Notes & Quotes: Jonathan Edwards’ Sermon: “Praise, One of the Chief Employments of Heaven”

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SOURCE: The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. II, p. 913-917
OCCASION: a Thanksgiving sermon, presented Nov. 7, 1734.
TEXT: Revelation 14:2 “And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I heard the voice of harpers playing with their harps.”

Edwards cites Revelation 4, 5:8-9, 7:9-12, 11:16-17, 12:10, 15:2-4, 19:1+, “By all which it most evidently appears, that (heaven’s saints’) work very much consists in praising God and Christ.”

He describes heaven as a place of “rest”, and yet ceaseless worship:
— “Heaven is not a place of labour and travail, but a place of rest (Heb. 4:9)”
— And yet “In one sense, the saints and angels in heaven rest not day nor night, Rev. 4:8.”
“They do not merely enjoy God passively, but in an active manner. They are not only acted upon by God, but they mutually act towards Him, and in this action and re-action consists the heavenly happiness.”

MORE EXCELLENT WORSHIP
Edwards describes how the worship of heaven will exceed that done from earth:

“‘Tis from the little that the saints have seen of God, and know of Him in this world, that they are excited to praise Him in the degree they do here. But here they see but as in a glass darkly; they have only now and then a little glimpse of God’s excellency; but then they shall have the transcendent glory and divine excellency of God set in their immediate and full view. They shall dwell in His immediate glorious presence, and shall see face to face (I Cor. 13:12). Now the saints see the glory of God but by a reflected light, as we in the night see the light of the sun reflected from the moon; but in heaven they shall directly behold the Sun of righteousness, and shall look full upon Him when shining in all His glory.”

— “They have another sense how great a gift the gift of God’s only-begotten Son is. They have another sense of the greatness and dignity of the Person of Christ, and how great a thing it was for Him to become man, and how great a thing it was for Him to lay down His life, and to endure the shameful and accursed death of the cross.” “… and have another sense what eternity is …”

THE PRIVILEGE OF WORSHIP

“No employment can be a greater honour to a man, than to praise God. It is the peculiar dignity of the nature of man, and the very thing wherein his nature is exalted above all things without reason, and things without life; that he is made capable of actively glorifying his Creator. Other creatures do glorify God: the sun, moon, and stars, and the earth and waters, and all the trees of the field, and grass and herbs, and fishes and insects, do glorify God (Psalm 19:1-6, Job 12:7-8). But herein is the peculiar dignity of the nature of man, that he is capable of glorifying Him as a cause, by counsel, understandingly and voluntarily, which is a heavenly work.”

APPLICATION: Edwards applies the text in the following ways:

FOR THE ASSURANCE OF PERSONAL SALVATION:
“The church of God on earth ought to be employed in the same work with the saints in heaven … we ought now to begin that work which we intend shall be the work of another world …. If our hearts be not in some measure tuned to praise in this world, we shall never do any thing at the work hereafter.”

“If you praise God sincerely in this world, it will be a sign that you are really to be one of those that shall praise Him in heaven.”

“A hundred and forty-four thousand is a mystical number for the church of God, or the assembly of the saints, or those that are redeemed from the earth. There is no man can learn the song they sing in heaven, but those of that number.”

“The saints in heaven are represented as singing God’s praises. And is that their happy and glorious employment; and yet shall it be so neglected by us, who hope for heaven?”

FOR PERSONAL HAPPINESS
“If we begin now to exercise ourselves in the work of heaven, it will be the way to have foretastes of the enjoyments of heaven. The business and the happiness go together.”

FOR TRAINING OUR CHILDREN
“Parents ought to be careful that their children are instructed in singing, that they may be capable of performing that part of divine worship. This we should do, as we would have our children trained up for heaven; for we all of us would have our children go to heaven.”

About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief devotions from own personal daily Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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