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Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume Two
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SECT. I.

The doctrine preached to the Indians.

Before I conclude the present Journal, I would make a few general remarks upon what to me appears worthy of notice, relating to the continued work of grace among my people. And, first, I cannot but take notice, that I have, in the general, ever since my first coming among these Indians in New Jersey, been favoured with that assistance, which to me is uncommon, in preaching Christ crucified, and making him the centre and mark to which all my discourses among them were directed.

It was the principal scope and drift of all my discourses to this people, for several months together, (after having taught them something of the being and perfections of God, his creation of man in a state of rectitude and happiness, and the obligations mankind were thence under to love and honour him,) to lead them into an acquaintance with their deplorable state by nature, as fallen creatures: their inability to extricate and deliver themselves from it: the utter insufficiency of any external reformations and amendments of life, or of any religious performances, they were capable of, while in this state, to bring them into the favour of God, and interest them in his eternal mercy.—And thence to show them their absolute need of Christ to redeem and save them from the misery of their fallen state. To open his all-sufficiency and willingness to save the chief of sinners. The freeness and riches of divine grace, proposed “without money, and without price,” to all that will accept the offer. And thereupon to press them without delay, to betake themselves to him, under a sense of their misery and undone state, for relief and everlasting salvation. And to show them the abundant encouragement the gospel proposes to needy, perishing, and helpless sinners, in order to engage them so to do. These things I repeatedly and largely insisted upon from time to time.

And I have oftentimes remarked with admiration, that whatever subject I have been treating upon, after having spent time sufficient to explain and illustrate the truths contained therein, I have been naturally and easily led to Christ as the substance of every subject. If I treated on the being and glorious perfections of God, I was thence naturally led to discourse of Christ as the only “way to the Father.” If I attempted to open the deplorable misery of our fallen state, it was natural from thence to show the necessity of Christ to undertake for us, to atone for our sins, and to redeem us from the power of them. If I taught the commands of God, and showed our violation of them, this brought me in the most easy and natural way, to speak of and recommend the Lord Jesus Christ, as one who had “magnified the law” we had broken, and who was “become the end of it for righteousness, to every one that believes.” And never did I find so much freedom and assistance in making all the various lines of my discourses meet together, and centre in Christ, as I have frequently done among these Indians.

Sometimes when I have had thoughts of offering but a few words upon some particular subject, and saw no occasion, nor indeed much room, for any considerable enlargement, there has at unawares appeared such a fountain of gospel-grace shining forth in, or naturally resulting from, a just explication of it, and Christ has seemed in such a manner to be pointed out as the substance of what I was considering and explaining, that I have been drawn in a way not only easy and natural, proper and pertinent, but almost unavoidable, to discourse of him, either in regard of his undertaking, incarnation, satisfaction, admirable fitness for the work of man’s redemption, or the infinite need that sinners stand in of an interest in him; which has opened the way for a continual strain of gospel-invitation to perishing souls, to come empty and naked, weary and heavy laden, and cast themselves upon them.

And as I have been remarkably influenced and assisted to dwell upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, in the general current of my discourses here, and have been at times surprisingly furnished with pertinent matter relating to him, and the design of his incarnation; so I have been no less assisted oftentimes in regard of an advantageous manner of opening the mysteries of divine grace, and representing the infinite excellencies and “unsearchable riches of Christ,” as well as of recommending him to the acceptance of perishing sinners. I have frequently been enabled to represent the divine glory, the infinite preciousness and transcendent loveliness of the great Redeemer; the suitableness of his person and purchase to supply the wants, and answer the utmost desires, of immortal souls: to open the infinite riches of his grace, and the wonderful encouragement proposed in the gospel to unworthy, helpless sinners: to call, invite, and beseech them to come and give up themselves to him, and be reconciled to God through him: to expostulate with them respecting their neglect of one so infinitely lovely, and freely offered: and this in such a manner, with such freedom, pertinency, pathos, and application to the conscience, as, I am sure, I never could have made myself master of by the most assiduous application of mind. And frequently at such seasons I have been surprisingly helped in adapting my discourses to the capacities of my people, and bringing them down into such easy and familiar methods of expression, as has rendered them intelligible even to pagans.

I do not mention these things as a recommendation of my own performances; for I am sure I found, from time to time, that I had no skill or wisdom for my great work; and knew not how “to choose out acceptable words” proper to address poor benighted pagans with. But thus God was pleased to help me, “not to know any thing among them, save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Thus I was enabled to show them their misery without him, and to represent his complete fitness to redeem and save them.

And this was the preaching God made use of for the awakening of sinners, and the propagation of this “work of grace among the Indians.” And it was remarkable, from time to time, that when I was favoured with any special freedom, in discoursing of the “ability and willingness of Christ to save sinners,” and “the need they stood in of such a Saviour,” there was then the greatest appearance of divine power in awakening numbers of secure souls, promoting convictions begun, and comforting the distressed.

I have sometimes formerly, in reading the apostle’s discourse to Cornelius, (Acts x..) wondered to see him so quickly introduce the Lord Jesus Christ into his sermon, and so entirely dwell upon him through the whole of it, observing him in this point very widely to differ from many of our modern preachers: but latterly this has not seemed strange, since Christ has appeared to be the substance of the gospel, and the centre in which the several lines of divine revelation meet. Although I am still sensible there are many things necessary to be spoken to persons under pagan darkness, in order to make way for a proper introduction of the name of Christ, and his undertaking in behalf of fallen man.

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