Jonathan Edwards

Start Free Trial

What inspired Jonathan Edwards to write?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonathan Edwards, according to historical documents, was mostly moved to write his most powerful sermons, such as "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" due to the lack of control he was exerting over the puritans, and their newly-found ways to bend the strict religious rules of their Puritan Revival movement. According to Mardsen (2003)

"Edwards could take for granted...that a New England audience knew well the Gospel remedy. The problem was getting them to seek it."

The 1735 Connecticut revival led many to believe that Jonathan Edwards was driving his parishoners to madness and fanaticism. In his booklet "Thoughts of the Revival in New England" he advocated in favor of his style and reaffirm himself in the way he delivers his message, saying that the world of God has to be delivered "...with an appeal to the emotions" and "preaching terror when necessary, even to children, who in God's sight "are young vipers… if not Christ's."

So, what we have here is a fellow whose family upbringing and blinding religious faith spilled out of his spirit and onto a whole congregation.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Jonathan Edwards was, presumably, inspired to write by his faith in God and by his belief that his society needed to be reformed religiously.

Jonathan Edwards was part of the "Great Awakening" that happened in Colonial America in the 1730s and 1740s.  During that time, many people such as Edwards were concerned that society had moved away from God.  Many in society had been very influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment.  These ideas deemphasized the role of God in the world and put more weight on science.

In response to these beliefs, Edwards and others started to preach about the need for a more emotional connection to a God who was deeply involved in the world.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team