Category Archives: Jonathan Edwards

Spiritual Pride

“Spiritual pride is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christianity.  It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit, to darken the mind and mislead the judgment.  It is the main source of all the mischief the devil introduces, to clog and hinder a work of God.

Spiritual pride tends to speak of other persons’ sins with bitterness or with laughter and levity and an air of contempt.  But pure Christian humility rather tends either to be silent about these problems or to speak of them with grief and pity.  Spiritual pride is very apt to suspect others, but a humble Christian is most guarded about himself.  He is as suspicious of nothing in the world as he is of his own heart.  The proud person is apt to find fault with other believers, that they are low in grace, and to be much in observing how cold and dead they are and to be quick to note their deficiencies.  But the humble Christian has so much to do at home and sees so much evil in his own heart and is so concerned about it, that he is not apt to be very busy with other hearts.  He is apt to esteem others better than himself.”

Jonathan Edwards, Works (Edinburgh, 1979), I:398-400. Style updated.

HT: Ray Ortlund, Jr.

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Reviving Previous Posts: Edwards on Preaching & Prayer

In light of a full-week, I have decided to repost a couple of things I posted last year concerning Jonathan Edwards on preaching and prayer. They were written in my attempt to digest the things I was learning from reading what other men have written on Edwards’ ministry. For the sake of convenience, I have combined those posts into two pdfs, one on preaching and the other on prayer. Enjoy…

  • Edwards on Preaching: This is my summary of John Piper’s The Supremacy of God in Preaching where he draws forth 10 principles of preaching as demonstrated by the ministry of Jonathan Edwards.
  • Edwards on Prayer: This is my summary of ideas taken from Edwards’ sermon on Psalm 65 regarding prayer, along with Glenn Kreider’s analysis of that sermon.

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Resolution #28: Edwards & Scripture

Jonathan Edwards:

“Resolved, to study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”

His other resolutions are worth reading as well (all 70 of them).

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Edwards on Preaching (Part 3)

As stated in the previous two posts, John Piper distills ten habits of preaching that made Jonathan Edwards an effective preacher of the gospel.  He was a powerful instrument in the hand of God as he sought to make God supreme in all of his preaching.  By comparison, I am an extremely poor communicator with a relatively immature view of God.  However, I would be blessed should God grant that I become even half as faithful in proclaiming the gospel as the late Edwards.  For the benefit of others, I have summarized Piper’s analyses in my own words.

7. Probe the Workings of the Heart:

All true preaching seeks to move the heart for that is where the sinner has turned from God.  Piper writes, “Powerful preaching is like surgery.  Under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, it locates, lances, and removes the infection of sin.”  Since is like a cancerous gangrene eating away the soul of man, and without radical amputation it will destroy every one of us.  The Holy Spirit penetrates the hardness of our hearts and removes the heart of stone in order to replace it with a heart of flesh.  The Holy Spirit makes us sensitive to the things of God.  I heard a preacher once say, “Hard preaching makes soft people.”  I think that’s very true.  Preaching hard truths in a loving, compelling way softens the hearts of people as the Holy Spirit does the work.

Jonathan Edwards was “convinced of the extraordinary deceitfulness of the heart” and how often its sinful appetites blind the mind and force it into complete subjection.  Jeremiah 17:9 informs us that the heart is more deceitful than we will ever realize, and that we should not trust it.  In fact, we are to trust the Lord rather than our own wisdom or ways.  A preacher should be well-acquainted with the deceitfulness of his own heart so that he may properly address the hearts of others.  Human beings are so often self-deceived, but the word of God shines a penetrating light upon the true nature of the heart as the Holy Spirit provides the power to change.  Preachers should endeavor to make it a life pursuit to study the human heart in light of Scripture in order to more effectively become “surgeons of the soul.”  “[Such preaching],” Piper writes, “uncovers the secret things of the heart.  And more than once it has led to great awakening in the church.”  With the light of Scripture, we must… Probe the heart. Probe the heart. Probe the heart.

8.  Yield to the Holy Spirit in Prayer:

Edwards delivered a sermon entitled “The Most High, a Prayer-Hearing God.”  In a previous post (Edwards on Prayer), I discussed some of Edwards’ thoughts on prayer: “God has been pleased to constitute prayer to be antecedent [coming before] to the bestowment of mercy; and he is please to bestow mercy in consequence of prayer, as though he were prevailed on by prayer.” Essentially, Edwards was saying that God has designed prayer to come before the deliverance of his mercy and it often seems that human prayer has the power to move the heart of God.  In reality, God has set his mercy up so that it is released to us through genuine, persevering prayer.  He rewards our faith with mercy even though we are entirely helpless and ill-deserving.

The preacher, of all people, must be a man of prayer.  He must labor diligently and dependently in prayer.  His preaching must be under the divine influence if it is to be powerful and effective.  Prayer should precede and accompany preaching that aims to move human hearts.  The Holy Spirit is the one who fills the heart with holy affections and the heart gives words to the mouth.  Edwards said, “When a person is in an holy and lively frame in secret prayer, it will wonderfully supply him with matter and with expressions… [in] preaching.”  He further remarked, “Ministers, in order to be burning and shining lights, should walk closely with God, and keep near to Christ… And they should be much in seeking God, and conversing with him by prayer, who is the fountain of light and love.”  Prayer, for the Christian and especially the preacher, should be as natural to us as breathing.  Edwards described it as “the breath by which the inward burnings of my heart had vent.”  Powerful preaching comes from persistent prayer that desperately pleads for the mercy of God to be delivered through the Spirit of power and love.

9. Be Broken and Tenderhearted:

“God is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).  The greatest knowledge of God comes through brokenness.  Brokenness demonstrates a recognition of our own helpless estate before God and our need for His mercy.  It shows a complete dependence on Him to lift us up with His tender hands.  John Piper writes that “Good preaching comes from a spirit of brokenness and tenderness.”  A heart that has been tenderized by the Lord will be able to lead others toward His tender embrace.  Jesus had great power and authority, but he was most attractive because he was “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).  His presence was restful for those who were completely restless and burdened with sin.

The preacher who is gripped by God’s grace will be filled with “a tender affection that sweetens every promise and softens with tears every warning and rebuke.”  The Spirit makes such tender-hearted preachers when He shows them the incredible realities of heaven and hell.  He is able to speak of such weighty matters with a sweet, yet intense soberness.  Edwards’ own words are most fitting here:

All gracious affections… are brokenhearted affections.  A truly Christian love… is a humble, brokenhearted love.  The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires: their hope is an humble hope; and their joy, even when it is unspeakable, and full of glory, is a humble, brokenhearted joy, and leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, and more like a little child and more disposed to an universal lowliness of behavior.

“Edwards was persuaded from Scripture that ‘gracious affections do not tend to make men bold, forward, noisy, and boisterous; but rather to speak trembling.’”  The Lord looks to those who are humble and contrite in spirit and tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2).  Preachers and teachers should be of such quality—humble-hearted in their spirits.  How shall it ever be seen in the congregation, if it is not exemplified by their pastor?  A preacher gripped by his own wretched depravity, his utter sinfulness, will be the first to run to Christ and plead with others to join him there.  It is in such hearts where Christ is “all in all” as He was intended to be.  As Piper has often said, it is Christ who will make us “lion-hearted and lamb-like.”

10.  Be Intense:

Intensity is attractive.  It’s also overwhelming.  It confronts us with the reality that something very important is before us.  The preaching of the gospel should leave an impression that something very great is at stake.  By its very nature, intensity demands attention.  In preaching, eternity is at stake for every soul that is present.  Such preaching requires an intensity that communicates passion.  Passion may not always appear as emotional enthusiasm; often it does not and should not.  Instead, passion is expressed in a raw seriousness, a blood-earnest desire to communicate a life-and-death reality.  Piper writes, “Lack of intensity in preaching can only communicate that the preacher does not believe or has never been seriously gripped by the reality of which he speaks—or that the subject matter is insignificant.”

Horatius Bonar, a pastor from the 19th Century wrote of “the kind of preachers God has been pleased to use to awaken his church through the centuries”:

They felt their infinite responsibility as stewards of the mysteries of God and shepherds appointed by the Chief Shepherd to gather in and watch over souls.  They lived and labored and preached like men on whose lips the immortality of thousands hung.  Everything they did and spoke bore the stamp of earnestness, and proclaimed to all with whom they came into contact that the matters about which they had been sent to treat were of infinite moment… Their preaching seems to have been of the most masculine and fearless kind, falling on the audience with tremendous power.  It was not vehement, it was not fierce, it was not noisy; it was far too solemn to be such; it was massive, weighty, cutting, piercing, sharper than a two-edged sword.

The gospel is too powerful and too important to be preached half-heartedly.  A man genuinely gripped by such truths will be unable to contain the intense passion that compels him to preach with a blood-earnest desire to see souls saved and made into the image of Christ Jesus.

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Edwards on Preaching (Part 2)

4. Employ Analogies and Images: Edwards believed that abstract words rarely kindled deep affections. As a result, “Edwards strained to make the glories of heaven irresistibly beautiful and the torments of hell look intolerably horrible.” Sermons that are rich in imagery often leave deep impressions upon the mind, and a lasting warmth to the heart. Not every preacher or teacher is gifted at creative imagery, but Edwards made it a laborious practice to find meaningful analogies. He observed life and nature so thoroughly that he was often able to find images and analogies that served to produce impressions comparable to reality. Most people, especially in our current media generation, struggle to understand abstract theories and need a concrete image to drive reality home to them.  An effective teacher or preacher will consider ways to paint an image with words in order to help the hearers grasp God’s truth.

5. Use Threat and Warning: “Edwards did know his hell, but he knew his heaven even better.” When one has a genuine understanding of the glories of heaven and the horrors of hell, there will be a blood-earnest desire to warn those who are apathetic about such realities. “Those who have the largest hearts for heaven shudder most deeply at the horrors of hell.” Jesus was not hesitant to threaten those who were headed for an eternity of destruction (Matthew 5:22; 5:30; 10:28). How can a preacher or teacher remain so silent about a topic that Jesus was so vocal?  “Hell awaits every unconverted person. Love must warn them with the threats of the Lord.”  The guilt and fear that are stirred up are appropriate when they correspond to the reality of things. There is nothing more loving than to expose the danger awaiting those who are unprepared and to call them to prepare themselves by embracing Christ. Ultimately, the goal is to draw people to the loveliness of Christ.  His loveliness will have an enduring attractiveness where “fire insurance” received out of an avoidance of hell will not compel the heart to radical obedience.  “Holy love and hope are principles vastly more efficacious upon the heart, to make it tender, and to fill it with a dread of sin… than [is] a slavish fear of hell.” Our purpose as preachers and teachers ought to be “to show the immeasurable riches of [God’s] grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

6. Plead for a response: When confronting people with the realities of heaven and hell, we should call them to examine their heart and respond to the gospel call. This is a decision of the heart, not a physical decision to walk down an aisle during an altar call. Edwards writes, “Sinners… should be earnestly invited to come and accept a Savior, and yield their hearts unto him, with all the winning, encouraging arguments for them… that the Gospel affords.” However, no sinner can come to God except God first draw him near (John 6:44).  When the preacher preaches, it is God alone who effects the results for which preachers long. Salvation and life change can come only through the work of the Spirit upon the heart of man.  However, that divine necessity does not rule out the preacher or teacher making an eager appel for sinners to respond.  God uses means to inspire faith (Rom. 10:17).

Edwards writes, “God is the only proper author and fountain; we only are the proper actors… God is said to convert [2 Tim. 2:25], and men are said to convert and turn [Acts 2:38]. God makes a new heart [Ezek. 36:26], and we are commanded to make us a new heart [Ezek. 18:31]. God circumcises the heart [Deut. 30:6], and we are commanded to circumcise our own hearts [Deut. 10:16]… These things are agreeable to that text, ‘God worketh in you both to will and to do.'”  Since the Spirit of God works within us for conversion and growth in godliness, the fruit of our salvation is that our lives are increasingly characterized by the fruit of that faith.  Piper concludes with, “Good preaching pleads with people to respond to the Word of God.”  Man can do nothing more than humbly respond to the Holy Spirit when confronted with the powerful word of God.

May the God of all grace give us a courageous spirit of power and love as He uses us to point others to Christ.

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Edwards on Preaching (Part 1)

John Piper has written a small, yet helpful book on The Supremacy of God in Preaching. In the book, Piper summarizes several characteristics of Jonathan Edwards’ preaching that serve to make God supreme. I will briefly summarize them, but a greater elaboration of the list is worth the price of the book.

1. Stir Up Holy Affections:

God-centered preaching aims to stir up “holy affections”–things like hatred for sin, delight in God, hope in His promises, gratitude for His mercy, desire for holiness, tender compassion toward His people.  Edwards suggests that ministers should be catalysts for stirring up affections in their hearers only with those things truly worthy of affection (i.e., the truths of God).  By aiming at the affections, preachers are seeking to hit the cause of behavior.  People will think, feel, believe, and behave according to what is most important to them.  Hence, the importance of stirring up holy affections so that the flame of the Holy Spirit might burn intensely within the heart of every believer.  Edwards writes, “Gracious and holy affections have their exercise and fruit in Christian practice.” In short, if the tree is good, the fruit will be good.  When God saves us, He gives us heart affections that delight in Him, depend on Him, and seek His glory above our own.  Therefore, the best preaching targets the heart for it is the wellspring of life and the fountain from which our words and behaviors overflow.

2.  Enlighten the Mind:

In preaching on John 5:35 about John the Baptist, Edwards emphasized that “a preacher must burn and shine.  There must be heat in the heart and light in the mind–and no more heat than justified by the light.” The preacher will be passionate about the truths that he professes, because the Holy Spirit has enlightened his mind to see their significance. The faithful preacher will seek to give his hearers “a good reason” and “just ground” for the affections that he is trying to stir up.  He neither manipulates the emotions nor ignores them. Through clear, distinct preaching, a preacher may enlighten the mind through the Holy Spirit’s application of divine truth. The truth gives light and sanctifies the understanding. Therefore, the preacher should exercise both heat and light in his private devotions and public preaching.  He should be a “burning and shining light” who aims to impact the head and the heart so that the exercise of passion is actually the exercise of thoughtful passion.  Drinking deeply of doctrine will result in an experience of deep delight in the person of God and the nature of His work in human lives.

3. Saturate with Scripture:

The power of great preaching is found in the word of God and the provision of the Holy Spirit.  Piper writes, “Good preaching is ‘saturated with Scripture’ and not ‘based on Scripture.'” It doesn’t just bounce off of the biblical text. Instead it marinates in it, bathes in it, churns in the crucible of its grinding power.  Piper writes, “Quote the text! Quote the text!  Quote the text!” People need to know where the ideas of the preacher are coming from in Scripture.  Edwards writes about Bible passages, “They are as it were the beams of light of the Sun of righteousness; they are the light by which ministers must be enlightened, and the light they are to hold forth to their hearers; and they are the fire whence their hearts and the hearts of their hearers must be enkindled.” I like that word, “enkindled.”  It gives me the image of stoking up the fires of the mind by stirring up the smoldering coals that God put there.  The fire came from heaven.  We just have to stir up the coals by preaching the text clearly and convincingly.

Edwards had a passion for knowing the word of God so intimately that he would almost “bleed Bible” as John Bunyan was said to have done: “Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly, and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive, myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.”  He consumed the text as though he were a starving man turned loose upon the feast.  May that be true of us as preachers, teachers, and lay ministers of His word.  Every believer is a starving man who ought to hunger after the feast waiting at his fingertips.  Edwards writes, “[Every preacher] must be well studied in divinity, well acquainted with the written word of God [and] mighty in the Scriptures.”

Father, we pray as both preachers and hearers to make us such men and women.  Ignite a holy fire in our souls, an eternal restlessness to know you, love you, serve you, and proclaim you.  Impassion our hearts, enlighten our minds, and make us mighty in the Scriptures.  These things we pray for they can only be accomplished through your Spirit as a result of our faith in your Son.  Thank you, Father.  You are more gracious than we deserve.  Amen

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Edwards on Prayer

Jonathan Edwards was a man of persistent prayer, and for that reason, he was a man of profound influence.  God graciously used him in the Great Awakening, a season of revival throughout the eastern portion of colonial America. He knew, both in theory and in practice, that God is a God who hears and answers prayer (Psalm 65:2).  In fact, he preached an excellent sermon on prayer entitled “The Most High: A Prayer-Hearing God,” that elaborates on this topic.

Edwards believed that God not only hears, but answers prayer because it is consistent with His character.  Since He is immeasurably gracious, He allows His creatures to come to Him so that He may receive the prayers of His people.  Here are some tasty morsels of Edwards’ thoughts on prayer:

“God manifests his acceptance of their prayers, by doing for them agreeably to their needs and supplications.  He not only inwardly and spiritually discovers his mercy to their souls by his Spirit, but outwardly by dealing mercifully with them in his providence, in consequence of their prayers, and by causing an agreeableness between his providence and their prayers.”

God demonstrates His mercy toward His children through the inner working of the Spirit and the outward provision of their needs through the gracious gifts of His providence.  And both of these point to the richness of His promises.

He allows us free access to His presence so that we “may come with boldness… [He] indulges all kinds of persons, of all nations… the most vile and unworthy: the greatest sinners are allowed to come through Christ.”  Beyond that, “He not only allows, but encourages and frequently invites them, yea, manifests himself as delighting in being sought to by prayer.”

It is the grace of God that makes us able to come before Him, and it is His grace that causes Him to delight in our coming.  He often gives good gifts that are far more gracious than we ever wanted or imagined.

God is, “as it were, overcome by prayer… In such cases, God is, speaking after the manner of men, overcome by humble and fervent prayer.  ‘The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,’ James 5;16.  It has a great power in it: such a prayer-hearing God is the Most High, that he graciously manifests himself as conquered by it.”

God has promised to be “moved” by our prayers.  This does not mean that God is persuaded by us, but rather He speaks in human terms that portray our prayers as the means by which He has chosen to deliver mercy to us.  Our prayers do not obligate God to us, but they demonstrate our dependence on Him and our willingness to submit to the kind intention of His heart. Whatever He has determined for us will come to pass, but He has promised to hear and answer our prayers according to our needs.  Thus, God is “overcome” by our prayers, in that He plants desires within us that He intends to provide for since He knows what we want and need before we even ask.  The struggle is knowing whether our desires are actually best for us (or simply tainted by sin), and in that regard we must submit to the One who knows all things infinitely more perfectly than we do.

God’s character is seen by the greatness of the things He has done in response to prayer.  When Jacob prayed, Esau’s heart was turned from vengeance (Gen. 32).  When Moses prayed, God brought terrible plagues on Egypt.  When Samson prayed, his strength was returned to him so that he was able to pull down the temple of Dagon on the Philistines.  When Joshua prayed, the sun stood still.  When Elijah prayed, it did not rain for three and a half years.  Then when Elijah prayed again, rain came.  When Asa prayed, God confounded the army of Zerah the Ethiopian (2 Chron. 14:9-12).  When Hezekiah prayed, God sent an angel to kill 185,000 of Sennacharib’s army (2 Kings 19:14-16, 19, 35).  God’s power has been demonstrated in many miraculous works in response to the prayers of His people.  God not only hears the cry of His people, but He hears their silent longings, as in the case of Hannah (1 Sam. 1:13) whose prayer was but in her heart.

God’s faithfulness to His covenant people, both corporately and individually, ought to be inspiring to us.  It ought to encourage and strengthen our faith, and it should compel us to ask for things that are in the interest of His kingdom. When God blesses His people individually, it is always in line with His plan of advancing His kingdom through the blessing of His people at large.  As God gives mercy to us, He intends for us to use it, not only for our own pleasure, but for the purpose of His greater glory. God gives us good gifts so that we might better worship Him, serve His church, and reflect His love to a lost and dying world.  He receives glory as we take satisfaction in giving Him that glory.

Prayer has two purposes, one with respect to God and the other with respect to us: “First, with respect to God, prayer is but a sensible acknowledgement of our dependence on him to his glory.” God’s people gain the opportunity to come to him in order to express their faith in His faithfulness.  “Second, with respect to ourselves, God requires prayer of us in order to the bestowment of mercy, because it tends to prepare us for its inception… Fervent prayer many ways tends to prepare the heart.  Hereby is excited a sense of our need, and of the value of the mercy which we seek, and at the same time earnest desires for it, whereby the mind is more prepared to prize it, to rejoice in it when bestowed, and to be thankful for it.  Prayer, with suitable confession, may excite a sense of our unworthiness of the mercy we seek.  And the placing of ourselves in the immediate presence of God, may make us sensible of his majesty, and in a sense fit to receive mercy of him.  Our prayer to God may excite in us a suitable sense and consideration of our dependence on God for the mercy we ask, and a suitable exercise of faith in God’s sufficiency, that so we may be prepared to glorify his name when the mercy is received.”

God uses prayer to draw us to Himself, and for that end He sometimes withholds provision for a season.  It deepens our trust in Him, and fuels our desire to receive that for which we pray.  It prepares our hearts in humility and dependence so that when the mercy is given, unending gratitude will flow from our hearts.  When a petition has been agonized over long enough, the provision of that petition leaves an indelible mark of gratitude impressed upon the petitioner’s heart. Such an attitude of thanksgiving in the light of mercy will lead our hearts toward an extravagant procession of praise and worship every time that object of mercy reminds us of God’s lovingkindness toward us.  Persistent prayer prepares our hearts for persistent praise.

Let us, therefore, continue to pray as we prepare our hearts to receive the things that God has so faithfully prepared in advance to give us.  He is merciful and has promised to bless His children in their time of need.  He does so more abundantly than we could ever ask or imagine, but He calls us to prayer as a demonstration of our dependence and faith. We must simply trust Him and be prepared to continue seeking His will above our own, and praise Him even when He provides in a way different than we desired.

Thomas Watson wrote from his own experience, “We aim at God’s glory when we are content that God’s will should take place though it may cross our own.” Prayer brings us into position to bow before the Sovereign Lordship of God so that He may do whatever He pleases in and through us for our greatest good and His ultimate glory.

Lord willing, the next post will consider a few reasons why God doesn’t always answer prayer in the manner that we desire, and how it often serves to bring more glory to His Namesake.  Until then, let us be men and women of prayer.

{1} Excerpts from Edwards were taken from Glenn Kreider’s “Jonathan Edwards’s Theology of Prayer” in Bibliotheca Sacra (Oct-Dec 2003).  Anything in quote boxes is either from Edwards or Kreider, and all other comments and conclusions are mine.

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The Greatest Is Love

The Greatest of These Is Love (1 Cor. 13:13):

“Love is the first outgoing of the renewed soul to God–“We love him, because he first loved us” [1 Jn. 4:19].  It is the sure evidence of a saving work of grace in the soul–“The fruit of the Spirit is love[Gal. 5:22].  It lies at the very foundation of Christian character; we are “rooted and grounded in love [Eph. 3:17].  It is the path in which all the true children of God are found; they “walk in love[Eph. 5:2]– the bond of their mutual union;  their hearts are “knit together in love [Col. 2:2] –their protection in the spiritual warfare; they are to put on “the breastplate of love [1 Thess. 5:8] –the fulness and completeness of their Christian character; they are “made perfect in love[1 Jn. 4:18]; –the spirit through which they may fulfill all the Divine acquirements; for love is the fulfilling of the law” [Rom. 13:10]; that by which they may become like their Father in heaven and fitted for his presence; for “God is love” [1 Jn. 4:8], and Heaven is a world of LOVE.”

*The following paragraph was written by Tryon Edwards, a grandson of Jonathan Edwards, in his introduction to Charity and Its Fruits, which was a series of lectures given by Jonathan Edwards on the nature and manifestations of love.

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Edwards on “Humility”

Love Requires and Produces Humility:

“If we love God as infinitely superior to ourselves, then love is exercised in us as infinite inferiors, and therefore it is an humble love… Divine love does not only imply humility in its nature, but also tends to cherish and produce it, and to call forth its exercises as consequences and fruits of love.” (Charity and Its Fruits, 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… The gospel leads us to love Christ as an humble person. Christ is the God-man, including both the divine and human natures; and so has not only condescension, which is a divine perfection, but also humility, which is a creature excellency.  Now the gospel holds forth Christ as one that is meek and lowly of heart… If we, then, consider ourselves as the followers of the meek and lowly and crucified Jesus, we shall walk humbly before God and man all the days of our life on earth.”  (Charity and Its Fruits, Edwards)

True or False Humility: Examine Yourself!!

“There are various imitations of [humility] that fall short of the reality.  Some put on an affected humility; others have a natural low-spiritedness, and are wanting in manliness of character; others are melancholy or despondent; others, under the convictions of conscience, by which, for the time, they are depressed, seem broken in spirit; others seem greatly abased while in adversity and affliction, or have a natural melting of the heart under the common illuminations of the truth; in others, there is a counterfeit kind of humility, wrought by the delusions of Satan: and all of these may be mistaken for true humility.  Examine yourself, then, and see what is the nature of your humility, whether it be of these superficial kinds, or whether it be indeed wrought by the Holy Spirit in your hearts; and do not rest satisfied, till you find that the spirit and behaviour of those whom the gospel accounts humble, are yours.”  (Charity and Its Fruits, Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth-1969, 153-54)

Cultivating a Heart and Life of Humility:

“Seek for a deep and abiding sense of your comparative meanness before God and man.  Know God.  Confess your nothingness and ill-desert before him.  Distrust yourself.  Rely only on God.  Renounce all glory except from him.  Yield yourself heartily to his will and service.  Avoid an aspiring, ambitious, ostentatious, assuming, arrogant, scornful, stubborn, wilful, levelling, self-justifying behaviour; and strive for more and more of the humble spirit that Christ manifested while he was on earth.  Consider the many motives to such a spirit… [Humility] is the attendant of every grace, and in a peculiar manner tends to the purity of Christian feeling.  It is the ornament of the spirit; the source of some of the sweetest exercises of Christian experience; the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God; the subject of the richest of his promises; the spirit with which he will dwell on earth, and which he will crown with glory in heaven hereafter.  Earnestly seek, then, and diligently and prayerfully cherish, an humble spirit, and God shall walk with you here below; and when a few more days shall have passed, he will receive you to the honours bestowed on his people at Christ’s right hand.”  (Charity and Its Fruits, Edwards, 155-56)

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