Jonathan Edwards on the Affections Part 2 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.

Now Back To Scripture for Two Points

4. “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.” 31 “They who would deny that much of true religion lies in the affections, and maintain the contrary, must throw away what we have been wont to own for our Bible, and get some other rule by which to judge of the nature of religion.” 35 =)

a. Hope is found everywhere.
b. Love, of course, everywhere.
c. Hatreaide.”); Ps 119:104 (“I hate every false way”); Ps 139:21 (“Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee?”).
d. Joy: Ps 37:4 (“Delight yourself in the Lord”); Ps 97:12 (“Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous); Php 3:1 (“Rejoice in the Lord”); Php. 4:4 (“Rejoice in the Lord always; and again, I say, Rejoice!”); 1 Ths 5:16 (“Rejoice evermore.”); Ps 149:2 (“Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.”); Gal 5:22 (“The fruit of the spirit is love,” etc.); Ps 119:14 (“I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.”). 33
e. Sorrow, mourning, brokenness of heart. Mt 5:4; Ps 34:18; Is 41:1-2; Ps 51:17; Is 57:15, 56:2. 33-34
f. Gratitude—all throughout the psalms. 34
g. Compassion, mercy. “A merciful man and a good man are equivalent terms in Scripture.” 34 Is 57:1; Ps 37:21, 26; Pr 14:31; Col 3:12; Mt 5:7; Mt 23:23; Mic 6:8; Hos 6:6; Mt 9:13, 12:7. h. Zeal. Tit 2:14; Rev 3:15, 16, 19.

5. “The Scriptures do represent true religion, as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections and fountain of all other affections.” 35 Edwards cites the love commands: “These two commandments comprehend all the duty prescribed, and the religion taught in the law and the prophets.” 35 “Indeed it cannot be supposed, when this affection of love is here, and in other Scriptures, spoken of as the sum of all religion, that hereby is meant the act, exclusive of the habit, or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, which is implied in all reasonable affection.” 36 “From hence it clearly and certainly appears, that [sic?] great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections, and the fountain of all affections.” 36
a. Rom 13:8 “He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law.” v.10 “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
b. Gal 5:14 “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
c. 1 Tim 1:5 “Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart.” d. “1 Cor. xiii. throughout.” 36
d. “1 Cor. xiii. throughout.” 36

All page numbers are from the Banner of Truth (not the Yale) edition.

6. “The religion of the most eminent saints we have an account of in the Scripture consisted much in holy affections.” Edwards cites Paul, David, and John, and gives solid scriptural examples from all three.

7. Jesus: “He whom God sent into the world, to be the light of the world and the head of the whole church, and the perfect example of true religion and virtue for the imitation of all, the Shepherd whom the whole flock should follow wherever he goes, even the Lord Jesus Christ, was of a remarkably tender and affectionate heart; and his virtue was expressed very much in the exercise of holy affections.” 40

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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