Premeditated Preaching and the Holy Spirit

bible-SunlightJonathan Edwards has provided evangelicals with a model for self-criticism in books such as Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New England as well as A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections. In both these works, Jonathan Edwards seeks to provide scripturally-based analysis of various elements in the New England revival. As he assesses the legitimacy of the uptick in prophecy, he notes the tendency we have to be enamored with immediate revelation professed to be from the Holy Spirit, and how we tend to value such experiences even over the already revealed Word of God. Trying to re-proportion this fascination, Edwards writes the following:

The gracious and most excellent assistance of the Spirit of God in praying and preaching, is not by immediately suggesting words to the apprehension, which may be with a cold, dead heart, but by warming the heart and filling it with a great sense of things to be spoken, and with holy affections, that these may suggest words. Thus indeed the Spirit of God may be said, indirectly and mediately, to suggest words to us, and indite our petitions for us, and to teach the preacher what to say; he fills the heart and that fills the mouth…But since there is no immediate suggesting of words from the Spirit of God to be expected or desired, they who neglect and despise study and premeditation, in order to a preparation for the pulpit…are guilty of presumption.

(from Thoughts on the Revival, 437-438)

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