Jonathan Edwards: The Witch Hunter?

It was April 18th, I had just started to relax, browsing the internet as usual, When I came upon a blog post while searching for some history around the Salem Witch Trials. The trials have been an interest of mine for awhile now, so I decided to look at it in depth. But what I found was not any history you’ve ever heard of, oh no, what I found was the most academically lazy post I’ve ever seen.

It is no secret that I like Jonathan Edwards so it would not come to your surprise that when I saw him mentioned with the Salem Witch Trials, I was confused, even more so, the person insisted that Edwards played a part in it! All quotes are from the person’s short blog post. [1]

 

“Jonathan Edwards was a preacher around the Salem witch trials of 1692…”

 

Jonathan Edwards was a preacher around 1692, huh? Well, he was more talented than I thought since he wasn’t born till October 5, 1703. [2]

 

“instead of telling the people to come repent, he threatened them…”

 

We will get into the person’s perception of Edwards’ “threat” later, but first things first (I’m the realest[3]) Edwards did call people to repent, like, a lot. There is even a book that has a collection of his sermons about the subject, called “Unless you Repent”[4] and if that isn’t enough to convince you, perhaps listen to this sermon about how hope and comfort follow from genuine repentance. [5] But just you wait lovely readers, you will get to see the irony soon.

 

The person goes on to talk about the movie the Crucible[6], which is a movie I’ve seen and enjoyed, however, it doesn’t have much to do with Jonathan Edwards.

 

At the final part, the tenacious writer quotes proof of Edwards and his evil intentions, from his popular sermon

“from the hands of the sinners”

 

Unfortunately, Jonathan Edwards didn’t write any sermon entitled that. I tried to give this person the benefit of the doubt, and search for the sermon, perhaps It was just a sermon I hadn’t heard from him yet! But alas, the quotation itself proves they didn’t even know the name of the sermon.

 

They quote this section, which is from Jonathan Edwards’ most famous sermon, Sinners In The Hands of An Angry God(and the name inspiration for this blog.)

“The bow of [God’s] wrath is bent, [and the] arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it’s nothing but mere pleasure [of God, and that of an Angry God] of anger(“Of anger” doesn’t appear in the text.) without any promise or obligation at all that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.” [7] (The parts in [brackets] are my additions to where they missed part of the text.)

 

The irony that I mentioned above for the lovely readers, is that this quotation is Edwards using figurative language to represent the dire need for them to repent, i.e. he is calling them to repentance.

 

So what should we learn from this? Well, that the internet is a great place to learn things, but remember, anyone with an internet connection can post, and not all posts are created equal.

 

[1] “The Crucible” at michelle-meyer-crucible.blogspot.com

[2] Biography.com entry on Jonathan Edwards

[3] “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

[4] Unless you Repent by Jonathan Edwards (Soli Deo Gloria Publications)

[5] Hope and Comfort usually follow genuine humiliation and repentance (sermon) by Jonathan Edwards

[6] The Crucible (Playwright by Arthur Miller) Movie 1996, directed by Nicholas Hytner, starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder.

[7] Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God (sermon) by Jonathan Edwards pg. 22, P&R Publishing, 1992.

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