Atonement, Christianity, Christology, doctrine, Edwards, evangelical, evangelism, God, Human, Hypostatic Union, Jesus, Jesus Christ, Jonathan Edwards, letters, Puritan, Religion and Spirituality, reverence, sin, Substitutionary Atonement, Vicarious Atonement, Worship
These selections, taken from a letter of Jonathan Edwards, speak for themselves.
“. . . Let us think, dear Madam, a little of the loveliness of our blessed Redeemer and his worthiness, that our whole soul should be swallowed up with love to him and delight in him, and that we should salve our hearts in him, rest in him, have sweet complacence and satisfaction of soul in his excellency and beauty whatever else we are deprived of. . . . He is called ‘the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of his person.’ He is the image and exhibition of the infinite beauty of the [Deity], in the viewing of which God the Father had all his infinite happiness from eternity. . . .
And infinite wisdom has contrived that we should behold the glory of the Deity in the face of Jesus Christ to the greatest advantage and in such a manner as should be most adapted to the capacity of poor feeble worms, and so as should tend most to engage and invite our attention, to encourage and allure our hearts and give us the most full and perfect acquiescence and delight.
For Christ by his incarnation having come down as it were from his infinite height above us, having become one of us, our kinsman and brother, and his glory shining to us through his human nature, the manifestation is marvelously qualified to suit the nature of human sight; the effulgence of his glory is attemptered to our sight.
He is indeed a person of infinite majesty to fill our souls with the greatest reverence and adoration. But there is nothing in it that needs to terrify us.
For his infinite majesty is joined with as it were infinite meekness, sweet condescension and humility.So that in the whole there is nothing terrifying or forbidding.
There may be the utmost possible reverence and abasement and at the same time our hearts be drawn most sweetly and powerfully to the most free access, the most intimate embrace.
When we view his greatness and majesty and other attributes, we are kept free from fear and flight by the view of his gentleness and humility.
And when we view his marvelous love and abasement and are encouraged and comforted with that, we are kept from an indecent familiarity by the view of his infinite majesty.
And by all together we are filled with most reverential love, humble boldness and familiarity, delightful adoration, and sweet surprise.
The glory of Christ is properly, and in the highest sense, divine. He shines in all the brightness of glory that is the Deity, who is light, a luminary infinitely bright. Such is the exceeding brightness of this Sun of Righteousness, that the brightness of the natural sun is as darkness in comparison of it, yea, black as sackcloth of hair. . . . But although his light is so bright and his beams go forth infinite strength, yet as they proceed from Christ in the character of the Lamb of God and shine through his meek and lowly humanity, they are infinitely gentle and mild, not dazzling and painful to our feeble eyes, but vivifying an healing, like smooth ointment or a gentle eye salve. . . .
¶”But especially are the beams of Christ’s glory infinitely softened and sweetened by . . . his love, his unparalleled, dying love.. . . His loveliness and his love have both their greatest and most affecting manifestation in those sufferings he endured for us at his death.
Therein above all appeared his holiness, his hatred of sin, and his love to God in that when he desired to save sinners, rather than that a suitable testimony should not be borne against it, he would submit that strict justice should take place in its condemnation and punishment in his own soul’s being poured out in death (Rom 8:3).
And such was his regard to God’s honor that, rather than that desired happiness of himself should injure it, he would give up himself a sacrifice for sin.
Thus in the same act he appears in the greatest conceivable manifestation of his infinite hatred of sin and also infinite grace and love to sinners. . . . .
¶”And now let it be considered what circumstances our Redeemer now is in.
He was dead but is alive, and lives forevermore. Death may deprive of dear friends, but it can’t deprive us of this, our best friend.
And we have this friend, this might Redeemer, to go to under all affliction, who is not one that can’t be touched withe feeling of our afflictions, he having suffered far greater sorrows than we ever have done.
And if we are vitally united to him, the union can never be broken; it will remain when we die and when heaven and earth are dissolved.
Therefore, in this we may be confident, we need not fear though the earth be removed. In him we may triumph with everlasting joy; even when storms and tempests arise we may resort to him who is an hiding place from the wind and a covert from the tempest.
When we are thirsty, we may come to him who is as rivers of waters in a dry place. When we are weary, we may go to him who is as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
Having found him who is the apple tree among the trees of the wood, we may sit under his shadow with great delight and his fruit may be sweet to our taste. Christ told his disciples that in the world [they] should have trouble, but says he, ‘In me ye shall have peace.’
If we are united to him, our souls will be like a tree planted by a river that never dieth.
He will be their light in darkness and their morning star that is a bright harbinger of day.
And in a little [while], he will arise on our souls as the sun in full glory. And our sun shall no more go down, and there shall be no interposing cloud, no veil on his face or on our hearts, but the Lord shall be our everlasting light and our Redeemer, our glory.
Jonathan Edwards to Lady Mary Pepperrell, Stockbridge, November 28, 1751, in Letters and Personal Writings, vol. 16 of Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 414-9. Online.