Undiscerned Spiritual Pride

Jonathan EdwardsThis is an edited version of Jonathan Edwards’ Part IV, section 1 of “Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England” (from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Banner of Truth Trust, volume one, pp. 398-403). In this case, an edited version cannot do true justice to the whole essay, so it is highly recommended that you acquire this treatise and read the complete version yourself.

  The first and worst cause of errors that prevail in our day and age is spiritual pride. This is the main door by which the devil comes into the hearts of those who are zealous for the advancement of Christ. It is the chief inlet of smoke from the bottomless pit to darken the mind and mislead the judgement. Pride is the main handle by which he has hold of Christian persons and the chief source of all the mischief that he introduces to clog and hinder a work of God. Spiritual pride is the main spring or at least the main support of all other errors. Until this disease is cured, medicines are applied in vain to heal all other diseases.
  It is by spiritual pride that the mind defends and justifies itself in other errors and guards itself against light by which it might be corrected and reclaimed. The spiritually proud man is full of light already and feels that he does not need instruction, so he is ready to despise the offer of it. On the other hand, the humble person is like a little child who easily receives instruction. He is cautious in his estimate of himself, sensitive as to how liable he is to go astray. If it is suggested to him that he does go astray, he is most ready to inquire into the matter. Nothing sets a Christian so much out of the devil’s reach than humility and so prepares the mind for divine light without darkness and so clears the eye to look at things as they truly are Psalm 25:9—He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. If spiritual pride is healed, other things are easily rectified. Our first care should be to rectify the heart and pull the beam of pride out of our eye and then we shall see clearly.
  Those who are most zeal ous in the cause of God are the most likely to be targeted as being filled with pride. When any person appears, in any respect, to be remarkably distinguished from others in his Christian walk, odds are ten to one that it will immediately awaken the jealousy of those about him. They will suspect (whether they have good reason or not) that he is very proud of his goodness and that he probably thinks no one as good as he, so that everything he says and does is observed with this Continue reading

Men Tried and Found Defective – A Sermon by Edward Payson

Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting” – Daniel 5:27

EdwardPaysonIn the preceding part of this chapter we are informed, that Belshazzar, king of Babylon, made a great feast to a thousand of his lords and drank wine before the thousand. And while he tasted the wine, he commanded his servants to bring forth the golden vessels, which were taken out of the house of God at Jerusalem; and he, with his guests, drank wine in them, and praised the gods of gold and silver, of brass and iron, of wood and of stone. But while they were thus insulting the Majesty of heaven and earth, by consuming his bounty upon their lusts, and profaning the vessels of his sanctuary, in the same hour there came forth the fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the palace, and the king saw the part of the hand, which wrote. Though he knew not the awful import of the mysterious words thus written, his guilty conscience soon told him, that he had no reason to expect messages of mercy from the invisible world; and therefore his countenance was changed and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed and his knees smote one against another. Nor were his terrors without foundation; for after the hand was withdrawn, the words, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, were found written; words, which were thus interpreted by Daniel the prophet; MENE, God hath numbered thy kingdom and finished it; TEKEL thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting; UPHARSIN, thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. The justness of this interpretation was confirmed by the event, for that same night was Belshazzar slain.

My friends, this story affords an instructive, admonitory lesson to us all; for though we have not, like Belshazzar, profaned the consecrated vessels of the Lord, or praised the gods of the heathen, who are vanity and a lie, yet we have in various ways insulted our Creator and provoked him to jealousy. We have often consumed his bounty upon our lusts; we have perverted those faculties, which ought to have been consecrated to his service; we have loved and served and idolized the world, and the God, in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways we have not glorified; and though the displeasure of offended heaven is not now suddenly and openly displayed, as it was in the days of Daniel; though no hand is now sent to write the sentence of condemnation on the walls of our houses, yet there is still an invisible witness, which continually records our actions; there is still a just and omniscient God, by whom these actions are weighed; it is still true that we shall receive of him a just recompense of reward, according to our works. Continue reading