SAFETY, FULLNESS, AND SWEET REFRESHMENT,
TO BE FOUND IN CHRIST
by Jonathan Edwards (1752), minimally edited from Works, 2.929–36
Part 1 of 3


“And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest;
as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”

(Isaiah 32:2)


In these words we may observe,


(1) The person who is here prophesied of and commended, viz. the Lord Jesus Christ, the King spoken of in the preceding verse, who shall reign in righteousness. This King is abundantly prophesied of in the Old Testament, and especially in this prophecy of Isaiah. Glorious predictions were from time to time uttered by the prophets concerning that great King who was to come. There is no subject which is spoken of in so magnificent and exalted a style by the prophets of the Old Testament, as the Messiah. They saw His day and rejoiced, and searched diligently, together with the angels, into those things, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, which things the angels desire to look into” (1 Pet 1:11–12).


We are told here that “a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind,” etc. There is an emphasis in the words, that “a man” should be this. If these things had been said of God, it would not be strange under the Old Testament; for God is frequently called a hiding place for His people, a refuge in time of trouble, a strong rock, and a high tower. But what is so remarkable is, that they are said of “a man.” But this is a prophecy of the Son of God incarnate.


(2) The things here foretold of Him, and the commendations given Him.


“He shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest”: that is, He shall be the safety and defence of His people, to which they shall flee for protection in the time of their danger and trouble. To Him they shall flee, as one who is abroad, and sees a terrible storm arising, makes haste to some shelter to secure himself. So that however furious is the tempest, yet he is safe within, and the wind and rain, though they beat never so impetuously upon the roof and walls, are no annoyance unto him.


He shall be as “rivers of water in a dry place.” This is an allusion to the deserts of Arabia, which was an exceedingly hot and dry country. One may travel there many days, and see no sign of a river, brook, or spring, nothing but a dry and parched wilderness, so that travellers are ready to be consumed with thirst, as the children of Israel were when they were in this wilderness, when they were faint because there was no water. Now when a man finds Jesus Christ, he is like one that has been travelling in those deserts till he is almost consumed with thirst, and who at last finds a river of cool and clear water. And Christ was typified by the river of water that issued out of the rock for the children of Israel in this desert: He is compared to a river, because there is such a plenty and fullness in Him.


He is the “shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Allusion is still made to the desert of Arabia. It is not said, as the shadow of a tree, because in some places of that country, there is nothing but dry sand and rocks for a vast space together, not a tree to be seen. The sun beats exceedingly hot upon the sands, and all the shade to be found there, where travellers can rest and shelter themselves from the scorching sun, is under some great rock. They who come to Christ find such rest and refreshment as the weary traveller in that hot and desolate country finds under the shadow of a great rock.


We propose to speak to three propositions that are explicatory of the several parts of the text.


I.


There is in Christ Jesus abundant foundation of peace and safety for those who are in fear and danger. “A man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, a covert from the tempest.”


II.


There is in Christ provision for the satisfaction, and full contentment, of the needy and thirsty soul. He shall be “as rivers of water in a dry place.”


III.


There are quiet rest and sweet refreshment in Christ Jesus for him who is weary. He shall be “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”


I. There is in Christ Jesus
abundant foundation of peace and safety
for those who are in fear and danger


The fears and dangers, to which men are subject, are of two kinds: temporal and eternal. Men are frequently in distress from fear of temporal evils. We live in an evil world, where we are liable to an abundance of sorrows and calamities. A great part of our lives is spent in sorrowing for present or past evils, and in fearing those which are future. What poor, distressed creatures are we, when God is pleased to send His judgments among us? If He visits a place with mortal and prevailing sickness, what terror seizes our hearts! If any person is taken sick, and trembles for his life, or if our near friends are at the point of death, or in many other dangers, how fearful is our condition! Now there is sufficient foundation for peace and safety to those exercised with such fears, and brought into such dangers. But Christ is a refuge in all trouble. There is a foundation for rational support and peace in Him, whatever threatens us. He whose heart is fixed, trusting in Christ, need not be afraid of any evil tidings. “As the mountains are round about Jerusalem” (Ps 125:2), so Christ is round about them that fear Him.


But it is the other kind of fear and danger to which we have a principal respect: the fear and danger of God’s wrath. The fears of a terrified conscience, the fearful expectation of the dire fruits of sin, and the resentment of an angry God, these are infinitely the most dreadful. If men are in danger of those things, and are not asleep, they will be more terrified than with the fears of any outward evil. Men are in a most deplorable condition, as they are by nature exposed to God’s wrath; and if they are sensible how dismal their case is, will be in dreadful fears and dismal expectations.


God is pleased to make some sensible of their true condition. He lets them see the storm that threatens them, how black the clouds are, and how impregnated with thunder. [They see] that it is a burning tempest, that they are in danger of being speedily overtaken by it, that they have nothing to shelter themselves from it, and that they are in danger of being taken away by the fierceness of His anger.


It is a fearful condition when one is smitten with a sense of the dreadfulness of God’s wrath: when he has his heart impressed with the conviction that the great God is not reconciled to him, that He holds him guilty of these and those sins, and that He is angry enough with him to condemn him forever. It is dreadful to lie down and rise up, it is dreadful to eat and drink, and to walk about, in God’s anger from day to day. One, in such a case, is ready to be afraid of everything. He is afraid of meeting God’s wrath wherever he goes. He has no peace of mind, but there is a dreadful sound in his ears. His mind is afflicted and tossed with tempest, and not comforted, and courage is ready to fail, and the spirit ready to sink with fear. For how can a poor worm bear the wrath of the great God, and what would not he give for peace of conscience, what would not he give if he could find safety! When such fears exist to a great degree, or are continued a long time, they greatly enfeeble the heart, and bring it to a trembling posture and disposition.


Now for such as these there is abundant foundation for peace and safety in Jesus Christ, and this will appear from the following things:


Christ has Undertaken to Save


First, Christ has undertaken to save all such from what they fear, if they come to Him. It is His professional business: the work in which He engaged before the foundation of the world. It is what He always had in His thoughts and intentions. He undertook from everlasting to be the refuge of those that are afraid of God’s wrath. His wisdom is such, that He would never undertake a work for which He is not sufficient. If there were some in so dreadful a case that He was not able to defend them, or so guilty that it was not fit that He should save them, then He never would have undertaken for them. Those who are in trouble and distressing fear, if they come to Jesus Christ, have this to ease them of their fears: that Christ has promised them that He will protect them, that they come upon His invitation, that Christ has plighted His faith for their security if they will close with Him, and that He is engaged by covenant to God the Father that He will save those afflicted and distressed souls that come to Him.


Christ, by His own free act, has made Himself the surety of such; He has voluntarily put Himself in their stead. If justice has anything against them, He has undertaken to answer for them. By His own act, He has engaged to be responsible for them, so that if they have exposed themselves to God’s wrath, and to the stroke of justice, it is not their concern, but His, how to answer or satisfy for what they have done. Let there be never so much wrath that they have deserved. They are as safe as if they never had deserved any, because He has undertaken to stand for them, let it be more or less. If they are in Christ Jesus, the storm does of course light on Him, and not on them. As when we are under a good shelter, the storm, that would otherwise come upon our heads, lights upon the shelter.


Christ was Appointed to Save


Second, He is chosen and appointed of the Father to this work. There needs be no fear nor jealousy, whether the Father will approve of this undertaking of Christ Jesus, whether He will accept of Him as a surety, or whether He will be willing that His wrath should be poured upon His own dear Son, instead of us miserable sinners. For there was an agreement with Him concerning it before the world was. It was a thing much upon God’s heart, that His Son Jesus Christ should undertake this work, and it was the Father that sent Him into the world. It is as much the act of God the Father as it is of the Son. Therefore, when Christ was near the time of His death, He tells the Father that He had finished the work which He gave Him to do. Christ is often called God’s elect, or His chosen, because He was chosen by the Father for this work. [He is called] God’s anointed, for the words Messiah and Christ signify anointed, because He is by God appointed and fitted for this work.


Christ Fulfilled the Demands of the Law


Third, if we are in Christ Jesus, justice and the law have their course with respect to our sins, without our hurt. The foundation of the sinner’s fear and distress is the justice and the law of God. They are against Him, and they are unalterable: they must have their course. Every jot and tittle of the law must be fulfilled; heaven and earth shall be destroyed rather than justice should not take place. There is no possibility of sin’s escaping justice.


But yet if the distressed trembling soul who is afraid of justice, would fly to Christ, He would be a safe hiding place. Justice and the threatening of the law will have their course as fully, while He is safe and untouched, as if He were to be eternally destroyed. Christ bears the stroke of justice, and the curse of the law falls fully upon Him. Christ bears all that vengeance that belongs to the sin that has been committed by him, and there is no need of its being borne twice over. His temporal sufferings, by reason of the infinite dignity of His person, are fully equivalent to the eternal sufferings of a mere creature. And then His sufferings answer for him who flees to Him as well as if they were His own, for indeed they are His own by virtue of the union between Christ and him. Christ has made Himself one with them. He is the head, and they are the members. Therefore, if Christ suffers for the believer, there is no need of his suffering, and [of] what needs he to be afraid? His safety is not only consistent with absolute justice, but it is consistent with the tenor of the law. The law leaves fair room for such a thing as the answering of a surety. If the end of punishment in maintaining the authority of the law and the majesty of the government is fully secured by the sufferings of Christ as his surety, then the law of God, according to the true and fair interpretation of it, has its course as much in the sufferings of Christ, as it would have in His own sufferings. The threatening, “thou shalt surely die,” is properly fulfilled in the death of Christ, as it is fairly to be understood. Therefore if those who are afraid will go to Jesus Christ, they need to fear nothing from the threatening of the law. The threatening of the law has nothing to do with them.


Through Christ’s Propitiation, God’s Forgiveness of us
Debases not His Honour


Fourth, those who come to Christ, need not be afraid of God’s wrath for their sins. For God’s honour will not suffer by their escaping punishment and being made happy. The wounded soul is sensible that he has affronted the majesty of God, and looks upon God as a vindicator of his honour, as a jealous God that will not be mocked, an infinitely great God that will not bear to be affronted, [a God] that will not suffer His authority and majesty to be trampled on, and that will not bear that His kindness should be abused. A view of God in this light terrifies awakened souls. They think how exceedingly they have sinned, how they have sinned against light, against frequent and long-continued calls and warnings, and how they have slighted mercy and been guilty of turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, taking encouragement from God’s mercy to go on in sin against Him. They fear that God is so affronted at the contempt and slight which they have cast upon Him, that He, being careful of His honour, will never forgive them, but will punish them. But if they go to Christ, the honour of God’s majesty and authority will not be in the least hurt by their being freed and made happy. For what Christ has done has repaired God’s honour to the full. It is a greater honour to God’s authority and majesty, that rather than it should be wronged, so glorious a person would suffer what the law required. It is surely a wonderful display of the honour of God’s majesty, to see an infinite and eternal person dying for its being wronged. And then Christ by His obedience, by that obedience which He undertook for our sakes, has honoured God abundantly more than the sins of any of us have dishonoured Him, how many soever, and how great soever. How great an honour is it to God’s law that so great a person is willing to submit to it, and to obey it! God hates our sins, but not more than He delights in Christ’s obedience which He performed on our account. This is a sweet savour to Him, a savour of rest. God is abundantly compensated, He desires no more. Christ’s righteousness is of infinite worthiness and merit.


We are Beloved of the Father in Christ


Fifth, Christ is a person so dear to the Father, that those who are in Christ need not be at all jealous of being accepted upon His account. If Christ is accepted they must of consequence be accepted, for they are in Christ, as members, as parts, as the same. They are the body of Christ, His flesh and His bones. They that are in Christ Jesus, are one spirit. Therefore, if God loves Christ Jesus, He must of necessity accept of those that are in Him, and that are of Him. But Christ is a person exceedingly dear to the Father: the Father’s love to the Son is really infinite. God necessarily loves the Son. God could as soon cease to be, as cease to love the Son. He is God’s elect, in whom his soul delighteth. He is His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased. He loved Him before the foundation of the world, and had infinite delight in Him from all eternity.


A terrified conscience, therefore, may have rest here, and abundant satisfaction that he is safe in Christ, and that there is not the least danger but that he shall be accepted, and that God will be at peace with him in Christ.


Christ’s Suffering was Sufficient


Sixth, God has given an open testimony that Christ has done and suffered enough, and that He is satisfied with it, by His raising Him from the dead. Christ, when He was in His passion, was in the hands of justice, He was God’s prisoner for believers. It pleased God to bruise Him, and put Him to grief and to bring Him into a low state. When He raised Him from the dead, He set Him at liberty, whereby He declared that it was enough. If God was not satisfied, why did He set Christ at liberty so soon? He was in the hands of justice, why did not God pour out more wrath upon Him, and hold Him in the chains of darkness longer? God raised Him up and opened the prison doors to Him, because He desired no more. And now surely there is free admittance for all sinners into God’s favour through this risen Saviour. There is enough done, and God is satisfied, as He has declared and sealed to it by the resurrection of Christ, who is alive, and lives for evermore, and is making intercession for poor, distressed souls that come unto Him.


All Power has been given unto Christ


Seventh, Christ has the dispensation of safety and deliverance in His own hands, so that we need not fear but that if we are united to Him, we may be safe. God has given Him all power in heaven and in earth, to give eternal life to whomsoever comes to Him. He is made head over all things to the church, and the work of salvation is left with Himself. He may save whom He pleases, and defend those that are in Him by His own power. What greater ground of confidence could God have given us than that the Mediator, who died for us, and intercedes for us, should have committed to Him the dispensation of the very thing which He died to purchase and for which He intercedes?


Christ is Loving and Compassionate


Eighth, Christ’s love, and compassion, and gracious disposition, are such that we may be sure He is inclined to receive all who come to Him. If He should not do it, He would fail of His own undertaking, and also of His promise to the Father and to us, and His wisdom and faithfulness will not allow of that. But He is so full of love and kindness that He is disposed to nothing but to receive and defend us, if we come to Him. Christ is exceedingly ready to pity us. His arms are open to receive us, and He delights to receive distressed souls that come to Him, and to protect them. He would gather them as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings (Mt 23:37). It is a work that He exceedingly rejoices in, because He delights in acts of love, and pity, and mercy.


Conclusion (Part 1)


I shall take occasion from what now has been said, to invite those who are afraid of God’s wrath, to come to Christ Jesus. You are indeed in a dreadful condition. It is dismal to have God’s wrath impending over our heads, and not to know how soon it will fall upon us. And you are in some measure sensible that it is a dreadful condition, you are full of fear and trouble, and you know not where to flee for help. Your mind is, as it were, tossed with a tempest. But how lamentable is it, that you should spend your life in such a condition, when Christ would shelter you, as a hen shelters her chickens under her wings, if you were but willing, and that you should live such a fearful, distressed life, when there is so much provision made for your safety in Christ Jesus!


How happy would you be if your hearts were but persuaded to close with Jesus Christ! Then you would be out of all danger. Whatever storms and tempests were without, you might rest securely within. You might hear the rushing of the wind, and the thunder roar abroad, while you are safe in this hiding place. O be persuaded to hide yourself in Christ Jesus! What greater assurance of safety can you desire? He has undertaken to defend and save you, if you will come to Him. He looks upon it as His work, He engaged in it before the world was, and He has given His faithful promise which He will not break. If you will but make your flight there, His life shall be for yours, and He will answer for you. You shall have nothing to do but rest quietly in Him. You may stand still and see what the Lord will do for you. If there be anything to suffer, the suffering is Christ’s, you will have nothing to suffer. If there be anything to be done, the doing of it is Christ’s, you will have nothing to do but to stand still and behold it.


You will certainly be accepted of the Father if your soul lays hold of Jesus Christ. Christ is chosen and anointed of the Father, and sent forth for this very end, to save those that are in danger and fear. He is greatly beloved of God, even infinitely, and He will accept of those that are in Him. Justice and the law will not be against you. If you are in Christ, that threatening, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt die” (Gen 2:17), in the proper sense of it will not touch you. The majesty and honour of God are not against you. You need not be afraid but that you shall be justified if you come to Him. There is an act of justification already past and declared for all who come to Christ by the resurrection of Christ, and as soon as ever you come, you are by that declared free. If you come to Christ it will be a sure sign that Christ loved you from all eternity, and that He died for you. You may be sure if He died for you, He will not lose the end of His death, for the dispensation of life is committed unto Him.


You need not, therefore, continue in so dangerous a condition. There is help for you. You need not stand out in the storm so long, as there is so good a shelter near you, whose doors are open to receive you. O make haste, therefore, unto that man who is a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest!


Let this truth also cause believers more to prize the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider that it is He, and He only, who defends you from wrath, and that He is a safe defence. Your defence is a high tower, and your city of refuge is impregnable. There is no rock like your rock. There is none like Christ, “the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky. The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut 33:26–27). He in whom you trust is a buckler to all that trust in Him. O prize that Saviour, who keeps your soul in safety, while thousands of others are carried away by the fury of God’s anger, and are tossed with raging and burning tempests in hell! O, how much better is your case than theirs! And to whom is it owing but to the Lord Jesus Christ? Remember what was once your case, and what it is now, and prize Jesus Christ.


And let those Christians who are in doubts and fears concerning their condition, renewedly fly to Jesus Christ, who is a hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest. Most Christians are at times afraid whether they shall not miscarry at last. Such doubtings are always through some want of the exercise of faith, and the best remedy for them is a renewed resort of the soul to this hiding place. The same act, which at first gave comfort and peace, will give peace again. They that clearly see the sufficiency of Christ, and the safety of committing themselves to Him to save them from what they fear, will rest in it that Christ will defend them. Be directed therefore at such times to do as the psalmist, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” (Ps 56:3–4).

Part 2 of 3