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Powerful Experiences of Christians: Jonathan Edwards

August 21, 2010

You’ll like this one, it’s short. 🙂  This is one (among many) accounts of Jonathan Edward’s experiential relationship with God.  Like Wesley and Fletcher, Edwards emphasized the experiential side of Christianity.  Though a influential theologian, he did not simply equate faith with intellectual assent.  In fact, he would argue that if one’s affections are not aroused and influenced by the Holy Spirit, then it is questionable one has truly experienced the saving power of God.  Though Edwards and I don’t see eye to eye on some things theologically, he is yet another testimony of the reality that we can and are meant to experience God deeply:

Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that for me was extraordinary, of the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension. This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens. The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception … which continued as near as I can judge, about an hour; which kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud. I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him; to live upon him; to serve and follow him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity. I have, several other times, had views very much of the same nature, and which have had the same effects.

Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2010 5:02

    Wow … the testimony of giants of the faith such as Edwards always convicts me. Although I have a regular and active prayer life, I can’t say I’ve ever had such an experience as to view Christ revealed for an hour.

    What strikes me most in the excerpt from Edwards is this statement: “my manner commonly has been, to walk for divine contemplation and prayer …” Spiritual disciplines such as this reveals are fairly key to living a life of holiness, as Wesley would have pointed out (and frequently did).

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      August 22, 2010 8:09

      Chad,

      You’re exactly right, Wesley and Edwards (and a host of others) all emphasized this idea of constantly seeking God. What’s great about Wesleyan theology is that this seeking leads us to a crisis moment where the fullness of the Holy Spirit finally “breaks through.” Wesley said over and over to wait and seek until we have it. I just recently read a sermon by him where he completely acknowledges the mystery of why some people have this type of experience quickly and why it takes others years. But, our only responsibility is to seek Him; He must do the rest. Which is actually “grace-filled” because it takes the pressure off of us to “make” this type of holiness happen.

  2. August 24, 2010 10:23

    “…to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him; to live upon him; to serve and follow him; and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure, with a divine and heavenly purity.”

    i used to have this kind of experience…very briefly…but it opened me up to a whole new level of relationship with God. the sense of inadequacy and humbleness overwhelmed me…and it made me a little sad that i wouldn’t get to experience the fullest of the full until i stand before Him in heaven.

    but what impact, what change, what revival can happen if we seek without giving up…such experience will make a huge difference in this world.

    • jonathangroover permalink*
      August 31, 2010 9:06

      Hey Mink,

      You said, “but it opened me up to whole new level of relationship with God.” I think that’s why it’s so important that we continue to ask God to reveal himself and give us His Holy Spirit. It draws us near to him. Experience is what transforms us.

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