Chapter 5 picks up the heart of the argument in looking at three major undercurrents in the Christian life as observed by Edwards, with the chapter answering the question of why the believer should obey.
This argument puts the focus on relationship and underlines the importance of union, all the while keeping the necessary tension of God’s work and man’s responsibility in obedience where Scripture places it.
Edwards is a needed voice amid the questions that are raised concerning this essential doctrine today.
Like Edwards Sr., he would become a Congregationalist minister, serve as a college president, and die shortly after taking office.
As with his father, contemporaries considered Edwards Jr.
Believing that the “barbarous languages” of Native Americans were unfit for discussions of God and morality, the eminent divine preached through an interpreter. His son, however, had yet to acquire his father’s prejudices.
“The Indian children being the nearest neighbors, I constantly associated with them,” he wrote, and “their boys were my daily school-mates and play-fellows.” As a result, Edwards Jr.
But the young boy reportedly “endeared himself very much” to his neighbors during those brief six months. On one occasion, when they suspected the French planned an attack on Onaquaga, local Native Americans “took him on their shoulders and carried him many miles through the wilderness to a place which they supposed beyond the reach of danger.” Edwards Jr.’s early experiences among the Mahican and Iroquois shaped the way he saw Native Americans as an adult, and their languages interested him throughout his life.
In 1788, the younger Edwards published an influential linguistic study of Mahican that mapped its connections to other Algonquian languages as well as its differences from Iroquoian languages.
was a leader in the first wave of American abolitionism—and one of the few abolitionists Princeton (with its long history of conservatism on the issue of slavery) ever produced.
“That all men are born equally free, was his firm belief,” a minister in Savannah, Georgia eulogized Edwards after his death in 1801, “and by this maxim of eternal justice, he regulated his practice.” He titled his sermon “The Perfect and Upright Man.” The elder Jonathan Edwards died 1758, when his son and namesake was only thirteen.