In this work McMullen, associate professor of church history at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, has edited twenty of Jonathan Edwards’s (1703–1758) sermons, none of which has been published previously. This is the second volume of Edwards’s sermons by this editor. (See the review of The Blessing of God: Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards, ed. Michael D. McMullen [Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2003] in Bibliotheca Sacra 162 [October–December 2005]: 504–5).
A brief introductory essay on the preaching of Edwards helps orient readers to the sermonic style and lasting influence of this eighteenth-century pastor. The essay seems to be written for those without much understanding of Edwards, which is appropriate for such a volume. And those already familiar with Edwards will enjoy this summary.
Like the previous volume, it is unclear why these sermons were selected, apart from their having come from the pen of Edwards and not having been published previously. They are arranged in canonical order, which is clear from the listing of the biblical texts in the table of contents, a helpful addition to this volume.
Included in this collection are sermons dealing with a number of major themes in the thought of Edwards. Several sermons illustrate his approach to evangelistic preaching. He addresses the problem of sin in “That Wicked Men’s Sins Lie at Their Door” and “The Glory and Honor of God Requires that His Displeasure Be Manifested against Sin.” God as righteous Judge is emphasized in “ ‘Tis a Blessed Thing to Some Persons That God Is to Be Their Judge” and “In Hell Is Inflicted the Fierceness of the Wrath of a Being That Is Almighty.” Particularly effective as illustrations of Edwards’s evangelistic sermons are “Those Who Love Christ Shall Receive of Him a Crown of Life” and “It Would Have Been Better for Some Persons If Christ Never Had Come into the World to Save Sinners.”
Several doctrinal sermons are included in this collection. Edwards develops a theology of prayer in “God’s Manner Is First to Prepare Men’s Hearts and Then to Answer Their Prayers.” His eschatological hope receives emphasis in “That This Present World Shall One Day Come to an End.” Christology receives attention in “That the Son of God by Appearing in Our Nature Laid a Glorious Foundation for Peace to the Inhabitants of This World,” “Jesus Christ Is the Shining Forth of the Father’s Glory,” and “Christ Was Worthy of His Exaltation upon the Account of His Being Slain.”
Although Edwards’s preaching usually addresses timeless pastoral concerns, several of these sermons seem particularly applicable for today. Edwards reminded his audience “That Hearing and Keeping the Word of God Renders a Person More Blessed Than Any Other Privilege That Ever God Bestowed on Any of the Children of Men.” Perhaps all participants in today’s “worship wars” should be reminded that “It Is a Very Decent and Comely Thing That Praise Should Be Given to God.” Churches struggling with discord and disunity could appreciate the insight that “When a Company or Society of Christians Have Christ Present with Them, ’Tis the Greatest Cause of Joy to Them” and “The Spirit of the True Saints Is a Spirit of Divine Love.”
Good preaching never goes out of style and Edwards’s sermons are outstanding. Biblically based, doctrinally sound, literarily excellent, and evangelistically focused, his sermons speak to the head and the heart, as well as providing something for the hands and feet to do. This collection is highly recommended for all Christians, not simply those in vocational ministry. It would be an excellent resource for devotional reading, perhaps a sermon a day, read with an open Bible to follow the preacher throughout the canon of Scripture.
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