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Wednesday, September 18, 2019
Your daily Jonathan Edwards
I've started a new blog that offers a daily reading from Jonathan Edwards. Many readers already know why; I'll explain it more generally soon.
Here is an example from his book The Great Awakening:
And as such an extraordinary time as this does especially require of us the exercise of a great deal of forbearance, one towards another; so there is peculiarly requisite in God's people the exercise of great patience, in waiting on God, under any special difficulties and disadvantages they may be under, as to the means of grace.
The beginning of a revival of religion will naturally and necessarily be attended with a great many difficulties of this nature; many parts of the reviving church will, for a while, be under great disadvantages, by reason of what remains of the old disease of a general corruption of the visible church.
We can't expect that after a long time of degeneracy and depravity in the state of things in the church, things should all come to rights at once; it must be a work of time: and for God's people to be overhasty and violent in such a case, being resolved to have everything rectified at once, or else forcibly to deliver themselves by breaches and separations, is the way to hinder things coming to rights as they otherwise would, and to keep 'em back, and the way to break all in pieces.
Not but that the case may be such, the difficulty may be so intolerable, as to allow of no delay, and God's people can't continue in the state wherein they were without violations of absolute commands of God. But otherwise, though the difficulty may be very great, another course should be taken.
God's people should have their recourse directly to the throne of grace, to represent their difficulties before the great Shepherd of the sheep, that has the care of all the affairs of his church; and when they have done, they should wait patiently upon him. If they do so, they may expect that in his time, he will appear for their deliverance: but if instead of that, they are impatient, and take the work into their own hands, they will bewray their want of faith, and will dishonor God, and can't have such reason to hope that Christ will appear for them, as they have desired, but have reason to fear that he will leave 'em to manage their affairs for themselves as well as they can: when otherwise, if they had waited on Christ patiently continuing still instant in prayer, they might have had him appearing for them, much more effectually to deliver them. "He that believeth shall not make haste" [Isaiah 28:16]; and 'tis for those that are found patiently waiting on the Lord, under difficulties, he will especially appear, when he comes to do great things for his church, as is evident by Isaiah 30:18 and chap. Isaiah 40 at the latter end, and Isaiah 49:23, and Psalms 37:9, and many other places.
I have somewhere, not long since, met with an exposition of those words of the spouse that we have several times repeated in the Book of Canticles, "I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please," which is the only satisfying exposition that ever I met with; which was to this purpose, viz. that when the church of God is under great difficulties and in distress, and Christ don't appear for her help but seems to neglect her as though he were asleep, God's people, or the daughters of Jerusalem, in such a case should not shew an hasty spirit; and not having patience to wait for Christ to awake for their help till his time comes, take indirect courses for their own deliverance and use violent means for their escape, before Christ appears to open the door for them; and so as it were, stir up and awake Christ before his time.
When the church is in distress, and God seems not to appear for her in his providence, he is very often represented in Scripture as being asleep; as Christ was asleep in the ship, when the disciples were tossed by the storm, and the ship covered with waves [Matthew 8:23–27]: and God's appearing afterwards for his people's help is represented as his awaking out of sleep. Psalms 7:6, and Psalms 35:23, and Psalms 44:23, and Psalms 59:4, and Psalms 73:20.
Christ has an appointed time for his thus awaking out of sleep: and his people ought to wait upon him; and not, in an impatient fit, stir him up before his time.
'Tis worthy to be observed how strict this charge is, given to the daughters of Jerusalem, which is repeated three times over in the Book of Canticles, chap. Canticles 2:7, and Canticles 3:5, and Canticles 8:4. In the Canticles 2 chapter and six first verses, is represented the supports Christ gives his church while she is in a suffering state, as the lily among thorns: in the Canticles 2:7 verse is represented her patience in waiting for Christ to appear for her deliverance, when she charges the daughters of Jerusalem not to stir up nor awake her love till he please, by the roes and the hinds of the field; which are creatures of a gentle, harmless nature, are not beasts of prey, do not devour one another, don't fight with their enemies, but fly from them; and are of a pleasant, loving nature, Proverbs 5:19. In the next verse [Canticles 2:8], we see the church's success, in this way of waiting under sufferings with meekness and patience; Christ soon awakes, speedily appears, and swiftly comes. "The voice of my beloved! Behold, he cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills!"