JE-mail: Correspondences on our Favorite Revivalist

Pastor Everhard,

I’m reading through Jonathan Edward’s book, The Religious Affections and even though I’m early into it (less than a quarter) I have to say hands down it is some of the best writing I’ve read in a long time. I’m so glad to have stumbled across your channel and to have been introduced to such a blessing in this man, Jonathan Edwards. One of the gems he tucked away in this book that snuck up and hit me with an uppercut of truth was when he talked about prayer as a means of expression in true religion. To paraphrase he says, prayer is not essentially a means to declare God’s attributes for the sake of his benefit, but for ours. In prayer and other outward expressions of worship the intent, in part, is to affect our hearts and the hearts of other people.

When I read that I thought wow, no wonder my affections toward God in many ways lack the fervency and vigor that I know that God deserves and commands. My lack of a consistent and hearty prayer life correlates to my lack of Joy (at times) in my Christian walk. I was very humbled by this truth. I could go on further but I’ll leave it at that. I’m marking up this book because there are so many questions I have about his theology and like I said I’m only a quarter through the book. His eschatology shines through and his anthropology (if that’s the right term) when he discusses the affections of saints in heaven, and the affections of the heart (inward motion of the soul) in relation to the external actions such affections have on the body; it’s all unchartered territory for me. So I’m really excited to read this book. It’s my first venture into Jonathan Edwards as I stated earlier and part of what motivated me was your Youtube channel and also having read A Theology of Joy.

Thank you for all you do and for the part you played in God’s economy to bring this work into my life.

Jevon,
Cape Coral, Florida

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Dr. Matthew,

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for all your videos and specifically your information on the miscellany system of Jonathan Edwards! I have been taking my Bible reading to the next level by trying various note taking methods, but organization has been the Achilles heel of all my efforts. As a digital native, it’s easy to attempt to pair notes with some app, be that a Bible app or a productivity app. The unfortunate eventuality of this practice is the fragmentation of notes as well as the “vendor lock-in” of proprietary technology.

Taking things back to pen and paper is just the kind of meditative exercise that enhances time in God’s word. Indeed, I think of Deuteronomy 17:18 and how the practice of physically copying God’s word is the fit duty of one with the responsibilities of a king. Edwards’ indexing system is real app-killer for me though—it keeps things organized, flexible, and is doable in any Bible’s margin. This exercise has actually kindled a love for returning to well-practiced, cursive penmanship and fountain pens. I hope to make my notes last as an heirloom for my family.

Some ideas on extending the Edwardsian system I thought I would share if you use it yourself: You can start multiple miscellany notebooks by presuming a 1-entry-per-page rule (or whatever your smallest entry size is), and then offsetting your next notebook by the number of pages in the previous book. If you fail to exhaust all the entries you offset, no big deal. Much better to drop M93-M99 than to have a collision between 2 volumes. If you want to keep your entries more well focused to long studies through particular books, but you are running more than 1 study at a time, use the above method and bounce between a pair of notebooks. This will cluster the scripture studies in each book rather than interleaving them (but at the expense of carrying around extra notebooks).

Use an extra notebook to act as a master index of each of your miscellany volumes. This would tell you at a glance that M100-250 are in Volume 2, the navy blue Leuchtturm notebook for example. You can also add an inverted index which goes from enumerating “Vol. 1: M1 – M200” to indexing by content, such as “Romans: M33-45, M103-112”.


If you practice bullet journaling (a sort of life calendar productivity system), you can thread references to your miscellany entries in your daily or monthly logs. This has the added benefit of allowing you to cross reference what was going on in your life with your own scriptural insights. I suppose dates do this as well, but miscellanies are indexed by their ID, not their date.

Anyways, thank you for sharing the wisdom of the ages, both in God’s revealed word and salient personages through time. This journaling experiment itself has been massively impactful in achieving the Psalm 1 lifestyle, and you certainly were a laborer in that.

Youtube Viewer, Phoenix AZ.


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