“Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography” by Iain H. Murray

Highly Recommended. Iain H. Murray, born in Lancashire, England, in 1931, educated in the Isle of Man and at the University of Durham, entered the Christian ministry in 1955. He served as assistant to Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones at Westminster Chapel (1956-9) and later at Grove Chapel, London (1961-9) and St. Giles Presbyterian Church, Sydney (1981-4). In intervening periods he has worked full-time with the Banner of Truth Trust, of which he was the co-founder (with Jack Cullum) in 1957, and remains a trustee.   While Murray has written on several nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures, the eighteenth century has long been one of his main interests. He also wrote a 60-page introduction to John MacArthur’s “Truth Endures,” a compilation of twelve of MacArthur’s most powerful sermons.

Jonathan Edwards continues to be one of the most prominent figures in Anglo-American Christian history and Iain Murray presents a stirring, sensitive, and comprehensive evaluation of his life. Maybe (in my mind, definitely) one of the most exciting Christians to study, Jonathan Edwards’ life is an inspiring example to all Christians across the globe. Murray captures Edwards’ life of great achievement and heartache, and reveals the depth of thought that Edwards himself displayed throughout his life. This biography is thorough and very detail-oriented; Murray allows the reader to delve deep into Edwards’ life and offers the opportunity to get acquainted with the entire family. Using letters that were passed throughout the Edwards family, Murray is able to convey a very doctrine-centered and eloquent biography that will edify its readers and inspire all Christians to strive “to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace than before.”

This book has great personal sentiment, as well. Though I attribute its impact more to the actual life of Jonathan Edwards, this biography got a hold of my heart from the start. From the very first chapter I was introduced into a world of faith that I had never experienced; I was able to see and experience another’s Christian life that has since altered my entire view of what it means to love and glorify God. I would recommend this book to any person who is looking for an example of what a Christian life—and a Christian family, for that matter—should look like. It is an eye-opening experience, one that is honest and reliable: Murray doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties that Edwards was blessed with. From Edwards’ early education through the Great Awakening to his death as the President of the College of New Jersey (Princeton), I was blown away with how this man of God handled his entire life. Edwards is proof that an undivided concern for the Lord’s glorification breathes true life into all things. All that being said, I can honestly say that I’m a better worshiper of God for having read this book.

I would definitely recommend this book to any person, especially Christians seeking to understand God through a lifestyle of faith. Biographies in general provide stirring examples of God’s sovereign work. This book, though it might take a degree of interest in American history, has a universal audience as a result of Jonathan Edwards’ universal theology.

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