True Religion

But he said, Ye are idle, ye are idle: therefore ye say, Let us go and do sacrifice to the LORD.
~ Exodus 5:17

Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
~ Revelation 2:4

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
~ Revelation 3:15-16

And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
~ Matthew 24:12

This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
~ Acts 18:25

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.
~ Colossians 4:12-13

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
~ James 5:16

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
~ 1 Peter 1:22

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
~ 1 Peter 4:8

For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.
~ 1 Corinthians 7:22

Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
~ Ephesians 6:5-8

Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
~ Colossians 3:22-24

Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.
~ Colossians 4:1

Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
~ Titus 2:9-10

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:
~ Hebrews 12:28

Evidence That True Religion, In Great Part, Consists in the Affections, by Jonathan Edwards. The contains an excerpt from his work, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections”.1746.

The second thing proposed, is to observe some things that make it evident that true religion, in great part, consists in the affections. And here,

1. What has been said of the nature of the affections makes this evident, and it may be sufficient without adding anything further to put this matter out of doubt; for who will deny that true religion consists in great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or in the fervent exercises of the heart?

The religion which God requires and accepts does not consist in weak, dull, and lifeless wishes, that raise us but a little above a state of indifference. God, in his word, greatly insists that we be good in earnest, “fervent in spirit,” and that our hearts be vigorously engaged in religion: Rom. 12:11, “Be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Deut. 10:12, “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul?” and chap. 6:4, 6, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your might.” Such a fervent vigorous engagement of the heart in religion that is the fruit of a real circumcision of the heart, or true regeneration, and it has the promises of life; Deut. 30:6, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live.”

If we are not in good earnest in religion, and if our wills and inclinations are not strongly exercised, then we are nothing. The things of religion are so great that there can be no suitableness in the exercises of our hearts, as to their nature and importance, unless they are lively and powerful. Nothing is so requisite in religion as vigor in the actings of our inclinations; and nothing is so odious as lukewarmness. True religion is evermore a powerful thing; and the power of it appears, in the first place, in the inward exercises of it in the heart where it has its principal and original seat. Hence, true religion is called the power of godliness – in distinction from its external appearances which are its form. 2Tim. 3:5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.” The Spirit of God, in those that have sound and solid religion, is a spirit of powerful holy affection; and therefore God is said to have given “the Spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind,” 2Tim. 1:7. And when such persons receive the Spirit of God in his sanctifying and saving influences, they are said to be “baptized with the Holy Ghost, and with fire;” by reason of the power and fervor of those exercises which the Spirit of God excites in their hearts, and by which their hearts, when grace is exercised, may be said to “burn within them;” as it is said of the disciples in Luke 24:32.

The business of religion is, from time to time, compared to those exercises in which men are used to having their hearts and strength greatly exercised and engaged: such as running, wrestling; or agonizing for a great prize or crown; or fighting with strong enemies that seek their lives; or warring, such as those who take a city or kingdom by violence. Mat 11:12

Though true grace has various degrees, and there are some who are only babes in Christ, and in whom the exercise of the inclination and will towards divine and heavenly things is comparatively weak – yet everyone who has the power of godliness in his heart, has his inclinations and heart exercised towards God and divine things. And this is with such strength and vigor that these holy exercises prevail in him above all carnal or natural affections; they are effectual to overcome them. For every true disciple of Christ “loves him above father or mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, houses and lands – yes, more than his own life,” Luke 14.26. From this it follows that wherever true religion is found, there are vigorous exercises of the inclination and will towards divine objects; but by what was said before, the vigorous, lively, and tangible exercises of the will are none other than the affections of the soul.

2. The Author of the human nature has not only given affections to men, but He has made them very much the spring of men’s actions. Just as the affections not only necessarily belong to the human nature, but are a very great part of it – so holy affections not only necessarily belong to true religion, but are a very great part of it (inasmuch as, by regeneration, persons are renewed in the whole man, and sanctified throughout). Just as true religion has a practical nature, and God has so constituted the human nature that the affections are very much the spring of men’s actions, this also shows that true religion must consist very much in the affections.

Such is man’s nature that he is very inactive unless he is influenced by some affection, whether love, hatred, desire, hope, fear, or some other affection. These affections we see are the springs that set men going in all the affairs of their life, and which engage them in all their pursuits. These are the things that push men forward, and carry them along in all their worldly business. Men are especially excited and animated by these in all affairs in which they are earnestly engaged, and which they pursue with vigor. We see that the world of mankind is exceedingly busy and active; and the affections of men are the springs of their motion. Take away all love and hatred, all hope and fear, all anger, zeal, and affectionate desire, and the world would be, in great measure, motionless and dead. There would be no activity among mankind, nor any earnest pursuit of anything whatever. It is affection that engages the covetous man in his pursuits, and the greedy man in his pursuit of worldly profits. It is by the affections, that the ambitious man is driven in pursuit of worldly glory. And it is also the affections that actuate the voluptuous man in his pursuit of pleasure and sensual delights. The world continues, from age to age, in a continual commotion and agitation in pursuit of these things. But take away all affection, and the spring of all this motion would be gone; the motion itself would cease. Just as in worldly things, worldly affections are very much the spring of men’s motion and action – so in religious matters, the spring of their actions is very much religious affection. One that has only doctrinal knowledge and speculation, without affection, is never engaged in the business of religion.

3. Nothing is more manifest than that the things of religion take hold of men’s souls no further than they affect them. There are multitudes that often hear the word of God; and in it they hear of those things that are infinitely great and important, and that most nearly concern them. And yet all that is heard seems to be wholly ineffectual on them; it does not alter their disposition or behavior; and the reason is that they are not affected by what they hear. There are many that often hear of the glorious perfections of God, his almighty power and boundless wisdom, and his infinite majesty. They hear of the holiness of God by which he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity; the heavens are not pure in his sight. And they hear of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, and of the great works of God’s wisdom, power and goodness, in which the admirable manifestations of these perfections appear. They hear particularly of the unspeakable love of God and Christ, and of the great things that Christ has done and suffered, and of the great things of another world, of eternal misery in bearing the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God, and of endless blessedness and glory in the presence of God, and the enjoyment of his dear love. They also hear the peremptory commands of God, and his gracious counsels and warnings, and the sweet invitations of the gospel. I say, they often hear these things and yet they remain as they were before, with no tangible alteration in them, either in heart or practice. This is because they are not affected by what they hear; and they will remain so till they are affected. I am bold to assert that there was never any considerable change wrought in the mind or in the conversation of any person, by anything of a religious nature, which he ever read about, heard, or saw, that did not first move his affections. Never was a natural man engaged to earnestly seek his salvation, nor brought to cry for wisdom, and lift up his voice for understanding, and wrestle with God in prayer for mercy – never was anyone humbled, and brought to the foot of God, by anything he ever heard or imagined about his own unworthiness, or about deserving God’s displeasure – nor was anyone ever induced to flee to Christ for refuge – while his heart remained unaffected. Nor was there ever a saint awakened out of a cold, lifeless flame, or recovered from a declining state in religion, and brought back from a lamentable departure from God, without first having his heart affected. In a word, nothing considerable was ever brought to pass in the heart or life of any man living, by the things of religion, unless his heart was first deeply affected by these things.

4. The holy Scriptures everywhere place religion very much in the affection: such as fear, hope, love, hatred, desire, joy, sorrow, gratitude, compassion, and zeal.

The Scriptures place much of religion in godly fear – so much so, that it is often spoken of as the character of those who are truly religious persons: they tremble at God’s word; they fear before him; their flesh trembles for fear of him; they are afraid of his judgments; his excellency makes them afraid; his dread falls upon them, and the like. An appellation often given the saints in Scripture is “God-fearers,” or “those who fear the Lord.” And because the fear of God is a great part of true godliness, true godliness in general is commonly called the fear of God; as everyone knows who knows anything about the Bible.

So too hope in God and in the promises of his word is often spoken of in the Scripture as a very considerable part of true religion. It is mentioned as one of the three great things of which religion consists, 1Cor. 13:13. Hope in the Lord is also frequently mentioned as the character of the saints: Psa. 146:5, “Happy is he that has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” Jer. 17:7, “Blessed is the man that trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord.” Psa. 31:24, “Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the Lord,” and many other similar places. Religious fear and hope are, once and again, joined together, as jointly constituting the character of true saints; Psa. 33:18, “Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, upon those who hope in his mercy.” Psa. 147:11, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those that hope in his mercy.” Hope is so great a part of true religion, that the apostle says, “we are saved by hope,” Rom. 8:24. And this is spoken of as the helmet of the Christian soldier. 1Thess. 5:8, “And for a helmet, the hope of salvation;” and it is spoke of as the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, which preserves it from being tossed away by the storms of this evil world. Heb. 6:19, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil.” It is spoken of as a great fruit and benefit which true saints receive by Christ’s resurrection. 1Pet. 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”

The Scriptures place religion very much in the affection of love: in love towards God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and love towards the people of God, and towards mankind. The texts in which this is manifest, both in the Old and New Testaments, are numerous. But more of this later.

The contrary affection of hatred also, having sin for its object, is spoken of in Scripture as no inconsiderable part of true religion. It is spoken of as that by which true religion may be known and distinguished. Prov. 8:13, “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.” Accordingly, the saints are called upon to give evidence of their sincerity by this. Psa. 97:10, “You that love the Lord, hate evil.” And the Psalmist often mentions it as evidence of his sincerity. Psa. 101:2, “I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set no wicked thing before my eyes; I hate the work of those who turn aside.” Psa. 119:104, “I hate every false way.” So also in verse 127, and again in Psa. 139:21, “Do I not hate those, O Lord, who hate you?”

So also holy desire, exercised in longings, hungerings, and thirstings after God and holiness, is often mentioned in Scripture as an important part of true religion; Isa. 26:8, “The desire of our soul is for your name, and the remembrance of you.” Psa. 27:4, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” Psa. 42:1, 2, “As the hart pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for you, O God; my soul thirsts for God, for the living God: when will I come and appear before God?” Psa. 63:1, 2, “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you, in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water; to see your power and your glory, just as I have seen you in the sanctuary.” Psa. 84:1, 2, “How amiable are your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, indeed, even faints for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh cries out for the living God.” Psa. 119:20, “My soul breaks for the longing that it has for your judgments at all times.” So also Psa. 73:25; 143:6-7; 130:6; Cant. 3:1-2 and 6:8. Such a holy desire and thirsty soul is mentioned as one thing which renders or denotes a man truly blessed. Look at the beginning of Christ’s sermon on the mount. Matt. 5:6: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.” And this holy thirst is spoken of as a condition to participate in the blessings of eternal life; Rev. 21:6, “To him that is thirsty, I will freely give from the fountain of the water of life.”
The Scripture speaks of holy joy, as a great part of true religion. And as an important part of religion, it is often exhorted to and pressed with great earnestness; Psa. 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psa. 97:12, “Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous.” Psa. 33:1, “Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.” Matt. 5:12, “Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad.” Phil. 3:1, “Finally, brothers, rejoice in the Lord.” And chap. 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.” 1Thess. 5:16, “Rejoice evermore.” Psa. 149:2, “Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in their king.” This is mentioned among the principal fruits of the Spirit of grace; Gal. 5:21, “The fruit of the Spirit is love,” etc. The Psalmist mentions his holy joy as evidence of his sincerity. Psa. 119:14, “I have rejoiced in the way of your testimonies, as much as in all riches.”

Religious sorrow, mourning, and brokenness of heart, are also frequently spoken of as a great part of true religion. These things are often mentioned as distinguishing qualities of true saints, and a great part of their character. Matt. 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted.’’ Psa. 34:18, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart; and saves those who have a contrite spirit.” Isa. 61:1-2, “The Lord has anointed me to bind up the broken- hearted, to comfort all that mourn.” This godly sorrow and brokenness of heart is often spoken of, not only as a great thing in the distinguishing character of the saints, but it is that thing in them which is uniquely acceptable and pleasing to God. Psa. 51:17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Isa. 57:15, “Thus says the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place with him who is also of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” Isa. 66:2, “I will look at this man, even at the one who is poor and has a contrite spirit.”

Another affection often mentioned, in which much of true religion appears in its exercise, is gratitude; especially as exercised in thankfulness and praise to God. Because this is spoken of in the book of Psalms so much, and in other parts of the holy Scriptures, I need not mention particular texts.

Again, the holy Scriptures frequently speak of compassion or mercy as a very great and essential thing in true religion, such that good men in Scripture are characterized by it. A merciful man and a good man are equivalent terms in Scripture; Isa. 57:1, “The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away.” The Scripture selects this quality by which, in a unique way, a righteous man is deciphered; Psa. 37:21, “The righteous shows mercy, and gives;” and ver. 26, “He is ever merciful, and lends.” Prov. 14:21, “One who honors the Lord, has mercy on the poor.” Col. 3:12, “As the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on compassionate mercy,” etc. This is one of those great things by which those who are truly blessed are described by our Savior; Matt. 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” And Christ also speaks of this as one of the weightier matters of the law; Matt. 23:23, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you pay a tithe of mint, and anise, and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” Mic. 6:8 is given to the same purpose, “He has shown you, O man, what is good: and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with your God?” Also Hos. 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” This seems to have been a text greatly delighted in by our Savior, who cited it once in Matt. 9:13, and again in 12:7.
Zeal is also spoken of as an essential part of the religion of true saints. It is spoken of as a great thing which Christ had in view, in giving himself for our redemption; Tit. 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a special people, zealous for good works.” This is spoken of as the great thing lacking in the lukewarm Laodiceans, Rev. 3:15-16, 19.

I have mentioned only a few texts out of a multitude all over the Scripture, which place religion very much in the affections. But what has been observed may be sufficient to show that those who would deny that much of true religion lies in the affections, and who maintain the contrary, must throw away what we would own for our Bible, and get some other rule by which to judge the nature of religion.

5. The Scriptures represent true religion as being summarily comprehended in love, the chief of the affections, and the fountain of all other affections.

Our blessed Savior represents the matter as such, in his answer to the lawyer who asked which was the greatest commandment of the law. Matt. 22:37-40, “Jesus said to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The last words signify that these two commandments comprehend all the prescribed duty and religion taught in the law and the prophets. The apostle Paul from time to time makes the same representation of the matter. Rom. 13:8, “He that loves another, has fulfilled the law.” Verse 10, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Gal. 5:14, “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this, that you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” So likewise in 1Tim. 1:5, “Now the end of the commandment is charity from a pure heart,” etc. So the apostle speaks of love as the greatest thing in religion, and as the vitality, essence, and soul of it. Without it, the greatest knowledge and gifts, and the most shining profession, and everything else that pertains to religion, are vain and worthless. He represents it as the fountain from which all that is good proceeds: 1Cor. 13. What is rendered charity in that chapter, is αγαπη (agape) in the original, for which the proper English is love.

Now the love which is spoken of in this way, includes the whole of a sincerely benevolent propensity of the soul towards God and man. Yet, from what was observed before, this propensity or inclination of the soul, when it is tangibly and vigorously exercised, evidently becomes affection; and it is none other than affectionate love. Surely it is such a vigorous and fervent love which Christ speaks of as the sum of all religion, when he speaks of loving God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and loving our neighbor as ourselves; such love is the sum of all that was taught and prescribed in the law and the prophets.

When this affection of love is spoken of here and in other Scriptures as the sum of all religion, it cannot be supposed, that what is meant is merely the act, exclusive of the habit; or that the exercise of the understanding is excluded, even though it is implied in all reasonable affection. Doubtless it is true and evident from these Scriptures, that the essence of all true religion lies in holy love. And the whole of religion consists in this divine affection, in a habitual disposition towards it, and towards the light which is its foundation, and towards those things which are its fruits.

From this it clearly and certainly appears that a great part of true religion consists in the affections. For love is not only one of the affections, but it is the first and chief of the affections; and it is the fountain of all the affections. From love arises hatred of those things which are contrary to what we love, or which oppose and thwart us in those things that we delight in. And from the various exercises of love and hatred, according to the circumstances of the objects of these affections, whether they are present or absent, whether they are certain or uncertain, whether they are probable or improbable, arise all those other affections of desire, hope, fear, joy, grief, gratitude, anger, etc. From a vigorous, affectionate, and fervent love towards God will necessarily arise all other religious affections. From this love will arise an intense hatred and abhorrence of sin, fear of sin, and a dread of God’s displeasure; gratitude will arise towards God for his goodness; complacence and joy in God will arise when God is graciously and sensibly present; grief will arise when he is absent; and a joyful hope will arise when a future enjoyment of God is expected; and also a fervent zeal for the glory of God. In like manner, from a fervent love towards men, all other virtuous affections towards men will arise.

6. The account we have in the Scripture of the religion of the most eminent saints, much of it consisted in holy affections.

I will take particular notice of three eminent saints who have expressed the frame and sentiments of their own hearts, and thus described their own religion and the manner of their intercourse with God in the writings which they left us, and which are a part of the sacred canon.

The first instance I will note is David, the “man after God’s own heart;” he has given us a lively portrait of his religion in the book of Psalms. The holy songs that he left us there are nothing but the expressions and breathings of devout and holy affections: such as a humble and fervent love towards God; admiration of his glorious perfections and wonderful works; earnest desires, thirstings, and pantings of his soul after God; delight and joy in God; a sweet and melting gratitude towards God for his great goodness; a holy exultation and triumph of his soul in the favor, sufficiency, and faithfulness of God; his love towards and delight in the saints; the excellence of the earth; his great delight in the word and in the ordinances of God; his grief for his own sins and others’ sins; his fervent zeal for God; and his fervent zeal against the enemies of God and his church. These expressions of holy affection, which David’s psalms are full of, are more to our present purpose, because those psalms not only express the religion of so eminent a saint, that God speaks of him as a man after his own heart; but they were also, by the direction of the Holy Ghost, penned for the use of the church of God in its public worship – not only in that age, but in subsequent ages. This is because they are fit to express the religion of all saints, in all ages, as well as the religion of the Psalmist. Moreover, it is to be observed that David, in the book of Psalms, speaks not as a private person, but as the Psalmist of Israel, as the subordinate head of the church of God, and as a leader in their worship and praises. In many of the psalms, he speaks in the name of Christ, portraying him in these expressions of holy affection; and in many other psalms that he speaks in the name of the church.

Another instance I will observe is the apostle Paul. In many respects, he is the chief of all the ministers of the New Testament. Above all others, he was a chosen vessel for Christ to bear his name before the Gentiles; and he was made a chief instrument of propagating and establishing the Christian church in the world, and of distinctly revealing the glorious mysteries of the gospel for the instruction of the church in all ages. As some have not improperly thought, he was the most eminent servant of Christ that ever lived, received to the highest rewards in the heavenly kingdom of his Master. By what is said of him in the Scripture, he appears to have been a person that was full of affection. It is manifest that the religion he expresses in his epistles consisted very much in holy affections. This is apparent from all the expressions he uses about himself: that in the course of his life, he was inflamed, actuated, and entirely swallowed up by a most ardent love towards his glorious Lord; he esteemed all things loss compared to the excellency of the knowledge of his Lord; he esteemed those things but dung that he might gain Christ. Phil 3.8 He represents himself as overpowered by this holy affection and, as it were, compelled by it to go forward in his service through all difficulties and sufferings, 2Cor. 5:14-15.4

His epistles are also full of expressions of an overpowering affection towards the people of Christ. He speaks of his dear love towards them, 2Cor. 12:19; Phil. 4:1; 2Tim. 1:2; of his “abundant love,” 2Cor. 2:4; and of his “affectionate and tender love,” like a nurse towards her
4 2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

children, 1Thess. 2:7-8: “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children; so, being affectionately desirous of you, we would have imparted to you, not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.” So also he speaks of his “tender mercies,” Phil. 1:8; Phm. 5, 12, and 20. So he speaks of his “earnest care” for others, 2Cor. 8:16, and of his “compassionate pity,” or mercy towards them, Phil. 2:1; and of his concern for others, even with an anguished heart, 2Cor. 2:4: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart, I wrote to you with many tears; not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have more abundantly for you.” He speaks of the great conflict of his soul for them, Col. 2:1. He speaks of great and continual grief that he had in his heart from compassion for the Jews, Rom. 9:2. He speaks of “his mouth being opened, and his heart enlarged” towards Christians, 2Cor. 6:11: “O you Corinthians, our mouth is open to you, our heart is enlarged.” He often speaks of his “affectionate and longing desires,” 1Thess. 2:8, Rom. 1:11, Phil. 1:8, and chap. 4:1, 2Tim. 1:4.

The same apostle in his epistles, often expresses the affection of joy, 2Cor. 1:12 and chap. 7:7, and ver. 9, 16; Phil. 1:4, and chap. 2:12, and chap. 3:3; Col. 1:34; 1Thess. 3:9. He speaks of his “rejoicing with great joy,” Phil 4:10; Phm. 1:7; of his “joying and rejoicing,” Phil. 2:1, 7, and he “rejoiced exceedingly,” 2Cor. 7:13, was “filled with comfort, and exceeding joyful,” 2Cor. 7:4. He speaks of himself as “always rejoicing,” 2Cor. 6:10. So he speaks of the triumphs of his soul, 2Cor. 2:14, and of his glorying in tribulation,” 2Thess. 1:4, and Rom. 5:3. He also expresses the affection of hope; in Phil. 1:20, he speaks of his “earnest expectation, and his hope.” He likewise expresses an affection of godly jealousy, 2Cor. 11:2-3. And it appears by his whole history after his conversion in the Acts, and also by all his epistles and the accounts he gives of himself there, that the affection of zeal for the cause of his Master, and the interest and prosperity of his church, was mighty in him, continually inflaming his heart. It strongly engaged him in those great and constant labors he went through, instructing, exhorting, warning, and reproving others, “travailing in birth with them;” contesting with those powerful and innumerable enemies who continually opposed him; wrestling with principalities and powers; Eph 6.12 not fighting as one who beats the air,1Cor 9.26 running the race set before him,Heb 12.1 continually pressing forwards through all manner of difficulties and sufferings – so that others thought he was quite beside himself. And how full he was of affection, further appears by being so full of tears: in 2Cor. 2:4, he speaks of his “many tears;” so too in Acts 20:19; and of his “tears that he shed continually night and day,” ver. 31.

Now if anyone can consider these accounts given in the Scripture of this great apostle, and which he gives of himself, and yet not see that his religion consisted much in affection, he must have a strange faculty of managing his eyes to shut out the light which shines most fully in his face.

The other instance I shall mention is of the apostle John. He was that beloved disciple, who was the nearest and dearest to his Master of any of the twelve. He was admitted by Christ to the greatest privileges of any of them. He was one of the three admitted to be present with him on the mount at his transfiguration, and at the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Christ took John with him when he was in his agony; and he was one of the three spoken of by the apostle Paul as the three main pillars of the Christian church. But he was also favored above all in being admitted to lean on his Master’s bosom at his last supper, and in being chosen by Christ as the disciple to whom he would reveal his wonderful dispensations towards his church to the end of time. We have his account in the Book of Revelation by which he closed the canon of the New Testament, and of the whole Scripture. He was preserved much longer than all the rest of the apostles, to set all things in order in the Christian church after their death.

It is evident by all his writings (as generally observed by divines) that he was a person who was remarkably full of affection. The way he addressed others was inexpressibly tender and sympathetic, breathing nothing but the most fervent love, as though he were made of sweet and holy affection. The proofs of this cannot be given without disadvantage, unless we were to transcribe his entire collection of writings.