Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More From Jonathan Edwards

At the request of the illustrious JIBBS, sidekick extraordinaire of the great Centurion, I have decided to post some more Jonathan Edwards for your edification.

The reason that I like this excerpt so much is because he scared me half to death with it.  I must admit, to my everlasting shame, that my prayer life is not what it ought to be.  Of course, I think most people feel the same, and that’s why Mr. Edward’s zeal for prayer and his condemnation for the lack thereof is so terribly frightening, yet it inspires you to hit your knees, and that's just what we need to do anyway.  Here he is in his own words:

I would exhort those who have entertained a hope of their being true converts—and who since their supposed conversion have left off the duty of secret prayer, and ordinarily allow themselves in the omission of it—to throw away their hope.  If you have left off calling upon God, it is time for you to leave off hoping and flattering yourselves with an imagination that you are the children of God.  Probably it will be a very difficult thing for you to do this.  It is hard for a man to let go a hope of heaven, on which he hath once allowed himself to lay hold, and which he hath retained for a considerable time.  True conversion is a rare thing; but that men should be brought off from a false hope of conversion—after they are once settled and established in it, and have continued in it for some time—is much more rare.

No translating this time, dear JIBBS.  This one’s easy enough.   (It was a sermon, so that makes it easier.)  This quote comes from his sermon VII, dated June 1740, and it is called “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer”.  I got it from Volume 2 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards published by Hendrickson Publishers.  Every once in a while, this two volume set of Edwards’ works goes on sale somewhere at a sweet price.  But if you invest in these wonderful tomes and use them as mere bookends or to up the intellectual clout of your library when friends come over, a pox upon you!

Here’s a question for you:  Do you see many mega-church gurus preaching this sort of gritty sermon?  I think not, and that’s why I love these old Puritans.  I’d like to say I’m a Puritan born out of time, but I’m not.  If I were born then, I’d still be the Barney Fife to Jonathan Edwards’ Andy.  So, I’m a second string dead Puritan dressed in the skin of a GenXer.  

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW...just WOW~! I think maybe we are not in awe enough of how mighty and just and worthy of worship God is. And how much we need not only the prayer as recommended, but the reminder of it as you so aptly put it here!

Seems he also wrote "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", right? At least I think it was him...remembering that as part of our textbook in high school (obviously a Christian high school). Some things one will always remember...at least as far as the emotions in reading or hearing such.
Elizabeth

ColinM said...

We read "Sinners in the Hands..." in my high school, and we were public. I think it may be standard fare for literature courses. However, ours taught that the Great Awakening was a "religious feeling" that swept across America.

I wonder what the church would look like if everyone obeyed the admonition to pray unceasingly. I often wonder how many think they can know God without sitting in His presence...