Wrongful Presumptions and the Providence of God – A Coridal from Jonathan Edwards

I’ve been blessed recently with several dozen volumes of classic and modern works for my library. Books are pretty to look at on a shelf, but I find they have more benefit when you read them. One of the volumes I’ve been working on is Jonathan Edwards on Revival published by the Banner of Truth.  Edwards is brilliant when it comes to memoir/narrative type writing. I’d highly recommend you take the time to read his Personal Narrative

I cannot help but pray as I’ve been reading the workings of God in Northampton through Edwards and his grandfather Solomon Stoddard. I pray that God once again would pour a working of His Spirit upon his people through awakening and revival. Edwards had his critics during the Great Awakening. Edwards and Rev. Mr. Isaac Watts take care of a bit of that criticism throughout the work. Edwards best critic I believe was himself. Perhaps I’m reading a bit too much into what Edwards wrote in the following paragraphs, but, I believe Edwards has a moment of confession.

Particularly, I was surprised with relation of a young woman, who had been one of the greatest company-keepers in the whole town. When she came tome, I had never heard that she was become in any wise serious, but by the conversation I then had with her, it appeared to me, that what she gave an account of, was a glorious work of God’s infinite power and sovereign grace; and that God had given her a new heart, truly broken and sanctified. I could not then doubt of it, and have seen much in my acquaintance with her since to confirm it.

Though the work was glorious, yet I was filled with concern about the effect it might have upon others. I was ready to conclude (though too rashly),that some would be hardened by it in carelessness and looseness of life; and would take occasion from it to open their mouths in reproaches of religion. But the event was the reverse, to a wonderful degree. God made it, I suppose, the greatest occasion of awakening to others, of any thing that ever came to pass in the town. I have had abundant opportunity to know the effect it had, by my private conversation with many. The news of it seemed to be almost like a flash of lightning, upon the hearts of young people, all over the town, and upon many others. Those persons amongst us, who used to be farthest from seriousness, and that I most feared would make an ill improvement of it, seemed to be awakened with it. Many went to talk with her, concerning what she had met with; and what appeared in her seemed to be to the satisfaction of all that did so.

Edwards made some wrong presumptions about God’s hand of sovereign grace in the conversion of that young lady. As I read that paragraph it spoke truth into my own presumptuous heart. I often with Edwards speculate all too rashly about the workings of God. I find myself trusting in my own wisdom concerning the conversion of souls and the Kingdom of God.  I would presume to know who/when/how/why his work should take place during my own timing. Folly and nothing more shall I find in that. God shall do what only God can do. We’d be wise to learn from Edwards. We would be wise to let God do his work. If we pray for revival and awakening in our land and abroad we should be obedient in full submission with eager expectation. If God would so graciously pour out His Spirit, he is the one who pours. He is the Lord who redeems Jezreel. He is the God who sows. He is the God who gives increase.

Let God be God. Let us pray. Let us be obedient.

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