Universally His, Subject to His Will, Devoted to His Ends

In his book, Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards argues that the chief of all distinguishing signs of true and saving grace is Christian practice.  In a list of supporting reasons why he believes this to be the case, he speaks of the practical exercise of holy affections in making a “full choice” of God.  Starting off 2010, I thought these convicting words of Edwards would be well worth our attention:

“[T]he holy Scriptures do abundantly place sincerity and soundness in religion in making a full choice of God as our only Lord and portion, forsaking all for him, and, in a full determination of the will for God and Christ, on counting the cost; in our heart’s closing and complying with the religion of Jesus Christ, with all that belongs to it, embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating our dearest earthly enjoyments and even our own lives, for Christ; giving up ourselves, with all that we have, wholly and for ever, unto Christ, without keeping back anything, or making any reserve; or in one word, the great duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i.e., as it were, disowning and renouncing ourselves for Him, making ourselves nothing that He may be all.

[…] A having a heart to deny ourselves for Christ tends to a denying ourselves indeed, when Christ and self-interest stand in competition.  A giving up of ourselves, with all that we have, in our hearts, without making any reserve there, tends to our behaving ourselves universally as His, as subject to His will, and devoted to His ends.  Our heart’s entirely closing with the religion of Jesus, with all that belongs to it, and as attended with all its difficulties, upon a deliberate counting the cost, tends to a universal closing with the same in act and deed, and actually going through all the difficulties that we meet with in the way of religion, and so holding out with patience and perseverance.”

– Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, 319-20 (emphasis mine).

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