Tag Archives: Jonathan Edwards

Feasting Upon Christ in the Gospel

  
Then said he unto him, “A certain man made a great supper and bade many.” Luke 14:16

How gospel provision is well represented by a feast:

I. In the expensiveness of gospel blessings. As feasts are expensive and are provided at the expense of the host, so the provision which God has in the gospel made for our souls be exceeding expensive unto [him]. We have it for nothing. It costs us nothing, but it cost God a great deal. Fallen men can’t be feasted but at vast expense. We are by sin sunk infinitely low, into the lowest depths of misery and want, and our famishing souls could not be provided for [but] under infinite expense. All that we have from God for the salvation and support and nourishment of our souls cost exceeding dear. Never were any that were feasted at so dear a rate as believers: what they eat and drink is a thousand times more costly than what they eat at the tables [of] princes, that is far-fetched and dear bought.

Every crumb of bread that they eat and every drop of wine that they drink is more costly than so much gold or gems. God purchased it at no less a rate than with the blood of his only and infinitely dear Son. That holiness and that favor, and that peace and joy which they have, it was bought with the heart’s blood of the Son of God, his precious life. He made his soul an offering.  Christ Jesus obtained this provision by victory. He was obliged to fight for it as it were up to his knees in blood that he might obtain it; yea, he waded through a sea of blood to get it for us.

II. As the guests are freely invited to a feast, so sinners are freely invited to partake of gospel blessings. How much soever the provision has cost God, he requires nothing of us for it. Alas, what should we do if it were required of us to buy those dainties at our own cost? It can’t be purchased with money. “It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies” (Job 28:15–18).

Alas, what can we do towards purchasing of it? What is all our righteousness to purchase such heavenly dainties? No, we can’t purchase it. Any price that we can offer is as insufficient to buy it, as our power is insufficient to create a world.

And there is no need of our endeavoring such an impossible thing as purchasing of this feast. We are freely invited. God will show the abundance of his divine liberality in the bestowment of it. It is to have most abject thoughts of God and of gospel blessings, to imagine that God would sell them to us for our righteousness.

God invites all freely. Thus we read in our context that those that were poor, those that were in the highways and hedges, were invited to this great supper; such as had nothing to pay, and such as did not pretend to it, it was with such that his house was filled, and by such was his feast eaten. In Isaiah 55:1, all that thirst are invited to “come, and buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Where we have the gospel invitations, they are very generally either to food or drink, as it is here. So it is in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” Revelation 22:17, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.”

We are so freely invited to this feast, that there is no other condition required of us in order to our partaking of this feast, but accepting of the invitation, and sitting down at the table, and eating and drinking. Proverbs 9:2–5, “Wisdom hath killed her beasts; she hath also mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith unto him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.” And in Revelation 3:20, Christ promises that he will come in, and sup with us, and we shall sup with him, if we only hear his voice and open the door.

III. The provision God has made for us in the gospel is fitly represented by a feast, because it nourishes the soul as food does the body. Christ Jesus, as applied by the Spirit of God in our enlightening, effectual calling and sanctification, is the only nourishment of the soul. It was he that was represented by the manna the children of Israel eat in the wilderness. ‘Twas he that was signified by the sacrifices which are called the “bread of God” (Leviticus 21:6). John 6:48, “I am the bread of life.”

Receiving of Christ and his benefits is often called “eating” in the Old Testament and New. And this provision is called “bread” in many places.

The grace of Christ Jesus, it nourishes the soul; it gives life and strength to it. Before the soul receives this grace, it is dead. In this it doth more than bread does to the body, that does but preserve the life of the body and revives it when weakened and languishing; but this heavenly food revives men when dead. And it also continues the life of the soul: the soul, after it is revived, would die again, were it not for the continuance of supply of grace and spiritual nourishment. It strengthens the soul as food does the body. The soul in its natural condition is a poor, feeble, languishing thing, having no strength; but the grace of Christ makes it strong and vigorous. And this spiritual nourishment makes the soul to grow, as food doth the body. The supplies of the Spirit of God increase the life and vigor of the soul, increases the understanding, increases holy inclinations and affections; as bodily nourishment increases all the members of the body, makes a proportionable growth of every part…

IV. The spiritual provision of the gospel is well represented [by a feast], because of the excellency of it. We call those meals “feasts”, where the provision is what excels ordinary food.  The provision that God has made for our souls in Christ is exceeding excellent. ‘Tis of the most noble kind: that which is to nourish the nobler part of men, viz. his soul, and that which is most suitable proper nourishment; that which tends, above all that can be conceived of, to give the soul the most excellent life and the most excellent satisfaction: which is evident by what had been already said about the costliness of it, its being what “cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof” [Job 28:15].

Doubtless, that food which cost the Son of God his blood and life is pure dainties, when it is procured. And it is everywhere represented as the richest and most noble and excellent food. It is called the “bread of heaven” and “angels’ food” (Psalms 105:40). So we are invited in Isaiah 55:2 not to “spend money for that which is not bread, and labor for that which satisfieth not,” but to come to Christ, to eat “that which is good,” that our souls may delight themselves in fatness. So this feast in Isaiah 25:6 is called “a feast of fat things, of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”…

V. Gospel provision is well compared to a feast by reason of the abundance and variety of it. There is every kind of blessing for our souls provided in the gospel that we need, so that we may want nothing at all, but may have every regular appetite and desire satisfied and we may be made completely [happy]. There is that which suits all dispositions and tempers, provided they are suitable and not sinful.

There is every kind of thing dispensed in Christ that tends to make us excellent and amiable, and every kind of thing that tends to make us happy. There is that which shall fill every faculty of the soul and in a great variety. What a glorious variety is there for the entertainment of the understanding! How many glorious objects set forth, most worthy to be meditated upon and understood! There are all the glorious attributes of God and the beauties of Jesus Christ, and manifold wonders to be seen in the way of salvation, the glories of heaven and the excellency of Christian graces. And there is a glorious variety for the satisfying the will: there are pleasures, riches and honors; there are all things desirable or lovely. There is various entertainment for the affections, for love, for joy, for desire and hope. The blessings are innumerable…

VI. The measure [of] love of Jesus Christ and of Christians, and of Christians amongst themselves, is represented by the friendship of those that feast together. Feasting together betokens love and friendship. Thus Abimelech and Isaac, when they made covenants (Genesis 26:30). So ’tis from the wonderful love of Jesus Christ that sinners are called to this feast and that he has provided such a feast for them at so dear a rate. This love is without a parallel, and all those that do accept of the invitation that are truly his guests, their hearts are possessed with a spirit of true love to Christ Jesus. They love him above all; he is to them the chief of ten thousands and altogether lovely. There is a great love between Christ and his guests. He and they are one, even as the Father is in him and he in the Father. There is the nearest union and a holy friendship between Christ and believers. They are Christ’s dear ones, his jewels; and Christ is their jewel, their pearl of great price.

And so there is mutual love amongst the guests. Believers are united in heart one to another. Therefore all men know that they are Christ’s disciples, that they have love one to another. They are all united under their host, under their head, Christ Jesus, with whom they sit at his table. Therefore Christ says, Canticles 5:1, “Eat, O friends.” They are Christ’s friends, and friends one to another.

VII. The communion of saints is represented by a feast. The word “communion,” as it is used in Scripture, signifies a common partaking of some good. Thus we read of the communion of the body of Christ and the communion of the blood of Christ, that is, the common partaking of his body and blood. Therefore, as in a feast they all have communion in the same fare with the host and with the other guests, so Christians have communion with Jesus: they partake of the same Spirit, of the same holiness and the same happiness; they are members of Christ’s body and partake of the same life with the head; they are branches in him and partake of the same sap and nourishment with the vine. Christ and believers are partakers of the same Spirit. Christ has the Spirit not by measure, and they have of the same Spirit by measure [John 3:34]. Christ has all fullness of grace in him, and believers have grace for grace [John 1:16]…

Believers also in the gospel feast have communion one with another. They all partake of that one bread. They have one Lord, [one] faith, one baptism. All drink into one Spirit, are all united together by partaking of the same influence of the same head. ‘Tis one Spirit that unites them all, so that they make but one body.

VIII. And lastly, this well represents the joy of Christianity. Feasts are made upon joyful occasions and for the manifestations of joy. Ecclesiastes 10:19, “A feast is made for laughter.” Christians, in the participation and communion of gospel benefits, have joy unspeakable and full of glory, a sweeter delight than any this world affords. We are invited in that forecited place, Isaiah 55:1–2, to come, that our souls may delight themselves in fatness. When the prodigal son returned, they killed the fatted calf and made a feast, and sang and danced and made merry; which represents the joy there [is] in a sinner, and concerning him, when he comes to Christ.

This spiritual feast is compared to a wedding feast. So was the feast spoken of in our text a wedding feast, as appears by the same parable as it is in Matthew 22, [at the] beginning: “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding.” And so it is, Revelation 19:9, “Blessed are they which shall be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”…

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), “The Spiritual Blessings of the Gospel Represented by a Feast”, Sermons and Discourses: 1723-1729, 279-97.


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The Old Testament: A Treasury of Wondrous Things

treasurepile

6. By what has been said we may see the usefulness and excellency of the Old Testament. Some are ready to look on the Old Testament as being, as it were, out of date and as if we in these days of the gospel had but little to do with it; which is a very great mistake, arising from want of observing the nature and design of the Old Testament, which if it was observed it would appear full of the gospel of Christ, and would in an excellent manner illustrate and confirm the glorious doctrines and promises of the New Testament. Those parts of the Old Testament which are commonly looked upon as containing the least divine instruction are, as it were, as mines and treasures of gospel knowledge, and the reason why they are thought to contain so little is because persons do but superficially read them. The treasures that are hid underneath are not observed. They only look on the top of the ground, and so suddenly pass a judgment that there is nothing there, but they never dig into the mine; if they did they would find it richly stored with silver and gold, and would be abundantly requited for their labors.

What has been said may show us what a precious treasure God has committed into our hands in that he has given us the Bible. How little do most persons consider how much they enjoy in that they have the possession of that holy book the Bible which they have in their hearts and may converse with as they please. What an excellent book is this, and how far exceeding all human writings: that reveals God to us and gives us a view of the grand design and glorious scheme of his providence, from the beginning to the end of the world, either in history or prophecy, that reveals the great Redeemer and his glorious redemption, and the various steps by which God accomplishes it from the first foundation to the topstone. Shall we prize a history that gives us a clear account of some great earthly prince or mighty warrior, as of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, or the duke of Marlborough, and shall we not prize the history that God has given us of the glorious kingdom of his son, Jesus Christ, the prince and savior of the world, and the wars and other great transactions of that king of kings and lord of armies, the lord mighty in battle, the history of the things he has wrought for the redemption of his chosen people.

7. What has been said may make us sensible how much most persons are to blame for their inattentive, unobservant way of reading the Scriptures. How much does the Scripture contain if it was but observed the Bible is the most comprehensive book in the world. But what will all this signify to us if we read it without observing what is the drift of the Holy Ghost in it. The psalmist, Psalms 119:18, begs of God, that he would enlighten his eyes that he might “behold wondrous things come of his law.” The Scripture is full of wondrous things. Those histories that are commonly read as if they were only histories of the private concerns of such and such particular persons, such as the histories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Joseph, and the history of Ruth, and the histories of particular lawgivers and princes, as the history of Joshua and the judges, and David and other Israelitish princes, are accounts of vastly greater things, things of greater importance and more extensive concernment than they that read them are commonly aware of. Scripture histories are very commonly read as if they were stories written only to entertain men’s fancies, and to while away their leisure hours, when the infinitely great things contained or pointed at in them are passed over and never taken notice of.

Whatever treasures the Scriptures contain we shall be never the better for them if we don’t observe what is there. He that has a Bible, and don’t observe what is contained [in] it, is like a man that has a box full of silver and gold, and don’t know it, don’t observe that it is anything more than a vessel filled with common stones. As long as it is thus with him, he’ll be never the better for his treasure. For he that don’t know he has a treasure will never make use of what he had, and so had as good be without it. He that has plenty of the choicest food stored up in his house and don’t know it, will never taste what he has and will be as likely to starve as if his house were empty.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), A History of the Work of Redemption, Sermon 13, 290-92.

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The Preciousness of Time

hourglass

“Redeeming the time…” – Ephesians 5:16

Reasons Time is a thing that is exceedingly precious:

I. Because eternity depends on the improvement of time. Things are precious in proportion to the importance of them, or according to the degree wherein they concern our welfare. Men are wont to set the highest value on those things that they are sensible, and that they have their chief dependence upon. Other things they may easily part with, but they won’t very easily part with such things. And this renders time so exceeding precious, because our welfare, and interest of it, depends upon the improvement of it….

And hence it is that time is a thing so exceeding precious, because ’tis by that that we have opportunity of escaping everlasting misery and of obtaining eternal blessedness and glory. ‘Tis upon the improvement of time that there depends an escape from an infinite evil and an obtaining an infinite good. And this puts an infinite value upon time.

Eternity depends upon it, for eternity is an infinite or endless duration. And to be miserable through eternity is an infinite evil; ’tis infinitely dreadful. And so to be happy through {eternity is an infinite good}.

II. Time is very short, which is another thing that renders it very precious: the scarcity of any commodity occasions men to set an higher value upon it, especially if it be a thing that is necessary to be had and that they can’t do without, or be that which their interest much depends upon….

Time is so short, and the work is so great that we have to do in it, that we have none of it to spare. The work that we have to do to prepare for eternity must be done in time, or it never can be done; and ’tis found to be a work of great difficulty and labor.

We read of silver being so plenty in Solomon’s time that it was as the stones of the street: it was nothing accounted of; they had more of it than they needed, or knew what to do with. But this is not the case with us with respect to time. And.’tis but a little time that God hath allotted to us, a short space that is soon all of it gone.

If a man loses any of that that he has but little of, and yet is absolutely necessary to him, his loss is the greater. [It is] as if he has but a little food wherewith [to] support his life: if he loses some of it, his loss is greater than if had an abundance. So we ought to prize our time the more highly, and to be careful that we don’t lose any of it, because it is so short, and yet what is so necessary to us.

III. Time ought to be looked upon as very precious by us upon this account also, that we are uncertain of the continuance of it. We know that ’tis very short, but we don’t know how short: we don’t know how little there is of it remaining, whether a year or several years, or only a month, or a week, or a day.

We don’t know but that every day be not the last, or how little of the day we are to have. There is nothing that experience doth more verify than this….

How much more would many men prize their time, if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days more in the world; and certainly a wise man would prize his time the more, because he does not know but hat it is so. This is the case with multitudes now in the world that now are in health, and so [see] no signs of approaching death. Many without doubt are to die the next month, and many are to die the next week; many are to die tomorrow that now know nothing of it, and think nothing about it. And neither they nor their neighbors can say [they] are any more likely soon to be taken out of the world than others. How many have died out of this town at one time and another, when neither they nor their neighbors saw any signs of death a week beforehand. And probably there are various persons now here present, hearing what I now say, that are to die in a very little time, that have no apprehension of it.

This teaches us how we ought to prize our time, and be careful that we don’t lose any of it.

IV. Time is very precious, because when it is past, it can’t be recovered.

Therefore we should be the more choice of it, while we have it; for that which is well improved is not lost; though the time itself be gone, yet the benefit of it abides with us.

It is so with our time, both in whole and in every particular part. When any part of time is lost, ’tis irrecoverably gone. The offer is never but once made us, whether we will improve it or no. Every part of our time is as it were successively offered to us, that we may choose whether we will make it our own or no; but there is no tarry to wait upon us, to see whether we will or not. But if we refuse, ’tis immediately taken away, and never offered more. As to that part of time that is gone, if we han’t well improved it, ’tis out of our possession, and out of our reach. ‘Tis only what is yet before us that we have any opportunity to make our own, whether that be less or more.

If we have lived fifty, or sixty, or seventy years, and han’t improved them, it now can’t be helped. ‘Tis all eternally gone from us. All that we can do, is to improve the little that remains. Yea, if we have spent all our lives, but a few minutes was improved, all that is gone is lost; and ’tis only those few remaining minutes that ’tis possible should be made his own.

But when the time of life is gone, it is impossible that we should ever obtain another such time. ‘Tis utterly and everlastingly gone.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), exert from sermon “The Preciousness of Time” in Sermons and Discourses, 1734-1738 (WJE Online Vol. 19), 243-61.

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“Infinite Upon Infinite”: Sin and God’s Grace

edwardsI have often since I lived in [Northampton] had very affecting views of my own sinfulness and vileness; very frequently so as to hold me in a kind of loud weeping, sometimes for a considerable time together: so that I have often been forced to shut myself up. I have had a vastly greater sense of my own wickedness, and the badness of my heart, since my conversion, than ever I had before. It has often appeared to me, that if God should mark iniquity against me, I should appear the very worst of all mankind; of all that have been since the beginning of the world to this time: and that I should have by far the lowest place in hell. When others that have come to talk with me about their soul concerns, have expressed the sense they have had of their own wickedness, by saying that it seemed to them, that they were as bad as the devil himself; I thought their expressions seemed exceeding faint and feeble, to represent my wickedness. I thought I should wonder, that they should content themselves with such expressions as these, if I had any reason to imagine, that their sin bore any proportion to mine. It seemed to me, I should wonder at myself, if I should express my wickedness in such feeble terms as they did.

My wickedness, as I am in myself, has long appeared to me perfectly ineffable, and infinitely swallowing up all thought and imagination; like an infinite deluge, or infinite mountains over my head. I know not how to express better, what my sins appear to me to be, than by heaping infinite upon infinite, and multiplying infinite by infinite. I go about very often, for this many years, with these expressions in my mind, and in my mouth, “Infinite upon infinite. Infinite upon infinite!” When I look into my heart, and take a view of my wickedness, it looks like an abyss infinitely deeper than hell. And it appears to me, that were it not for free grace, exalted and raised up to the infinite height of all the fullness and glory of the great Jehovah, and the arm of his power and grace stretched forth, in all the majesty of his power, and in all the glory of his sovereignty; I should appear sunk down in my sins infinitely below hell itself, far beyond sight of everything, but the piercing eye of God’s grace, that can pierce even down to such a depth, and to the bottom of such an abyss.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), Letters and Personal Writings, 802.

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Heaven is a World of Love

 

On this day 309 years ago Jonathan Edwards was born.  He was a pastor, a theologian, and a missionary in colonial New England. Edwards wrote voluminously, preached widely, and pursued God and the truths of his Word vigorously.  He is sadly most popularly known for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”  While worthy of attention, this one sermon does not adequately represent the mind or ministry of this pillar of the Christian faith.  In fact, he spent much energy writing and preaching some of the most beautiful sermons and books about heaven and the love of God.  In honor of Jonathan Edwards’ birthday and his legacy I would like share a snippet of one of his sermons, “Heaven, a World of Charity or Love”:

[The] God of love himself dwells in heaven. Heaven is the palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One, whose name is love, and who is both the cause and source of all holy love. God, considered with respect to his essence, is everywhere – he fills both heaven and earth. But yet he is said, in some respects, to be more especially in some places than in others. He was said of old to dwell in the land of Israel, above all other lands; and in Jerusalem, above all other cities of that land; and in the temple, above all other buildings in the city; and in the holy of holies, above all other apartments of the temple; and on the mercy-seat, over the ark of the covenant, above all other places in the holy of holies. But heaven is his dwelling-place above all other places in the universe; and all those places in which he was said to dwell of old, were but types of this. Heaven is a part of creation that God has built for this end, to be the place of his glorious presence, and it is his abode for ever; and here will he dwell, and gloriously manifest himself, to all eternity.

And this renders heaven a world of love; for God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven, fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a clear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that “God is love;” and therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.

There, even in heaven, dwells the God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is, or ever was, proceeds. There doth God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, united as one, in infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual, and eternal love. There dwells God the Father, who is the father of mercies, and so the father of love, who so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son to die for it. There dwells Christ, the Lamb of God, the prince of peace and of love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for men. There dwells the great Mediator, through whom all the divine love is expressed toward men, and by whom the fruits of that love have been purchased, and through whom they are communicated, and through whom love is imparted to the hearts of all God’s people. There dwells Christ in both his natures, the human and the divine, sitting on the same throne with the Father. And there dwells the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, flows out, and is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the saints on earth and in heaven. There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love – this eternal Three in One – is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows for ever. There this glorious God is manifested, and shines forth, in full glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain for ever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love! (Charity and Its Fruits, 326-28)

Our God is love and we do not have to wait until heaven to begin to enjoy and experience it. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).  Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and through faith we are united to the perfect, loving relationship of the triune God and to all believers of all times and places.  We are to be eagerly awaiting the appearing of our Lord Jesus wherein he will deliver us unto that eternal existence of perfect love but even now we are ,with the love given first to us by God in Christ, to love those with whom God has united us in Christian fellowship, reflecting the perfect love and fellowship that is to come.  As we do this, we will not only begin to experience more of the fullness of God’s love here but we will begin to long for that day when all sin and selfishness will depart and we will see him who first loved us, wounds and all, and dwell with him and all the saints forever.

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God Glorified in Man’s Dependence

“so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:29-31

There is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God. The nature and contrivance of our redemption is such, that the redeemed are in every thing directly, immediately, and entirely dependent on God: they are dependent on him for all, and are dependent on him every way.

The several ways wherein the dependence of one being may be upon another for its good, and wherein the redeemed of Jesus Christ depend on God for all their good, are these, viz., that they have all their good of him, and that they have all through him, and that they have all in him:

First, the redeemed have all their good of God. God is the great author of it. He is the first cause of it; and not only so, but he is the only proper cause. It is of God that we have our Redeemer. It is God that has provided a Savior for us. Jesus Christ is not only of God in his person, as he is the only-begotten Son of God, but he is from God, as we are concerned in him, and in his office of Mediator. He is the gift of God to us: God chose and anointed him, appointed him his work, and sent him into the world. And as it is God that gives, so it is God that accepts the Savior. He gives the purchaser, and he affords the thing purchased.

1. The redeemed have all from the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only-begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the excellency of what is given. The gift was infinitely precious, because it was of a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was of a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him. The benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal, misery, and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands.

2. We receive all from the power of God. Man’s redemption is often spoken of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace. The great power of God appears in bringing a sinner from his low state, from the depths of sin and misery, to such an exalted state of holiness and happiness.

Secondly, they are also dependent on God for all, as they have all through him. God is the medium of it, as well as the author and fountain of it. All we have, wisdom, the pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, acceptance into God’s favor, grace and holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, is from God by a Mediator; and this Mediator is God; which Mediator we have an absolute dependence upon, as he through whom we receive all. So that here is another way wherein we have our dependence on God for all good. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts his mediation, and of his power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator; but he the Mediator is God.

Thirdly, the redeemed have all their good in God. We not only have it of him, and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good.–The good of the redeemed is either objective or inherent. By their objective good, I mean that extrinsic object, in the possession and enjoyment of which they are happy. Their inherent good is that excellency or pleasure which is in the soul itself. With respect to both of which the redeemed have all their good in God, or which is the same thing, God himself is all their good.

1. The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling-place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the “river of the water of life” that runs, and “the tree of life that grows, in the midst of the paradise of God.” The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast.

2. The redeemed have all their inherent good in God. Inherent good is twofold; it is either excellency or pleasure. These the redeemed not only derive from God, as caused by him, but have them in him. They have spiritual excellency and joy by a kind of participation of God. They are made excellent by a communication of God’s excellency. God puts his own beauty, i.e. his beautiful likeness, upon their souls. They are made partakers of the divine nature, or moral image of God, 2 Pet. i. 4. They are holy by being made partakers of God’s holiness, Heb. xii. 10. The saints are beautiful and blessed by a communication of God’s holiness and joy, as the moon and planets are bright by the sun’s light. The saint hath spiritual joy and pleasure by a kind of effusion of God on the soul. In these things the redeemed have communion with God; that is, they partake with him and of him.

Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavor to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependence on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to exalt himself, and depend on his own power or goodness; as though from himself he must expect happiness. He is prone to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.–But this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone: as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), “God Glorified in Man’s Dependence” (sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:29-30, preached in Boston, July 8, 1731).

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On the Eternity and Extremity of Hell

557. ETERNITY OF HELL TORMENTS.

It is to be considered that the wicked in hell will forever continue sinning, exercising malice, and blaspheming, etc.; and ’tis surely therefore no wonder, that God should forever continue punishing. And if any think that ’tis incredible, that God should leave any to continue forever sinning as a punishment of their sins here, as a judicial consequence of their sins, let it be considered what have been the judicial consequences of that one sin of our first parents, their eating of the forbidden fruit: the corruption of the nature of all mankind, and all the actual sins that ever have been committed in the world of mankind, and all the temporal calamities that the world has suffered, the corruption and ruin the world has suffered, and all the punishments of sin in another world, whether they be eternal or no. If it be credible, that all these things should be the judicial consequences of that one sin, I don’t see why it should seem incredible, that God should eternally give a man up to sin for his own sin.

559. ETERNITY OF HELL TORMENTS.

If it be just in God, in judgment for one sin to lead to another, and yet just for him to punish both, then is it just with him to leave men to continue in sin to all eternity? For as long as they continue sinning, they continue deserving to be punished; and therefore, by the hypothesis, it still continues to be just to leave ’em to commit other sins, and so in infinitum.

574. ETERNITY OF HELL TORMENTS.

The wicked, when they are cast into hell, will continue sinning still. Yea, they will sin more than ever; their wickedness will be unrestrained. Such torments must needs be, to an unsanctified [mind], an occasion of a fearful exercise of enmity and rage against God. Therefore if it ben’t incredible that God should cast men into hell at all for the sins they have been guilty of in this life, then, seeing they continue sinning, ’tis not incredible that their misery there should be continued. For if we should suppose that the punishment that the sins of this life deserve is but finite, that it deserves only a temporary misery, yet while they are suffering that, they continue sinning still, and so contract a new debt; and again, while they are paying that, they contract another, and so on in infinitum.

572. EXTREMITY OF HELL TORMENTS.

This confirms it with me, that the misery is exceeding great, that God hath so every way contrived to glorify his Son as Savior, or hath so ordered in all respects that his salvation should be exceeding. Now a part of the gloriousness of his salvation consists in this, that ’tis salvation from so great misery; and the greater the misery, still the more glorious the salvation. Therefore I believe that God would so order it, that that misery should be very exceeding great.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), The Miscellanies: 501-832 or here.

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