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A TREATISE CONCERNING

 

RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS

   

IN THREE PARTS

 

BY  

 

 JONATHAN EDWARDS

 


Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a Congregational minister of New England (now USA), a friend of such men as George Whitefield and Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine. The writings he left to posterity show something of the enormous spiritual stature of this scholar and preacher of the Gospel.


 

THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favour with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie the distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God? But though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another. It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opinions in this point, that divide the Christian world; making manifest the truth of that declaration of our Saviour, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it."

 

The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and inquiry, that I have been capable of. It is a subject on which my mind has been peculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries it must be left to the judgment of the reader of the following treatise.

-- from the Author's Introduction

 


 

Contents

 

Introduction Introduction

 

PART I. CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE AFFECTIONS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN RELIGION.

 

I. What the affections of the mind are

II. Evidence that true religion in great part consists in the affections

III. Inferences

 

PART II. SHOWING WHAT ARE NO CERTAIN SIGNS THAT RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS ARE GRACIOUS, OR THAT THEY ARE NOT.

 

I. That religious affections are very great, or raised very high, is no sign

II. That they have great effects on the body, is no sign

III. That they cause those who have them to be fluent, fervent, and abundant, in talking of the things of religion, is no sign

IV. That persons did not excite them of their own contrivance and by their own strength, is no sign

V. That they come with texts of Scripture, remarkably brought to the mind, is no sign

VI. That there is an appearance of love in them, is no sign

VII. Persons having religious affections of many kinds, accompanying one another, is no sign  

VIII. That comforts and joys seem to follow awakenings and convictions of conscience, in a certain order, is no sign  

IX. That they dispose persons to spend much time in religion, and to be zealously engaged in the external duties of worship, is no sign

X. That they much dispose persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God, is no sign

XI. That they make persons that have them exceeding confident that what they experience is divine, and that they are in a good estate, is no sign

XII. That the outward manifestations of them, and the relation persons give of them, are very affecting and pleasing to the godly, is no sign

 

PART III. SHOWING WHAT ARE DISTINGUISHING SIGNS OF TRULY GRACIOUS AND HOLY AFFECTIONS.

 

I. Truly gracious affections arise from divine influences and operations on the heart

II. Their ground is the excellent nature of divine things, not self-interest

III. They are founded on the loveliness of the moral excellency of divine things.

IV. They arise from the mind's being enlightened to understand or apprehend divine things.

V. They are attended with a conviction of the reality and certainty of divine things.

VI. They are attended with evangelical humiliation.

VII. They are attended with a change of nature.

VIII. They are attended with the lamblike, dovelike spirit and temper of Jesus Christ

IX. They are attended with a Christian tenderness of spirit.

X. They have beautiful symmetry and proportion.

XI. The higher they are raised, the more is a longing of soul after spiritual attainments increased.

XII. They have their exercise and fruit in Christian practice

         1. Christian practice and holy life is a sign of sincerity to others

         2. Christian practice is the chief evidence to ourselves, much to be preferred to the method of the first convictions, enlightenings, comforts, or any immanent discoveries or exercises of grace whatsoever