Jonathan Edwards had been steeped in the Calvinist theology of the Puritans from an early age. As time went on, however, it became clear to him, as for many brought up in the same tradition, that something of the original spirit of Puritanism had been lost.
Like most denominations, Calvinism had become ossified into a system of formal observances, to which many adherents paid lip-service without feeling any kind of emotional attachment to their creed. Belief had become a matter for the head, not for the heart. What preachers such as Edwards sought to do, then, was to urge people to look inside themselves and reconnect with their deepest emotions. Only there would they find that inner light which would guide them in their daily lives.
In that sense, one could describe Edwards as a Puritan of the spirit, in that he sought in his various sermons—most notably, "Sinners in the hand of an Angry God"—to drive home the message that true religion lies in the emotions, not the reason. Its was...
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