Jonathan Edwards, Revivals, the Founding of Universities & the Battle for Minds of Children -American Minute with Bill Federer

Jonathan Edwards Revivals the Founding of Universities & the Battle for Minds of Children

Religious revivals have a long history of preaching out of doors.
The great London preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote:
"It would be very easy to prove that revivals of religion have usually been accompanied, if not caused, by a considerable amount of preaching out of doors, or in unusual places."
For two thousand years, out of doors preaching by gifted evangelists resulted in the founding of religious orders, movements, denomination, charity organizations, colleges and universities.
Examples include:
  • Apostle Paul preaching to the Gentiles,
  • St. Patrick and the Irish missionaries,
  • Peter Waldo and the Waldensians,
  • St. Francis and the Franciscans,
  • St. Dominic and the the Dominicans,
  • John Wycliffe and the Lollards,
  • Savanarola, Dominican Friar,
  • John Knox and the Presbyterians,
  • George Fox and the Quakers,
  • John and Charles Wesley and the Methodists,
  • George Whitefield and innumerable revival preachers,
  • William and Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army, and many others.
Charles Spurgeon added:
"Open-air preaching ... is the very backbone of the movement to win the non-churched ... Glorious were those great gatherings in the fields and commons which lasted throughout the long period in which Wesley and Whitefield blessed our nation ...
Field preaching was the wild note of the birds singing in the trees, in testimony that the true spring-time of religion had come ...
It was a blessed day when Methodists and others began to proclaim Jesus in open air; then were the gates of hell shaken, and the captives of the devil were set free by hundreds and thousands."
Open air preaching meetings in Scotland were called "holy fairs," which stirred revivals which immigrants brought to America.
After evangelizing, the Bible says to make disciples, so for that purpose schools were founded.
Scottish minister William Tennent migrated to Pennsylvania in 1718 and together with his son Gilbert Tennent began the Log College in 1726.
It was the first American Presbyterian theological seminary in North America, which led to the formation of the College of New Jersey.
The College of New Jersey, was renamed PRINCETON UNIVERSITY.
An original trustee of the college was the "New Light" preacher, Rev. Samuel Finley.
Religious enthusiasm spreading through America became known as The Great Awakening Revival.
This revival caused a split:
  • "Old Light" Calvinist Puritans emphasized that God had a plan for your life, marriage, family, church and government. Study the Scripture, find God's plan, and put it into practice. The government plan, called "covenant," was where everyone participated together in ruling themselves without a king. Over time, though, Old Light focus on a plan became formal and spiritually dry.
  • "New Light" Pieitst Revivalists emphasized that religion was more than a plan, but a personal experience with Jesus, followed by a changed life that would be holy and not participate in worldly things, like bars, brothels, and theaters. Over time, though, New Light focus on withdrawal from worldly things led to a withdrawal from participating in government and an abandonment of civic responsibility, even neglecting to vote in elections.
The fiery Dutch Reformed preacher Theodore Jacobus Frelinghuysen arrived in New Jersey in 1720.
Preaching about divine outpourings of the Holy Spirit and conversion, Frelinghuysen's efforts led to formation in 1766 of Queen's College in New Brunswick, which became RUTGERS UNIVERSITY.
The Great Awakening Revival inspired Puritan Rev. Eleazar Wheelock to help found Moor's Charity School in 1754, (re-established as DARTMOUTH COLLEGE).
The Great Awakening inspired Anglican Rev. Samuel Johnson to help found King's College in 1754 (renamed COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY).
The Great Awakening inspired Baptist ministers Rev. James Manning, Rev. Isaac Backus and Rev. Samuel Stillman to help found the College of Rhode Island in 1764 (renamed BROWN UNIVERSITY).
During this time the Pietist revival movement spread within Lutheran Churches.
It reshaped Presbyterian and Dutch Reformed Churches, and it strengthened evangelical Baptist and Methodist-Anglican Churches.
Revival preachers held to
The Great Awakening Revival brought large numbers of African slaves to Christianity, being led by Presbyterian preacher Samuel Davies, who later became Princeton's fourth president.
African Americans were welcomed into active roles in many white congregations, even as preachers.
The first black churches were founded at this time in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania:
  • 1773, George Liele founded Silver Bluff Baptist Church in Beach Island, South Carolina, one of the first black congregations in America;
  • 1774, John Michaels helped found the First Baptist Church of Petersburg, Virginia, which met on the plantation of Colonel William Byrd, being one of America's first black congregations;
  • 1788, Andrew Bryan helped found First Bryan Baptist Church –– one of the first black Baptist churches in North America, renamed First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia;
  • 1792, Absalom Jones established the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia, the oldest black Episcopal congregation in America;
  • 1794, Richard Allen established the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia;
  • 1798, “Black Harry” Hosier established the African Zoar Methodist Church in Philadelphia;
  • 1807, former slave John Gloucester founded the first African Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.
Beginning in 1738, Rev. George Whitefield arrived in Savannah, Georgia.
Traveling the Colonies, he preached 18,000 sermons in the next 32 years.
The Great Awakening Revival helped unite the Colonies prior to the Revolutionary War.
Ben Franklin wrote of Rev. Whitefield:
"Multitudes of all denominations attended his sermons ... It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants.
From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seemed as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro' the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street."
The Great Awakening Revival had a profound effect, as noted by Sarah Pierrepont Edwards, wife of Jonathan Edwards, who wrote to her brother in New Haven regarding effects of the preaching of George Whitefield:
"It is wonderful to see what a spell he casts over an audience by proclaiming the simplest truths of the Bible ...
Our mechanics shut up their shops, and the day laborers throw down their tools to go and hear him preach, and few return unaffected."
A noted Great Awakening preacher was Jonathan Edwards, born OCTOBER 5, 1703.
He entered Yale College at age 13 and graduated with honors. He became a pastor and preached with amazing conviction.
In his Narrative of the Surprising Word of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls, 1737, Jonathan Edwards wrote:
"And then it was, in the latter part of December, that the Spirit of God began extraordinarily to ... work amongst us.
There were, very suddenly, one after another, five or six persons who were, to all appearance, savingly converted, and some of them wrought upon in a very remarkable manner.
... Particularly I was surprised with the relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town.
When she came to me, I had never heard that she was become in any ways serious, but by the conversation I had with her, it appeared to me that what she gave an account of was a glorious work of God's infinite power and sovereign grace, and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified ...
God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening to others, of anything that ever came to pass in the town ..."
Edwards continued:
"I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many.
The news of it seemed to be almost like a flash of lighting upon the hearts of young people all over the town, and upon many others ...
Presently upon this, a great and earnest concern about the great things of religion and the eternal world became universal in all parts of the town and among persons of all degrees and all ages.
The noise of the dry bones waxed louder and louder ...
Those that were wont to be the vainest and loosest, and those that had been the most disposed to think and speak slightly of vital and experimental religion, were not generally subject to great awakenings ..."
Edwards added:
"And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner and increased more and more; souls did, as it were, come by flocks to Jesus Christ ...
This work of God, as it was carried on and the number of true saints multiplied, soon made a glorious alteration in the town, so that in the spring and summer following, Anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God.
It never was so full of love, nor so full of joy ... there were remarkable tokens of God's presence in almost every house.
It was a time of joy in families on the account of salvation's being brought unto them, parents rejoicing over their children as new born, and husbands over their wives, and wives over their husbands.
The goings of God were then seen in His sanctuary, God's day was a delight and His tabernacles were amiable ..."
Rev. Edwards went on:
"Our public assembles were then beautiful; the congregation was alive in God's service, everyone earnestly intent on the public worship, every hearer eager to drink the words of the minister as they came from his mouth.
The assembly in general were, from time to time, in tears while the word was preached, some weeping with sorrow and distress, others with joy and love, others with pity and concern for their neighbors.
There were many instances of persons that came from abroad, on visits or on business ... that partook of that shower of divine blessing that God rained down here and went home rejoicing.
Till at length the same work began to appear and prevail in several other towns in the country ..."
Jonathan Edwards concluded:
"In the month of March, the people of South Hadley began to be seized with a deep concern about the things of religion, which very soon became universal ...
About the same time, it began to break forth in the west part of Suffield ... and it soon spread into all parts of the town. It next appeared at Sunderland ...
About the same time it began to appear in a part of Deerfield ... Hatfield ... West Springfield ... Long Meadow ... Endfield ... Westfield ... Northfield ...
In every place, God brought His saving blessings with Him, and His Word, attended with Spirit ... returned not void."
Edwards wrote:
"There is no leveler like Christianity, but it levels by lifting all who receive it to the lofty table-land of a true character and of undying hope both for this world and the next."
On July 8, 1741, Jonathan Edwards preached his most famous sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God."
The underlying theme of revivals is that there first needs to be the preaching of the Law before people see their need for the Lamb;
that God is a just, and as such, He must judge every sin;
but God is love, in that He provided the Lamb to take the judgement for the sin.
A bathroom mirror can show a person how dirty their face is, but it has no power to cleanse their face. It does though, create a desire for a person to use the soap and water to wash their face.
The Law shows a person how sinful they are, but it has no power to cleanse them of sin. It does, though, create the desire for them to have their sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb. (Revelations 7:14)
If God does not judge a sin, His silence effectively gives consent to it, as in law, silence equals consent.
Wedding ceremonies have a line, if anyone objects, "speak now or forever hold your peace." If you are silent, holding your peace, you are giving consent.
If God is silent in the face of sin, He would be giving consent to sin, and if God gives consent to sin, He is no longer a just God, He would be denying his just nature.
To ask God to overlook a sin is to ask Him to deny Himself, and "God cannot deny Himself." (2 Timothy 2:13)
But God is a loving God, in that He, Himself, provided the Lamb to take the judgement for our sins.
This is foreshadowed in Genesis 22:7-8:
"And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father ... Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? ..."
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering:."
The Book of Isaiah, chapter 53, foretold the suffering Messiah as a Lamb:
"The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all ... he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter ... he openeth not his mouth ... for the transgression of my people was he stricken ...
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin ... my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities ... he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
In this way, God is both completely just, in that He judged sin, and God is completely love, in that He provided His only Son to take the judgment for our sins.
For those who approach God through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus said in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."
Revival preachers were motivated to start colleges and universities to teach youth.
This motivation can be illustrated by an analogy using computer terminology, highlighting the differences between hardware and software.
Hardware refers to the computer's physical hard drive and memory chips; and software refers to the programs that run on the computer.
Applying this to students, a child's physical brain is like the computer hardware, and their body is like the computer case. The software is the belief system and values taught to a child, which guide their behavior.
It does not matter what a person's body skin color, race, or heredity is. What matters is, what software is running in their minds?
People with evil intent want to download viruses, malware, corrupted files, and immorality onto children's minds.
God chose Abraham in part because He knew Abraham would teach his children the ways of the Lord. In Genesis 18:19, God said: “For I know him (Abraham), that he will teach his children … (to) keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.”
The battle today is who gets to teach the children -- who gets to load the software on the next generation's brains.
Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, rather than being preoccupied with the "hardware" of race, genetics, heredity or skin color, focused instead on instilling Bible "software" onto their children's minds - godly thoughts, values and the Christian belief system - which had a documented ripple effect.
A.E. Winship's A Study in Education and Heredity (1900) listed that Jonathan and Sarah Edwards descendants included:
1 U.S. Vice-President,
3 U.S. Senators,
3 governors,
3 mayors,
13 college presidents,
30 judges,
65 professors,
80 public office holders,
100 lawyers and
100 missionaries.
A.E. Winship's study also examined a family referred to as "Jukes."
In 1877, while visiting New York's prisons, Richard Dugdale found inmates with 42 different last names all descending from one man, called "Max."
Born around 1720 of Dutch stock, Max was a hard drinker, idle, irreverent, a recluse, and uneducated.
Following the computer analogy, Max's children had been infected with corrupted files and software viruses.
Max's immoral example was equivalent of programming malware into his descendants, which included:
7 murderers,
60 thieves,
50 women of debauchery,
130 other convicts.
310 paupers, who, combined spent 2,300 years in poorhouses, and
400 physically wrecked by indulgent living.
The "Jukes" descendants cost the state more than $1,250,000.
Jonathan Edwards stated:
"I have reason to hope that my parents' prayers for me have been, in many things, very powerful and prevalent, that God has ... taken me under His care and guidance, provision and direction, in answer to their prayers."
In A History of the Work of Redemption, 1739, Jonathan Edwards wrote:
"Those mighty kingdoms of Antichrist and Mohammed ... have trampled the world under foot..(and) swallowed up the Ancient Roman Empire ... Satan's Mohometan kingdom swallowing up the Eastern Empire."
In his work, The Latter-Day Glory Is Probably to Begin in America, Jonathan Edwards proposed that since the Old World had hosted Christ's first coming, the New World would be given the honor of preparing the earth for His second coming.
This idea that the "Sun of Righteousness" traveled from East to West contributed to the concept that America had a "Manifest Destiny," as he wrote:
"When the time comes of the church's deliverance from her enemies, so often typified by the Assyrians, the light will rise in the west, till it shines through the world like the sun in its meridian brightness ...
And if we may suppose that this glorious work of God shall begin in any part of America, I think, if we consider the circumstances of the settlement of New England, it must needs appear the most likely, of all American colonies, to be the place whence this work shall principally take its rise."
Jonathan Edwards, who became President of Princeton College, resolved: "... never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life."
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Image Credits: Public Domain; Description: "A Faithful Narrative of the Surprizing Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton," by the Rev. Jonathan Edwards, printed for John Oswald, London, 1737; Date: 1737; Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University; Blue pencil.svg wikidata:Q313073; ; Description: Theologian Jonathan Edwards; Date: before 1855; Source: The history of Connecticut, from the first settlement of the colony to the adoption of the present constitution, New Haven, CT: Durrie and Peck; Retrieved October 14, 2010. ISBN: 978-1418147150; Author: Engraved by R Babson & J Andrews; Print by Wilson & Daniels; ;

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  • Randy Clark on

    Loved this article. Thanks for making it public. A great job. Anointed with truth and Spirit. It reveals the importance of both Word and Spirit.

  • Ron Martin on

    Good stuff! Appreciate it! – Ron Martin

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