Old, Rested, and Reformed: Reflections on the Recovery of Edwards

George Marsden


I first encountered the genius of Jonathan Edwards here at the Yale Divinity School. It was, I think, during the fall of 1963 when I was taking a course with Sydney Ahlstrom on American religious history—or Theology in America—pretty much same thing for Ahlstrom. It happened that I roomed at the Divinity School and I had discovered that the Day Missions Reading Room of the library here was a very pleasant location to read. On this occasion, I believe I was reading Douglass Elwood’s Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards where he points out the role of beauty in Edwards’s experience and thought, and was quoting at length from A Divine and Supernatural Light. I still have the book and have underlined with x’s and arrows where Ellwood says: “The ‘spiritual sense’ is without any long chain of arguments: ‘the argument is but one and the evidence direct.’ It is overpowering and all-conquering.” And then he quotes from Edwards’s sermon: “God is God and distinguished . . . chiefly by his divine beauty, which is infinitely diverse from other beauty.” And “The ‘new sense’ enables the mind to rise above the sensuous to the appreciation of spiritual beaut."


American Religious History

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