Spiritual Appetites Need No Bounds1
One of the more fascinating and instructive of Jonathan Edwards’s sermons is rooted in Song of Solomon 5:1. Here is Edwards’s translation of the text: “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.”
Although most today believe that the Song of Solomon explicitly addresses the love relationship between husband and wife, Edwards stood in the tradition that dominated church history for its first 1,800 years. He argued that it was something of an allegory or poetic portrayal of the love relationship between Christ and the Church, or the individual believer. The sermon, preached by Edwards in 1729 (he was then only 26 years old), was titled, Spiritual Appetites Need No Bounds.
His point is that when it comes to satisfying our souls with the spiritual delights and joys found in Christ, there are no boundaries, no limitations:
“There is no such thing as any inordinateness in holy affections; there is no such thing as excess in longings after the discoveries of the beauty of Christ Jesus, or greater degrees of holiness, or the enjoyment of communion with God.”
Edwards refers to these affections and desires as holy “inclinations.” He continues:
“Persons neither need nor ought to keep those inclinations and desires from increasing to any degree whatsoever, and there cannot be a too frequent or too powerful exercise of them. . . . By not setting any bounds to those appetites, is meant not laying any restraint upon ourselves with respect to gratifying of them. Persons may indulge them as much as they please; they may give themselves their full swing. They may not only allow a very eager thirst and enlarged desire, but they may drink their fill; there is no excess. . . . They may drink, yea, swim in the rivers of spiritual pleasure.”
When Edwards turned to make application of this truth, he urged all “to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement.” What he meant by this is that we are responsible for taking advantage of every opportunity to position our souls in a way that will increase the potential and likelihood for us to be captivated and satisfied by the blessings offered in Christ. Again,
“we ought to take all opportunities to lay ourselves in the way of enticement with respect to our gracious inclinations. Thus you should be often with God in prayer, and then you will be in the way of having your heart drawn forth to him. We ought to be frequent in reading and constant in hearing the word. And particularly to this end, we ought carefully and with the utmost seriousness and consideration attend the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper: this was appointed for this end, to draw forth the longings of our souls toward Jesus Christ.”
I can’t envision any better news for the believer than this. God has prepared an exquisite banquet for us of the most glorious truths, promises, power, and blessings possible. So, come and eat to the full! Come and drink and be satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus! Indulge yourself. There is no such thing as too much!