Mar

22

2011

Justin Taylor|11:32 am CT

Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell

Where there is talk about preaching and hell, Jonathan Edwards’s name is never far behind. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is the most famous sermon in American history. And undoubtedly Edwards is the most caricatured preacher because of it.

You can read the whole sermon online, or listen to someone like Mark Dever or Max McLean read it. For a book-length treatment of Edwards on hell, with particular attention on the inadequacy of arguments for annihilationism, see Christopher Morgan’s Jonathan Edwards and Hell.

But few people know that Edwards often preached on heaven, too. And his sermons on heaven are as beautiful as his sermons on hell are sobering.

For a wonderful introduction to Edwards on heaven, I’d encourage you to listen to Sam Storms’s talk on “Joy’s Eternal Increase: Edwards on the Beauty of Heaven.” But first you might want to read the text of Edwards’s sermon, “Heaven, A World of Love.”

We’ve all heard the line about the danger of “being so heavenly-minded that we’re no earthly good.” But surely C. S. Lewis was right: “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. . . . It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this” (Mere Christianity, chapter 10). For an excellent book on precisely this theme in the sermons of Edwards, I recommend Stephen Nichols’s book, Heaven on Earth: Capturing Jonathan Edwards’s Vision of Living in Between.

Finally, for a short book that seeks to bring it all together with copious quotes from Edwards, see Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell, by Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney.

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