Jonathan Edwards, “Religious Affections”

The Place of Affection in the Christian Life

Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1758

The holy Scriptures do everywhere place religion very much in the affection; such as fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion, and zeal. – 20

From a vigorous affectionate, and fervent love to God will necessarily arise other religious affections; hence will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God’s displeasure, gratitude to God for his goodness; complacence and joy in God when God is graciously and sensibly present, and grief when He is absent, and a joyful hope when a future enjoyment of God is expected and fervent zeal for the glory of God. And in like manner, from a fervent love to men will arise all other virtuous affections towards men. – 23

Will any say that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father and the glory of their redeemer, and contemplating His wonderful works, and particularly His laying down His life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected by all which they behold or consider? – 27

For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection, yet true religion consists so much in the affections that there can be no true religion without them. – 30

And let it considered, that they who have but little religious affections have certainty but little religion. And they who condemn others for their religious affections, have none themselves, have no religion. – 31

Affection/Emotion and the Gospel

And it seems to be the natural import of the word Gospel, glad tidings, that it is new of deliverance and salvation, after great fear and distress. There is also reason to suppose

a puritan church

that God deals with particular believers as He dealt with His church, which he first made to hear His voice in the law, with terrible thunders and lightnings, and kept her under the schoolmaster to prepare her for Christ; and then comforted her with joyful sound of the gospel from Mount Zion. – 47

Convictions of conscious, through the influences of God’s Spirit, consist in conviction of sinfulness of heart and practice, and of the dreadfulness of sin as committed against a God of terrible majesty, infinite holiness and hatred of sin, and strict justice in punishing of it. – 48

Selfish proud man naturally calls that lovely that greatly contributes to his interest, and gratifies his ambition. – 91

But saints and angels behold that glory of God which consists in the beauty of His holiness; and it is this sight only that will melt and humble the hearts of men, wean them from the world, draw them to God, and effectually change them. – 101

The highest love that ever any attain in this life is poor, cold, exceedingly low, and not worthy to be named in comparison of what our obligations appear to be; and this will appear from the joint consideration of these two things… – 132

Christian Humility

The humble Christian is more apt to find fault with his own pride than with other men’s. He is apt to put the best construction on others’ words and behaviour, and to think that none are so proud as himself. – 138

Edwards preaching

A truly humble person, having such a mean opinion of his righteousness and holiness, is poor in spirit. For a person to be poor in spirit, is to be in his own sense and apprehension poor, as to what is in him, and to be of an answerable disposition…he is apt to yield to other, for he knows others are above him: he is not stiff and self-willed; he is patient with hard fare; he expects no other than to be despised, and takes it patiently; he does not take heinously that he is overlooked and but little regarded; he is prepared to be in a low place; he readily honours his superiors; he takes reproofs quietly; he readily honours others as above him; he easily yields to be taught, and does not claim much to his understanding and judgment; he is not over nice or humoursome, and has his spirit subdued to hard things; he is not assuming, nor apt to take much upon him, but it is natural for him to be subject to others…A that is very poor is a beggar; so is he that is poor in spirit. – 139

Conversion and Walking with God (The Necessity of Change)

Conversion is a great and universal change of the man, turning him from sin to God. A man may be restrained from sin, before his is converted; but when he is converted, he is not only restrained from sin, his very heart and nature is turned from it unto holiness: so that thenceforward he becomes a holy person, and an enemy to sin…if he appears as selfish and carnal, as stupid and perverse, as unchristian and unsavoury as ever; it is greater evidence against him than the brightest story of experiences that ever was told is for him. – 141.

When men have been conversing with Christ in an extraordinary manner, there is sensible effect of it remaining upon them; there is something remarkable in their disposition and frame, which if we take knowledge of and trace to its cause, we shall find it is because they have been with Jesus, Acts 4:13. – 143

“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” – Acts 4:13

The more a true saint loves God with a gracious love, the more he desires to love Him, and the more uneasy is he at his want (lack) of love to Him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it, and laments that he has so much remaining love to it; the more he

a page of a puritan psalter

mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin; the more his heart is broke, the more he desires it should be broke: the more he thirsts and longs after God and holiness, the more he longs to long, and breathe out his very soul in longings after God. – 159

The scriptures everywhere represent the seeking, striving, and labour of a Christian, as being chiefly after his conversion, and his conversion as being but the beginning of his work. – 161

Slothfulness in the service of God in His professed servants is a damming as open rebellion; for the slothful servant is a wicked servant, and shall be cast into outer darkness among God’s open enemies, Matt 25:26, 30. That true faith, by which persons rely on the righteousness of Christ, and the work that He hath done for them, and truly feed and live upon Him, is evermore accompanied with a spirit of earnestness in the Christian work and course. – 163

Gracious affections arise from those operations and influences which are spiritual, and that the inward principle from whence they flow is something divine, a communication of God, a participation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart, the Holy Spirit dwelling there in union with the faculties of the soul, as an internal vital principle, exerting His own proper nature in the exercise of those faculties… For in the heart where Christ savingly is, there He lives and exerts Himself after the power of that endless life that He received at his resurrection. – 164

Self Denial

(Self-denial)…making a full choice of God as our only Lord and portion, forsaking all for him, and, in a full determination of the will for God and Christ, on counting the cost; in our hearts closing and complying with the religion of Jesus Christ, with all that belongs to it. Embracing it with all its difficulties, as it were hating our dearest earthly enjoyments

“…in the great duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i.e., at it were, disowning and renouncing ourselves for Him, making ourselves nothing that He may be all…”

and even our own lives, for Christ; giving up ourselves, with all that we have, wholly and forever, unto Christ, without keeping back anything, nor making any reserve; or, in one word; in the great duty of self-denial for Christ; or in denying, i.e., at it were, disowning and renouncing ourselves for Him, making ourselves nothing that He may be all. – 167-168

Self Deceit

It is therefore exceedingly absurd, and even ridiculous, for any to pretend that they have a good heart, while they live a wicked life, or do not bring forth the fruit of universal holiness in their practice. For it is proved in fact that such men do not love God above all. It is foolish to dispute against plain fact and experience. Men that live in ways of sin, and yet flatter themselves that they shall go to heaven, or expect to be received hereafter as holy persons without a holy life and practice, act as though they expected to make a fool of their judge. – 182

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