In today’s post we will consider a third and fourth criterion that Jonathan Edwards offers in his sermon “The Way of Holiness,” by which we can examine ourselves to see whether we are in this “way,” and by which we might stir up within ourselves a passion to pursue the holiness that becomes the saints of God.
“Do you find by a comparison a likeness and agreeableness between your hearts and lives, and the hearts and lives of those holy men that we are assured were such by the Word of God? Do you walk with God as Enoch did, or distinguish yourselves by your piety in the midst of wicked examples as Noah did? And when you read the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the prophets, wherein holiness is drawn to the life, you may, [in] viewing so exact a picture, discover whether you have not the root of the matter in you, though it be much obscurer in you than in them. When we read the Psalms of David, we may clearly see David’s holiness by that spirit that is breathed there; when we read the Epistles of the apostles, we may know what is a truly evangelical spirit, and whether such a spirit reigns in our souls.
“Do you in a measure imitate the saints and angels in heaven? They spend their duration to the glory of God; they love him above all things, are delighted with the beauties of Jesus Christ, entirely love one another, and hate sin. And those that are holy on earth have also a resemblance and imitation of them: they are of a heavenly temper, of heavenly lives and conversions” (11).
I love to ponder this: Do we distinguish ourselves by our piety, even in the midst of wicked examples, as Noah did? Oh God, would that we would be a people whose holiness clearly distinguishes us not only from the world, but even from those who would take the title “Christian” without a self-forsaking committment to Jesus Christ! Moreover, may we not distinguish ourselves by grudging, legalistic prudishness, but in warm-hearted, joyful, exuberant obedience.