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The Preaching of Jonathan Edwards (Carrick)

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Jonathan Edwards is widely regarded not only as America’s greatest theologian and philosopher, but also as one of her greatest preachers. It is a remarkable fact, however, that his preaching has been somewhat neglected, both in academic circles and in the Reformed churches. Published in the year that marks the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of his death, this book successfully straddles the church’s and the academy’s interest in Edwards and supplies that omission.

Dr. Carrick demonstrates that Edwards was preaching and writing at a unique moment in history when the Puritan spirit and the spirit of the Enlightenment intersected; he traces the remarkable fall and rise of interest in the great American preacher-theologian in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; he interacts, both positively and critically, with the now complete Yale edition of Edward’s Works and also with the ever-burgeoning field of Edwards scholarship; and he cites extensively from Edward’s sermons, treatises, and Miscellanies in order to demonstrate the power and the profundity of his preaching and thought.

The author’s main focus is, throughout, primarily homiletical; but interwoven in the homiletical focus are theological, philosophical, historical, and biographical strands. He constantly seeks to place Edwards and his sermons in their New England context-indeed, in their wider eighteenth century transatlantic context-thus providing, wherever possible, the historical background for Edwards’ sermons.

The ‘New York period’, the ‘Great Apostasy’ at Yale, the Bolton interlude, the Yale tutorship, the Boston Lecture of 1731, the Enfield sermon, the Yale Commencement of 1741, the great revivals, the landmark funerals, the Edwards-Stoddard-Williams dynamic, the Communion controversy, the Farewell Sermon, the romance of the Stockbridge years-these are all treated within the context of a systematic analysis of Edward’s preaching under a number of different themes.

Dr. Carrick does not shrink from sounding a note of critique at certain points and he warns against the danger of slavishly imitating the New England preacher. But he is also clearly convinced of Edwards’ extraordinary greatness and of the tremendous value of his sermons for Christians today. ‘Iron sharpens iron’; and the iron of Edward’s marvellous expositions and applications is sure to sharpen the minds and souls of all those who study them carefully.

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Table of Contents: 

  Preface ix
1 The Edwards Legacy 1
2 God-Centredness 21
3 The Preaching of Judgment 41
4 Sovereignty and Responsibility 57
5 The Concept of Seeking 79
6 Christ-Centredness 97
7 The Preaching of Heaven 113
8 Introductions 121
9 Doctrinal Exposition 131
10 Illustrations 151
11 Conclusions 175
12 Imagery 191
13 Repetition 213
14 Exclamation 223
15 The Use of Scripture 231
16 Different Categories of Hearers 243
17 The Use of Instruction 271
18 Confutation 281
19 The Use of Self-Examination 299
20 The Use of Exhortation 317
21 The Use of the Indicative 331
22 Objections and Answers 345
23 The Use of Example 357
24 Motives 375
25 Style 393
26 Delivery 409
27 The Spirit of God 431
28 Jonathan Edwards Today 449
  Index of Scripture References 461



John Carrick is a graduate of Oxford University (BA, 1973; Certificate in Education, 1974; MA, 1978) and studied at London Theological Seminary, 1978-1980. He holds a D.Min. from Westminster Theological Seminary in California (2002). He was formerly Minister of Cheltenham Evangelical Church (1979-1992), briefly Lecturer in the History of Philosophy & Christian Thought at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina (1993), and Minister of Matthews Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Matthews, NC (1992-1994).