Saturday, August 25, 2007

Jonathan Edwards on Pride

Jonathan Edwards is a well-known preacher/theologian from colonial America in the 1700's. He was a missionary to Native Americans and also served as one of the early presidents of Princeton university.

Edwards taught that pride was one of the worst causes of error and that Satan uses it to fight against revival. He also taught that nothing puts a Christian so out of reach of the devil as humility. In one of his writings, he writes the following under the heading "Pride: a Secret Enemy":


Pride is much more difficult to be discerned than any other corruption because of its very nature. That is, pride is a person having too high an opinion of himself. Is it any surprise, then, that a person who has too high an opinion of himself is unaware of it? His thinking is that he thinks that the opinion he has of himself has just grounds and therefore is not too high. If the grounds of the opinion of himself crumbled, he would cease to have such an opinion.

But, because of the nature of spiritual pride, it is the most secret of all sins. There is no other matter in which the heart is more deceitful and unsearchable and there is no other sin in the world that men are so confident in. The very nature of it is to work self-confidence and drive away any suspicion of any evil of that kind. There is no sin so much like the devil as this for secrecy and subtlety, and appearing in great many shapes that are undetected and unsuspected.

Spiritual pride takes many forms and shapes, one under another, and encompasses the heart like the layers of an onion: when you pull off one, there is another underneath. Therefore, we have need to have the greatest watch imaginable over our hearts with respect to this matter and to cry most earnestly to the great Searcher of hearts for His help. He that trusts his own heart is a fool.

Since spiritual pride in its own nature is so secret, it cannot be so well discerned by immediate intuition on the thing itself. It is best identified by its fruits and effects, some of which I will make mention of below together with the contrary fruits of Christian humility.


After that short excerpt, Edwards continues to speak of "Pride: the Great Fault-Finder", "Pride: Ministering in a Harsh Spirit", "Pride: Putting On Pretences", "Pride: Taking Offence Easily", "Pride: Presumption Before God and Man", "Pride: Hungry for Attention", and "Pride: Neglecting Others".

If you wish to read the entire writing (it isn't very long), you can find it here

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