The extent and cause of the diverse response to Jonathan Edwards’ Narrative in the United Kingdom
Jonathan Edwards’ A Narrative of the Surprising Work of God, originally sent in a letter to Benjamin Colman on November 6 1736, became a pivotal piece of writing within the revival networks that were established on either side of the Atlantic in the 18th century. The piece recounted a time of God’s extraordinary work from December 1734 through to May 1735 in Edwards’ parish of Northampton along with another thirty-two communities in New England. This involved the conversion of three hundred people in Edwards’ parish alone, with a significant renewal in the practice of others who had previously belonged to the faith. Edwards’ Narrative provoked profound interest not only in America but also in the United Kingdom (UK). Across Britain the Narrative had an intricate history of publication that reflects the diversity of its reception in the decade that followed its release (1737-1745). The subsequent question asked in this paper is: what is the cause of the diversity and extent of responses in the UK to the Narrative? This paper seeks to discern the reason for differing levels of popularity and criticism of the Narrative by early evangelical publishers and their readers.