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.

To the Reader: On the Greatness of Jonathan Edwards and His Works

I have now discharged the main part of the first duty of an editor, namely, to tell the reader what he has in his hands. Let this suffice also to explain why in the following sections of this introduction I undertake a systematic analysis of important themes in Edwards’ ethical writings, with only light stress on the times and circumstance of their composition. One needs first of all to comprehend Edwards’ ethics whole and entire and appreciate the integrity of internally related concepts which run through the three (or two) works printed here.

I have chosen the alternative of systematic analysis of selected themes chiefly because the power and the coherence of Edwards’ ethical writings demand such treatment. One studies the times and backgrounds of some men in order to understand them. Others have such rare greatness that one studies them in order to understand their times, or even to comprehend the deepest meaning of the intellectual and other influences that were effectual upon them. Jonathan Edwards was such an original.

Ethical Writings (WJE Online Vol.8), Ed. Paul Ramsey

The Requisites and Rewards of Penetrating Greek Thought

Mental effort and perseverance are no doubt required in order to penetrate the riches of Greek thought, but any effort that is expended in the attempt to understand and appreciate the philosophy of those two men of genius, Plato and Aristotle, is amply rewarded: it can no more be wasted than the effort we expend to appreciate at its full value the music of Beethoven or Mozart or the beauty of the cathedral at Chartres Greek drama, Greek architecture, Greek sculpture, are imperishable memorials of the Greek genius and culture, of the glory of Hellas; but that glory would be incomplete without Greek philosophy and we cannot appreciate fully the culture of the Greeks unless we know something of Greek philosophy.

Frederick Copleston, S.J., The History of Philosophy — Volume I: Greece and Rome