Among all the good books available on the theology and life of Jonathan Edwards, this one surely deserves attention. Haykin has done good service to the church in providing a 'compact book-length study of Edwards as a theologian of revival' (p. xiv). Though many evangelical leaders (eg. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Iain Murray, J I Packer and John Piper) have expressed their great appreciation for Edwards' treatment of revival in various books and addresses, to my knowledge no other book-length work appreciative of Edwards exists with exactly this focus and flavour. The book contains an unusual combination of historical, theological, and biographical material. Of the nine short chapters, two are mainly historical, one giving an overview of Edwards' life and the other an overview of the Evangelical Awakening of the eighteenth century. These two chapters are alone worth the price of the book.
There are good overviews of the key works that grew out of Edwards' experiences of revival (ie. A Faithful Narrative, Distinguishing Marks of the Work of the Spirit, A Humble Attempt, Some Thoughts concerning the Present Revival, and The Religious Affections). Two sermons from Charity and Its Fruits (2 and 14) are also discussed. Here Edwards argues for a cessationist position on the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Other chapters take a more thematic form, with historical notes interspersed throughout. Whole sections are devoted to the experience of revival of Sarah Edwards and Esther Edwards Burr.
Haykin tells the story of important figures in Edwards' day like Charles Chauncy and James Davenport in an engaging manner, providing an importance context for understanding Edwards' writings. The discussion of Edwards' cessationism is to be particularly noted, given the high profile of many contemporary Edwards enthusiasts who do not hold to a cessationist position.
Although its style makes it an enjoyable and readable introduction to Edwards' work, its scholarly rigour makes it an indispensable guide for serious students too. Those too timid to jump straight into Edwards' writings on revival will find this a useful springboard for further reading.
The only thing lacking in the book is an index, though this will not detract from its overall appeal. Dr Haykin is to be commended for presenting an introduction to Jonathan Edwards as a theologian of revival and the work of the Holy Spirit in a very accessible form.
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