Clothed with the Sun

From Treatise on Religious Affections, III.8 (1746)

Everything that appertains to holiness of heart, does indeed belong to the nature of true Christianity and the character of Christians; but a spirit of holiness as appearing in some particular graces, may more especially be called the Christian spirit or temper. There are some amiable qualities and virtues that do more especially agree with the nature of the gospel constitution and Christian profession; because there is a special agreeableness in them, with those divine attributes which God has more remarkably manifested and glorified in the work of redemption by Jesus Christ… These virtues are such as humility, meekness, love, forgiveness, and mercy. These things therefore especially belong to the character of Christians, as such.

These things are spoken of as what are especially the character of Jesus Christ himself, the great head of the Christian Church. They are so spoken of in the prophecies of the Old Testament; as in that cited, Matt. 21:5: “Tell you the daughter of Sion, Behold, your king comes to you, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” So Christ himself speaks of them (Matt. 11:29): “Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart.” The same appears by the name by which Christ is so often called in Scripture, that is, the Lamb. And as these things are especially the character of Christ, so they are also especially the character of Christians…

Christ is full of grace and Christians all receive of his fullness, and grace for grace; i.e., there is grace in Christians answering to grace in Christ, such an answerableness as there is between the wax and the seal; there is character for character. Such kind of graces, such a spirit and temper, the same things that belong to Christ’s character, belong to theirs. That disposition, wherein Christ’s character does in a special manner consist, therein does his image in a special manner consist.

Christians shine by reflecting the light of the Sun of righteousness; they shine with the same sort of brightness, the same mild, sweet, and pleasant beams. These lamps of the spiritual temple, that are enkindled by fire from heaven, burn with the same sort of flame. The branch is of the same nature with the stock and root, has the same sap, and bears the same sort of fruit. The members have the same kind of life with the head. It would be strange if Christians should not be of the same temper and spirit that Christ is of; when they are his flesh and his bone, yes, are one spirit, (1 Cor. 6:17), and live so, that it is not they who live, but Christ who lives in them.

A Christian spirit is Christ’s mark that he sets upon the souls of his people, his seal in their foreheads, bearing his image and superscription. Christians are the followers of Christ; and they are so, as they are obedient to that call of Christ, (Matt. 11:28, 29), “Come to me and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly of heart.” They follow him as the Lamb: (Rev. 14:4), “These are they who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.” True Christians are, as it were, clothed with the meek, quiet, and loving temper of Christ. For as many as are in Christ, have put on Christ. And in this respect the church is clothed with the sun, not only by being clothed with his imputed righteousness, but also by being adorned with his graces, (Rom. 13:14)…

The Spirit that descended on Christ, when he was anointed of the Father, descended on him like a dove. The dove is a noted emblem of meekness, harmlessness, peace, and love. But the same Spirit that descended on the head of the church, descends to the members. “God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts,” (Gal. 4:6). And “if any man does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). There is but one Spirit to the whole mystical body, head and members (1 Cor. 6:17, Eph. 4:4). Christ breathes his own Spirit on his disciples (John 20:22). As Christ was anointed with the Holy Ghost, descending on him like a dove, so Christians also “have an anointing from the Holy One” (1 John 2:20, 27). And they are anointed with the same oil; it is the same “precious ointment on the head, that goes down to the skirts of the garments.” And on both, it is a spirit of peace and love.

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a Congregationalist minister and theologian, whose powerful sermons helped to spark the Great Awakening. He wrote A Treatise on the Religious Affections Defended, one of his most influential theological treatises, as an analysis of the spiritual experiences of those converted during the Awakening.


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