Jonathan Edwards When you read


Jonathan Edwards

When you read through the great Puritan ministers you are likely to stumble across a great many things that will surprise you. And there is a certain irony (if I remember my family history correctly) that Rose Lathorp Hawthorne, daughter of Nathaniel Hawthorne, prominent Catholic and founder of an order of Hospital Workers (?), is a direct lineal descendant of this great Puritan preacher. I really like Edwards's work. We all have been exposed to "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," for our portion of fire and brimstone, but here's something completely unexpected from that quarter.

from A Sermon by Jonathan Edwards A sense of the beauty of Christ is the beginning of true saving faith in the life of a true convert. This is quite different from any vague feeling that Christ loves him or died for him. These sort of fuzzy feelings can cause a sort of love and joy, because the person feels a gratitude for escaping the punishment of their sin. In actual fact, these feelings are based on self-love, and not on a love for Christ at all. It is a sad thing that so many people are deluded by this false faith. On the other hand, a glimpse of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ causes in the heart a supreme genuine love for God. This is because the divine light shows the excellent loveliness of God's nature. A love based on this is far, far above anything coming from self-love, which demons can have as well as men. The true love of God which comes from this sight of His beauty causes a spiritual and holy joy in the soul; a joy in God, and exulting in Him. There is no rejoicing in ourselves, but rather in God alone.

The sight of the beauty of divine things will cause true desires after the things of God. These desires are different from the longings of demons, which happen because the demons know their doom awaits them, and they wish it could somehow be otherwise. The desires that come from this sight of Christ's beauty are natural free desires, like a baby desiring milk. Because these desires are so different from their counterfeits, they help to distinguish genuine experiences of God's grace from the false.

Who would have thought that a puritan minister would lavish so much time and thought upon the question of beauty and God's beneficence as expressed in beauty. Thomas Dubay (The Evidential Power of Beauty) yes, Jonathan Edwards no. So, just as we encourage our protestant brethren to bury some of their presuppositions and ideas, it's well past time to vanquish some of our own. I do not encourage those who are not doctrinally well-founded to peruse these works. But if you are grounded in your Catholic Faith these brilliant and lovely sermons can only help to add to your appreciate of God's splendor and glory.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 29, 2002 8:47 AM.

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