A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton

A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton

A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton is an famous essay written in 1737 by Jonathan Edwards (theologian) about the process of Christian conversion in North Hampton, Massachusetts during the Great Awakening, which emanated from Edwards' congregation in 1734.

Edwards wrote the Narrative to dispel rumors and to clarify how conversion to Christianity occurs. Edwards gives a background of the town and its relatively mundane history prior to the Awakening of 1734. Edwards uses examples of various people from his local congregation, such as Abigail Hutchinson, a young woman who died joyfully, to illustrate the psychology of conversion. He outlines several universal steps in conversion:
*First, Edwards explains how the conversion starts when individuals with an interest in Christianity attempt to live righteously through their works and study scripture attempting to avoid sin and damnation and to "earn" salvation. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=tdChaw1uzucC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22a+faithful+narrative%22 Jonathan Edwards, "Edwards on Revivals A Faithful Narrative and Thoughts" (Dunning & Spalding, New York: 1832), 56 (accessed on Google Book Search)] ]
*Next, Edwards describes how these individuals inevitably fail to live up to the standard, and they experience despair at their failures and inherent sinfulness, often believing they have committed "unpardonable sin." [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=tdChaw1uzucC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22a+faithful+narrative%22 Jonathan Edwards, "Edwards on Revivals A Faithful Narrative and Thoughts" (Dunning & Spalding, New York: 1832), 55 (accessed on Google Book Search)] ]
*Then, Edwards describes how successful converts experience "converting grace" and "awaken" to see that forgiveness is available to all who have faith that Jesus' sacrifice atones for all sins. This salvation is impossible through works which are simply evidence of faith, and only possible through Christ's sacrifice. [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=tdChaw1uzucC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22a+faithful+narrative%22 Jonathan Edwards, "Edwards on Revivals A Faithful Narrative and Thoughts" (Dunning & Spalding, New York: 1832), 55, 76 (accessed on Google Book Search)] ]
*Finally, this revelation of grace is followed by a sense of joy or an internal "new light" from the Holy Spirit and a desire to spread the Christian gospel and leave sin behind. Also, true converts experience a greater sensitivity to their "heart sins" such as pride with which they were largely unconcerned before conversion when they were primarily concerned with legalism or their own "saving" works. Even though this change has occurred, many Christians "have no imagination that they are now converted." [ [http://books.google.com/books?id=tdChaw1uzucC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22a+faithful+narrative%22 Jonathan Edwards, "Edwards on Revivals A Faithful Narrative and Thoughts" (Dunning & Spalding, New York: 1832), 65, 74 (accessed on Google Book Search)] ]

Edwards published the "Narrative" in England in 1737, Boston in 1738, and later in German and Dutch, and it brought him a large international following. Prominent Christians such as George Whitefield, a British minister, came to visit Edwards in Northhampton after the publication.

The "Narrative" remains popular and modern day evangelists such as Timothy Keller often refer to this and other Edwards works as models for their ministry. The song Amazing Grace, written in 1772, is sometimes compared to the "grace experience" described in the "A Faithful Narrative."

References and external links

* [http://edwards.yale.edu/major-works/faithful-narrative/ Yale Summary of the Narrative]
* [http://spider.georgetowncollege.edu/HTALLANT/COURSES/his338/edwards/faithfl2.htm Edwards' "Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls at Northampton" (Georgetown College)]


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