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by Mark Noll


Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) Preaches a Sermon that Will Never Appear in an Anthology of American Literature

Northampton, Massachusetts (August 1733)

I Corinthians 5:7—For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.

Hot and unusually still, with the scent
strong from the close-packed in sweat, they are bent
forward, yet still withholding their consent.

"This passage pictures Jesus as a Lamb—
it is a type, an artifice
to bring the stories of old Israel
to life, a shadow to entice
our stony hearts to sense his loveliness,
to prize such gift beyond all price,
to grasp what meant such perfect meekness, such
a mercy from such sacrifice.

"For when his disciples forsook him,
when they could not stay awake while he prayed,
when Judas denied him with an oath and a curse,
when they came against him as if he were a thief,
when they reviled and abused him
and struck him in the face—and made for him a crown of thorns—
and ridiculed him—and stripped him—and scourged him,
when they called for a murderer and a thief instead of him,
and when they led him to the most ignominious and cruel execution,

"in all of this his meekness did not flag,
his spirit was not ruffled, he
shrank not to take the flaming wrath of God
for us, he bound himself to free
his people from their bondage, spilled his blood
on door posts now called Calvary."

Some made a comment respecting Grandsire
Stoddard, while more were prepared to admire
verbal skill—few remembered that bit about fire.

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