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Jonathan Edwards and Personal Holiness Part 1: Looking Forward to Heaven and Enjoying Christ

May 13, 2007

Iain Murray explains in his biography of Jonathan Edwards that holiness “never ceased to be first in his concerns.” Edwards expresses in his ‘Personal Narrative’ that between the age of 19 and early twenties, “I felt a burning desire to be in every thing a complete Christian; and conformed to the blessed image of Christ; and that I might live, in all things, according to the pure, sweet and blessed rules of the gospel.”

We might ask how did such a person, especially at his early age, have such a capacity to desire this level of holiness. I am convinced the reason he knew holiness so well was because his great joy was looking forward to heaven enjoying Christ.

The heaven I desired was a heaven of holiness; to be with God, and to spend my eternity in divine love, and holy communion with Christ…. Heaven appeared exceedingly delightful, as a world of love; and that all happiness consisted in living in pure, humble, heavenly, divine love.

Edwards makes clear what this divine love is:

There was no part of creature holiness, that I had so great a sense of its loveliness, as humility, brokenness of heart and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this – to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be ALL, that I might become as a little child.

Divine love, to Edwards, was making much of his holy God and making evident his poverty before him. This was his delight and it affected the way he looked at personal holiness.


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