Guest Post by Dane Ortlund
Thanks so much, Justin, for letting us carry the Between Two Worlds baton for a few days as you got away to rest. I know I speak for your many readers when I express my thankfulness for what this blog contributes not only to blogdom but, indeed, to the Christian church.
I close out my contribution with a word from my all-time favorite sermon (so far) by my dear friend, Jonathan Edwards. It’s a one-way friendship for now; it will not always be so.
In the 1730s Edwards preached a sermon on 1 John 4:16, entitled “The Spirit of the True Saints Is a Spirit of Divine Love.” Here’s a bit from the end. Best read slowly. The last sentence, in light of what precedes it, is wonderfully confrontational.
Consider what Christ has done for you. He died for you. O what did he bear for you. If you knew the pains, the distress, and the agonies the glorious Son of God underwent for you, how would the thoughts of his kindness and love to you overcome you. . . .
God in Christ allows such little, poor creatures as you are to come to him, to love communion with him, and to maintain a communication of love with him. You may go to God and tell him how you love him and open your heart and he will accept of it. You may be familiar in your expressions of your love to Christ, as little or unworthy as you are, for he is near to you. He is come down from heaven and has taken upon him the human nature on purpose, that he might be near to you and might be, as it were, your companion. . . . You may place yourself in his divine embraces.
Therefore don’t let your unworthiness discourage you. Let it heighten your surprise and cause you to express your love in the most humble manner possible. But let it not keep you at a distance or change the expressions of your love. You may want humility in your love, but you never can be guilty of any excess in the joys of divine love. . . .
Let these considerations influence you to the love of God and Jesus Christ, to love them with a superlative love and love nothing contrary to them, and love nothing above them, and love nothing equal to them, and love nothing along with them with any parallel love. And express your love by doing for them by being willing all your days to labor and suffer for the glory of God. Can you think of living so as to dishonor God and to be a stumbling block to others and a disadvantage to religion without the utmost dread of it and being sick at the thought of it?
–Jonathan Edwards, “The Spirit of the True Saints Is a Spirit of Divine Love,” in The Glory and Honor of God: Volume 2 of the Previously Unpublished Sermons of Jonathan Edwards (ed. Michael McMullen; B&H, 2004), 338-41