Guest Blogger: Jason Helopoulos

If I could wear one of those “Jonathan Edwards is My Homeboy” T-shirts and get away with it, I would. Edwards has influenced my thinking and theology in many ways. One of those ways is small, but it is unique and has been a great blessing. Edwards rightly noted that God is Redeemer and Creator. Therefore, Edwards saw a close relationship between the natural and spiritual worlds. This led him to believe that regenerate men and women should be able to comprehend spiritual types or shadows in natural things. At times, He may have taken it a little farther than I am comfortable with, but the practice of looking for types and shadows of spiritual things in the natural world has been a delightful part of my Christian life for the past decade. Here are a few from Edwards’ own pen:

“The mole opens not his eyes till he be dead.” (179)

“The silkworm is a remarkable type of Christ. Its greatest work is weaving something for our beautiful clothing, and it dies in this work. It spends its life in it, it finishes it in death, as Christ was obedient unto death; his righteousness was chiefly wrought out in dying. And then it rises again, a worm, as Christ was in his state of humiliation, but a more glorious creature. When it rises, it leaves its web for our glorious clothing behind, and rises a perfectly white (butterfly), denoting the purity from imputed grace which He rose as our surety, for in His resurrection He was justified.” (142)

“As one ascends a mountain, they get further and further from the lower world, and the objects of it looks less and less to him. So it is in one that ascends in the way to heaven. Commonly near the foot of a high mountain there is a deep valley, which must be descended in order to come to the mountain. So we must first descend low by humiliation to fit us for spiritual exaltation.” (151)

“When summer has continued uninterrupted for some time, then begin to come many flies and other insects that are hurtful and noisome. But after they are come, they remain long after the weather grows cool, and it must be a very hard frost to kill. A small frost may chill ‘em and restrain ‘em, but they will revive again at the return of every warm day. So a long continuance of a summer or prosperity, of outward or spiritual comforts, breeds hurtful and noisome and corrupting insects as it were to the soul. Many evil things, contrary to the humility and simplicity that is in Christ, gradually creep in till they swarm. So it is in a particular person, and so it is in the church of God.  And after they have go in, and have got foothold, ’tis a hard thing to root ‘em out. If the prosperity and comforts are withdrawn, there must be very much of the contrary before they will be killed. The insects in summer signify the same with the worms in the manna.” (182)

“The sun makes plants to flourish when it shines after rain; otherwise it makes them wither. So clouds and darkness and rains of affliction fit the soul for the clear shining of the Sun of Righteousness. Light and comfort, if the heart is not prepared by humiliation, do but make the heart worse. They fill it with disease of pride, and destroy the welfare of the soul instead of promoting it. II Sam. 23:4.” (83)

Journey outside this afternoon, look at the sky, look at the trees, look down at the blades of grass, think about the bread you are baking or the dirty hands you are washing, and let your spiritual eyes (grounded in Scripture) wander around looking for types and shadows of spiritual things to the encouragement of your soul. And if you are really ambitious, you may even think about starting a notebook like Edwards and myself. This has to be the first step if you have any dream or hope of being able to wear the coveted T-shirt.

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4 thoughts on “Looking at Nature as an Edwards’ Homeboy”

  1. L. Westerlund says:

    Your blog is the tip of the iceberg. Here is Geo. MacDonald:

    “There is no water in oxygen, no water in hydrogen; it comes bubbling forth from the imagination of the living God, rushing from under the great white throne of the glacier. The very thought of it makes one gasp with an elemental joy no metaphysician can analyze. The water itself, that dances and sings,and slakes the wonderful thirst–symbol and picture of that draught for which the woman of Samaria made her prayer to Jesus–this lovely thing itself, whose very wetness is a delight to every inch of the human body in its imbrace–this live thing, which, if I might, I would have running through my room, yea, babbling along my table–this water is its own self its own truth, and is therein a truth of God. Let him who would know the truth of the Maker, become sorely athirst, and drink of the brook by the way–then lift up his heart–not at that moment to the Maker of oxygen and hydrogen, but to the Inventor and Mediator of thirst and water, that man might foresee a little of what his soul may find in God.”

    As C.S. Lewis said, in drawing the distinction between allegory and symbolism, “For the symbolist, it is we who are the allegory.” Christians are symbolists, in Lewis’s discussion–we look at the world, and ask, “What does it mean?” Can we look at a tree and not think of Psalm 1? Can we see the rising sun and not think of the Light of the World? He is the Reality–the created world gives us pictures of that reality.

    Thank you for this blog.

  2. Andre says:

    thank you for the useful post! I have been checking for something like to this.
    I will be following your rss feed so i won’t miss the good things! again, super blog please keep it up! Please pardon me if my english is not good.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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