Gentle, firm, industrious, serious, profound, disciplined, and balanced—these were his most compelling characteristics.
He was a man of character, involved in controversy, a man who no less now than during his life evokes the praise of brethren and the calumny of foes.
Earlier, in the last months of 1734, a series of sermons Edwards preached in his parish was followed by several sudden and violent conversions, particularly of individuals known to be notorious sinners.
That winter and spring a genuine revival broke out in Northampton, with perhaps three hundred saved.
In this context he preached the sermon so blessed at Enfield, Connecticut, in 1741, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” God honored it mightily.
Because of emotional and physical excesses accompanying some of the Awakening, Edwards, by a series of writings and by his preaching, counseled moderation and balance, of the head and the heart.As a child he was docile, reflective, affectionate, and sensitive, but, above all, precocious. He began then what was to be his practice throughout life: writing to cultivate thought.From Edwards’s pen, when his fingers were but twelve and thirteen years old, came such essays as one, of a thousand words, on the habits of the field spider. Another was a demonstration that the soul is not material.While he sought to renew what was, he sharpened the contrast with what was to come.Born in 1703, just three months after John Wesley and an ocean apart, the only son among the eleven children of the Reverend Timothy and Esther Edwards, in the parish of East Windsor, Connecticut, with ministers and merchants in his heritage on both sides, this lad, who was to grow to become the foremost theologian of early America, gave early promise of his difference from his peers.Here he took the established course of ministerial training, read Locke and Newton, wrote essays on Berkeley’s philosophy, yet reflected little participation in typical nonacademic activities of college life.Never outgoing or given easily to social graces, little able to enjoy the frivolous or the vain, he seemed aloof from his fellows.If these seem strange subjects for such tender youth, they reflect something of the uniqueness of this fertile mind and its uncommon thirst for knowledge.That thirst, perhaps first cultivated by the elementary schooling provided him by his father, respected as minister and teacher, was furthered by the lad’s entry at Yale College in 1716, just before his thirteenth birthday.This depth of understanding and solemnity of purpose was typical of this philosopher-genius who was equally soulwinning preacher. a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before. From about that time, I began to have a new kind of apprehension . Both a Mary and a Martha, she did much serving and caring for the material needs of a growing family (there were eleven children in all); she was also meditative and spiritual, a woman of deep feeling. We possess today manuscripts or outlines for about a thousand of these.In his own words, As I read the words, there came into my soul . Never any words of Scripture seemed to me as these words did. With the death of Stoddard two years after Edwards was ordained to succeed him, the younger now assumed all the responsibilities of the parish. More preacher and teacher than pastor, he regularly spent thirteen hours daily in his study. He preached on Sunday (usually for two hours) and gave the teaching lecture on Thursday.