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The Great Awakening

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Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards was born on October 19, 1703. At a young age, he studied the bible, Christian theology, and the ancient languages. He married Sarah Pierpont in 1727, when she was 17 years old and had ten children together. Edwards had known Sarah since she was 13 years old and had a love and admiration for her. He wrote about how he loved her deep, and devoted love for the Lord. She was of a cheerful countenance, and a model wife and mother of his eleven children.

His father was a preacher at one of the most famous churches in New England and when he died, Edwards took over the congregation. Edwards was an outstanding preacher as well as a talented writer. He had written several books and sermons; some of his famous works include: Freedom of Will; where he argued that "will" was not an independent power but only a way of talking about a person's choices. To "will" something is to act consistently with one's character in agreement with one's motives. He also wrote, Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, which talks about how true religion, is a matter of affections and how religious emotions are irrelevant to a determination of true spirituality. He argues true spirituality to be shown by twelve marks of a loving attachment to God, which the last and most definite way, he says, is a consistent Christian practice. Edwards, however, is most famous for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. This Sermon was the start to the revival in America, later referred to as “The Great Awakening”.

Edwards read his sermon, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”, to the congregation in Enfield Connecticut, in 1741. This sermon is known as an example of “fire and brimstone” preaching; however he delivered his message calmly and in a monotone. In his preaching he emphasized the sovereignty of God, the depravity of humankind, the reality of hell, and the necessity of a true repentance conversion. God used Edward’s words to cut into the stubbornness and hardness of people’s hearts; by God’s grace, many people were saved. The effect of this one man’s faithful sermon, which spread throughout the country, was a revival; the greatest revival yet in America.

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