A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards
Tunneling behind the public lives of fervent Christians means sifting carefully through their personal letters. A quill pen and paper are the blank canvas for the soul laid bare. So naturally, letters are the best place for a beginner to study the piety of Jonathan Edwards. This was the purpose behind A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards edited by Michael A.G. Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books: 2007).
Haykin shows great pastoral care in assembling 28 of the most importance letters of Edwards. None are superfluous filler.
My favorite letters include the following: an amazing letter written to a woman whose church had no pastor and wondered how to pursue spiritual growth in the interim (pp. 41-47); a letter to Mrs. Edwards illuminating their uncommon union (pp. 93-94); a letter to George Whitefield (pp. 37-40); a letter to a woman suffering great personal loss that she gaze on the beauty of Christ (pp. 123-131); a beautiful parental letter to his daughter Mary pleading with her to consider the brevity of life and the importance of the eternal (pp. 107-109); the famous letter to Joseph Bellamy on books where Edwards recommends the theologies of Francis Turretin and Peter van Mastricht (83-88); and a letter on how to address contention in a church (pp. 67-75). This volume also includes letters of Sarah Edwards to Esther Burr and Susannah Edwards to Esther Burr on the death of Jonathan Edwards (pp. 159-162).
A Sweet Flame is a short work of only 190 small pages. The first 50 pages include introductory matters and an excellent 30-page essay by Haykin on the piety of Edwards. This is the second volume in the “Profiles of Reformed Spirituality” series that began last year with A Consuming Fire: The Piety of Alexander Whyte also edited by Haykin (Reformation Heritage Books: 2006).
This little book was carefully discerned in assembly. If you are searching for a great Summer read I would recommend A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards as one of the very best. Pastors wielding an efficient indexing system will find in these letters a multitude of sermon quotes on a glut of practical topics. But for a general audience, this little book is an excellent introduction to the deep piety of America’s finest theologian.
[Related: Looking for an introduction to the theology of Jonathan Edwards? A Conversation with Jonathan Edwards by Gary W. Crampton is excellent. Review forthcoming.]
Title: A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards
Editor: Michael A.G. Haykin
Reading level: 2.0/5.0 > not difficult
Dust jacket: no
Topical index: no
Scriptural index: no
Text: perfect type
Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
Price USD: $10.00/$7.50 from RHB