13 March 2010

Edwards: The Deceits of Pride

In June 1741 Jonathan Edwards wrote a letter to a recent convert, Deborah Hatheway. She had written Edwards seeking wisdom for how to live the Christian life. Edwards responded with 19 pieces of counsel. The letter became something of a classic--within 150 years, well over 300,000 copies had been printed.

The eighth piece of counsel is:

Remember that pride is the worst viper that is in the heart, the greatest disturber of the soul's peace and of sweet communion with Christ. It was the first sin committed and lies lowest in the foundation of Satan's whole building, and is with the greatest difficulty rooted out, and is the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts, and often creeps insensibly into the midst of religion, even, sometimes, under the disguise of humility itself.

--Michael Haykin, ed., A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards (Reformation Heritage 2007), 44-45

An ever-timely reminder for all of us.

One of the central contributions Edwards makes to those of us who long for a fresh work of God's Spirit is his repeated insistence that when renewal comes, it does not mainly generate outward passion and zeal; this is just as likely the devil as the Holy Spirit (Rom 10:2!). What is unmistakably from God, however, is gentleness, broken-heartedness; humility that is not showy. True godly affections, he says in Religious Affections, are tender, broken-hearted affections.

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