Jonathan Edwards on Continued Transformation and Renewal

In his book Religious Affections, Jonathan Edwards argued that one way distinguish truly gracious affections from others is that they are attended with a change of nature.  When the soul has a spiritual understanding of the excellency and glory of divine things, such understanding brings the supernatural effect of transformation, or a change of nature.  Because this conversion not only imparts “light from the Sun of Righteousness” but also becomes “a luminous thing” by partaking of the nature of the Fountain of their light.  To put it another way, Edwards says “the saints not only drink of the water of life that flows from the original fountain, but this water becomes a fountain of water in them, springing up there and flowing out of them.” What Edwards is illustrating is the continual renewal that comes from participating in the glory of divine things through the transforming power of the gospel.

As I have been developing a theology of renewal in recent weeks, I want to post the following excerpt from Edwards quite pertinent to the discussion.  Check it out.

“As it is with spiritual discoveries and affections given at first conversion, so it is in all subsequent illuminations and affections of this kind; they are all transforming.  There is a like divine power and energy in them as in the first discoveries; they still reach the bottom of the heart, and affect and alter the very nature of the soul, in proportion to the degree in which they are given.  And a transformation of nature is continued and carried on by them to the end of life, until it is brought to perfection in glory.  Hence the progress of the work of grace in the hearts of the saints is represented in Scripture as a continued conversion and renovation of nature” (270).

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2 Comments on “Jonathan Edwards on Continued Transformation and Renewal”


  1. […] 1.  I Have Been Made New 2.  I Am Being Made New (Part 1) 3.  I Am Being Made New (Part 2) 4.  I Will Be Made New 5.  Renewal Through Remembering 6.  Gospel Renewal Through the Fear of the Lord 7.  Jonathan Edwards on Continued Transformation and Renewal  […]


  2. Jonathan Edwards is one of the original thinkers in biblical theology. He is, indeed, America’s greatest theologian, and he has left his imprint on the beliefs and practices of the generations of Americans since his time. I remember with profound appreciation his defining of faith as the unvion between the sinner and the Saviour, a union like marriage or cement or glue. Faith is the viaduct by which the grace of salvation and all that pertains to it are conveyed into the soul. Having had an experience of the glory of the Lord, a visitation that lasted about a half hour in our seminary apartment in the last September or the first of October of 1972, I can testify to what a sustaining power such an experience conveys. I awoke that morning crying tears of joy just like the night I was converted some 15 years earlier. The exprience of the sene of the Lord’s presence in that room lasted from the bed room to the bathroom to the kitchen table, while I was getting ready to goto class that morning. I saw no vision or anything of that nature, but the Lord was present in that room, invisible, but more present than if He had been standing ther physically. Three to four weeks later, I would received the call to pastor a church, speak with my mother the evening of that call, and the next morning would receive a phone call from my brother telling me that all of my family (mother, step-father, and two half sisters) was dead, burned up in a fire. Later, I learned that my step-father had killed every one, ste the house afire, and then shot himself. Durng the week of that awful tragedy, I experienced that same presence, like someone standing at my shoulder behind me, just like I had experienced it in our seminary apartment. Edwards comments regarding the times of his experiences of the glory of God evoke a resounding note in my own heart, and his Humble Attempt plea that aroused William Carey an others to launch the Great Century of Missions and to witness the Second Great Awakenign supplies us with the theological basis for praying for and being expectan of seeing a Third Great Awakening, the one that will win the whole earth and every soul in it to Christ in on generation and continuing for a total of at least a 1000 generations in order to fulfill the promises to the Patriarchs of a seed as innumerable as the stars of heaven, the sand of the sea and the dust of the earth, a company in Heaven that cannot be counted by any human counting for all eternity (???) (is that a sense of God’s humor?).


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