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The Religious Affections Paperback – April 1, 1961
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Jonathan Edwards’s classic 1746 study Religious Affections—abridged and updated—describes the signs, true and false, of conversion, highlighting the role of truly balanced emotions in Christian living. Edwards shows that the evidence of true conversion are the “religious affections”—the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) was a colonial American Congregational preacher, theologian, and missionary to Native Americans. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian," and one of America's greatest intellectuals. Edwards' theological work is very broad in scope, but he is often associated with his defense of Reformed theology, the metaphysics of theological determinism, and the Puritan heritage. Edwards played a critical role in shaping the First Great Awakening, and oversaw some of the first fires of revival in 1733-1735 at his church in Northampton, Massachusetts. Edwards' sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," is considered a classic of early American literature, which he delivered during another wave of revival in 1741, following George Whitefield's tour of the Thirteen Colonies. Edwards is widely known for his many books: The End For Which God Created the World; The Life of David Brainerd, which served to inspire thousands of missionaries throughout the nineteenth century; and Religious Affections, which many Reformed Evangelicals read even today. Edwards died from a smallpox inoculation shortly after beginning the presidency at the College of New Jersey (later to be named Princeton University), and was the grandfather of Aaron Burr. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Keep in mind the context of what Edwards was addressing at this time in history and his points will make more sense as well.
Jonathan Edwards wrote this book after the Great Awakening with which he was closely involved. He wrote as both a friend, defending the authenticity of revivals - and also as a critique, warning against putting trust in things which were not certain signs of genuine Spirit-wrought affections.
His treatise takes three parts. In part one he defines his terms and gives twelve reasons why genuine religion (i.e. Christian spirituality - "religion," in Edwards day, did not have the negative connotations that it carries today) consists much in the affections. The affections, for Edwards, are more than mere emotions - they are the strong and lively inclinations of the will, seated in the human heart.
Part two discusses twelve things which are not certain signs of true religious affections. These are things which Edwards warned should not be trusted as evidences of grace OR discarded as evidences that the Holy Spirit has NOT worked in a saving way. They are not indicators one way or the other.
Part three is the most lenghty and examines twelve things which are signs of a true work of the grace, wrought by God's holy Spirit in the heart. This is where Edwards is at his best - carefully, logically, biblically, and passionately describing the true evidences of regeneration. His analysis is keen, his thoughts clear, his argument orderly, his scholarship extensive, his knowledge of Scripture profuse, and his understanding of the human heart profound.
This particular edition - produced by Yale and edited by John Smith - is the best critical edition in print. The introduction and notes on the text are very helpful, as Smith summarizes Edwards' arguments and backgrounds the Puritan writers and their books which Edwards quotes in Religious Affections. This volume also includes Edwards' related correspondence with Thomas Gillespie from Scotland - this being the first time the complete correspondence has been printed in the same volume with the Affections.
This is not an easy book to read. Edwards takes getting used to. But it is very worthwhile. I'm currently reading it for the third time and I continue to find it useful. I highly recommend it for pastors and preachers and all Christians who yearn for a personal and corporate work of the Spirit in revival and spiritual awakening.