A TREATISE CONCERNING
IN THREE PARTS
THERE is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and
what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than
this: What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor
with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same
thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie the
distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the
sight of God? But though it be of such importance, and though we have
clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet
there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from
another. It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opinions in this
point, that divide the Christian world; making manifest the truth of that
declaration of our Savior, "Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that
leads to life, and few there be that find it."
The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this
matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and
inquiry, that I have been capable of. It is a subject on which my mind has
been peculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of divinity.
But as to the success of my inquiries it must be left to the judgment of the
reader of the following treatise.
-- from the Author's Introduction
I. CONCERNING THE NATURE OF THE AFFECTIONS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE IN
- I. What the affections of the
- II. Evidence that true religion
in great part consists in the affections
- III. Inferences
II. SHOWING WHAT ARE NO CERTAIN SIGNS THAT RELIGIOUS AFFECTIONS ARE
GRACIOUS, OR THAT THEY ARE NOT.
- I. That religious affections are
very great, or raised very high, is no sign
- II. That they have great effects
on the body, is no sign
- III. That they cause those who
have them to be fluent, fervent, and abundant, in talking of the things of
religion, is no sign
- IV. That persons did not excite
them of their own contrivance and by their own strength, is no sign
- V. That they come with texts of
Scripture, remarkably brought to the mind, is no sign
- VI. That there is an appearance
of love in them, is no sign
- VII. Persons having religious
affections of many kinds, accompanying one another, is no sign
- VIII. That comforts and joys
seem to follow awakenings and convictions of conscience, in a certain order,
is no sign
- IX. That they dispose persons to
spend much time in religion, and to be zealously engaged in the external
duties of worship, is no sign
- X. That they much dispose
persons with their mouths to praise and glorify God, is no sign
- XI. That they make persons that
have them exceeding confident that what they experience is divine, and that
they are in a good estate, is no sign
- XII. That the outward
manifestations of them, and the relation persons give of them, are very
affecting and pleasing to the godly, is no sign
III. SHOWING WHAT ARE DISTINGUISHING SIGNS OF TRULY GRACIOUS
AND HOLY AFFECTIONS.
- I. Truly gracious affections
arise from divine influences and operations on the heart
- II. Their ground is the
excellent nature of divine things, not self-interest
- III. They are founded on the
loveliness of the moral excellency of divine things.
- IV. They arise from the mind's
being enlightened to understand or apprehend divine things.
- V. They are attended with a
conviction of the reality and certainty of divine things.
- VI. They are attended with
- VII. They are attended with a
change of nature.
- VIII. They are attended with the
lamblike, dovelike spirit and temper of Jesus Christ
- IX. They are attended with a
Christian tenderness of spirit.
- X. They have beautiful symmetry
- XI. The higher they are raised,
the more is a longing of soul after spiritual attainments increased.
- XII. They have their exercise
and fruit in Christian practice
- 1. Christian practice and holy
life is a sign of sincerity to others
- 2. Christian practice is the
chief evidence to ourselves, much to be preferred to the method of the first
convictions, enlightenings, comforts, or any immanent discoveries or exercises
of grace whatsoever