Jonathan Edwards on the Affections Part 1 of 3

“I think it clearly and abundantly evident that true religion lies very much in the affections,” wrote Jonathan Edwards in his classic The Religious Affections (or see a solid modernization here). I’m going to post his ten supporting points for that assertion in three installments. I put the scriptural supporting points in a smaller, lighter font.

I urge you to feed on some of this scriptural meat!

Edwards Goes Right to Scripture

1. “That religion which God requires, and will accept, does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, raising us but a little above a state of indifference.” 27 Rom 12:11—Be fervent in spirit. Deut 10:12—What does the Lord require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul? Deut 6:4-5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your might.” The new covenant includes a new heart: Deut 30:6 And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart…to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart.” “True religion is called the power of godliness, in distinction from the external appearances of it” 28: 2 Tim 3:5

Edwards Offers Two Empirical Arguments

2. “The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men, but has made them very much the spring of men’s actions.” 29 This is true not just in religion but in business and even in sin. “Take away all love and hatred, all hope and fear, all anger, zeal, and affectionate desire, and the world would be in a great measure motionless and dead; there would be no such thing as activity amongst mankind, or any earnest pursuit whatsoever.” 29

3. “The things of religion take hold of men’s souls no further than they affect them.” 30 “In a word, there never was anything considerable brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, that had not his heart deeply affected by those things.” 31

Author: Mark Ward

PhD in NT; theological writer for Faithlife; former high school Bible textbook author for BJU Press; husband; father; ultimate frisbee player; member of the body of Christ.

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