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Jonathan Edwards 1703 - 1758

Jonathan Edwards Jonathan Edwards (October 5, 1703 – March 22, 1758) was an American colonial preacher, author, theologian, and a missionary to Native Americans.  Born in East Windsor, Connecticut, Edwards is widely acknowledged as America's greatest and most important theologian.  He entered Yale in 1716 before his thirteenth birthday and graduated four years later as valedictorian.  Three years later, he received his Masters.

In 1727 he was ordained as a student minister at Northampton, where he assisted his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard.  In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, daughter of James Pierpont who was a founder of Yale (originally called the Collegiate School).  Jonathan, after growing up as one of eleven children (he was the only boy), had eleven children of his own with Sarah.  Edwards then moved to the frontier settlement of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where he ministered to a small congregation of about 600 for 23 years, during which he completed his celebrated work, The Freedom of the Will (1754).  Edwards was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later to become Princeton University) in early 1758.  A few weeks later, he died of fever at the age of fifty-four following experimental inoculation for smallpox.  He is buried in the President's Lot in the Princeton cemetery next to his son-in-law, Aaron Burr Sr, whose son (Aaron Burr Jr) served as vice-president of the United States under Thomas Jefferson.

Regarding his work, he is often associated with the Puritan heritage, his defense of Calvinist theology, particularly the sovereignty and holiness of God, and his drive for missions, serving as a missionary to the Housatonic Indians for seven years.  His most famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, is credited for starting America’s First Great Awakening.

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