I have been asked to speak on Jonathan Edwards and ‘what he has to say to Africa’ later this year. To be honest, this is quite an intimidating task and I was tempted to turn it down as being too difficult for me. Yet the chance to think about and study and learn from Jonathan Edwards is just too good for me to miss.
As I was thinking about how difficult this message will be, I was reminded of what Martyn Lloyd Jones once said in a lecture he delivered regarding Jonathan Edwards:
“I confess freely that this is one of the most difficult tasks I have ever attempted. The theme is almost impossible, and very largely for the reason that I have already given, namely the influence of Edwards upon me. I am afraid, and I say it with much regret, that I have to put him ahead even of Daniel Rowland and George Whitefield. Indeed I am tempted, perhaps foolishly, to compare the Puritans to the Alps, Luther and Calvin to the Himalayas, and Jonathan Edwards to Mount Everest! He has always seemed to me to be the man most like the apostle Paul. Of course, Whitefield was a great and mighty preacher as was Daniel Rowland but so was Edwards. Neither of them had the mind, neither of them had the intellect, neither of them had the grasp of theology that Edwards had; neither of them was the philosopher he was. He stands out, it seems to me, quite on his own amongst men. So the task confronting me, if I may follow my analogy of Mount Everest, is to decide whether to approach him by the south Col or by the north Col. There are so many approaches to this great summit; but not only so, the atmosphere is so spiritually rarefied, and there is this blazing whiteness of the holiness of the man himself, and his great emphasis upon the holiness and the glory of God; and above all the weakness of the little climber as he faces this great peak pointing up to heaven. All I can hope to do is to give some glimpses of this man and his life, and what he did, with the ultimate end and object of persuading every one to buy these two volumes of his works, and to read them!”