7 Ingredients of God's Perfect Happiness

 "He is not so happy as he may be, who has not the pleasure of making others so, and of seeing them put into a happy condition by his means, which is the highest pleasure of a good and great mind." John Tillotson

In a sermon on The Happiness of God based on 1 Timothy 1:11, Puritan-era Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. John Tillotson urged his hearers to ponder what makes God so happy.

His reasoning was that since all people want to be happy and thirst after it, we should all want to know what it is, where it is to be found, and how it is to be attained. And as God is the only person who has perfect happiness and knows its ingredients, the best way to seek and find it is to contemplate and consider the one who is called “the blessed (or happy) God.”

After defining happiness as “a fixed and immoveable state of contentment and satisfaction, of pleasure and delight, resulting from the secure possession and enjoyment of all that is good and desirable; that is, of all excellency and perfection,” Tillotson listed seven ingredients that make up a perfect state of happiness.

1. Perfect knowledge: To be happy we must understand what it is that constitutes happiness and know when we really have it. God perfectly knows both what makes happiness, and that he is possessed of it.

2. Perfect power: Perfect happiness requires full power to do whatever produces happiness and stop whatever disturbs it.

3. Perfect wisdom: A person might have all the materials of happiness and yet lack the wisdom and skill to put them so together, as to frame a happy condition out of them.

4. Perfect goodness:  He is not so happy as he may be, who has not the pleasure of making others so, and of seeing them put into a happy condition by his means, which is the highest pleasure of a good and great mind.

5. Perfect holiness: God does nothing contrary to his holiness and righteousness, his truth and faithfulness, and thus incurs no guilt to disturb His perfection.

6. Perfect security: Perfect happiness implies the settled and secure possession of all those excellences and perfections outlined in #1-5. If any of these were liable to fail or be diminished, so would happiness fail or be diminished.

7. Perfect satisfaction: Infinite contentment and satisfaction, pleasure and delight, which is the very essence of happiness.

Tillotson carefully distinguishes between pleasure and contentment, the former being higher and better than the latter. We can be content in painful affliction, even when there is no possibility of pleasure. But God has both contentment and pleasure. “Full pleasure” says Tillotson, “is a certain mixture of love and joy, hard to be expressed in words, but certainly known by inward sense and experience.”

In our fallen state, we obviously lack the perfect ingredients of perfect happiness, and thus can never expect to attain to it in this world. However, insofar as we grow in wisdom, goodness, holiness, etc., we will also grow in happiness. And what we sow in seed form here, will one day bloom into perfect and eternal flower.

"According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust" (1 Timothy 1:11).

 

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