Volume 2 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards contains Edwards classic study on the Religious Affections. As one would expect with Edwards this book is a philosophical tour de force, not merely a reflection on the events of the Great Awakening. In this work Edwards asks the most basic and important question of religious pathos: How shall we discern the presence of the Spirit? In doing so Edwards seeks to understand how to "establish the criteria by which to judge 'spurious' from 'genuine' piety" and in doing so he addresses the problem of defining the soul's relation to God.
The former question, along with the latter are, of course, addressed in direct relation to the events of the Great Awakening (1734-1746) that began under Edwards' leadership and with his blessing.Yet, the ramifications of his treatise transcend these events and have poignant relevance to all religious experience.
Thus, while Edwards' treatise the Religious Affections addresses the explosion of pathetic religion in his own day, Edwards' exposition also stands as seminal contribution to the field of Philosophy of Religion and Sociology of Religion by way of analyzing particular religious expressions within a particular religious movement in history.Moreover, it precisely here that Edwards' genius shines brightest. He is able to analyze the current phenomena, the Great Awakening, and in doing so is able to extrapolate a philosophical understanding of that movement and apply to ages and movements beyond his own.
This work ranks as, arguably, the second most important work of Edwards to the monumental Freedom of the Will. This new, and affordable(!) Yale edition, is now available in paperback is the standard edition of Edwards' works, and should be in the library of very Edwards scholar, colonial scholar, or any scholar who wants to understand American religion. It will also serve as an excellent primary source textbook for any class on Edwards.
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