“Heaven, a World of Love”

For those whose only exposure to the sermons of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is his infamous “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” I recommend his brilliant and moving sermon, “Heaven, A World of Love.”

Reading it today we can see that the Puritan had more weapons in his homiletical arsenal than merely frightening his congregation with images of a fiery future. In “Heaven, a World of Love” his exquisite portrait of heaven, and the way people interact with one another there, might have made the faithful squirm every bit as much as his image of the spider over the flame in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”

Notice the image of community as a musical ensemble, praising God together. What might we in the church on earth learn from this? Here’s an excerpt:

“And oh! what joy will there be, springing up in the hearts of the saints, after they have passed through their wearisome pilgrimage, to be brought to such a paradise as this! Here is joy unspeakable indeed, and full of glory – joy that is humble, holy, enrapturing, and divine in its perfection! Love is always a sweet principle; and especially divine love. This, even on earth, is a spring of sweetness; but in heaven it shall become a stream, a river, an ocean! All shall stand about the God of glory, who is the great fountain of love, opening, as it were, their very souls to be filled with those effusions of love that are poured forth from his fullness, just as the flowers on the earth, in the bright and joyous days of spring, open their bosoms to the sun, to be filled with his light and warmth, and to flourish in beauty and fragrancy under his cheering rays. Every saint in heaven is as a flower in that garden of God, and holy love is the fragrance and sweet odor that they all send forth, and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above. Every soul there, is as a note in some concert of delightful music, that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever. And so all help each other, to their utmost, to express the love of the whole society to its glorious Father and Head, and to pour back love into the great fountain of love whence they are supplied and filled with love, and blessedness, and glory. And thus they will love, and reign in love, and in that godlike joy that is its blessed fruit, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath ever entered into the heart of man in this world to conceive; and thus in the full sunlight of the throne, enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full, they shall live and reign with God and Christ forever and ever!”

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