GOD’S USE OF AFFLICTION – Jonathan Edwards (1753)

jonathan-edwardsJonathan Edwards sets out in this sermon to exposit a passage in the book of Job:

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves;  therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.” (Job 5:17, ESV)

Doctrine

Three doctrinal propositions mark this very short sermon which was contextualized to reach the Stockbridge Indians with power and effectiveness:

  1. 1. Afflictions that are brought on men in this world are from the hand of God.

2. Afflictions are brought on men for sin.

3. How the man is said to be happy whom God correcteth.

The Puritan divine notes two specific improvements (application):

Improvements

1. A warning or counsel.

One sentence explains Edwards heart before his congregation: “Their hearts are not convinced, not humbled; [their] will is not bowed to God’s will, not weaned from the world, [and] not weaned from sin: only a refraining from sin, not removing it, [so that] if God lightens his hand, [they] will turn to it again.

2. A special enforcement, that ’tis chastening of the Almighty.

Edwards argues that God is sufficient to help and strengthen his people as they endure any affliction.  He adds, “[God is] able to do all things for us, if we yield to him under affliction and comply with his will.  [He can] support [and] strengthen [us under chastisement, and so] cause [it] to work for good.  [God can] abundantly more than make up [for our sufferings; he can] deliver [us from it, and] make us happy.  [He can] give the blessed fruit of affliction, [and] bestow that far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

In typical Edwardsean fashion, the New England preacher restores the hope and perspective of any listener or reader who will submit himself or herself to God.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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