When I thought about happiness Phil Robertson came to mind. That might seem odd but I can see him with a thumbs up giving one of his famous lines in his steady voice: “Happay! Happay! Happay!” The second thing that came to mind are some recent Jonathan Edwards quotes I’ve come across. Now if only I could get a picture of Edwards overlaid by an audio-clip of Phil saying “happy, happy, happy” I’d be set.
John Piper has greatly enriched my generation with a diet of God’s glory and our joy, not as separate but as connected realities. We are created by God as consumers, with strong desires, and a gnawing appetite for joy. The problem is in this sin-cursed world where we have corrupted hearts we consume, desire, and try to fill up on all the wrong things. Returning to Edwards reminds us there is no happiness–no happy, happy, happy–comparable to the happiness found in Christ. This isn’t a pious spiritual platitude. It’s a conviction that are soul’s are created to continually seek out the one thing that can satisfy it, and that one thing isn’t anything in our finite creation but it’s the infinite Creator. Because God is truly beautiful, perfectly holy, and uncompromisingly glorious our souls can feast and be made full with the pleasures and joys of God himself.
Here are a few samples from Edwards.
“God is the highest good of the reasonable creature. The enjoyment of him is our proper; and 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. Better than fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of any, or all earthly friends. These 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.”
“Men have a great deal of pleasure in human knowledge, in studies of natural things; but this is nothing to that joy which arises from divine light shining into the soul. This spiritual light is the dawning of the light of glory in the heart. There is nothing so powerful as this to support persons in affliction, and to give the mind peace and brightness in this stormy and dark world. This knowledge will wean from the world, and raise the inclination to heavenly things. It will turn the heart to God as the fountain of good, and to choose him for the only portion. This light, and this only, will bring the soul to a saving close with Christ. It conforms the heart to the gospel, mortifies its enmity and opposition against the scheme of salvation therein revealed: it causes the heart to embrace the joyful tidings, and entirely to adhere to, and acquiesce in the revelation of Christ as our Savior.”
“The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the ‘river of the water of life’ that runs, and the tree of life that
grows, ‘in the midst of the paradise of God’. The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what will forever entertain the minds of the saints, and the love of God will be their everlasting feast. The redeemed will indeed enjoy other things; they will enjoy the angels, and will enjoy one another: but that which they shall enjoy in the angels, or each other, or in anything else whatsoever, that will yield them delight and happiness, will be what will be seen of God in them.”
“Because [God] infinitely values his own glory, consisting in the knowledge of himself, love to himself . . . joy in himself; he therefore valued the image, communication or participation of these, in the creature. And it is because he values himself, that he delights in the knowledge, and love, and joy of the creature; as being himself the object of this knowledge, love and complacence…[Thus] God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at, is happiness in union with himself.”
“Persons need not and ought not to set any bounds to their spiritual and gracious appetites.” Rather, they ought “to be endeavoring by all possible ways to inflame their desires and to obtain more spiritual pleasures. . . . Our hungerings and thirstings after God and Jesus Christ and after holiness can’t be too great for the value of these things, for they are things of infinite value. . . . [Therefore] endeavor to promote spiritual appetites by laying yourself in the way of allurement…11There is no such thing as excess in our taking of this spiritual food. There is no such virtue as temperance in spiritual feasting.”
“God is glorified within Himself these two ways: 1. By appearing… to Himself in His own perfect idea [of Himself], or in His Son, who is the brightness of His glory. 2. By enjoying and delighting in Himself, by flowing forth in infinite . . . delight towards Himself, or in his Holy Spirit…So God glorifies Himself toward the creatures also in two ways: 1. By appearing to… their understanding. 2. In communicating Himself to their hearts, and in their rejoicing and delighting in, and enjoying, the manifestations which He makes of Himself…God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in. When those that see it delight in it, God is more glorified than if they only see it. His glory is then received by the whole soul, both by the understanding and by the heart. God made the world that He might communicate, and the creature receive, His glory; and that it might [be] received both by the mind and heart. He that testifies his idea of God’s glory [doesn’t] glorify God so much as he that testifies also his approbation of it and his delight in it.”