Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday in Advent 1: Religious affections

Opening Sentence
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Commemoration: Channing Moore Williams
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your servant Channing Moore Williams, whom you called to preach the Gospel to the peoples of China and Japan. Raise up, we pray, in this and every land heralds and evangelists of your kingdom, that your Church may proclaim the unsearchable riches of our Saviour Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Psalter: Psalm 16, 17

Lessons: Amos 5:1-17, Jude 1:1-16, Matthew 22:1-14

False affections, however they may seem at first to improve the disposition, have, in the end, a tendency to harden the heart; and the consequence is, the persons thus deluded become less affected by their sins, and less circumspect in their conduct -- less moved by the warnings and cautions of the word of God, and less susceptible of benefit from the chastisements of his providence, than they were while under legal awakenings and the fear of hell. They have felt certain impressions and affections, have a high opinion of themselves, and consider their state as being quite safe, and therefore they are now much more easy than they were before in the neglect of such duties as are troublesome and inconvenient. They are not so alarmed at their own defects and transgressions, and are more liable to yield to temptation. They are now less attentive to their behavior in the holy presence of God, in the time of public or private worship. Formerly perhaps, under legal convictions, they took much pains in religion, and denied themselves many gratifications; but now, thinking themselves out of the danger of hell, they are more disposed to avoid the cross, and save themselves the trouble of performing difficult duties.

Such persons as these, instead of embracing Christ as the Saviour from their sins, trust him as the Saviour of their sins; instead of fleeing to him as the refuge from their spiritual enemies, they make use of him as a defence of those enemies. They make Christ the minister of sin, and trust in him to preserve them in the quiet enjoyment of their unholy gratifications. Thus they take the place of the children of God, even in his bosom, and fight against him with weapons hid under his skirts. The apostle Jude speaks of some who crept in among the saints, professing to trust in Christ, but who were in reality ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.

Gracious affections possess a quite different tendency; they gradually turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh. They flow from a contrite spirit. The tenderness of heart essential to a true Christian is well represented by our Saviour, when he compares such a one to a little child. The affections of a child are easily moved. It is fearful and diffident, pliant and compassionate.

Jonathan Edwards
A Treatise on Religious Affections

Once in Royal David's City