I’ve determined that as much as one enjoys trampling through the sweltering humid triple-digit summers of the South-east in a long-sleeve shirt, battling mosquitoes and fire-ants (through the sting of sweat in one’s sun-glassed eyes); as much as one enjoys reaching through the briars and the brambles, deep into bushes where the rabbits only go; as much as one enjoys the pain of berry-picking for the sole purpose gaining the pleasures of those berries pick’d, so one enjoys the pain and pleasure of reading Jonathan Edwards. Each time I sit down with my big book of Edwards (pick a volume), I brace myself for the next plunge into the briar patch.
While taking a short quote from Edwards is near impossible, here are some points that left their deep scratches on me. Here’s a peek into my berry-bucket: in the first set, are some selected points concerning judgment; in the second set, some just should either quit going to church . . . or start going.
From his sermon on “The Final Judgment: The World Judged Righteously by Jesus Christ,” Section II contains the following points:
- The Reason for Judgment: to display God’s majesty and glorify His righteousness. When man is called to give account, the justice of God will be most glorious; giving to every person what is due by His righteousness--every objection removed, every conscience satisfied, every blasphemy silenced and every reason for praise by saints and angels discovered.
- “[T]he irregularities which are so open and manifest in the world, should, when the world comes to an end, be publicly rectified by the supreme governor . . . . This world is a world for confusion. It has been filled with irregularity and confusion ever since the fall. And the irregularities of it are not only private, relating to the actions of particular persons, but states, kingdoms, nations, churches, cities, and all societies of men in all ages, have been full of public irregularities. The affairs of the world, so far as they are in the hands of men, are carried on in the most irregular and confused manner. Though justice sometimes takes place, yet how often do injustice, cruelty, and oppression prevail!”
- “By a public and general judgment, God more fully accomplishes the reward he designs for the godly, and punishment he designs for the wicked.” Read Esther 6 and 7 to catch a glimpse of how this will look.
Section III describes the role of Christ in judgment: “Why is Christ appointed to judge the world rather than the Father or the Holy Ghost?”
- He’s Man Enough [again, mine] “He who is in the human nature, should be the judge of those who are of the human nature.” Really think that one over—sort of makes you want to think twice about the way we carry on in life, doesn’t it? We, who have bodies, will on the Day of Judgment stand before the glorified man Jesus, who we will see with our eyes and hear with our ears the Supreme Judge.
- “Christ has this honor of being the judge of the world given him, as a suitable reward for his sufferings.” Once He lived and moved among men in veiled glory will now be seen unveiled and full of glory—those who spat upon Him will see Him as those who love Him will see Him.
- “It is needful that Christ should be the judge of the world, in order that he may finish the work of redemption . . . . Raising the saints from the dead, judging them, and fulfilling the sentence is part of their salvation. And therefore it was necessary that Christ should be appointed judge of the world, in order that he might finish his work (John 6:39, 40, chap. 5:25-31).”
- “It was proper that he who is appointed king of the church should rule till he should have put all his enemies under his feet. In order to which, he must be the judge of his enemies, as well as of his people.”
- Saints Need Him to Be Judge [me, again]. “It is for the abundant comfort of the saints that Christ is appointed to be their judge. The covenant of grace, with all its circumstances, and all those events to which it has relation, is every way so contrived of God, as to give strong consolation to believers: for God designed the gospel for a glorious manifestation of his grace to them. And therefore everything in it is so ordered, as to manifest the most grace and mercy.”
- “That Christ is appointed to be the judge of the world will be for the more abundant conviction of the ungodly. It will be for their conviction that they are judged and condemned by that very person whom they have rejected, by whom they might have been saved, who shed his blood to give them an opportunity to be saved, who was wont to offer his righteousness to them, when they were in their state of trial, and who many a time called and invited them to come to him, that they might be saved.”
I was listening to a radio program where it was cited that attending a church service at least once a month is considered “normal.” Yikes! From his sermon, “A Warning to Professors; or, The Great Guilt of Those who Attend on the Ordinances of Divine Worship, and Yet Allow Themselves in any Known Wickedness,” Edwards gives us this doctrine: “When they that attend the ordinances of divine worship allow themselves in known wickedness, they are guilty of dreadfully profaning and polluting those ordinances.” Those who make a show of wicked living both before and after attending a wedding, baptism, communion, prayer, singing praise, hearing preaching, attending confession, receiving admonition, excommunication, even participating in government, are guilty of irreverence and contempt of God, of mocking God, allowing what is holy to be made common, and giving other wicked people reason to do the same.
Here are some questions for self-examination Edwards has designed. I present them in bullet-form for easier consideration (like being whacked in the face with a tree-branch):
- Do you not even the same day that you come into God’s house, and to his ordinances, allow yourselves in known sins?
- Do you not with consent and approbation think of the sinful practices, in which you allow yourselves, and in which you have been exercising yourselves in the week past?
- Do you not the very day in which you attend ordinances, allowedly please and gratify a wicked imagination?
- And are you not then perpetrating wickedness in your thoughts, and contriving the further fulfillment of your wickedness?
- Yea, are you not guilty of these things sometimes even in the very time of your attendance on ordinances, when you are in the immediate presence of God?
- And while others have immediate intercourse with God, and you likewise pretend to the same?
- Do you not, even in these circumstances, allow yourselves in wicked thoughts and imaginations, voluntarily wallowing in known wickedness?
- Are not some of you guilty of allowedly breaking God’s holy Sabbath, in maintaining no government of your thoughts, thinking indifferently about anything that comes next to mind; and not only thinking, but talking too about common, worldly affairs?
- And sometimes talking in such a manner, as is not suitable even on other days, talking profanely, or in an unclean manner, sporting and diverting yourselves in such conversation on God’s holy day?
“Yea, it is well if some have not been thus guilty in the very time of attendance on the ordinances of worship. Examine yourselves, how it has been with you.”
God forgive our softening.