Significant moments in Jonathan Edwards’s ministry were connected to his exposition of the doctrine of justification by faith. In concluding his studies at Yale College in 1723 in the midst of the contentions surrounding the theological defection of Rector Clap to the Anglicans, Edwards defended his A.M. with a disquisition on justification by grace through faith. As well, the beginnings of the surprising work of God in Northampton in 1734-35 were, in Edwards’s estimation, provoked by sermons from Romans 4:5: his own later descriptions in the Faithful Narrative of that localised revival give prominence to the doctrine of justification as a causal factor. In Edwards’s only publication of sermons during his lifetime, under the title of Discourse on Various Important Subjects (1738), the theme of justification, along with adapted sermons on justification from the Northampton revival, forms the Leitmotif. An early nineteenth century chronicler comments: ‘There was, then, in 1734 at Northampton and generally in New England, a special need of such sermons as Edwards reached; a special fitness in those sermons, to produce the effects which followed them.’
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