“In all your course, walk with God and follow Christ as a little, poor, helpless child, taking hold of Christ’s hand, keeping your eye on the mark of the wounds on his hands and side, whence came the blood that cleanses you from sin and hiding your nakedness under the skirt of the white shining robe of his righteousness.”
The more we believe our salvation is dependent on our own efforts, the less good we will do. The less we believe in the saving value of our good works, the more zealous we will be.
Or as someone else has said, ‘promoting good works depends on undermining belief in their efficacy.’
“true happiness … is to be come at in no other way than by bearing Christ’s cross by a life of self-mortification, self-denial and labor, and bearing all things for Christ.”
“Stoddard and his peers saw preaching hellfire as a matter of compassion. Given the reality of hell, it would be inhumane not to alert people to the horrible danger they were in.”
George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards: A Life, p. 120
Is your happiness and success the reason for the universe?
I think if you look at most peoples’ fundamental worldview, this is the unwavering assumption that goes unchallenged. The world is here for me. God primarily exists to make me happy and to keep me from anything that makes me sad. Religion is about using God to celebrate me. Church is useful so long as it pleases me.
But what if there is something bigger and more profound that lies at the center of everything than just you?
What if you weren’t the end, but instead the instrument?
Does the thought that you exist for something, someone else’s pleasure and glory excite you? Or does it scare you?
What scares me is sleepwalking through life, living in my own little fairy tale world. There is a blazing beauty that lies at the core of the universe and He is much more beautiful and important and worthy than me and my joy is wrapped up in centering my life on his joy, just like my pleasure in seeing Victoria Falls comes from actually looking at Victoria Falls and not my own reflection.
Good teachers are good illustrators. They find ways of making truth breathe.
Jonathan Edwards is no exception.
In his study of Edwards’ preaching, John Currick notes at least nine different kinds of illustrations he used in his preaching:
“If a minister has light without heat, and entertains his auditory with learned discourses, without a savour of the power of godliness, or any appearance of fervency of spirit, and zeal for God and the good of souls, he may gratify itching ears, and fill the heads of his people with empty notions; but it will not be very likely to reach their hearts, or save their souls. And if, on the other hand, he be driven on with a fierce and intemperate zeal, and vehement heat, without light, he will be likely to kindle the like unhallowed flame in his people, and to fire their corrupt passions and affections; but will make them never the better, nor lead them a step towards heaven, but drive them apace the other way.” J. Edwards