In the spring of 1741 Jonathan Edwards visited and ministered to a small congregation in Suffield, Connecticut. This little church was without a pastor for a short time but was blessed with a few excellent servants, including Edwards himself and the great evangelist George Whitefield.
A few months after Edwards visited the church, Elizabeth Hatheway, a member of the congregation, asked Edwards for some spiritual guidance. In response, Edwards wrote this young lady a lengthy letter with 19 points of advice on Christian living. Several years later, the letter was published under the title, Advice to Young Converts. It is currently published along with Edwards resolutions by P & R Publishing.
On point #3, Edwards gives some timely advice on how to listen to sermons.
When you hear sermons, hear them for yourself, even though what is spoken in them may be especially directed to the unconverted or to those that in other respects are in different circumstances from yourself. Let the chief intent of your mind be to consider what ways you can apply the things that you are hearing in the sermon. You should ask, What improvement should I make, based on these things, for my own soul’s good? Continue reading “How To Listen To a Sermon: Eagerness and Examination”
Here are some of the best words I have read (or heard) on how a Christian should judge the spiritual condition of another professing Christian. They are taken from the Religious Affections, pages 110-111.
The true saints have not such a spirit of discerning that they can certainly determine who are godly and who are not. For though they know experimentally what true religion is in the internal exercises of it, yet these are what they can neither feel nor see in the heart of another…They commonly are poor judges and dangerous counsellors in soul cases, who are quick and peremptory in determining persons’ states, vaunting themselves in their extraordinary faculty of discerning and distinguishing in these great affairs, as though all was open and clear to them. They betray one of these three things: either that they have had but little experience; or are persons of weak judgment; or that they have a great degree of pride and self-confidence, and so of ignorance of themselves. Wise and experienced men will proceed with great caution in such an affair.
When there are many probable appearances of piety in others, it is the duty of the saints to receive them cordially into their charity, and to love them and rejoice in them, as their brethen in Jesus Christ.