Jonathan Edwards on Revival, series p.1

Jonathan Edwards on Revival, series p.1

What happened under Edwards’ ministry at Northampton during the winter of 1734–1735?

2a. A stirring of interest in the Lord began in the young people in 1734 and an outpouring of the Spirit began to “turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers,” (Mal. 4:6) The interest of the young people spread to their parents and God began to illuminate their hearts to the truth of the gospel and dead orthodoxy started to become alive as the people began to see a renewed vision of God’s glory.

What is the significance of Edwards’ works on revival?

2b. Edward’s contribution to the revivals was the theological groundwork that he laid down This theology was to explain how times of revival were to be seen not as a special season of extra-ordinary religious excitement but as a restoration to a normal spiritual life after an outpouring of the Spirit. This is necessary because; “Periods of spiritual decline occur in history because the gravity of indwelling sin keeps pulling believers first into formal religion and then into open apostasy.

What is the main structure of his teaching regarding revival?

2c. The main structure of Edward’s teaching on revival followed his postmillennial theology.  “(1) The calling of the Gentiles at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; (2) the overthrowing of Roman persecution and the Christianizing of the empire in the Constantinian revolution; (3) the destruction of Antichrist [Roman Catholicism and all other pseudo-Christianity] and the establishment of a revived church in a new state of purity and glory to rule among the nations for a thousand years; and (4) the destruction of a final rebellion against God effected by the return of Christ and leading to the last judgment and to the establishment of the eternal state.” Each of these times would be met with God’s judgment and an outpouring of His Spirit.  Edwards believed that a revived American church would become the base for the missionary expansion of the gospel. The Puritans at large also believed God would use England and the Colonies to impact the world and thus it has.   This theology undergirded Edward’s view of revival.

How was the Evangelical Revival in New England attacked?

2d.  The revival in England was attacked by disorders and confusion.  The enemy attacked the subjects of revival directly and internally with despair and discouragement.  This especially happened towards the end of 1734.  The enemy also sought to create division among the revival leaders, produce zealous extremes called enthusiasm, and to sow tares in among the wheat.  All of this work by the enemy was to discredit the work of the Holy Spirit.  Men like Charles Chauncy directly criticized the revivals for evidence of, “donatism; separatism; presumptuous dependence on the Holy Spirit and despising the use of means including the Bible, scholarship and reason; and insisting that a knowledge of the time of one’s conversion was essential to assurance, and assurance necessary to salvation.”

How did Edwards generally respond to these attacks?

2e.  Edwards generally responded to these attacks with biblical and reverential assessments of the happenings.  Edwards was logical, methodically, confessional, and hopeful in all the happenings of the revivals.  His response was to write a treatise, acknowledging the concerns and taking them quite serious.  Edwards did not diminish the concerns but neither did he downplay the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among the people.  The revival did have true spiritual effect that was from God and though there were abuses and scandals it was not to take away from the glories of God’s divine workings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *