March 23, 2009

Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) on Common Grace and God's Willingness to Save

I am posting these quotes to show the Edwardsian connection between God's universal saving will and common grace/providence. Some contemporary "Calvinists" say they believe in one (common grace) without the other (God's universal desire to save), but that division represents a departure from historic Calvinism. Such a false dichotomy is really indicative of Gillite hyper-Calvinism, and not orthodox Calvinism. The following quotes by Edwards are in harmony with the Puritans and classic Calvinists, as the primary source documentation on my blog shows.
[Prop.] I. God oftentimes uses many means with wicked men to bring 'em to forsake their sins. This is what God declares in his Word, that he hath no pleasure in death of a sinner, but that he should forsake his sins, and live. Ezekiel 18:23, "Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?" And again in the Ezekiel 18:32, "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." And Ezekiel 33:11, there God swears the same thing: "Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, Ye house of Israel?" Surely it would be horrid presumption in us to call this in question, after God has sworn by his life to the truth of it. The same we are told in the New Testament by the Apostle. 1 Timothy 2:3-4, "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." And therefore God appears in his providence slow to wrath, and is wont to use many means with sinners to bring them to forsake their sins, before he gives them up. Thus God's Spirit strove long with the old world, before he destroyed them. Genesis 6:3, "My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." For God sent Lot, a preacher of righteousness, to turn the inhabitants of Sodom from their sins, before he destroyed them. So he did not destroy hardhearted Pharaoh, till he had used many means to make him willing to comply with God's commands.
Jonathan Edwards [1734], Sermons and Discourses, 1734–1738 (WJE Online Vol. 19), Ed. M. X. Lesser.
I am convinced that God is willing to be reconciled to man, and has a design to advance him to the happiness he was created for, by the tokens of his good will in the creation and common providence; and that he therefore would give us those advantages, which are necessary to a holy life and salvation. And I am convinced of the necessity of a revelation, by considering how negligent, dull and careless I should be, if there were no revelation about a future happiness but I was left to work it out by unassisted reason; especially if there were no revelation at all about what is pleasing to God, how he accepts it, after what manner he loves his servants, how he will pardon sin, etc.
Jonathan Edwards [1722], The "Miscellanies": (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500) (WJE Online Vol. 13), Ed. Harry S. Stout.
As reason tells us that man is in a fallen state, so it also telleth us that God is willing to be reconciled to him again; the continual bounty of God to him evidences it. There is manifestly much contrivance for man's good, subsistence and comfort in the world; yea, 'tis evident that infinite wisdom and power are continually exercised for us. Now what in the world could be meant by all this, if God had irrevocably set himself against man, and had finally withdrawn all his favor from him, and had irreversibly sentenced him to eternal misery? Why then so much wisdom and power continually exercised for his good, and why has it been so, for thousands of years? God hath not left himself without witness in natural reason, in that he does us good, and gives us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.
Jonathan Edwards [1722], The "Miscellanies": (Entry Nos. a–z, aa–zz, 1–500) (WJE Online Vol. 13), Ed. Harry S. Stout.
2. God's common providence towards mankind teaches us that God is inclined to mercy and is willing to be reconciled, that he is not implacable…. By these things, it plainly appears that God hasn't utterly forsaken the world of mankind as to any favor or merciful regards. This was the witness which God gave all mankind, and even the heathen, that had direct revelation of his disposition to a reconciliation. Acts 14:16–17, "Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
Jonathan Edwards [1723], Sermons and Discourses: 1723–1729 (WJE Online Vol. 14), Ed. Kenneth P. Minkerma.


No comments: