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Happiness is the end of the creation, as appears by this, because the creation had as good not be, as not rejoice in its being. For certainly it was the goodness of the Creator that moved Him to create; and how can we conceive of another end proposed by goodness, than that He might delight in seeing the creatures He made rejoice in that being that He has given them?

It appears also by this, because the end of the creation is that the creation might glorify Him. Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory He has displayed? An understanding of the perfections of God, merely, cannot be the end of the creation; for He had as good not understand it, as see it and not be at all moved with joy at the sight. Neither can the highest end of the creation be the declaring God’s glory to others; for the declaring God’s glory is good for nothing otherwise than to raise joy in ourselves and others at what is declared.

Wherefore, seeing happiness is the highest end of the creation of the universe, and intelligent beings are that consciousness of the creation that is to be the immediate subject of this happiness, how happy may we conclude will be those intelligent beings that are to be made eternally happy!

—Jonathan Edwards
“Miscellanies”, WJE (Yale University Press, 1994), 199–200.

And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
—Ephesians 3:19

The knowledge of Christ, and of his love, is deservedly, in this place, set down among the desiderata Christianorum, the most desirable enjoyments of believers in this world. This love of Christ had entered the apostle’s heart; he was swallowed up in the meditation and admiration of it, and would have all hearts inflamed and affected with it, as his was.

Some think the apostle speaks extatically in this place, and knows not how to make the parts of his discourse consistent with each other, when he puts them upon endeavours to know that love of Christ, which himself confesses to pass knowledge.

But though his heart was ravished with the love of Christ, yet there is no contradiction or inconsistency in his discourse. He doth earnestly desire for the Ephesians, that they may know the love of Christ; i.e. that they may experimentally know his love, which passeth knowledge: That is, as some expound it, all other kinds of knowledge; yea, and all knowledge of Christ, which is not practical and experimental. Or thus: Labour to get the clearest and fullest apprehensive knowledge of Christ and his love, that is attainable in this world, though you cannot arrive to a perfect comprehensive knowledge of either.

—John Flavel
Works, 6:456.

 

To the shepherds the angel said, “Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people;” and, truly, the angelic message is still the source of joy to all who hear it aright: “Unto you is born . . . a Saviour.” Rejoice, then, ye who feel that ye are lost; for Christ Jesus the Saviour comes to seek and to save you. Be of good cheer, ye who are in the prison-house of sin, for He comes to set you free. Ye who are famished and ready to die, rejoice that Christ Jesus the Lord has consecrated for you a better Bethlehem, a true “house of bread,” and that He has Himself come to be the bread of life to your souls. Rejoice, O sinners, everywhere, for the Restorer of the castaways, the Saviour of the fallen, is born!

Join in the joy, ye saints, for He is also the Preserver of the saved ones, delivering them from innumerable perils, and He is the sure Perfecter of all whom He preserves. Jesus is no partial Saviour, beginning a work, and never completing it; but, saving and cleansing, restoring and upholding, He also perfects and presents the Saved ones, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, before His Father’s face. Rejoice, then, all ye people; let your hills and valleys ring with joy, for a Saviour, who is mighty to save, is born among you.

This joy began with the shepherds, for the angel said to them, “Unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” Reader, shall the joy begin with you to-day? It avails you little that Christ is born, or that Christ died, unless unto you a Child is born, and for you Jesus bled. A personal interest in the birth, life, and death of Christ is the main point for each one of us.

—Charles H. Spurgeon
Christ’s Incarnation (Passmore and Alabaster, 1901).

We all despise the man who demands continued assurance of his own virtue, intelligence or delightfulness; we despise still more the crowd of people round every dictator, every millionaire, every celebrity, who gratify that demand. Thus a picture, at once ludicrous and horrible, both of God and of His worshippers, threatened to appear in my mind. The Psalms were especially troublesome in this way—”Praise the Lord,” “O praise the Lord with me,” “Praise Him.” … It was extremely distressing. It made one think what one least wanted to think. Gratitude to God, reverence to Him, obedience to Him, I thought I could understand; not this perpetual eulogy. …

But the most obvious fact about praise—whether of God or anything—strangely escaped me. I thought of it in terms of compliment, approval, or  the giving of honour. I had never noticed that all enjoyment spontaneously overflows into praise

The world rings with praise—lovers praising their mistresses, readers their favourite poet, walkers praising the countryside, players praising their favourite game—praise of weather, wines, dishes, actors, motors, horses, colleges, countries, historical personages, children, flowers, mountains, rare stamps, rare beetles, even sometimes politicians or scholars.

I had not noticed how the humblest, and at the same time most balanced and capacious, minds, praised most, while the cranks, misfits and malcontents praised least. … Except where intolerably adverse circumstances interfere, praise almost seems to be inner health made audible. …

I had not noticed either that just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it: “Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?” The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about. My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value.

I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. …

To see what the doctrine really means, we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God—drunk with, drowned in, dissolved by, that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable, hence hardly tolerable, bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression, our joy no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds. The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever”. But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.

—C. S. Lewis
Reflections on the Psalms, 89–96.

It is surely a great point of wisdom for any man to shun and avoid, if he can, troubles and afflictions, and it [is] also certain that it is as great a part of wisdom for a man, if he can, to get into such a state as that, if troubles and afflictions do come, they can do him no real hurt, or be sure that they not only do him no hurt but good: but such is the state of the good man, and however troublesome those afflictions may seem to a good man at present, yet if they do him but good, it is really and truly as good for him—yea, better—than if they did not befall him. Although this may be a hard lesson to receive, yet it is as certain as that God is true, and however some may endeavor to dissuade to the contrary, every man’s reason will give testimony to it, and surely ’tis the part of a wise man to choose what his reason tells him is best for him. They certainly are the wisest men that do those things that make most for their happiness, and this in effect is acknowledged by all men in the world, for there is no man upon earth but what is earnestly seeking after happiness, and it appears abundantly by their so vigorously trying all manner of ways; they will twist and turn every way, ply all instruments, to make themselves happy men; some will wander all over the face of the earth to find [it]: they will seek it in the waters and dry land, under the waters and in the bowels of the earth, and although the true way to happiness lies right before ’em and they might easily step into it and walk in it and be brought in it to as great happiness as they desire, and greater than they can conceive of, yet they will not enter into it. They try all the false paths; they will spend and be spent, labor all their lives’ time, endanger their lives, will pass over mountains and valleys, go through fire and water, seeking for happiness amongst vanities, and are always disappointed, never find what they seek for; but yet like fools and madmen they violently rush forward, still in the same ways. But the righteous are not so; these only, have the wisdom to find the right paths to happiness.

—Jonathan Edwards
Sermons and Discourses, 1720-1723, The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Yale University Press, 1992), 303.

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