretation of harmony— arise from Edwards’ theology itself.

Divine Communicativeness and Harmony

Edwards was an Augustinian in his basic conception of the Trinity. However, the particular expression of his Trinitarianism was prompted by a critical engagement with some less orthodox elements of his Enlightenment context.[5] Partially in response to charges by skeptics that the doctrine of the Trinity was flagrantly irrational and unbiblical, Edwards developed a concept of necessary plurality that offered some rationale for this doctrine.[6] Edwards argued the mere fact that God is good—something even the most hardened Unitarian would affirm—implies more than a unitary deity:

‘It appears that there must be more than a unity in infinite and eternal essence, otherwise the goodness of God can have no perfect exercise. To be perfectly good is to incline to and delight in making another happy in the same proportion as it is happy itself, that is, to delight as much in communicating happiness to another as in enjoying of it himself…’[7]

Being perfectly good means to delight in ‘communicating’ your good estate with another, and this demands an eternal plurality in the divine being. Edwards found an apologetic for the doctrine of the Trinity in the concept of divine communicativeness.

Edwards used divine communicativeness to solve a theological problem that fascinated him throughout his career: why did a self-sufficient God create? The answer is ‘God is a communicative being,’ and he created the world ‘to communicate himself’ to intelligent beings.[8] This teleology had wide-ranging implications, particularly in terms of his doctrine of revelation.  In Edwards’ communicative perspective, it was not that some knowledge of the Deity was the by-product of the Clockmaker’s world machine; it was rather that the universe was designed expressly to be the vehicle of God’s personal communication to men and angels. Thus every aspect of reality—nature and history as well as Scripture—was suffused with revelatory content and intended for joyful human appropriation. Moreover, as repetition ad extra of the eternal communication inside the Trinity, the content of revelation corresponds to God’s own multi-dimensional sharing of his knowledge, love, and joy. This multi-dimensionality was reflected in the character of Edwards’ work. Why, for instance, was he so concerned with the religious affections, not only the treatise of that name but how he was concerned to convey truth using words and ideas that would tend to stir the appropriate affections?[9] It was because Edwards believed that God communicates his love and joy as well as his knowledge, so that appropriate affections were just as essential to authentic reception as correct beliefs.

In any case, Edwards believed all created reality was God’s self-communicative work. God had a ‘project’ in creation and redemption, and that project was to communicate himself to intelligent beings in knowledge, love and joy. The Christian’s corresponding project is to ‘[a]ct as a creator with God in the pursuit of that good design God has in view and not as an opposer of it.’[10] We might expect that he would align his own life’s work with this carefully developed teleology, which was posthumously recommended to the world in The End For Which God Created the World.[11] We might expect Edwards to spend his life conveying to his fellow human beings the abundant knowledge, love, and joy he had been given for this purpose. Divine communicativeness was the foundation of his distinctive project.

Edwards’ theology then had implications for his methodology, at least macroscopically. Edwards thought that the salvific reception of God’s communication, though dependent upon the prior work of the Holy Spirit, was characterized by the apprehension of harmony.[12] The Triune God is the ‘…supreme harmony of all.’ When God communicates himself, he communicates harmoniously.[13] This harmony permeates all aspects of reality, so if we are experiencing the universe rightly, this harmony will be perceived. Indeed, Edwards thinks that intelligent beings were created with the very purpose of perceiving and taking delight in it.[14] And since harmony can be created only by intelligence, logically, the perception of harmony leads one to know the intelligent being that lies behind it: ‘Sensible things, by virtue of the harmony and proportion that is seen in them, carry the appearance of perceiving and willing being.’[15] All of the media of revelation carry this divine stamp of harmony pointing toward their author, as in the example of Scripture:

‘…there is that wondrous universal harmony and consent and concurrence… that the evidence is the same that the Scriptures are the word and work of a divine mind, to one that is thoroughly acquainted with them, as ’tis that the words and actions of an understanding man are from a rational mind, to one that has of a long time been his familiar acquaintance.’[16]

When one apprehends the harmony manifested in God’s Word and works, one is drawn to the reality of its author; and when one knows the author, one can better recognize and enjoy his handiwork. This insight determined the distinctive methodology of Edwards’ project: to interpret or demonstrate harmony.

Example: The Redemptive-Historical Beatific Vision

In what sense can we say that divine communicativeness and harmony describe Edwards’ distinctive theology and methodology? Perhaps an example would be useful. Consider Edwards’ take on the beatific vision. Traditionally, the beatific vision means that the saints in heaven are able to see God in some way. Edwards affirms this basic concept. But here is the distinctive Edwardsean twist: he thinks that one of the main ways this happens is that the saints in heaven observe the progress of redemptive history on earth.[17] He writes: ‘That the glorified spirits shall grow in holiness and happiness to eternity, I argue from this foundation, that their number of ideas shall increase to eternity.’[18] Edwards thought that intelligent creatures were created to know God, love the God they knew, and enjoy the God they loved. It seemed intuitively clear to him that ‘glorified spirits’ would have fresh input into this process in the form of new ideas. Thus, the saints and angels would forever know God more, love him more and enjoy him more, in an eternally upward spiral.

Edwards found scriptural support for his concept from Luke 15:

‘It seems to be quite a wrong notion of the happiness of heaven, that it is in that manner unchangeable, that it admits not of new joys upon new occasions. The Scripture tells us that there is joy in heaven and amongst [the angels] upon the conversion of one sinner; and why not among the saints? .…Their joy is continually increased, as they see the purposes of God’s grace unfolded in his wondrous providences towards his church…’[19]

Edwards thinks that the heavenly state is progressive and that the revelation funding this progression comes, at least partially, from witnessing redemptive history.

This concept forms an important part of the beautiful sermon Edwards preached for the funeral of David Brainerd. Here we find Edwards explaining the blessedness of heaven, where the great reward will be our intimate conversation with Christ. And one of the main topics of this conversation will be the state of affairs on earth.

‘That part of the family that is in heaven, are surely not unacquainted with the affairs of that part of the same family that is on earth.  […]  And that which gives them much greater advantage for such an acquaintance, than the things already mentioned, in their being constantly in the immediate presence of Christ, and in the enjoyment of the most perfect intercourse with him, who is the King who manages all these affairs, and has an absolutely perfect knowledge of them.’[20]

In other words, the saints in heaven are not just left to themselves to figure out the sometimes difficult-to-discern harmony of redemptive history. Christ himself interprets it for them. So this doctrine of the beatific vision is an illustration of how divine communicativeness and the interpretation of harmony might describe much of what is distinctive in Edwards’ work.

Three Key Elements of the Corpus

Now let us turn to those three key elements of the corpus mentioned above: the ‘Personal Narrative,’ the minister’s project, and the unfinished ‘Great Works’.

The “Personal Narrative”

While one could argue as to what extent the ‘Personal Narrative’ is idealized, I think most would agree that it must in some way represent Edwards’ conception of true religion, if for no other reason that he regarded himself as an example of a regenerate believer.[21] What, then, are the elements of religious experience that feature in this famous account? First of all, he recounts the discord that previously prevailed in his mind between the scriptural teaching of divine sovereignty and his own human reason:

‘From my childhood up, my mind had been wont to be full of objections against the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, in choosing whom he would to eternal life, and rejecting whom he pleased; leaving them eternally to perish, and be everlastingly tormented in hell.  It used to appear like a horrible doctrine to me.’[22]

Thanks to the regenerating work of God, however, Edwards could say ‘[T]here has been a wonderful alteration in my mind, with respect to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, from that day to this; so that I scarce ever have found so much as the rising of an objection against God’s sovereignty.’[23] In other words, Edwards was enabled to see the harmony between what Scripture taught regarding the doctrine of election and true reason.

Moreover, it was not that Edwards had merely achieved a correct notional understanding of doctrinal truth. Trinitarian communication involves love and joy as well, and we see that Edwards is careful to add that his rational reconciliation was accompanied by the appropriate affectional response: ‘I have often since, not only had a conviction, but a delightful conviction. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty has very often appeared, an exceeding pleasant, bright and sweet doctrine to me: and absolute sovereignty is what I love to ascribe to God.’[24] Edwards’ paradigmatic spiritual state is one that apprehends the beautiful harmony between scriptural doctrine and reason, a state of joyous affectional response as well as noetic integration.

Another item that Edwards includes in the ‘Narrative’ is the related shift in his attitude towards natural manifestations of God’s power, such as thunderstorms:[25] ‘I used to be a person uncommonly terrified with thunder: and it used to strike me with terror, when I saw a thunderstorm rising. But now, on the contrary, it rejoiced me.’[26] The regenerate Edwards found that he took delight in ‘the awful voice of God’s thunder,’ just as he had grown to love the truth of God’s sovereignty taught in Scripture. The sensory input is exactly the same before and after, but the supernaturally regenerate heart is able to appreciate the beauty of which it was previously insensible or where it had previously perceived dissonance.

Edwards then describes his regenerate response to the clearest medium of God’s communication, the Scriptures:

I had then, and at other times, the greatest delight in the holy Scriptures, of any book whatsoever.  Oftentimes in reading it, every word seemed to touch my heart.  I felt an harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words.  I seemed often to see so much light, exhibited by every sentence, and such a refreshing ravishing food communicated, that I could not get along in reading.[27]

He saw ‘such refreshing ravishing food communicated…’ in the fresh knowledge of God it conveyed to him. Notice also the words ‘I felt an harmony between something in my heart, and those sweet and powerful words.’ Rather than the dissonance or disaffection the Deists usually expressed, regenerate minds experience the real harmony that exists between their Spirit-indwelt souls and the Spirit-inspired Scriptures. And of course, Edwards does not neglect the affectional dimension; his main point was to say that reading the Bible gave him the ‘greatest delight.’

Finally, Edwards explains how history and current events were grist for his apprehension of the harmony of reality. ‘The histories of the past advancement of Christ’s kingdom, have been sweet to me. When I have read histories of past ages, the pleasantest thing in all my reading has been, to read of the kingdom of Christ being promoted.’[28] Given those sentiments, we can see why Edwards would have been so enthusiastic about his ‘History of the Work of Redemption’ project.[29] The pages of history have become such rich fuel for Edwards’ joy that it is just natural that he would want to help others to join in this delightful appropriation of God’s revelation throughout time. But there is perhaps an even brighter note sounded when Edwards talks about his attitude toward current events of redemptive history:

‘If I heard the least hint of anything that happened in any part of the world, that appeared to me, in some respect or other, to have a favorable aspect on the interest of Christ’s kingdom, my soul eagerly catched at it; and it would much animate and refresh me.  I used to be earnest to read public news-letters, mainly for that end; to see if I could not find some news favorable to the interests of religion in the world.’[30]

Edwards looked at the events of his own day expecting to see how Christ was advancing his kingdom, an activity he thought the saints in heaven were simultaneously occupied with. This is why Edwards wanted the world to know about the Awakenings of his day, whether through his revival writings or through the news periodicals he promoted.[31]

To summarize the message of the ‘Personal Narrative,’ the believing soul is enabled to integrate all aspects of reality in a delightful experience of divine harmony. All the media of divine revelation are in perfect accord in a balanced exercise of head and heart—knowledge, love and joy—which is then expressed back to God and to humanity. I think our theory regarding divine communication and the human appreciation of it helps to make sense of this important document.

The Minister’s Project

Edwards was many things, but above all, he understood himself as a minister.[32]  So if we want to understand him, we ought to give careful attention to this self-understanding.[33] Edwards writes ‘There are two kinds of persons that are given to Christ, and appointed and devoted of God to be his servants, to be employed with Christ, and under him, in his great work of the salvation of the souls of men; and they are angels and ministers.’[34] This view of the ministry is reflected in Edwards’ typology, such as where he says ‘The sun represents Christ. The moon well represents the glory of the prophets and apostles and other ministers of Christ that have been improved as great lights of his church and instruments of promoting and establishing his kingdom and glory, and so have been luminaries to enlighten the world by reflecting the light of the sun, that is, of Christ, and conveying his beams to them…’[35] So ministers are instruments to convey divine communication.

Edwards draws the connection between his theology of divine communication and the interpretive role of ministers in ‘The Great Concern of a Watchman of Souls.’ Human beings are created to observe intelligently all the streams of divine communication flowing from every aspect of created reality; they are the ‘eye of the creation to behold the glory of God.’[36] Edwards asserts that ministers, as God’s representatives, are the means by which people were enabled to carry out their purpose: ‘He commits men’s souls to ministers… that by their means they may answer their end in glorifying him.’ In God’s plan, ministers serve as the instruments by which people are enabled to realize their purpose for existence in receiving and understanding divine communication.

In his ‘Farwell Sermon’ to the Northampton congregation who ousted him, Edwards remarks that ‘Ministers are his [God’s] messengers, sent forth by him; and in their office and administrations among their people, represent his person, stand in his stead, as those that are sent to declare his mind, to do his work, and to speak and act in his name.’[37] This representation of God often involves the work of interpretation, as in the case of those who ‘don’t understand God’s language, and they therefore need the help and advice of ministers under that conviction as interpreters for them.’[38] In wider terms, God is in fact ‘pleased to convey his light to men by means and instruments; and has sent forth his messengers, and appointed ministers in his church to be subordinate lights, and to shine with the communications of his light, and to reflect the beams of his glory on the souls of men.’[39] Just as God himself is a communicative being, so ‘ministers ought to be communicative of spiritual good.’[40]

The most distinctive of all of Edwards’ teachings on the nature of the ministry, however, is his belief that ministers would have an ongoing role in heaven. At this point, Edwards was knowingly departing from his direct inheritance. Turretin, representing the state of Reformed orthodoxy in Edwards’ day, put it bluntly: ‘…there will be no more need of the ministry of the Scriptures or of pastors [in heaven.]’[41] Edwards would beg to differ, as he did in the ‘Exposition on the Apocalypse’:

‘And in the triumphant state of the church after the resurrection, they [Gospel Ministers] may still be represented as being at the gates in the same manner …. And I believe that those who have [been] thus eminently instrumental of carrying the blessed work of the gospel in this world, will be employed in still assisting and promoting the happiness of the saints in a glorified state…’[42]

Ministers—or at least those that have been ’eminently instrumental’ in the work of the gospel—will continue to serve in very much the same spiritual capacity in heaven as they did on earth. It seems Edwards could not imagine a heaven lacking the services of the human conduits that he believed were so crucial to the work of divine communication in this world.

The close correlation between his theology of Trinitarian communication, his doctrine of the earthly ministry, and his concept of heavenly ministry is made plain in  ‘Miscellany’ 681. ‘What has been said above confirms that some in heaven will be a kind of ministers in that society [of heaven]—teachers, ministers to their knowledge and love, and helpers of their joy, as ministers of the gospel are here.’[43] Edwards’ depiction of the minister’s earthly and heavenly function exactly parallels his multi-dimensional theology of communication: it encompasses ‘knowledge and love’ as well as ‘joy.’ Assisting God to communicate these things to the elect creatures is what ministers do on earth, and this is what they will continue to do in heaven.

If we think that Edwards thought of himself primarily as a minister, then Edwards has just told us what he thinks his lifelong—indeed, everlasting—task was: to be God’s appointed means of increasing the knowledge, love, and joy of his saints, through the work of communication and interpretation.

The Three ‘Great Works’

Finally, we consider the unfinished ‘Great Works.’ Most know of the ‘Rational Account’ and ‘The History of the Work of Redemption,’ but Kenneth Minkema reminds us about the ‘The Other Unfinished “Great Work,”‘ which is ‘The Harmony of the Old and New Testament.’[44] At first glance, these three projects do not seem to have all that much in common; they are different projects happening at different points in Edwards’ career. Indeed, much of the discussion tends to focus on the significant discontinuities between the ‘Rational Account’ and the ‘History of the Work of Redemption.’ However, theoretically speaking, what if there was a common thread between them all?  If it existed, that thread would surely be a potential candidate for a theory on Edwards. I think such a thread exists: harmony.

Edwards’ brief outline for his first ‘Great Work’ bears the title ‘A Rational Account of the Main Doctrines of the Christian Religion Attempted.’[45] The draft preface found in this outline explains Edwards’ goals for the work: ‘To shew how all arts and sciences, the more they are perfected, the more they issue in divinity, and coincide with it, and appear to be as parts of it.’[46] To paraphrase, it was to be a demonstration of the harmony between natural revelation and special revelation. Indeed, the alternative title for the project actually says as much: ‘A Rational Account of Christianity, or, The Perfect Harmony between the Doctrines of the Christian Religion and Human Reason Manifested.’[47] Edwards has just told us that the project standing behind most of the early Miscellanies was to manifest the harmony between Christian doctrine and reason, a category that of course includes natural philosophy or science. Some of the proposed items that were likely intended for inclusion in the project bear this out: ‘To shew how all nature consists in things being precisely according to strict rules of justice and harmony,’[48] and ‘Remember to place all about motion under the head of the manner or harmony of existence.’[49]

In like manner, ‘The History of the Work of Redemption’ was to be a demonstration of the harmony to be found between history and special revelation. Listen to how Edwards describes the project, as one in which ‘…every divine doctrine, will appear to greatest advantage in the brightest light, in the most striking manner, showing the admirable contexture and harmony of the whole.’[50] Edwards’ second ‘Great Work,’ though it took definitive shape towards the end of his career, carried the very same overall objective as the first: to demonstrate the harmony of reality.

The third project is fairly self-explanatory. The ‘Harmony of the Old and New Testament’ was perhaps the project conceived latest in Edwards’ career, but its title is the most explicit in pronouncing its purpose in terms of harmony: ‘I have also for my own profit and entertainment, done much towards another great work, which I call The Harmony of the Old and New Testament, in three parts.’[51] An alternative title was ‘The Harmony of the Genius, Spirit, Doctrines and Rules of the Old Testament and the New.’[52] Edwards first intended to show the perfect agreement between the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah and their fulfillment in the New, secondly to do this for the biblical types of the Messiah, and finally to demonstrate the agreement between the doctrine of the Old and New Testaments.[53] One need not belabor the point that Edwards himself made so patently clear—’The Harmony’ project was to be a systematic demonstration of the comprehensive harmony found within the pages of Scripture itself.

So then, it seems that the common thread running through all three of Edwards’ unfinished ‘Great Works’ was the demonstration of the harmony resident in and among the media of revelation.


Perhaps we may briefly encapsulate this theory and its implications for Edwards’ work. As a young man, Edwards sought to know God and, in particular, to understand what His project in creation and redemption might be. Having solved this problem to his satisfaction—God was a communicative being who had communicated himself to elect angels and people through nature, Scripture, and history—Edwards made it his ambition to forward this great project in as many ways as he could. Indeed, he believed it to be the minister’s duty to do precisely that, both in this world and in the next. The means of so doing, moreover, seemed to Edwards to be fairly straightforward: to interpret the Trinitarian harmony that exists in and among the media of revelation. Perhaps this was a particularly compelling occupation for one living in the context of the Enlightenment, when such previously uncontested assumptions about the universe were being attacked. Thus, from the project begun at the very outset of his career all the way through the projects whose importance kept him from a wholehearted embrace of the Princeton offer, Edwards sought to demonstrate the harmony of reality. May others join him in such a worthy project in our own day.

This essay is a chapter in the book, Jonathan Edwards for the Church, and appears by kind permission of the Evangelical Press.


[1]This sentiment has perhaps been best stated by Paul Ramsey: ‘A student’s first effort must be to understand Edwards whole, in the integrity of all parts of his writings on theological subjects.’ (Paul Ramsey, ‘Editor’s Introduction,’ in Works Vol. 8, p. 3) All primary references are to The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven, CT and London: Yale University Press, 1957-2008), and will be identified in the notes by Edwards, ‘title’, in Works Vol. (number).

[2] See my God is a Communicative Being: Divine Communicativeness and Harmony in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (London: T&T Clark, 2013; paperback, 2014).

[3] Edwards, ‘Miscellany 332’, in Works Vol. 13, p. 410.

[4] See McDermott, Jonathan Edwards Confronts the Gods: Christian Theology, Enlightenment Religion, and Non-Christian Faiths (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.)

[5] ‘Indeed, the fruitful tension between Enlightenment ‘latitude’ and Reformed traditionalism animated Edwards’ entire career…’ (Peter J. Thuesen, “Editor’s Introduction” in Works Vol 26, p. 3).

[6] Edwards’ first notebook entry on the Trinity refers to such criticism: ‘There has been much cry of late against saying one word, particularly about the Trinity…’. He then outlines an optimistic estimate of the doctrine’s philosophic cogency: ‘I think that it is within the reach of naked reason to perceive certainly that there are three distinct in God, each of which is the same [God], three that must be distinct, really and truly distinct; but three, either distinct persons or properties or anything else; and that of these three, one is (more properly than anything else) begotten of the other, and that the third proceeds alike from both, and that the first neither is begotten nor proceeds.’ Edwards, ‘Miscellany’ 94 in Works Vol. 13, pp. 256-257.

[7] Edwards, ‘Miscellany’ 96 in Works Vol. 13, pp. 263.

[8] This is the thesis of The End for Which God Created the World.  This book was completed near the end of Edwards’ life, but the main idea is found in his notebooks as early as “Miscellany” gg composed in April 1723, when he was 19 years old.  See Thomas A. Schafer, “Editor’s Introduction” in Works Vol. 13, p. 92.

[9] See Edwards, ‘Subjects to be Handled in the Treatise on the Mind,’ in Works Vol. 6, p. 388.  On the balancing point that the preacher can only do so much under God, see ‘Miscellany’ 123 in Works Vol. 13, p. 287.

[10] Edwards, ‘Approaching the End of God’s Grand Design,’ Works Vol. 25, p. 125.  Note that Edwards does not mean creator in the sense of the creator, but as one cooperating constructively in God’s ‘good design.’

[11] Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World, in Works Vol. 8, pp. 405-536.

[12] See Edwards, ‘Miscellany’ 123 in Works Vol. 13, p. 287.

[13] Edwards, ‘Miscellany’ 182 in Works Vol. 13, p. 329.

[14] Edwards, ‘Miscellany’ 108 in Works Vol. 13, pp. 278-279.

[15] Edwards, ‘The Mind’ entry 63 in Works Vol. 6, p. 382; emphasis mine.

[16] Edwards, “Miscellany” 333 in Works Vol. 13, p. 410.

[17] The topic was taken up by Paul Ramsey in Appendix II to Works Vol. 8 written in 1989, but it does not seem to have figured since.

[18] Edwards, “Miscellany” 105 in Works Vol. 13, p. 275.

[19] Edwards, “Miscellany” 372 in Works Vol. 13, pp. 444-445.

[20] Edwards, “True Saints are Present with the Lord” in Works Vol. 25, p. 237.

[21] George S. Claghorn, introduction to the “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 748.

[22] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, pp. 791-792.

[23] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 792.

[24] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 792; emphasis mine.

[25] Edwards thought that God’s majesty can be known by immediate intuition as well as by reasoned reflection.  Thunder is given as an example of the former: “The manifestations of God’s majesty in heaven, and at the day of judgment, and in many of his works, as thunder and earthquakes, etc., tend immediately to impress the mind with a sense of majesty, without any reasoning or reflection.”  Edwards, “Miscellany” 493 in Works Vol. 13, p. 537.

[26] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 794.

[27] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 797; emphasis mine.

[28] Edwards, “Personal Narrative” in Works Vol. 16, p. 800.

[29] Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees,” in Works Vol. 16, pp. 727-728.

[30] Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees,” in Works Vol. 16, p. 797.

[31] See my God is a Communicative Being: Divine Communicativeness and Harmony in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (London: T&T Clark International, forthcoming), chapter 5.

[32] It is true that Edwards said “So far as I myself am able to judge of what talents I have, for benefiting my fellow creatures by word, I think I can write better than I can speak.”  Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees” in Works Vol 16, p. 729.  However, the writing that Edwards spoke of was all done while serving as a minister, and, as we shall see, he understood the work of writing theology to be part of the ministerial office.

[33] See John Carrick, The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2008); and Douglas A. Sweeney, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word: A Model of Faith and Thought (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2009).  Previous works on the subject would include Ralph Gale Turnbull, Jonathan Edwards the Preacher (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1958); Harry S. Stout, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986); Helen Petter Westra, “‘Above All Others’: Jonathan Edwards and the Gospel Ministry,” American Presbyterians 67 (1989) pp. 209-19; and Kenneth P. Minkema and Richard A. Bailey, “Reason, Revelation, and Preaching: An Unpublished Ordination Sermon by Jonathan Edwards,” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 3.2 (1999) pp. 16-33.

[34] Edwards, “Christ the Example of Gospel Ministers” in Works Vol. 25, p. 344, emphasis original.

[35] Edwards, “Types” entry 53, in Works Vol. 11, pp. 65-66; emphasis mine.

[36] Edwards, “The Great Concern of a Watchman for Souls” in Works Vol. 25, p. 66.

[37] Edwards, “A Farewell Sermon” in Works Vol. 25 p. 473.

[38] Edwards, “Blank Bible” entry on Genesis 42:23 in Works Vol. 24, p. 191; emphasis mine.

[39] Edwards, “True Excellency of a Minister of the Gospel” in Works Vol. 25, p. 89.

[40] Edwards, “Sons of Oil, Heavenly Lights” in Works Vol. 25, p. 267; emphasis mine.

[41] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, translated by George Musgrave Giger, edited by James T. Dennison Jr. 3 vols. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 1992), vol. 1 p. 59.

[42] Edwards, “Exposition of the Apocalypse” entry for Revelation 21:12 in Works Vol. 5, pp. 154-155; emphasis mine.

[43] Edwards, “Miscellany” 681 in Works Vol. 18, p. 243; emphasis mine.

[44] See Kenneth P. Minkema, “The Other Unfinished ‘Great Work’: Jonathan Edwards, Messianic Prophecy, and ‘The Harmony of the Old and New Testament’,” in Stephen J. Stein, ed., Jonathan Edwards’s Writings: Text, Context, Interpretation (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1996), pp. 52-65.

[45] Edwards, “Outline of a Rational Account” in Works Vol. 6, p. 396.

[46] Edwards, “Outline of a Rational Account” in Works Vol. 6, p. 397.

[47] Edwards, “Catalogue” unnumbered letter leaf in Works Vol. 26; emphasis mine.

[48] Edwards, “Things to be Considered an[d] Written fully about” [Long Series] entry 15 in Works Vol. 6, p. 231; emphasis mine.

[49] Edwards, “Things to be Considered an[d] Written fully about” [Long Series] entry 31 in Works Vol. 6, p. 236; emphasis mine.

[50] Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees” in Works Vol. 16, p. 728; emphasis mine.

[51] Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees” in Works Vol. 16, p. 728.

[52] See Minkema’s note on transcribed “Miscellany” 1068.2 at the Jonathan Edwards Center, Yale.

[53] Edwards, “Letter to the Princeton Trustees” in Works Vol. 16, p. 728.

For more resources on Jonathan Edwards

Picture of William M. Schweitzer

William M. Schweitzer

William Schweitzer is minister of Gateshead Presbyterian Church. He is originally from Florida and came to the UK as a Marine. His PhD from the University of Edinburgh was on Jonathan Edwards.
Picture of William M. Schweitzer

William M. Schweitzer

William Schweitzer is minister of Gateshead Presbyterian Church. He is originally from Florida and came to the UK as a Marine. His PhD from the University of Edinburgh was on Jonathan Edwards.