Jonathan Edwards continues his discussion on natural man’s enmity with God.
3. On What Account Men Are Enemies of God
Edwards argues that the general reason that God is “opposite” to them has to do with their propensity to worship idols: “The apostasy of man summarily consists in departing from the true God, to idols; forsaking his Creator, and setting up other things in his room.” The enmity between God and man has not always existed, for Adam was created in an innocent condition and expressed a love for God. “But when men fell, he departed from the true God, and the union that was between his heart and his Creator was broken: he wholly lost his principle of love to God.”
Edwards holds that when natural men casts God aside, by definition he must naturally cling to an idol: “Man will necessarily have something that he respects as his god. If man do not give his highest respect to the God that made him, there will be something else that has the possession of it.” We know from personal experience that the human heart is prone to bow down to lesser things; the depraved human heart is vulnerable to the sin of idolatry. Indeed, as Calvin notes, “The human heart is an idol factory.” And when natural man clings to a foreign idol, enmity “necessarily follows.”
Edwards notes three ways in which God opposes idolators:
First, he manifests his utter abhorrence of their attachment to their idols. Edwards exposes the idolator and reveals the true colors of one who casts aside the living God and replaces him with temporal pleasures. In short, “They love their idolatry; but God does not approve of it, but exceedingly hates it; he will by no means be reconciled to it; and therefore they hate him.”
Second, he utterly forbids their cleaving to those idols, and all the service that they do to them. Edwards sets forth the divine standard that God reveals to every creature: [God] demands that they should worship him; serve him only, and give their hearts wholly to him: without tolerating any competitor … He requires a final parting with their idols.”
Third, he threatens them with everlasting damnation for service of their idols. Here, Edwards lists a host of warnings that thunder from the throne of God:
- He threatens them for his past idolatry.
- He threatens them with his everlasting wrath for all exercises of inordinate love of worldly profit.
- He threatens them for that disposition they have in their hearts to cleave to other gods.
- He threatens every future act of their idolatry.
- He threatens them with everlasting torments for their self-exaltation.