"In these pages Jonathan Edwards has asserted for all time the inwardness and spirituality of true religion... It is... the motion of a hidden fire trembling in the breast, warming all the heart, consuming in its ardent flame the dross of our sins, cleansing and energizing and transfiguring us until—miracle of miracles—even we are heaven's fine and burnished gold"
—Alexander Smellie, from the introduction
Edwards sets forth twelve distinguishing signs of truly gracious and holy affections:
- [Those] truly spiritual affections which arise from spiritual, supernatural, Divine influences on the heart.
- Those affections grounded in the intrinsic excellence of Divine things, without relation to our self interest
- Those primarily founded on the loveliness of the moral excellency of Divine things.
- Those arising from the enlightenment of the mind, rightly and spiritually to understand Divine things.
- Those arising from conviction of certainty.
- Evangelical humiliation.
- A change of nature.
- The temper of Jesus.
- A softening of the heart by the Spirit.
- Beautiful symmetry and proportion.
- Spiritual appetite and increase of longing after spiritual attainments; and not least
- Fruit in Christian practice, which is the chief sign both to others and ourselves.
The necessity of all of these is clearly, fully taught in Scriptures.
"Edwards was far more than a revivalist preacher of fire and brimstone. He was a profound analyst of the heart of man, a defender of the grand particularities of the Reformed Faith. Above all he was a faithful servant of the meek and lowly Lamb of God."
—Dr. William Young,
Professor of Philosophy, Rhode Island University
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