The Reason for the Universe (and all therein)

So Edwards in the eighteenth century joins Barth in the twentieth in the belief that it is not God whose existence needs proof, but rather the existence of anything other than God, any world at all, that needs explaining. Edwards’ cosmic teleology was ultimately Christological; the work of redemption accounted for the history of the universe at large. God’s end in the natural world was the end of the moral world, the end of the moral world was the end of the good part of the moral world, the end of the good part of the moral world was the end of the saints at their best, venting their souls in praise of God, and the end of the best part of the moral world at their best was what Jesus Christ sought as his last or ultimate end, in his ‘great request’ in what we call his High Priestly prayer: ‘that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves’; ‘that they all may be one; as thou Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they may be one in us…that they may be one, even as we are one’ (John 17:13, John 17:21-22). That was Edwards’ ultimate answer to the question, Whence came knowledge of God to any human understanding, and whence any love to God? Since the being of that knowledge, love, and joy is existence most worthy of being, most remote from nonentity, the same was his answer to the perplexing question–if this be proper speaking–why on earth there is any being outside of God himself.

Heaven. You Goin’?

“The reason people don’t go to heaven is because they don’t want to.” John Hannah

If they do want to go to heaven, it may not be for any of the right reasons.

If heaven seems boring to you, you don’t have the brightness and clarity of heaven in mind, who is Christ Jesus himself.

Behold, Jesus is making all things new! Run to your Maker, that he may remake you into his image–inimitable beauty, ever-pleasing to the Father.

Holy Spirit, come, in order that we might run!

Augustine: On Friendship

…We could talk and laugh together and exchange small acts of kindness. We could join in the pleasure that books can give. We could be grave or [happy] together. If we sometimes disagreed, it was without spite, as a man might differ with himself, and the rare occasions of dispute were the very spice to season our usual accord. Each of us had something to learn from the others and something to teach in return. If any were away, we missed them with regret and gladly welcomed them when they came home. Such things as these are heartfelt tokens of affection between friends. They are signs to be read on the face and in the eyes, spoken by the tongue and displayed in countless acts of kindness. They can kindle a blaze to melt our hearts and weld them into one.

This what we cherish in friendship, and we cherish it so dearly that in conscience we feel guilty if we do not return love for love, asking no more of our friends than these expressions of goodwill. This is why we mourn their death, which shrouds us in sorrow and turns joy into bitterness, so that the heart is drenched in tears and life becomes a living death because a friend is lost. Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you and their enemies for your sake. They alone will never lose those who are dear to them, for they love them in one who is never lost, in God, our God who made heaven and earth and fills them with his presence, because by filling them he made them. No one can lose you, my God, unless he forsakes you. And if he forsakes you, where is he to go? If he abandons your love, his only refuge is your wrath. Wherever he turns, he will find your law to punish them, for your law is the truth and the truth is yourself.

Augustine, The Confessions [BOOK IV]

‘Wherever We Taste the Truth, God is There.’

If the things of this world delight you, praise God for them but turn your love away from them and give it to their Maker, so that in the things that please you, you may not displease him. If your delight is in [people], love them in God, because they too are frail and stand firm only when they cling to him. If they do not, they go their own way and are lost. Love them, then, in him and draw as many with you to him as you can. Tell them ‘He is the one we should love. He made the world and he stays close to it.’ For when he made the world he did not go away and leave it. By him it was created and in him it exists. Wherever we taste the truth, God is there. He is in our very inmost hearts, but our hearts have strayed from him. Think well on it, unbelieving hearts and cling to him who made you. Stand with him and you shall not fall; rest in him and peace shall be yours. What snags and pitfalls lie before you? Where do your steps lead you? The good things which you love are all from God, but they are good and sweet only as long as they are used to do his will. They will rightly turn bitter if God is spurned and the things that come from him are wrongly loved. Why do you still choose to travel by this hard and arduous path? There is no rest to be found where you seek it. In the land of death you try to find a happy life; it is not there. How can life be happy where there is no life at all?

Augustine, The Confessions [BOOK 4.12.18]

Augustine — On Seeking God

I sought the way to get the strength to be able to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who is above all things, God for ever blessed; he who cries out and says, I am the way and the truth and the life; who mixes with flesh the food that I was too weak to receive — for the Word became flesh so that your Wisdom, through which you have created all things might nourish us in our infancy like milk. I did not humbly hold on to my God, Jesus the humble, nor did I know what his weakness had to teach me. For your Word, eternal Truth, towers over the highest parts of your creation and lifts up to himself those that submit to him; but in the lower parts of it he has built for himself a house of our clay, through which to bring men down from themselves and draw them to him to be brought into submission. He heals the swelling of their pride and nurses their love, so that they should not trust in themselves and depart from him, but seeing before their feet the weakness of the Godhead who shares in our clothing of skin might themselves be made weak, and cast themselves in exhaustion upon him; and he, rising, might raise them up.

Augustine, The Confessions [7.18.24]

Seeking God: Motive #6

This is the reason of affliction; we are so backward in this work that we need be whipped unto it. ‘I will go and return to my place, saith God; till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face’ (Hos. 5.15). God knows that want is a spur to a lazy creature, and therefore doth God break in upon men, and scourge them as with scorpions, that they may bethink themselves and look after God.

– Thomas Manton, One Hundred and Ninety Sermons on The Hundredth and Nineteenth Psalm, vol. I (Carlisle, PA; The Banner of Truth Trust, 1990), 20.