The American Religious Experience
Dr. Jeremy Bonner
Book Review Question
Before the Great Awakening even occurred in New England, Jonathan Edwards brought about a great revival in his own town of Northampton that helped spark the awakening. In the town the young people were disrespecting authority, and because of the difficult economic situation many were living in their parent’s homes well into their twenties. When Edwards first began preaching he could sense that the town was regaining its vitality, however the revival was slow and it was not until three years later that his patient cultivation began to bloom. This revival was helped greatly, but unintentionally, by the sudden death of a young man, who became violently ill with pleurisy and died two days later. At the young man’s funeral Edwards warned the youth of the town about squandering their lives in pursuit of vanity, and lead them to feel the shock of their unreasonableness. The young people took Edwards’ words to heart, and began to lead their lives better. Later that year the youth of Northampton had been transformed and the awakening had spread into the surrounding counties. After Edwards had gained popularity for his sermons in Northampton and the revival that he led there, he set his sights on converting all of New England. The revival was contagious and it was not long after Edwards began his preaching tour that most of New England had been caught up in the Awakening. But how did Edwards accumulate such a following? Perhaps it was the way that Edwards led his own life that made him so intriguing. Edwards is described as deeply spiritual, intensely hard-working, intellectual, introspective, and somewhat withdrawn. He followed the biblical advice of being slow to speak, and as a result spoke only when he had something to say. Along with leading by example, Edwards also captured the minds of the people of New England through his sermons....
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