“It seems to me that God would have our whole dependence be upon the Scriptures, because the greater our dependence is on the Word of God, the more direct and immediate is our dependence on God himself. The more absolute and entire our dependence on the Word of God is, the greater respect shall we have to that Word, the more shall we esteem and honor and prize it; and this respect to the Word of God will lead us to have the greater respect to God himself.” (Jonathan Edwards, The Miscellanies) Although many scholars consider Jonathan Edwards the finest philosophical mind that America has ever produced, Edwards’ primary allegiance was to the God revealed through the Bible, and not philosophy. When one examines the writings of Edwards, every page reflects a mind that was saturated in Scripture. In particular, Edwards viewed of Scripture as accomplishing four tasks:
1. To Correct Errors
First, Scripture is given to correct errors. This correction is especially evident in the ministry of preaching: “One great use of the word of God is correction of errors, with regard to which use ministers are commanded to study it” (Sermons and Discourses).
2. To Interpret Experience and Emotions
However, the Scripture does not simply correct error, but secondly, it teaches how to interpret our experience and even our emotions:“All that can be argued from the purity and perfection of the Word of God, with respect to experiences, is this, that those experiences which are agreeable to the Word of God, are right, and can't be otherwise; and not that those affections must be right, which arise on occasion of the Word of God, coming to the mind” (Religious Affections).
3. To Redeem Us
Third, the scriptures are God’s tool for redemption: “The written word of God is this main instrument Christ has made use of to carry on his Work of Redemption in all ages since it was given” (A History of the Work of Redemption).
4. To Testify of God’s Glory
Fourth, above all else, Edwards saw the Bible as a testimony to the glory of God in Jesus Christ. “Truly to see the truth of the Word of God, is to see the truth of the gospel; which is the glorious doctrine the Word of God contains, concerning God, and Jesus Christ, and the way of salvation by him, and the world of glory that he is entered into, and purchased for all them who believe; and not a revelation that such and such particular persons are true Christians, and shall go to heaven. Therefore those affections which arise from no other persuasion of the truth of the Word of God than this, arise from delusion, and not true conviction; and consequently are themselves delusive and vain” (Religious Affections).
God’s Glory in Jesus Christ
For Edwards, the center of Scripture was the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. The aim of Scripture is to point us to the glory of God in Jesus Christ and increase our longing to enter into his glory. From beginning to end, the Word of God is sufficient for all things related to life and faith. For Jonathan Edwards, the ultimate aim of such things was to see God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.