Continuing from a previous post I’ve come across another couple of good quotes from Marsden’s biography of Edwards which provide good food for thought and fuel for praise. The first is Marsden’s reflection:
Edwards believed that he could develop a unified account of all knowledge, but it could not be discovered by experience and reason alone. God might speak in all of nature and in all of life, but the only place where one could find the key to unlock the whole system was in Scripture. All knowledge must begin there. Scripture was not just a source of information, but the necessary guide to a radical life changing perspective. As every New England child was taught: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). The starting point for unravelling the mysteries of the universe must be the shattering revelation of one’s total inadequacy and a recognition of God’s love in Jesus Christ. One who was so changed could then experience how all creation was one harmonious hymn of praise to the glories of the creator and the mercies of Christ. Without the grace that gave sinful and rebellious people ears to hear, they would never hear the sublime Christ-like choruses or see how the particular notes of reality all fit together.
I love that in the Regent library where I studied for 3 years other similar bible verses were written in beautiful calligraphy so that they could not be missed each day as you walked in – a beautiful reminder that all wisdom comes from God, and begins with humble dependance on Him.
The second is an Edwards quote, introduced by Marsden:
Edwards was captivated by the idea that God’s purpose in creating the universe is to bring harmonious communications among minds, or spiritual beings, and every detail of physical creation points to that loving reality, epitomized in Christ. In this enthralling framework he continued his meditation:
“When we are delighted with flowery meadows and gentle breezes of wind, we may consider that we only see 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; the easiness and naturalness of trees and vines [are] shadows of his infinite beauty and loveliness; the crystal rivers and mumuring streams have the footsteps of his sweet grace and beauty… 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.”
I love the ideas here, even if it needs reading a few times to catch the thread. Essentially Edwards is celebrating the way in which God delights to share his goodness with us in the natural world. All the good things we have in this life are because God loves to share his life with us. God is holy and happy – and loves to share his goodness and grace with us. The world was made, according to Edwards, for God to display his glory. The reason that isn’t self centred of God is because the way God’s glory is displayed is by him sharing his life and goodness with us, his creatures. The creation of the world is the overflow of the love that the Triune God has enjoyed for all eternity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God united in love, overflow in love to create a world to share that love with others. God delights to show that love to us, and draw us in to him – and the beauty we see all around us is one great reminder of that reality.