Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Edwards on God as our Portion

In the sermon entitled God The Best Portion Of The Christian, as presented in Altogether Lovely(Jonathan, Edwards. Altogether Lovely Jonathan Edwards on the glory and excellency of Jesus Christ. Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1997), Edwards addresses Psalm 72. Specifically, he considers verse 25 which reads "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee."

He begins by looking at the Psalm's author, Asaph, and taking into account what Asaph addresses in this writing: "In this psalm, the psalmist (Asaph) relates the great difficulty which existed in his own mind, from the consideration of the wicked." (1) Asaph was troubled by the apparent prosperity of the wicked as compared to the righteous. Edwards describes 3 ways the explain how Asaph dealt with this 'difficulty':
(1.) The consideration of the miserable end of wicked men. However they prosper for the present, yet they come to a woeful end at last, verses 18-20.
(2). The consideration of the blessed end of the saints. Although the saints, while they live, may be afflicted, yet they come to a happy end at last, verses 21-24.
(3.) The consideration, that the godly have much better portion than the wicked, even though they have no other portion but God; as in the text and following verse. Though the wicked are in prosperity, [they] are not in trouble as other men. (2)
Edwards moves from these considerations to this indicative: "That it is the spirit of a truly godly man, to prefer God before all other things, either in heaven or on earth." (2) And his first point with this in mind is related as follows:

A godly man prefers God before anything else in heaven. (2)

In an attempt to distinguish God above all things as the portion of the godly man, Edwards contrast God against even the blessedness of heaven. "Now, the main reason why the godly man hath his heart thus to heaven is because God is there; that is the palace of the Most High. It is the place where God is gloriously present, where his love is gloriously manifested, where the godly may be with him, see him as he is, and love, serve, praise, and enjoy him perfectly. If God and Christ were not in heaven, he would not be so earnest in seeking it, nor would he take so much pains in a laborious travel through this wilderness, nor would the consideration that he is going to heaven when he dies, be such a comfort to him under toils and afflictions."(3) Since Edwards has shown that the godly man prefers God over that which actually is in heaven, he finds it necessary to exalt God as the godly man's portion over anything that might be in heaven. "Not only is there nothing actually in heaven, which is in his esteem equal with God; but neither is there any of which he can conceive as possible to be there, which by him is esteemed and desired equally with God."(4)

Edwards finishes off this section with this: "Offer a saint what you will, [but] if you deny him God, he will esteem himself miserable. God is the center of his desires; and as long as you keep his soul from its proper center, it will not be at rest." (4)

Edwards' outlook, esteeming and relishing God above all things, is an encouragement and motivation to me; I am not like this. Reading such inspiring words helps me to desire such an approach. Even in this first small section of this sermon, I am compelled to seek God as my portion.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, what good is heaven to the Christian if God is not there?