What is glorifying God?
“Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An understanding of the perfections of God, merely, cannot be the end of the creation; for he had as good not understand it, as see it and not be at all moved with joy at the sight. Neither can the highest end of creation be the declaring God’s glory to others; for the declaring God’s glory is good for nothing otherwise than to raise joy in ourselves and others at what is declared (The Miscellanies [Entry Nos. a-z, aa-zz, 1-500], The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 13. Edited by Thomas A. Schafer [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994], no. 3, p. 200).
Typology and General Revelation
"When we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we see only the emanations of the sweet benevolence of Jesus Christ. When we behold the fragrant rose and lily, we see His love and purity. So the green trees and fields and singing of birds are the emanations of His infinite joy and benignity [i.e., kindness]. The easiness and naturalness of trees and vines are shadows of His beauty and loveliness. The crystal rivers and murmuring streams are the footsteps of His favor, grace, and beauty. When we behold the light and brightness of the sun, the golden edges of an evening cloud, or the beauteous rainbow, we behold the adumbrations of His glory and goodness; and in the blue sky of His mildness and gentleness. There are also many things wherein we may behold His awful majesty, in the sun in his strength, in comets, in thunder, in the hovering thunder-clouds, in ragged rocks, and the brows of mountains. That beauteous light with which the world is filled in a clear day, is a lively shadow of His spotless holiness, and happiness and delight in communicating Himself” (“Covenant of Redemption: Excellency of Christ,” in Jonathan Edwards: Representative Selections, ed. by Clarence H. Faust and Thomas H. Johnson [New York: Hill and Wang, 1962], 373-74).
“The Father is the deity subsisting in the prime, unoriginated and most absolute manner, or the deity in its direct existence. The Son is the deity [eternally] generated by God’s understanding, or having an idea of Himself and subsisting in that idea. The Holy Ghost is the deity subsisting in act, or the divine essence flowing out and breathed forth in God’s infinite love to and delight in Himself. And . . . the whole Divine essence does truly and distinctly subsist both in the Divine idea and Divine love, and that each of them are properly distinct persons” (Essay on the Trinity).
“The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligation to love, and honor, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.
Our obligation to love, honor and obey any being is in proportion to his loveliness, honorableness, and authority. . . . But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. . . .
So sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving infinite punishment. . . . The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite . . . and therefore renders it no more than proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of” (“The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners,” The Works of Jonathan Edwards [Banner of Truth], 1:669).
“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied. To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here. Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends, are but shadows; but God is the substance. These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun. These are but streams, but God is the ocean”
“It is a comfort to think of that [heavenly] state, where there is fullness of joy; where reigns heavenly, calm, and delightful love, without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where is the enjoyment of the persons loved, without ever parting; where those persons who appear so lovely in this world, will really be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. And how sweetly will the mutual lovers join together, to sing the praises of God and the Lamb! (Diary, 16:768).
“If we can learn anything of the state of heaven from the Scripture, the love and joy that the saints have there, is exceeding great and vigorous; impressing the heart with the strongest and most lively sensation, of inexpressible sweetness, mightily moving, animating, and engaging them, making them like to a flame of fire. And if such love and joy be not affections, then the word ‘affection’ is of no use in language. Will any say, that the saints in heaven, in beholding the face of their Father, and the glory of their Redeemer, and contemplating his wonderful works, and particularly his laying down his life for them, have their hearts nothing moved and affected, by all which they behold or consider?” (Religious Affections, Yale 2:114).
“Therefore, their knowledge will increase to eternity; and if their knowledge, doubtless their holiness. For as they increase in the knowledge of God and of the works of God, the more they will see of his excellency; and the more they see of his excellency . . . the more will they love him; and the more they love God, the more delight and happiness . . . will they have in him.” (Misc. 105)
“And without doubt, God can contrive matter so that there shall be other sort of proportions, that may be quite of a different kind, and may raise another sort of pleasure in the sense, and in a manner to us inconceivable, that shall be vastly more ravishing and exquisite. . . . Our animal spirits will also be capable of immensely more, fine and exquisite proport in their motions than now they are, being so gross” (Misc. 182, 13:328).
“The best, most beautiful, and most perfect way that we have of expressing a sweet concord of mind to each other,” said Edwards, “is by music” (Misc. 188, 13:331). Thus in heaven, he continued, it is probable “that the glorified saints, after they have again received their bodies, will have ways of expressing the concord of their minds by some other emanations than sounds, of which we cannot conceive, that will be vastly more proportionate, harmonious and delightful than the nature of sounds is capable of; and the music they will make will be in a medium capable of modulations in an infinitely more nice, exact and fine proportion than our gross air, and with organs as much more adapted to such proportions” (Misc. 188, 13:331). In heaven, “there shall be no string out of tune to cause any jar in the harmony of that world, no unpleasant note to cause any discord” (8:371).
“How soon do earthly lovers come to an end of their discoveries of each other’s beauty; how soon do they see all that is to be seen! . . . And how happy is that love, in which there is an eternal progress in all these things; wherein new beauties are continually discovered, and more and more loveliness, and in which we shall forever increase in beauty ourselves; where we shall be made capable of finding out and giving, and shall receive, more and more endearing expressions of love forever: our union will become more close, and communication more intimate” (Miscellanies, 13:198).
“Heavenly lovers will have no doubt of the love of each other. They shall have no fear that their professions and testimonies of love are hypocritical; they shall be perfectly satisfied of the sincerity and strength of each other’s love, as much as if there were a window in all their breasts, that they could see other’s hearts. There shall be no such thing as flattery or dissimulation in heaven, but there perfect sincerity shall reign through all. Everyone will be perfectly sincere, having really all that love which they profess. All their expressions of love shall come from the bottom of their hearts” (Yale, 8:378).
The saints “will so perfectly see at the same time, how that ‘tis turned to the best, to the glory of God, or at least will so perfectly know that it is so; and particularly, they will have so much the more admiring and joyful sense of God’s grace in pardoning them, that the remembrance of their sins will rather be an indirect occasion of joy” (Misc., 432).
“To pretend to describe the excellence, the greatness or duration of the happiness of heaven by the most artful composition of words would be to darken and cloud it, to talk of raptures and ecstasies, joy and singing, is but to set forth very low shadows of the reality, and all we can by our best rhetoric is really and truly, vastly below what is but the bare and naked truth, and if St. Paul who had seen them, thought it but in vain to endeavor to utter it, much less shall we pretend to do it, and the Scriptures have gone as high in the descriptions of it as we are able to keep pace with it in our imaginations and conception” (Cited in Gerstner, 3:544; sermon on Isa. 3:10).
The Existence of Evil
“It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all, for then the effulgence would not answer the reality. Thus it is necessary that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all.
If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s justice in hatred of sin or in punishing it, . . . or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from. No matter how much happiness he might bestow, his goodness would not be nearly as highly prized and admired. . . . and the sense of his goodness heightened.
So evil is necessary if the glory of God is to be perfectly and completely displayed. It is also necessary for the highest happiness of humanity, because our happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of God is imperfect (because of a disproportionate display of his attributes), the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.”
The “Miscellanies,” edited by Thomas A. Schafer (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994), no.348, pp. 419-20.