Saturday, February 13, 2010

Second Sermon of Altogether Lovely: The Excellency of Christ

The second sermon 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) comes with the title The Excellency of Christ. Edwards' text for this sermon is Revelation 5:5-6.
And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain ...
Edwards proposes the purpose he has in this sermon saying, "Many things might be observed in the words of the text; but it is to my present, purpose only to take notice of the two distinct appellations here given to Christ" (16). These two appellations are described: 1) He is called a lion. 2) He is called a lamb.

He makes it clear why he proposes these two descriptions of Christ: "That which I would observe from the words, for the subject of my present discourse, is this: There is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ" (18)

Continuing to clarify his approach in this sermon, Edwards states the following:
In handling this subject I would, first, show wherein there is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Christ; second, show how this admirable conjunction of excellencies appear in Christ’s acts; and then make application. (18)

Though Edwards' logic and mind are beyond questioning, following him 'out of the gate' is sometimes a chore. But perhaps that is why he spends so much time mapping out where he plans to go with his sermon.

We have seen that Edwards intends to, firstly, "show wherein there is an admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies in Jesus Christ" (18). This admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies can be, according to Edwards, seen in three things:
I. There is a conjunction of such excellencies in Christ, as, in our manner of conceiving, are very diverse one from another.

II. There is in him a conjunction of such really diverse excellencies, as otherwise would have seemed to us utterly incompatible in the same subject.

III. Such diverse excellencies are exercised in him towards men that otherwise would have seemed impossible to be exercised towards the same object. (18)

Under the first heading, the roman numeral I above, Edwards makes two points. They are seen below with a few quotes that caught my attention.

1. There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension.
Christ, as he is God, is infinitely great and high above all ... Christ is the Creator and great Possessor of heaven and earth. He is sovereign Lord of all. He rules over the whole universe, and doth whatsoever pleaseth him. His knowledge is without bound. His wisdom is perfect, and what none can circumvent. His power is infinite, and none can resist him. His riches are immense and inexhaustible. His majesty is infinitely awful.

And yet he is one of infinite condescension. None are so low or inferior, but Christ’s condescension is sufficient to take a gracious notice of them ..

Yea, so great is his condescension, that it is not only sufficient to take some gracious notice of such as these, but sufficient for every thing that is an act of condescension. His condescension is great enough to become their friend; to become their companion, to unite their souls to him in spiritual marriage. It is enough to take their nature upon him, to become one of them, that he may be one with them. Yea, it is great enough to abase himself yet lower for them, even to expose himself to shame and spitting; yea, to yield up himself to an ignominious death for them. And what act of condescension can be conceived of greater? Yet such an act as this, has his condescension yielded to, for those that are so low and mean, despicable and unworthy! (19-20)

2. There meet in Jesus Christ, infinite justice and infinite grace.
As Christ is a divine person, he is infinitely holy and just; hating sin, and disposed to execute condign punishment for sin. He is the Judge of the world, and the infinitely just Judge of it, and will not at all acquit the wicked, or by any means clear the guilty.

And yet he is infinitely gracious and merciful. Though his justice be so strict with respect to all sin, and every breach of the law, yet he has grace sufficient for every sinner, and even the chief of sinners. (21)

The next post on Edwards will focus on the second way in which the admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies can be seen.

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