“Love the infinitely condescending God” by Jonathan Edwards

The gospel leads us to love God as an infinitely condescending God. The gospel above all things in the world holds forth the exceeding condescension of God.

No other manifestation which God ever made of Himself exhibits such condescension as the Christian revelation does.

The gospel teaches how God, who humbles Himself to behold things in heaven, stooped so low as to take an infinitely gracious notice of poor vile worms of the dust, and to concern Himself for their salvation, so as to send His only begotten Son to die for them that they might be honored and brought into eternal fellowship with Him and the perfect enjoyment of Him.

So that the love to which the Christian revelation leads us is love to God as such a condescending God, and to such exercises of love as it becomes us to exercise towards a God of such infinite condescension, which are humble acts of love.

For there is no disposition of the creature more adapted to the condescension of the Creator than humility.

The condescension of God is not properly humility; because for reasons already mentioned, humility is a perfection only of those beings which have comparative meanness.

But yet God by His infinite condescension shows His nature to be infinitely far from, and opposite to pride. And therefore God’s condescending is called His humbling Himself. Psalms 113:6, ‘Who humbleth Himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth!’

And humility is the nearest and most proper conformity to the condescension of God that can be in a creature.

The gospel leads us to love Christ, as an humble person. Christ is one who is God-man, and so has not only condescension which is a divine perfection, but also humility which is a creature excellence.

The gospel holds forth Christ to us as one meek and lowly of heart, as the most perfect and excellent instance of humility that ever was, and one in whom were the greatest testimonies and expressions of humility in His abasement of Himself.

For He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death [Philippians 2:8]. Now the gospel leads us to love Christ as such an humble person, and therefore to love Him with such a love as is proper to be exercised towards such an one, which is an humble love.

And that the more, because the gospel leads us to love Christ not only as an humble person but a humble Savior, Lord and Head. If our Lord and Head be humble, and we love Him as such, certainly it becomes us who are His disciples and servants to be so.

For surely it does not become the servant to be prouder or less abased than his Master.

Matthew 10:24–25, ‘The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord.’

John 13:13–16, ‘Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.’

Matthew 20:25–27, ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’

The gospel leads us to love Christ as a crucified Savior. He is a Savior and Lord who suffered the greatest ignominies, was put to the most ignominious death, though He was the Lord of glory.

This in many ways teaches His followers humility, and leads them to an humble love of Christ.

For by God’s sending His Son into the world to suffer such an ignominious death, He did as it were pour contempt on all that earthly glory which men are wont to be proud of, in that He gave His Son, the Head of all elect men, to appear in circumstances so far from earthly glory, circumstances of the greatest earthly ignominy.

Hereby the condescension of God appeared, and hereby Christ above all other things showed His humility, in that He was willing to be thus abased, and in thus humbling Himself and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

And hereby Christ our Lord and Master and Head showed His contempt of earthly glory, and those things upon which men pride themselves.

If we therefore behave ourselves as the followers of a crucified Jesus we shall walk humbly before God and men all the days of our lives.”

–Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits, in Ethical Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 8, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1749/1989), 247-248.

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Filed under Christian Theology, Humility, Jesus Christ, Jonathan Edwards, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, The Gospel

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