02 May 2013

How Rich and Adequate Is the Provision

What do you say to a woman whose only son has just died? Nothing, at first. We weep with those who weep. But if they ask for counsel there is one thing above all else we can do: point to Christ, the great Sympathizer and Lover of the grieving. This is what Jonathan Edwards did for six pages in a 1751 letter to Mary Pepperrell, whose son had just died.

Those who know something of Edwards' life will note that hell had just recently broken loose over his own life.
We see then, dear Madam, how rich and how adequate is the provision, which God has made for our consolation, in all our afflictions, in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially, when it is considered, what were the ends of this great manifestation of 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 to impart everlasting consolation. He was oppressed and afflicted, that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death, that we might have the light of life. He was cast into the furnace of God's wrath, that we might drink of the rivers of his pleasures. His soul was overwhelmed with a flood of sorrow, that our hearts might be overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

Death may deprive us of our friends here, but it cannot deprive us of our best Friend. . . . Therefore, in this we may be confident, though the earth be removed, in him we shall triumph with everlasting joy. Now, when storms and tempests arise, we may resort to him, who is a hiding-place from the storm, and a covert from the tempest. When we thirst, we may come to him, who is as rivers of water in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to him, who is as a shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
--Jonathan Edwards, in Michael Haykin, ed., A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards (Reformation Heritage, 2007), 129-30

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