For the second time I’ve picked up Jonathan Edwards “The Religious Affections” and started reading it. I’ll admit that reading the puritans can be a difficult thing and there are times it’s hard to get through certain parts. “The Religious Affections is a book that focuses on distinguishing the difference between true and false religion. Even though it can be a rather difficult read, I think there is a valuable message contained within the words of Edwards that would be valuable to every Christian. In fact, this might be one book you should put on your reading list. I’m always in awe of how much the church in our day and age relates to the status of Christianity back in the 1700’s when Edwards penned this. It reminds me that God’s Word is timeless, and the deception of the enemy remains virtually the same over the years. The following is an excerpt from the book that talks about the devil’s master plan of deceiving people through the lens of advancing religion.
“And so it is ever likely to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between saving affections and experiences, and those manifold fair shows and glistering appearances by which they are conterfeited; the consequences of which, when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means the devil gratifies himself, by bringing it to pass that that 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; and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who are in God’s sight some of the vilest of hypocrites. By this means he many ways damps and wounds religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures and deforms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections woefully to degenerate, and sometimes for a considerable time to be like the manna that bred worms and stank; and dreadfully ensnares and confounds the minds of others of the saints, and brings them into great difficulties and temptations, and entangles them in a wilderness out of which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means Satan 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, religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city without 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. By this means he brings in even the friends of religion, insensibly to themselves, to do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in a far more effectual manner than open enemies can do, under the notion of advancing it.”