Tag Archives: God’s Excellencies

“The happiness of the believer shall endure as long as God endures” by Jonathan Edwards

“Believers shall live in a most glorious place, the heaven of heavens, God’s throne and the palace of His glory. If the palaces of earthly princes are so glorious, how glorious must that be which is the palace of Jehovah!

If the temple at Jerusalem, a temple of men’s building, was so splendid and glorious as to cause the Queen of Sheba even to swoon at the very sight of it, how glorious must that temple be which the Almighty has built for Himself with His own hands!

But dwelling in such a glorious place is but the least part of the happiness of heaven. There is the conversation with saints: with holy men of old, Moses, Job, David, Elijah, with the prophets and apostles, and besides that, with the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5) who was crucified for mankind at Jerusalem.

Neither is that the chief thing, the Beatifical Vision of God: that is the tip of happiness! To see a God of infinite glory and majesty face to face, to see Him as He is, and to know Him as we are known, and to be admitted into the most intimate acquaintance with Him, to be embraced as in His arms: this is such a privilege as Moses himself could not be admitted to while on earth.

The vision and fruition of God will be so intimate and clear as to transform the soul into the likeness of God: ‘We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,’ says the Apostle (1 John 3:2).

This happiness shall be eternal. This crowns it!

However great the happiness of heaven were in itself, yet it would detract from it if it were not to be eternal. If the saints in heaven were sure they should enjoy heaven some thousands of years, and after that it should be at an end, it would cast a great damp upon their joys and delights.

It would much grieve them to think that they should lose so great a happiness, and at last it would be a cloud in their light, a bitter in the midst of their sweet.

But it is not so. They are sure that they shall enjoy it forever, and this redoubles the joy: Rev. 22:5, ‘And they shall reign forever and ever.’

So great is the happiness of the saved soul! They shall be delivered from all manner of sin, temptation, trouble and affliction, and shall live in the palace which God has built and where He Himself doth dwell, and there shall enjoy everything they wish for.

They shall enjoy the company of prophets, apostles, martyrs, angels and archangels. They shall see the man Christ Jesus, and even Jehovah Himself, the Eternal Three in One, and shall be intimately united to Him.

And this happiness of theirs shall endure as long as God endures. How precious, then, must the salvation of that soul be in whose salvation is so much happiness.”

—Jonathan Edwards, “The Value of Salvation,” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720–1723, in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 10, Eds. Wilson H. Kimnach and Harry S. Stout (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 1992), 10: 324–325.

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“If God were not immutable, He would not be God” by Herman Bavinck

“God is and remains the same. Everything changes, but He remains standing.

He remains who He is (Ps. 102:26–28). He is YHWH, He who is and ever remains Himself.

He is the first and with the last He is still the same God (Isa. 41:4; 43:10; 46:4; 48:12). He is who He is (Deut. 32:39; cf. John 8:58; Heb. 13:8), the incorruptible who alone has immortality, and is always the same (Rom. 1:23; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16; Heb. 1:11–12).

Unchangeable in His existence and being, He is so also in His thought and will, in all His plans and decisions. He is not a human that He should lie or repent.

What He says, He will do (Num. 15:28; 1 Sam. 15:29). His gifts (charismata) and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). He does not reject his people (Rom. 11:1).

He completes what He has begun (Ps. 138:8; Phil. 1:6). In a word, He, YHWH, does not change (Mal. 3:6).

In Him there is ‘no variation or shadow due to change’ (James 1:17).” On this foundation Christian theology constructed its doctrine of divine immutability…

If God were not immutable, He would not be God. His name is ‘being,’ and this name is “an unalterable name.” All that changes ceases to be what it was. But true being belongs to Him who does not change.

That which truly is remains. That which changes was something and will be something but is not anything because it is mutable.

But God who is cannot change, for every change would diminish His being. Furthermore, God is as immutable in His knowing, willing, and decreeing as He is in His being.

The essence of God by which He is what He is, possesses nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truthfulness, nor in will. As He is, so He knows and wills—immutably.

Augustine wrote, ‘For even as You totally are, so do You alone totally know, for You immutably are, and You know immutably, and You will immutably. Your essence knows and wills immutably, and Your knowledge is and wills immutably, and Your will is and knows immutably.’ (Confessions, XIII, 16)

Neither creation, nor revelation, nor incarnation (affects, etc.) brought about any change in God. No new plan ever arose in God. In God there was always one single immutable will.”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: God and Creation, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (vol. 2; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2004), 2: 153-154.

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“This God is your God” by Jonathan Edwards

“This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened– this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.

He is reconciled to you and has become your friend. There is a friendship between you and the Almighty. You have become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.

Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He has become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.

He cares for you, and will see that you are provided for, and will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you. He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with His Son, and will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.

You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.

The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press, 1992), 435. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here. Edwards was only nineteen years old when preached this sermon.

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“The brighter glories and beauties of the Creator” by Jonathan Edwards

“God is infinitely exalted above all created beings in excellency and loveliness. It all runs upon infinities in God: so great as is His duration, so great as is His being and essence, so great is His excellency and loveliness.

His excellency excels all other excellencies that ever were seen or heard of, as much as His being exceeds created beings in greatness. It must needs be so: for all other excellencies proceed from Him as the fountain, for He has made them all.

He has made all things that are excellent, and therefore He must have given them their excellency, and so must have all that excellency in Himself, or else could not have given it.

He must have all the glories, perfections, and beauties of the whole creation in Himself in an infinite degree, for they all proceed from Him, as beams do from the sun, and He is as much more excellent than they all, as the whole sun is than one single ray.

We admire at the beauty of creation, at the beautiful order of it, at the glory of the sun, moon, and stars. The sun appears very bright and glorious.

So beautiful doth the sun appear that many nations take it to be the supreme God, and worship it accordingly. But we have much more reason from the beauty of the sun to admire at the invisible glory of that God whose fingers have formed it.

The beauty of trees, plants, and flowers, with which God has bespangled the face of the earth, is delightful. The beautiful frame of the body of man, especially in its perfection, is astonishing.

The beauty of the moon and stars is wonderful. The beauty of the highest heavens is transcendent. The excellency of angels and the saints in light is very glorious.

But it is all deformity and darkness in comparison of the brighter glories and beauties of the Creator of all, for ‘behold even to the moon, and it shineth not’ (Job 25:5).

Think of the excellency of God and the moon will not seem to shine to you, God’s excellency so much outshines it. And the stars are not pure in His sight, and so we know that at the great Day when God appears, the sun shall be turned into darkness, shall hide his face as if he were ashamed to see himself so much outshined.

And the very angels, they hide their faces before Him. The highest heavens are not clean in His sight, and He charges His angels with folly (Job 4:18).

God’s is an infinite excellency, infinite glory, and beauty itself. He is an infinite, eternal, and immutable excellency. He is not only an infinitely excellent being, but a being that is infinite excellency, beauty, and loveliness.”

–Jonathan Edwards, “God’s Excellencies” in Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10. Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992), 420-421. You can read this sermon on Psalm 89:6 in its entirety here.

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“God’s goodness is His glory” by Stephen Charnock

“The goodness of God is the most pleasant perfection of the Divine nature.

His creating power amazes us. His conducting wisdom astonisheth us. His goodness, as furnishing us with all conveniences, delights us and renders both His amazing power, and astonishing wisdom, delightful to us.

Just as the sun, by effecting things, is an emblem of God’s power, so also by discovering things to us, it is an emblem of His wisdom. But by refreshing and comforting us, the sun is an emblem of His goodness.

And without this refreshing virtue it communicates to us, we should take no pleasure in the creatures it produceth, nor in the beauties it discovers.

As God is great and powerful, He is the object of our understanding. But as good and bountiful, He is the object of our love and desire.

The goodness of God comprehends all His attributes. All the acts of God are nothing else but the streams of His goodness, distinguished by several names, according to the objects it is exercised about.

As the sea, though it be one mass of water, yet we distinguish it by several names, according to the shores it washeth, and beats upon. When Moses longed to see His glory, God tells him, He would give him a prospect of His goodness (Ex. 33:19): ‘I will make all My goodness to pass before thee.’

His goodness is His glory and Godhead, as much as is delightfully visible to His creatures, and whereby He doth benefit man: ‘I will cause My goodness,’ or ‘comeliness,’ as Calvin renders it, ‘to pass before thee.’

What is this, but the train of all His lovely perfections springing from His goodness? The whole catalogue of mercy, grace, long-suffering, abundance of truth, summed up in this one word (Ex. 34:6). All are streams from this fountain. He could be none of this, were He not first good.

When it confers happiness without merit, it is grace.

When it bestows happiness against merit, it is mercy.

When he bears with provoking rebels, it is long-suffering.

When he performs His promise, it is truth.

When it meets with a person to whom it is not obliged, it is grace.

When He meets with a person in the world, to which He hath obliged himself by promise, it is truth.

When it commiserates a distressed person, it is pity.

When it supplies an indigent person, it is bounty.

When it succors an innocent person, it is righteousness.

And when it pardons a penitent person, it is mercy. All summed up in this one name of goodness.

And the Psalmist expresseth the same sentiment in the same words (Psalm 145:7, 8): ‘They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over his works.’

He is first good, and then compasssionate. Righteousness is often in Scripture taken, not for justice, but charitableness. This attribute, saith one, is so full of God, that it doth deify all the rest, and verify the adorableness of Him.

His wisdom might contrive against us, His power bear too hard upon us. One might be too hard for an ignorant, and the other too mighty for an impotent creature.

His holiness would scare an impure and guilty creature, but His goodness conducts them all for us, and makes them all amiable to us.

Whatever comeliness they have in the eye of a creature, whatever comfort they afford to the heart of a creature, we are obliged for all to His goodness. This puts all the rest upon a delightful exercise.

This makes His wisdom design for us, and this makes His power to act for us. This veils His holiness from affrighting us, and this spirits His mercy to relieve us.

All His acts towards man, are but the workmanship of this. What moved Him at first to create the world out of nothing, and erect so noble a creature as man, endowed with such excellent gifts? Was it not His goodness?

What made Him separate His Son to be a sacrifice for us, after we had endeavored to erase the first marks of His favor? Was it not a strong bubbling of goodness?

What moves Him to reduce a fallen creature to the due sense of his duty, and at last bring him to an eternal felicity? Is it not, only His goodness?

This is the captain attribute that leads the rest to act. This attends them, and spirits them in all His ways of acting. This is the complement and perfection of all His works.

Had it not been for this, which set all the rest on work, nothing of His wonders would have been seen in creation, nothing of His compassions would have been seen in redemption.”

–Stephen Charnock, “Discourse XII: On the Goodness of God,” in The Existence and Attributes of God, Vol. 2 (Robert Carter & Brothers, 1853), 219-220.

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“All His attributes are on your side” by Jonathan Edwards

“To all true Christians: you have heard what a superlatively excellent being your God is. His excellencies are all matter of joy and comfort to you; you may sit and meditate upon them with pleasure and delight.

The thoughts of the greatness, power, holiness, and justice of God is matter of terror to the wicked, and will be matter of horrible amazement to them forever; but it is all comfortable and rejoicing to you. The most terrible and dreadful of all God’s attributes need not to be terrible, but comfortable to you.

You may think of His great power, of His terrible majesty, of His vindictive justice, with joy, as well as of His mercy and goodness; you may think of His being a consuming fire joyfully, as well as of His being the Rose of Sharon and Lily of the Valley, for all His attributes are on your side: His justice and holiness, as well as His pity, love, and compassion.

You may think of His descending from heaven to judgment in His dreadful majesty, and all the world rent to pieces before Him with earthquakes and thunder and lightning, and devils and wicked men trembling in inexpressible horror and amazement at the sight of Him, with as much comfort as you may think of Him hanging upon the cross.

You are delivered from the wrath of this dreadful Being, are got into Christ, a safe refuge from all danger, and where you never need to fear the feeling of His vengeance. His wrath is to be poured out on His enemies, but you are safe and need not fear: you are out of the way of that stream of brimstone which kindles hellfire.

You are come to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the General Assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than the blood of Abel.

This God, to whom there is none in heaven to be compared, nor any among the sons of the mighty to be likened; this God who is from everlasting to everlasting, an infinitely powerful, wise, holy, and lovely being, who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, is your God.

He is reconciled to you and is become your friend; there is a friendship between you and the Almighty; you are become acquainted with Him, and He has made known Himself to you, and communicates Himself to you, converses with you as a friend, dwells with you, and in you, by His Holy Spirit.

Yea, He has taken you into a nearer relation to Him: He is become your Father, and owns you for His child, and doth by you, and will do by you, as a child.  He cares for you. He will see that you are provided for. He will see that you never shall want anything that will be useful to you.

He has made you one of His heirs, and a co-heir with his Son. And He will bestow an inheritance upon you, as it is bestowed upon a child of the King of Kings.

You are now in some measure sanctified, and have the image of God upon your souls, but hereafter, when God shall receive you, His dear child, into His arms, and shall admit you to the perfect enjoyment of Him as your portion, you will be entirely transformed into His likeness, for you shall see Him as He is.

The consideration of having such a glorious God for your God, your friend, your Father, and your portion, and that you shall eternally enjoy Him as such, is enough to make you despise all worldly afflictions and adversities, and even death itself, and to trample them under your feet.”

-–Jonathan Edwards “God’s Excellencies: A Sermon on Psalm 89:6,” in Sermons and Discourses 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 10, Ed. Wilson H. Kimnach (New Haven: Yale, 1992), 434-435. It may be read here in its entirety.

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