Edwards on the God Centeredness of God 17


At least, a great part of the moral rectitude of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral rectitude of God must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of moral respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is infinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs ALL the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires infinitely the greatest regard to be paid to God, and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; in other words, his holiness consists in this. (Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World)

If the standard for man’s holiness is to be like God, to love God with all of our being, and to be His with all of our being, then we are driven to ask what the standard of holiness is for God. We are commanded to be holy as He is holy, so unless we know what it means for God to be holy we will never know what true holiness is. While some will set out the Ten Commandments as the standard of holiness, we can only say that those are not the standard (as such) that God follows.

Holiness is not just the outward actions, but instead it has to do with the disposition, inclination, and the affections. Holiness has to do with our motives and intents. Holiness as to do with our loving what is pure and holy for the right reasons. Well, then what are those things with God? What are His dispositions, inclinations, and affections? What are His motives and intents? What pure and holy things can we ascribe to His love? We can find no higher inclinations and affections for God other than Himself and His own glory. We can find no higher motives and intents than those that are with God. We can find no higher standard of holiness than Himself.

What, then, can we say this all teaches us or leads us to believe about God and His reasons for creation? Since God’s desires and affections are for Himself and He is the highest object of desires and affections, then we can know that God does all things for Himself and His own glory. It is out of love for Himself as triune that God created anything at all and all things. The universe declares something of His glory, but in creating man and the God-man taking human flesh, God has manifested His glory in the brightest way possible. Now He shines forth the glory of His grace and His self-sufficient love.

The fact that all of the dispositions and inclinations of God really and truly consists in His love for Himself, we can see no other conclusion than God’s very holiness is His doing nothing but what is out of love for Himself. If God did something where He was not supreme in His own love, inclinations, and motives, then He would not be holy. However, in this we see how we are to be holy. God is to be supreme in our love, inclinations, and motives. We are to receive from God (by grace alone) our love and as such our love then becomes His love and as such our love is really His love for Himself on display. In beholding our love for Himself which He has shared with us, God has manifested His glory. This is to be our love and our desire and that is for His glory to shine through us. Only then is He glorified.

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