Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The interconnected graces

In Charity and Its Fruit, Edwards argues that all the graces of Christianity-whether they be the big three of faith, hope, and love or other graces such as patience, contentment, gentleness, and the like-are connected. They are not individually packaged; that is, for reasons Edwards produces, they are affiliated and connected with each other.

Of the many reasons Edwards puts forward showing the connected-ness of the graces, I will draw you attention to just two of them.

The third reason given explaining the inseparability of the graces is that "they all have the same root and foundation, namely, the knowledge of God’s excellence." For Edwards, a knowledge of God's excellence, a real vision of who God is and what he is like, will beget the graces in the Christian's life. Thus, at conversion, an individual sees God as glorious and this spiritual vision will naturally produce the graces mentioned above as well as many others. In his words, "The same sight or sense of God’s excellency begets faith, and love, and repentance, and all the other graces. One sight of this excellence will beget all these graces, because it shows the ground and reason of all holy dispositions, and of all holy behavior toward God. They that truly know God’s nature will love him, and trust in him, and have a spirit to submit to him, and serve, and obey him."

Hence, the graces are interconnected because they all spring forth from the same apprehension of God in all his excellence. Furthermore, Edwards also suggests that the graces not only have the same source, but they also have the same end; the glory of God.

Edwards writes, "He is their end, for they all tend to him. As they are all from the same source, rising from the same fountain; and all stand on the same foundation, growing from the same root; and are all directed by the same rule, the law of God; — so they are all directed to the same end, namely, God, and his glory, and our happiness in him." Of interest is Edwards connecting the glory of God and our happiness in him, two congruent ends that the graces in the Christian life arrive at.

There are several other reasons Edwards feels that all of the graces are connected, but certainly he sees their joining together as resulting from their similar beginning and end.

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