Book Review: Jonathan Edwards and Justification, ed. Josh Moody

Jonathan Edwards and Justification” (Crossway, 2012) is a short but substantial book on the theology of Jonathan Edwards. Edited by Josh Moody, it is a compilation of 5 chapter-length articles by theologians familiar with Edwards.

Reader beware, this is not a book for the faint at heart. It is theologically substantial and heavy, especially given that Edwards’s own words and language is quoted and hard to grasp at first reading. Most certainly, this is a book for the pastor-theologian or seminarian who desires a quick and succinct examination of Edwards’s position on justification.

In particular, it exmines Edwards’s view on justification. To be sure, Moody and company aim to uncover how Reformed is Jonathan Edwards’s beliefs about about our position in Christ. This is especially an important book for our time, when this issue of justification by faith alone is undermined by the ever-increasing friendship of Roman Catholics and evangelicals. And our theological-ecclesial climate is further exasperated by the recent work of E.P. Sanders and the New Perspective on Paul. Henceforth, this book finds itself in the unique position of offering a well-reasoned defence of Edwards’s Reformed position on justification by faith alone.

I found Moody’s opening chapter most helpful and a quick primer for myself, as one who has dabbed little into the works of Edwards. I appreciated Moody’s examination of Edwards’s “order of salvation” and the relationship between justification and sanctification. I now know I need to spend more time reading Edwards, and this book is a good little catalyst for any student of theology–especially in the vein of Edwards.

Jonathan Edwards and Justification, edited by Josh Moody. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 160 pp. (Available in Paperback or Kindle

That God may be glorified in our condition

There is in us an envy, and wicked emulation. Oh, how hard a matter is it to rejoice in the gifts and graces, and services of others, and be content with the dispensation, when God will cast us by as unworthy, and use others for the glorifying of his name! Therefore that we may refer the choice instruments to God, we need go to him and say, Lord, ‘hallowed be thy name;’ do it which way, and by whom thou pleasest. We are troubled, if others glorify God, and not we, or more than we; if they be more holy, more useful, or more serious, self will not yield to this. Now by putting up this prayer to God, we refer it to him to choose the instrument whom he will employ. It was a commendable modesty and self-denial in John Baptist, which is described, John iv. 13, ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’ When we are contented to be abased and obscured, provided Christ may he honoured and exalted and be content with such a dispensation, though with our loss and decrease. Many are of a private station, and straitened in gifts, and can have no public instrumentality for God; now these need to pray ‘ Hallowed be thy name,’- that they may rejoice when God useth others whom he hath furnished with greater abilities.[2.] A submission for the way; that we may submit to those unpleasing means and circumstances of his providence, that God will take up and make use of, for the glorifying of his holy name. Many times we must be content, not only to be active instruments, but passive objects of God’s glory. And therefore if God will glorify himself by our poverty, or our disgrace, our pain and sickness, we must be content. Therefore we need to deal with God seriously about this matter, that we may submit to the Lord’s will, as Jesus Christ did: John x11. 27,28 ‘Save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour : Father, glorify thy name. And there was a voice from heaven that Said, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ Put me to shame, suffering, to endure the cross, the curse, so thou mayest be glorified. This was the humble submission of Christ Jesus, and such a submission should be in us. The martyrs were contented to be bound to the stake, if that way God will use them to his glory. Phil. i. 20, saith Paul, ‘ So Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death :’ if my body be taken to heaven in glory, or whether it be exercised or worn out with ministerial labour. We need to deal with God that we may have the end, and leave the means to his own choosing; that God may be glorified in our condition, whatever it be. If he will have us rich and full, that he might be glorified in our bounty; if he will have us poor and low, that he may be glorified in our patience; if he will have us healthy, that he may be glorified in our labour; if he will have us sick, that he may be glorified in our pain; if he will have us live, that he may be glorified in our lives; if he will have us die, that he may be glorified in our deaths: and therefore, ‘ Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s:’ Rom. xiv. 9.–Thomas Manton, Works, 1:77

That God may be glorified in our condition

There is in us an envy, and wicked emulation. Oh, how hard a matter is it to rejoice in the gifts and graces, and services of others, and be content with the dispensation, when God will cast us by as unworthy, and use others for the glorifying of his name! Therefore that we may refer the choice instruments to God, we need go to him and say, Lord, ‘hallowed be thy name;’ do it which way, and by whom thou pleasest. We are troubled, if others glorify God, and not we, or more than we; if they be more holy, more useful, or more serious, self will not yield to this. Now by putting up this prayer to God, we refer it to him to choose the instrument whom he will employ. It was a commendable modesty and self-denial in John Baptist, which is described, John iv. 13, ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’ When we are contented to be abased and obscured, provided Christ may he honoured and exalted and be content with such a dispensation, though with our loss and decrease. Many are of a private station, and straitened in gifts, and can have no public instrumentality for God; now these need to pray ‘ Hallowed be thy name,’- that they may rejoice when God useth others whom he hath furnished with greater abilities.

[2.] A submission for the way; that we may submit to those unpleasing means and circumstances of his providence, that God will take up and make use of, for the glorifying of his holy name. Many times we must be content, not only to be active instruments, but passive objects of God’s glory. And therefore if God will glorify himself by our poverty, or our disgrace, our pain and sickness, we must be content. Therefore we need to deal with God seriously about this matter, that we may submit to the Lord’s will, as Jesus Christ did: John x11. 27,28 ‘Save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour : Father, glorify thy name. And there was a voice from heaven that Said, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ Put me to shame, suffering, to endure the cross, the curse, so thou mayest be glorified. This was the humble submission of Christ Jesus, and such a submission should be in us. The martyrs were contented to be bound to the stake, if that way God will use them to his glory. Phil. i. 20, saith Paul, ‘ So Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death :’ if my body be taken to heaven in glory, or whether it be exercised or worn out with ministerial labour. We need to deal with God that we may have the end, and leave the means to his own choosing; that God may be glorified in our condition, whatever it be. If he will have us rich and full, that he might be glorified in our bounty; if he will have us poor and low, that he may be glorified in our patience; if he will have us healthy, that he may be glorified in our labour; if he will have us sick, that he may be glorified in our pain; if he will have us live, that he may be glorified in our lives; if he will have us die, that he may be glorified in our deaths: and therefore, ‘ Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s:’ Rom. xiv. 9.

–Thomas Manton, Works, 1:77

Paradoxes

O Changeless God,Under the conviction of thy Spirit I learn thatthe more I do, the worse I am,the more I know, the less I know,the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,the more I love, the more there is to love.

(From The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions, 128)

Paradoxes

O Changeless God,

Under the conviction of thy Spirit I learn that
the more I do, the worse I am,
the more I know, the less I know,
the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
the more I love, the more there is to love.

(From The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions, 128)