Jonathan Edwards and the Puritan Mind

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Jonathan Edwards and the Puritan Mind

If one were to study the idea of Puritan thought through only the reading of these three works of Jonathan Edwards, one could probably gather a good idea of the inner workings of the Puritan mind. These three works do well to disclose to the reader the inner and outer workings of Jonathan Edwards. The Personal Narrative displays to the reader Jonathan Edwards' view of himself as he progressed through life, and the ideals and the things that were most valuable to him, and the things that were a hindrance to himself. The sermon A Divine and Supernatural Light exhibits the nature of Jonathan Edwards' intellectual mind, and the view of expository preaching that he and the Puritan mind may have held and endorsed. Finally, Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God shows Jonathan Edwards' passion for people to come to the same understanding of God as he (and most other Puritans) held. Through these three literary pieces we will see how the Puritan mind struggles with the goals of inner and outer piety, and how they concern themselves with the eternal position of their soul.

Jonathan Edwards, as a model of Puritan life, lived a life that concerned itself greatly with appearing and feeling godly. Most of the Personal Narrative shows Edwards in a struggle between delighting in God, and returning "like a dog to his vomit," (176) and going the way of sin. It seems, though, as Edwards grew in his faith, his concern for piety grew even further. At several points in his life he decided to "part with all things in the world for an interest in Christ" (177). Edwards struggled to delight himself in the things of God and surround himself with those things, often shutting other things out in order that he ma...

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... salvation as some liberal theologians would suggest to us.

In conclusion, Edwards paints a very unmistakable picture of how a Puritan mind works through these three essays/sermons in this book. Puritan thought is seen as very pious, reflective, spiritual, works-based, concerned about their salvation, and exclusive in nature. Edwards offers a three-dimensional view of how his mind works through the narrative of his personal life (Personal Narrative), the work of his intellectual mind (A Divine and Supernatural Light), and the passion of his soul (Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God). Being a student of theology, I found it an interesting insight into how his mind worked, in seeing Edwards' view of God. I am a firm believer in understanding people and their motivation by looking at their understanding of God. Edwards was an excellent example of the Puritan mind.
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