Jonathan Edwards Vs. Charles Chauncy

‘In Jonathan Edwards’s, “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God” he uses ‘scripture evidence’ (91) as the basis on which to create the parameters for what we can judge as a work of God in order to forge a justifiable relationship between reason and religion. On the other hand Charles Clancy, in “The State of Religion in New England”, addresses his vitriolic view of the revivals as ‘pure chaos, breeding disorder and godlessness’(94) with remarks to the work of George Whitefield, Gilbert Tennent and James Davenport ultimately defying the credibility of their work to discriminate the revivalist movement.

Jonathan Edwards uses ‘scripture evidences’ (91) and personal observation to justify his argument. His writing is an attempt to secularize from superstition through religious methods. He uses ‘distinguishing’ (91) evidence that are true ‘marks of a work of the Spirit of God’ (91) to defend the revivalist movement; most concerns of said work being ‘notorious, and known by everybody’ (91) unlike scientific inquiries that he deems useless. He draws the idea that ‘work of the Spirit of God’ (91) has brought about an extraordinary influence and immediate religious experience among the people. He writes about his personal experiences of persons ‘crying out loud, shrieking’ (92) which he sees as an act of God. He explains this divine movement and understanding can be understood through ‘the Spirit that is at work’ (91) and that it will make people more ‘sensible’ in that regard (92). In Henry May’s ‘The Age of Reason and Age of Enthusiasm”, he recounted Edward’s view, that nothing humans conceive is true without of some sort of divine perception. “Human knowledge, much as Edwards delighted in it, was essentially worthless without divine illumination.” Moreover, Charles Clancy’s theology is based on traditional intellectual ways of thinking. Clancy undermines the “false methods of making their peace with god” (96) of the revivalist. Clancy aim is to refute the revivalist movement, which he says brings about “Visions, Trances, and convulsions” (97). Clancy questions to say that “solid and substantial religion” (95) cannot come from such “superstitious, enthusiastick and nonsensical preachers and sermons” (95). He says it is a “show of Religion instead of the Substance” (96) showing how he feels in that the ideas of the Enlightenment challenged traditional ideas through science and focused more on religious reasoning.

Both writers give firm stances for their views as it regards religion and reason. This contrast in these men’s ideology’s show a true divide between the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening.   

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