Getting the Beatific Vision out of the Cupboard (John 17:24–27)

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

—John 17:24

The desire of the Son, lifted up to the Father, is that those who the Father has given to the Son, be with the Son, to see His glory. This beholding is referred to as the beatific vision.  The beatific vision is perhaps the most absurd doctrine for the church to have put up in the cupboard and allow to collect dust. Thankfully it never expires. Though it is sad, from one perspective, I can understand why difficult truths like perichoresis aren’t well known. I easily grasp why most saints don’t know of or know the difference between supralapsarianism and infralapsarianism. But why would we ever put the doctrine of the beatific vision in long term storage?

“Beatific” shares the same root as the word “beatitude” meaning blessed or happy. The beatific vision is the blessed vision, the happy sight of our God. This vision is the blessed hope and holy longing of the saints. Titus 2:13 speaks of our “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.” The blessed hope is not waiting for the appearing of our Lord as the means to some other end. His appearing is itself our blessed hope. I’m afraid that the beatific vision isn’t as well known, because it isn’t the ultimate hope of much of the “professing” church.

But known or unknown by this name, the beatific vision remains the greatest longing of the saints. This is the prayer of Moses answered, a prayer we find resonating in our own souls: “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). This longing is our song. “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4).

There is an intimacy to this beholding. It is for those given to Him, His bride. The desire of Christ is that His people be with Him to see Him. It is blessed, we see throughout the Upper Room Discourse (chapters 13–16), to receive the Spirit and to receive the Word and to receive the eyes of faith to behold Christ now, but there is greater blessedness yet. It is a blessing to receive a letter from your beloved. It is an altogether higher one to be with them and to see them. Such is the desire of Christ.

The Christ who has again and again told the disciples that He is leaving them and going to His Father, now tells His Father of His desire for their people to be with Him to see Him. In John 16:16 Jesus told them, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” But here, in v. 24, Jesus is promising something greater than even the disciples beheld when they looked on the resurrected Christ. This is a beholding of Christ with Christ where He is. Earlier Jesus spoke of the future as though it already were, saying, “I am no longer in the world” (v. 11). In John 14:3 Jesus told the disciples, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

And this is not just a sight of Christ’s glory in a glorious place with glorified eyes. It is a greater sight of Christ’s glory. What is this glory of the Son that we are to behold? It is a given glory. I don’t believe this is simply to be understood as the eternal glory that the Son has forever had from the Father by His eternal generation. This given glory is the glory that comes in answer to the petition Jesus opened this prayer with. “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you” (v. 1). This is a glory bestowed on the incarnate Son, and yet, I believe we can say that the glory that is bestowed on the incarnate Son is something of a manifestation of the Son’s eternal, divine, and invisible glory. It is the Son’s glory (“my glory”); a glory He possesses that is seen. And it is glory given to the Son because the Father has loved Him before the foundation of the world.

In His humiliation, Jesus was the revelation of the glory of the Triune God. When John said, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), John was not just referring to the sight of Christ after His resurrection. As you read this gospel, you see the incarnate Son in His humiliation reveal the glory of God. So if Jesus, in His humiliation, revealed the glory of the Triune God, how much more in His exaltation? And this glory is given to the Son because of His humiliation. Philippians 2:9–10 draws this conclusion from the humiliation of Christ. “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

That this sight of the glorified Christ goes beyond that which even the disciples were privy to after the resurrection can be seen in a text like 1 John 3:2. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” This is a seeing, that when you see it, you are changed. It is a beholing of being that changes our being. We shall see Him as He is. Seeing Him as He is, we will not longer be the same. 2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks our now beholding with unveiled face the glory of the Lord and thereby transformed into the same image from degree of glory to another. The beholding we are considering here, is a sight without veil such that when we see it, we are perfectly glorified. It is a sight only the perfectly glorified are fit to see. It is a sight of the very glory of God in Christ.

The glory that is bestowed on the risen and ascended Christ to be seen by all on His appearing is His eternal glory manifest. It is the glory of the triune God mediated to us through the incarnate Son. In 1 John 3:2, the antecedent for the “he” who appears is God the Father. But throughout the New Testament, it is the Son whose appearing we await as the blessed hope. How do we solve this riddle? Jesus already has in the upper room. On that day, Jesus will most profoundly say to the redeemed, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9).

The Logic of the Lord’s Love (John 11:1–16)

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

—John 11:5–6

Jesus loves Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, so, He stays. Jesus stays. Why? Because He loves them. Jesus staying is given a fourfold emphasis. Note all the time references: “He stayed, two days longerthen, after this,” vv. 6–7. Marvel at the peculiar logic of the Lord’s love. Why does Jesus stay? Because He loves.

“How is this love?” you might object. If so, ask yourself, “What does my objection or puzzlement say I love?” We love our health and wellbeing and ease and comfort and peace. If Jesus loved us, He would work for these things, so we think. It is telling to place Jesus’ motivations for staying alongside those of the disciples (v. 8). Jesus’ motivation puzzles us. The disciples’ make sense. “Oh yeah, they’re seeking to kill Jesus. Perhaps they should stay.” When the first puzzles us, and the second doesn’t, it reveals that our real objection to Jesus’ actions is our selfishness, not Jesus’.

How is this love? Jesus said this illness was not for death, but for the glory of God (v. v. 4). The most loving thing God can do for us is to make much of Himself. The most loving thing God can do to us is to lead us not to a shallow puddle of joy, but to the infinite ocean of delight. The most loving thing God can do for us is shatter our mirrors and move us to look out the window. The most loving thing God can do for us is not to make much of us, but much of Himself. It is more loving for God to display His glory to and through us than to spare us from all suffering. This is for the glory of God, and so, because He loves them, He waits. John Piper writes, 

“Oh, how many people today—even Christians—would murmur at Jesus for callously letting Lazarus die and putting him and Mary and Martha and others through the pain and misery of those days. And if people today saw that this was motivated by Jesus’ desire to magnify the glory of God, how many would call this harsh or unloving! What this shows is how far above the glory of God most people value pain-free lives. For most people, love is whatever puts human value and human well-being at the center. So Jesus’ behavior is unintelligible to them.

But let us not tell Jesus what love is. Let us not instruct Him how He should love us and make us central. Let us learn from Jesus what love is and what our true well-being is. Love is doing whatever you need to do to help people see and savor the glory of God in Christ forever and ever. Love keeps God central. Because the soul was made for God.”

Oh the peculiar and glorious logic of the Lord’s love. Oh how He loved Job and Jacob and Joseph. Oh how He loved David and Daniel. Oh how He loved Martha and Mary. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Understanding this kind of love puts this kind of steel in one’s spine, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16–18).

When the peculiar providence of God works suffering into your life, remember the logic of the Lord’s love. This is for glory.

A Drink from Brooks: Altogether Beautiful


ring-1425671.jpg“If God be truly precious to thee, then all of God is precious thee; his name is precious to thee, his honour is precious to thee, his ordinances are precious to thee, his Sabbaths are precious to thee, his promises are precious to thee, his precepts are precious to thee, his threatenings are precious to thee, his rebukes are precious to thee, his people are precious to thee, and all his concernments are precious to thee. Look, as every sparkling stone that is set round about a rich diamond is precious in the eyes of the jeweller, so is every sparkling excellency in God precious in his eyes that sets an high value upon God.” —Thomas Brooks, An Ark for All God’s Noahs

Heavy on the Percussion (Psalm 29)

“The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD, over many waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars;
the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness;
the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ ” —Psalm 29:3–9

My only ambition here is to provide a flyover of this Psalm to prepare you to trek through it yourself. The psalm begins in the heavens (vv. 1–2) and ends on earth (vv. 10–11). In between, seemingly joining the two, is a storm. The storm begins over the waters (v. 3), moves over the mountain forest of Lebanon (vv. 5–6), and ends in the wilderness of Kadesh (v. 7). In this psalm we mover from heaven to earth by means of a storm that traverses sea, forest, and wilderness.

This psalm is full of majesty, glory and splendor. Spurgeon advised,

“Just as the eighth Psalm is to be read by moonlight, when the stars are bright, as the nineteenth needs the rays of the rising sun to bring out its beauty, so this can be best rehearsed beneath the black wing of tempest, by the glare of the lightning, or amid that dubious dusk which heralds the war of elements. The verses march to the tune of thunderbolts.”

This psalm thunders, not as one of those far off peals that rumbles in the distance, but like the deafening clap that reverberates in your chest such that you cannot but involuntarily jolt. Read it, and ascribe to Yahweh the glory and strength due His name. Worship Him in the splendor of His holiness.

Further Up and Further In (Exodus 40)

Exodus is like climbing a mountain, whereupon coming up through the mist and cloud, expecting to arrive at the summit, you discover yet another mountain remains to be climbed. How sad that many climb only through the first mist and soon give up for exhaustion or for boredom. By God’s grace one presses on through the first summit of God’s ten wonders of judgment. From there you behold intimidating Sinai, but sure of your mediator Jesus Christ, you press upward and behold greater glories. Still, God called his children to go further up with Moses, to the heavenly heights to behold the tabernacle as a revelation of heavenly truths.

On the other side, after a laborious but worthwhile climb, you come to the consummation of the construction of this tent, anticipating the greatest sight of glory yet.

The filling of the tabernacle is the climactic glory of Exodus; the supreme manifestation of God’s glory in this epic book. Israel has seen the Nile turned to blood, the Egyptian’s livestock die of plague, hail decimate her crops, darkness cover their land, and their firstborn die. She’s seen the Red Sea split and walked through it. She ate manna in the wilderness and water from the rock. She has seen Sinai covered in smoke and fire, trembling beneath the glory of God—but this surpasses all she’s seen. Here is how you know that this is the supreme manifestation of God’s glory—Moses, who spoke with God at the burning bush, Moses, through whom God’s ten wonders came, Moses, who split the river and struck the rock, Moses, who ascended Sinai and beheld God’s glory and spoke with God as a man speaks to his friend—this Moses couldn’t enter the tent for the glory of God (Exodus 40:35). One commentator says that the tabernacle thus becomes “a miniature portable Sinai [MacKay].” It may be miniature as to physical size but it is bigger in glory.

Exodus ends on this climax without consummation or resolution. It ends on a to be continued. There are heights yet to climb. Exodus is clearly part of a multi-volume work with Leviticus picking up where Exodus leaves off. Yes, even with all five volumes of the Pentateuch, Moses didn’t get to finish. The same cloud of glory that dwells in Israel’s midst will guide and protect them bringing them to the promised land, and thus into fuller enjoyment of Yahweh’s covenant with them. Moses didn’t write that chapter, because he didn’t experience it, but this isn’t to say he missed the height of heights.

God, by His Spirit is still leading his people home, and He will not forsake any of us, bringing us all to the height of heights, Mount Zion, the new Jerusalem, where all is temple, illuminated by the glory of God.

Mediated is Superior to Immediate (Exodus 32:12–23)

Moses’ prayer to behold God’s glory is oft bandied about in a individualistic way. Indeed, Moses’ longing is the longing of every true saint, and Paul makes this application alluding to Moses’ experience in 2 Corinthians 3:15–18.

Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Yet, note that Paul refers to this as something “we all” behold. This is the corporate experience of the church.

When you read Exodus 32–34 who do you identify with? “Show me Your glory,” we pray, but do you ever think of this as being prayed by another for your benefit? This chapter is the apex of Moses’ mediation, which runs like a mountain range through Exodus. Moses’ mediation is no small theme in this book. The theme of mediation isn’t comprised of a few foothills with a couple of snowcapped heights. Exodus contains the Old Testament Himalayas of mediation, and here stands Everest. Moses as mediator clearly is a foreshadowing of Jesus, yet, when Moses makes his boldest request, we want to insert ourselves. We’re not Moses. We’re golden-calf worshipping Israel. We need a mediator. To behold the face of God we need a Mediator who has beheld the face of God.

When Moses cries out to see God’s glory, that request cannot be separated from His pleading for His people. Moses’ beholding God’s glory speaks to the favor He has found with God, and if the Mediator has found favor, the people can take hope of God’s presence with them (Exodus 32:16).

The glory of God that the saints will forever behold is the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). This is no mere reflected glory as with Moses for Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3). Our great confidence of seeing God’s glory is our Mediator’s prayer, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (John 17:24).”

The Apologist: Dethroning Jesus in the Name of Jesus

It is curious that we can do things in Christ’s name while pushing Him off the stage. I have seen this most plainly when a church has become caught up in a building project and has moved heaven and earth to complete it. One does need a roof over his head, but this is only a small portion of the church’s ministry. The building is only an instrument.

Fighting for evangelism and the salvation of souls should not become primary either; yet how often this happens! Other people, quite rightly, see the church of our generation threatened by apostasy, but then have made the purity of the visible church the center of their lives. In all of these Jesus may remain as a topic of conversation, but His real centrality has been forgotten. In the name of Christ, Christ is dethroned. When this happens, even what is right becomes wrong.

—Francis Schaeffer, No Little People

The Pinnacle (Exodus 24:1–2, 9–18)

On one side of Sinai stands Egypt, on the other, the tabernacle. Sinai itself is volcanically exciting, but we’re prone to think less exciting what awaits us east of Sinai  than what was west. We’ll read the ten plagues twice before we make it through the instructions for the tabernacle once. The sunrise of the new day is more glorious than the sunset of days past. Sinai is the fullest revelation God has given His people of His glory up to this point, and the aim of the tabernacle is to make Sinai portable. The tabernacle was patterned after heavenly things (Hebrews 9:23–24) and I want to show you that Sinai was a revelation of those heavenly things.

First, Moses receives instructions to go partway up the mountain with some select men, and then to proceed further up alone. This results in a thrice-partitioned mountain corresponding to the thrice-partitioned encampment of Israel around the tabernacle. Around the foot of the mountain are the people, further up are the elders, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and then at the top, Moses. Israel will camp around the tabernacle, the Levites and priest will be immediately around and in the tabernacle, and then only the high priest may enter the most holy place.

Second, Moses is ascending this mountain to receive the tablets, containing the ten commandments; which are representative of the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:12–13). He is up on the mountain forty days and nights. Even if Moses is chiseling and engraving the tablets himself, which he is not, this seems like a long time. What’s the holdup? While Moses is up there, he also receives the pattern for the tabernacle. After naturally receiving instructions concerning building materials, what is the first thing Moses is instructed about? The ark of the covenant, which is to house the tablets of the testimony (Exodus 25:16, 21). Moses receives not only the tablets, but first, he is given the pattern for where they are to be housed. These tablets that come from the mountain heights are to go to the camp core. The Tablets are to go as far in as they were high up.

When Moses ascends with the elders they see God. It seems they look up, and the sky becomes a kind of translucent sapphire pavement, and they see, as it were, God’s feet resting on his footstool (Exodus 24:10; cf. Isaiah 66:1). Soon thereafter a cloud descends on Sinai and Moses, as it were, ascends up closer to God’s throne to receive the pattern of that which is patterned after heavenly things.

SPOILER ALERT: Here is how Exodus closes:

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

As God dwelt on Sinai (Exodus 24:15–16), so he dwells in the midst of His people in this tent over the ark containing the tablets of the covenant (Exodus 25:8). This is a picture of heavenly things—things that you see and enjoy more clearly in Christ. Do not envy them. The more glorious manifestation of God dwelling with His people in covenant love came not in cloud, but in flesh. God the Son has tabernacled among us in the flesh (John 1:14). If we have seen Jesus we have seen the Father (John 14:8–9). Jesus came down to bring us up to the heights. Jesus went outside the camp to bring us to the most holy place. In Jesus, we are brought further up and further in.

This is the pinnacle of God’s salvation; not what we were saved from, but Who we are saved to. The greatest thrill of God’s redemption isn’t Exodus, but the tabernacle.

So that You’d Have a Story to Tell (Exodus 10:1–20)

Many try to float about as if they’re contextless, story-less, detached from the narrative of their parents, ignorant of their ancestors, their national history, their ethnic identity, and the big story we all find ourselves in. No one ever told them their story. Few probably every read them a story. They had history teachers who hadn’t read a history book in so long that it would take a vigorous historian to unearth when. To such teachers, history wasn’t a passion, it was a job. The story of Washington wasn’t told well, so lesser stories crowded in to fill the gap, stories with sponges named Bob.

Thus a generation grows up with the gumption to declare, “We determine meaning. We write our own story. We determine our destiny.” So they float out there, rootless, pretending to be god, creating their own world. “The page is blank, and we write the tale.” We certainly write, but who gave you the paper? Who taught you to write? Who manufactured the pen? Who discovered ink? Are you writing your story with the Roman alphabet? The canvas you paint on is given to you, with thousands of years of grand patina. You’ve inherited far more than you’ll ever bequeath. The palate of colors you work with, they’re predetermined, and costly.

Not a one of us understands the breadth of beauty and pain necessary for us to have this grand canvas, these rare paints, these costly tools. Why are you painting in Oklahoma? Why are you painting in 2015? Why are you painting with automobiles, the internet, and air-conditioning? That pen that you hold in your hand may be cheap, but how many hours, how many years of effort over the pen and ink led to the tool you have in your hand? The man who holds a 99¢ Pilot G2 is a wealthy steward. To whom much is given much is required. Our best efforts at being grounded must sound as trite to an omniscient God as “In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” We know a small slice of the backstory, but how profoundly do we sense its significance. Nonetheless, there’s all the difference between a person who knows that an ancient flood, Pyramids, Solomon’s wisdom, Vesuvius, Constantine, WWI, and the attraction of a man and a woman led to their existence, than one who just thinks they’re a random accident of the cosmos, a product of “Boom!” We deny the Author to write our own story, recasting ourselves as demiurges.

We may try to float, but we’re grounded. We move, but only because we have roots. We didn’t just spring up out of nothing. Even Adam was rooted, made from earth, planned in the heart of an eternal God, and made in His image.

Why the exodus? Why all the show? So that we’d have a story to tell—a family story.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

Moses isn’t to go to Pharaoh because he’s astonishingly still hard and a bigger hammer is needed to crack his heart. God wants to use the bigger hammer, one that’ll make Mjölnir look like a Fisher Price toy. Multiple wonders are not a have-to because of Pharaoh’s hard heart. Pharaoh’s heart is hardened by God because multiple wonders are God’s want-to. Why is Pharaoh’s heart hard? Because God wants to show. But that is only half the reasoning. This is show and tell. God wants to show so that they’ll have something to tell. “Gather round kids, listen to what God did for us.”

This is part of your story. You’re rooted in this. This is your God. This is how He redeems—big. You’re not story-less. Your ancestry is rich. Envy no epic tale, no masterful film. Yours isn’t simply a good story, it is part of the glorious story—the tale of God’s glory. This isn’t a fish story, it’s a whale of a tale, and like Jonah’s, it’s true. You don’t have to write something epic, Jesus has. You don’t have to be the hero. It’s futile. You were a villain like every other fallen son of Adam. Jesus is the hero. You’re rescued. Tell the tale. Gather the children. Tell them how God destroyed a Pharaoh as part of your salvation.

Wrath and Redemption for Renown (Exodus 9:13–35)

If the Exodus is simply about redemption, then God is terribly inefficient. The point isn’t simply redemption, but renown. God could’ve taken Pharaoh out with one punch, but He reserves His strength for ten blows, so that He might more fully display his power.

For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth (Exodus 9:15–16).

In a boxing match if some no-name opponent is knocked out with one blow, the crowd might think it was owing more to the weakness of the loser than the strength of the winner. But if some unknown boxer waits patiently for the “greatest” to climb to the pinnacle of his career, and then, having challenged him, slowly defeats him, one punch each round, while never suffering a blow himself, then his supremacy is fully demonstrated.

God raised Pharaoh up for this purpose. This is why Pharaoh exists. You can’t soften the meaning.

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, ‘Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?’ But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory (Romans 9:17–23).

God’s redemption is for renown. God’s wrath is for renown. God purposes to be glorified in all: vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath. But, the supreme way God intends for His glory to be communicated is in redemption. Wrath falls  “in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy.”

It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all; for then the effulgence would not answer the reality. For the same reason it is not proper that one should be manifested exceedingly, and another but very little. It is highly proper that the effulgent glory of God should answer his real excellency; that the splendour should be answerable to the real and essential glory, for the same reason that it is proper and excellent for God to glorify himself at all.

Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all. If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from.

How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired, and the sense of it not so great, as we have elsewhere shown. We little consider how much the sense of good is heightened by the sense of evil, both moral and natural. And as it is necessary that there should be evil, because the display of the glory of God could not but be imperfect and incomplete without it, so evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect; and the happiness of the creature would be imperfect upon another account also; for, as we have said, the sense of good is comparatively dull and flat, without the knowledge of evil. —Jonathan Edwards