Edwards on “the pathetical way of preaching”

edwards preaching

Jonathan Edwards on how to “beget true apprehensions” of God, in preaching:

“If the subject be in its own nature worthy of very great affection, then speaking of it with great affection is most agreeable to the nature of that subject…and therefore has most of a tendency to beget true ideas of it. …I should think myself in the way of my duty, to raise the affections of my hearers as high as possibly I can, provided that they are affected with nothing but truth …I know it has long been fashionable to despise a very earnest and pathetical way of preaching; and they only have been valued as preachers, who have shown the greatest extent of learning, strength of reason, and correctness of method and language. But I humbly conceive it has been for want of understanding or duly considered human nature, that such preaching has been thought to have the greatest tendency to answer the ends of preaching.” *

And, once again, notice that the end of preaching is to beget knowledge of God — knowledge which must include the affections and the will, as well as the intellect. Scholasticism (knowledge of God as the end of religion) and Pietism (the charity beget by religion) make love in the mind of Jonathan Edwards.

* Quoted in J. I. Packer, “Jonathan Edwards and the Theology of Revival,” Puritan Papers, vol. 2 (P&R, 2001), p. 27. Found in Jonathan Edwards, Works, 2 vols. (London, 1840), vol. 1, p. 391.

Picture (above) taken from the cover of The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards (Banner of Truth, 2008) by John Carrick.


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