The Ecclesiastical Writings of Jonathan Edwards

I'm currently reading an ebook of "Ecclesiastical Writings (WJE Online Vol. 12)." The Jonathan Edward's Center at Yale University has published its entire 73 Volume Works of Jonathan Edwards Series of Edward's works online for free. Most of these volumes cost over $100, but its fairly easy to make an ebook out of the content for your ereader. I'm interested in  Volume 12, Ecclesiastical Writings, in particular because it contains the documents that Jonathan Edwards wrote that lead to his dismissal from his church in New England. This edition contains a long introduction and background editorial in the preface that is important to understand why these documents were so influential. 

The most important article in the book is "An Humble Inquiry into the Rules of the Word of God, Concerning the Qualifications Requisite to a Complete Standing and Full Communion in the Visible Christian Church." It was Edward's attempt to overturn Solomon Stoddard's prevailing Half-Way Covenant that was lenient in allowing individuals to be admitted to the Lord's Supper without a credible profession of faith as long as the individual appeared to be in good moral standing. Stoddard was Edward's grandfather, and George Marsden called him a "congregational pope" in Marsden's biography of Edwards.

Following the Great Awakening, Edwards wrote his magisterial book, "Religious Affections", that asked the question whether it is possible to discern who is a regenerated (ie born-again) Christian or only a hypocrite. This lead Edwards to believe that a person must give a credible profession of faith, that the majority of congregational Puritan New England believed was an impossible task of determining who was a true Christian and made the Church an isolated and Separatist society.

This volume also contains A Letter that is about a controversy over a minister named Robert Breck, and the letter is important because Edwards was a congregational minister, and he was attempting to make statements and influence the decisions of another congregation in a way that is against the independence of Congregational Polity.

After Edwards was removed from his ministry, he wrote another book to defend his original position that is also contained in this volume that claries some of the statements in the book, titled: "Misrepresentations Corrected, and Truth Vindicated".

One addition important document related to this volume is the The Miscellanies #462 : On Church Order, and this document is referenced several times for Edward's high standard he required before he allowed individual's to be admitted to the Lord's Supper.

This read is particularly interesting for Baptists who believe the two sacraments are identical, or anyone who doesn't understand how infants and young children may be baptized but not permitted to take the Lord's Supper.

By: Wyatt Houtz

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