This is the seventh part of a 12-post series from Jonathan Edwards’ (1703-1758) sermon on Hebrews 5:12, titled The Importance and Advantage of a Thorough Knowledge of Divine Truth. The first part covered Edwards’ definition of divinity (theology), the second focused on what kind of knowledge is included in divinity, the third considered the usefulness and necessity of knowing divinity, the fourth discussed knowledge in divinity as the chief end of man’s faculty of understanding, the fifth asserted that there is nothing more worthy to be studied than divinity, and the sixth declared why divinity is of infinite importance to all people. Now we turn to his discussion of the infinite worth of divinity based on God’s great works of revelation:
The infinite worth of divinity based on God’s great works of revelation.
We may argue from the great things which God hath done in order to give us instruction in these things. As to other sciences, he hath left us to ourselves, to the light of our own reason. But the things of divinity being of infinitely greater importance to us, he hath not left us to an uncertain guide; but hath himself given us a revelation of the truth in these matters, and hath done very great things to convey and confirm to us this revelation; raising up many prophets in different ages, immediately inspiring them with his Holy Spirit, and confirming their doctrine with innumerable miracles or wonderful works out of the established course of nature. Yea, he raised up a succession of prophets, which was upheld for several ages.
It was very much for this end that God separated the people of Israel, in so wonderful a manner, from all other people, and kept them separate; that to them he might commit the oracles of God, and that from them they might be communicated to the world. He hath also often sent angels to bring divine instructions to men; and hath often himself appeared in miraculous symbols or representations of his presence; and now in these last days hath sent his own Son into the world, to be his great prophet, to teach us divine truth, Hebrews 1, at the beginning. By means of all, God hath given a book of divine instructions, which contains the sum of divinity. Now, these things hath God done, not only for the instruction of ministers and men of learning; but for the instruction of all men, of all sorts, learned and unlearned men, women, and children. And certainly if God doth such great things to teach us, we ought not to do little to learn.
God hath not made giving instructions to men in things of divinity a business by the bye; but a business which he hath undertaken and prosecuted in a course of great and wonderful dispensations, as an affair in which his heart hath been greatly engaged: which is sometimes in Scripture signified by the expression of God’s rising early to teach us, and to send prophets and teachers to us. Jeremiah 7:25, “Since that day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up early, and sending them.” And so, v. Jeremiah 7:13, “I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking.” This is a figurative speech, signifying that God hath not done this as a by-business, but as a business of great importance, in which he took great care, and had his heart much engaged; because persons are wont to rise early to prosecute such business as they are earnestly engaged in. If God hath been so engaged in teaching, certainly we should not be negligent in learning; nor should we make growing in knowledge a by-business, but a great part of the business of our lives.