I love Jonathan Edwards. Anytime you read him your mind is bound to grow. But it’s not necessarily easy. One helpful approach may be to paraphrase what he’s saying about every other sentence. Something like this… from Religious Affections.
If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, and if the Creator han’t unwisely constituted the human nature, in making these principles a part of it, when they are vain and useless; then they ought to be exercised about those objects which are most worthy of them.
We have affections because God made them. In his wisdom and goodness he created humans to have this capacity — a capacity to love, to have joy, to receive pleasure. And since God has made us with affections then it only makes sense that we would spend these affections on that which is most worthy of them.
But is there anything, which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Here we are with these affections in the midst of a world full of good things. But of all that is around us — in the heavens above or the earth on which we stand — is there anything worth all our admiration and love, our earnest, longing desires, all our hopes and rejoicing and zeal? Is anything here worth all that? For what are these things compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ?
In which, not only are things declared most worthy to affect us, but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself, to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be conceived of, as it appears shining in all its luster, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer.
The gospel of Jesus is better than all these things. It is more worthy to be the object of our affections by its inherent quality. It is more excellent, period. And yet, it is also superior to everything else because of its actual ability to affect us. So it goes like this: 1) it is worthy of our affections; and 2) it wields the unique power to actually win these affections. It captivates us like nothing else. It penetrates our being as only it can do. For this gospel shines before us. It doesn’t hold back. It is essentially a display, the glory of the triune God in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer.
Blockquotes are from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, “Religious Affections,” (WJE Online Vol. 2)
A helpful resource on this particular Edwards’s work is Sam Storms’s, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s “Religious Affections.”