Distinguishing Qualifications?

Jonathan Edwards writes in the introduction to his Religious Affections:

“There is no question whatsoever, that is of greater importance to mankind, and what is more concerns every individual person to be well resolved in, than this:

What are the distinguishing qualifications of those that are in favor with God, and entitled to his eternal rewards? Or, which comes to the same thing, What is the nature of true religion? And wherein do lie distinguishing notes of that virtue and holiness that is acceptable in the sight of God?

But though it be of such importance, and though we have clear and abundant light in the word of God to direct us in this matter, yet there is no one point, wherein professing Christians do more differ one from another. It would be endless to reckon up the variety of opinions in this point, that divide the Christian world; making manifest the truth of that declaration of our Savior, ‘Strait is the gate and narrow is the way, that leads to life, and few there be that find it.’

The consideration of these things has long engaged me to attend to this matter, with the utmost diligence and care, and exactness of search and inquiry, that I have been capable of. It is a subject on which my mind has been peculiarly intent, ever since I first entered on the study of divinity. But as to the success of my inquiries it must be left to the judgment of the reader of the following treatise” (Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections).

One particular fellow commented concerning Edward’s word choice:

Note that Edwards writes of “qualifications,” not “qualities.” I wonder what his definition of “qualifications” is and how it relates to entitlement of eternal rewards.

I then responded (back in May of this year):

It would seem that one “distinguishing qualification” and “distinguishing note” is “persevering faith” [this is not from Religious Affections but from a chapter entitled, “Concerning the perseverance of saints”):

“Perseverance in faith is, in one sense, the condition of justification; that is, the promise of acceptance is made only to a persevering sort of faith; and the proper evidence of its being of that sort is actual perseverance. Not but that a man may have good evidences that his faith is of that sort, before he has finished his perseverance, yea, the first time that he exercises such a faith, if the exercises of it are lively and vigorous. But when the believer has those vigorous exercises of faith, by which he has clear evidences of its being of a persevering kind, he evermore feels most disposition and resolution to persevere, and most of a spirit of dependence upon God and Christ to enable him so to do” (Jonathan Edwards, Works, Volume 2, p. 596).

[My new additional responses here–CD] Edwards reveals his ignorance of Jesus Christ as the end of law for righteousness (Romans 10:1-4). For he states that perseverance in faith is, “in one sense, the condition of justification.” The atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ is the SOLE CONDITION for justification. The work of Jesus Christ ALONE is what satisfies the demands of God’s holy law and justice. Perseverance in faith is, of course, a necessary FRUIT of salvation.

I searched the word “qualifications” in the online works of Edwards housed at the Yale University website and found many uses. I quote just a few here (all of these are from Religious Affections):

“God has revealed no certain connection between salvation, and any qualifications in men, but only grace and its fruits” (Edwards).

As seen earlier Edwards believes there is a “sense” in which persevering faith is a condition for justification. It seems that Edwards wants to maintain that any “gracious and fruitful qualifications” are BOTH conditions and fruits of salvation in different senses. John Piper, who is a devout disciple of Edwards, also twists fruits of salvation into conditions for salvation. Galatians teaches about the “fruit of the Spirit.” Presumably Piper and Edwards know the difference between a condition and a fruit of salvation. The pernicious problem is they desire to turn fruits into “in-some-sense-conditions.” Once again, this highlights their ignorance of Christ as SOLE condition-meeter (Romans 10:1-4).

“For it was not by men’s having the gifts of the Spirit, but by their having the virtues of the Spirit, that they were called spiritual; as is apparent, by Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness.” Meekness is one of those virtues which the Apostle had just spoken of, in the verses next preceding, showing what are the fruits of the Spirit. Those qualifications are said to be spiritual in the language of the New Testament, which are truly gracious and holy, and peculiar to the saints” (Edwards).

Edwards states above that the “fruits of the Spirit” are “qualifications” that are “truly gracious and holy, and peculiar to the saints.”

“Thus not only the manner of the relation of the Spirit, who is the operator, to the subject of his operations, is different; as the Spirit operates in the saints, as dwelling in them, as an abiding principle of action, whereas he doth not so operate upon sinners; but the influence and operation itself is different, and the effect wrought exceeding different. So that not only the persons are called spiritual, as having the Spirit of God dwelling in them; but those qualifications, affections and experiences that are wrought in them by the Spirit, are also spiritual, and therein differ vastly in their nature and kind from all that a natural man is or can be the subject of while he remains in a natural state; and also from all that men or devils can be the authors of; ’tis a spiritual work in this high sense; and therefore above all other works in peculiar to the Spirit of God” (Edwards).

Edwards speaks of “qualifications” wrought by the Spirit of God. He further speaks of a spiritual work “in this high sense” because he believes in the damnable doctrine of “common operations” of the Spirit (see The Wicked Westminster Confession for a refutation of “common operations” and other heresies).