Jonathan Edwards on the Enjoyment of God

“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature; and the enjoyment of him 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 the enjoyment of God is the substance.  These are but scattered beams; but God is the sun.  These are but streams; but God is the fountain.  These are but drops; but God is the ocean.  Therefore it becomes us to spend this life only as a journey towards heaven, as it becomes us to make the seeking of our highest end and proper good, the work of our lives; to which we should subordinate all other concerns of life. . . .

Be persuaded to travel in the way that leads to heaven: in holiness, self-denial, mortification, obedience to all the commands of God, following Christ’s example . . . .  Let it be your daily work, from morning till night, and hold out in it to the end; let nothing stop or discourage you, or turn you aside from this road.  And let all other concerns be subordinated to this.  Consider . . . that this world is not your abiding place, that the future world is to be your everlasting abode; and that the enjoyments and concerns of this world are given entirely in order to another. . . .

Labor to get a sense of the vanity of this world; on account of the little satisfaction that is to be enjoyed here . . . .  See the vanity of the world in such a glass.  Labor to be much acquainted with heaven.  If you are not acquainted with it, you will not be likely to spend your life as a journey thither.  You will not be sensible of its worth, nor will you long for it.  Unless you are much conversant in your mind with a better good, it will be exceeding difficult for you to have your hearts loose from these things, and to use them only in subordination to something else . . . .  Labor therefore to obtain a realizing sense of a heavenly world, to get a firm belief of its reality, and to be very much conversant with it in your thoughts.”

Jonathan Edwards, “The Christian Pilgrim,” Works II: 244-46

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