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Jonathan Edwards’ Experience of the Glory of Christ

The glory of Christ

We are wired to find our highest joy in beholding beauty, grandeur, majesty — what the Bible calls “glory.”

That’s why people travel thousands of miles to see Yosemite Valley, Niagara Falls, and the Grand Canyon.

But as great as those are — what’s infinitely greater is the glory of the Being who created them — the glory of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

How we see the glory of Christ

When God saves us He frees us from the blinding power of sin and Satan so we can see the glory of Christ — not with our physical eyes but with “the eyes of our hearts” (Eph 1:17-18).

That’s what Paul describes in 2Cor 4:6 — “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

But this does not happen just at conversion — throughout our lives God shines the light of Jesus’ glory into our hearts (2Cor 3:18)

Sometimes the light is like a massive spotlight — but more often it is like a small flashlight.

But whether massive or small — when the eyes of our hearts see the glory of Christ — we are deeply filled and satisfied.

What Jonathan Edwards experienced

Here’s how God gave Jonathan Edwards an extraordinary experience of the glory of Christ —

“Once, as I rode out into the woods for my health, in 1737, having alighted from my horse in a retired place, as my manner commonly has been, to walk in divine contemplation and prayer, I had a view that was for me extraordinary …

“I saw the glory of the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, and his wonderful, great, full, pure and sweet grace and love, and meek and gentle condescension.

“This grace that appeared so calm and sweet, appeared also great above the heavens.

“The person of Christ appeared ineffably excellent, with an excellency great enough to swallow up all thought and conception — which continued, as near as I can judge, about an hour.

“This kept me the greater part of the time in a flood of tears, and weeping aloud.

“I felt an ardency of soul to be, what I know not otherwise how to express, emptied and annihilated.

“I wanted to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him, to live upon him, to serve and follow him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure with a divine and heavenly purity.”

(This is from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol 1, p.xlvii.  I broke it up into shorter sentences so it would be easier to read.)


  • This was not Edwards’ typical experience — he says it was “extraordinary.”  But let his extraordinary experience raise your expectations of ways God can show you Christ’s glory — so you seek Him all the more (Psa 63:1).
  • God gave this experience to Edwards during a time of “divine contemplation and prayer.”  The main way God shows us the glory of Christ is through prayer and meditation on God’s Word (Luke 11:13; Gal 3:5).
  • Since this was an “extraordinary” experience, it means this was not the norm for Edwards.  So seek for this work of the Spirit, but don’t depend on experiences which can change — depend on God’s Word which never changes.
  • Let Edwards’ experience shape your understanding of what it means to behold the glory of the Lord (2Cor 3:18), have God’s love poured into your heart by the Spirit (Rom 5:5), and drink rivers of the Living Water of the Spirit (John 7:37-38).  Not that your experience will be as intense as Edwards’ was.  But let his experience stir you to press in for more.

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(The picture is taken from Wikipedia Commons, and is in the public domain.)

Category: Stories about Other People, The Work of the Spirit


2 Responses

  1. steve says:

    Thanks–nicely done.

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