Jonathan Edwards Quotes

Born October 5, 1703, Jonathan Edwards studied divinity at Yale College before taking the pulpit in Northampton, Massachusetts. His sermons and writings embraced the idea of free will, along with a firm confidence in God’s righteousness. During the fiery Great Awakening, Edwards became a lighting rod for a movement that became a widespread religious revival.

Edwards became known widely for his fiery sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” which implored parishioners to embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ before they were banished to hell as nonbelievers.

The sermons and writings of Jonathan Edwards helped to shape the course of Protestant theology before, during, and after The Great Awakening of 1740-1742.


“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These are but shadows; but the enjoyment of God is the substance. These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun. These are but streams; but God is the fountain. These are but drops, but God is the ocean.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Of all the knowledge that we can ever obtain, the knowledge of God, and the knowledge of ourselves, are the most important.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolved, never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“All truth is given by revelation, either general or special, and it must be received by reason. Reason is the God-given means for discovering the truth that God discloses, whether in his world or his Word. While God wants to reach the heart with truth, he does not bypass the mind.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“A truly humble man is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on Him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom; and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Surely there is something in the unruffled calm of nature that overawes our little anxieties and doubts; the sight of the deep-blue sky and the clustering stars above seems to impart a quiet to the mind.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“He that has doctrinal knowledge and speculation only, without affection, never is engaged in the business of religion.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Truth is the agreement of our ideas with the ideas of God.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Godliness is more easily feigned in words than in actions”  ~ Jonathan Edwards


“How can you expect to dwell with God forever, if you so neglect and forsake him here?” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Seek not to grow in knowledge chiefly for the sake of applause, and to enable you to dispute with others; but seek it for the benefit of your souls.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“A truly Christian love, either to God or men, is a humble broken-hearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble broken-hearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child, and more disposed to a universal lowliness of behaviour.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“If the heart be chiefly and directly fixed on God, and the soul engaged to glorify Him, some degree of religious affection will be the effect and attendant of it. But to seek after affection directly and chiefly; to have the heart principally set upon that; is to place it in the room of God and His glory. If it be sought, that others may take notice of it, and admire us for our spirituality and forwardness in religion, it is then damnable pride; if for the sake of feeling the pleasure of being affected, it is then idolatry and self-gratification.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Unconverted men walk over the pit of hell on a rotten covering.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolved, that I will live so, as I shall wish I had done when I come to die.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“True Christian fortitude consists in strength of mind, through grace, exerted in two things; in ruling and suppressing the evil and unruly passions and affections of the mind; and in steadfastly and freely exerting and following good affections and dispositions, without being hindered by sinful fear or the opposition of enemies… Though Christian fortitude appears in withstanding and counteracting the enemies that are without us; yet it much more appears in resisting and suppressing the enemies that are within us; because they are our worst and strongest enemies and have greatest advantage against us. The strength of the good soldier of Jesus Christ appears in nothing more than in steadfastly maintaining the holy calm, meekness, sweetness, and benevolence of his mind, amidst all the storms, injuries, strange behaviour, and surprising acts and events of this evil and unreasonable world.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“One of these grand defects, as I humbly conceive, is this, that children are habituated to learning without understanding.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“If I murmur in the least at affliction, if I am in any way uncharitable, if I revenge my own case, if I do anything purely to please myself or omit anything because it is a great denial, if I trust myself, if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me, or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God’s.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“As God delights in his own beauty, he must necessarily delight in the creature’s holiness which is a conformity to and participation of it, as truly as [the] brightness of a jewel, held in the sun’s beams, is a participation or derivation of the sun’s brightness, though immensely less in degree.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt. But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity. Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself. He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart. The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies. But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts. He is apt to esteem others better than himself.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“All earthly desires are but streams, but God is the ocean. ” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Men will trust in God no further than they know Him; and they cannot be in the exercise of faith in Him one ace further than they have a sight of His fullness and faithfulness in exercise.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The spirit of bondage works by fear for the slave fears the rod: but love cries, Abba, Father; it disposes us to go to God, and behave ourselves towards God as children; and it gives us clear evidence of our union to God as His children, and so casts out fear. So that it appears that the witness of the Spirit the apostle speaks of, is far from being any whisper, or immediate suggestion or revelation; but that gracious holy effect of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the saints, the disposition and temper of children, appearing in sweet childlike love to God, which casts out fear or a spirit of a slave.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“I claim no right to myself, no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me. Neither do I have any right to this body or its members, no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears or eyes. I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“By the grace of God we will never pluck unripe fruit. We will never press people to decision, because we’ll lead them to damnation and not salvation.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“When indeed it is in God we live, and move, and have our being. We cannot draw a breath without his help.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“That the reason why they are not fallen already and do not fall now is only that God’s appointed time is not come. For it is said, that when that due time, or appointed time comes, their foot shall slide. Then they shall be left to fall, as they are inclined by their own weight. God will not hold them up in these slippery places any longer, but will let them go; and then, at that very instant, they shall fall into destruction; as he that stands on such slippery declining ground, on the edge of a pit, he cannot stand alone, when he is let go he immediately falls and is lost.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Prayer is as natural an expression of faith as breathing is to life.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“So that it must be only by the imagination that Satan has access to the soul, to tempt and delude it, or suggest anything to it. And this seems to be the reason why persons that are under the disease of melancholy are commonly so visibly and remarkably subject to the suggestions and temptations of Satan… Innumerable are the ways by which the mind may be led on to all kind of evil thoughts, by the exciting of external ideas in the imagination.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“A poor man is not disposed to quick and high resentment when he is among the rich: he is apt to yield to others, for he knows others are above him: he is not stiff and self-willed; he is patient with hard fare; he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently; he does not take it heinously that he overlooked and but little regarded; he is prepared to be in a lowly place; he readily honours his superiors; he takes reproofs quietly; he readily honours others as above him; he easily yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over-nice or humoursome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others. Thus it is with the humble Christian.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The bow of God’s wrath is bent, and the arrow made ready on the string, and justice bends the arrow at your heart, and strains the bow, and it is nothing but the mere pleasure of God, and that of an angry God, without any promise or obligation at all, that keeps the arrow one moment from being made drunk with your blood.” ~ Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God


“We ought not to limit God where He has not limited Himself.” ~ Jonathan Edwards 


“All our good is more apparently from God, because we are first naked and wholly without any good, and afterwards enrich with all good.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“My soul longs to feel itself more of a pilgrim and stranger here below; that nothing may divert me from pressing through the lonely desert, till I arrive at my Father’s house.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“When God is here spoken of as hardening some of the children of men, it is not to be understood that God by any positive efficiency hardens any man’s heart. There is no positive act in God, as though he put forth any power to harden the heart. To suppose any such thing would be to make God the immediate author of sin. God is said to harden men in two ways: by withholding the powerful influences of his Spirit, without which their hearts will remain hardened, and grow harder and harder; in this sense he hardens them, as he leaves them to hardness. And again, by ordering those things in his providence which, through the abuse of their corruption, become the occasion of their hardening. Thus God sends his word and ordinances to men which, by their abuse, prove an occasion of their hardening.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“There are always two sides to every story, and it is generally wise, and safe, and charitable, to take the best; and yet there is probably no one way in which persons are so liable to be wrong, as in presuming the worst is true, and in forming and expressing their judgement of others, and of their actions, without waiting till all the truth is known.”  ~ Jonathan Edwards


“People may love a God of their own imaginations, when they are far from loving such a God as reigns in heaven.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“None that will come to Christ, let his condition be what it will, need to fear but that Christ will provide a place suitable for him in heaven.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Nothing grieves me so much as that I cannot live constantly to God’s glory.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Oh, the closest walk with God is the sweetest heaven that can be enjoyed on earth!” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Religion consists much in holy affection; but those exercises of affection which are most distinguishing of true religion are these practical exercises. Friendship between earthly friends consists much in affection; but those strong exercises of affection that actually carry them through fire and water for each other are the highest evidences of true friendship.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“How can God be happy and decree calamity? Consider that he has the capacity to view the world through two lenses. Through the narrow one he is grieved and angered at sin and pain. Through the wide one he sees evil in relation to its eternal purposes. Reality is like a mosaic. The parts may be ugly in themselves, but the whole is beautiful.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The good Lord grant, that false religion may cease, and true religion prevail through the earth!” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The way to Heaven is ascending; we must be content to travel uphill, though it be hard and tiresome, and contrary to the natural bias of our flesh.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Thus there is a difference between having an opinion that God is holy and gracious, and having a sense of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, and having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former, that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind. So there is a difference between believing that a person is beautiful, and having a sense of his beauty.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Christians need constant reminders of how amazingly glorious our great God really is and what his glory means for our lives.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The harder the heart is, the more dead is it in sin, and the more unable to exert good affections and acts.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“We can’t be saved without being good, but ’tis not because our goodness is sufficient, or can do anything of itself. But ’tis because all whose hearts come to Christ will be good, and if men aren’t good, their hearts never will come to Christ.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“True virtue never looks so lovely as when it is most oppressed, and the divine excellence of real Christianity is never demonstrated as clearly as when it faces trials.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“If we be never obliged to relieve others’ burdens, but when we can do it without burdening ourselves, then how do we bear our neighbor’s burdens, when we bear no burden at all?” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolved, to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor, and vehemence, yea violence, I am capable of.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“We find it easy to tread on and crush a worm that we see crawling on the earth; so ’tis easy for us to cut or singe a slender thread that any thing hangs by; thus easy is it for God, when he pleases, to cast his enemies down to hell. What are we, that we should think to stand before him, at whose rebuke the earth trembles, and before whom the rocks are thrown down!” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Till you have savingly believed in Christ, all your desires, and pains, and prayers lay God under no obligation” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“So if a man live in any way of lasciviousness, the more his impure lust prevails, the more sweet and pleasant will it make the sin appear, and so the more will he be disposed and prejudiced to think there is no evil in it.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Yea, God is a great deal more angry with great numbers that are now on earth, yea, doubtless, with many that are now in this congregation, that, it may be, are at ease and quiet, than He is with many of those that are now in the flames of Hell.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Sin is the ruin and misery of the soul; it is destructive in its nature; and if God should leave it without restraint, there would need nothing else to make the soul perfectly miserable.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“But here you are in the land of the living and in the house of God, and have an opportunity to obtain salvation. What would not those poor, damned, hopeless souls give for one day’s such opportunity as you now enjoy!” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“God has laid himself under no obligation, by any promise, to keep any natural man out of hell one moment. God certainly has made no promises either of eternal life, or of any deliverance or preservation from eternal death, but what are contained in the covenant of grace, the promises that are given in Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“There are none in hell but what have been haters of God, and so have procured His wrath and hatred on themselves; and there they shall continue to hate Him forever.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Resolved, never to suffer the least motions of anger to irrational beings.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Those who are backslidden are much more hardened in their sin than they were before. They are like iron which being once heated and cooled again becomes much harder than before.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church, consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rules. And family education and order are some of the chief of the means of grace. If these fail, all other means are like to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be like to prosper and be successful.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“The best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other, is by music. When I would form in my mind an idea of a society in the highest degree happy, I think of them as expressing their love, their joy, and the inward concord and harmony and spiritual beauty of their souls by sweetly singing to each other.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Arminian notion of Liberty of the Will, consisting in the will’s Self-determination, is repugnant to itself, and shuts itself wholly out of the world.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“A man never, in any instance, wills any thing contrary to his desires, or desires any thing contrary to his will.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“A moral Agent is a being that is capable of those actions that have a moral quality, and which can properly be denominated good or evil in a moral sense, virtuous or vicious, commendable or faulty.”  ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Our having all of God shows the fullness of His power and grace: our having all through Him shows the fullness of His merit and worthiness; and our having all in Him demonstrates His fullness of beauty, love and happiness.” ~ Jonathan Edwards


“Faith abases men and exalts God, it gives all the glory of redemption to God alone.” ~ Jonathan Edwards