Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Getaway Sermon (Marty on WJE)

We were happy to see Martin Marty's commentary Volume 25 of the Works of Jonathan Edwards edition on the February 20, 2007 MEMO page of the Christian Century.
It is gratifying to see that Marty believes in the enduring importance of JE's life and thought for the 21st century.

We reproduce the article for you below by permission of the Christian Century.

Getaway Sermon
by Martin E. Marty

CHRISTOPHER NIEBUHR of the well-known Niebuhr tribe wrote to me recently. He is celebrating the Yale University Press publication of Sermons and Discourses, 1743-1758 (edited by Wilson H. Kimnach), 800 pages of transcribed scripts and notes that make up the 25th and final volume of The Works of Jonathan Edwards. Niebuhr sent me a copy of notes
from the last sermon that Edwards preached to the Indians in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Edwards had been run out of Northampton’s “Great Awakening” church in a complicated
“Bad Book” fight over ministry to youth, and preached at Stockbridge from 1751 to 1754, when most of the Indian congregation dribbled away. (Of course, Edwards needed translators—John Wauwaumpequunnaunt for the Mohicans and Rebecca Ashley for the Mohawks.) Then, in
1758, this twice-failed cleric moved from Stockbridge to become president of the College of New Jersey, but died soon after he arrived.

Failed cleric? Yale does not invest decades and top scholars do not give their best years and their eyesight transcribing the scribbles of second-bests.
Edwards was this continent’s prime evangelist, awakener, theologian, preacher and more. He inspired a small library full of large books and articles examining him, molecule of ink by molecule of ink. Volume 25 advertises “additional volumes forthcoming,” a signal that not all the scholars are up to speed on this unmatched publishing venture.

Many ministers have taken comfort from the fact that such a great preacher did not always satisfy his own congregation. Christopher did not tell me why he chose to point me toward Edwards’s “stirrup sermon,” presumably preached the day he galloped away and one week after a more official farewell sermon. (Yale also reproduces a picture of Edwards’s barely decipherable original notes.) But in these days of prosperity gospel, positive-thinking and
hooray-for-our-side “Left Behind” sermons, I thought readers might find it bracing to read how Edwards took leave:

WATCH AND PRAY ALWAYS
Luke 21:36 “Watch ye, and pray always.”
I. MANY dreadful things are coming upon this wicked world.
II. The righteous, and they only, shall be thought fit to escape those things that shall come.
III. All at last must be called to appear before Christ.
Christ will come. All must see him. All must [be] brought before him.
IV. The righteous shall be thought worthy to stand before Christ and no others.
First. The righteous worthy.
Second. Wicked not worthy.
V. We should watch and pray always that we may be thought worthy [to stand before Christ].
First. Watch.
Second. Pray.
Third. Always.
[APPLICATION]
What must watch against.
How watch.
What need of watching.
Always.
Prayer.
What pray for.
How pray.

There is no mention of a champagne toast, farewell gift or word of thanks from the congregation. You can be sure that, given this clear word from Edwards, we will 1) Watch and
2) Pray.

Copyright 2007 Christian Century. Reproduced by permission from the Feb 20th, 2007 of the Christian Century.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Larry Hubbard said...

Caleb,

Marty’s thoughts about JE are insightful as they reveal the importance of the JEC. As a Christian, JE has always been a captivating figure since my introduction of him in a history class in 1993. One seldom finds such a herculean mind and fervent heart dedicated to Christ alone. As Martin Marty says, “Yale does not invest decades and top scholars do not give their best years and their eyesight transcribing the scribbles of second-bests.” Being a pastor of a traditional Baptist church, I applaud Yale University the for the time, effort, and monies spent on the project. The Jonathan Edwards Center is one of the bright spots in the world of Christianity governed by the superficial and market driven church world.
JE is a guiding light for me as a pastor. Modern Christianity is filled with delusions of greatness. Marty describes the church as “in these days of prosperity gospel, positive-thinking and hooray-for-our-side “Left Behind” sermons, I thought readers might find it bracing to read how Edwards took leave.” The visible church is filled with prosperity, smile a lot cotton candy preaching, and a self-centered theology. We find JE bracing us to the foundation of Christ. JE was a man governed by the Word and the Spirit. Unfortunately, JE is often misunderstood and misinterpreted by many well-intended persons. The JEC provides a scholar’s insight to ensure we do not bring JE down to our level. One does not have to go through Northampton (Edwards) to get to Jerusalem, but it is a direct flight. Keep up the good work.

Larry Hubbard

4:13 pm  

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