Jonathan Edwards, Art and the Sense of the Heart

By Terrence Erdt | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Nature, Imagination, Art--and the Earnest of What Is to Come

The Holy Spirit is the purchased possession and inheritance of the saints, as appears, because that little of it which the saints have in this world is said to be the earnest of that purchased inheritance, . . . ( Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22).

It pleases God a little to withdraw the veil, and let in light into the soul, and give something of a view of the great things of another world in their transcendent and infinite greatness. . . .1

The saint's perception, or sense, of divine beauty foreshadows his future happiness in heaven. It provides a glimpse, or foretaste, of what lies in store; it is a moment of ecstasy to be compounded a thousandfold when the Holy Spirit will give all light, all sensation of divine holiness. The portion the saint receives of the sense in this life is the same as that which will follow "only communicated in less measure." "This vital indwelling of the Spirit in the saints," wrote Edwards, "in this less measure and small beginning, is the earnest of the Spirit, the earnest of the future inheritance. . . ." In using the term earnest, he recalled the federal theology, according to which the "earnest is part of the money agreed for, given in hand, as a token of the whole, to be paid in due time; a part of the promised inheritance granted now, in token of full possession of the whole hereafter."2 The word emphasizes that the sense of the heart, while precious, is fugitive, divine but fleeting. God ordained that the sense once felt be not permanently in the saint's possession, for if the saint can command the sense at will, there is no need for grace--he might presume to have it through his own power. Its coming and going thus remind

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