Jonathan Edwards

Please forgive me for the length of the following excerpt. And though it is long, I commend this brother’s message to you and boldness with God’s Word. In the Spirit of God’s Word in Hebrews 11, though he is dead, he still lives. May this serve as an admonishment to follow Christ with love, with passion, with zeal…

The Religious Affections, Part 3, Section 12

Christians in their effectual calling, are not called to idleness, but to labour in God’s vineyard, and spend their day in doing a great and laborious service. All true Christians comply with this call, (as is implied in its being an effectual call,) and do the work of Christians; which is every where in the New Testament compared to those exercises, wherein men are wont to exert their strength with the greatest earnestness, as running, wrestling, fighting. All true Christians are good and faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ, and fight the good fight of faith: for none but those who do so, ever lay hold on eternal life. Those who fight at those who beat the air, never win the crown of victory. They that run in a race, run all; but one wins the prize: and they that are slack and negligent in their course, do not so run, as that they may obtain. The kingdom of heaven is not to be taken but by violence. Without earnestness there is no getting along in that narrow way that leads to life; and so no arriving at that state of glorious life and happiness to which it leads. Without earnest labour, there is no ascending the steep and high hill of Zion; and so no arriving at the heavenly city on the top of it. Without a constant laboriousness, there is no stemming the swift stream in which we swim, so as ever to come to that fountain of water of life, that is at the head of it. There is need that we should watch and pray always, in order to our escaping those dreadful things that are coming on the ungodly, and our being counted worthy to stand before the Son of man. There is need of our putting on the whole armour of God, and doing all to stand, in order to our avoiding a total overthrow, and being utterly destroyed by the fiery darts of the devil. There is need that we should forget the things that are behind, and be reaching forth to the things that are before, and pressing towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, in order to our obtaining that prize. Slothful-ness in the service of God, in his professed servants, is as damning as open rebellion: for the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and shall be cast into outer darkness, among God’s open enemies. Matt. 25:26, 30. They that are slothful, are not followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises; Heb. 6:11, 12. “And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” And all they who follow that cloud of witnesses who are gone before to heaven, do lay aside every weight, and the sin that easily besets them, and run with patience the race that is set before them, Heb. 12:1. That true faith by which persons rely on the righteousness of Christ and the work he hath done for them, and truly feed and live upon him, is evermore accompanied with a spirit of earnestness in the christian work and course. Which was typified of old, by the manner of the children of Israel’s feeding on the paschal lamb; Exod. 12:11. “And thus shall ye eat it, with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand: and ye shall eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s passover.”

As I was being discipled, my teacher told me a sad story of when he was in the college ministry. In his early days as a Christian, a man said, “twenty years from now, half of the people in this room will not be seeking God.” He thought no way, but as time went on, he saw people cool off first hand. I was sobered up quickly.
“That’s scary,” I told him.
“That is scary.” He paused, “Run a little bit scared.”
“How do you know you’ll be having your quiet time in twenty years?” he asked.“Do it now?” I timidly returned.
“Have it today! If you have it today, you’ll have it tomorrow.”
One of the most unsettling things in the Christian walk is the falling away of trusted friends. We live our lives with them; we share our time with them; we open up our hearts to them. Then, slowly with some, instantly with others, we see signs of their disconnect with God. Some past grievance is not forgiven or a sin is justified; a root of bitterness springs up. They harden their hearts and justify more sin. Their tenderness and sensitivity dries up; it is only hurting me, they protest. They lash out and break contact, make false accusations, or grow cynical. In the end, only God knows the condition of their hearts and when or if they will ever return.
Here, in a sobering passage, Jonathan Edwards discloses how Satan goes about to make counterfeits of the most cherished commodities in the world- Christian love and humility. By showing that few take time to imitate that which is fake, but many to imitate that which is rare- gold, silver, diamonds, etc., he points out that there are indeed many fakes out there. A cubic zirconia may look like a diamond, but its treatment of the light within it shows it false. And with some, they cannot be seen as fake until they are held up to the Light over time, and the refraction of their hearts under that light exposes what is true.
Part II Section VI
It is no evidence that religious affections are saving, or that they are otherwise, that there is an appearance of love in them

“…It may be observed, that the more excellent any thing is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold, than of iron and copper: there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to counterfeit common stones? Though the more excellent things are, the more difficult it is to make any thing like them, in their essential nature and internal virtue; yet the more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will art and subtlety be exercised and displayed, in an exact imitation of the outward appearance. Thus there is the greatest danger of being cheated in buying medicines that are most excellent and sovereign, though it be most difficult to imitate them, with any thing of the like value and virtue, and their counterfeits are good for nothing when we have them. So it is with Christian virtues and graces; the subtlety of Satan, and men’s deceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in counterfeiting those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian especially appears…”