Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Safety, Fullness, and Sweet Refreshment in Christ

From Altogether Lovely (Jonathan, Edwards. Altogether Lovely Jonathan Edwards on the glory and excellency of Jesus Christ. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997. 81-114)

Having given a general idea of the aims Edwards has is this sermon here, I'll move on to his first proposition. The first proposition is stated, "There is in Christ Jesus abundant foundation of peace and safety for those who are in fear and danger" (84). Edwards contends that there are two kinds of fears which men can be afflicted with; temporal and eternal. Temporal evils, of which men are afraid, can be dealt with: "But Christ is a refuge in all trouble; there is a foundation for rational support and peace in him, whatever threatens us. He, whose heart is fixed, trusting in Christ, need not be afraid of any evil tidings. "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so Christ is round about them that fear him" (84). Though these fears are real and significant, Edwards definitely emphasizes the spiritual fears over the temporal ones.

He writes, "But it is the other kind of fear and danger to which we have a principal respect; the fear and danger of God's wrath. The fears of a terrified conscience, the fearful expectation of the dire fruits of sin, and the resentment of an angry God, these are infinitely the most dreadful. If men are in danger of those things, and are not asleep, they will be more terrified than with the fears of any outward evil. Men are in a most deplorable condition, as they are by nature exposed to God's wrath; and if they are sensible how dismal their case is, will be in dreadful fears and dismal expectations" (84) It is key to note that men who do not know Christ may not fear God's wrath, but that is only because they are 'asleep' and not 'sensible' to their condition.

Regardless of the fear, temporal or spiritual, Edwards is confident that "there is abundant foundation for peace and safety in Jesus Christ". (85) He preaches several things in which Christ's provision for peace and safety can be seen:
  1. Christ has undertaken to save all such from what they fear, if they come to him.
  2. He is chosen and appointed of the Father to this work.
  3. If we are in Christ Jesus, justice and the law have its course with respect to our sins, without our hurt.
  4. Those who come to Christ, need not be afraid of God's wrath for their sins; for God's honour will not suffer by their escaping punishment and being made happy.
  5. Christ is a person so dear to the Father, that those who are in Christ need not be at all jealous of being accepted upon his account.
  6. God has given an open testimony that Christ has done and suffered enough, and that he is satisfied with it, by his raising him from the dead.
  7. Christ has the dispensation of safety and deliverance in his own hands, so that we need not fear but that, if we are united to him, we may be safe.
  8. Christ's love, and compassion, and gracious disposition, are such that we may be sure he is inclined to receive all who come to him. (85-91)

In the next post we will look into how Edwards reflects on the above points.

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