A Treatise Concerning Religious Affection, A Jonathan Edwards Reader,October 12, 2011 Church History heart attitudes as it relates to Practical Biblical Counseling methods,
Cinda Marturano, M.A.
“As apparent gold is tried in the fire, and manifested, whether it be true gold or no–faith being tried as gold is tried in the fire and becomes more precious.” Here are the benefits to our affections in Christ: Favor with God, eternal rewards and virtue of holiness versus the deep-rooted observed evils of this world that we oppose. In addition, love to Christ who is unseen today is seen spiritually in the eye of the believer. Joy in Christ is that we believe and hold the nature of the “unspeakable joy” which is “full of glory”, this joy does not corrupt or debase the mind, as carnal joys may. Our joy is a “preliberation of the joy of heaven” raising our minds to the degree of heavenliness with the light of God’s glory to communicate outwardly.
The affections of the mind are the inclinations of the will of the soul as opposed to self-determination of will. Inclination stems from perception, speculation and understanding and results in the decision of action one way or the other. The mind, body and heart are determinant vehicles with in our affections and “has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things”.
In biblical counseling, I have experienced what I term a charismatic-downswing with counselees who experience “high affections” on Sundays and are often depressed and sorrowful on Mondays and when with-out charismatic company. According to Edwards this could be someone “who did not manifest a right temper of mind, and run into many errors, in the time of their affection, and at the heat of their zeal; and because the high affections of many seem to be so soon come to nothing, and some who seemed to be mightily raised…seem to have returned like the dog to his vomit..and run from one extreme to another”. Are they in Christ Jesus and His promised sound and steady Spirit? Instead of diagnosing with melancholy at best or bipolar at worst, could they be experiencing “misplaced affections” based on a natural causation as opposed to a sound spiritual and doctrinal base of praise and love towards Christ. To teach them to distinguish between spiritual affections would be wise, what is of the heart and mind and what is of the emotion of the moment?
To counsel how we differentiate to sound and “proper inclinations” is to love steadily in the counseling room. Thank you, Jonathan Edwards for this needed heart affection.