The prevalence of a spirit of contention amongst a people is a certain sign of deadness with respect to the things of religion. When men's spirits are hot with contention, they are cold to religion. - Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, July 14, 2022

The big choice

Jonathan Edwards made a useful observation about the choices all of us face.

Some have never come to a resolution in their own minds so much as whether there be a God or not. They don't know that there is, and oftentimes very much doubt of it.

Second. There are some that never have come to any determination in their minds, whether to embrace religion in the practice of it. Religion don't consist merely or chiefly in theory or speculation, but in practice.

-- 96 --

It is a practical thing. The end of it is to guide and influence us in our practice. And [many] consider it in this view. And there are multitudes that never have come to a conclusion in their {own minds}, whether to embrace religion or no.

'Tis probably pretty general for men to design to be religious sometime or other before they die; for none intend to go to hell. But they keep it at a distance: they put it off from time to time: they never come to any conclusion that shall determine them in their present practice. There are some that never so much as limit any time. They design to be religious sometime before they die, but they don't know when.

There are many that have always hitherto continued unresolved about the necessity of striving, and being earnestly engaged for salvation. They flatter themselves that they may obtain salvation, though they ben't so earnestly set, though they mind the world and worldly affairs more than salvation. They are often told how necessary it is that they should make haste and not delay, that they should do whatever their hand finds to do with their might, that they should be violent, that a dull, slack way of seeking salvation is never likely to be effective; but they are never convinced of it. Some seem to resolve to be in earnest, and set out with some engagedness of mind, but soon fail, because they never have been fully6 convinced of the necessity of it.

Many never have come to a determination, what to make choice of for their portion. There are but two things that God offers to mankind for their portion: one is this world with the pleasures and profits of sin, together with eternal misery ensuing; the other is heaven and eternal glory, with a life of self-denial and respect to all God's commandments preceding. Many continue as long as they live without coming to any settled determination in their own minds which of these to choose. They must have one or the other, and can't have both; but they are always held in suspense, never make their choice. They have a mind to have both: they would have heaven and the world, too; they would have salvation, and the pleasure and profits of sin, too.

But considering heaven and the world as God offers them, they would have neither. God offers heaven only with the self-denial and difficulty that is in the way to it, and they ben't willing to have heaven thus. And God offers the world and the pleasures of sin to man not alone, but with eternal misery tached7 to it, and so they ben't willing to have the world neither.

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