Resolved, to strive to my utmost every week to be brought higher in religion, and to a higher exercise of grace, than I was the week before.
Jonathan Edwards’ aim here is to be brought higher in religion. Before we unload all of our baggage from the word ‘religion’, we must see that the word ‘religion’ in his day meant Biblical Christianity and nothing more. It didn’t have the fowl connotations that it has today at all. I’m glad that he further explains himself in the next phrase as to what he means by ‘religion’. Being brought higher in ‘religion’ to him meant that he wanted to be brought to a higher experience and exercise of grace.
That’s interesting isn’t it? Out of all the things he could have said here, he chooses grace? He could have said that he wanted a higher discipline, a higher study, a higher prayer life, a higher conviction, a higher allegiance, a higher honor, a higher preaching, a higher pastoring; many things could have been said there. But he chose grace, why? Because that is what Christianity calls its followers to, grace.
Paul did this same thing when he was instructing Timothy. 2 Timothy 2:1 says, “My son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul, before Edwards, chose to instruct and call Timothy toward a higher grace. The woman at the well met a Man who told her all the things she had ever done, and then gave her grace (John 4:1-26). What did she do in return? She went and invited more people to come and see this grace (John 4:27-45)! Christianity is the sole source of grace on the planet. How can I make such a claim? Because Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is the only One full of grace and truth.
Edwards loved this fact, and wanted to sink deeper into that grace week by week and called a deeper exercise in “religion.” Do you know this grace? It (or should I say HE as in Jesus) is not far from any of us.