Sunday, March 21, 2010

True faith and trust in Christ

"But this doctrine, as it is understood by many, is, that Christians ought firmly to believe and trust in Christ, without spiritual sight or light, and although they are in a dark dead frame, and, for the present, have no spiritual experiences or discoveries. And it is truly the duty of those who are thus in darkness, to come out of darkness into light and believe. But that they should confidently believe and trust, while they yet remain without spiritual light or sight, is an anti-scriptural and absurd doctrine.

The Scripture is ignorant of any such faith in Christ of the operation of God, that is not founded in a spiritual sight of Christ. That believing on Christ, which accompanies a title to everlasting life, is a seeing the Son, and believing on him, John 6:40. True faith in Christ is never exercised, any further than persons behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, and have the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:18 and 4:6. They into whose minds the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, does not shine, believe not, 2 Corinthians 4:5.

That faith, which is without spiritual light, is not the faith of the children of the light, and of the day; but the presumption of the children of darkness. And therefore to press and urge them to believe, without any spiritual light or sight, tends greatly to help forward the delusions of the prince of darkness. Men not only cannot exercise faith without some spiritual light, but they can exercise faith only just in such proportion as they have spiritual light. Men will trust in God no further than they know him; and they cannot be in the exercise of faith in him one ace further than they have a sight of his fullness and faithfulness in exercise.

Nor can they have the exercise of trust in God, any further than they are in a gracious frame . . . They that are in a dead carnal frame, doubtless ought to trust in God; because that would be the same thing as coming out of their bad frame, and turning to God; but to exhort men confidently to trust in God, and so hold up their hope and peace, though they are not in a gracious frame, and continue still to be so, is the same thing in effect, as to exhort them confidentially to trust in God, but not with a gracious trust: and what is that but a wicked presumption?" ~ Jonathan Edwards

3 comments:

  1. Jeff,
    Isn't it true that Jonathan Edwards fully embraces the Calvinistic doctrine? This quote certainly reflects such a paradigm.

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  2. Laura,

    It is absolutely true that Jonathan Edwards embraced the Calvinistic doctrine (though I am not sure how fully). However, I am unaware of any Calvinistic emphasis in the above quote.

    The major purpose of this blog is to demonstrate the astounding level of agreement that can be found in the historical Christian literature concerning the new birth. It is my opinion that this Edward's quote resonates strongly with some of John Wesley's most significant writings.

    I consulted my brother-in-law this afternoon to ensure that I was not alone in my interpretation. He is a minister and a student of John Wesley's writings as well. He too believes this quote is consistent with Wesleyan-Arminian theology.

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  3. The quote of interest is from a book written by Jonathan Edwards entitled, "A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections." John Wesley thought highly enough of this work to include part of it in his "Christian Library" under the title, "Religious Reflections." The Northwest Nazarene University site exhibits the following comment concerning John Wesley's "Christian Library":

    Among his many writings,
    John Wesley
    edited and abridged a number of devotional classics and republished them in what he called
    A Christian Library

    These "Extracts from and Abridgments of the Choicest Pieces of Practical Divinity Which Have Been Published in the English Tongue," as Wesley subtitled them, were first published in 50 volumes in 1750. The present digital collection was scanned from the 1821 edition of these classics, published in 30 volumes.

    Jonathan Edward's thoughts were edited and abridged by Mr. Wesley and placed in his works under the title Religious Reflections. I have provided links to these writings below:

    Religious Reflections, Part I-II may be found here: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john_wesley/christian_library/vol30/CL30Part8.htm
    Religous Reflections, Part III-Conclusions may be found here: http://wesley.nnu.edu/john_wesley/christian_library/vol30/CL30Part9.htm

    The quote of interest is buried in section XI of Part II.

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