Jonathan Edwards was a Congregational pastor and a key figure in the eighteenth-century "Great Awakening." He is considered one of America's greatest theologians. Born in Connecticut and educated at Yale, he ministered for twenty-three years at a church in Northampton, Massachusetts. He later became a missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge. In 1758 he was named president of Princeton University but died only a few weeks after taking office.
Edwards produced a theology of Christian spirituality for his age that blended together Lockean philosophy and his own Calvinist theology. His main concern was the question, How do we distinguish the presence of the Holy Spirit? Christian experience, according to Edwards, is a gift of God, but he spent his life working out the ways in which we define that experience. A central theme of his writings is the importance of religious "affections," which he defined as the passions that move the will to act.