Charity and its Fruits
Few Christian leaders since the Reformation have been as gifted as Jonathan Edwards. A man of intense personal devotion to Christ, he was a leader of revival, and a creative Reformed theologian as well as being a missionary and a philosopher fully meriting Hugh Martin’s description of him as ‘that greatest of metaphysical divines’. Yet it is likely that he would have preferred to be remembered simply as ‘pastor of the Church of Northampton’.
Preached in 1738 (the same year that Edwards published A Narrative of Surprising Conversions, this volume, Charity and Its Fruits gives us an insight into his regular pulpit ministry in the years between the Northampton revival of 1735 and ‘the Great Awakening’ of 1740.
Entirely free from sentimentality this moving exposition of 1 Corinthians 13, like his better known book, The Religious Affections, reveals Edwards’ insistence both that true Christian experience is ‘supernatural’- Spirit produced and Christ centered- and that ‘all true Christian grace tends to practice’. These sermons show how it is possible to steer between Arminianism on the one hand and Antinomianism on the other.
The concluding chapter on heaven as a world of love is perhaps the most beautiful in all Edwards’s writings.
Section One: Love, the Most Essential Thing
- 1) Love the Sum of All Virtue
- 2) Love More Excellent than Extraordinary Gifts of the Spirit
- 3) Nothing Can Make Up for Want of Sincerity in the Heart
Section Two: Love, the Fountain of All Good
- 4) Long-Suffering and Kindness
- 5) Charity Contrary to an Envious Spirit
- 6) A Christian Spirit is a Humble Spirit
- 7) Charity Contrary to a Selfish Spirit
- 8) Charity Contrary to an Angry Spirit
- 9) Contrary to a Censorious Spirit
- 10) Grace Tends to Holy Practice
- 11) Undergoing Sufferings a Duty to Christ
- 12) Christian Graces Concatenated Together
Section Three: Love, the Divine Gift That Perseveres
- 13) Grace Never Overthrown
- 14) Divine Love Alone Lasts Eternally
- 15) Heaven Is a World of Love
About Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) served the Northampton Congregational Church in Massachusetts for twenty-three years, then missionary outpost to the Mohawk and Mohican tribes. In 1758, he became president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). Edwards “is widely acknowledged to be America’s most important and original philosophical theologian,” and one of America’s greatest intellectuals. Besides this book, we have numerous other writings of Edwards, including Jonathan Edwards on Revival, Jonathan Edwards on Knowing Christ, as well as sermon collections by Edwards such as Knowing the Heart, Seeking God, and The Torments of Hell.