Jonathan Edwards – Miscellanies

Jonathan Edwards was a prolific writer.  Part of the reason he was so prolific is because he was constantly taking down notes of thoughts he had on scraps of paper and in notebooks.  Here is a note he made on the subject of religion:

‘Tis most certain that God did not create the world for nothing. ‘Tis most certain that if there were not intelligent beings in the world, all the world would be without any end at all. For senseless matter in whatever excellent order it is placed, would be useless if there were no intelligent beings at all, neither God nor others; for what would it be good for? So certainly, senseless matter would be altogether useless if there was no intelligent being but God, for God could neither receive good himself nor communicate good. What would this vast universe of matter, placed in such excellent order and governed by such excellent rules, be good for, if there was no intelligence that could know anything of it? Wherefore it necessarily follows that intelligent beings are the end of the creation, that their end must be to behold and admire the doings of God, and magnify him for them, and to contemplate his glories in them.

Wherefore religion must be the end of the creation, the great end, the very end. If it were not for this, all those vast bodies we see ordered with so excellent skill, so according to the nicest rules of proportion, according to such laws of gravity and motion, would be all vanity, or good for nothing and to no purpose at all. For religion is the very business, the noble business of intelligent beings, and for this end God has placed us on this earth. If it were not for men, this world would be altogether in vain, with all the curious workmanship of it and accoutrements about it.

It follows from this that we must be immortal. The world had as good have been without us, as for us to be a few minutes and then be annihilated—if we are now to own God’s works to his glory, and only glorify him a few minutes, and then be annihilated, and it shall after that be all one to eternity as if we never had been, and be in vain after we are dead that we have been once; and then, after the earth shall be destroyed, it shall be for the future entirely in vain that either the earth or mankind have ever been. The same argument seems to be used, Isaiah 45:17–18.