Jonathan Edwards’ sermons still preach truth today

Published 12:04 am Saturday, July 11, 2015

Historians rank Jonathan Edwards alongside Benjamin Franklin as two outstanding minds of the 18th-century.

Edwards sat down at age 17 and penned 21 resolutions by which he would live his life.

Throughout his lifetime, he added to his list and when he died he had 70 resolutions.

At the top of his list he wrote, “Being sensible that I am unable to do anything without God’s help, I do humbly entreat Him by His grace to enable me to keep these Resolutions…. Remember to read over these Resolutions once a week.”

According to his biography, Jonathan Edwards did a “self-check” each week.

He regularly looked at how he was doing and asked God’s help in the process.

Jonathan Edwards became a minister and preached in churches in New England. In 1734, revival began that eventually spread across the colonies. Historians call it “The Great Awakening.” Thousands were converted, believing in the Christ and asking His forgiveness of their sin.

One of Edwards’ most famous sermons, preached on July 8, 1741, is still read and studied today.

According to personal accounts of people who heard the sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” it was not delivered as a “fire and brimstone” message, rather Edwards never raised his voice.

He said of sinners,“[the Devil]… stands waiting for them, like greedy hungry lions that see their prey, and expect to have it.” His words remind me of 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” It is reported that 500 people received Christ as their Lord and Savior after hearing his message.

Many of his classic sermons contain timeless principles to live by. For instance, Edwards asked, “How can you expect to dwell with God forever, if you so neglect and forsake him here?”

Edwards said, “The Creator is infinite. This means he has all possible existence, perfection, and excellence. This means he must also have all possible honor and respect. In every way God is first and supreme. His excellent qualities are the supreme beauty and glory, the original good, and the fountain of all good. This, of course, means that he must in every way have the highest regard and honor.”

He stated, “Truth is the agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God.” “Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.”

In recent years, I’ve heard many ministers say that due to our country’s spiritual and moral condition, we need another “Great Awakening.”

There’s a scripture sometimes called the revival verse.

It speaks to those who follow Christ, who call themselves Christians.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJ

Let’s pray for that “Great Awakening” in America and ask God to let it begin in each of us.

– Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at