Jonathan Edwards: “God Glorified in Our Salvation”
It was of mere grace that God gave us his only begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the dignity and excellency of what is given: the gift was infinitely precious, because it was a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also, because it was a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him: the benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal, misery; and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God’s hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by which way is made for our having of the gift. He gave him to us dwelling amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; he gave him to us in our nature, in the like infirmities in which we have it in our fallen state, and which in us do accompany and are occasioned by the sinful corruption of our nature. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but he gave him to us slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.
The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was under no obligation to bestow: he might have rejected fallen man, as he did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit. ’Twas given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God that saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it.
We are dependent on God’s power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature. ’Tis a work of creation: “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature” (II Corinthians 5:17). “We are created in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:10). The fallen creature cannot attain to true holiness, but by being created again: “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24). It is a raising from the dead: “Wherein ye also are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” (Colossians 4:12-13). Yea, it is a more glorious work of power than mere creation, or raising a dead body to life, in that the effect attained is greater and more excellent. That holy and happy being and spiritual life which is reached in the work of conversion is a far greater and more glorious effect than mere being and life.
’Tis by God’s power also that we are preserved in a state of grace: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (I Peter 1:15). As grace is at first from God, so ’tis continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning or at sunrising.
Men are dependent on the power of God for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on the work of grace in the heart, for the subduing of sin and corruption, and increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works, and at last bringing grace to its perfection, in making the soul completely amiable in Christ’s glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed. These are the most glorious effects of the power of God that are seen in the series of God’s acts with respect to the creatures.
~ From Edwards’ sermon “God Glorified in Man’s Dependence”