We have a custom in our country, and rightly so, of honoring the birthdays of notable Americans. There should be a Jonathan Edwards Day today. On October 5th, 1703 was born one who would become the most mind-informing, heart-enflaming theologian America has ever known.
Now, while I do not anticipate an official declaration of Jonathan Edwards Day, I think it entirely appropriate here at TLR that we initiate a regular feature on JE. Beginning today and proceeding each week in time for Tuesday mornings, I will post a new sermon link from JE’s corpus, along with my own sermon outlines, assorted references to his writings that correlate with each respective sermon, along with other tidbits related to my work in JE. Think of it as a sort of weekly guided JE sermon reading. So, if you are sitting at Starbuck’s wishing you could look as avant-garde as one of those skinny-jeans wearing wounded poets reading blogs on Postmodern literary theory, you can order your mocha latte and curl up with JE. You can even dispense with the skinny-jeans and soul patch.
Seriously, I have long found the work of JE to be of inestimable worth to my, at times, battered and wandering soul. For the better part of two decades, he has been teaching me to prize God as the “cream of all my pleasures, taste the “sweetness of Jesus,” and love the “beauty of holiness.”
Before we jump into our first sermon, if you are interested in seminary study, I will be teaching a week-long intensive course, The Life and Theology of Jonathan Edwards at RTS-Charlotte, Jan. 24-28, 2011. For more information, go to:
Now, let’s jump into our reading of JE sermons together. Our inaugural sermon, God Glorified in Man’s Dependence, while JE’s first published piece of work (1731), is a stunning, eloquent, theological trenchant, and warmly trinitarian sermon. Preached first in Northampton in the fall of 1730, he again delivered it in July of 1731 at a gathering of Boston ministers. His masterful use of the theo-logic of the doctrine of the Trinity to establish his argument against an Arminian definition of the will in salvation must have been a provocative preachment at that assembly. This Trinitarian view of salvation comports with an earlier post on TLR: #mce_temp_url#
I will usually follow the order of sermons as presented in the standard Hickaman edition of the works of JE, as many of you will have easy access to this two-volume set. However, I will also try to locate the sermon for you online, as well as, in the Yale Edition of the Works of JE. I hope you enjoy these outlines for your personal reading of JE’s sermons each week. Or, you could use these posts as resource material for a JE reading group with some friends.
God Glorified in Man’s Dependence (Hickman, 2.2-7; Yale, 17.196-216; JECOnline, #mce_temp_url#
SERM. I. God glorified in Man’s Dependence – 1Co 1:29-31
God desires the redeemed to glory only in him, and this is accomplished because man’s redemption is dependent upon God alone. All our good is summed up in wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and this is through Christ and faith in him, both of which are gifts from God. Each member of the Trinity is necessary for this: Father (provider), Son (provision), Holy Ghost (permeation).
I. We are directly, immediately, and entirely dependent upon God.
1) God is the cause of the good of the redeemed.
He gives a Redeemer.
He gives us faith, and by this “all the benefits Christ has purchased.”
He gives the redeemed their “true excellency, wisdom, and holiness” in two ways: the Holy Spirit sent from God, and the Holy Spirit as God.
He gives the Scriptures, ordinances, and ministers.
He gives grace that we need more than we did before the fall when we were simply to keep the covenant of works.
He gives holiness, which is more of grace than before the fall because there is more opposition within us against him now.
He gives his power for our conversion and ultimate perfection.
2) God is the One through whom the good of the redeemed comes.
God not only gives us a Mediator, he is the Mediator through whom we are accepted. “God is both purchaser and price.”
We are more immediately dependent upon God for our righteousness than before the fall.
3) God is the One in whom all the redeemed have their good.
Our objective good is in God (the beauty that entertains our minds).
Our inherent good is in God (the beautiful likeness of God upon our souls).
“The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant, is a vital principle in the soul.” This is the source of fruit.
God is purchaser, price, and the good purchased. He gives us himself!
II. Our dependency glorifies God.
1) This dependency produces a greater occasion for us to own and observe all the perfections of the three members of the Trinity.
Man will not esteem that upon which he does not depend.
It would be unreasonable and ungrateful not to acknowledge his perfections since we so depend on them.
2) This dependency produces a Creator/creature distinction.
Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves (Inst., I.I.1).
Again it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself. For we always seem to ourselves righteous and upright and wise and holy – this pride is innate in all of us – unless by clear proofs we stand convinced of our own unrighteousness, foulness, folly, and impurity (Inst., I.I.2).
Use: 1) We learn more about the work of the Trinity, 2) We are better able to discern doctrinal error, “No whatever scheme is inconsistent with our entire dependence on God for all, and of having all of him, through him, and in him, it is repugnant to the design and tenor of the gospel, and robs it of that which God accounts its lustre and glory.” 3) Faith is a “sensible” instructor, 4) The relationship between glory and hope.
M (Miscellanie) 270
The End for Which God Created the World, I.III
History of the Work of Redemption, “Improvement of the Whole,” VI