The Chief End of God

From a 1743 sermon referred to as "Approaching the End of God's Design," (available with background notes at The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University), these words present God's purpose in creating the world and saving sinners. Homiletically, Edwards begins with a question and then proceeds to answer. God did not create the world to receive anything. Rather, he created the world to communicate himself and glorify himself, and these two are one.

 

Inquiry: What is this one great design that God has in view in all his works and dispensations?


Answer: 'Tis to present to his Son a spouse in perfect glory from amongst sinful, miserable mankind, blessing all that comply with his will in this matter and destroying all his enemies that oppose it, and so to communicate and glorify himself through Jesus Christ, God-man. This I take to be the great design of the work of creation and the work of providence.


God has appointed but one head of the whole creation, and that one head is Jesus Christ, God-man: "head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1:22); one head to both angels and men, Ephesians 1:10, "all things in Christ." The one grand medium by which he glorifies himself in all is Jesus Christ, God-man. All the tribute of his glory comes through his hands; in this eminent manner does the Son glorify the Father, which is what Christ has respect to in John 17:1, "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee." "The only begotten that is in the bosom of the Father, he it is that declares the Father" (John 1:18). This person who is the "brightness of his glory" [Hebrews 1:3] is he by whom God's glory shines forth, or by whom God has his declarative glory both in heaven and earth.


'Tis by this one grand medium that God communicates himself to all his elect creatures in heaven and earth: all fullness dwells in Christ, a fullness not only to fill man but to fill angels (Ephesians 4:10, "fill all things").


God's end in the creation of the world consists in these two things—to communicate himself and to glorify himself. God created the world to communicate himself, not to receive anything. But such was the infinite goodness of God that it was his will to communicate himself, to communicate of his own glory and happiness; and he made the world to glorify himself, as it is fit that God should glorify himself.


These two things ought not to be separated when we speak of God's end in the creation of the world, as the assembly of divines in speaking of the chief end for which man was created have judiciously united glorifying and enjoying God. Indeed, God's communicating himself and glorifying himself ought not to be looked upon as though they were two distinct ends, but as what together makes one last end, as glorifying God and enjoying God make one chief end of man.

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