Jonathan Edwards merupakan seorang theolog, pengkhotbah, dan revivalist di Amerika bagian utara, tepatnya di Northampton, Massachusetts. Dia menjadi orang penting yang memulai Kebangunan Rohani pertama (Great Awakening) di Amerika pada tahun sekitar 1730-1740.
Dia lahir pada tanggal 5 Oktober 1703 dari pasangan Timothy Edwards dan Esther Stoddard, putri dari Pendeta Solomon Stoddard, di Northampton, Massachussets. Pada tahun 1727 Jonathan Edwards ditahbiskan dan menjadi asisten pendeta membantu kakeknya selama dua tahun. Pada tahun 1729 Solomon Stoddard meninggal dunia dan semua tugas pelayanan diembankan kepada Jonathan Edwards yang masih sangat muda.
Pada tahun 1733 terjadi Kebangunan Rohani di Northampton dan mencapai intensitasnya pada musim semi 1734. Jonathan Edwards mencatat perkembangannya di dalam tulisannya yang berjudul A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton:
And the work of conversion was carried on in a most astonishing manner, and increased more and more; souls did as it were come by flocks to Jesus Christ. From day to day for many months together, might be seen evidence instances of sinners brought out of darkness into marvellous light, and delivered out of an horrible pit, and from the miry clay, and set upon a rock, with a new song of praise to God in their mouths.
This work of God. As it was carried on, and the number of true sanits multiplied, soon made a glorious alternation in the town: so that in the spring and summer following, anno 1735, the town seemed to be full of the presence of God: it never was so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then.1
Tulisan esai tersebut juga bertujuan untuk memberikan penjelasan mengenai bagaimana pertobatan tersebut terjadi, sekaligus menjelaskan ketidakstabilan yang terjadi di daerah Northampton:
The people of the country, in general, I suppose, are as sober, orderly, and good sort of people, as in any part of New England; and I believe they have been preserved the freest by far of any part of the country, from error, and variety of sects and opinions … I suppose we have been the freest of any part of the land from unhappy divisions and quarrels in our ecclesiastical and religious affairs, till the late lamentable Springfield contention.2
Pada tahun 1741 Jonathan Edwards menerbitkan lagi tulisan berjudul The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God karena tuduhan dari Congregationalist mengenai fenomena Kebangunan Rohani yang terjadi pada waktu itu.
Menurut Jonathan Edwards, tanda-tanda pertobatan sejati yang dikerjakan oleh Roh Kudus memiliki dampak yang nyata dan bukan hanya tanda-tanda lahiriah saja (seperti gemetar, menangis):
Some of the most rude and disorderly are become regular in their behaviour, and sober in all things. The gay and airy are become grave and serious. Some of the greatest sinners have appeared to be turned into real saints; drunkards have become trmperate; fornicators and adulterers of a chaste conversation; swearers and profane persons have learned to fear that glorious and fearful Name, The Lord their God; and carnal worldlings have made to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness… Some of this stamp, who have gone to hear the preacher (as some did Paul – “What will this babbler say?”) have not been able to resist the power and the Spirit with which he spake; have sat trembling under the word, and gone away from it weeping… The virtuous and civil have been convinced that morality is not to be relied on for life; and so excited to seek after the new birth, and a vital union to Jesus Christ by faith. The formal professors likewise has been awakened out of his dead formalities, brought under the power of godliness; taken off from his false rest, and brought to build his hope only on the Mediator’s righteousness. At the same time, many of the children of God have been greatly quickened and refreshed; have been awakened out of the sleeping frames they were fallen into, and excited to give diligence to make their calling and election sure; and have had precious, reviving, and sealing times. Thus extensive and general the divine influence has been at this glorious season.3
Namun, karena banyaknya pihak yang berpandangan negatif terhadap Kebangunan Rohani, Jonathan Edwards menerbitkan sebuah tulisan lagi dengan judul An Account of the Revival of Religion in Northampton in 1740-1742 pada tanggal 12 Desember 1743. Di dalam tulisannya, ia menunjukkan bahwa Kebangunan Rohani membawa dampak positif bagi perkembangan kota:
Ever since the great work of God that was wrought here about nine years ago, there has been a great and abiding alteration in this town in many respects. There has been vastly more religion kept up in the town, among all sorts of persons, in religious exercises, and in common conversation; there has been a great alteration among the youth of the town, with respect to revelry, frolicking, profane and licentious conversation, amongst both old and young, with regard to tavern-haunting. I suppose the town has been in no measure so free of vice in these respects, for any long time together, for sixty years, as it has been theses nine years past.4
Jonathan Edwards bukan saja seorang yang giat memberitakan Injil melalui event Kebangunan Rohani. Dia dengan tegas membela perlunya Kebangkitan Rohani tersebut walaupun pada zamannya banyak pihak yang menganggap ini merupakan suatu gejala yang fenomenal. Dia melihat dengan jelas bahwa pekerjaan ini dikerjakan oleh Allah sendiri, dan sejarah mencatat bahwa apa yang diyakininya berdampak besar bagi Kebangunan Rohani pada zaman ini.
Redaksi Umum PILLAR
Iain Murray, “A Narrative of Surprising Conversions” in Jonathan Edwards’ Selected Works, vol. 1 (Edinburg:Banner of Truth, 1999), 13-14.
Iain Murray, “The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Holy Spirit of God” in Jonathan Edwards’ Selected Works, vol. 1 (Edinburg:Banner of Truth, 1999), 80-81.
Iain Murray, “An Account of the Revival of Religion in Northampton 1740-1742” in Jonathan Edwards’ Selected Works, vol. 1 (Edinburg:Banner of Truth, 1999), 148.