II. HOW LOVE RESPECTS THE DIVINE BEING AND CREATED BEINGS
True Virtue Supremely Consists in Love to God
All of Edwards’ premises culminate into this profound claim: “From what has been said, it is evident that true virtue must chiefly consist in love to God; the Being of beings, infinitely the greatest and best.” Since the primary object of virtuous benevolence must be ‘being in general,’ (see pg. 6) then the greatest being must be the chief object of virtuous benevolence; and since God by definition is the greatest and best of being, all true virtue must essentially consist in love to God. The same conclusion is drawn in regards to the second object of virtuous benevolence, benevolent being. Since God is also the most benevolent of beings, He is worthy of all love directed to the secondary object of virtuous benevolence.
It is easy to identify that this is not the way modern culture views true virtue (love to God), yet it is unavoidable given the logical deduction from Edwards’ premises. It resolves back to the essential claim of the primary object of virtuous benevolence. Since the essence of virtue cannot primarily consist in love to those who are virtuous, because this would conclude virtue to be both the cause and effect of itself (circular reasoning), then ‘being in general’ is left to be the primary object of true virtue – i.e. to act virtuously, one must love the being as being, and not simply love the being for its acting virtuously. Therefore, since ‘being’ is the primary object of love, love to the greatest of beings must be the chief exercise of virtue, and without it, there can be no true virtue.
“He that has true virtue, consisting in benevolence to being in general, and in benevolence to virtuous being, must necessarily have a supreme love to God…all true virtue must radically and essentially, and as it were summarily consist in this.”
One can see how Edwards has truly paved the way for his conclusion. If one rejects this claim of ‘true virtue chiefly consisting in love to God,’ he must debunk Edwards at his foundation (whereby I still see no avenue to refutation).
God is not only the greatest and most benevolent being, but also He is the source, fountain, head, and foundation of all being and beauty. Every good and perfect thing is from God, from the very emanation of His own goodness and perfection. God is the one “on whom all is most absolutely and perfectly dependent; of whom, and through whom, and to whom is all being and all perfection.” If one be inclined to love a being for its being, how can it be truly virtuous not to love God, the source and fountain of all being? If one subsequently is inclined to love those who share their love of being, thus being beautiful themselves, how can it be truly virtuous not to love God, the source and fountain of all that is beautiful.
 Jonathan Edwards, The Nature of True Virtue (Ann Arbor Paperbacks) (University of Michigan Press, 1960), 14.
 Ibid., 15.
 Ibid., 15.