Tuesday, December 8, 2015

God's Sovereignty: Conversion of Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was born in 1703 in East Windsor, Connecticut. The young Edwards grew up in a Puritan household full of only sisters. Edwards’s parents expected much from him being the only son and challenged him to become a leading intellectual and devotional Christian. The young boy was able to read Latin by age six and Hebrew and Greek by age twelve. At the age of thirteen Edwards attended college at Yale. The young intellectual graduated at the top of his class and would have likely gone in a more secular direction if it had not been for his conversion while in college.

Edwards had several seasons of awakenings during his earlier years before college but remained unregenerate. As a boy, Edwards prayed often and spoke to his friends about the things of God. Edwards and his friends built a booth in a secluded swamp just for praying. But over time the convictions that Edwards had went away and he began living a life of pleasure and sin. Edwards was convinced that he was not truly converted before college and described himself as a dog returning to his vomit. The lifestyle Edwards lived began bothering his soul while in college. Edwards felt no assurance of salvation and tried seeking salvation through good works but he had no real affection for the things of God.

The lack of affection for the things of God stemmed from Edwards objection to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God. Edwards struggled with the belief that God chose some to eternal life and left others to suffer everlasting torment. The doctrine of election was a “horrible” doctrine to Edwards and he felt that he could find no pleasure in God. Edwards resisted God but the same sovereign God he resisted eventually became irresistible in all his glory. According to Edwards, he was converted the moment he read 1 Timothy 1:17 which says, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen.” Immediately, Edwards was diffused with the enjoyment of the fullness of the glory of God and was pleased to have gained Christ at the expense of dying to self. After the conversion, prayer and service to God was done through an affection that Edwards could not express.


"The first that I remember that ever I found anything of that sort of inward, sweet delight in God and divine things, that I have lived much in since, was on reading those words, 1 Timothy 1:17, "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen." As I read the words, there came into my soul, and 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...The sense I had of divine things, would often of a sudden as it were, kindle up a sweet burning in my heart; an ardor of my soul, that I know not how to express." 

Jonathan Edwards [1716], Letters and Personal Writings (WJE Online Vol. 16) , Ed. George S. Claghorn