Monday, September 15, 2014

Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards

This week's devotional classic is composed of excerpts from Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards.  Edwards (1703-1758) was a leader in the 18th century "Great Awakening."  He was a pastor and missionary and was named president of Princeton University just a few weeks before his death.  His book Christian Affections was an affirmation of the importance of the passions (referred to as "affections in his writings) in life that cause an individual's will to act.

In this timeless devotional work, Edwards emphasizes the need for enthusiasm in our Christianity and uses Bible passages such as Romans 12:11 (fervent in spirit), Deuteronomy 10:12 and 30:6 (all your heart and all your soul), Luke 24:32 (Holy Ghost is like "fire" and "burns within"), various Psalms which the writer says the soul "pants after" God and "hungers and thirsts after righteousness." The primary Bible passage for this devotional is Deuteronomy 10:12-22 in which we are told what the Lord requires of us (including loving God with our whole hearts and whole souls.

Edwards says, "...wherever true religion is, there is a will that moves that person to spiritual exercises,"  He mentions such Biblical metaphors as "running the race", wrestling with God", "striving for the prize", and "fighting with strong enemies."

A key quote from this study: "It is people's affections that keep them busy.  If we were to take away their affections, the world would be motionless and dead...It is the affection we call covetousness that moves a person to seek worldly profits; it is the affection we call ambition that moves a person to pursue worldly glory; it is the affection we call lust that moves a person to pursue sensual delights.  Just as worldly affections are the spring of worldly actions, so the religious affections are the spring of religious actions."

The remainder of this devotion attempts to make clear that throughout the Bible true religion is developed though the affections of holy fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion and zeal.

No comments: