33. A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections
Edwards wrote the Treatise to explain how true conversion to Christianity occurs. Edwards describes how emotion and intellect both play a role, but "converting grace" is what causes Christians to "awaken" to see that forgiveness is available to all who have faith that Jesus' sacrifice atones for all sins. This salvation is not possible through believers' imperfect good works which are simply evidence of faith, and only possible through Christ's sacrifice which is free to all. Edwards describes the importance of testing new faith and discerning whether it is legitimate. He lays out twelve tests of true conversion, including ways of measuring allegedly fruitful works. He basically concludes that the fruit of the Spirit are the religious affections, love being the chief affection, and that all other fruit (or Christian virtues) flow from this. "Love is the chief of the affections, and as it were the fountain of them." (p.76, Banner of Truth Edition). He further says "for it was not by men's having the gifts of the Spirit (referring to spiritual gifts), but by their having the virtues of the Spirit, that they were called spiritual." (p.127). This is how you can distinguish between carnal men and spiritual men. Carnal men do not produce the fruit of the Spirit, but spiritual men do. So it was with Christ. "All the virtues of the Lamb of God, His humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our view in a manner the most tending to move our affections of any that can be imagined." (p.53)
I had a slow start with this book. I got it for free with Logos Vyrso and put it in their app, but I could never figure out where I left off (cannot figure out bookmarks). Then, I tried to read a free PDF, but I have the hardest time reading things on the computer. Then, I tried listening to a free audio version that was absolutely TERRIBLE. (I am not even going to give the link for it.)
I finally broke down and bought the 99 cent Amazon version. I had not done that before because I already had the LOGOS version, and the Amazon reviews said it had a lot of typos, but the typos were pretty infrequent and not distracting, and it was only 99 cents! I like the Kindle version because I can go back and forth between reading it on my Kindle OR my iPhone (and all the bookmarks sync) and listening to it.
The principles are simple, and they line up with what I am writing about in the Bible Book Club as I work through the epistles: love and humility are most important and true religious affections manifest in outward behavior. I am in James right now, and this book punctuates that faith without works is dead! He also makes a case that religious affections involve both reason and emotion. He seems pretty anti-charismatic and very anti-Catholic, but that was common in that time in history)
I liked it, but I want to write a book that says:
READ YOUR BIBLE
(Three word book)
Then you can get all that Edwards said straight from God's heart to yours!