In the previous article we saw that, despite failures and backsliding, true affection for Christ produces obedience to Scripture, diligence, and perseverance in love and service to Christ, even in the face of intense opposition. Edwards explains why by showing how the previous eleven signs of true religious affections generate Christian practice.
True religious affections arise as “a communication of God, a participation of the divine nature, Christ living in the heart” as the Holy Spirit exerts His nature in the thoughts, affections, and actions of the saint.  Believers united to Christ through saving faith partake of the risen and living Savior who, by His resurrection power, gives life to the dead and exerts Himself as God to transform us.  “For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power” (1 Cor. 4:20 NAS). “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake” (1 Thess. 1:5 NAS).
The natural man pursues religion for its perks, but no further. He pursues Christian things so long as they further his personal objectives. But the saint’s service will not be so fickle, since its primary motive lies in the infinite and unchanging excellence of God. The benefits of salvation certainly enhance our love to God, but the beauty of His attributes form the chief basis of that love, the greatest blessing of all. 
The moral excellence of God and His work form the ground of gracious affections, as the holiness of God forms the beauty of God’s attributes. “That which men love, they desire to have and to be united to, and possessed of. That beauty which men delight in, they desire to be adorned with. Those acts which men delight in, they necessarily incline to do.”  Indeed, “By the sight of the transcendent glory of Christ, true Christians see Him worthy to be followed, and so are powerfully drawn after Him.” 
People lacking strong belief in God and the truthfulness of Scripture will never persevere in diligent service to Christ when things get tough. By contrast, those convinced of the truth, trustworthiness, and infinite value of Scripture and the Gospel obey their commands and understand that everything else is nothing by comparison. 
People will never thoroughly change the essential character and pattern of their actions without a change of nature.
Until the tree be made good, the fruit will not be good. Men do not gather grapes of thorns, nor figs of thistles. The swine may be washed and appear clean for a little while but yet, without a change of nature, he will still wallow in the mire. Nature is a more powerful principle of action than anything that opposes it: though is may be violently restrained for a while, it will finally overcome that which restrains it.” 
A few leaders of the Great Awakening appeared diligent in the things of Christ for a time, but because their nature had not been changed, they abandoned His service when the Awakening subsided. In contrast, new and true life in Christ abides in Christ.
“A proud spirit is a rebellious spirit,” while humility serves others and willingly submits to God’s authority in Scripture. Obedience to God’s commands more readily flows from a humble heart than a proud one. 
The spirit that characterized Christ’s ministry, most distinctly in His peaceful obedience to the Father unto death, promotes and displays in believers sweet and selfless acts of love toward others from love to Christ.
The heart sensitive to the ugliness and pain of moral evil fears its terrible influence and effects and actively works to oppose it.
“Universal, constant, and persevering” Christian practice flows from true affections that are “universal and constant in all kinds of holy exercises, and towards all objects, and in all circumstances, and at all seasons, in a beautiful symmetry and proportion.”  Truly gracious affections produce a more constant, consistent, and properly balanced Christian practice.
As we have seen, the desire for greater love and knowledge of the infinite excellence of God motivates greater enthusiasm, interest, commitment, and perseverance in Christian activity and service.
Thus, all the signs Edwards identifies as evidence of a true work of the Holy Spirit in a believer promote Christian practice.
Next up: More evidence that gracious affections produce Christian works.
Scriptures marked NAS are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
 BT, 314-5; Yale, 392.
 BT, 315; Yale, 392.
 BT, 316; Yale, 393-4.
 BT, 317; Yale, 394.
 BT, 317; Yale, 395.
 BT, 317-8; Yale, 395.
 BT, 318; Yale, 395.
 BT, 318-9; Yale, 396.
 BT, 319; Yale, 396.
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