Tag Archives: Jonathan Edwards

“The sermons of Jonathan Edwards” by Hughes Oliphant Old

“What was distinct about the religious life of New England? It was a passion for God. Call it a delight in God; call it conversion; call it charity; call it religious affection; it all amounted to the same thing, a passionate love for God.

When all is said about the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, they have a sacred passion about them.

His sermons are intellectually brilliant, morally perceptive, theologically challenging– all of this, to be sure — but above all they have a passionate holiness about them which brings us to delight in God.

For Edwards, it was this delighting in God which was worship.”

–Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church: Moderatism, Pietism, and Awakening, Volume 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004), 5: 293.

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“Death cannot deprive us of our best Friend” by Jonathan Edwards

“Now, Madam, let us consider what suitable provision God has made for our consolation under all our afflictions in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially when it is considered what were the ends of that great manifestation of His beauty and love in His death.

He suffered that we might be delivered.

His soul was exceeding sorrowful even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow and that we might have everlasting consolation.

He was oppressed and afflicted that we might be supported.

He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death and of Hell, that we might have the light of life.

He was cast into the furnace of God’s wrath, that we might swim in the rivers of pleasure.

His heart was overwhelmed in a flood of sorrow and anguish, that our hearts might be filled and overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in. He was dead but is alive, and He lives forevermore.

Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best Friend.

And we have this Friend, this mighty Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched with the feeling of our afflictions, He having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.

And if we are vitally united to Him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved.

Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed. In Him we may triumph with everlasting joy.

Even when storms and tempests arise we may have resort to Him who is an hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.

When we are thirsty, we may come to Him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to Him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.

Having found Him who is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under His shadow with great delight and His fruit may be sweet to our taste.

Christ told his disciples that in the world they should have trouble, but says He, ‘In Me ye shall have peace.’

If we are united to Him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth. He will be their light in darkness and their morning star that is a bright harbinger of day.

And in a little while, He will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on His face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.

That this glorious Redeemer would manifest His glory and love to you, and apply the little that has been said of these things to your consolation in all your affliction, and abundantly reward your generous favors, as when I was at Kittery, is the fervent prayer of, Madam,

Your Ladyship’s most obliged and affectionate friend,

And most humble servant,

Jonathan Edwards”

–Jonathan Edwards, “136. To Lady Mary Pepperrell,” Letters and Personal Writings, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 16, Ed. George S. Claghorn (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 418-419. Edwards wrote this letter from Stockbridge, on November 28, 1751, to comfort a grieving mother on the loss of her son.

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“The deliverance which we have by Christ is infinitely greater” by Jonathan Edwards

“The gospel of Christ contains joyful tidings to men of deliverance from evil.

It is a proclamation of deliverance to the children of men from evils that are by far the greatest that ever mankind are exposed to: evils that are truly infinitely dreadful, such as the guilt of sin, captivity and bondage to Satan, the wrath of God and perfect and everlasting ruin and misery.

If we compare these things with things that are infinitely less in degree, it may serve to give us some idea of the joyfulness of these tidings.

We may conceive something of the joy that would arise in the heart of one that had wandered deep into a desolate wilderness, and who should hear the voice of a dear friend that is come to seek him, calling to him.

Or if a company were shipwrecked in the midst of the wide ocean, and suddenly saw a ship approaching them.

Or if one had been taken captive and was in the hands of most cruel savages at a great distance from all his friends, and saw himself devoted by them as a sacrifice to their cruelty and then a valiant and victorious deliverer should appear for his rescue.

But the deliverance which we have by Christ is infinitely greater.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “Of Those Who Walk In The Light Of God’s Countenance” in Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 702, 703-704.

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“He interposed Himself” by Jonathan Edwards

“Consider the example of your glorious Lord and Master. There was a number of the souls of men committed by the Father into His hands, that He might take care for their salvation.

And after what manner did He execute His office?

How did He lay out Himself for the salvation of those souls?

What great things did He do?

And what great things did He suffer?

How hard was the labor He went through?

And how greatly did He deny Himself?

How did this great Shepherd of the sheep behave Himself when He saw the wolf coming to destroy the sheep?

He did not flee to save His own life, and so leave the sheep to become a prey; but from pity and love to the sheep, interposed Himself between them and their enemy, stood between them and harm, and encountered the wolf, and in the conflict gave His own life to save theirs (John 10:11–15).

We read of Christ’s travailing for souls, ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him, he hath put him to grief. When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed…. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied’ (Isaiah 53:10–11).

And how did He travail for this seed of His?

Look into the garden of Gethsemane, and there behold Him lying on the earth, with His body covered over with clotted blood, falling down in lumps to the ground, with His soul exceeding sorrowful even unto death, and offering up strong crying and tears together with His blood.

And look to the cross, where He endured yet far more extreme agonies, and drank up the bitter cup of God’s wrath, and shed the remainder of His blood, lingeringly drained out through His tortured hands and feet, and extravasated out of His broken heart into His bowels, and there turned into blood and water, through the vehement fermentation occasioned by the weight of grief and extremity of agony of soul, under which He cried out with that loud and lamentable and repeated cry.

Thus He travailed in birth with His seed; thus He labored and suffered for the salvation of those souls that the Father had committed to Him.

This is the example of the great Shepherd.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “The Great Concern Of A Watchman For Souls,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 72. This sermon on Hebrews 13:17 (“They watch for your souls, as they that must give account.”) was preached on June 8, 1743, at the ordination of Jonathan Judd.

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“The tallest and strongest saint” by Jonathan Edwards

“All gracious affections have a tendency to promote this Christian tenderness of heart, that has been spoken of: not only a godly sorrow; but also a gracious joy; Psalms 2:11, ‘Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling.’

As also a gracious hope; Psalms 33:18, ‘Behold the eye of the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy.’ And Psalms 147:11, ‘The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, and in them that hope in his mercy.’

Yea the most confident and assured hope, that is truly gracious, has this tendency. The higher an holy hope is raised, the more there is of this Christian tenderness.

The banishing of a servile fear, by a holy assurance, is attended with a proportionable increase of a reverential fear.

The diminishing of the fear of the fruits of God’s displeasure in future punishment, is attended with a proportionable increase of fear of his displeasure itself: the diminishing of the fear of hell, with an increase of the fear of sin.

The vanishing of jealousies of the person’s state, is attended with a proportionable increase of jealousy of his heart, in a distrust of its strength, wisdom, stability, faithfulness, etc.

The less apt he is to be afraid of natural evil, having “his heart fixed, trusting in God,” and so, “not afraid of evil tidings” [Psalms 112:7]; the more apt is he to be alarmed with the appearance of moral evil, or the evil of sin.

As he has more holy boldness, so he has less of self-confidence, and a forward assuming boldness, and more modesty. As he is more sure than others of deliverance from hell, so he has more of a sense of the desert of it.

He is less apt than others to be shaken in faith; but more apt than others to be moved with solemn warnings, and with God’s frowns, and with the calamities of others.

He has the firmest comfort, but the softest heart: richer than others, but poorest of all in spirit: the tallest and strongest saint, but the least and tenderest child amongst them.”

–Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1754), in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 364.

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“A perfect view of His glory” by Jonathan Edwards

“The souls of true saints, when absent from the body, go to be with Jesus Christ, as they are brought into a most perfect conformity to, and union with Him. Their spiritual conformity is begun while they are in the body; here beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, they are changed into the same image: but when they come to see Him as he is, in heaven, then they become like Him, in another manner.

That perfect right will abolish all remains of deformity, disagreement and sinful unlikeness as all darkness is abolished before the full blaze of the sun’s meridian light. It is impossible that the least degree of obscurity should remain before such light. So it is impossible the least degree of sin and spiritual deformity should remain, in such a view of the spiritual beauty and glory of Christ, as the saints enjoy in heaven when they see that Sun of righteousness without a cloud. They themselves shine forth as the sun, and shall be as little suns, without a spot.

For then is come the time when Christ presents His saints to Himself, in glorious beauty, ‘not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and having holiness without a blemish’ [Ephesians 5:27]. And then the saints’ union with Christ is perfected. This also is begun in this world. The relative union is both begun and perfected at once, when the soul first closes with Christ by faith: the real union, consisting in the union of hearts and affections, and in the vital union, is begun in this world, and perfected in the next.

The union of the heart of a believer to Christ is begun when his heart is drawn to Christ, by the first discovery of divine excellency, at conversion; and consequent on this drawing and closing of his heart with Christ, is established a vital union with Christ; whereby the believer becomes a living branch of the true vine, living by a communication of the sap and vital juice of the stock and root; and a member of Christ’s mystical body, living by a communication of spiritual and vital influences from the head, and by a kind of participation of Christ’s own life.

But while the saints are in the body, there is much remaining distance between Christ and them: there are remainders of alienation, and the vital union is very imperfect; and so consequently, are the communication of spiritual life and vital influences: there is much between Christ and believers to keep them asunder, much indwelling sin, much temptation, an heavy-molded frail body, and a world of carnal objects, to keep off the soul from Christ, and hinder a perfect coalescence.

But when the soul leaves the body, all these clogs and hindrances shall be removed, every separating wall shall be broken down, and every impediment taken out of the way, and all distance shall cease; the heart shall be wholly and perfectly drawn, and most firmly and forever attached and bound to Him, by a perfect view of His glory.

And the vital union shall then be brought to perfection: the soul shall live perfectly in and upon Christ, being perfectly filled with His Spirit, and animated by His vital influences; living as it were only by Christ’s life, without any remainder of spiritual death, or carnal life. Departed souls of saints are with Christ, as they enjoy a glorious and immediate intercourse and converse with Him.

While we are present with our friends, we have opportunity for that free and immediate conversation with them, which we cannot have in absence from them. And therefore, by reason of the vastly more free, perfect and immediate intercourse with Christ, which the saints enjoy when absent from the body, they are fitly represented as present with Him.

The most intimate intercourse becomes that relation that the saints stand in to Jesus Christ: and especially becomes that most perfect and glorious union they shall be brought into with Him in heaven. They are not merely Christ’s servants, but His friends (John 15:15), His brethren and companions (Psalms 122:8); yea, they are the spouse of Christ.

They are espoused or betrothed to Christ while in the body; but when they go to heaven, they enter into the King’s palace, their marriage with Him is come, and the King brings them into His chambers indeed. They then go to dwell with Christ, constantly to enjoy the most perfect converse with Him. Christ conversed in the most friendly manner with His disciples on earth; He admitted one of them to lean on His bosom: but they are admitted much more fully and freely to converse with Him in heaven.

Though Christ be there in a state of glorious exaltation, reigning in the majesty and glory of the sovereign Lord and God of heaven and earth, angels and men. Yet this will not hinder intimacy and freedom of intercourse, but rather promote it. For He is thus exalted, not only for Himself, but for them; He is instated in this glory of head over all things for their sakes, that they might be exalted and glorified, and when they go to heaven where He is, they are exalted and glorified with Him; and shall not be kept at a more awful distance from Christ, but shall be admitted nearer, and to a greater intimacy.

For they shall be unspeakably more fit for it, and Christ in more fit circumstances to bestow on them this blessedness. Their seeing the great glory of their friend and Redeemer, will not awe them to a distance, and make them afraid of a near approach; but on the contrary, will most powerfully draw them near; and encourage and engage them to holy freedom. For they will know that it is He that is their own Redeemer, and beloved friend and bridegroom; the very same that loved them with a dying love, and redeemed them to God by His blood; Matthew 14:27, ‘It is I; be not afraid.’ Revelation 1:17–18, ‘Fear not, I am He that liveth, and was dead.’

And the nature of this glory of Christ that they shall see, will be such as will draw and encourage them, for they will not only see infinite majesty and greatness but infinite grace, condescension and mildness, and gentleness and sweetness, equal to His majesty. For he appears in heaven, not only as ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah,’ but as ‘the Lamb,’ and ‘the Lamb in the midst of the throne’ (Revelation 5:5–6); and this Lamb in the midst of the throne shall be their shepherd, to ‘feed them, and lead them to living fountains of waters’ (Revelation 7:17) so that the sight of Christ’s great kingly majesty will be no terror to them; but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and surprise.

When Mary was about to embrace Christ, being full of joy at the sight of Him again alive after His crucifixion, Christ forbids her to do it, for the present because He was not yet ascended; John 20:16–17, ‘Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father. But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ As if he had said, ‘This is not the time and place for that freedom, your love to me desires: that is appointed in heaven, after my ascension. I am going thither: and you that are my true disciples, shall, as my brethren and companions, soon be there with me in my glory. And then there shall be no restraint. That is the place appointed for the most perfect expressions of complacence and endearment, and full enjoyment of mutual love.’

And accordingly the souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity. And they shall be enabled to express their love to Him, in an infinitely better manner than ever they could while in the body.

Thus they shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up in the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love, eternally receiving that light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and everlastingly reflecting it back again to the fountain of it.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “True Saints, When Absent From The Body, Are Present With The Lord,” in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 25, Sermons and Discourses 1743-1758. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 231-233.

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“Christ Jesus loves us so much” by Jonathan Edwards

“In the gospel God is come down to us, and the person of God may receive communications of happiness from us. The man Christ Jesus loves us so much, that He is really the happier for our delight and happiness in Him.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “97 – Happiness,” in The “Miscellanies”: Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 13, Ed. Harry S. Stout (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), 264.

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