Revival in History – Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards

During our week of revival meetings there will be an article posted each day emphasizing revivals of past years. These articles are posted not to relive history in our minds, but rather to stir our hearts with what God can do once again at Bethel Baptist Church.

Jonathan Edwards was no stranger to revival. When he was just twelve years old (in 1715) the church his father, Timothy Edwards, pastored experienced a “remarkable stirring and pouring out of the Spirit of God resulting in an unusual number of conversions and many more awakened to the condition of their souls.” His maternal grandfather, Soloman Stoddard, also a minister, similarly enjoyed five distinct periods of spiritual awakening at Northampton, Massachusetts. young Jonathan was a teenager during the last two seasons of revival.

In 1727, after five years of ministry life, he was invited to co-pastor with his eighty-three year old grandfather at Northampton. Two years later Stoddard went home to glory leaving his grandson as sole pastor.

In 1734-35 revival hit the town. It was directly related to Edward’s preaching and resulted in a variety of supernatural experiences and many conversions. In his Faithful Narrative of Surprising Conversions, a report on this revival work, he describes some of these unusual supernatural happenings and was obviously developing some of the revival insights he later published. It was this revival, and Edwards’ reporting of it, that provoked others on both sides of the Atlantic to seek God in prayer for a move of God in their day. They were not disappointed. Under the leadership of men like Edwards, George Whitefield and John Wesley, the church grew very rapidly. In New England alone ten percent of the total population of 300,000 were added to the churches between 1740 and 1742. during this time 150 new congregations were formed by Congregational pastors alone in twenty years.

Edwards, himself, was a powerful preacher of the gospel – not typically flamboyant or theatrical, on the contrary, quite undemonstrative. He usually read his sermons, rarely gestured or even moved. He never excited his hearers with illustrations or stories. he simply presented well-structured and well-reasoned sermons with such personal earnestness and clarity that his hearers were swept along on a tide of truth which riveted their attention and deeply affected their lives.

Bibliography: I Will Pour Out My Spirit, R.E. Davieds 1997; J. Edwin Orr’s The Re-Study of Revival and Revivalism, 1981; A. Scott Moreau,  Baker Evangelical Dictionary of World Missions, 2000. Used with permission from

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