Jonathan Edwards and Thanksgiving


“A man must first love God, or have his heart united to Him, before he will esteem God’s good his own, and before he will desire the glorifying and enjoying of God as his happiness.”

“When the first thing that draws a man’s benevolence to another is the beholding of those qualifications and properties in him, which appear to him lovely in themselves, and the subject of them, on this account worthy of esteem and good will, love arises in a very different manner than when it first arises from some gift bestowed by another or depended on from him, as a judge loves and favours a man that has bribed him; or from the relation he supposes another has to him, as a man who loves another because he looks upon him as his child. When love to another arises thus, it does truly and properly arise from self-love.”

“If men’s affection to God is founded first on His profitableness to them, their affection begins at the wrong end; they regard God only for the utmost limit of the stream of divine good, where it touches them and reaches their interest, and have no respect to that infinite glory of God’s nature which is the original good, and the true fountain of all good, the first fountain of all loveliness of every kind, and so the first foundation of all true love.”

“Thus Saul was once and again greatly affected, and even dissolved with gratitude towards David, for sparing his life, and yet remained an habitual enemy to him.”

“Again, a very high affection towards God may, and often does, arise in men from an opinion of the favour and love of God to them, as the first foundation of their love to Him.”

“When this is the case with carnal men, their very lusts will make Him seem lovely: pride itself will prejudice them in favour of that which they call Christ: selfish proud man naturally calls that lovely that greatly contributes to his interest, and gratifies his ambition.”

“The saint’s affections begin with God; and self-love has a hand in these affections consequentially and secondarily only.”

“True gratitude or thankfulness to God for His kindness to us arises from a foundation laid before, of love to God for what He is in Himself; whereas a natural gratitude has no such antecedent foundation.”

“And this is indeed the main difference between the joy of the hypocrite and the joy of the true saint. The former rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy: the latter rejoices in God.”

“Indeed, the saints rejoice in their interest in God, and that Christ is theirs, and so they have great reason, but this is not the first spring of their joy. They first rejoice in God as glorious and excellent in Himself, and then secondarily rejoice in the fact that so glorious a God is theirs.”

“As in their high affections they keep their eye upon the beauty of their experiences, and the greatness of their attainments, so they are great talkers about themselves. The true saint, when under great spiritual affections, from the fulness of his heart, is ready to be speaking much of God and His glorious perfections and works, and of the beauty and amiableness of Christ, and the glorious things of the gospel: but hypocrites, in their high affections, talk more of the discovery, than they do of the thing discovered; they are full of talk about the great things they have met with, the wonderful discoveries they have had, how sure they are of the love of God to them, how safe their condition is, and how they know they shall go to heaven, &c.”

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