October 6, 2007

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on the Misery of the Damned Remembering God’s Love

After describing the anger of God working in the misery of the damned in Miscellany #232, Jonathan Edwards said:
And all this will be aggravated by the remembrance, that God once loved us so as to give his Son to bring us to the happiness of his love, and tried all manner of means to persuade us to accept of his favor, which was obstinately refused.
Jonathan Edwards, "MISERY OF THE DAMNED," 1726, p. 3. Works of Jonathan Edwards Online, eds. Harry S. Stout, Kenneth P. Minkema, Caleb J.D. Maskell, 2005-. http://edwards.yale.edu/ref/10307/e/p/3

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John Gerstner noted this about Edwards on God's love:
If God’s love is known by what it hates, it is also known by what it loves or inclines toward. First, in a sense, it extends to all creatures. All creatures have some good from God.136 Even the wicked share in this benevolence. “God is kind to the unthankful and evil.”137 Man is now naturally contrary to God and positively evil, but the Luke 6:35 sermon shows that God still loves him in some ways. Indeed, Edwards goes on to say in another sermon: “even in damnation.”138 Yet, fundamentally, “holy persons love holy things for their holiness.”139
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136. Unpublished MS sermon on Ps. 145:15–21, “All creatures in heaven and earth have their good things from God,” p. 1, St. Ind., Nov. 1, 1753.
137. Unpublished MS sermon on Lk. 6:35.
138. Unpublished MS sermon on Eph. 4:15–16, “In a company of Christians among whom Christianity has its genuine effect, love is the beginning and love is the middle and love is the end of all their affairs,” p. 2, May 1743.
139. Unpublished MS sermons on Ps. 119:40.
John H. Gerstner, The Rational Biblical Theology of Jonathan Edwards, 3 vols. (Powhatan, VA: Berea Publications; Orlando, FL: Ligonier Ministries, 1993), 2:38.

Note: John Bunyan sounds similar to what Edwards says above when he wrote:
I gave my Son to do you good,
I gave you space and time
With him to close, which you withstood,
And did with hell combine.
—from "One Thing Needful," in Works, 3:734.

In this part of Bunyan's poem, God is speaking to the damned, i.e. to the non-elect.

Compare also Thomas Manton here (click) and George Swinnock here (click).

Theodorus Jacobus Frelinghuysen (1691–1747), in his sermon on Matt. 23:37, said:
How does this heighten your criminality; how will it aggravate your condemnation, that the Lord would gather you, that he long bore with you, so often would have taken you under his wings, but “ye would not!”—that he invited and you refused, stretched out his hands, but you opposed; rejecting his counsel, not willing that he should be King over you. (Prov. 1.) Oh! if there is aught that will render the worm of conscience exquisitely tormenting and intolerable, it is above all, that the dear Saviour would have gathered you, “and ye would not!

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