By Evan D. Burns
From early in his spirituality, Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) had an Edwardsean vision of how enjoyment of God would be ever increasing. Because God is effulgent and infinite in himself, his glory is limitless and therefore our happiness in his glory is limitless. In a letter on October 25, 1810, Judson sketched his meditations of what it means to be a “lover of Jesus.” It partakes in the genuine spiritual blessings both now and in eternity. “Love to Jesus” describes superlative happiness. There is no greater happiness than in loving Jesus because Jesus has supreme control over everything. Jesus has promised happiness to his friends, and his happiness will fill their capacity; it will be neither partial, nor temporal. Brimming with eager expectation of eternal joy, Judson went on to propose,
Nor does he intend a happiness eternally stationary. It will be eternally increasing…. As their capacities will be eternally enlarging, the quantity of happiness they enjoy will be eternally increasing; and not merely eternally increasing in the same ratio, but eternally increasing in an eternally accelerated ratio. So that there will unquestionably arrive a moment in the ages of eternity when the additional happiness, that instant superadded to the happiness already enjoyed by each glorified spirit, will almost infinitely outweigh the whole sum of human happiness enjoyed in this world. To all this may he aspire who is a lover of Jesus. Blessed Jesus, thou art no “niggard provider.” When thou givest, thou givest like a God.
Judson’s descriptions of heaven and rewards sound reminiscent to Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of heaven and eternal happiness in God. See Jonathan Edwards, Works of Jonathan Edwards(with a Memoir by Sereno E. Dwight), ed. Edward Hickman(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), 2:243–46.
A niggard was a term for a miser or a stingy person.
Wayland, Memoir, 1:35-36.
Evan D. Burns (Ph.D. Candidate, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is on faculty at Asia Biblical Theological Seminary, and he lives in Southeast Asia with his wife and twin sons. They are missionaries with Training Leaders International.