Thursday, December 10, 2020

Heroes of the Faith: Jonathan Edwards & David Brainerd

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.” – Psalm 16:11

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Cor. 10:31

Jonathan Edwards: Basic Facts

- Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a pastor and theologian in Massachusetts. He was an important figure in the “Great Awakening” revivals, and he is still regarded as one of the best theological minds that America has ever produced.

- He served as a pastor for more than two decades in Northampton, then as a missionary-pastor to Native Americans in the town of Stockbridge, and finally as the president of Princeton University.

- Although best-known now for his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” his most important contributions came from his theological reflections in books like Religious Affections and The End for Which God Created the World. Edwards is gaining renewed interest from the “Neo-Reformed” movement in present-day evangelicalism, largely through the ministry of Calvinist pastor/authors like John Piper.

A Selection of Edwards’ “Resolutions” (first composed when he was 19):

, That I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God’s glory for the whole of my duration.

Resolved, Never to lose one moment of time, but improve it the most profitable way I can.

Resolved, Never to do anything which I should be afraid to do if it were the last hour of my life.

Resolved, Never to do anything, which if I should see in another, I should count a just occasion to despise him for, or to think any way the more meanly of him.

Resolved, To study the Scriptures so steadily, constantly and frequently, as that I may find, and plainly perceive myself to grow in the knowledge of the same.

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.

Resolved, To ask myself at the end of every day, week, month and year, wherein I could possibly in any respect have done better.

Resolved, Never hence-forward to act as if I were my own, but entirely and altogether God’s.

Resolved, Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.

Resolved, After afflictions, to inquire, what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.

Theology & Quotes of Jonathan Edwards

The themes of Edwards’ work center on the glory and sovereignty of God, the beauty of His holiness, and our love and joy evoked in response to God.

“The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.”

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.”

“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, 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 streams, but God is the ocean.”

“But it is doubtless true, and evident from [the] Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love; and that in this divine affection, and an habitual disposition to it, and that light which is the foundation of it, and those things which are the fruits of it, consists the whole of religion.”

David Brainerd

David Brainerd (1718-1747) was a close friend of Jonathan Edwards. Despite struggling with chronic depression, illnesses, and many other difficulties, he committed himself to a life of mission service among the Native Americans. His journals were published by Edwards after his death, and they remain a classic of missionary literature. 

“Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God's glory!”

“Here am I, send me; send me to the ends of the earth; send me to the rough, the savage pagans of the wilderness; send me from all that is called comfort on earth; send me even to death itself, if it be but in Thy service, and to promote Thy kingdom.”