On October 5, 1703 Jonathan Edwards was born, and today 313 years later we are thankful and grateful for his life and ministry.
It’s a shame that all most Americans know of the Puritans is a few excerpts from Jonathan Edward’s famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God. It’s a great sermon, don’t get me wrong, but most American history texts that mention the Puritans at all usually only have a paragraph or two of this sermon in it. Taken out of context then, most people today believe the Puritans to be those who aim to ‘squash the pleasure and delight of anyone anywhere who is having any amount of fun.’
Nothing could be further from the truth. A simple reading of the whole of this famous sermon from Edwards shows that the reason he spoke so horrifyingly of hell was because he believed heaven to be so gloriously wonderful. Yes, Jonathan Edwards and his Puritan companions, took great delight in the many thing. It’s just that the things they took delight in really matter. And perhaps this is why we don’t understand the Puritans today, because we seem to be bent on doing the opposite by taking delight in everything that doesn’t matter. When an infinite ocean of glory is before our eyes in the pages of sacred Scripture, we fiddle around with the latest iPhone or the latest TV show on HGTV. It would do us good to step back from the pressure our society places on us to always be up to par with the latest trends and step into the world of Jonathan Edwards.
Take a moment to absorb a few of his quotes:
“God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might be received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory doesn’t glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.”
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but the streams. But God is the ocean.”
“One new discovery of the glory of Christ’s face and the fountain of his sweet grace and love will do more towards scattering clouds of darkness and doubting in one minute than examining old experiences by the best mark that can be given a whole year.”
See the great delight this man took in God? No one talks like this anymore, and to me, that’s a shame. It’s a fresh breeze to my modern soul to see a man take such deep pleasure in God and His truth. I’m challenged and I’m comforted every time I open up a Puritan work, especially one by Edwards. This is why his picture is hanging on my wall, and this is why his work will always hold a special place in my heart (and should be in your heart as well!).
Today, on his 313th birthday, may you be refreshed by this giant among men. Here are some free resources on Edwards – enjoy!
Free Book: A God Entranced Vision of All Things
Free Book: God’s Passion For His Glory
Conference Message: Jonathan Edwards: The Life, the Man, and the Legacy
Podcast: Happy Birthday, Rev. Edwards
A Lecture Series: Jonathan Edwards
A George Marsden Lecture: Jonathan Edwards for the Twenty-first Century