I humbly admit I am excited when I heard word that Simonetta Carr is going to publish another entry into her Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. Having read several installments in this series, the excitement truly exploded when it was announced she had published a book on Jonathan Edwards. As with the other books in this series, Carr’s most recent offering continues the well-researched, well-written, and wonderfully illustrated pattern of excellence. Her latest book on Jonathan Edwards and quite frankly the entire series can be enjoyed by children and adults alike as they bring to life the individuals they discuss, in this case the great preacher and author Jonathan Edwards.
Many are likely familiar with Jonathan Edwards, in particular his famous sermons “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” With that said, there is more to the person of Jonathan Edwards than simply one famous, albeit powerful sermon. Long before his involvement in the First Great Awakening, Carr notes that Edwards was born into a family of pastors way back in 1703 in the small village of East Windsor, CT. I found it quite fascinating that even as a small boy, Edwards “prayed five times a day, often by himself in the woods. He and his friends also built a shed by an isolated swamp where they could pray and read the Bible together.” Carr next explores Edwards’ time in college, noting “His favorite place in the college was the library, where he read many new, exciting books.” Becoming fascinated with spiders, Edwards performed experiments while constantly being reminded of God as Creator displayed throughout creation.
As noted earlier, Edwards is perhaps best known for his involvement in the First Great Awakening. Carr rightly spends a good deal of time outlining this period to include Edwards preaching alongside another great declarer of God’s word, George Whitefield. Carr aptly shares the concern of Edwards that “the people’s excitement could get out of hand and draw attention to human feelings instead of what Christ had done for sinners.” For Edwards, “a display of emotions is not necessarily a sign of true faith” and once the emotional fervor wound down, he captured his thoughts in a now famous book, Religious Affections. This understanding that mere emotion is not necessarily evidence of true faith is important for children and adults to grasp, especially in an age where salvation is often thought of as a singular event or an emotion experience that does not have to be followed by a life lived in obedience out of thanksgiving for what God has done for us. Carr captures that truth throughout this section and rightfully so.
Carr also notes the fact that Edwards, in 1751, accepted the opportunity to pastor in a small village called Stockbridge, a colonial town that had been built as a mission to Native Americans. So not only was Edwards a great preacher of the gospel and instrumental in the First Great Awakening, he also responded to the call of God to be a missionary. Perhaps drawing upon his studies of nature while in college, Edwards preached the gospel to these Native Americans “using images from nature that were familiar to them.” This marvelous book concludes with a timeline of Jonathan Edwards’ life as well as some interesting facts about Edwards, his family, and even how ink was made during that time period.
I highly recommend this book for parents to sit down and read with their children as it is simple enough for a child to enjoy and rigorous enough for an adult to appreciate. In fact, I recommend this entire series as something for parents to explore with their children. This particular volume will most certainly find its way into our own homeschool curriculum for our daughter once we come to this particular period of history. Carr does a marvelous job of capturing the historical highlights of Jonathan Edwards’ life while focusing on the impact he made for the kingdom of God. As a result of reading this book, I have a newfound appreciate for Edwards. I look forward to future installments in this series.
This book is available for purchase from Reformation Heritage Books by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”