In Part One we observed that unbelievers cannot see the beauty of God’s holiness—that which forms the beauty of His every attribute—and therefore seek to deny His existence or redefine His nature. We turn now to Jonathan Edwards for some examples of how spiritual sight of the beauty of holiness in God and divine things opens our eyes to a whole “new world.” To behold the loveliness of God’s moral excellence changes our view of far more things than we often realize.
The sight of the beauty of God’s holiness opens our spiritual eyes to a right view of the goodness and purity of every act of God. As the streams of a fountain reflect their source, so God’s works radiate the quality of His nature. The “special glory” of everything God does consists of the “holiness, righteousness, faithfulness and goodness” displayed in them, without which God’s “power and skill” that produced them would have no glory. Indeed, “The glorifying of God’s moral perfections, is the special end of all the works of God’s hands.”
In the beauty of Christ’s holiness, the believer sees “the preciousness of his blood and its sufficiency to atone for sin.” Why? Because it flowed from such an excellent and lovable savior and stands on the infinite merit of His obedience and the sufficiency and success of His work on our behalf.
When believers see the moral excellence of God and his works, they see the beauty of salvation by Christ as the “moral perfections of God” radiate “in every step” of its accomplishment. We see “the true evil of sin: for he who sees the beauty of holiness, must necessarily see the hatefulness of sin, its contrary.” We see how God’s way of salvation in Christ meets our need of deliverance from sin and condemnation in hell, and how it secures our eternal happiness in a manner consistent with God’s holy perfections, the way designed for that purpose by God’s holy wisdom.
By the sight of the holiness of Scripture we see its excellence and reliability.
Take away all the moral beauty and sweetness in the Word, and the Bible is left wholly a dead letter, a dry, lifeless, tasteless thing. By this is seen the true foundation of our duty; the worthiness of God to be so esteemed, honored, loved, submitted to, and served, as he requires of us, and the amiableness of the duties themselves that are required of us.
By our new sense of God’s moral excellence, we “understand the true glory of heaven, which consists in the beauty and happiness that is in holiness. By this is seen the amiableness and happiness of both saints and angels.” While our justification stands solely on the righteousness of Christ imputed to us in union with Him by faith (the only righteousness that meets the requirements of God’s justice), we also receive the Holy Spirit that produces within us the happy and holy heart of new life. For Edwards, God’s holiness and happiness are one and the same in their mutual interdependence, both in God and in us by the Holy Spirit. Thus, we quench our joy when we quench the Holy Spirit within us.
And as our holiness and happiness are inseparable, our bliss will rise to immeasurable heights when sin is left behind as we depart this life for the next. Christ purchased His bride to make us beautiful and joyful forever.
Christ…also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25-27).
Lastly, the beauty of God’s holiness constitutes “the greatest and most important thing in the world…without which all the world is empty” and “worse than nothing.” No beauty exists where the beauty of God’s holiness cannot be seen. Unless God’s beauty can be understood, “nothing is understood, that is worthy of the exercise of the noble faculty of understanding.” God, the “infinite fountain of Good,” would Himself be “infinite evil,” and it would be better that we had never been born or that God had never existed. “He…knows nothing” or has but “the shadow of knowledge” that does not know the beauty of God’s holiness. Thus, Scripture calls those “destitute of that spiritual sense…totally blind, deaf and senseless, yea dead.” The new-birth, then, speaks of God giving this “sense” as “opening the blind eyes and raising the dead, of bringing a person into a new world” to “view nothing as he did before.” He has become “a new creature, old things are passed away, behold all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:16–17).
Moreover, nothing of Holy Spirit’s work on the soul, including His “saving influences” and “comforts,” can be experienced without the sight and love of God’s holiness. He who lacks this sense remains “ignorant of the greatest works of God, the most important and glorious effects of his power upon the creature,” and is “wholly ignorant of the saints as saints…and in effect is ignorant of the whole spiritual world.” But from this change in the soul come all “truly gracious affections” toward God and others. In Christ, therefore, we have new life, with new eyes to behold the glory of a new world, as we delight in the beauty of God’s moral excellence.
 Insights presented here are gleaned from Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, ed. John E. Smith, vol. 2 of The Works of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959), 273-75, hereafter referred to as WJE. In the Banner of Truth paperback edition (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1986), see pp. 199-201, hereafter referred to as BoT.
 WJE, 2:273; BoT, 199.
 WJE, 2:273-4; BoT, 199.
 WJE, 2:274; BoT, 199-200.
 WJE, 2:274; BoT, 200.
 For Edwards understanding of God’s holiness and happiness, see Craig Biehl, The Infinite Merit of Christ: The Glory of Christ’s Obedience in the Theology of Jonathan Edwards (Jackson, MS: Reformed Academic Press, 2009; reprint 2015, Carpenter’s Son Publishing), 26-38.
 WJE, 2:274-5; BoT, 200-201.
 WJE, 2:275; BoT, 201.
Unless noted otherwise, Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1988, 1995. Used by permission.
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