Jonathan Edwards Defends the Effects of the Power of the Spirit

The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God
The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God - Wesley's edited edition

Effects on the body are neutral from a Scriptural point of view
In his ‘Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God’ Edwards once again urges an impartial and judicious evaluation if such physical manifestations take place.

‘A work is not to be judged of by any effects on the bodies of men; such as tears, trembling, groans, loud outcries, agonies of body, or the failing of bodily strength.

The influence persons are under, is not to be judged of one way or other, by such effects on the body; and the reason is, because the Scripture nowhere gives us any such rule.’ (Jonathan Edwards, Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God’, from Jonathan Edwards On Revival, Banner of Truth p.91)

But Edwards ‘comes out fighting’ to defend the convictions the Spirit produces
So having stated that they are strictly ‘neutral’ in respect of Scripture he then strongly defends such experiences, even suggesting that it is foolish to be dismissive about them:

‘I do not know that we have any express mention in the New Testament of any person’s weeping, or groaning, or sighing through fear of hell, or a sense of God’s anger;

but is there any body so foolish as from hence to argue, that in whomsoever these things appear, their convictions are not from the Spirit of God?’ (ibid p.93)

and he continues,

‘indeed spiritual and eternal things are so great, and of such infinite concern, that there is a great absurdity in men’s being but moderately moved and affected by them.’ (ibid p.95)

Encouragement for Worship Leaders
To the delight of many current worship leaders, he, perhaps unintentionally, gives us a beautiful apologetic for exuberant worship when he writes,

‘And when was there ever any such thing since the world stood, as a people in general being greatly affected in any affair whatsoever, without noise or stir? The nature of man will not allow it.’ (ibid p.95)

More next time…

You can purchase Edwards on Revival here

You can read a review of Edwards on Revival here

© 2009 Lex Loizides

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One thought on “Jonathan Edwards Defends the Effects of the Power of the Spirit

  1. Thomas Foster May 27, 2009 / 10:48 pm

    Hi Lex,

    loving your blogs – I get them via rss feed.

    A favourite quote of mine from Edwards biography George M. Marsden is

    “…emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust, and to be full of Christ alone; to love him with a holy and pure love; to rest Him; to live upon Him; to service and to follow him.”

    I was surprised when I read about his wife’s encounters with God in the above biography. I read Come Be my Light about Mother Teresa, and was again surprised by the similarities between her experiences with God, and Sarah Edwards.

    Thanks so much for your writings.

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