December 15, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VIII - Part 3 continued

Required reading
Religious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Continue Part 3 by reading Section 4.

My summary.
Now Edwards asserts that truly gracious affections are attended with a conviction of the reality and certainty of divine things.

The view of the divine glory has a tendency to convince the mind of their divinity in two ways:
(i) directly - his conviction is agreeable to reason;
(ii) indirectly - removing prejudices of reason;

What grabbed me
I appreciated Edwards' explanation of how the divine beauty shows us our ugliness:
'This sense of the spiritual excellency and beauty of divine things, also tends directly to convince the mind of the truth of the gospel. Very many of the most important things declared in the gospel are hid from the eyes of natural men, the truth of which in effect consists in this excellency, or so immediately depends upon it, and results from it, that in this excellency being seen, the truth, of those things is seen. As soon as ever the eyes are opened to behold a holy beauty and amiableness in divine things, a multitude of most important doctrines of the gospel that depend upon it, (which all appear strange and dark to natural men,) are at once seen to be true. As for instance, hereby appears the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding evil of sin; for the same eye that discerns the transcendent beauty of holiness, necessarily therein sees the exceeding odiousness of sin: the same taste which relishes the sweetness of true moral good, tastes the bitterness of moral evil. And by this means a man sees his own sinfulness and loathsomeness; for he has now a sense to discern objects of this nature; and so sees the truth of what the word of God declares concerning the exceeding sinfulness of mankind, which before he did not see. He now sees the dreadful pollution of his heart, and the desperate depravity of his nature, in a new manner; for his soul has now a sense given it to feel the pain of such a disease. This shows him the truth of what the Scripture reveals concerning the corruption of man's nature, his original sin, his ruinous condition, his need of a Saviour, and of the mighty power of God to renew his heart, and change his nature.'

As I look at him in his holiness, I am attracted to him.  As I look at myself in my unholiness, I am further attracted to him.

Next week's reading
Continue Part 3 by reading Section 6.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.



December 14, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLVIII - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading 'the section entitled Faith's First Quenching Power' of Division Second of Second General Part.

My summary
Today we continue on with Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

Last week we examined Satan's fiery dart of pleasing temptation.

Now we begin Satan's fiery darts of affrighting temptations.  Satan frightens the believer with:
(i) thoughts of atheism;
(ii) thoughts of blasphemy;
(iii) thoughts of despair;

The first two are in today's reading - despair is reserved for next week.

Thus, firstly, we learn that faith conquers the dart of atheism by its superiority to reason.

Secondly, Gurnall teaches us that faith quenches Satan's dart of blasphemy, particularly as Satan tries:
(i) to set the saint to defaming God;
(ii) to force unwelcome guests (blasphemous temptations) upon the Christian.

What grabbed me
I enjoyed the clear affirmation that faith in the Word is the foundation of the Christian's life, not reason: 

'Question. But, may some say, is there no use of reason in such principles as this which are within its sphere? May I not make use of my reason to confirm me in this truth that there is a God? 

Answer. It is beyond all doubt that there is [use of reason]. Wherefore else did God set up such a light if not to guide us? But it must keep its own place, and that is to follow faith, not to be the ground of it, or to give law and measure to it. Our faith must not depend on our reason, but our reason on faith. I am not to believe what the word saith merely because it jumps with my reason, but believe my reason because it is suitable to the word. The more perfect is to rule the less. Now the light of the word—which faith follows—is more clear or sure than reason is or can be; for therefore it was written, because man's natural light was so defective. Thou readest in the word there is a God, and that he made the world. Thy eye of reason sees this also. But thou layest the stress of thy faith on the word, not on thy reason. And so of other truths. The carpenter lays his rule to the timber, and by his eye sees it to be right or crooked; yet, it is not the eye but the rule that is the measure —without which his eye might fail him. All that I shall say more to such as are annoyed with atheistical injections is this, fix thy faith strongly on the word, by which you shall be able to overcome this Goliath, and when thou art more free and composed, and the storm is over, thou shalt do well to back thy faith what thou canst with thy reason. Let the word, like David's stone in the sling of faith, first prostrate the temptation; and then, as he used Goliath's sword to cut off his head, so mayest thou with more ease and safety make use of thy reason to complete the victory over these atheistical suggestions.'

Van Til would be proud!

Next week's reading
Conclude Direction Eight.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.



December 8, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VII - Part 3 continued

Required reading
Religious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Continue Part 3 by reading Section 4.

My summary.
Edwards now teaches us that 'Holy affections are not heat without light; but evermore arise from some information of the understanding, some spiritual instruction that the mind receives, some light or actual knowledge.'

Edwards explains that the knowledge that  affections arise from is a spiritual understanding consisting in 'a cordial sense of the supreme beauty and sweetness of the holiness or moral perfection of divine things, together with all that discerning and knowledge of things of religion, that depends upon and flows from such a sense.'

He also tells us what this spiritual understanding is not.

What grabbed me
I loved the description of the value of spiritual sight: 'Besides, there arises from this sense of spiritual beauty, all true experimental knowledge of religion, which is of itself as it were a new world of knowledge. He that sees not the beauty of holiness, knows not what one of the graces of God's Spirit is, he is destitute of any conception of gracious exercises of soul, holy comforts and delights, and effects of the saving influences of the Spirit of God on the heart. He is ignorant of the greatest works of God, the most important and glorious effects of his power upon the creature; he is wholly ignorant of the saints as saints, and knows not what they are; and in effect is wholly ignorant of the spiritual world. Thus, it plainly appears, that God implanting a spiritual, supernatural sense, makes a great change in a man. And were it not for the very imperfect degree in which this sense is commonly given at first, or the small degree of this glorious light that first dawns upon the soul; the change made by this spiritual opening of the eyes in conversion, would be much greater, and more remarkable every way, than if a man born blind should have the sense of seeing imparted to him at once, in the midst of the clear light of the sun, discovering a world of visible objects. For though sight be more noble than any of the other external senses, yet this spiritual sense is infinitely more noble, and the object infinitely more important.—This is that knowledge of divine things from whence all truly gracious affections proceed; by which therefore all affections are to be tried. Those affections that arise wholly from any other kind of knowledge, or do result from any other kind of apprehensions, are vain.'

Lord, open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Next week's reading
Continue Part 3 by reading Section 5.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


December 7, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLVII - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading 'the section entitled Faith's First Quenching Power' of Division Second of Second General Part.

My summary
Today we plough on with Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

We continue the second general part which examines the quenching of the fiery darts by looking at the second division: the power and puissance of faith over this enemy.

Gurnall tells us that the fiery darts of Satan which the believing soul is able by faith to quench may be described as of two sorts:
(i) those that do pleasingly entice and bewitch with some seeming promises of satisfaction to the creature;
(ii) such as affright and carry horror with them.

It is the first sort, the darts that entice, that we are concerned with today.  

Gurnall affirms their fiery nature and then spends the rest of the section demonstrating Faith's power to quench them, including the darts of:
(i) lust of the flesh;
(ii) lust of the eyes;
(iii) pride of life.

What grabbed me
I liked the encouragement to see Satan's temptations through the eye of faith: 

'[How faith quenches the 'lust of the flesh.'] 

Question. How does faith quench this fiery dart of sensual delights? 

Answer 1. As it undeceives and takes off the mist from the Christian's eyes, whereby he is now enabled to see sin in its naked being and callow principles before Satan hath plumed [it]. It gives him the native taste and relish of sin before the devil hath sophisticated it with his sugared sauce. And truly, now sin proves a homely piece, a bitter morsel. Faith hath a piercing eye; it is 'the evidence of things not seen.' It looks behind the curtain of sense, and sees sin, before its fiery was on and it be dressed for the stage, to be a brat that comes from hell, and brings hell with it. Now, let Satan come if he please, and present a lust never so enticing, the Christian's answer is ready. 'Be not cheated, O my soul,' saith faith, 'with a lying spirit.' He shows thee a fair Rachel, but he intends thee a blear-eyed Leah; he promises joy, but he will pay thee sorrow. The clothes that make this lust so comely are not its own. The sweetness thou tastest is not native, but borrowed to deceive thee withal. 'Thou art Saul,' saith the woman of Endor, 'why hast thou deceived me?' Thus, faith can call sin and Satan by their own names when they come in a disguise. 'Thou art Satan,' saith faith, 'why wouldst thou deceive me? God hath said sin is bitter as gall and wormwood, and wouldst thou make me believe I can gather the sweet fruits of true delight from this root of bitterness? grapes from these thorns?'

Faith lets us see sin for what it really is!

Next week's reading
Continue Direction Eight by commencing the section entitled 'Faith's Second Quenching Power' of Division Second of Second General Part by reading of Satan's fiery darts of atheism and blasphemy.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.


December 1, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - VI - Part 3 continued

Required readingReligious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Continue Part 3 by reading Section 2 and 3.


My summary.
Now Edwards teaches us that the first objective ground of gracious affections is love of God for his excellency, not self love: 'The first objective ground of gracious affections, is the transcendently excellent and amiable nature of divine things, as they are in themselves; and not any conceived relation they bear to self, or self-interest.'

Then Edwards proceeds to explain the difference between God's natural and moral perfections and how it is his moral perfection of holiness that is the grounds of love for God: 'A true love to God must begin with a delight in his holiness, and not with a delight in any other attribute; for no other attribute is truly lovely without this, and no otherwise than as (according to our way of conceiving God) it derives its loveliness from this.'

What grabbed me
I liked the encouragement to rejoice in God: 'And as it is with the love of the saints, so it is with their joy, and spiritual delight: the first foundation of it is not any consideration of their interest in divine things; but it primarily consists in the sweet entertainment their minds have in the contemplation of the divine and holy beauty of these things, as they are in themselves. And this is indeed the very main difference between the joy of the hypocrite, and the joy of the true saint. The former rejoices in himself; self is the first foundation of his joy: the latter rejoices in God. The hypocrite has his mind pleased and delighted, in the first place, with his own privilege, and happiness to which he supposes he has attained, or shall attain. True saints have their minds, in the first place, inexpressibly pleased and delighted with the sweet ideas of the glorious and amiable nature of the things of God. This is the spring of all their delights, and the cream of all their pleasures; it is the joy of their joy. This sweet and ravishing entertainment they have in viewing the beautiful and delightful nature of divine things, is the foundation of the joy they have afterward in the consideration of their being theirs. But the dependence of the affections of hypocrites is in a contrary order: they first rejoice and are elevated, that they are the favourites of God; and then, on that ground, he seems in a sort lovely to them.'

He is our joy and delight beyond all else!

Next week's reading
Continue Part 3 by reading Section 4.


Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 30, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLVI - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Fourth of First General Part.


My summary
Today we continue Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)


We now begin the second general part which examines the quenching of the fiery darts.

Gurnall gives us his first division which discusses the 'wicked'.  

We hear about the enemies':
(i) nature of wickedness;
(ii) unity in attacks;
(iii) warlike furniture and provision with which they take the field against the saints.

What grabbed me
I appreciated some of the reasons given as to why the darts are fiery: 'They may be said to be 'fiery,' in regard of the end they lead to, if not quenched; and that is hell-fire. There is a spark of hell in every temptation; and all sparks fly to their element. So all temptations tend to hell and damnation, according to Satan's intent and purpose.'

Satan's arrows can bring the fires of hell!

Next week's readingContinue Direction Eight by reading the section entitled 'Faith's First Quenching Power' of Division Second of Second General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 24, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - V - Part 3 commenced

Required reading
Religious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Part 3 by reading Section 1.


My summary.
Now Edwards begins to show what are the distinguishing signs of truly gracious and holy affections.

But firstly, he makes two preliminary observations:

(i) 'I am far from undertaking to give such signs of gracious affections, as shall be sufficient to enable any certainly to distinguish true affections from false in others';
(ii) No such signs are to be expected that shall be sufficient to enable those saints certainly to discern their own good estate, who are very low in grace.

Then Edwards proceeds to show that affections that are truly spiritual and gracious, arise from those influences and operations on the heart, which are spiritual, supernatural and divine.  He distinguishes between natural and spiritual men and the way that the Spirit influences the spiritual men particularly.


What grabbed me
I really appreciated Edwards' candor at the beginning of this section: 'I am far from undertaking to give such signs of gracious affections, as shall be sufficient to enable any certainly to distinguish true affections from false in others; or to determine positively which of their neighbours are true professors, and which are hypocrites. In so doing, I should be guilty of that arrogance which I have been condemning. It is plain that Christ has given rules to all Christians, to enable them to judge of those professors of religion, with whom they are concerned, so far as is necessary for their own safety, and to prevent their being led into a snare by false teachers, and false pretenders to religion. It is also beyond doubt, that the Scriptures abound with rules, which may be very serviceable to ministers, in counselling and conducting souls committed to their care, in things appertaining to their spiritual and eternal state. Yet it is also evident, that it was never God's design to give us any rules, by which we may certainly know, who of our fellow-professors are his, and to make a full and clear separation between sheep and goats. On the contrary, it was God's design to reserve this to himself, as his prerogative. And therefore no such distinguishing signs as shall enable Christians or ministers to do this, are ever to be expected to the world's end: for no more is ever to be expected from any signs found in the word of God, or gathered from it, than Christ designed them for.'

It is God, and he alone, who knows for sure who is saved and who is not!

Next week's reading
Continue Part 3 by reading Section 2 and 3.


Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 23, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLV - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Fourth of First General Part.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

In Branch Fourth, Gurnall exhorts believers to preserve the shield of faith.  

If faith is such a choice grace:
(i) be stirred up to a more than ordinary care to preserve it;
(ii) deny not what God hath done for thee.

What grabbed me
I was helped by the points about the characters by which we may know whether faith be weak or strong.

For example: 'The more composed and contented the heart is under the changes which providence brings upon the Christian's state and condition in the world, the stronger his faith is. Weak bodies cannot bear the change of weather so well as healthful and strong ones do. Hot and cold, fair or foul, cause no great alteration in the strong man's temper; but alas! the other is laid up by them, or at best goes complaining of them. Thus strong faith can live in any climate, travel in all weather, and fadge with any condition. 'I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,' Php. 4:11. Alas! all Christ's scholars are not of Paul's form; weak faith hath not yet got the mastery of this hard lesson. When God turns thy health into sickness, thy abundance into penury, thy honour into scorn and contempt, into what language dost thou now make thy condition known to him? Is thy spirit embittered into discontent, which thou ventest in murmuring complaints? or art thou well satisfied with God's dealings, so as to acquiesce cheerfully in thy present portion, not from an unsensibleness of the affliction, but approbation of divine appointment? If the latter, thy faith is strong.'

If you want to know if your faith is strong, how does it fare when the weather changes in your life?

Next week's reading
Continue Direction Eight by reading Division First of Second General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 17, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - IV - Part 2 concluded

Required reading
Religious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here)Conclude Part 2.

My summary.
Today Edwards finishes his list of things which are not signs that affections are gracious or not gracious.

Last week he told us it is no sign, one way or other, if religious affections:
(i) are very great;
(ii) have great effects on the body;
(iii) have fluency and fervour;
(iv) are excited by us;
(v) come with texts of Scripture;
(vi) have appearance of love;
(vii) are of many kinds.

Edwards now adds:
(viii) have comforts and joys that seem to follow in a certain order;
(ix) dispose persons to spend much time in religion and to be zealously engaged in the external duties of worship;
(x) dispose persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God;
(xi) make persons exceeding confident;
(xii) are very affecting.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the point that unbelievers can be very fervent in private devotion:

'Experience shows, that persons, from false religion, may be abundant in the external exercises of religion; yea, to give themselves up to them, and devote almost their whole time to them. Formerly, a sort of people were very numerous in the Romish church, called recluses, who forsook the world, and utterly abandoned the society of mankind. They shut themselves up close in a narrow cell, with a vow never to stir out of it, nor to see the face of any, (unless that they might be visited in case of sickness,) but to spend all their days in the exercises of devotion and converse with God. There were also in old time, great multitudes called Hermites and Anchorites, who left the world in order to spend all their days in lonesome deserts, and to give themselves up to religious contemplations and exercises of devotion. Some sorts of them had no dwellings, but the caves and vaults of the mountains, and no food, but the spontaneous productions of the earth.—I once lived, for many months, next door to a Jew, (the houses adjoining one to another,) and had much opportunity daily to observe him; who appeared to me the devoutest person that ever I saw in my life; great part of his time being spent in acts of devotion, at his eastern window, which opened next to mine, seeming to be most earnestly engaged, not only in the day-time, but sometimes whole nights.'

Private worship is not true worship if it isn't in spirit and truth.

Next week's reading
Commence Part 3 by reading Section 1.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 16, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLIV - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Third of First General Part.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

Gurnall examines the exhortation to unbelievers to obtain 'the shield of faith' by giving five directions:
(i) Labour to get thy heart convinced of, and affected with, thy unbelief.;
(ii) Take heed of resisting or opposing his help to the Spirit of God, when he offers his help to the work.;
(iii) Lift up thy cry aloud in prayer to God for faith.;
(iv) Converse much with the promises, and be frequently pondering them in thy musing thoughts;
(v) Press and urge thy soul home with that strong obligation that lies on thee, a poor humbled sinner, to believe.

What grabbed me
I liked the encouragement to go to God in prayer: 'Go, poor soul, to prayer for faith. I do not fear a chiding for sending such customers to God's door. He that sends us to call sinners home unto him, cannot be angry to hear thee call upon him. He is not so thronged with such suitors as that he can find in his heart to send them away with a denial that come with this request in their mouths. Christ complains that sinners 'will not come unto him that they may have eternal life;' and dost thou think he will let any complain of him, that they desire to come, and he is unwilling they should? Cheer up thy heart, poor creature, and knock boldly; thou hast a friend in God's own bosom that will procure thy welcome. He that could, without any prayer made to him, give Christ for thee, will not be unwilling, now thou so earnestly prayest, to give faith unto thee. When thou prayest God to give, he commands thee to do. 'And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ,' I John 3:23. So that, in praying for faith, thou prayest that his will may be done by thee; yea, that part of his will which above all he desires should be done— called therefore with an emphasis 'the work of God.' 'This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent,' John 6:29. As if Christ had said, 'If ye do not this, ye do nothing for God;' and surely Christ knew his Father's mind best. O how welcome must that prayer be to God which falls in with his chiefest design.'

If you are to have faith, you must go to the one who grants faith!

Next week's reading
Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Fourth of First General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 10, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - III - Part 2 commenced

Required readingReligious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Commence Part 2 by reading Sections I to VII.


My summary.
Now Edwards begin to show us some things which are not signs that affections are gracious or not gracious.

Thus it is no sign, one way or other, if religious affections:
(i) are very great;
(ii) have great effects on the body;
(iii) have fluency and fervour;
(iv) are excited by us;
(v) come with texts of Scripture;
(vi) have appearance of love;
(vii) are of many kinds.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the point that just because someone knows the Scriptures, doesn't mean he is saved:

'What evidence is there that the devil cannot bring texts of Scripture to the mind, and misapply them, to deceive persons? There seems to be nothing in this which exceeds the power of Satan. It is no work of such mighty power, to bring sounds or letters to persons' minds. If Satan has power to bring any words or sounds at all to persons' minds, he may have power to bring words contained in the Bible. There is no higher sort of power required in men, to make the sounds which express the words of a text of Scripture, than to make the sounds which express the words of an idle story or song. And so the same power in Satan which is sufficient to renew one of those in the mind, is sufficient to renew the other: the different signification, which depends wholly on custom, alters not the case, as to ability to make or revive the sounds or letters. Or will any suppose, that texts of Scripture are such sacred things, that the devil durst not abuse them, nor touch them? In this also they are mistaken. He who was bold enough to lay hold on Christ himself, and carry him hither and thither, into the wilderness, into a high mountain, and to a pinnacle of the temple, is not afraid to touch the Scripture, and abuse that for his own purposes. For, at the same time that he was so bold with Christ, he brought one scripture and another to deceive and tempt him. And if Satan did presume, and was permitted to put Christ himself in mind of texts of Scripture to tempt him, what reason have we to determine, that he dare not, or will not be permitted, to put wicked men in mind of texts of Scripture, to tempt and deceive them? And if Satan may thus abuse one text of Scripture, so he may another. Its being a very excellent place of Scripture, a comfortable and precious promise, alters not the case, as to his courage or ability. And if he can bring one comfortable text to the mind, so he may a thousand; and may choose out such scriptures as tend most to serve his purpose. He may heap up scripture promise.'

If Satan can quote Scripture, so can unbelievers.


Next week's reading
Conclude Part 2.


Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 9, 2017

The Christian in Complete Armour - Gurnall - XLIII - Direction Eight continued

Required reading
The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall (Available from Amazon or free here) - Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Second of First General Part.

My summary
Today we continue Direction Eight: 'Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.' (Eph. 6:16)

We now look at the second branch which is the shield of faith itself and how its truth may be judged.

Firstly, we are directed to know what faith is from the manner of the Spirit's working it in the soul, particularly:
(i) the posture of the soul when the Spirit begins his great work of grace in it;
(ii) how the Spirit makes his addresses to the soul and what acts he puts forth upon it for the working faith.

Secondly we are directed to know what faith is from its properties when it is wrought in us by the Spirit.  Three of those properties are:
(i) obediential;
(ii) prayerful;
(iii) uniform.

What grabbed me
I appreciated the point about the convinced sinner's despair as an evidence of true faith: 'The convinced sinner doth not only condemn himself for what he hath done and is, but he despairs of himself as to anything he can now do to save himself. Many, though they go so far as to confess they are vile wretches, and have lived wickedly, and for this deserve to die; yet, when they have put the rope around their neck by a self-condemning act, they are so far from being convinced of their own impotency, that they hope to cut the rope with their repentance, reformation, and I know not what bundle of good works, which they think shall redeem their credit with God and recover his favour, which their former sins have unhappily lost them. And this comes to pass, because the plough of conviction did not go deep enough to tear up those secret roots of self-confidence with which the heart of every sinner is woefully tainted. Whereas every soul, thoroughly convinced by the Spirit, is a self-despairing soul; he sees himself beyond his own help, like a poor condemned prisoner, laden with so many heavy irons, that he sees it is impossible for him to make an escape, with all his skill or strength, out of the hands of justice. O friends! look whether the work be gone thus far in your souls or no. Most that perish, it is not their disease that kills them, but their physician. They think to cure themselves, and this leaves them uncurable. Speak, soul, did the Lord ever ferret thee out of this burrow where so many earth themselves? Art thou as much at a loss what to do, as sensible for what thou hast done? Dost thou see hell in thy sin and despair in thyself? Hath God got thee out of this Keilah, and convinced thee if thou wouldst stay in the self-confidence of thy repentance, reformation, and duties, they would all deliver thee up into the hands of God's justice and wrath, when they shall come against thee? Then, indeed, thou hast escaped one of the finest snares that the wit of hell can weave.'

If there is no true conviction of sin, there is no true faith in God.

Next week's reading
Continue Direction Eight by reading Branch Third of First General Part.

Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.

November 3, 2017

Religious Affections in Vol I of the Works - Edwards - II - Part 1

Required readingReligious affections in Volume I of the Works by Jonathan Edwards (Available from Amazon or free here) - Read Part 1.


My summary.
Today Edwards teaches us the nature of the affections and their importance in religion.

In Section I, he defines the affections as 'the more vigorous and sensible exercises of the inclination and will of the soul'.

In Section 2, Edwards demonstrates, from many parts of Scripture, that true religion consists in the affections.

In Section 3, Edwards gives some inferences.  If true religion lies much in the affections we may infer:

(i) how great their error is, who are for discarding all religious affections, as having nothing solid or substantial in them;
(ii) that such means are to be desired as have much tendency to move the affections;
(iii) what great cause we have to be ashamed and confounded before God, that we are no more affected with the great things of religion.

What grabbed me
Today's reading was excellent.  I'm starting to see why this book has such prominence in Edwards' corpus.

I really enjoyed the point about the need for affection as well as knowledge: 'Nothing is more manifest in fact, than that the things of religion take hold of men's souls no further than they affect them. There are multitudes who often hear the word of God, of things infinitely great and important, and which most nearly concern them, yet all seems to be wholly ineffectual upon them, and to make no alteration in their disposition or behaviour; the reason is, they are not affected with what they hear. There are many who often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty power, boundless wisdom, infinite majesty, and that holiness by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity; together with his infinite goodness and mercy. They hear of the great works of God's wisdom, power, and goodness, wherein there appear the admirable manifestations of these perfections. They hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and what Christ has done and suffered. They hear of the great things of another world, of eternal misery, in bearing the fierceness and wrath of almighty God; and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his love. They also hear the peremptory commands of God, his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel. Yet they remain as before, with no sensible alteration, either in heart or practice, because they are not affected with what they hear. I am bold to assert, that there never was any considerable change wrought in the mind or conversation of any person, by any thing of a religious nature that ever he read, heard, or saw, who had not his affections moved. Never was a natural man engaged earnestly to seek his salvation; never were any such brought to cry after wisdom, and lift up their voice for understanding, and to wrestle with God in prayer for mercy; and never was one humbled, and brought to the foot of God, from any thing that ever he heard or imagined of his own unworthiness and deservings of God's displeasure; nor was ever one induced to fly for refuge unto Christ, while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless frame, or recovered from a declining state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, without having his heart affected. And, in a word, there never was any thing 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.'

Yes, you've heard all about Christ.  But do you love him?

Next week's reading
Commence Part 2 by reading Sections I to VII.


Now it's your turn
Please post your own notes and thoughts in the comments section below.