Category Archives: Religious Affections

“Live much in the smiles of God” by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

“Learn much of your own heart; and when you have learned all you can, remember you have seen but a few yards into a pit that is unfathomable.

‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?’ Jeremiah 17:9.

Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely. Such infinite majesty, and yet such meekness and grace, and all for sinners, even the chief!

Live much in the smiles of God. Bask in His beams. Feel His all-seeing eye settled on you in love, and repose in His almighty arms.

Cry after divine knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding. Seek her as silver, and search for her as for hid treasure, according to the word in Proverbs 2:4.

See that Proverbs 2:10 be fulfilled in you. Let wisdom enter into your hearts, and knowledge be pleasant to thy soul; so you will be delivered from the snares mentioned in the following verses.

Let your soul be filled with a heart-ravishing sense of the sweetness and excellency of Christ and all that is in Him.

Let the Holy Spirit fill every chamber of your heart; and so there will be no room for folly, or the world, or Satan, or the flesh.

I must now commend you all to God and the word of His grace. My dear people are just assembled for worship.

Alas! I cannot preach to them tonight. I can only carry them and you on my heart to the throne of grace. Write me soon.

Ever yours,

Robert Murray M’Cheyne”

–Robert Murray McCheyne, “Letter to Mr. George Shaw of Belfast (9/16/1840)” in Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, Ed. Andrew A. Bonar (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 252.

2 Comments

Filed under Christian Theology, Holiness, Humility, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, Robert Murray M'Cheyne, salvation, Sanctification, Sin, The Gospel

“Life itself” by Herman Bavinck

“Mystery is the lifeblood of dogmatics. To be sure, the term ‘mystery’ (μυστηριον) in Scripture does not mean an abstract supernatural truth in the Roman Catholic sense. Yet Scripture is equally far removed from the idea that believers can grasp the revealed mysteries in a scientific sense.

In truth, the knowledge that God has revealed of Himself in nature and Scripture far surpasses human imagination and understanding. In that sense it is all mystery with which the science of dogmatics is concerned, for it does not deal with finite creatures, but from beginning to end looks past all creatures and focuses on the eternal and infinite One Himself.

From the very start of its labors, it faces the incomprehensible One. From Him it derives its inception, for from Him are all things. But also in the remaining loci, when it turns its attention to creatures, it views them only in relation to God as they exist from Him and through Him and for Him [Rom. 11:36].

So then, the knowledge of God is the only dogma, the exclusive content, of the entire field of dogmatics. All the doctrines treated in dogmatics—whether they concern the universe, humanity, Christ, and so forth—are but the explication of the one central dogma of the knowledge of God.

All things are considered in light of God, subsumed under Him, traced back to Him as the starting point. Dogmatics is always called upon to ponder and describe God and God alone, whose glory is in creation and re-creation, in nature and grace, in the world and in the church. It is the knowledge of Him alone that dogmatics must put on display.

By pursuing this aim, dogmatics does not become a dry and academic exercise, without practical usefulness for life. The more it reflects on God, the knowledge of whom is its only content, the more it will be moved to adoration and worship.

Only if it never forgets to think and speak about matters rather than about mere words, only if it remains a theology of facts and does not degenerate into a theology of rhetoric, only then is dogmatics as the scientific description of the knowledge of God also superlatively fruitful for life.

The knowledge of God-in-Christ, after all, is life itself (Ps. 89:16; Isa. 11:9; Jer. 31:34; John 17:3).”

–Herman Bavinck, Eds. John Bolt and John Vriend, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 2: God and Creation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 29.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Doxology, Herman Bavinck, Jesus Christ, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, Think, Worship

“God requires the heart” by Richard Sibbes

“God requires the heart; and religion is most in managing and tuning the affections, for they are the wind that carries the soul to every duty. A man is like the dead sea without affections. Religion is most in them.

The devil hath brain enough, he knows enough, more than any of us all. But then he hates God. He hath no love to God, nor no fear of God, but only a slavish fear. He hath not this reverential fear, childlike fear.

Therefore let us make it good that we are the servants of God, especially by our affections, and chiefly by this of fear, which is put for all the worship of God.”

–Richard Sibbes, “The Spiritual Favourite at the Throne of Grace,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 6, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 97.

[HT: Justin Perdue]

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Fear, Jesus Christ, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, Richard Sibbes, The Gospel, Worship

“An earnest beggar for grace” by Jonathan Edwards

“The more persons have of holy affections, the more they have of that spiritual taste whereby they perceive the excellency, and relish the divine sweetness, of holiness.

And the more grace they have, while in this state of imperfection, the more they see their imperfection and emptiness, and distance from what ought to be. And so the more do they see their need of grace…

Therefore the cry of every true grace is like that cry of true faith, ‘Lord, I believe. Help Thou my unbelief’ (Mark 9:24). And the greater spiritual discoveries and affections the true Christian has, the more does he become an earnest beggar for grace and spiritual food, that he may grow.

And the more earnestly does he pursue it by all proper means and endeavors, for true and gracious longings after holiness are no idle ineffectual desires.”

–Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1754), in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 378.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, grace, Jesus Christ, Jonathan Edwards, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, Sanctification

“Religious Affections” by Jonathan Edwards

“God has given to mankind affections, for the same purpose which he has given all the faculties and principles of the human soul for, that they might be subservient to man’s chief end, and the great business for which God has created him, that is the business of religion.

And yet how common is it among mankind, that their affections are much more exercised and engaged in other matters, than in religion! In things which concern men’s worldly interest, their outward delights, their honor and reputation, and their natural relations, they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm and affectionate, their zeal ardent.

In these things their hearts are tender and sensible, easily moved, deeply impressed, much concerned, very sensibly affected, and greatly engaged; much depressed with grief at worldly losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and prosperity.

But how insensible and unmoved are most men, about the great things of another world! How dull are their affections! How heavy and hard their hearts in these matters! Here their love is cold, their desires languid, their zeal low, and their gratitude small.

How they can sit and hear of the infinite height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of His giving His infinitely dear Son, to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men, and of the unparalleled love of the innocent, holy and tender Lamb of God, manifested in His dying agonies, His bloody sweat, His loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this for enemies, to redeem them from deserved, eternal burnings, and to bring to unspeakable and everlasting joy and glory… and yet be cold, and heavy, insensible, and regardless!

Where are the exercises of our affections proper, if not here? What is it that does more require them? And what can be a fit occasion of their lively and vigorous exercise, if not such a one as this? Can anything be set in our view, greater and more important? Anything more wonderful and surprising? Or more nearly concerning our interest?

Is there anything, which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

The glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself, to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be conceived of, as it appears shining in all its luster, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer.

All the virtues of the Lamb of God, His humility, patience, meekness, submission, obedience, love and compassion, are exhibited to our view.”

–Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections (1754), in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2, Ed. Paul Ramsey (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1957), 122-124.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Jesus Christ, Jonathan Edwards, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, The Gospel

“The Father’s love” by John Owen

“Assure yourself, there is nothing more acceptable unto the Father than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.

This will be exceeding effectual to endear your soul unto God, to cause you to delight in Him, and to make your abode with Him.

Many saints have no greater burden in their lives than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God—that there is still an unwillingness of spirit unto close walking with Him. What is at the bottom of this distemper?

Is it not their unskillfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him.

But if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto Him. This, if anything, will work upon us to make our abode with Him.

If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in Him.

I dare boldly say: believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a further discovery of the sweetness of the streams.

You who have run from Him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.”

–John Owen, Communion with the Triune God, Eds. Kelly Kapic and Justin Taylor (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1657/2007), 127-128.

Leave a comment

Filed under Christian Theology, Communion with God, God the Father, John Owen, Love of God, Puritanical, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections

“Tears of gladness” by Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354-430)

“The days were all too short, for I was lost in wonder and joy, meditating upon Your far-reaching providence for the salvation of the human race. The tears flowed from me when I heard Your hymns and canticles, for the sweet singing of Your Church moved me deeply. The music surged in my ears, truth seeped into my heart, and my feelings of devotion overflowed, so that the tears streamed down. But they were tears of gladness.”

–Aurelius Augustine, Confessions, IX.vi.14. Trans. R.S. Pine-Coffin (New York: Penguin, 1961), 190.

Leave a comment

Filed under Augustine, Christian Theology, Church Fathers, Psalms, Hymns, and Spiritual Songs, Quotable Quotes, Religious Affections, The Church, Worship