Edwards Personal Narrative

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The “Personal Narrative” of Jonathan Edwards is an account of how Edwards was converted to the work of Christianity. It personally relays how Edwards gains his desire to work for the Lord, and gives a detailed account of his doubts and strengths. However, while this narrative focuses on Edwards Christian’s conversion, there are also a lot of elements concerning nature. In fact, almost every time Edwards has a conversion experience, he mentions nature as a part of it. Many scholars have looked at Edwards “Personal Record” and have their own interpretations of it. For example, in the article “Jonathon Edwards on Beauty, Desire, and the Sensory World” by Belin C. Lane explains how Edwards uses nature in his works as a representation and reminder…show more content…
Edwards explains in his “Personal Narrative” that he “had particular secret places of my own in the woods, where I used to retire by myself” (Edwards 162). The first thing to notice is the word “woods”. Edwards seems to indicating in this line that the woods were not a bad place to be. This can be seen further when he mentions that he has hideouts in the forest, which seems to indicate that it is a safe place to go when you wish to be by yourself. However, the reality is that the woods are filled with dangers. There is very little food and there is the constant threat of infection from a cut or bruise. I would not allow my own children play out in the woods because of the dangers in them, and yet Edwards seems to have his own hideouts. Clearly his perception has changed concerning the woods and Belden C. Lane explains how his perception has changed. She explains in her article that Edward’s perception is now in “glimpsing God’s grandeur” (Lane 46). Lane explains that Edwards now has a more spiritual perception of the woods. He is now viewing it more as a place of spiritual enormity that he could go out and see. This “glimpsing” makes it so that Edwards views the woods as less dangerous and more of a place where he can go and bask in the power of the higher being. This is why despite the paradox inherent between what the woods is and what Edwards sees there is a…show more content…
Dennis Randolph John Vanderspeck in his dissertation “"From Edwards to Dillard: Puritan Mysticism and the Tropology of American Nature Writing" explains to the readers that to Edwards, “Nature, similarly, is doubled as both medium of the transmission of God’s will, […] and […] the corrupt, occluded, temptation-ridden wilderness of the Fall” (76). Vanderspeck in this evidence clearly understands that there is a paradox in Edward’s use of nature in his works. Vanderspeck makes it clear that Edwards is viewing nature in two of the most opposite ways they can be viewed. The way of the fall, which in Christian belief is the most grievous occurrence for people of this world. Furthermore, it is important to note that the fall is the reality of nature that Edwards seems to be missing, but Vanderspeck identifies that Edwards seems to recognize this. Vanderspeck also makes it clear that Edwards is also viewing nature in a more spiritual way. Clearly, Vanderspeck understands that both of these perspectives exist in Edwards view and that he uses these paradox to explain something. I believe that this paradox is being used to show the change in perspective towards nature that people of faith
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