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Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was considered by many the greatest theologian America has produced, and one of the greatest intellects of his time, having begun the study of Latin at age 6, entered Yale College at 13 and graduated with honors at 17. He began entertaining religious thoughts at college, was converted in his early 20’s, and became known throughout his life as a loving father, husband, minister, and a man of intense spiritual devotion and prayer. He is most known for his significant role in the American religious revival known as the “Great Awakening,” and is perhaps most remembered for one of the world’s most famous sermons, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” During and following these momentous years in the 1740’s, he wrote detailed recollections and commentary on the revival, which he believed had produced many sincere converts but many counterfeit ones, a phenomenon he discusses in detail in what is perhaps his greatest spiritual and theological work, The Religious Affections. After a 22-year pastoral ministry in the Congregational church at Northampton, Massachusetts, he was dismissed over a controversy involving eligibility to partake in Communion, and proceeded to minister faithfully for 6 years among the Housatonic Indians in what was then the frontier town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1757 he was urged to accept the presidency of the then-fledgling Princeton College, but died five weeks later.

Pressing into the Kingdom of God

a Sermon by Jonathan Edwards

Table of Contents


In this text, two things may be observed:

First, we see what comprised the work and office of John the Baptist – namely, in preaching the kingdom of God, to prepare the way for its introduction to succeed the law and the prophets.  These are said to be until John, who then first began to introduce the New Testament dispensation, or gospel-state of the church; which, with its glorious, spiritual, and eternal privileges and blessings, is often called the kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God.  John, then, preached that the kingdom of God was at hand. "Repent" says he, "for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  John the Baptist first began to preach it; and then, after him, Christ and his disciples preached the same. Thus Christ preached, Matthew 4:17. "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." So the disciples were directed to preach, Matthew 10:7. "And, as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand."  It was not John the Baptist, but Christ, who fully brought in, and actually established, this kingdom of God; but he, as Christ's forerunner to prepare his way before him, did the first thing that was done towards introducing it.  Thus old dispensation was being abolished, and the new was to be brought in by degrees.  John came to prepare men's hearts to receive that kingdom of God which Christ was more fully to reveal and set up.

Secondly, We how his success appeared; namely, in that since he began his ministry, every man pressed into that kingdom of God which he preached. The greatness of his success appeared in two things:

1. In the generalness of it, with regard to the subject, or the persons in whom the success appeared; "every man."  Here is a universal term, not meaning universal with regard to individuals, but to kinds; as such universal terms are often used in Scripture. When John preached, there was an extraordinary pouring out of the Spirit of God that attended his preaching. An uncommon awakening, and concern for salvation, appeared on the minds of all sorts of persons; and even in the most unlikely persons, and those from whom such a thing might least be expected.  For example, the Pharisees came, who were exceedingly proud, self-sufficient, and conceited about their own wisdom and righteousness, and looked on themselves fit to be teachers of others, but scorned that they themselves be taught.  The Sadducees came, who were a kind of infidels who denied any resurrection, angel, spirit, or any future state. The publicans, who were some of the most infamous sorts, also came to him, inquiring what they should do to be saved. And the soldiers, who were doubtless a very profane, loose-living sort of persons, made the same inquiry (Luke 3:12, 14).

2. His success appeared in the manner in which his hearers sought the kingdom of God; they "pressed" into it.  Matthew 11:12 speaks of this as their being violent for the kingdomof heaven, and taking it by force.



II.  I would now proceed to give some directions how
you should press into the kingdom of God.

III.  Finally, I would particularly direct myself to several sorts of people.

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