- Series: The Works of Jonathan Edwards Series (Book 4)
- Paperback: 608 pages
- Publisher: Yale University Press (August 25, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0300158424
- ISBN-13: 978-0300158427
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,023,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 4: Volume 4: The Great Awakening (The Works of Jonathan Edwards Series)
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About the Author
C.C. Goen, author of Revivalism and Separatism in New England, 1740-1800 (1962), is professor of church history at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
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Top customer reviews
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I must admit, I was intimidated by the Banner of Truth formatting. They simply reprinted a two volume set from 1834, and it is in size 9 (or smaller?) font, double columns per page, nearly 1,000 pages per volume. In a panel discussion at the Desiring God Conference in 2003 devoted entirely to Jonathan Edwards, all of the participants, including Iain Murray himself, made reference to the small print, and joked that it should come with a magnifying glass included.
I hesitated. My first real reading of Edwards was The End for Which God Created the World, and I had John Piper to hold my hand in reading it. I was so swept along by it that I decided to read "True Virtue" next, but I didn't have a separate copy. Do I buy it in paperback, or read it in my giant, scary, tiny print Banner of Truth edition? I decided I would try it, and if it was absolutely miserable, at least I tried. Since then, I've read "Justification by Faith Alone" in the BoT, and am currently reading BoT's separate edition of A History of the Work of Redemption - not in the collected works.
All of that is to say that I've evaluated the reading experience enough to comment on this particular volume: and I highly recommend it.
Yes, the print is small. I find myself leaning into the page to bring the small print closer to my eyes. This is actually a benefit. Reading Edwards takes effort, and I find that even the physical act of "leaning in" helps my mind to do the same.
One of the huge benefits of the small print is how much can fit on a single page. The ratio is 1:5, so if you have the book open before you, you are looking at 10 pages of a normally printed book. This is so helpful when reading Edwards! Mortimer Adler in How to Read a Book explains that the 1st reading (of 3) is the "structural" or "analytic" reading. One of the rules in this type of reading is to "set forth the major parts of the book, and show how these are organized into a whole, by being ordered to one another and to the unity of the whole." (p. 163) Edwards writing is oftentimes very structured, and outlined in the text. I,II,III, a,b,c, 1,2,3, etc. I've found that the best way to read him is first to go through and write in the margins all of his "outline markers" so that I can see the structure ahead of time. This makes it so much easier to grasp his flow of thought, and to understand his reasoning. Having the equivalent of 10 pages in front of you at a time allows you to see the big picture in his structure in a way that is almost impossible in a normal book. Flipping through ten pages trying to see the structure of the whole, versus having it all in front of you at once? There is no comparison.
I own The Religious Affections and The Freedom of the Will as separate publications. I will most likely read them in this Banner of Truth format, specifically to better understand the overall structure and flow of his thought.
There are some footnotes included throughout. Some of them are Edwards own notes - read those. Others are the "valuable notes of Dr. Williams." They are actually pretty distracting and not very valuable. Feel free to skip them.
Volume 2 includes many sermons, including:
God Glorified in Man's Dependence
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God
A Divine and Supernatural Light
Many of his "Miscellanies"
The Divine Decrees
and many more
This is the best $20 you will spend in your life! Don't be afraid of the small print :-)
Section one discusses the nature of the affections and their importance in religion. Edwards defines his terms early in the work. He describes the affections as the exercises of the "inclination and the will of the soul." He notes that one may have doctrinal knowledge and speculate in matters of theology, but without affections one is never engaged in the business of religion. Similarly, a man having much affection, does not prove that he has true religion: but if he has no affection, it proves that he has no true religion.
The Scriptures represent true religion, as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and the fountain of all others. "From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love to God, will necessarily arise other religious affections, hence will arise an intense hatred and fear of sin; a dread of God's displeasure; gratitude to God for His goodness; joy in God; grief when He is absent."
Part two demonstrates that one cannot rely on signs to test the validity of religious affections. The author details twelve different supposed manifestations of religious affections that in reality turn out to be shams.
Part three is the heart of the book. In contrast to the previous section, Edwards shows the distinguishing signs of truly gracious affections. The fourteen different signs are worth noting. 1) Gracious affections are from divine influence. 2) Their object is the excellency of divine things. 3) They are founded on the moral excellency of objects. 4) They arise from divine illumination. 5) They are attended with a conviction of certainty. 6) They are attended with evangelical humiliation. 7) They are attended with a change of nature. 8) They beget and promote the temper of Jesus. 9) Gracious affections soften the heart. 10) They have beautiful symmetry and proportion. 11) False affections rest satisfied in themselves. 12) Their fruit is Christian practice. 13) Christian practice is the chief sign to others. 14) Christian practice is the chief sign to ourselves.
Edwards clearly describes the deceptive nature of the heart and makes the reader aware of counterfeit religious experiences as well as authentic ones. The strengths in Religious Affections are numerous. First, the author is logical. His points are well-organized and cohesive. Moreover, the author is biblical. In classic Edwardsean style, the writer regularly supports his assertions with Scriptural truth, inviting the reader to deeper communion with God. Finally, the author writes with conviction. He pulls no punches and forces the reader to contemplate serious questions pertaining to Christian living.
Religious Affections has been and will continue to be an ongoing source of encouragement and an invaluable aid in pastoral ministry. This work challenges me to measure what I believe about Christ in a practical way. It forces me to ask difficult questions and probe motives in any given area. In short, this work can be used as a gauge to measure my affections and devotion to Christ. Additionally, this work will be a helpful tool in determining where others are coming from. Finally, Religious Affections may be used to challenge the flock of God. It encourages me to raise the bar higher for those I have an opportunity to shepherd and disciple.