12 October 2010

Jonathan Edwards, Theologian of Love

'A Divine and Supernatural Light,' 'God Glorified in Man's Dependence' and 'Heaven Is a World of Love' are classics, wonderful, and hard to beat, but my favorite Edwards sermon so far is 'The Spirit of the True Saints Is a Spirit of Divine Love,' based on 1 John 4:16. Deeply moving, and igniting of all sorts of longings and joys. The sermon also expresses as well as any the couple of themes most central, in my opinion, to the heart of Edwards' theology and ministry.

It's included in the second of the two volumes of sermons transcribed by Michael McMullen and published by B&H.

Here are a few extracts. Best read slowly.
The soul of the true saint longs to see more of God, the glory of God, and the beauty of Jesus Christ. . . . The soul of the saint longs to be like God, to have more of God in his heart . . . longs to have communion with him and can't be satisfied with anything short of the full enjoyment of God. (p. 303)

The joy that a saint has in God and in a Redeemer is unspeakable. The unspeakableness of it seems to be a special property that belongs to it. There are no words to express that kind of sweetness or humble exultation that arises from the sensible presence of God to the soul that is filled with divine love. (304)

The very nature of God is love. If it should be enquired what God is, it might be answered that he is an infinite and incomprehensible fountain of love. (305)

This divine principle [of love] is a lamp, a sacred flame lit up in the soul. (309)

What more pleasant life can there be than a life of love? (310-11)

Light is not true that is not accompanied with love. Light without warmth is false light. (312)

There is nothing so contrary to the nature of the devil as love, for he is a spirit who is full of malice. He can easier imitate what is in the head than what is in the heart. (314)

He who turns and chooses Christ, Christ will not reject him. That is all that Christ waits for--to have sinners willing. (316)

The heart of a godly man doth freely choose God and Christ for his portion. Take away all torment and set hell aside and he could and might have his choice and he would choose God rather than anything else. If the godly man might have his choice either to live always in this world in the enjoyment of all manner of worldly prosperity or else in God's time die and go to heaven to dwell forever there in the enjoyment of God and Jesus Christ, he would choose the latter. (324)

He who has true divine love desire[s] to be emptied of himself that God may fill him. He loves to renounce his own honor that Gd may have honor. He loves to renounce his own righteousness that God may have glory. He loves to be low that God may be high. (325)

They who love God set their hearts on the secret of happiness which will never fail them, and they will be happy to all eternity in spite of death and hell. (328)

He who has divine love in him has a wellspring of true happiness that he carries about in his own breast, a fountain of sweetness, a spring of the water of life. There is a pleasant calmness and serenity and brightness in the soul that accompanies the exercises of this holy affection. (332)

Labor to live a life of love. (333)

God has been great to many earthly princes in the outward possessions and riches and honor to which he has advanced them. But God has done more for you than for all the kings and potentates of the earth met together in that outward glory. Their towns and kingdoms are but dirt and dung in comparison of what God has given to you. (338)

God in Christ allows such little, poor creatures as you are to come to him, to love communion with him, and to maintain a communication of love with him. You may go to God and tell him how you love him and open your heart and he will accept of it. . . . He is come down from heaven and has taken upon him the human nature in purpose, that he might be near to you and might be, as it were, your companion. (339)

Let these considerations influence you to the love of God and Jesus Christ, to love them with a superlative and love nothing contrary to them, and love nothing above them, and love nothing equal to them, and love nothing along with them with any parallel love. And express your love by doing for them, by being willing all your days to labor and suffer for the glory of God. (341)


Matti said...

Wow, Edwards has unique ability to say things attractingly.

So this sermon is not available anywhere on the web yet? Not even JEC Online?

Dane Ortlund said...

Hi Matti. Maybe I'm wrong and if so I hope someone will point it out, but I don't think this sermon is included in the Yale edition of JE's works.