Jonathan Edwards on the Excellence and Beauty of Christ

“The excellence of Christ is such that the discovery of it is exceedingly contenting and satisfying to the soul. The inquiry of the soul is after that which is most excellent. The carnal soul imagines that earthly things are excellent: one thinks riches most excellent, another has the highest esteem of honor, and to another carnal pleasure appears the most excellent. But the soul cannot find contentment in any of these things because it soon finds an end to their excellence.

Worldly men imagine that there is true excellence and true happiness in those things that they are pursuing. They think that if they could but obtain them, they should be happy. When they obtain them and cannot find happiness, they look for happiness in something else and are still upon the pursuit.

But Jesus Christ has true excellence, and so great excellence that when they come to see it, they look no further. The mind rests there. It sees a transcendent glory and an ineffable sweetness in Him. It sees that until now, it has been pursuing shadows, but that now it has found the substance. Before it had been seeking happiness in the stream, but now it has found the ocean. The excellence of Christ is an object adequate to the natural cravings of the soul and is sufficient to fill the capacity. It is an infinite excellence – such a one as the mind desires – in which it can find no bounds. The more the mind is to it, the more excellent it appears. Every new discovery makes this beauty appear more ravishing, and the mind sees no end. Here is room enough for the mind to go deeper and deeper and never come to the bottom. The soul is exceedingly ravished when it first looks on this beauty, and it is never weary of it. The mind never has any satiety, but Christ’s excellence is always fresh and new and tends as much to delight after it has been seen a thousand or ten thousand years, as when it was seen the first moment. The excellence of Christ is an object suited to the superior faculties of man: it is suited to entertain the faculty of reason and understanding, and there is nothing so worthy about which the understanding can be employed as this excellence. No other object is so great, noble, and exulted!

This excellence of Jesus Christ is the suitable food of the rational soul. The soul that comes to Christ feeds upon this and lives upon it. It is the bread that came down from heaven, of which he that eats shall not die…It is that wine and milk (Isaiah 55:1), given without money and without price. This is that fatness in which the believing soul delights itself. Here the longing soul may be satisfied, and the hungry soul may be filled with goodness. The delight and contentment that are to be found here passeth understanding and are unspeakable and full of glory. It is impossible for those who have tasted of this fountain and know the sweetness of it ever to forsake it. The soul has found the river of water of life, and it desires no other drink. It has found the tree of life, and it desires no other fruit.”

Taken from “Sermon XII” in “The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2”

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