Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Christ's Work for Us

On Nov. 28, 1751 Jonathan Edwards wrote a letter to a Lady Mary Pepperrell. Lady Pepperrell had recently lost a son and Edwards wrote to offer Christian comfort. For my money, Edwards is at his best when he meditates on the person and work of Christ. In the middle of his letter to Pepperrell, his thoughts land on the work of Christ for us. Here's an excerpt quoted from A Sweet Flame: Piety in the Letters of Jonathan Edwards.

It is a work of love to us, and a work of which Christ is the author. He loveliness and his love have both their greatest and most affecting manifestation in those sufferings, which he endured for us at his death. Therein, above all, appeared his holiness, his love to God, and his hatred of sin, in that, when he desired to save sinners, rather than that a sensible testimony should not be seen against sin, and the justice of God be vindicated, he chose to become 'obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Thus, in the same act, he manifests, in the highest conceivable degree, his infinite hatred of sin and his infinite love to sinners. His holiness appeared like a fire, burning with infinite vehemence against sin. At the same time,... his love to sinners appeared like a sweet flame, burning with an infinite fervency of benevolence. It is the glory and beauty of his love to us, polluted sinners, that is an infinitely pure love. And it is the peculiar sweetness and endearment of holiness, that it has its most glorious manifestation in such an act of love to us. All the excellencies of Christ, both divine and human, have their highest manifestation in this wonderful act of his love to men--his offering up himself a sacrifice for us, under these extreme sufferings. Herein have abounded toward us the riches of his grace, 'in all wisdom and prudence' (Eph. 1:8). Herein appears his perfect justice. Herein, too, was the great display of his humility, in being willing to descend so low for us. In his last sufferings appeared his obedience to God, his submission to this disposing will, his patience, and his meekness, when he went as a lamb to the slaughter, and opened not his mouth, but in a prayer that God would forgive his crucifiers. And how affecting this manifestation of his excellency and amiableness to our minds, when it chiefly shines forth in such an act of love to us. The love of Christ to men, in another way, sweetens and endears all his excellencies and virtues; as it has brought him in to so near a relation to us, as our friend, our elder brother, and our redeemer; and has brought us into an union so strict with him, that we are his friends, yea, 'members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones' (Eph. 5:30).

We see then, dear Madam, how rich and how adequate is the provision, which God has made for our consolation, in all our afflictions, in giving us a Redeemer of such glory and such love, especially, when it is considered, what were the ends of this great manifestation of beauty and love in his death. He suffered that we might be delivered. His soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, to take away the sting of sorrow, and to impart everlasting consolation. He was oppressed and afflicted, that we might be supported. He was overwhelmed in the darkness of death, that we might have the light of life. He was cast into the furnace of God's wrath, that we might drink of the rivers of his pleasures. His soul was overwhelmed with a flood of sorrow, that our hearts might be overwhelmed with a flood of eternal joy.

1 comment:

GUNNY said...

Edwards is so money and he doesn't even know it!

Great stuff, thanks!