Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Counterfeit goods

"It may be observed that the more excellent anything is, the more will be the counterfeits of it. Thus there are many more counterfeits of silver and gold than of iron and copper: there are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about to counterfeit common stones? Though the more excellent things are, the more difficult it is to make anything that shall be like them in their essential nature and internal virtues; yet the more manifold will the counterfeits be, and the more will art and subtlety be displayed in an exact imitation of the outward appearance. ... So it is with Christian virtues and graces; the subtlety of Satan, and men's deceitful hearts, are wont chiefly to be exercised in counterfeiting those that are in highest repute. So there are perhaps no graces that have more counterfeits than love and humility, these being virtues wherein the beauty of a true Christian does especially appear."

Jonathan Edwards, in this quote taken from Part I, section VII of The Religious Affections, struggles with the problem of discerning good love from bad love, real love from false love, lasting love from passing love. Edwards was writing in a Christian context, and he was in the middle of discussions and debates about identifying real grace, real religion, real marks of the life of God in human individuals. Can the principle Edwards introduces above be applied today? What excellent things are counterfeited in 2007?

No comments: