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that derogates from the freeness of the goodness; is acting from dependence on them for the good we need or desire. So that, in our beneficence, we are not self-moved, but as it were constrained by something without ourselves. But it has been particularly shewn already, that God making himself his end, argues no dependence; but is consistent with absolute independence and self-sufficiency.
And I would here observe, that there is something in that disposition to communicate goodness, that shews God to be independent and self-moved in it, in a manner that is peculiar, and above the beneficence of creatures. Creatures, even the most excellent are not independent and self-moved in their goodness; but in all its exercises, they are excited by some object they find something appearing good, or in some respect worthy of regard, presents itself, and moves their kindness. But God, being all, and alone, is absolutely self-moved. The exercises of his communicative disposition are absolutely from within himself; all that is good and worthy in the object, and its very being, proceeding from the overflowing of his fulness.
These things shew, that the supposition of God making himself his ultimate end, does not at all diminish the creature's obligation to gratitude for communications of good received. For if it lessen its obligation, it must be on one of the following accounts. Either that the creature has not so much benefit by it; or, that the disposition it flows from, is not proper goodness, not having so direct a tendency to the creature's benefit; or, that the disposition is not so virtuous and excellent in its kind; or, that the beneficence is not so free. But it has been observed, that none of these things take place, with regard to that disposition, which has been supposed to have excited God to create the world.
I confess there is a degree of indistinctness and obscurity in the close consideration of such subjects, and a great imperfection in the expressions we use concerning them; arising unavoidably from the infinite sublimity of the subject, and the incomprehensibleness of those things that are divine. Hence revelation is the surest guide in these matters; and what that teaches shall in the next place be considered. Nevertheless, the endeavours used to discover what the voice of reason is, so far as it can go, may serve to prepare the way, by obviating cavils insisted on by many; and to satisfy us, that what the 'word of God says of the matter is not unreasonable.
Wherein it is inquired, what is to be learned from Holy Scriptures, concerning God's last end in the Creation of the World.
The Scriptures represent God as making himself his own last End in the creation of the World.
It is manifest, that the scriptures speak, on all occasions, as though God made himself his end in all his works; and as though the same being, who is the first cause of all things, were the supreme and last end of all things. Thus in Isa. xliv.
"Thus saith the Lord, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of hosts, I am the first, I also am the last, and besides me there is no God." Chap. xlviii. 12. "I am the first and I am the last." Rev. i. 8. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and was, and which is to come, the Almighty." Ver. 11. "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." Ver. 17. "I am the first and the last." Chap. xxi. 6. "And he said unto me, it is done; I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end." Chap. xxii. 13. "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."
When God is so often spoken of as the last as well as the first, the end as well as the beginning, it is implied, that as he is the first, efficient cause and fountain, from whence all things originate; so, he is the last, final cause for which they are made the final term to which they all tend in their ultimate issue. This seems to be the most natural import of these expressions; and is confirmed by other parallel passages; as Rom. xi. 36. "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things." Col. i. 16. "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him." Heb. ii. 10. "For it became him, by whom are all things, and for whom are all things." And in Prov. xvi. 4. it is said expressly, "The Lord hath made all things for himself."
And the manner is observable, in which God is said to be the last, to whom, and for whom, are all things. It is evidently spoken of as a meet and suitable thing, a branch of his glory; a meet prerogative of the great, infinite, and eternal being; a thing becoming the dignity of him who is infinitely
above all other beings; from whom all things are, and by whom they consist; and in comparison with whom all other things are as nothing.
Wherein some Positions are advanced concerning a just Method of arguing in this Affair, from what we find in the Holy Scriptures.
We have seen, that the scriptures speak of the creation of the world as being for God as its end. What remains therefore to be enquired into, is, which way do the Scriptures represent God as making himself his end? It is evident, that God does not make his existence or being the end of the creation which cannot be supposed without great absurdity. His existence cannot be conceived of but as prior to any of God's designs. Therefore he cannot create the world to the end that he may have existence; or may have certain attributes and perfections. Nor do the scriptures give the least intimation of any such thing. Therefore, what divine effect, or what in relation to God is that which the scripture teacheth us to be the end he aimed at, in his works of creation, and in designing which he makes himself his end?
In order to a right understanding of the scripture doctrine, and drawing just inferences from what we find said in the word of God, relative to this matter; and so to open the way to a true and definite answer to the above enquiry, I would lay down the following positions.
Position 1. That which appears to be God's ultimate end in his works of Providence in general, we may justly suppose to be his last end in the work of creation. This appears from what was observed before, under the fifth particular of the introduction, which I need not now repeat.
Pos. 2. When any thing appears, by the scripture, to be the last end of some of the works of God, that thing appears to be the result of God's works in general. And although it be not mentioned as the end of those works, but only of some of them; yet as nothing appears peculiar in the nature of the that renders it a fit, beautiful, and valuable result of those thing to be the last end of those other works also. For we ticular works, more than of the rest; we may justly infer that must suppose it to be on account of the value of the effect, that it is made the end of those works of which it is expressly spoken as the end; and this effect, by the supposition, being equally, and in like manner, the result of the work, and of the same value, it is but reasonable to suppose, that it is the
the work, of which it is naturally the consequence, in one case as well as in another.
Pos. 3. The ultimate end of God in creating the world being also the last end of all his works of Providence, we may well presume that if there be any particular thing more frequently mentioned in scripture, as God's ultimate aim in his works of Providence, than any thing else, this is the ultimate end of God's works in general, and so the end of the work of
Pos. 4. That which appears from the word of God, to be his ultimate end with respect to the moral world, or the intelligent part of the system, that is God's last end in the work of creation in general. Because it is evident, from the constitution of the world itself, as well as from the word of God, that the moral part is the end of all the rest of the creation. The inanimate, unintelligent part, is made for the rational, as much as a house is prepared for the inhabitant. And it is evident also from reason and the word of God, that it is for the sake of some moral good in them, that moral agents are made, and the world made for them. But it is further evident, that whatsoever is the last end of that part of creation, which is the end of all the rest, and for which all the rest of the world was made, must be the last end of the whole. If all the other parts of a watch are made for the hand of the watch, in order to move that aright, then it will follow, that the last end of the hand, is the last end of the whole machine.
Pos. 5. That which appears from the scripture to be God's ultimate end in the chief works of his Providence, we may well determine is God's last end in creating the world. For, as observed, we may justly infer the end of a thing from the use of it. We may justly infer the end of a clock, a chariot, a ship, or water-engine, from the main use to which it is applied. But God's Providence is his use of the world he has made. And if there be any works of Providence which are evidently God's main works, herein appears and consists the main use that God makes of the creation.-From these two last positions we may infer the next, viz.
Pos. 6. Whatever appears, by the scriptures, to be God's ultimate end in his main works of Providence towards the moral world, that we may justly infer to be the last end of the creation of the world. Because, as was just now observed, the moral world is the chief part of the creation, and the end of the rest; and God's last end in creating that part of the world, must be his last end in the creation of the whole. And it appears, by the last position, that the end of God's main works of Providence towards moral beings, or the main use to which he puts them, shews the last end for which he has made them :
and consequently the main end for which he has made the whole world.
Pos. 7. That which divine revelation shews to be God's ultimate end with respect to that part of the moral world which are good in their being, and in their being good, this we must suppose to be the last end of God's creating the world. For it has been already shown, that God's last end in the moral part of creation must be the end of the whole. But his end in that part of the moral world that are good, must be the last end for which he has made the moral world in general. For therein consists the goodness of a thing, its fitness to answer its end; at least this must be goodness in the eyes of its author. For goodness in his eyes, is its agreeableness to his mind. But an agreeableness to his mind, in what he makes for some end or use, must be an agreeableness or fitness to that end. For his end in this case is his mind. That which he chiefly aims at in that thing, is chiefly his mind with respect to that thing. And therefore, they are good moral agents who are fitted for the end for which God has made moral agents. And consequently, that which is the chief end to which good created moral agents, in being good, are fitted, this is the chief end of the moral part of the creation; and consequently of the crea tion in general.
Pos. 8. That which the word of God requires the intelligent and moral part of the world to seek, as their ultimate and highest end, that we have reason to suppose is the last end for which God has made them; and consequently, by position fourth, the last end for which he has made the whole world. A main difference between the intelligent and moral parts, and the rest of the world, lies in this, that the former are capable of knowing their Creator, and the end for which he made them, and capable of actively complying with his design in their creation, and promoting it; while other creatures cannot promote the design of their creation, only passively and eventually. And seeing they are capable of knowing the end for which their author has made them, it is doubtless their duty to fall in with it. Their wills ought to comply with the will of the Creator in this respect, in mainly seeking the same, as their last end, which God mainly seeks as their last end. This must be the law of nature and reason with respect to them.— And we must suppose that God's revealed law, and the law of nature, agree; and that his will, as a lawgiver, must agree with his will as a Creator. Therefore we justly infer, that the same thing which God's revealed law requires intelligent creatures to seek, as their last and greatest end, that God their Creator had made their last end, and so the end of the creation of the world.