GraceMiscellanies by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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o. Irresistible Grace. The dispute about grace’s being resistible or irresistible, is perfect nonsense. For the effect of grace is upon the will, so that it is nonsense, except it be proper to say, that a man with his will can resist his own will, or except it be possible for a man to will a thing and not will it at the same time, and so far as he does will it. Or if you speak of enlightening grace, and say this grace is upon the understanding, it is nothing but the same nonsense in other words. For them the sense runs thus: that a man, after he has seen so plainly that a thing is best for him that he wills it, yet he can at the same time nill it. If you say he can will anything he pleases, this is most certainly true, for who can deny that a man can will anything he does already will? That a man can will anything that he pleases, is just as certain as what is, is. Wherefore it is nonsense to say that after a man has seen so plainly a thing to be so much best for him that he will it, he could have not willed it if he had pleased. That is to say, if he had not willed it, he could have not willed it. It is certain that a man never does anything but what he can do. But to say, after a man has willed a thing, that he could have not willed it if he had pleased, is to suppose two wills in a man: the one to will which goes first, and the other to please or choose to will. And so with the same reason we may say that there is another will to please; to please to will; and so on to a thousand. Wherefore, to say that the man could have willed otherwise if he had pleased, is just all one as to say, that if he had willed otherwise, then we might be sure he could will otherwise.
y the Spirit to do anything at all. By the Spirit’s infusing, let be meant what it will, those who say there is no infusion contradict themselves. For they say the Spirit does something in the soul: that is, he causes some motion, or affection, or apprehension to arise in the soul that, at the same time, would not be there without him. Now God’s Spirit doeth what he doeth; he does as much as he does; or he causeth in the soul as much as he causeth, let that be how little soever. So much as is purely the effect of his immediate motion, let that be what it will, and so much is infused, how little soever that be. This is self-evident. For suppose the Spirit of God only to assist the natural powers, then there is something done betwixt them. Men’s own powers do something, and God’s Spirit does something, only they work together. Now that part that the Spirit does, how little soever it be, is infused. So that they that deny infused habits, own that part of the habit is infused. For they say, the Holy Spirit assists the man in acquiring the habit, so that it is acquired rather sooner than it would be otherwise. So that part of the habit is owing to the Spirit, some of the strength of the habit was infused, and another part is owing to the natural powers of the man. Or if you say not so, but that it is all owing to the natural power assisted, then how do you mean assisted? To act more lively and vigorously than otherwise? Then that liveliness and vigorousness must be infused, which is a habit, and therefore infused grace. Grace consists very much in a principle that causes vigorousness and activity in action. This is infusion, even in the sense of the opposite party. So that if any operation of the Holy Spirit at all is allowed, the dispute is only, how much is infused? The one says, a great deal; the other says, but little.
15. Irresistible Grace. To dispute, as more latterly they do, whether the divine assistance is always efficacious or no, is perfectly ridiculous. For it is self-evident that the divine assistance is always efficacious to do that which we are assisted to. And it is no less certain that it is efficacious to all that God intends it shall be efficacious to: that is, when God assists, he assists to all that he intends to assist to. But that the divine assistance is always efficacious to all that it has a tendency to in its own nature, is what nobody affirms.
ception of Christ with the faculties of the soul in order to salvation by him, and that in this reception there is a believing of what we are taught in the gospel concerning him and salvation by him, and that it must be a consent of the will or an agreeableness between the disposition of the soul and those doctrines. So that the disposition is all that can be said to be absolutely necessary. The act cannot be proved to be absolutely necessary. That is, it cannot be proved that there is not the disposition before there is an act, because it is said by some that a man cannot be saved before he has actually believed, if he is come to years of discretion, is plain by Scripture. But I say, no plainer than that a man must actually live a holy life before he can be saved. For the Scripture in many places speaks as plainly about the necessity of a holy life as of believing. But by those expressions concerning a holy life, we can understand nothing else but a disposition that would naturally exert itself in holy living upon occasion, so we say of the believing disposition.
And as sometimes a person has this disposition within him who has in times past felt the quickest exercises of it, yet may not sensibly feel them for some time. So a man may have the disposition in him for some time before he ever sensibly feels them, for want of occasion and other reasons. It is the disposition and principle is the thing God looks at. Supposing a man dies suddenly and not in the actual exercise of faith, it is his disposition that saves him. For if it were possible that the disposition was destroyed, the man would be damned and all the former acts of faith would signify nothing.
Those particular acts of our divines describes may possibly be necessary thus, that it is impossible for such a disposition to be in the mind, in such circumstances, without its being exercised in such particular kind of actions, which must be determined by plain consequence of nature or else by Scripture.
The Scripture indeed, in many invitations to Christ, does make use of the words “come,” “believe,” “trust,” “receive,” which without doubt signify those actions that are aptly represented by these expressions. It need not be doubted but that many of the ancient Jews before Christ were saved without the sensible exertions of those acts in that manner which is represented as necessary by some divines, because they had not those occasions nor were under circumstances that would draw them out. Though without doubt they had the disposition, which alone is absolutely necessary now, and at all times and in all circumstances is equally necessary.
This is furthermore certain and evident concerning conversion or a true reception of Christ, if it be actual: there must be a dying unto sin and an emptying of self that Christ may be all in all, what in the Scripture is called “hating our own life.”
147. Infused Grace. I suppose it will not be denied by any party of Christians, that the happiness of the saints in the other world consists much in perfect holiness and the exalted exercises of it, that the souls of the saints shall enter upon it at once at death, or (if any deny that) at least at the resurrection, and that the saint is made perfectly holy as soon as ever he enters into heaven. I suppose none will say that perfection is obtained by repeated acts of holiness, but all will grant that it is wrought in the saint immediately by the power of God, and yet that it is virtue notwithstanding. And why are not the beginnings of holiness wrought in the same manner? Why should not the beginning of a holy nature be wrought immediately by God in a soul that is wholly of a contrary nature, as well as holiness be perfected in a soul that has already a prevailing holiness? And if it be so, why is not the beginning, thus wrought, as much virtue as the perfection thus wrought?
420. True Seekers. Why should we suppose that God would make any promises of spiritual and eternal blessings to that which has no goodness in it? Why should he promise his grace to a seeking of it that is not right, to those that do not truly seek it? Why should he promise that they shall obtain conversion, who do not do anything right, or use any proper means in order to obtain it? For the proper means of obtaining grace is seeking it truly with a love and appetite to it, and desire of it, and sense of it of God through Christ. And to such as seek it thus, God has faithfully promised he will bestow it.
538. Seekers of Grace. Though there be no promise to any seekers of grace, but gracious ones, yet there must be a greater probability of their conversion [to those] who seek, though not after a gracious manner, and though they are not thoroughly and sufficiently resolved and sincere in their seeking, than of those who wholly neglect their salvation: there is not so great an unlikelihood of it. We know that God’s manner is to bestow his grace on men by outward means. Otherwise, to what purpose is the Bible, Sabbaths, preachings, sacraments, or doctrinal knowledge of religion? And therefore, if persons are out of the way of these means, there is no likelihood of their receiving grace. Because God bestows his grace by means, and so the more they are in the way of means, and the more they attend them, the more are they in the way of being met with by God, and receiving his grace, by those means.
673. Saving vs. Common Grace. Saving grace differs, not only in degree, but in nature and kind, from common grace, or anything that is ever found in natural men. This seems evident by the following things:
1. Because conversion is a work that is done at once, and not gradually. If saving grace differed only in degree from what went before, then the making a man a good man would be a gradual work: it would be the increasing of the grace that he has, till it comes to such a degree as to be saving, at least it would be frequently so. But that the conversion of the heart is not a work that is thus gradually wrought, but that it is wrought at once, appears by Christ’s converting the soul being represented by his calling of it; Rom. 8:28-30, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Acts 2:37-39, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Heb. 9:15, “That they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” 1 Thes. 5:23-24, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly: and I pray God, your whole spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless, unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” Nothing else can be meant in these places by calling, but what Christ does in a sinner’s saving conversion, by which it seems evident that this is done at once and not gradually. Hereby Christ shows his great power. He does speak the powerful word, and it is done. He does but call, and the heart of the sinner immediately cometh, as was represented by his calling his disciples, and their immediately following him. So when he called Peter and Andrew, James and John, they were minding other things, and had no thought of following Christ. But at his call they immediately followed him, Mat. 4:18-22. Peter and Andrew were casting a net into the sea. Christ says unto them, as he passed by, “Follow me;” and it is said, they straightway left their nets and followed him. So James and John were in the ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets: and he called them, and immediately they left the ship and their father, and followed him. So when Matthew was called, Mat. 9:9, “And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom; and he saith unto him, Follow me: and he arose and followed him.” The same circumstances are observed by other evangelists, which, doubtless, is to represent the manner in which Christ effectually calls his disciples in all ages. There is something immediately put into their hearts, at that call, that is new, that there was nothing of there before, which makes them so immediately act in a manner altogether new, and so alien from what they were before.
That the work of conversion is wrought at once is further evident by its being compared to a work of creation. When God created the world, he did what he did immediately. He spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. He said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Also by its being compared to a raising from the dead. Raising from the dead is not a gradual work, but it is done at once. God calls, and the dead come forth immediately. The change in conversion is in the twinkling of an eye, as that, 1 Cor. 15:51-52, “We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
It appears by the manner in which Christ wrought all those works that he wrought when on earth, that they were types of his great work of converting sinners. Thus, when he healed the leper, he put forth his hand and touched him, and said, “I will, be thou clean; and immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” Mat. 8:3; Mark 1:42; Luke 5:13. So in opening the eyes of the blind men, Mat. 20:30, etc. he touched their eyes and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him. And so Mark 10:52; Luke 18:43. So when he healed the sick, particularly Simon’s wife’s mother, he took her by her hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto him. So when the woman that had the issue of blood, touched the hem of Christ’s garment, immediately he issue of blood stanched, Luke 8:44. So the woman that was bowed together with the spirit of infirmity, when Christ laid his hands on her, immediately she was made straight, and glorified God, Luke 13:12-13. So the man at the pool of Bethesda, when Christ bade him rise and take up his bed and walk, was immediately made whole; John 5:8-9. After the same manner Christ raised the dead, and cast out devils, and stilled the winds and sea.
2. There seems to be a specific difference between saving grace or virtue and all that was in the heart before, by the things that conversion is represented by in Scripture, particularly by its being represented as a work of creation. When God creates, he does not merely establish and perfect the things that were made before, but makes them wholly and immediately. The things that are seen, are not made of things that do appear. Saving grace in the heart is said to be the new man, a new creature, and corruption is the old man. If that virtue that is in the heart of a holy man, be not different in its nature and kind, then the man might possibly have had the same seventy years before, and has it no otherwise now, but only in a greater degree: and how then is he a new creature?
Again, it is evident also from its being compared to a resurrection. Natural men are said to be dead, but when they are converted, they are by God’s mighty and effectual power raised from the dead. Now there is no medium between being dead and alive. He that is dead has no degree of life. He that has the least degree of life in him is alive. When a man is raised from the dead, life is not only in a greater degree, but it is all new. And this is further evident by that representation that is made of Christ’s converting sinners, in John 5:25, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live.” This shows conversion to be an immediate and instantaneous work, like to the change made in Lazarus when Christ called him from the grave: there went life with the call, and Lazarus was immediately alive. That immediately before the call they are dead, and therefore wholly destitute of any life, is evident by that expression, “the dead shall hear the voice;” and immediately after the call they are alive. Yea, there goes life with the voice, as is evident not only because it is said they shall live, but also because it is said that they shall hear his voice. It is evident that the first moment they have any life is the moment when Christ calls. And when Christ calls, or as soon as they are called, they are converted, as is evident from what is said in the first argument, wherein it is shown that to be called and converted is the same thing.
3. Those that go farthest in religion, that are in a natural condition, have no charity, as is plainly implied in the beginning of the 13th chapter of the first of Corinthians, by which we must understand that they have none of that kind of grace, or disposition, or affection, that is so called. So Christ elsewhere reproves the Pharisees, those high pretenders to religion among the Jews, that they had not the love of God in them.
4. In conversion, stones are raised up to be children unto Abraham. While stones they are wholly destitute of all those qualities that afterward render them the living children of Abraham, and not possessing them, though in a lesser degree.
Agreeably to this, conversion is represented by the taking away the heart of stone, and giving a heart of flesh. The man, while unconverted, has a heart of stone, which has no degree of that life or sense in it that the heart of flesh has, because it yet remains a stone, as which nothing is farther from life and sense.
5. A wicked man has none of that principle of nature that a godly man has, as is evident by 1 John 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”
The natural import of the metaphor shows that by a seed is meant a principle of action: it may be small as a grain of mustard seed. A seed is a small thing. It may be buried up and lie hid as the seed sown in the earth, and it may seem to be dead, as seeds for a while do, till quickened by the sun and rain. But any degree of such a principle, or a principle of such a nature, is what is called the seed. It need not be to such a degree, or have such a prevalency, in order to be called a seed. And it is further evident that this seed, or this inward principle of nature, is peculiar to the saints, for he that has that seed, cannot sin, and therefore he that sins, or is a wicked man, has it not.
6. Natural men, or those that are not savingly converted, have no degree of that principle from whence all gracious actings flow, viz. the Spirit of God or of Christ, as is evident because it is asserted both ways in Scripture, that those who have not the Spirit of Christ are not his, Rom. 8:9, and also that those who have the Spirit of Christ are his, 1 John 3:24, “Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” And the Spirit of God is called the earnest of the future inheritance, 2 Cor. 1:22, and 5:5; Eph. 1:14. Yea, that a natural man has nothing of the Spirit in him, no part nor portion in it, is still more evident, because the having of the Spirit is given as a sure sign of being in Christ, 1 John 4:13, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” By which it is evident that they have none of that holy principle that the godly have. And if they have nothing of the Spirit, they have nothing of those things that are the fruits of the Spirit, such as those mentioned in Gal. 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” These fruits are here mentioned with the very design that we may know whether we have the Spirit or no. In the 18th verse, the apostle tells the Galatians that if they are led by the Spirit, they are not under the law, and then directly proceeds, first, to mention what are the fruits or works of the flesh, and then, nextly, what are fruits of the Spirit, that we may judge whether we are led by the Spirit or no.
7. That natural men, or those that are not born again, have nothing of that grace that is in godly men, is evident by John 3:6, where Christ, speaking of regeneration, says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” By flesh is here meant nature, and by Spirit is meant grace, as is evident by Gal. 5:16-17; Gal. 6:8; 1 Cor. 3:1; Rom. 8:7. That is Christ’s very argument: by this it is that Christ in those words would show Nicodemus the necessity of regeneration, that by the first birth we have nothing but nature and can have nothing else without being born again, by which it is exceeding evident that they that are not born again, have nothing else. And that natural men have not the Spirit is evident, since by this text, with the context, it is most evident that those who have the Spirit, have it by regeneration. It is born in them; it comes into them no otherwise than by birth, and that birth is in regeneration, as is most evident by the preceding and following verses. In godly men there are two opposite principles: the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, as Gal. 5:25. But it is not so with natural men. Rebekah, in having Esau and Jacob struggle together in her womb, was a type only of the true church.
683. Partaking of the Divine Nature. 1. Natural men have nothing of that nature in them which true Christians have, and that appears because the nature they have is divine nature. The saints alone have it. Not only they alone partake of such degrees of it, but they alone are partakers of it. To be a partaker of the divine nature is mentioned as peculiar to the saints, in 2 Pet. 1:4. It is evident it is the true saints the apostle is there speaking of. The words in this verse and the foregoing run thus: “According as his divine power hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue; whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature; having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Divine nature and lust are evidently here spoken of as two opposite principles in men. Those that are of the world, or that are the men of the world, have only the latter principle. But to be partakers of the divine nature is spoken of as peculiar to them that are distinguished and separated from the world, by the free and sovereign grace of God, giving them all things that pertain to life and godliness, by giving the knowledge of Christ and calling them to glory and virtue, and giving them the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel, and enabling them to escape the corruption of the world of wicked men. It is spoken of, not only as peculiar to the saints, but as the highest privilege of saints.
2. A natural man has no degree of that relish and sense of spiritual things, or things of the Spirit, and of their divine truth and excellency, which a godly man has, as is evident by 1 Cor. 2:14, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Here a natural man is represented as perfectly destitute of any sense, perception, or discerning of those things. For by the words, he neither does nor can know them or discern them: so far from it that they are foolishness unto him. He is such a stranger to them that he knows not what the talk of such things means. They are words without a meaning to him, and he knows nothing of the matter, any more than a blind man of colors. Hence it will follow that the sense of things of religion that a natural man has, is not only to the same degree, but is not of the same nature with what a godly man has. Besides, if a natural person has that fruit of the Spirit, which is of the same kind with what a spiritual person has, then he experiences within himself the things of the Spirit of God. How then can he be said to be such a stranger to them, and have no perception or discerning of them? The reason why natural men have no knowledge of spiritual things is that they have nothing of the Spirit of God dwelling in them. This is evident by the context. For there we are told it is by the Spirit these things are taught, 1 Cor. 2:10-12. Godly persons, in the text we are upon, are called spiritual, evidently on this account: that they have the Spirit. And unregenerate men are called natural men, because they have nothing but nature. Hereby the 6th argument is continued. For natural men are in no degree spiritual: they have only nature and no Spirit. If they had anything of the Spirit, though not in so great a degree as the godly, yet they would be taught spiritual things, or the things of the Spirit, in proportion: the Spirit that searcheth all things would teach them in some measure. There would not be so great a difference that the one could perceive nothing of them, and that they should be foolishness to them, while, to the other, they appear divinely and unspeakably wise and excellent, as they are spoken of in the context, 1 Cor. 2:6-9, and as such, the apostle speaks here of discerning them. The reason why natural men have no knowledge or perception of spiritual things, is that they have none of that anointing spoken of, 1 John 2:27, “But the anointing, which ye have received of him, abideth in you, and ye need not that any man should teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”
This anointing is evidently here spoken of, as a thing peculiar to true saints. Sinners never had any of that oil poured upon them, and because ungodly men have none of it, therefore they have no discerning of spiritual things. If they had any degree of it, they would discern in some measure. Therefore, none of that sense that natural men have spiritual things, is of the same nature with what the godly have. And that natural men are wholly destitute of this knowledge is further evident, because conversion is represented in Scripture by opening the eyes of the blind. But this would be very improperly so represented, if a man might have some sight, though not so clear and full, time after time for score of years before his conversion.
3. The grace of God’s Spirit is not only a precious oil with which Christ anoints the believer by giving it to him, but the believer anoints Christ with it, by exercising it towards him, which seems to be represented by the precious ointment Mary poured on Christ’s head. Herein it seems to me that Mary is a type of Christ’s church, and of every believing soul. And if so, doubtless the thing in which she typifies the church, has in it something peculiar to the church. There would not be a type ordered on purpose to represent only something that is common to the church and others. Therefore unbelievers pour none of that sweet and precious ointment on Christ.
4. That unbelievers have no degree of that grace that the saints have, is evident, because they have no communion with Christ. If unbelievers partook of any of that Spirit, those holy inclinations, affectations, and actings that the godly have from the Spirit of Christ, then they would have communion with Christ. The communion of saints with Christ certainly consist in receiving of his fullness and partaking of his grace, which is spoken of, John 1:16, “Of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace.” And the partaking of that Spirit which God gives not by measure unto him, the partaking of Christ’s holiness and grace, his nature, inclinations, tendencies, affections, love, desires, must be a part of communion with him. Yea, a believer’s communion with God and Christ, does mainly consist in partaking of the Holy Spirit, as is evident by 2 Cor. 13:14. But that unbelievers have no communion or fellowship with Christ, appears: First. Because they are not united to Christ, they are not in Christ. Those that are not in Christ, or are not united to him, can have no degree of communion with him, for union with Christ, or a being in Christ, is the foundation of all communion with him. The union of the members with the head is the foundation of all their communion or partaking with the head, and so the union of the branch with the vine is the foundation of all the communion it has with the vine, of partaking of any degree of its sap or life, or influence. So the union of the wife to the husband is the foundation of her communion in his goods. But no natural man is united to Christ, because all that are in Christ shall be saved, 1 Cor. 15:22, “As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive;” i.e. all that are in Christ, for this speaks only of the glorious resurrection and eternal life. Phil. 3:8-9, “Yea, doubtless, I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having on my own righteousness,” etc. 2 Cor. 5:17, “Now, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 1 John 2:5, “Hereby know we that we are in him.” 1 John 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in him, and he in him, and hereby we know that he abideth in us,” etc. and chap. 4:13, “Hereby we know that we dwell in him, and he in us.”
Second. The Scripture does more directly teach that it is only true saints that have communion with Christ, as particularly, this is most evidently spoken of as what belongs to the saints, and to them only, in 1 John 1:3-7, “That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” And 1 Cor. 1:8-9, “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” By this it appears that those who have fellowship with Christ are those that cannot fall away, whom God’s faithfulness is bound to confirm to the end, that they may be blameless in the day of Jesus Christ.
797. The Apostate Never Had Saving Faith. That there is no good work before conversion and actual union with Christ, is manifest from that, Rom. 7:4, “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law, by the body of Christ, that ye should be married unto another, even to him who is raised from the dead; that we should bring forth fruit unto God.” Hence we may argue that there is no lawful child brought forth before that marriage. Seeming virtues and good works before, are not so indeed. They are a spurious brood, being bastards and not children.
That those that prove apostates, never have the same kind of faith with true saints, is confirmed by what Christ said of Judas, before his apostasy, John 6:64, “But there are some of you who believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.” By this it is evident that Judas, who afterwards proved an apostate (and is doubtless set forth as an example for all apostates), though he had a kind of faith in Christ, yet did not believe in Christ with a true faith, and was at that time, before his apostasy, destitute of that kind of faith which the true disciples had, and that he had all along, even from the beginning, been destitute of that faith. And by the 70th and 71st verses of the same chapter, it is evident that he was not only totally destitute of Christian piety, and wholly under the dominion of wickedness: being in this respect like a devil, notwithstanding all the faith and temporary regard to Christ that he had. “Jesus answered them, Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. For he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.”
826. Promises to a Professing People. Indefinite promises, as they are called, seem to be no other than promises of the public covenant, or the promises made to a professing covenant people. God has promised to his visible church a blessing on his ordinances, and with respect to the public society, the visible church, to whom the promises are made, they are absolutely promised. But not being limited to particular persons, to them they are no more than encouragements. Such promises as these, children are interested in by baptism. God has promised to bestow salvation on his church, and in the way of his appointed worship. “In all places where I record my name, there will I come unto thee, and will bless thee.” When God set his tabernacle amongst his people, he annexed a promise of his blessing.
868. Signs of Godliness. Sincerity. As the Scripture is plain concerning faith — that the operative or practical nature of it is the life and soul of it — so this is doubtless true concerning all other graces. The Scripture is as plain, that the operative nature of love (that sum of all grace) is the most peculiar criterion of the sincerity of it, and indeed that wherein the sincerity of it consists. That sense of divine things and those religious affections are true, sincere, and saving that reach the bottom of the heart, and that gain the heart. If the heart ben’t gained and given to God, there is no sincerity and nothing is accepted, for the heart is what God requires and looks at. But then only is the heart gained when the will is gained, but when the will is gained the practice is gained, for the will commands the practice. Indeed practice, so far as the heart or the soul is concerned, consists in nothing else but the acts of the will. Indeed, there are external motions of the body, but these are no part of the man’s practice than as those motions are the expressions of his will. We do not call the motions of the body in a convulsion any part of the man’s practice.
1103. Natural Man Does Not Partake of the Spirit. Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones is a confirmation that however natural men may be the subjects of great and wonderful influences and operations of God’s great power and Spirit, yet they do not properly partake at all of the Spirit before conversion. In all that is wrought in them, in every respect fitting and preparing them for grace, so that nothing shall be wanting but divine life, yet as long as they are without this, they have nothing of the Spirit. Which confirms the distinctions I have elsewhere made of the Spirit of God influencing the minds of natural men under common illuminations and convictions, and yet not communicating himself in his own proper nature to them before conversion, and that saving grace differs from common grace, not only in degree, but also in nature and kind. It is said, Rev. 3:8, of the church at Philadelphia, which is commended above all other churches, Thou hast a little strength — certainly implying that ungodly me have none at all.
Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:
Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.
Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.