My thoughts (and quotes) from the Author’s Preface

So much good and bad is mixed up in:

  • The saints heart
  • The church
  • Revivals

“There is something very mysterious in it, that so much good, and so much bad should be mixed together in the church of God”

Chaff picture: When writing about revivals and the seemingly large number of conversions, Edwards writes:

“Of the whole heap that was gathered, great part was chaff that the wind afterwards drove away: and the heap of wheat that was left was comparatively small

Spring Blossoms picture:

“. . . as it is with the fruit trees in the spring; there are a multitude of blossoms, all of which appear fair and beautiful, and there is a promising appearance of young fruits; but many of them are of short continuance; they soon fall off, and never come to maturity.”

It is easier to bear persecution at the hand of unbelievers than to bear corruption and wickedness in the church:

“It is by the mixture of counterfeit religion with true, not discerned and distinguished, that the devil has had his greatest advantage against the cause and kingdom of Christ all along hitherto. . . By this, he hurt the cause of Christianity in and after the apostolic age, much more than by all the persecutions . . .”

The devil at his best:

“After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause are commonly most exposed where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly before them, to make head against that, and do neglect carefully to look all around them, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen; and has opportunity to give a more home stroke, and wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure and according to his pleasure, being obstructed by no guard or resistance.”

In all this confusion, the devil grieves the Lord so deeply:

“By this means the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass that that (counterfeit religion and counterfeit experiences) should be offered to God by multitudes, under a notion of a pleasing acceptable service to Him, that is indeed above all things abominable to Him. By this means he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls, making them think they are something when they are nothing; and so eternally undoes them . . .”

Satan’s two-pronged attack strategy:

“By this means Satan (firstly) mightily encourages the hearts of open enemies of religion, and strengthens their hands, and fills them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses: when at the same time, (secondly) religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city witout walls. By this means he brings it to pass, that men work wickedness under a notion of doing God service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forwardness and zeal, and with all their might.”

Discern discern discern

” Therefore it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavours clearly to discern . . .”

[Tim Challies has a blog feature called Reading Classics, where he and many other online friends read a selected Christian classic in a synchronized way and share their views. The classic being studied currently is The Religious Affections by Jonathan Edwards.]

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