Jonathan Edwards: Head and Heart

Ron Geschwendt

READ : Romans 5:1-11

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. (v. 1 NIV)

The 18th-century Great Awakening began in Northampton, Massachusetts, under the preaching of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758). The moral and spiritual passion of the first generation of colonists had waned. The Christian faith had become more institutional and less personal. Their children lacked conviction. Edwards himself called it “a time of extraordinary dullness in religion.”

In December of 1734, Edwards reported, “The Spirit of God began extraordinarily to set in and wonderfully to work among us.” Conversions increased. Edwards wrote, “Our public assemblies were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God’s service, intent in public worship and eager to drink in the words of the minister.”

Jonathan Edwards was the greatest philosopher-theologian ever produced on American soil. A precocious child, Edwards was educated at Yale and late in life appointed president of Princeton. Yet he was most excited about spiritual revival and the evidence of salvation by God’s grace. The powerful intellect expressed in his writings never overshadowed his simple and passionate trust in Christ. He never separated the “head” and the “heart” as too many have done. True faith has knowledge and conviction that the gospel is true as well as emotion sparked by deep-rooted assurance, through the Holy Spirit.


God, help me love you with both heart and mind.