June 25, 2009

A Sweet Flame

I have finished my reading of A Sweet Flame by Jonathan Edwards. Throughout the book, I was struck with Edwards' struggle with his own human condition, his sin, his feeling of inadequacy to do the Lord's work, the church divisions and controversies that arose and often affected him. Viewed as a giant today, it was clear that was not a universally held belief amonst his contemporaries. That comes not as a surprise, members of the church have always dealt with that, starting with Jesus Himself. WHat comes through is the relevance to the struggles today of struggles written about around 250 years ago.

The last letter to address specifically is the letter he wrote to Lady Mary Pepperell speaking of the loss of her son. It is the letter the term a sweet flame appears in, the letter that gave title to the book.

Edwards writes in length of the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, of His death. But he also writes of His resurrection and ascension, of the hope that gives us. Edwards makes no apology for the suffering in life, the pain Lady Pepperell bears. Our Lord had pain and suffering in this world, should we expect less?

Edwards speaks of the glory of Christ, of His holiness. How "His love to sinners appeared like a sweet flame, burning with an infinite vehemence against sin". It is because of our sin that the flame of Christ burns hot, to remove that impurity through His sacrifice. Although it burns and may be painful in our lives at points of time, it is sweet to think of the eternal state He has wrought for us.

Jesus. He is our sweet flame, for we are all sinners.