Jonathan Edwards

Tuesday forenoon, November 26, 1723
“It is a most evil and pernicious practice, in the meditations of afflictions, to sit ruminating on the aggravations of the affliction, and reckoning up the evil, dark, circumstances thereof, and dwelling long on the dark side: it doubles and trebles the affliction. And so when speaking of them to others, to make them as bad as we can, and use our eloquence to set forth our own troubles, is to be all the while making new troubles, and feeding and pampering the old; whereas the contrary practice would starve our affliction. If we dwelt on the bright side of things in our thoughts, and extenuated them all that we possibly could, when speaking of them, we should think little of them ourselves, and the affliction would really, in a great measure vanish away.” Jonathan Edwards

A remarkable aspect of this statement from Jonathan Edwards is he was 20 years old when he wrote it. His words written 287 years ago are very pertinent for use today. Yesterday was Thanksgiving and according to one source the social advice columns were filled with how to solve your problem of having to be with people you don’t like for the day. Perhaps the social advisers would be advised to listen to Jonathan Edwards and advise people to look beyond their own troubles, then maybe these wise advisors of society would have something to speak to our day. Instead of giving the same advise they wrote last year and the year before under a new title.

13 thoughts on “Jonathan Edwards

  1. Looking beyond ourselves seems to be a tough proposition even for Christians, even though the Word of God counsels us to do that. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you”; the story of the good Samaritan; the story of the prodigal son; And of course, the greatest story every told, the passion, crucifixion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ….”No greater love has any man than that he lay down his life for a friend.” That sure is looking beyond ONESELF! To live a sacrificial life for the Lord Jesus Christ is to “suffer the little children who make a lot of noise and seem such a nuisance; suffer the elderly who repeat their stories every year; suffer the granny that can’t hear so well; the old uncle who dribbles when he eats his gravy; grandpa’s war stories that he tells year after year; a sister-in-laws snooty attitude; a bragging brother-in-law. They all need something, don’t they? What do WE have to offer them? Patience of Christ, long-suffering, an encouraging word?
    Sharing the love of Christ if it is even to keep our attitudes holy and not judgmental. After all, it’s only for one day!!!

  2. It almost seems to me in reading Jonathan Edwards that he is saying we create or involve ourselves in situations or afflictions just so we have something to complain and gossip about to bring attention to ourselves and that is very evil.

  3. There probably is a fine line (plumb line?) between sharing affliction for the sake of prayer, comfort and/or information and wallowing in our infirmities and sicknesses as a means to desperately draw attention to ourselves, making it the centerpiece of our lives.
    I want to know when a friend or family member is hurting, physically, especially…not to go over the gory details but offer some words of encouragement and to pray for them.

  4. I think JE had a curve on “Mind over Matter.” Maybe we all need an awareness of mind over matter. To much talk may just bring things into existence.

    I think the Apostle Paul has a curve as well when he wrote; Philippians 4:8 “… Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

    And, as Gary commented in his blog we might have a different Thanksgiving Table if we focus on the action of God’s Word like “…. 1 Peter 2:12 “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

    I have come to understand that if I gather info from another I am responsible for that info. So I learned from my bother, ‘tooooo much info’….I don’t need it. I sure don’t want to be a carrier of someone’s info that would spread and not produce help or healing for the one I got the info from or about. I do believe when we speak it and not bring help we are making things worst.

    To serve God and do as I Peter said carries an awesome responsibility…O My God, that my life of good deeds would cause others to glorify God on that day He visit us. Even reading this breaks my heart and reduces me to a pool of tears for my foolish living and talking. May I learn to evoke the name of Jesus in power and might of The Holy Spirit and not my selfish fleshly gossip.

  5. ” …the affliction would really, in a great measure vanish away.” Jonathan Edwards. This brilliant young man must have known there would always be the self seeking and self serving desires lurking in our beings that wold pop right on the social scene to usurp the teachings and power of Jesus Christ. As well as destiny for all. In my limited knowing I have so often seen when one is sick and suffering and have real needs the self seeking have conveniently vanished until time for their limited stories again.

    If you didn’t see Frontline PBS this past week on sickness and Facing Death, I would suggest you might like to see it. You can access it from your computers.

  6. “practice would starve our affliction.” again Jonathan Edwards from blog. I must say these words from this brilliant and spiritual man gives me cold chills and then a fever. Twenty years old and almost three hundred years ago and we still don’t get it.

    Jesus, the Christ over 2000 years ago and we still don’t get it. I listened to a debate with Tony Blair defending religious faith as a force for good in the world during a televised debate with atheist and columnist Christopher Hitchens.

    Mr Hitchens, who has terminal cancer, likened God to a “celestial dictatorship, a kind of divine North Korea”. He appeared to win over the audience, which voted two-to-one in his favour following the debate,…

    Also, Mr Hitchens, 61, said: “Once you assume a creator and a plan, it makes us objects, in a cruel experiment, whereby we are created sick, and commanded to be well.” quoted from The Telegraph, 11/28/10

    I came away with the idea the only valuable point we have as Christians is to build God’s Kingdom with souls and not soulish words and actions. Again, the scripture I quoted above, 1 Peter 2:12 “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

    Where are the Numbers????? NOTE; I think Tony Blair did an excellent job!

  7. Death and Dying
    Sara, after viewing the PBS link above, aside from the heartrending grief of the families and the horrendous pain and anguish of the patients and having seen a small part of that within my own family, it just intensifies the conviction that salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ is the most important thing in one’s life and the very reason that we were born. But not only for ourselves but for those with whom we have to do; for those who are in harm’s way, who are ill, who are dying, who are living . For, unless we are all raptured, we will all die, as the Bible teaches and this video demonstrates. They died!
    I am not so courageous and bold as Paul who said , “ I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers (and sisters), according to the flesh….if they would accept Jesus Christ, as the Messiah” (Rom9:3) But to know the Heart of God which is to bring all peoples to Himself in the redemption afforded us by His Son, Jesus Christ, is the ONLY answer to eternal life. For there will be eternal life… either in Heaven with the Lord or in torturous hell, without Him.
    Help us, oh Lord, to speak about You, to tell others of Your salvation, to give testimony to what You have done in our lives…to not be afraid or intimidated or fearful or embarrassed or procrastinate.
    Time is of the essence. Today is the day of salvation. ‘We’ve a story to tell to the nations.’ People are dying every moment of every day. We can do something about it.

  8. For me, the Frontline PBS documentary shows the sobering reality of how close eternity is to our doorsteps and that we have no guarantee of living to see old age. There is nothing more important than knowing and serving Jesus as Lord and Savior to insure a wonderful eternity with Him.

  9. Frontline PBS gave me a new appreciation for the nurses and doctors who face death and near death experiences everyday. I cried with those who struggled week after week for a cure and it didn’t come. We know that when people cross over into heaven they are totally healed, but seeing a loved one go through death in a way they did not want is painful.

  10. I just heard interestingl news that scientists are discovering how to turn skin cells into blood cells and other cells by tracking their dna and which genes they can use to make a different cell. This originated with stem cells which is a controversial proposition because of moral and ethical issues. But now it seems that they do not need embryos but are developing the project by using adult cells.

  11. Sounds like from Jonathan Edwards that we should be very selective how we
    decorate the walls of our minds. That means what we take in from others and all the media we have around us. What is planted in the walls will grow and be eventually revealed. Phillippians 4:8 NIV encourages us to think on good and reads 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. No wonder the scripture tells us to do this.

  12. I am amazed by Jonathan Edwards words. Debi, I agree with your comment. So people just love drama and bringing attention to themself. Sara, I like what your brother about “too much information.”

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