Analysis Of A Divine And Supernatural Light

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In his 4th-century autobiography, Confessions, St. Augustine of Hippo describes his path from wickedness to righteousness. Knowledge of the self, he learned, facilitates one 's knowledge of God; comprehending the all-powerful demands self-assessment (Burt). How one may come to know oneself, and thus know God, preoccupied early American writers, who explored human transformation and perfectibility through a range of theologies and philosophies. Jonathan Edwards paved the way with "A Divine and Supernatural Light." With The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine abandoned Edwards 's mysticism in favor of rationalist principles, though Edwards 's belief in direct communication with the divine through subjective experience recrudesced in Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Nature. All three texts detail a conversion already within the Christian sphere, with one advancing toward perfection because of that conversion, and obtaining an ultimate truth or knowledge from the experience. The Jonathan Edwards who wrote "A Divine and Supernatural Light" is almost unrecognizable from the 18th-century theologian readers are most familiar with from "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The scathing remarks and fixation on perdition in "Sinners" build an image of an ostensibly draconian defender of Puritan dogma. "A Divine and Supernatural Light," however, reveals Edwards as a more placid, cordial, and - most notably - transitional figure between Puritanism and the Enlightenment. Delivered in 1733 and published

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