Truly Gracious

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
~ 1 John 4:20

He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
~ Matthew 10:37

And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;
~ Philippians 1:25

Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
~ 2 Corinthians 1:22

Distinguishing Signs of Truly Gracious and Holy Affections, by Jonathan Edwards. The contains an excerpt from his work, “A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections”. 1746.

Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you do not see him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Peter 1:8

2. The extraordinary impressions which are made on the imaginations of some persons, in their visions, strong impulses, and suggestions (as though they saw sights and had words spoken to them), may and often do produce a strong persuasion of the truth of invisible things. The general tendency of such things, in their final issue, is to draw men away from the word of God, and to cause them to reject the gospel, and to establish unbelief and atheism in them. Yet, for the present, they may and often do produce a confident persuasion of the truth of some things that are revealed in the Scriptures. However, their confidence is founded on delusion, and so it has no worth. For instance, say a person has by some invisible agent, immediately and strongly impressed on his imagination, the appearance of a bright light, and the glorious form of a person seated on a throne with great external majesty and beauty, who is uttering some remarkable words with great force and energy. The person who is the subject of such an operation, might be confident from what he has experienced, that there are invisible agents, spiritual beings. He knows that he had no hand in this extraordinary effect which he has experienced; he might also be confident that this is Christ whom he saw and heard speaking. And this might make him confident that there is a Christ, and that Christ reigns on a throne in heaven, just as he saw him. He might be confident that the words which he heard Christ speak are true, etc. In the same way, the lying miracles of the Papists may, for the present, produce in the minds of ignorant and deluded people, a strong persuasion of the truth of many things that are declared in the New Testament. Thus when the images of Christ in Popish churches are, on extraordinary occasions, made by priestcraft to appear to the people as if they wept, and shed fresh blood, and moved, and uttered such and such words – the people might be truly persuaded that it is a miracle wrought by Christ himself. From this, they might be confident that there is a Christ, and that what they are told of his death and sufferings, resurrection and ascension, and present government of the world, is true. For they might look upon this miracle as certain evidence of all these things, and a kind of ocular demonstration of them. This may be the influence of these lying wonders for the present – though their general tendency is not to convince anyone that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, but to promote atheism in the end. Even the intercourse which Satan has with witches, and their experience of his immediate power, has a tendency to convince them that some of the doctrines of religion are true – particularly the reality of an invisible world, or a world of spirits, which is contrary to the doctrine of the Sadducees. The general tendency of Satan’s influence is delusion. Yet he may mix truth with his lies, so that his lies may not be so easily discovered.

There are multitudes that are deluded with a counterfeit faith, from impressions made on their imagination in the way just spoken of:

• they say they know that there is a God, for they have seen him;
• they know that Christ is the Son of God, for they have seen him in his glory;
• they know that Christ died for sinners, for they have seen him hanging on the cross, and his blood running from his wounds;
• they know there is a heaven and a hell, for they have seen the misery of damned souls in hell, and the glory of saints and angels in heaven (meaning some external representations have been strongly impressed on their imagination);
• they know that the Scriptures are the word of God, and that such and such promises in particular are his word, for they have heard him speak them to them;
• these things came to their minds suddenly and directly from God, without having any hand in it themselves.