The Puritans: Jonathan Edwards, Part 3.

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:5-6). 

 There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellences in Jesus Christ. The lion and the lamb, though very diverse kinds of creatures, yet have each their peculiar excellences. The lion excels in strength, and in the majesty of his appearance and voice: the lamb excels in meekness and patience, besides the excellent nature of the creature as good for food, and yielding that which is fit for our clothing and being suitable to be offered in sacrifice to God. But we see that Christ is in the text compared to both, because the diverse excellences of both wonderfully meet in him.”                                                                       Jonathan Edwards

As all true believers in Christ discover, especially those engaged in full-time ministry, the Lord developed Edwards’s spiritual life by various testing’s and difficulties. Sometimes Edwards agonized over decisions; sometimes he suffered spells of exhaustion, depression, and serious illness. Often he faced problems and challenges in the pastorate as well as in his personal and family life. As a true Puritan, Edwards sought to discern the Providence of God in every event and to improve spiritually on all that he experienced: good or bad.

Edwards’s first publication was titled God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him in the Whole of It. Edwards wrote of faith as “a sensibleness of what is real,” and as an “absolute and universal dependence on God.”

Three years later, his publication Divine and Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted to the Soul by the Spirit of God described the work of true regeneration as producing a new “sense of the heart…above all others sweet and joyful.” This “new sense,” apprehended by faith, would become a key to Edwards’s theology.

Dr. Joel Beeke writes, “People who heard Edwards’s sermons undoubtedly appreciated them, yet Edwards was still left with the problem of promoting godliness in a congregation that seemed to be lapsing into spiritual indifference. To correct the errors into which some had fallen during the last years of Stoddard’s pastorate, Edwards focused his preaching in the early 1730s on common, specific sins. He urged people to repent and to embrace the gospel by faith. That theme was repeated in a series of sermons Edwards preached on justification by faith in 1734 (published in 1738 as Five Discourses on Important Subjects), which prompted a significant awakening at Northampton.

Those sermons would set the stage for the forthcoming revival known as The Great Awakening.

Soli deo Gloria!

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