The Christian life is not an ascetic life, but a life in which every received pleasure draws the mind up to supreme Pleasure, Christ himself, in his resplendent beauty. Joy is fundamentally a vision of God. Edwards therefore saw what many writers and preachers today do not: that the way to cultivate joy in God’s people was not to talk about joy but to talk about God. If a New York park guide wants to help his band of tourists feel awe at the Niagara Falls, he doesn’t give a lecture on awe. He shows them the falls. If a Christian leader wants believers to feel joy in Christ, he doesn’t mainly tell them about joy. He shows them Christ. Joy sneaks unbidden in the back door.
Edwards teaches us, then, of the God-centerdness of all joy in this fallen world. He reminds us that the formula to joy is not God and _______ so much as God in _________. Christ is not one more element to fit into an already packed schedule – one more item on a growing grocery list of priorities. Knowing Christ means seeing all of life in a new way, with new glasses. Jesus Christ gives meaning to all priorities, not only heading the list but coloring every one with new and exciting meaning. To become a Christian is to make all of life sacramental.
Dane Ortlund, Edwards on the Christian Life (pg. 77).
I was in the foregoing part of this week. But now these thoughts seemed to be wholly dashed to pieces; not by necessity, but of choice: for it appeared to me, that God’s dealings towards me had fitted me for a life of solitariness and hardship; and that I had nothing to lose, nothing to do with earth, and consequently nothing to lose by a total renunciation of it. It appeared to me just right, that I should be destitute of house and home, and many comforts of life, which I rejoiced to see others of God’s people enjoy. And at the same time, I saw so much of the excellency of Christ’s kingdom, and the infinite desirableness of its advancement in the world, that it swallowed up all my other thoughts; and made me willing, yea, even rejoice, to be made a pilgrim or hermit in the wilderness, to my dying moment, if I might thereby promote the blessed interest of the great Redeemer.
David Brainerd, The Life and Diary of David Brainerd
Can you truly say, that you have so far taken the everlasting enjoyment of God for your happiness, that it hath the most of your heart, of your love, desire and care; and that you are resolved, by the strength of Divine grace, to let go all that you have in the world, rather than hazard it; and that it is your daily, and your principal business to seek it? Can you truly say, that though you have your failings and sins, yet your main care, and the bent of your whole life, is to please God, and to enjoy him for ever; and that you give the world God’s leavings (leftovers), as it were, and not God the world’s leavings; and that your worldly business is but as a traveller’s seeking for provision in his journey, and heaven is the place that you take for your home?
Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (pg. 248).
The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love him, and the more uneasy is he at his want of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn; the more his heart is broken, the more he desires it should be broke: the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God. The kindling and raising of gracious affections is like kindling a flame; the higher it is raised, the more ardent it is; and the more it burns, the more vehemently does it tend and seek to burn.
Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (pg.303).
He who has no religious affection is in a state of spiritual death, and is wholly destitute of the powerful, quickening, saving influences of the Spirit of God upon his heart. As there is no true religion where there is nothing else but affection, so there is no true religion where there is no religious affection…If the great things of religion are rightly understood, they will affect the heart. The reason why men are not affected by such infinitely great, important, glorious, and wonderful things, as they often hear and read of in the Word of God, is, undoubtedly, because they are blind; if they were not so, it would be impossible, and utterly inconsistent with human nature, that their hearts should be otherwise than strongly impressed, and greatly moved by such things.
Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections (pgs. 49-50)
But on day, as I was passing in the field, and that too with some dashes on my conscience, fearing lest yet all was not right, suddenly this sentence fell upon my soul, ‘Thy righteousness is in heaven’; and methought withal, I saw, with the eyes of my soul, Jesus Christ at God’s right hand; there, I say, is my righteousness; so that wherever I was, or whatever I was a-doing, God could not say of me, ‘He wants my righteousness,’ for that was just before Him. I also saw, moreover, that it was not my good frame of heart that made my righteousness better, nor yet my bad frame that made my righteousness worse; for my righteousness was Jesus Christ Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Now did my chains fall off my legs indeed, I was loosed from my afflictions and irons, my temptations had fled away; so that, from that time, those dreadful Scriptures of God left off to trouble me now; now went I also home rejoicing, for the grace and love of God.
John Bunyan, quoted in The Unquenchable Flame by Michael Reeves (pg. 175).