Posted at Ligonier Ministries
In the third paragraph, we see that coming to faith, while our duty, is also our chief delight. In a little-known sermon called “The Spiritual Blessings of the Gospel Represented by a Feast,” Edwards unfolds the “glorious objects” of our spiritual focus:
There is every kind of thing dispensed in Christ that tends to make us excellent and amiable, and every kind of thing that tends to make us happy. There is that which shall fill every faculty of the soul and in a great variety. What a glorious variety is there for the entertainment of the understanding! How many glorious objects set forth, most worthy to be meditated upon and understood! There are all the glorious attributes of God and the beauties of Jesus Christ, and manifold wonders to be seen in the way of salvation, the glories of heaven and the excellency of Christian graces. And there is a glorious variety for the satisfying the will: there are pleasures, riches and honors; there are all things desirable or lovely. There is various entertainment for the affections, for love, for joy, for desire and hope. The blessings are innumerable. (Works 14, 285-86)
This is, simply put, a marvelous section on which to meditate. It shows us that pleasure is not meant primarily for sinners, but for believers. This was a subject of major inquiry for Edwards, and his collective thought on it renders him the best thinker in the Christian tradition on pleasure. Edwards shows us here (and in many other places) that humanity was made for delight. We did not receive affections in the fall, but the creation.
It is not wrong, then, for Christians to enjoy life; it is profoundly appropriate. If we are known for being anti-pleasure people, it is not Edwards’ fault, and it is certainly not God’s, as texts like Psalm 16:11 show. There is much to think about here, and to apply. In Edwards’ exposition of Godward pleasure, we unearth a promising apologetic in a pleasure-obsessed world. More than that, we discover a way of life.