Wednesday, April 6, 2016

       Would you choose for a friend a person of great dignity?  It is a thing taking with men to have those for their friends who are much above them; because they look upon themselves honoured by the friendship of such.  Thus, how taking would it be with an inferior maid to be the object of the dear love of some great and excellent prince.  But Christ is infinitely above you, and above all the princes of the earth; for he is the King of kings.—So honourable a person as this offers himself to you, in the nearest and dearest friendship.
     And would you choose to have a friend not only great but good?  In Christ infinite greatness and infinite goodness meet together, and receive lustre and glory one from another.  His greatness is rendered lovely by his goodness.  The greater any one is without goodness, so much the greater evil; but when infinite goodness is joined with greatness, it renders it a glorious and adorable greatness.  So, on the other hand, his infinite goodness receives lustre from his greatness.  He that is of great understanding and ability, and is withal of a good and excellent disposition, is deservedly more esteemed than a lower and lesser being, with the same kind inclination and good will.  Indeed goodness is excellent in whatever subject it be found; it is beauty and excellency itself, and renders all excellent that are possessed of it; and yet more excellent when joined with greatness.  The very same excellent qualities of gold render the body in which they are inherent more precious, and of greater value, when joined with greater than when with lesser dimensions.  And how glorious is the sight, to see him who is the great Creator and supreme Lord of heaven and earth, full of condescension, tender pity, and mercy, towards the mean and unworthy!  His almighty power, and infinite majesty, and self-sufficiency, render his exceeding love and grace the more surprising.  And how do his condescension and compassion endear his majesty, power, and dominion, and render those attributes pleasant, that would otherwise be only terrible!  Would you not desire that your friend, though great and honourable, should be of such condescension and grace, and so to have the way opened to free access to him, that his exaltation above you might not hinder your free enjoyment of his friendship?  And would you choose not only that the infinite greatness and majesty of your friend should be, as it were, mollified and sweetened with condescension and grace; but would you also desire to have your friend brought nearer to you?  Would you choose a friend far above you, and yet as it were upon a level with you too?  Though it be taking with men to have a near and dear friend of superior dignity, yet there is also an inclination in them to have their friend a sharer with them in circumstances.  Thus is Christ.  Though he be the great God, yet he has, as it were, brought himself down to be upon a level with you, so as to become man as you are, that he might not only be your Lord, but your brother, and that he might be the more fit to be a companion for such a worm of the dust.  This is one end of Christ's taking upon him man's nature, that his people might be under advantages for a more familiar converse with him, than the infinite distance of the divine nature would allow of.  And upon this account the church longed for Christ's incarnation.....One design of God in the gospel, is to bring us to make God the object of our undivided respect, that he may engross our regard every way, that whatever natural inclination there is in our souls, he may be the centre of it; that God may be all in all.  But there is an inclination in the creature, not only to the adoration of a Lord and Sovereign, but to complacence in some one as a friend, to love and delight in some one that may be conversed with as a companion.  And virtue and holiness do not destroy or weaken this inclination of our nature.  But so hath God contrived in the affair of our redemption, that a divine person may be the object even of this inclination of our nature.  And in order hereto, such an one is come down to us, and has taken our nature, and is become one of us, and calls himself our friend, brother, and companion.  Psalms cxxii. 8. "For my brethren and companions' sake, will I now say, Peace be within thee."
     By your choosing Christ for your friend and portion, you will obtain these two infinite benefits.
     1.  Christ will give himself to you, with all those various excellencies that meet in him, to your full and everlasting enjoyment.  He will ever after treat you as his dear friend; and you shall ere long be where he is, and shall behold His glory, and dwell with him, in most free and intimate communion and enjoyment.
     When his saints get to heaven, they shall not merely see Christ, and have to do with him as subjects and servants with a glorious and gracious Lord and Sovereign, but Christ will entertain them as friends and brethren.  This we may learn from the manner of Christ's conversing with his disciples here on earth:  Though he was their sovereign Lord, and did not refuse, but required, their supreme respect and adoration, yet he did not treat them as earthly sovereigns are wont to do their subjects.  He did not keep them at an awful distance; but all along conversed with them with the most friendly familiarity, as a father amongst a company of children, yea, as with brethren.....And doubtless he will not treat his disciples with less freedom and endearment in heaven.  He will not keep them at a greater distance for his being in a state of exaltation; but he will rather take them into a state of exaltation with him.....
     When Christ was going to heaven, he comforted his disciples with the thought, that after a while he would come again and take them to himself, that they might be with him.  And we are not to suppose, that when the disciples got to heaven, they found him keeping a greater distance than he used to do.  No, doubtless, he embraced them as friends, and welcomed them to his and their Father's house, and to his and their glory.  They who had been his friends in this world, who had been together with him here, and had together partaken of sorrows and troubles, are now welcomed by him to rest, and to partake of glory with him.....
.....if we choose Christ for our friend and portion, we shall hereafter be so received to him, that there shall be nothing to hinder the fullest enjoyment of him, to the satisfying the utmost cravings of our souls.....There shall never be any end of this happiness, or anything to interrupt our enjoyment of it, or in the least to molest us in it!
     2.  By your being united to Christ, you will have a more glorious union with, and enjoyment of God the Father, than otherwise could be.  For hereby the saints' relation to God becomes much nearer; they are the children of God in a higher manner than otherwise could be.  For, being members of God's own Son, they are in a sort partakers of his relation to the Father: they are not only sons of God by regeneration, but by a kind of communion in the sonship of the eternal Son.  This seems to be intended, Gal. iv. 4, 5, 6.  "God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.  And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."  The church is the daughter of God, not only as he hath begotten her by his word and Spirit, but as she is the spouse of his eternal Son.....
                                                                                                                             Jonathan Edwards

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