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).