What Is a Summary of Jonathan Edwards’ “Personal Narrative”?

Jonathan Edwards’ “Personal Narrative” covers the issues of religion, emotionalism, divine will and conversion. Jonathan Edwards uses an autobiographical story form to analyze what factors make a genuine Christian experience. Edwards peers into the conflicts of human emotion, choice and divine will in an attempt to discover the definition of a true religion conversion experience.

The “Personal Narrative” begins with Edwards reflecting on his childhood experiences with religion. The experiences were filled with strong emotion that quickly wore off, leaving something to be desired. After backsliding into a life of sin, Edwards tried again to maintain a religiously upright life with a sense of pure will, which failed. Edwards subsequently tried an intellectual approach as well as an inward, instinctual approach to spiritual matters to his eventual dissatisfaction. Towards the end of “Personal Narrative,” Edwards stresses that a true spiritual experience can only be reached by something outside of what the human mind could provide.

While many abstract terms are used in “Personal Narrative,” Edwards embraces the lack of words he is unable to express as the “inexpressible experience of God’s presence.” Edwards also compares the wonders of nature to God in “Personal Narrative,” and expresses his delight in them while taking time to narrate on his shortcomings to portray the tortures of a believer.