Regarding Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758): the interpretations perpetuated about this faithful man of God by some of his contemporaries and by some historians down through the centuries are indeed inaccurate. Some historians persist either in branding him as a fire-breathing pietistic preacher screaming out Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, or else totally misreading him as some sort of “Enlightenment man,” a rationalistic philosopher who imported secular thought into the Puritan commonwealth. (Obviously, these two characterizations are contradictory.)
The truth was actually quite simple: he was the man who wrote God Glorified in Man’s Dependence as his first major work, and he lived that way. He submitted his entire intellect, his entire reason, his entire emotions, his entire thought–indeed, his entire self–to the sovereignty of God. He truly lived and breathed in order to advance God's interests. That was what Edwards sincerely tried to do. He was a Puritan. Furthermore, his contemporary and friend Thomas Prince said that Edwards preached in a low, even voice. Though Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was a good, powerful, effective sermon, Edwards preached it as a “last-ditch” effort to try to affect some very hardened hearts that had resisted previous efforts at conversion. Rather, historians should focus more on another sermon more typical of Edwards: the wonderful, exceedingly cheerful work titled The Excellency of Christ (1738). Edwards’ major theme was God’s glory and excellence (think of his work A Dissertation Concerning the End for Which God Created the World, and A History of the Work of Redemption).
A later (1809) biographer (relying on even earlier biographical accounts) gave a description more accurate than those penned by some modern historians. That 1809 biographer, William Allen, said the following:
“EDWARDS (JONATHAN), president of the college in New Jersey [i.e., Princeton College], and a most acute metaphysician, and distinguished divine, [...] was born at Windsor, Connecticut, October 5, 1703. He was educated at Yale college, and took the degree of bachelor of arts in 1720 before he was seventeen years of age. His uncommon genius discovered itself early, and while yet a boy he read Locke on the human understanding with a keen relish. Though he took much pleasure in examining the kingdom of nature; yet moral and theological researches yielded him the highest satisfaction. He lived at college near two years after taking his first degree, preparing himself for the office of a minister of the gospel. In 1722 he went to New York, at the request of a small society of English presbyterians, and preached a number of months. In 1724 he was appointed a tutor in Yale college, and he continued in that office, till he was invited in 1726 to preach at Northampton, Massachusetts. Here he was ordained as colleague with his grandfather, the reverend Mr. [Solomon] Stoddard, February 15, 1727. In 1735 his benevolent labors were attended with very uncommon success; a general impression was made upon the minds of his people by the truths, which he proclaimed; and the church was much enlarged. He continued in this place more than twenty three years till he was dismissed in 1750. The circumstances which led to his dismission, were the following. Mr. Edwards, being informed of immoralities, in which some young persons, who were connected with the church, indulged themselves, thought that an inquiry should be made into their conduct. The church readily acknowledged the importance of strict discipline, and entered into the plan; but when the names of the persons accused were known, and it was found, that members of the principal families in the town were implicated, it was impossible to proceed. There were few in his church, who continued their zeal for discipline, when they perceived, that it would enter their own houses; and the hands of the immoral were strengthened by this defeat of an attempt to correct their errors and to bring them to repentance. After this event, which took place in 1744, Mr. Edwards’ usefulness in Northampton was almost destroyed. A secret dislike was excited in the minds of many, and it was soon blown into a flame. When he was settled in this town, he was not perfectly convinced of the correctness of the principle, which was supported by his colleague, the reverend Mr. Stoddard, that unconverted persons had a right in the sight of God to the sacrament of the Lord’s supper. After diligent inquiry he was convinced, that the principle was erroneous, and dangerous. His investigations led him to believe, that the supper was instituted for the true disciples of Jesus Christ; that none but such could have a right to it; and that none but those, who were considered as such, should be permitted to partake of it. Adopting these sentiments, he had the courage to avow them. He considered it as an inviolable duty ever to vindicate the truth. He knew the zeal of his people for their loose principles, and expected to see that zeal bursting upon him, if he should dare to stand forward in opposition to their long continued practice. He anticipated a dismission from Northampton, and a deprivation of the means of support. But in the full view of these consequences, he openly avowed his change of sentiment, cheerfully sacrificing every worldly interest to promote the purity of the church and the glory of the Redeemer. The evils, which he anticipated, came upon him. He was driven away in disgrace from a people, who once would almost have plucked out their eyes, and given them to him. They would not even hear him in his vindication. Mr. Edwards had been instrumental in cheering many hearts with the joys of religion, and not a few had regarded him with all that affectionate attachment, which is excited by the love of excellence and the sense of obligations, which can never be repaid. But a spirit of detraction had gone forth, and a few leading men of outrageous zeal pushed forward men of less determined hostility; and in the hopeless prospect of conciliation he was dismissed by an ecclesiastical council June 22, 1750.
“In this scene of trouble and abuse, when the mistakes and the bigotry of the multitude had stopped their ears, and their passions were without control, Mr. Edwards exhibited the truly Christian spirit. His calmness, and meekness, and humility, and yet firmness and resolution were the subjects of admiration to his friends. More anxious for his people, than for himself, he preached a most solemn and affecting farewell discourse. He afterwards occasionally supplied the pulpit at times, when no preacher had been procured; but this proof of his superiority to resentment or pride, and this readiness to do good to those, who had injured him, met with no return, except a vote of the inhabitants, prohibiting him from ever again preaching for them. Still he was not left without excellent friends in Northampton, and his correspondents in Scotland, having been informed of his dismission, contributed a considerable sum for the maintenance of his family.
“In August 1751 he succeeded the reverend Mr. Sergeant as missionary to the Houssatonnoc Indians at Stockbridge in Berkshire county, Massachusetts. Here he continued six years, preaching to the Indians and the white people; and as he found much leisure he prosecuted his theological and metaphysical studies, and produced works, which rendered his name famous throughout Europe. Thus was his calamitous removal from Northampton the occasion, under the wise providence of God, of his imparting to the world the most important instructions, whose influence has been extending, and whose good effects may still be felt for ages. In January 1758 he reluctantly accepted the office of president of the college in New Jersey [i.e., Princeton College], as successor to his son in law, the reverend Mr. [Aaron] Burr; but he had not entered fully upon the duties of this station, before the prevalence of the small pox induced him to be inoculated, and this disease was the cause of his death March 22, 1758, in the fifty fifth year of his age. A short time before he died, as some of his friends, who surrounded his bed to see him breathe his last, were lamenting the loss, which the college would sustain, he said, to their astonishment, ‘trust in God, and ye need not fear.’ These were his last words. He afterwards expired with as much composure, as if he had only fallen asleep. He was succeeded by the reverend Mr. [Samuel] Davies.
“President Edwards was distinguished, not only for the astonishing vigor and penetration of his mind, but for his Christian virtues. [***] The character of Jesus Christ now yielded him satisfaction, which he had never before known. The excellence, upon which he fixed his thoughts, was communicated to him; and he was molded into the glorious image, which was so constantly in his eye. His life of integrity, of humility, of meekness, of benevolence, of piety, of Christian courage, and of zeal directed by the meekness of wisdom, gives full evidence, that his religion was the religion of Christ. His highest and sweetest joys, he remarked, did not spring from the hope, that he was in a state of salvation, nor from the consciousness of any excellence in himself, but from a direct view of the precious truths of the gospel. No one could be more deeply humbled under a sense of the iniquity of his heart, and of his impotence to what is good. This conviction led him to distrust himself, to rely only upon the grace of God, and to ascribe every thing to infinite mercy.
“In the various relations of life his character was unimpeached. The benevolent principles, which he had embraced, taught him to do good, and while he inculcated charity upon others, he himself gave much to the poor. He seldom visited his people, except in sickness or affliction, not having remarkable talents in conversation, and believing that he should be more useful in his study. Yet he was not austere and unsociable, but easy of access, [and] kind [....] To his friends he opened himself without reserve. He gave no encouragement in his conversation to evil speaking and folly, nor was he fond of disputes, though, when called upon, he would express his opinion, and calmly vindicate his sentiments. He preferred managing a controversy with his pen in his hand. Though his constitution [i.e. his health] was delicate, he commonly spent thirteen hours every day in his study. He usually rose between four and five in the morning, and was abstemious, living completely by rule. For exercise, he would in the winter take an axe and chop wood for half an hour; and in the summer would walk or ride on horseback two or three miles to some retired grove. Here his ever active mind was still occupied in religious meditation and devotion, or in study. Having his pen and ink with him, he recorded every striking thought, that occurred. All his researches indeed were pursued with his pen in his hand, and the number of his miscellaneous writings, which he left behind him, was above fourteen hundred. They were all numbered and paged, and an index was formed for the whole. He was peculiarly happy in his domestic connections, for Mrs. Edwards by taking the entire care of his temporal concerns gave him an opportunity of consecrating all his powers, without interruption, to the labors and studies of the sacred office.
“As a preacher he was not oratorical in his manner, and his voice was rather [quiet], though he spoke with distinctness; but his discourses were rich in thought, and being deeply impressed himself with the truths, which he uttered, his preaching came home to the hearts of his hearers. Though he usually wrote his sermons with great care and read his notes, yet when in the delivery a new thought struck him, he was not so shackled, but that he would express it, and his extemporary effusions were frequently the most interesting and useful parts of his discourses. Towards the close of life he was inclined to think, that it would have been better, if he had never used his notes at all. He advised the young preacher to commit his sermons to memory.
“Mr. Edwards was uncommonly zealous and persevering in his search after truth. He spared no pains in procuring the necessary aids, and he read all the books, which he could procure, that promised to afford him assistance in his inquiries. He confined himself to no particular sect or denomination, but studied the writings of men, whose sentiments were the most opposite to his own. But the Bible claimed his peculiar [special or particular] attention. From that book he derived his religious principles, and not from any human system. [***] Yet with all his strict adherence to what he believed to be the truths of heaven, his heart was kind and tender. When Mr. Whitefield preached for him on the Sabbath, the acute divine, whose mighty intellect has seldom been equaled, wept as a child during the whole sermon.” (William Allen, An American Biographical and Historical Dictionary, Containing an Account of the Lives, Characters, and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in North America from Its First Discovery to the Present Time, and a Summary of the History of the Several Colonies and of the United States (Cambridge, MA: William Hilliard, 1809), pages 264-269.)
With that biographical information in mind, consider some words (revealing Edwards’ attitude of total submission to, and dependence upon, his Creator), reproduced from Edwards’ first published work, God Glorified in Man’s Dependence, and excerpted from the work as it was originally published in 1731 (the following is its original title):
GOD Glorified in the Work of Redemption, By the Greatness of Man’s Dependance upon Him, in the Whole of It. A Sermon Preached on the Public Lecture in Boston, July 8, 1731. And Published at the Desire of several Ministers and Others, in Boston, who heard it.
By JONATHAN EDWARDS, A.M.
Pastor of the Church of CHRIST in Northampton.
Judges 7.2 — Lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, mine own hand hath saved me.
BOSTON: Printed by S. Kneeland and T. Green, for D. Henchman, 1731.
TO THE READER
It was with no small difficulty that the author’s youth and modesty were prevailed on to let him appear a preacher in our public lecture, and afterwards to give us a copy of his Discourse, at the desire of divers, ministers and others, who heard it. But as we quickly found him a workman that needs not to be ashamed before his brethren; our satisfaction was the greater to see him pitching upon so noble a subject, and treating it with so much strength and clearness as the judicious reader will perceive in the following composure.
A subject which secures to God his great design in the work of fallen man’s redemption by the Lord Jesus Christ, which is evidently so laid out as that the glory of the whole should return to him the blessed Ordainer, Purchaser and Applier. A subject which enters deep into practical religion; without the belief of which, that must soon die in the hearts and lives of men.
For in proportion to the sense we have of our dependance on the Sovereign GOD, for all the good we want, will be our value for Him, our application to Him, our trust in Him, our fear to offend Him, and our care to please Him; as likewise our gratitude and love, our delight and praise, upon our sensible experience of his free benefits.
In short, it is the very soul of piety to apprehend and own, that all our springs are in Him; the springs of our present grace and comfort, and of our future glory and blessedness; and that they all entirely flow through CHRIST by the efficacious influence of the HOLY SPIRIT. By these things saints live, and in all these things is the life of our spirits.
Such doctrines as these, which by humbling the minds of men, prepare them for the exaltations of GOD, he has signally owned and prospered in the reformed world, and in our land especially in the days of our forefathers; and we hope they will never grow unfashionable among us: For, we are well assured, if those which we call the doctrines of grace, ever come to be condemned or disrelished, vital piety will proportionably languish and wear away; as these doctrines always sink in the esteem of men, upon the decay of serious religion.
We cannot therefore but express our joy and thankfulness, that the great Head of the Church is pleased still to raise up from among the children of his people, for the supply of his churches, those who assert and maintain these evangelical principles; and that our churches, (notwithstanding all their degeneracies) have still a high value for such principles, and for those who publicly own and teach them.
And as we cannot but wish and pray that the College in the neighbouring Colony, (as well as our own,) may be a fruitful mother of many such sons as the author, by the blessing of Heaven on the care of their present worthy Rector; so we heartily rejoice in the special favour of Providence in bestowing such a rich gift on the happy church of Northampton, which has for so many lustres of years flourished under the influence of such pious doctrines, taught them in the excellent ministry of their late venerable pastor, whose gifts and spirit, we hope will long live and shine in this his grandson, to the end that they may abound yet more in all the lovely fruits of evangelical humility and thankfulness, to the glory of GOD.
To His blessing we commit them all, with this Discourse, and every one that reads it; and are
Your Servants in the Gospel,
GOD Glorified in Man’s Dependance.
1 COR. I. 29, 30, 31.
That no Flesh should Glory in his Presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption: That according as it is written, He that glorieth let him glory in the Lord.
Those Christians to whom the Apostle directed this Epistle, dwelt in a part of the world where human wisdom was in great repute; as the Apostle observes in the 22. Verse of this chapter, The Greeks seek after Wisdom. Corinth was not far from Athens, that had been for many ages the most famous seat of philosophy and learning in the world.
The Apostle therefore observes to them how that God by the Gospel destroyed, and brought to nought, their human wisdom. The learned Grecians, and their great philosophers, by all their wisdom did not know God, they were not able to find out the truth in divine things. But after they had done their utmost to no effect, it pleased God at length, to reveal himself by the Gospel which they accounted foolishness: He chose the foolish things of the World, to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world, and things that are despised, yea and things which are not; to bring to nought the things that are. And the Apostle informs them why he thus did, in the verse of the text, That no Flesh should glory in his Presence & c. —
In which words may be observed,
1. What God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of redemption, viz. that man should not glory in himself, but alone in God; That no Flesh should glory in his Presence, — that according as it is written he that glories let him glory in the Lord.
2. How this end is attained in the work of redemption, viz. by that absolute and immediate dependance which men have upon God in that work, for all their good. Inasmuch as,
First, All the good that they have is in and through Christ; He is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption. All the good of the fallen and redeemed creature is concerned in these four things, and can’t be better distributed than into them; but Christ is each of them to us, and we have none of them any otherwise than in him. He is made of God unto us Wisdom: In him are all the proper good, and true excellency of the understanding. Wisdom was a thing that the Greeks admired; but Christ is the true Light of the World, ‘tis through him alone that true wisdom is imparted to the mind. ‘Tis in and by Christ that we have Righteousness: ‘Tis by being in him that we are justified, have our sins pardoned, and are received as righteous into God’s favour. ‘Tis by Christ that we have Sanctification: We have in him true excellency of heart, as well as of understanding; and He is made unto us inherent as well as imputed righteousness. ‘Tis by Christ that we have Redemption, or the actual deliverance from all misery, and the bestowment of all happiness and glory. Thus we have all our good by Christ who is God.
[...] The redeemed have all their good in God. We not only have it of him and through him, but it consists in him; he is all our good.
The good of the redeemed is either objective or inherent. By their objective good I mean, that intrinsic object, in the possession and enjoyment of which they are happy. Their inherent good is that excellency or pleasure which is in the soul itself. With respect to both of which the redeemed have all their good in God, or which is the same thing, God himself is all their good.
1. The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in Heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God He is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the River of the Water of Life that runs, and the Tree of Life that grows, in the midst of the Paradise of God. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will for ever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in any thing else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them.
2. The redeemed have all their inherent good in God. Inherent good is twofold; ‘tis either excellency or pleasure. These the redeemed not only derive from God, as caused by him, but have them in him. They have spiritual excellency and joy by a kind of participation of God. They are made excellent by a communication of God’s excellency: God puts his own beauty, i.e. his beautiful likeness upon their souls: They are made Partakers of the divine Nature, or moral image of God, 2 Pet. 1.4. They are holy by being made partakers of God’s holiness, Heb. 12.10. The saints are beautiful and blessed by a communication of God’s holiness and joy as the moon and planets are bright by the sun’s light. The saint hath spiritual joy and pleasure by a kind of effusion of God on the soul. In these things the redeemed have communion with God; that is, they partake with him and of him.
The saints have both their spiritual exellency and blessedness by the gift of the Holy Ghost, or Spirit of God, and his dwelling in them. They are not only caused by the Holy Ghost, but are in the Holy Ghost as their principle. The Holy Spirit becoming an inhabitant, is a vital principle in the soul: He acting in, upon and with the soul, becomes a fountain of true holiness and joy, as a spring is of water, by the exertion and diffusion of itself. John 4.14. But whosoever drinketh of the Water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the Water that I shall give him, shall be in him a Well of Water springing up into everlasting Life. Compared with Chap. 7. 38, 39. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his Belly shall flow Rivers of living Water; but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive. The sum of what Christ has purchased for us, is that spring of water spoken of in the former of those places, and those rivers of living water spoken of in the latter. And the sum of the blessings, which the redeemed shall receive in Heaven, is that River of Water of Life, that proceeds from the Throne of God and the Lamb, Rev. 22.1. Which doubtless signifies the same with those Rivers of living Water, explained John 7.38, 39, which is elsewhere called the River of God’s Pleasures. Herein consists the fulness of good, which the saints receive of Christ. ‘Tis by partaking of the Holy Spirit, that they have communion with Christ in his fulness. God hath given the Spirit, not by measure unto Him; and they do receive of his fulness, and grace for grace. This is the sum of the saints inheritance: and therefore that little of the Holy Ghost which believers have in this world, is said to be the Earnest of their Inheritance, 2 Cor. 1.22. Who hath also sealed us, and given us the Spirit in our Hearts. And ver. 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the self same thing is God, who also hath given unto us the Earnest of the Spirit. And Eph. 1.13, 14. Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of Promise, which is the Earnest of our Inheritance, until the Redemption of the purchased Possession.
The Holy Spirit and good things are spoken of in Scripture as the same; as if the Spirit of God communicated to the soul, comprized all good things, Mat. 7.11. How much more shall your heavenly Father give good Things to them that ask him. In Luke it is, Chap. 11.11. How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. This is the sum of the blessings that Christ died to procure, and that are the subject of Gospel-promises. Gal. 3.13, 14. He was made a Curse for us, that we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through Faith. The Spirit of God is the great promise of the Father, Luke 24.49. Behold I send the Promise of my Father upon you. The Spirit of God therefore is called the Spirit of Promise; Eph. 1.13. This promised thing Christ received, and had given into his hand, as soon as he had finished the work of our redemption, to bestow on all that he had redeemed; Acts 2.33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the Promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye both see and hear. So that all the holiness and happiness of the redeemed is in God. ‘Tis in the communications, indwelling and acting of the Spirit of God. Holiness and happiness is in the fruit, here and hereafter, because God dwells in them, and they in God.
Thus ‘tis God that has given us the Redeemer, and ‘tis of him that our good is purchased: So ‘tis God that is the Redeemer, and the Price: and ‘tis God also that is the good purchased. So that all that we have is of God, and through him, and in him, Rom. 11.36. For of him, and through him, and to him, or in him are all things: The same in the Greek, that is here rendered to him, is rendered in him, 1 Cor. 8.6.
II. God is glorified in the work of redemption by this means, viz. by there being so great and universal a dependance of the redeemed on him.
1. Man hath so much the greater occasion and obligation to take notice and acknowledge God’s perfections and all-sufficiency. The greater the creature’s dependance is on God’s perfections, and the greater concern he has with them, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice of them. So much the greater concern any one has with and dependance upon the power and grace of God, so much the greater occasion has he to take notice of that power and grace. So much the greater and more immediate dependance there is on the divine holiness, so much the greater occasion to take notice of and acknowledge that. So much the greater and more absolute dependance we have on the divine perfections, as belonging to the several Persons of the Trinity, so much the greater occasion have we to observe and own the divine glory of each of them. That which we are most concerned with, is surely most in the way of our observation and notice; and this kind of concern with any thing, viz. dependance, does especially tend to commend and oblige the attention and observation. Those things that we are not much dependent upon, ‘tis easy to neglect; but we can scarce do any other than mind that which we have a great dependance on. By reason of our so great dependance on God, and his perfections, and in so many respects; He and his glory are the more directly set in our view, which way soever we turn our eyes.
We have the greater occasion to take notice of God’s all-sufficiency, when all our sufficiency is thus every way of him. We have the more occasion to contemplate him as an infinite good, and as the Fountain of all good. Such a dependance on God demonstrates God’s all-sufficiency. So much as the dependance of the creature is on God, so much the greater does the creature’s emptiness in himself appear to be: and so much the greater the creature’s emptiness, so much the greater must the fulness of the Being be, who supplies him. Our having all of God, shows the fulness of his power and grace: Our having all through him, shows the fulness of his merit and worthiness; and our having all in him demonstrates his fulness of beauty, love and happiness.
And the redeemed by reason of the greatness of their dependance on God, han’t only so much the greater occasion, but obligation to contemplate and acknowledge the glory and fulness of God. How unreasonable and ungrateful should we be, if we did not acknowledge that sufficiency and glory, that we do absolutely, immediately and universally depend upon?
2. Hereby is demonstrated how great God’s glory is considered comparatively, or as compared with the creature’s. By the creature’s being thus wholly and universally dependent on God, it appears that the creature is nothing, and that God is all. Hereby it appears that God is infinitely above us; that God’s strength, and wisdom, and holiness are infinitely greater than ours. However great and glorious the creature apprehends God to be, yet if he be not sensible of the difference between God and him, so as to see that God’s glory is great compared with his own, he will not be disposed to give God the glory due to his Name. If the creature in any respects sets himself upon a level with God, or exalts himself to any competition with him, however he may apprehend that great honour and profound respect may belong to God from those that are more inferiour, and at a greater distance, will not be so sensible of its being due from him. So much the more men exalt themselves, so much the less will they surely be disposed to exalt God. ‘Tis certainly a thing that God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of redemption, (if we allow the Scriptures to be a revelation of God’s mind) that God should appear full, and man in himself empty, that God should appear all, and man nothing. ‘Tis God’s declared design that others should not glory in his Presence, which implies that ‘tis his design to advance his own comparative glory. So much the more man glories in God’s Presence, so much the less glory is ascribed to God.
3. By its being thus ordered, that the creature should have so absolute and universal a dependance on God, provision is made that God should have our whole souls, and should be the object of our undivided respect. If we had our dependance partly on God, and partly on something else, man’s respect would be divided to those different things on which he had dependance. Thus it would be if we depended on God only for a part of our good, and on our selves, or some other being, for another part; or if we had our good only from God, and through another that was not God, and in something else distinct from both, our hearts would be divided between the good itself, and him from whom, and him through whom we received it. But now there is no occasion for this, God being not only he from or of whom we have all good, but also through whom, and one that is that good itself, that we have from him, and through him. So that whatsoever there is to attract our respect, the tendency is still directly towards God, all unites in him as the center.
1. We may here observe the marvellous wisdom of God, in the work of redemption. God hath made man’s emptiness and misery, his low, lost and ruined state into which he is sunk by the fall, an occasion of the greater advancement of his own glory, as in other ways so particularly in this, that there is now a much more universal and apparent dependance of man on God. Though God be pleased to lift man out of that dismal abyss of sin and woe into which he was fallen, and exceedingly to exalt him in excellency and honour, and to an high pitch of glory and blessedness, yet the creature hath nothing in any respect to glory of; all the glory evidently belongs to God, all is in a meer, and most absolute and divine dependance on the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
And each Person of the Trinity is equally glorified in this work: There is an absolute dependance of the creature on every one for all: All is of the Father, all through the Son, and all in the Holy Ghost. Thus God appears in the work of redemption, as all in all. ‘Tis fit that he that is, and there is none else, should be the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the all and the only, in this work.
[...] Let us be exhorted to exalt God alone, and ascribe to him all the glory of redemption. Let us endeavour to obtain, and increase in, a sensibleness of our great dependance on God, to have our eye to him alone, to mortify a self-dependent, and self-righteous disposition. Man is naturally exceeding prone to be exalting himself, and depending on his own power or goodness, as though he were he from whom he must expect happiness, and to have respect to enjoyments alien from God and his Spirit, as those in which happiness is to be found.
And this doctrine should teach us to exalt God alone as by trust and reliance, so by praise. Let him that glories glory in the Lord. Hath any man hope that he is converted, and sanctified, and that his mind is endowed with true excellency and spiritual beauty, and his sins forgiven, and he received into God’s favour, and exalted to the honour and blessedness of being his child, and an heir of eternal life; let him give God all the glory; who alone makes him to differ from the worst of men in this world, or the miserablest of the damned in hell. Hath any man much comfort and strong hope of eternal life, let not his hope lift him up, but dispose him the more to abase himself, and reflect on his own exceeding unworthiness of such a favour, and to exalt God alone. Is any man eminent in holiness, and abundant in good works, let him take nothing of the glory of it to himself, but ascribe it to him whose Workmanship we are, created in Christ Jesus unto Good Works.
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