A Review of A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan EdwardsPosted: October 15, 2008
Summary of the Series, Profiles in Reformed Spirituality:
A Sweet Flame is Volume 2 in the Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series. In this volume, Dr. Haykin takes several sections from the Letters and Personal Writings of Jonathan Edwards, George M. Marsden’s Jonathan Edwards: A Life, Sereno E. Dwight’s Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards, and Iain Murray’s Jonathan Edwards- A New Biography and compiles them into this 169-page book. Justin Taylor states, “Jonathan Edwards was not only a brilliant theologian, but also a devoted husband, father, pastor, and friend. Underneath it all, he was a man passionate about living in joyful obedience to God. In this highly recommended collection of letters, skillfully edited and annotated by historian Michael Haykin, Edwards’s warm-hearted piety shines through on every page, giving us a glimpse into the heart and mind of this servant of God.”
Summary of the Piety of Jonathan Edwards:
Dr. Haykin gives a brief biography of Jonathan Edwards (evidently paying close attention to previous other biographies written of him), which shows the piety of his life. It outlines the early years of Edwards’ life, at which point he was intellectually and spiritually above and beyond anyone of his age, and it also shows how the Scriptures molded his life. Dr. Haykin pulls excerpts from Edwards’ works to show his spirituality during his years in college, and most of all, his time with his family. Almost everyone knows of the tender heart that Edwards had for his dear wife Sarah. This section gives some of Jonathan Edwards’ first words recorded about his (future) wife in 1723, and also some of his writings that were lesser known… writings about his enjoyment with God (written to his dear friends) and the writings that his daughter wrote about him. Lastly, in this biographical sketch Dr. Haykin shows the areas in Edwards’ life that were exceptionally God-centered and clearly reveal his piety – namely his revivals, such as the Great Awakening.
Summary of the selected sections of Jonathan Edwards:
After the short biography, Dr. Haykin then gives 26 selected works from the multitude of letters written by Edwards. There is a wide variety included, such as writings to his mother, his wife, his daughter, George Whitfield, John Erskine, and the trustees of the college at Princeton. There are also two selections that were written by Sarah and Suzanna Edwards at his death. If you want to get inside the life of Jonathan Edwards, A Sweet Flame will give you that privilege. It will take you into his life of spirituality and will give you a clear picture of his character, as through his letters he talks to the love of his life – his wife, shows his tender heart towards his friends, and displays his passion for Christ.
Recommendation: 6 out of 10
In order to really enjoy this book you must have a passion for reading into the depth of Jonathan Edwards’ life. Although I am not personally a fan of reading diaries and letters written to people other than myself, the point of Dr. Haykin’s book is to show that Jonathan Edwards was not just a great mind and not just one of the greatest theologians that walked the earth – but to show that he was a humble and (often times) humiliated, tender hearted, and caring man that most will say they can never compare to.