Edwards in the Baptist South: The Influence of Jonathan Edwards on the Conversionist Theology of Richard Furman

On June 10, 1816, Richard Furman preached a sermon at First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, South Carolina for the Religious Tract Society. Entitled Conversion Essential to Salvation, it was Furman’s most detailed presentation of his doctrine of regeneration. With James 5:19-20 as his text, the man Basil Manly called “the wisest man I ever knew” paid homage to his trans-Atlantic Puritan heritage. Speaking of the “labors of the dead” in aiding in the conversion of sinners today, Furman stated, “How often in particular, are the writings of Allen, Baxter, Bunyan (unpolished as he was), Boston, Doddridge, Stennett, Edwards, Newton, and many others, now blessed to this great purpose; they themselves having long since left the world! – Delightful thought! Thousands, probably, whom they never knew nor could know on earth, will in the worlds of light greet them as fathers in the gospel.”[1] According to Furman, these men were not simply theological giants worthy of study; their writings were instrumental in the very conversion of sinners. Interesting to note in this brief list is that Jonathan Edwards is the only American-born theologian. President Edwards had passed when Furman was yet a small child. Nevertheless, the South Carolinian was familiar with the Northampton pastor’s theology and his particularly American legacy. It is the aim of this paper to demonstrate that Richard Furman was a student and scion of the rich Edwardsean lineage, particularly as it pertained to his view of missions and conversion.

According to Douglas Sweeney, Edwards’ Northampton sermon entitled A Divine and Supernatural Light, preached in August 1733, is “the locus classicus of his conception of the experience of spiritual regeneration – as well as the celebrated doctrine of what he called ‘the sense of the heart.’”[2] The Northampton Revival of 1734-35 had spawned serious questions about the nature of regeneration. In turn, the theme of conversion, a traditional Puritan science, was vigorously resurrected. The ensuing Great Awakening only intensified Edwards’ quest to define “true religion.”[3] For this reason, most scholars believe Religious Affections (1746) to be an extended discourse upon the salient themes of A Divine and Supernatural Light. The latter was no doubt a sermon in which Furman was acutely familiar. In turn, Tom Nettles suggests that it provided the “conceptual framework” for Furman’s famous sermon at the Religious Tract Society. According to Nettles, for anyone reading Furman’s Conversion Essential to Salvation, “the influence of Edwards is unmistakable.”[4]

It could be postulated that, in one form or another, Jonathan Edwards’ life and ministry was an intensive look into the heart of true conversion. For this reason, Douglas Sweeney has even stated that “none of Edwards’ titles nourished the growth of the New England Theology as much as those that treated the hallowed doctrine of the new birth, or the soul’s regeneration from spiritual death to life in Christ.”[5] Likewise, Furman reveals his Edwardsean bent when he insists, “Among these serious interesting truths, the doctrine of conversion, or regeneration, holds a place highly distinguished…For predicated on the correspondent doctrine of human depravity, and God’s holiness, the necessity of conversion is maintained and powerfully enforced by the divine Oracles.”[6] Like Edwards, Furman was a conversionist pastor and thinker.

Despite its southern roots, South Carolina was not quarantined from Edwards’ theological and philosophical reach – even in the Baptist backcountry after the Second Great Awakening. By 1848, William B. Johnson, the first president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was pleased to tell James S. Mims (1817-1855), professor of theology at Furman University, that most South Carolina Baptists were followers of the New Divinity, or, as he put it, ‘moderate Calvinists.’”[7] Alongside men like Williams and Jonathan Maxcy, Richard Furman provided a significant Edwardsean portal into the Baptist South.[8] Amongst other sermons and circular letters, his Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816) stands as a testament to the enduring influence of Edwards’ conversionist theology in nineteenth century America. An examination of this primary text (and others) will provide a feasible theological link between Edwards and Furman in their respective modes of thinking.

Edwardsian Missiology

Like Edwards before him, Richard Furman was a man of revival. Interestingly, both men had experienced their own American Great Awakenings. In turn, these tremendous phenomena undoubtedly shaped their respective views of conversion and missions. Likewise, the personal conversions of both men were also paradigmatic in their respective systems of thought.[9] Furman’s own conversion came at the preaching of Separate Baptist preacher Joseph Reese in 1772 at High Hills church, the body he would later pastor for thirteen years.[10] It was here that Furman formally left the Church of England – the denomination of his ancestors. Hence, in the eyes of Furman, conversion was a monumental, soul-changing event with deep sociological implications. Consequently, despite his pastorate at FBC Charleston for thirty-eight years, his penchant for the Separate Baptist faith never waned. According to Nettles, Furman “personifies the sympathy of doctrine and experience shared by both the Separate Baptists and the Regular Baptists.”[11] This included an indomitable impulse for evangelism. Furman was of course the inaugural president of the Triennial Convention, the first American Baptist denominational body of its kind. Its formal name, however, was the General Missionary Convention. In its constitution a Great Commission objective is plainly stated: “To employ Missionaries, and, if necessary, to take measures for the improvement of their qualifications; to fix on the field of their labors, and compensation to be allowed them for their services.[12]

Furthermore, in his Conversion Essential to Salvation, Furman honors the work of William Carey and the other Particular Baptists of the Baptist Missionary Society whose Edwardsean theology was a uniting bond: “I mean, the Missionary Society whose missionaries have fixed the principal seat of their mission at Serampore; and whose example appears to have been used by divine providence as the means of excitement, to all the extraordinary exertions made by religious societies in the present day.”[13] Richard Furman imbibed the healthy missiology of Jonathan Edwards much like countless others of his generation. Joseph Conforti has even posited that Edwards passed down an “evangelical culture, which developed an American literature of its own modeled on such canonical works as Edwards’ Life of David Brainerd.”[14] Furman’s Conversion Essential to Salvation is very much a corollary to that evangelical culture. In his famous biography of Edwards, George Marsden observes that the Northampton theologian’s classic Life of David Brainerd (1749), his most widely read and published work during his era, was “Religious Affections in the form of a spiritual biography.”[15] Missiology and conversionism went hand in hand for both Edwards and Furman. During his lifetime, Furman exchanged epistles with the likes of John Ryland, the man Michael Haykin has dubbed “an unrepentant Edwardsean,” and Samuel Pearce, the figure Andrew Fuller described to his wife as “another Brainerd.”[16] Despite his location in Charleston, SC, Furman was conversant with the premiere Edwardseans of his day – and these exchanges included a heavy evangelistic motif.

In Conversion Essential to Salvation, faint whispers of Edwards’ postmillennial optimism can still be heard from the ardent patriot and evangelistic preacher from High Hills. Speaking of “the enlightened, pious man,” Furman opines, “He is also constrained to in the exercise of his zeal for God, and benevolence to men, to regard it as an object of his tender solicitude; as it in the glory of God, and the salvation of men are deeply concerned. This pious concern for the conversion of Sinners which the gospel excites, and brings into action in the use of proper means, it also encourages by well founded hopes of ultimate success.”[17] According to Furman, godliness and evangelism went hand-in-hand in the Christian life. The conversion of sinners is something he describes as a “pious concern.” As a result of his high view of God’s sovereignty, Furman not only expected evangelism from the godly, he also expected evangelistic success.[18]

This optimism for expected conversions undergirded his indefatigable zeal for evangelism. It was also a global worldview. According to Furman’s biographer James A. Rogers, Edwards’ 1748 published appeal for a world Concert of Prayer for missionary work (reprinted many times in the following century) served as a paradigm for Furman, who set aside the first Tuesday in January, April, July, and October at his Charleston church to observe a Quarterly Concert of Prayer for World Missions.[19]

Ultimately, Vernon Parrington’s famous (yet tenuous) assertion that Edwards was an “anachronism” slowing the liberal, enlightened progress of American thinking is somewhat ironic in light of Edwards’ certain role as a forerunner to the subsequent missionary movement which embodied his soteriology and missiological urgency. If Edwards is indeed an anachronism, his tenures at Northampton, Stockbridge, and Princeton indicate he was in fact a scholarly missionary ahead of his time. Richard Furman also embodied this ethos in his dual fight for Baptist education and missions.[20]

Echoing the rationality and perspicuity of Scriptural truth in his A Divine and Supernatural Light, Edwards declared, “persons with but an ordinary degree of knowledge, are capable, without a long and subtle train of reasoning, to see the divine excellency of the things of religion: they are capable of being taught by the Spirit of God, as well as learned men.”[21] Interestingly, Furman’s Conversion Essential To Salvation insists upon the same theme:

“The Religion of Jesus Christ brings Truths the most momentous into view, and establishes their reality with convincing evidence; it also inspires every heart in which it finds a cordial reception, with pure sentiments and the most generous motives. By the exhibition of its general character, it employs our minds in the contemplation of subjects, mysterious, sublime, and august beyond conception; but, by its particular Instructions, fixes our attention on those which are most intimately connected with our Duty and Salvation…The light which it diffuses, like that of the sun, shines with equal radiance on the lowly Cottager and the elevated Monarch. For as its humbling truths are equally applicable to all men, so its directions are necessary for all….For the religion of the Gospel considers man as he stands in relation to his God; in comparison with which every distinction which obtains among men, appears like an atom to a world.”[22]

The missiology of Jonathan Edwards found prosperous embodiment in Richard Furman. As a result, biographer James Roger boasts that Furman fulfilled “the role of a leading American Baptist identified with the work of William Carey and the English Baptist missionary initiative.”[23]

 Edwardsian Conversionism

According to Tom Nettles, Richard Furman “was a Southern embodiment of the best of Puritanism.”[24] The Puritans were, of course, scientists of conversion. Along with Edwards, Furman very much inherited this rich tradition of conversion morphology.[25] While he believed conversion and regeneration to be biblically synonymous, Furman was also aware of the distinction that many other theologians had previously made between the two biblical concepts. Although this metaphysical discussion was not his intended aim in his writings, Furman was not at all opposed to the distinction:

“some of the best theologians, think it proper to make a distinction between them, by defining Regeneration to be the change wrought in the soul, by the implantation there of a Principle of Divine Life, with all its essential qualities and dispositions; and conversion to be the effect, or operation of that principle in the life and actions of a man….In the former, these writers observe, the soul is passive, under the operation of God’s spirit; in the latter active, as aided by a continued gracious influence of the same divine agent.”[26]

Jonathan Edwards is almost certainly in view here. The man that Sydney Ahlstrom designated “possibly the Church’s greatest apostle to the Enlightenment” was someone well versed in such metaphysical thought.[27] In fact, in A Divine and Supernatural Light, Edwards uses strikingly similar rhetoric, suggesting that Furman was alluding to him. For example, when speaking of the Spirit of God, Edwards asserts, “He may indeed act upon the mind of a natural man, but he acts in the mind of a saint as an indwelling vital principle. He acts upon the mind of an unregenerate person as an extrinsic, occasional agent; for in acting upon them, he doth not unite himself to them; for notwithstanding all his influences that they may be the subjects of, they are still sensual, having not the Spirit, Jude 19. But he unites himself with the mind of a saint, takes him for his temple, actuates and influences him as a new supernatural principle of life and action.”[28] Language of “principles,” “influences,” and “agents” was certainly Edwardsean: a mix of the Puritan and the metaphysical. As he makes clear in Conversion Essential to Salvation, Furman gave this kind of nomenclature his approbation, yet it did not garner his particular study.

Nevertheless, despite Furman’s seeming aversion to metaphysics, he was unashamed in his employment of Edwards’ distinction between natural and moral ability. According to Nettles, “Furman shows clearly his Edwardsian Calvinistic orientation both in the distinction between natural and moral abilities and in the ordo salutis. Repentance, faith, and all attendant graces proceed from and depend upon the prior work of regeneration.”[29] Throughout Conversion Essential to Salvation, Furman makes clear that salvation does not erase the God-given powers of humanity: “Yet we do not understand by it an extinction of any natural faculties or powers of the soul; nor any addition to them of others. Those of the mind, as well as of the body, remain as they were before conversion, according to the constitution of human nature. There is the same understanding, the same will, the same affections, the same power of thought and of memory. But, by the divine operation, they all undergo, in regeneration, a great and evident change, in a moral or spiritual sense.”[30] Remarkably, a nearly identical concept is propounded in Edwards’ A Divine and Supernatural Light. The theological parallel is undeniable: “The natural faculties are the subject of his light: and they are the subject in such a manner that they are not merely passive, but active in it; the acts and exercises of man’s understanding are concerned and made use of in it. God, in letting in this light into the soul, deals with man according to his nature, or as a rational creature; and makes use of his human faculties.”[31] Edwards goes on to add,

“The mind of man is naturally full of prejudices against the truth of divine things; it is full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel; which is a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their force upon the mind. But when a person has discovered to him the divine excellency of Christian doctrines, this destroys the enmity, removes those prejudices, and sanctifies the reason, and causes it to lie open to the force of arguments for their truth.”[32]

Whether in will or in understanding, God makes use of the human faculties; he does not nullify them. The enlightening Spirit of God not only gives further clarity to the natural understanding; He provides conviction and a “sense” of the beauty of its truth. For Edwards and thus for Furman, this was one particular way that God honored the dignity of humanity. Both men consequently upheld a high Christian anthropology.

This distinction between natural and moral ability also aided one of Furman’s contemporaries, Andrew Fuller, as he contended against the Hyper-Calvinists in English Particular Baptists circles. Along with the idea of religious affections, it also helped Fuller refute the Sandemanianism of Archibald Mclean (1733-1812).[33] Furman’s similar use of this duality testifies to the great need in Calvinist Baptist preaching circles in reconciling divine sovereignty and sincere invitations to the lost. Edwards provided this evangelistic need. Baptist conversionism packaged this natural-moral distinction in order to mesh old Puritan soteriology with new revivalist ecclesiology. As Chris Chun notes, A Divine and Supernatural Light “succinctly summarizes the pneumatological epistemology found in Religious Affections. Among all the sensory perceptions, Edwards especially accentuates those that respond to metaphors of light and sight. The divine light is God’s supernatural means by which perceiving human agents come to appreciate the beauty inherent within their faculties.”[34] That which Chun calls Edwards’ “epistemological mechanic” is also at play in Furman when the latter asserts, “the enlightened, pious man, not only sees but feels with respect to himself.” Furman goes on, “The understanding, now enlightened with the knowledge of God, approves the things which are excellent; the will submits to the will of God; and the affections, letting go their too eager hold of the creatures, fix on the transcendent perfections of the Creator.”[35] Just like Edwards, when Furman speaks of the regenerate understanding, the imagery of light is constant.

For Edwards, the affections “are no other than the vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul.”[36] Therefore they do not constitute a third, independent faculty. Nevertheless, both Edwards and Furman consistently refer to a tripartite anthropology composed of the understanding, will, and affections. According to Nettles, “These constituent parts, in the fall, were not destroyed but were perverted to uses alien to God. This has brought man into a state of condemnation, corruption, and moral inability.”[37] This particular brand of faculty psychology is perhaps where Edwards’ influence upon the thinking of Richard Furman is most obvious. Even when speaking of the atrocity of sin, Furman cannot help but speak in Edwardsean terms of affections. For Furman, these “perverse affections, they must be effectually turned, if they are ever admitted to the Savior’s heavenly rest.” Furthermore, writes Furman, “Before sin is brought forth into action, it exists in a state of embryo, in the heart, in manifold evil propensities, or corrupt affections.”[38] Whereas Edwards had deemed the affections “the springs of motion” of life, Furman spoke of the “springs of action in the human soul.”[39]

Like Edwards before him, the affections were central to Furman’s conversionism as well as his homiletics. His was very much an affectionate pulpit. Eliza Yoer Tupper, a young woman baptized and married by Furman at FBC Charleston, recalled Furman’s preaching in a particularly conversionist light: “Dr. Furman had a manner peculiar to himself; his voice excelled in melody; grace of action he possessed in an eminent degree. He lived and preached for eternity. He had power to move the affections and to warm the heart.”[40] Furman was an affectionate preacher who was first moved by the deeply affectionate writings of Jonathan Edwards.

Evidences of Conversion

The spiritual aberrations that followed the American revival of the 1730s and 1740s compelled many, including Edwards, to evaluate the authenticity of the phenomenon known today as the Great Awakening. This provided the primary impetus for Edwards’ composition of the Religious Affections (1947). The Northampton Sage wished to discover the definition of “true religion.” In fact, Yale philosopher John E. Smith once suggested that the sum of Jonathan Edwards’ thought could be considered “one magnificent answer” to the question of “What is true religion?”. William Breitenbach has even posited that “Religious Affections was perhaps the most important work in the development of the Edwardsian ‘new’ divinity.”[41] The question of how to interpret the conversions during this Awakening was an important one, and Edwards sought out to formulate a solution. Such a formula was useful to a Baptist leader like Furman who witnessed the excesses of the Second Great Awakening. Furman’s Separate Baptist faith was revivalistic, but not at the expense of godliness and orthodoxy.

Jonathan Edwards had defined regeneration as “a new foundation laid in the nature of the soul” giving rise to “sensations of a new spiritual sense.” Furman, on the other hand, had defined it as “a renovation of the soul, by the spirit of God.”[42] Both men, however, through the prism of the affections, saw conversion as a profound heart change and not simply as an intellectual assent to facts. In the words of Furman, “It cannot therefore mean a mere change of sentiment, or of Profession…there may be a change of sentiment and profession, and an outward profession, where there is no change of heart, or conversion to God.”[43] In A Divine and Supernatural Light, Edwards’ makes a similar distinction: “He that is spiritually enlightened truly apprehends and sees it, or has a sense of it. He doesn’t merely rationally believe that God is glorious, but he has a sense of the gloriousness of God in his heart. There is not only a rational belief that God is holy, and that holiness is a good thing; but there is a sense of the loveliness of God’s holiness.”[44] Edwards no doubt influenced Furman in this particular definition of regeneration – the kind that stretched beyond the notional and the cognitive.

It is within this context that Edwards employed his famous illustration of honey: “There is a difference between having a rational judgment that honey is sweet, an having a sense of its sweetness. A man may have the former; that knows not how honey tastes; but a man can’t have the latter; unless he has an idea of the taste of honey in his mind.”[45] This was the same “new sense” that Edwards had received as he read the words of 1 Timothy 1:17 as a young man. Similarly, Furman himself described his own conversion during the preaching of Joseph Reese as beginning with an overwhelming “sense of guilt and unworthiness.”[46] As a result, Furman too felt strongly that authentic Christian spirituality went beyond mere cognitive and naturally rational function: “In a word, persons may be members by profession, of the more pure and regular Church on earth, attend on all the ordinances of divine worship, public and private, common and special; possess much knowledge; be eminent for intellectual endowments, and even for spiritual gifts; be very confident of their interest in the divine favor; and be very zealous in religion – and yet be strangers to regenerating grace.”[47] For Furman and his theological forbear Jonathan Edwards, the guises of fraudulent faith were many. Therefore the task of the church was to be vigilant.

This developing soteriology had profound effects upon Edwards’ ecclesiology. In the end, Edwards’ views regarding “true religion” would give birth to a new policy regarding the Lord’s Supper and eventually precipitate his removal from the Northampton pulpit. According to Breitenbach, “Edwards’ rejection of Stoddardeanism has been generally, and correctly, seen as the extension of the Revival’s experimental religion into the ecclesiastical realm.”[48] At Northampton, Edwards now required baptismal candidates to give a credible testimony of conversion in order to vindicate claims for church membership. The purity of the church was at stake. The proper nature of the Holy Spirit was holiness, and for those indwelled by the third Person of the Trinity, holiness was imparted to them via union with Christ. The latter was the foundation for Edwards’ understanding of faith, and it informed his ecclesiology. Faith wasn’t simply an exchange; it was grounded in union. In a discussion on Edwards’ doctrine of the atonement, D.P. Rudisill explains, “Faith is a vinculum. By faith, the elect are beneficiaries of the favor that Christ merits for them. Unless one keeps in mind this union by faith between Christ and his elect he will misinterpret Edwards’ use of ‘fitness,’ ‘qualification,’ ‘meetness,’ and ‘inherent goodness.’ It is by all of these that he explains the meaning of justification by faith alone.”[49] The unity of the church hinged exclusively upon the unity between Christ and his elect.

The ecclesiological implications of Edwards’ fruitful soteriology fit well into the theological scheme of a Regular Baptist such as Richard Furman. In his Conversion Essential to Salvation, the pastor who was moderator of the Charleston Baptist Association for twenty-five years insists, “the Scriptures show, that in the time of Christ and his apostles, fruits, meet for repentance, and believing with all the heart, which imply regeneration, were required as indispensable prerequisites of persons applying for baptism.”[50] Furman too required verifiable fruit of regeneration for baptism. For him, these were “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ; a hatred to sin, and a love to holiness; supreme love to God, and unfeigned benevolence to men, together with sincerity, humility, meekness, patience, and all the train of sister graces, which distinguish and adorn the ‘new man.’”[51] Jonathan Edwards’ affectionate spirituality played a fundamental role in the ecclesiology and church purity of Richard Furman. Nettles points to Furman’s second point in Conversion Essential to Salvation, “Holy Practice,” as corresponding to Edwards’ last point in Religious Affections, “Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in Christian practice.” Nettles concludes, “The language and argument of Furman again corresponds precisely with that of Edwards.”[52]

Interestingly enough, the same system of thought that brought both men to assume the evidences of faith, also prompted them to give sufficient latitude for its many permutations. In other words, just as Edwards had defended the legitimacy of the Great Awakening against its detractors (e.g. Charles Chauncy) despite its many aberrations, Furman in turn defended the revivalism of the Second despite its own blend of Kentucky fanaticism. Edwards’ definition of piety and regeneration aided Furman in deciphering the many kinds of authentic conversions. According to Rogers, “Nothing could please Furman more than a genuine demonstration of sincere religion, by whatever means or in whatever form it manifested itself. On the other hand, nothing could disturb him more than a corruption of religion by shabby, physical demonstrations, emotionally based hysteria, or delusive aberrations. He was enough Separate Baptist not to condemn, and enough Regular Baptist to be concerned.”[53] Such a balance between openness and caution for revival could very well have been accredited to Jonathan Edwards. In many ways, the tension between Separate and Regular Baptists embodied similar tensions just decades before in the struggle between Old and New Lights. Awakenings divided many, but both Edwards and Furman sought to unite. Furman’s revivalistic road map was Edwards.


In his biography of Furman, James Rogers depicts the homiletics of the South Carolinian as “animated, but without the emotionalism of Separate Baptist preachers. The qualities ascribed to him, intellectual power combined with gentle manner and benevolent spirit, were those that would carry into the floodtide years of his ministry.”[54] The unique marriage of “intellectual power” and fervent zeal for revivalism also embodied the likes of Jonathan Edwards. For Furman, Edwards the pastor and missionary served as a teacher and godly example of conversionist theology. Amongst other works, Edwards’ A Divine and Supernatural Light and Religious Affections provided Furman with a suitable foundation from which to interpret and judge the spiritual awakening of his day as well as the modern missionary movement for which he took part. Through the inaugural president of the Triennial Convention Richard Furman, the conversionism and missiology of Jonathan Edwards took flight in the nineteenth century Baptist South.

[1] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[2] Ed. Sweeney, Douglas; Guelzo, Allen. The New England Theology: From Jonathan Edwards to Edwards Amasa Park, 26.

[3] In his Religious Affections (1746), Edwards contended, “True religion lies much in the affections.”

[4] Nettles, Tom. “Edwards and his Impact on Baptists,” Founders Journal (Summer, 2003), 1-18.

[5] The New England Theology, 25.

[6] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[7] Eds., Crisp, Oliver; Sweeney, Douglas. After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology, 205.

[8] Maxcy’s “Discourse Designed to Explain the Doctrine of Atonement” advocated a view of the atonement consistent with the New Divinity. According to Michael Haykin, William B. Johnson “was also an ardent advocate of this governmental view of the atonement, which he appears to have learned from Maxcy when Johnson lived in Columbia between 1809 and 1811. In a sermon he preached before the Charleston Association in South Carolina on Monday, November 4, 1822, Johnson spoke of the death of Christ in unmistakable New Divinity terms.” (After Jonathan Edwards, 204) Upon Furman’s recommendation, trustees hired Maxcy as the first president of South Carolina College (later the University of South Carolina.)

[9] In his Personal Narrative (1739), Edwards records his conviction at the words of 1 Timothy 1:17: “As I read the words, there came into my soul, and was as it were diffused through it, a sense of the glory of the Divine Being; a new sense, quite different from any thing I ever experienced before… I thought with myself, how excellent a Being that was, and how happy I should be, if I might enjoy that God, and be rapt up to him in heaven; and be as it were swallowed up in him for ever!”

[10] After hearing Joseph Reese at the open-air meeting for the first time, Furman would thereafter refer to him as his “spiritual father.”

[11] “Edwards and his Impact on Baptists,” Founders Journal (Summer, 2003), 1-18.

[12] Triennial Convention Constitution, 1814.

[13] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816); For a “fuller” treatment on Edwards’ influence upon the modern missionary movement, see Chris Chun’s dissertation The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards in the Theology of Andrew Fuller (2012).

[14] Conforti, Joseph A. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, and American Culture (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1995), 3.

[15] Marsden, George. Jonathan Edwards: A Life (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 331.

[16] Furman papers, SCBHS; Eds., Crisp, Oliver; Sweeney, Douglas. After Jonathan Edwards: The Courses of the New England Theology, 200.

[17] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[18] At the request of the Society of the Cincinnati and the Revolution Society, Furman preached a memorial sermon for President George Washington entitled Humble Submission to Divine Sovereignty: the Duty of a Bereaved Nation (1800). The sermon is evidence both to Furman’s belief in divine sovereignty as well as human responsibility. The two were perfectly congruent in Furman’s biblical mind.

[19] Rogers, James A. Richard Furman: Life and Legacy (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2011), 208.

[20] According to Rogers, “The educational thrust of the 1817 Triennial Convention, as embodied in the plan advanced by Furman, marked a watershed in American Baptist educational history.” (Richard Furman, 195)

[21] Edwards, Jonathan. A Divine and Supernatural Light (1734).

[22] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[23] Rogers, James A. Richard Furman: Life and Legacy (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2011), 210.

[24] Eds. George, Timothy; Dockery, David. Baptist Theologians (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1990), 140.

[25] John H. Ball’s Chronicling the Soul’s Windings: Thomas Hooker and His Morphology of Conversion (1992) is an excellent study of trans-Atlantic Puritan morphology.

[26] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[27] Ahlstrom, Sydney. “Theology in America: A Historical Survey.” The Shaping of American Religion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), 245.

[28] Edwards, Jonathan. A Divine and Supernatural Light (1734).

[29] Baptist Theologians, 154.

[30] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[31] Edwards, Jonathan. A Divine and Supernatural Light (1734).

[32] Ibid.

[33] Andrew Fuller’s The Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation (1785) is perhaps the most compelling evidence of Edwards’ influence in his thinking.

[34] Chun, Chris. “Sense of the Heart: Jonathan Edwards’ Legacy in the Writings of Andrew Fuller,” Eusebeia, Spring, 2008, 121.

[35] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[36] Edwards, Jonathan. Religious Affections (Carlisle, PA: Banne of Truth Trust, 2007), 24.

[37] Baptist Theologians, 153.

[38] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[39] Furman, Richard. The Constitution and Order of Christian Church (Charleston, SC: Markland and McIver, 1791), 8.

[40] Rogers, James A. Richard Furman: Life and Legacy (Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2011), 208.

[41] Breitenbach, William. “Piety and Moralism: Edwards and the New Divinity,” Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 183.

[42] Edwards, Jonthan. Religious Affections (1747); Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[43] Ibid.

[44] Edwards, Jonathan. A Divine and Supernatural Light (1734).

[45] Ibid.

[46] H.T. Cook, Biography, 5

[47] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[48] Breitenbach, William. “Piety and Moralism: Edwards and the New Divinity,” Jonathan Edwards and the American Experience (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), 185.

[49] Rudisill, D.P. The Doctrine of the Atonement in Jonathan Edwards and his Successors (New York, NY: Poseidon Books, 1971), 32.

[50] Furman, Richard. Conversion Essential to Salvation (1816).

[51] Ibid.

[52] “Edwards and his Impact on Baptists,” Founders Journal (Summer, 2003), 1-18.

[53] Richard Furman, 103.

[54] Richard Furman, 24.


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