Spiritual Appetites

Sifting through the online manuscripts of Jonathan Edwards, I came across one of my favorite lines in all of his works. In his sermon on Song of Solomon 5:1 (“Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!”) he developed this doctrine: “That persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites.” A precious truth he developed in many of his works. See the full page here.

John Piper has used this quote and sermon in a number of places. Here is one …

Jonathan Edwards argued for this in a sermon that he preached on Song of Solomon 5:1. The text reads, “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!” Edwards drew out of the text the following doctrine: “Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites.” Instead, he says, they ought

“to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame their desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures. . . . Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value…[Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement…There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.”

Therefore, be encouraged that God made you to rejoice in him. Do not settle for any lesser joy. Lay yourself in the way of allurement. That is, fix your eyes on the all-satisfying treasure of Jesus Christ who loved us and gave his life as a ransom for our everlasting joy. [What Jesus Demands from the World, pp. 90-91]

3 thoughts on “Spiritual Appetites

  1. Thanks Tony. These are precious truths. Although, in fairness to Edwards’ Puritan ancestry, I think it’s better to say that Edwards developed this inherited doctrine. What Edwards says here is an echo of the Puritan psychology coming out of 17th century England. It is not an original thought with him, even if it is a beautiful one.

  2. “Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!”
    I cannot help but be reminded of one of my favorite films called Babette’s Feast.
    It is in Danish mostly with English subtitles, which is helpful unless you know Danish. It is one of the most understated and tender movies I have seen. It is what I call a “real gem” among many rhinestones.
    The small flock of Danish believers in Babette’s Feast needed to learn to appreciate their gifts of earthly/natural/physical/God given and blessed appetites so they could more fully lay hold of their “spiritual and gracious” appetites. Now that I have probably made no sense or sound as though I am disagreeing with you (I am not), I hope you are curious enough to check out Babette’s Feast if you’ve not seen it. I first found it at our public library.

  3. I was searching this on google, and it led me to your blog. It’s funny that you should mention this. My teacher, who got to study the manuscripts years ago when he was doing graduate work on JE, came across this sermon, which was apparently not well published, if at all (yet, I think it is his favorite). He read it in it’s entirety in our class when we talked about Heaven and said it should be read along with Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God because both are aimed at the senses-He wants you to taste and see that the Lord is good. Our teacher also said it is one of the most practical instructions as what to do with sin, get out our notebook, take notes, what you are giving to sin is what you should be giving to God. Everything your idol wants from you is a perversion of what you should be giving God. I’m really thankful for that class, and Edwards.
    Incredible sermon. So encouraging to know that we can never get enough of God or desire Him too much! So much to grow.

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