Spirit and soul

Edwards writes: “Christ’s love – that is, His Spirit is actually united to the faculties of their souls. So it properly lives, acts, and exerts its nature in the exercise of their faculties.” There’s a great deal to say, and to like, and to wonder at, about that statement.

Christ love is His Spirit.

Christ’s love, the Spirit, is “actually united” to the soul of the believer, in uniting with the soul He is united with the faculties of the soul. By the Spirit, Christ enters a perichoretic relationship with the saints.

The Spirit, the living love of Christ, is so united with the soul that He “properly lives” through the exercise of the soul’s abilities. Christ’s love, the Spirit, is alive, acts, and shows Himself as believers love God and their neighbors, as we trust God, as they hope in Him, as we reason and feel and imagine. The Spirit is alive in our compassion for sinners and the oppressed, He acts in our hunger for the righteousness of God’s kingdom.

Two qualifications: First, what about the body? The soul exercises its faculties bodily, and so it seems we must say that bodily actions of the saints are also expressions of the Spirit. This is what Paul says: The exercise of charismata are “manifestations of one Spirit.” Second, what about sin? We can’t assume, and Edwards certainly doesn’t, that our desires are simply the movements of the Spirit. That complicates, though it doesn’t demolish, Edwards’s point.

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