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The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards by Samuel Hopkins

Biographical Writings of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

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The Life and Character of the Late Reverend Mr. Jonathan Edwards by Samuel Hopkins


President Edwards, in the esteem of all the judicious, who were well acquainted with him, either personally, or by his writings, was one of the greatest — best — and most useful of men, that have lived in this age.

He discovered himself to be one of the greatest of divines, by his conversation, preaching and writings: One of remarkable strength of mind, clearness of thought, and depth of penetration, who well understood, and was able, above most others, to vindicate the great doctrines of Christianity.

And no one perhaps has been in our day, more universally esteemed and acknowledged to be a bright Christian, an eminently good man. His love to God and man; his zeal for God and his cause; his uprightness, humility, self-denial, and weanedness from the world; his close walk with God; his conscientious, constant and universal obedience, in all exact and holy ways of living: In one word, the goodness, the holiness of his heart, has been as evident and conspicuous, as the uncommon greatness and strength of his understanding.

And that this distinguished light has not shone in vain, there are a cloud of witnesses. God, who gave him his great talents, led him into a way of improving them, both by preaching and writing, which has doubtless proved the means of converting many from the error of their ways; and of greatly promoting the interest of Christ’s church, both in America and Europe. And there is reason to hope, that though he is now dead, he will yet speak for a great while yet to come, to the great comfort and advantage of the church of Christ; that his publications will produce a yet greater harvest, as an addition to his joy and crown of rejoicing in the day of the Lord.

But the design of the following memoirs, is not merely to publish these things, and tell the world how eminently great, wise, holy and useful President Edwards was; but rather to inform in what way, and by what means he attained to such an uncommon stock of knowledge and holiness; and how, in the improvement of this, he did so much good to mankind; that others may hereby be directed and excited to go and do likewise.

The reader is therefore not to expect a mere encomium on the dead, but a faithful and plain narration of matters of fact, together with his own internal exercises, expressed in his own words; and is desired not to look on the following composure so much an act of friendship to the dead, as of kindness to the living; it being only an attempt to render a life that has been greatly useful, yet more so. And as this is designed for the reader’s good, he is desired to remember, that if he gets no benefit hereby; is not made wiser nor better, gains no skill or disposition to live a holy and useful life, all is in vain as to him.

In this world, so full of darkness and delusion, it is of great importance that all should be able to distinguish between true religion and that which is false. In this, perhaps none has taken more pains, or labored more successfully, than he whose life is set before the reader. And it is presumed that his religious resolutions, exercises and conduct here exhibited, will serve well to exemplify and illustrate all that he has wrote on this subject. Here pure and undefiled religion, in distinction from all counterfeits, appears in life and practice, exhibiting a picture which will tend to instruct, strengthen and comfort all those, who in their religious sentiments and exercises, are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, of which Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone; while their hearts and practice in some measure answer to it, as in water, face answereth to face. And here, they who have hitherto unhappily been in darkness and delusion, in this infinitely important affair, may have matter of instruction and conviction.

This is a point about which, above many other, the Protestant world is in the dark, and needs instruction, as Mr. Edwards was more and more convinced, the longer he lived; and which he was wont frequently to observe in conversation. If therefore these his remains are adapted to answer this end, and may be considered as a word behind all to whom they shall come, “saying, THIS IS THE WAY, walk ye in it,” and shall in this view, be blessed to many, it will be a relief under one of the greatest calamities that attend the Christian world, and promote that important end, so worthy the attention and pursuit of all; and in which he from whom this mantle falls, was zealously engaged, and which he pursued to the end of his life.

In this view especially, is the following life offered to the public, with an earnest desire that every reader may faithfully improve it to this purpose; while he candidly overlooks any improprieties and defects which he may observe to be chargeable on the compiler; who is he knows, in a great degree unequal to what is here attempted.

August 20, 1764

Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:

Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.

Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.

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