The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Jewels From Jonathan Edwards

If therefore we see any of the followers of Christ, in the midst of the most violent, unreasonable and wicked opposition, of God’s and his own enemies, maintaining under all this temptation, the humility, quietness, and gentleness of a lamb, and the harmlessness, and love, and sweetness of a dove, we may well judge that there is a good soldier of Jesus Christ

Holiness is a most beautiful, lovely thing. Of a more bright and pure nature, more serene, calm, peaceful, and delightsome. What a sweet calmness, what a calm ecstasy, does it bring to the soul.


Humility may be defined to be a habit of mind and heart
corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness
before God; or a sense of our own comparative lowness in His
sight, with the disposition to a behavior answerable thereto.

A truly humble man is sensible of the small extent of his
knowledge, and the great extent of his ignorance, and of the
small extent of his understanding, as compared with the
understanding of God.

He is sensible of his weakness, how little his strength is,
and how little he is able to do.

He is sensible of his natural distance from God,
of his dependence on Him,
of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom;
and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for;
and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him,
and His might to enable him to do what he ought to do for Him.

Humility tends to prevent an aspiring and
ambitious behavior among men.

The man that is under the influence of a humble spirit is content
with such a situation among men, as God is pleased to allot to
him, and is not greedy of honor, and does not affect to appear
uppermost and exalted above his neighbors.

Humility tends also to prevent an arrogant and assuming behavior.

On the contrary, humility, disposes a person to a condescending
behavior to the meekest and lowest, and to treat inferiors with
courtesy and affability, as being sensible of his own weakness
and despicableness before God.

If we then consider ourselves as the followers of the meek
and lowly and crucified Jesus, we shall walk humbly before
God and man all the days of our life on earth.

Let all be exhorted earnestly to seek much of a humble spirit, and
to endeavor to be humble in all their behavior toward God and men.

Seek for a deep and abiding sense of your
comparative lowness before God and man.

Know God.

Confess your nothingness and ill-desert before Him.

Distrust yourself.

Rely Only On Christ.

Renounce all glory except for Him.

Yield yourself heartily to His will and service.

Avoid an aspiring, ambitious, ostentatious, assuming, arrogant,
scornful, stubborn, willful, leveling, self-justifying behavior;
and strive for more and more of the humble spirit that Christ
manifested while He was on earth.

Humility is a most essential and distinguishing trait
in all true piety.

Earnestly seek then; and diligently and prayerfully
cherish a humble spirit, and God shall walk with
you here below; and when a few more days shall have
passed, He will receive you to the honors
bestowed on His people at Christ’s right hand.


This must be Jonathan Edwards greatest “jewel,” from the sermon he wrote, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He preached this sermon to his own congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts, and again on July 8, 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut.[/size]

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You really should read more of Jonathan Edwards than just one sermon Paidion.

C.S. Lewis said of hell,

“There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of our Lord’s own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason”

All of God’s judgments are remedial. The question is not the existence of hell, but some people’s understanding of it. Some understand it as God’s eternal vengeance on sinners, rather than His loving means of correcting them.

Even Clive Staples Lewis (whom you quote) in his book “The Great Divorce” indicates that people in hell can take a bus ride to heaven if they wish. And in his Narnian Chronicles, even the rebellious dwarves find themselves in Aslan’s country, though because of their attitudes they think they are still in the stable. When offered delicious food, they think they are being offered rotten turnips. When offered sweet wine, they refuse with disgust, thinking they are being offered urine from the trough behind the cows.

Indeed, Lewis’s description reminds me of the position of the Orthodox Church, that post-mortem, everyone ends up in the same “place” where those who have walked with God experience God’s love as supreme joy, while those who have rejected God experience that same love as intense pain.

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The gates of the heavenly city remain open for people outside the city. This is for the souls in the state of purgatory not those who have their hearts eternally separated from God’s mercy. People that go to hell have their hearts separated from God’s mercy and grace. As a result their heart hardens. The longer in hell the more corrupt they become. They don’t want to love God and His children. They are God haters. What God is mainly doing by keeping evil agents out of heaven is protecting His children from the contamination and harm and spread of evil. God therefore has a morally sufficient and justifiable reason for hell. Since God has a morally sufficient and justifiable reason for hell then it is not unjust for hell to exist.

God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable.

WHY??? That one sermon expresses his theology perfectly. There is no need to read more of the same.


Holiness, as then I wrote down some of my contemplations on it, appeared to me of a sweet, pleasant, charming, serene, calm nature which brought an inexpressible purity, brightness, peacefulness. In other words…it made the soul like a field or garden of God, with all manner of pleasant flowers, all pleasant, delightful, enjoying a sweet calm.

The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote in my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the years; low and humble on the ground, opening it’s bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun’s glory, rejoicing in calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrance; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the midst of other flowers round about

Jonathan Edwards

The highest consent or agreement between beings is love. In love, being consents to being the highest possible way. Thus to experience love is to experience beauty; to be loving is to beautify; to be filled with love is to be beautiful. On the corporate or societal level the beauty of love is manifested in union. Edwards writes: "Union is one of the most amiable things, that pertains to human society; yea, tis one of the most beautiful and happy things on earth, which indeed makes earth most like heaven.

Paradoxes of Christ

The Diverse Excellencies Of Christ!

In his sermon entitled, “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Christ Jesus,” Jonathan Edwards preached about the amazing beauty of Christ in His diverse excellencies as both the Lion of Tribe of Judah and the Lamb Who was slain from Revelation 5:5-6:

But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.” And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

Meditate for a while with Edwards on the beauty of Christ in His diverse excellencies:

  1. There do meet in Jesus Christ infinite highness and infinite condescension.
  2. There meet in Jesus Christ, infinite justice and infinite grace.
  3. In the person of Christ do meet together infinite glory and lowest humility.
  4. In the person of Christ do meet together infinite majesty and transcendent meekness.
  5. There meet in the person of Christ the deepest reverence towards God and equality with God.
  6. There are conjoined in the person of Christ infinite worthiness of good, and the greatest patience under sufferings of evil.
  7. In the person of Christ are conjoined an exceeding spirit of obedience, with supreme dominion over heaven and earth.
  8. In the person of Christ are conjoined absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation.
  9. In Christ do meet together self-sufficiency, and an entire trust and reliance on God . . . .
  10. [On the cross] . . . was Christ in the greatest degree of his humiliation, and yet by that, above all other things, his divine glory appears.
  11. [On the cross] . . . He never in any act gave so great a manifestation of love to God, and yet never so manifested his love to those that were enemies to God, as in that act.
  12. [On the cross] . . . Christ never so eminently appeared for divine justice, and yet never suffered so much from divine Justice, as when he offered up himself a sacrifice for our sins.
  13. [On the cross] . . . Christ’s holiness never so illustriously shone forth as it did in his last sufferings, and yet he never was to such a degree treated as guilty.
  14. [On the cross] . . . He never was so dealt with, as unworthy, as in his last sufferings, and yet it is chiefly on account of them that he is accounted worthy.
  15. Christ in his last sufferings suffered most extremely from those towards whom he was then manifesting his greatest act of love.
  16. It was in Christ’s last sufferings, above all, that he was delivered up to the power of his enemies; and yet by these, above all, he obtained victory over his enemies.

Jonathan Edwards, “The Admirable Conjunction of Diverse Excellencies in Christ Jesus.”

Hollytree, why quote a man who writes the following in “Sinners in the Hands of an
Angry God”?

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in ours.



Jonathan Edwards was gently and compassionately with a tender heart warning the unbeliever of the dreadful fate he faced without Christ. He uses metaphor to describe hell and lovingly pleaded with the sinner to repent:

O sinner! Consider the fearful danger you are in: it is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath, that you are held over in the hand of that God, whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you, as against many of the damned in hell.

Here’s Jonathan Edwards God:

God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honorable. ~~ Jonathan Edwards

Sinners in the hands of an angry God is a sermon about hell. Here’s Edwards on why sinners can’t see God:

God is arrayed with an infinite brightness that fills with excess of joy and delight so that the joy and pleasure in beholding would be too strong for a frail nature ~~ Edwards, “That God is the Father of lights,” in The Blessing of God.

Unredeemed man by nature is a sinner in the hand of an angry God. But by grace we are saints in the hands of a beautiful God. This is the pulsating core of Edward’s vision of the Christian life. Edwards was not obsessed with the wrath of God but His Beauty. It was because the glory of God was infinitely beautiful that hating Him has such terrible consequences.

“Every crime or fault deserves a greater or less punishment, in proportion as the crime itself is greater or less. If any fault deserves punishment, then so much the greater the fault, so much the greater is the punishment deserved. …so that if there be any such thing as a fault infinitely heinous, it will follow that it is just to inflict a punishment for it that is infinitely dreadful.

A crime is more or less heinous, according as we are under greater or less obligations to the contrary. This is self-evident; because it is herein that the criminalness or faultiness of any thing consists, that it is contrary to what we are obliged or bound to, or what ought to be in us. So the faultiness of one being hating another, is in proportion to his obligation to love him. The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to honour him. The fault of disobeying another, is greater or less, as any one is under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligations to love, and honour, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.

Our obligation to love, honour, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honourableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honourable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honour. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience.

But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honourable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him.

So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment.- Nothing is more agreeable to the common sense of mankind, than that sins committed against any one, must be proportionably heinous to the dignity of the being offended and abused…” ~~ Jonathan Edwards

The saints and mystics all had similar views of hell and they like Edwards lived holy lives. The Carmelite mystics like St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. The holy St. Teresa of Avila had a vision of hell and it’s just as painful as Edwards portrayal. If not worse. She was very holy and enlightened and loving and gentle to all.

Born in 1515 in the kingdom of Castile in Spain, St. Theresa of Avila was the youngest child of a virtuous nobleman. When she was seven years old, Teresa fled from her home with one of her young brothers, in the hope of going to Africa and receiving the palm of martyrdom. Brought back and asked the reason for her flight, she replied: “I want to see God, and I must die before I can see Him.” She then began, with her same brother, Rodriguez, to build a hermitage in the garden, and was often heard repeating: “Forever, forever!” She lost her mother at the age of twelve years, and was led by worldly companions into various frivolities. Her father decided to place her in a boarding convent, and she obeyed without any inclination for this kind of life. Grace came to her assistance with the good guidance of the Sisters, and she decided to enter religion in the Carmelite monastery of the Incarnation at Avila. For a time frivolous conversations there, too, checked her progress toward perfection, but finally in her thirty-first year, she abandoned herself entirely to God. A vision showed her the very place in hell to which her apparently light faults would have led her, and she was told by Our Lord that all her conversation must be with heaven. Ever afterwards she lived in the deepest distrust of herself. The following is her description of hell:

"A long time after the Lord had already granted me many of the favors I’ve mentioned and other very lofty ones, while I was in prayer one day, I suddenly found that, without knowing how, I had seemingly been put in hell. I understood that the Lord wanted me to see the place the devils had prepared there for me and which I merited because of my sins. This experience took place within the shortest space of time, but even were I to live for many years I think it would be impossible for me to forget it. The entrance it seems to me was similar to a very long and narrow alleyway, like an oven, low and dark and confined; the floor seemed to me to consist of dirty, muddy water emitting foul stench and swarming with putrid vermin. At the end of the alleyway a hole that looked like a small cupboard was hollowed out in the wall; there I found I was placed in a cramped condition. All of this was delightful to see in comparison with what I felt there. What I have described can hardly be exaggerated.

"What I felt, it seems to me, cannot even begin to be exaggerated; nor can it be understood. I experienced a fire in the soul that I don’t know how I could describe. The bodily pains were so unbearable that though I had suffered excruciating ones in this life and according to what doctors say, the worst that can be suffered on earth for all my nerves were shrunken when I was paralyzed, plus many other sufferings of many kinds that I endured and even some as I said, caused by the devil, these were all nothing in comparison with the ones I experienced there. I saw furthermore that they would go on without end and without ever ceasing. This, however, was nothing next to the soul’s agonizing: a constriction, a suffocation, an affliction so keenly felt and with such a despairing and tormenting unhappiness that I don’t know how to word it strongly enough. To say the experience is as though the soul were continually being wrested from the body would be insufficient, for it would make you think somebody else is taking away the life, whereas here it is the soul itself that tears itself in pieces. The fact is that I don’t know how to give a sufficiently powerful description of that interior fire and that despair, coming in addition to such extreme torments and pains. I didn’t see who inflicted them on me, but, as it seemed to me, I felt myself burning and crumbling; and I repeat the worst was that interior fire and despair.

“Being in such an unwholesome place, so unable to hope for any consolation, I found it impossible either to sit down or to lie down, nor was there any room, even though they put me in this kind of hole made in the wall. Those walls, which were terrifying to see, closed in on themselves and suffocated everything. There was no light, but all was enveloped in the blackest darkness. I don’t understand how this could be, that everything painful to see was visible.”

[Source: The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila, Volume 1, Chapter 32: paragraphs: 1,2,3. Published by Institute of Carmelite Studies Publications, Washington, D.C.]

I hold that the lake of fire is indeed terrible. The reality of the metaphors in the Bible is always greater than the metaphor. Heaven is far greater than the metaphors used to describe them. Likewise the lake of fire is far worse than the metaphors used to describe them. It’s the way metaphors work in the Bible. Buddhist cosmology includes a hell or purgatory. It’s called Naraka.

Naraka (Sanskrit: नरक; Pali: निरय Niraya ) is a term in Buddhist cosmology[1] usually referred to in English as “hell” (or “hell realm”) or “purgatory”. The Narakas of Buddhism are closely related to diyu , the hell in Chinese mythology. A Naraka differs from the hell of Christianity in two respects: firstly, beings are not sent to Naraka as the result of a divine judgment or punishment; and secondly, the length of a being’s stay in a Naraka is not eternal,[2] though it is usually incomprehensibly long, from hundreds of millions to sextillions of years.

It lasts trillions or sextillions of years and is quite painful. I mention it because Buddhists are non-violent and peace loving. Hell (Naraka) is one of the motivations to be a compassionate person. The idea that hell causes mental illness doesn’t hold up to the psychological facts. In Buddhist psychology it produces love and compassion.

From my book “Everything Buddhism Book”

Hell Realm

Fear even to the point of paranoia, can characterize the hell realm. It’s not the place you want to be. Metaphorically, You could be endlessly cut up, burned, frozen, eaten, beaten, or tortured in any number of ways, only to die and wake up and do it all over again. Some areas contain abominable nightmares, unbearable sensory experiences, and horrible visions. The denizens of hell symbolize hatred, and the pervasive self-inflicted anxiety of dukkha. There are as many as ten hells in the Realm of Desire, and the inhabitants must make their way through all in order to escape the anguish and suffering. There are realms where you may be lacerated, or eaten alive. The third realm is the demon (asura), a state dominated by anger. In Asia, however, these demons may not be regarded metaphorically. Evil spirits can wreak havoc or cause mischief. page 88

According to John Piper, when you add predestination the doctrines can make you go mad. But if we center it all on Christ and the cross our minds and hearts will be safe. Indeed, John Piper has helped millions to find their freedom and joy in Christ.

As we can see when the doctrines are in their proper context they produce the fruit of the Spirit. Taken out of context they produce madness. True Christianity doesn’t cause mental illness. It’s usually those that already have a mental illness and who take the doctrines out of context that it causes problems for.

Just to be clear I’m not certain hell is eternal. The Bible teaches penal substitution as an aspect of the atonement. The penalty for sin could be suffering, death and then resurrection. The pattern in scripture is judgment and destruction followed by resurrection and restoration. But even if it is eternal Robin Parry could be correct:

One could maintain that the devil will be punished forever, but that Lucifer will ultimately be saved. Paul is able to speak of how God saves humans through the putting to death of “the flesh” or the “old person”. The human in rebellion against God is “killed” so that there is a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). According to the tradition, the devil is a fallen angel. The devil, like the “flesh”, must be destroyed forever, because creation has no place for him. But he dies, and Lucifer is reborn as a redeemed angel. It would still be possible to speak of the devil being tormented forever and ever to symbolize this defeat even though no actual being is still in the lake of fire. This goes beyond anything taught in Revelation, but it is one way of trying to reconcile what revelation teaches with what Colossians teaches and I tentatively commend it to the reader. The Evangelical Universalist page 131

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked. His wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire. He is of purer eyes than to bear you in his sight; you are ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in ours.

People cannot be frightened into trusting in God. Rather they think, "If God is like Edwards describes Him— that I am “ten thousand times as abominable in his eyes as the most hateful, venomous serpent is in mine” then I will have nothing to do with Him!

That’s a good point Don. A few words, given under the presence of the Spirit, will warn and coerce us much more than flaming rhetoric designed to stir base emotions of fear.
Also, beginning one’s Christian life by being ultimately afraid makes it more difficult later to hold the actual truth, that love casts out fear. The dichotomy between that ultimate fear and that ultimate love, trying to hold to both at the same time, can mess with one’s heart and mind to the point of despair - it did mine, at one time.
Much better to be taught that God is Love, and that His wrath is directed by His love and used by that love to stir us into something much better.


Yes. God’s glory causes evil darkness to flee. Nothing is more comfortable to the Christian than God’s holiness. Nothing is more terrible and fearful to the blasphemers. I’m comforted by the holiness of God. There was a time like Dave where I took it out of context because of sin. But not anymore. I don’t have problems anymore with God’s holiness. And I have a mental disorder! Schizoaffective. The millions John Piper has helped don’t either. It only causes problems to those who take God’s attributes out of context or because they hate God because of His wrath. They loath the God of the Bible because of His wrath just like GMac. Their hearts are full of hatred towards the God of the Bible. With the passion of a thousand suns.

Beauty Like The Sun

God’s glory is like the sun
Bringing warmth and beauty
Making visible all lovely colors
While it burns with passion
Bringing forth life in the seas

It burns with a flaming fire
And scorches with fierce heat
Making one blind in the eyes
Melting away life in flames
In skies, mountains, and trees

God’s glory is like the sun
Though infinitely more powerful
In intensity and it’s strength
In it’s joys pleasures and pains
As it destroys yet it frees

In the morning breeze it shines
Burning it’s intense Beauty
Lighting the pathway of many
Bringing an everlasting hope
As all the evil darkness flees

There may be a few like that. Most people do not hate God with the passion of a thousand suns; they ‘just’ don’t think about Him. I think that addressing the god-shaped hole in their lives, and what they are destructively and fruitlessly doing to fill that hole, is a better way than fevered threatening and caricature. $.02