There may undoubtedly be such a thing as is called the testimony of faith, and a sort of certainty of faith that is different from reason, that is, is different from discourse by a chain of arguments, a certainty that is given by the Holy Spirit; and yet such a belief may be altogether agreeable to reason, agreeable to the exactest rules of philosophy. Such ideas of religion may be in the mind, as a man may feel divinity in them, and so may know they are from God, know that religion is of divine original, that is, is divine truth. Yea, this faith may be to the degree of certainty, for he may certainly intuitively see God and feel him in those ideas; that is, he may certainly see that notion he has of God in them. The notion of God, or idea I have of him, is that complex idea of such power, holiness, purity, majesty, love, excellency, beauty, loveliness, and ten thousand other things.9 Now when a man is certain he sees those things, he is certain he sees that which he calls divine. He is certain he feels those things to which he annexes the term God; that is, he is certain that what he sees and feels, he sees and feels; and he knows that what he then sees and feels is the same thing he used to call God. There is such an idea of religion in his mind, wherein he knows he sees and feels that power, that holiness, that purity, that majesty, that love, that excellency, that beauty and loveliness, that amounts to his idea of God.
Now no man can say such a thing cannot be. A man may see a beauty, a charmingness, and feel a power that he can no way in the world describe. 'Tis so in corporeal beauties, in beautiful charming airs, etc., but more in those ideas that are very much abstracted from body. Then this is granted, that he may feel such an excellency that may amount to his idea of God.
But then, you'll say, God and religion are the same! I say so much that religion is tinged with a divine color and is of his air; and there is all the question, whether it has divine excellencies or no. There is a certain property is seen and felt in religion by faith, that is altogether ineffable, and can't be called either power, or beauty, or majesty (because neither of these half imply it), but rather divinity, which strongly certifies the mind that it is divine.
Now no man can deny but that such an idea of religion may possibly be wrought by the Holy Spirit. 'Tis not unphilosophical to think so. And if there actually is such a thing as we have shown may be, it may very significatively be called the testimony of the Spirit. This way of knowing or believing is very differing from all other kinds of knowledge or belief. It is not by discourse, neither is it by intuition as other intuition. Neither can this kind of faith, or this sort of knowledge, be exercised in any common objects; for there are [in them] no such distinguishing amiable properties, of such a force as to bear down the mind at such a rate as do the divine properties.
By Jonathan Edwards