Heretic Jonathan Edwards from the section, “Concerning Faith”:
“In the unregenerate, although his faith be the same with that of the regenerate, and he has the same assent of his understanding to the truths of the gospel, yet it does not prove effectual to bring him to such a resolution and answerable practice” (Jonathan Edwards, Works, Volume 2, p. 594).
Note that Edwards says that BOTH unregenerate and regenerate have the SAME ASSENT of their understanding to the truths of the gospel. Thus, Edwards denies that the gospel is the “power of God to salvation to everyone believing” (Romans 1:16). Edwards anticipates an objection:
“An objection may be raised against this last particular, viz. that the words, faith and believing, in common language, signify no more than the assent of the understanding” (Edwards, p. 595).
Edwards explains that this applies to the “common concerns of life” and “the things of human arts and sciences” and not to “heavenly things, and of the most spiritual and sublime nature possible.” He further writes:
“Hence the use of words in common language, must not be looked upon as a universal rule to determine the signification of words in the gospel: but the rule is the use of words in Scripture language. What is found in fact to be the use of words in the Bible, by comparing one place with another, that must determine the sense in which we must understand them” (Edwards, p. 595).
Elsewhere Edwards says that faith is not
“a mere assent to the doctrines of the gospel, because that is common to saints and sinners, as is very evident. The apostle James plainly teaches in chapter ii. that this faith may be in those that are not in a state of salvation” (Edwards, p. 591).
Marc D. Carpenter had written the following some years ago (which I believe is very relevant to the heterodoxy of Edwards):
Damnable heterodoxy: Justified by more than mere assent; faithful obedience of the person justifies; justified by a mix of faith and works.
Blessed orthodoxy: Justified by faith — that alive, non-dead faith that manifests itself by the obedience of good works. The good works have absolutely no part in the justification. “Obedient” is an adjective that describes all true faith — a faith that manifests itself in the life of a believer by obedience. But obedience does not justify.
Jonathan Edwards is an ignorant and zealous adherent to damnable heterodoxy. He does not realize that “mere assent to the doctrines of the gospel” manifests itself by the obedience of good works. He also does not realize that the “vain man” in James 2 is NOT even assenting that “God is One.” Rather, he is FEIGNING assent that “God is One.” This “vain man” is devoid of evidential fruit. On the other hand, the demons are assenting that “God is One” and show the “evidential fruit” of shuddering. This demonic assenting and “shuddering” at monotheism is not assent to the doctrines of the gospel.