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The Religious Affections Paperback – April 1, 1961
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Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) offers here his most detailed description of the signs of revival and takes a look at the evidence of true conversion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Edwards was born in East Windsor, Connecticut, to Timothy Edwards, pastor of East Windsor, and Esther Edwards. The only son in a family of eleven children, he entered Yale in September, 1716 when he was not yet thirteen and graduated four years later (1720) as valedictorian. He received his Masters three years later. In 1727 he was ordained minister at Northampton and assistant to his maternal grandfather, Solomon Stoddard. He was a student minister, not a visiting pastor, his rule being thirteen hours of study a day. In the same year, he married Sarah Pierpont, then age seventeen, daughter of James Pierpont (1659–1714), a founder of Yale, originally called the Collegiate School. In total, Jonathan and Sarah had eleven children. Solomon Stoddard died on February 11th, 1729, leaving to his grandson the difficult task of the sole ministerial charge of one of the largest and wealthiest congregations in the colony. Throughout his time in Northampton his preaching brought remarkable religious revivals. Jonathan Edwards was a key figure in what has come to be called the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s. Yet, tensions flamed as Edwards would not continue his grandfather's practice of open communion. Stoddard, his grandfather, believed that communion was a "converting ordinance." Surrounding congregations had been convinced of this, and as Edwards became more convinced that this was harmful, his public disagreement with the idea caused his dismissal in 1750. Edwards then moved to Stockbridge, Massachusetts, then a frontier settlement, where he ministered to a small congregation and served as missionary to the Housatonic Indians. There, having more time for study and writing, he completed his celebrated work, The Freedom of the Will (1754). Edwards was elected president of the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in early 1758. He was a popular choice, for he had been a friend of the College since its inception and was the most eminent American philosopher-theologian of his time. On March 22, 1758, he died of fever at the age of fifty-four following experimental inoculation for smallpox and was buried in the President's Lot in the Princeton cemetery beside his son-in-law, Aaron Burr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Archaic style and language aside, The Religious Affections is worth the time it takes to wade through (especially for readers who tire of the breezy, superficial books churned out by popular pastors today). Edwards wants to make the point, still valid 270 years later, that religious "affections," or outward expressions of religion, do not make one a Christian, but should be present in Christians. In fact, "they who have but little religious affection, have certainly but little religion."
What are the affections or signs that someone is a Christian? By their fruits you know them. humility, a changed life, Christ-like attitude, tenderness, an interest in spiritual growth, etc. Edwards encouraged a spiritual striving and a life devoted to the pursuit of holiness. He writes: "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 of love to him; the more he hates sin, the more he desires to hate it. . . . The more he mourns for sin, the more he longs to mourn for sin. . . . The more he thirsts and longs for God and holiness, the more he longs to love, and breathe out his very should in longings after God." Archaic or not, passages like this in The Religious Affections ought to stoke Christians' fire and encourage them to pursue the religious affections.
Read The Religious Affections in small chunks. Like a gourmet meal, it takes longer to eat, and some may be unfamiliar, but it's delicious and worth the price.
After reading this book, you will ask yourself: just what are my affections? Sports? Politics? Fox News? My career? Possessions? My wife? What is in my wheelhouse after all?
Christians would do well to stop listening to conservative media and their lukewarm pastors and delve into works like this for real meat for the soul and instruction in Godliness. The day is far spent.. What we do and who we are for God is all that matters. Bro. Edwards writes with an intensity that reflects this.
Keep in mind the context of what Edwards was addressing at this time in history and his points will make more sense as well.