Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with whom he is concerned, is agreeable in itself, and not merely for the sake of some other end: And yet we may suppose, that a desire of doing justice between two parties, may be consequential on the being of those parties, and the occasion given.-It may be observed, that when I speak of God's ultimate end in the creation of the world in the following discourse, I commonly mean in that highest sense, viz, the original ultimate end.

Sixthly, It may be further observed, that the original ultimate end or ends of the creation of the world is alone that which induces God to give the occasion for consequential ends, by the first creation of the world, and the original disposal of it. And the more original the end is, the more extensive and universal it is. That which God had primarily in view in creating, and the original ordination of the world, must be constantly kept in view, and have a governing influence in all God's works, or with respect to every thing he does towards his creatures. And therefore,

Seventhly, If we use the phrase ultimate end in this highest sense, then the same that is God's ultimate end in creating the world, if we suppose but one such end, must be what he makes his ultimate aim in all his works, in every thing he does either in creation or Providence. But we must suppose, that in the use to which God puts his creatures, he must evermore have a regard to the end for which he has made them. But if we take ultimate end in the other lower sense, God may sometimes have regard to those things as ultimate ends, in particular works of Providence, which could not in any proper sense be his last end in creating the world.

Eighthly, On the other hand, whatever appears to be God's ultimate end in any sense, of his works of Providence in general; that must be the ultimate end of the work of creation itself. For though God may act for an end that is ultimate in a lower sense, in some of his works of Providence, which is not the ultimate end of the creation of the world, yet this doth not take place with regard to the works of Provi. dence in general ; for God's works of Providence in general, are the same with the general use to which he puts the world he has made. And we may well argue from what we see of the general use which God makes of the world, to the general end for wbich he designed the world. Though there may be some ends of particular works of Providence, that were not the last end of the creation, which are in themselves grateful to God in such particular emergent circumstances, and so are last ends in an inferior sense; yet this is only in certain cases, or particular occasions. But if they are last ends of God's proceedings in the use of the world in general, this

shows that his making them last ends do not depend on particular cases and circumstances, but the nature of things in general, and his general design in the being and constitution of the universe.

Ninthly, If there be but one thing that is originally, and independent on any future supposed cases, agreeable to God, to be obtained by the creation of the world, then there can be but one last end of God's work, in this highest sense. But if there are various things, properly diverse one from another, that are absolutely and independently agreeable to the divine Being, which are actually obtained by the creation of the world, then there were several ultiinate ends of the creation in that highest sense.

CHAP. I.

Wherein is considered, what Reason teaches concerning this

Affair,

SECT. I.

Some Things observed in general, which Reason dictates.

Having observed these things, to prevent confusion, I now proceed to consider what may and what may not, be supposed to be God's ultimate end in the creation of the world.

. Indeed this affair seems properly to be an affair of divine revelation. In order to be determined what was designed in the creating of the astonishing fabric of the universe we behold, it becomes us to attend to, and rely on, what he has told us, who was the architect. He best knows his own heart, and what his own ends and designs were, in the wonderful works which he has wrought. Nor is it to be supposed that mankind-who, while destitute of revelation, by the utmost improvements of their own reason, and advances in science and philosophy, could come to no clear and established determination who the author of the world was-would ever have obtained any tolerable settled judgment of the end which the author of it proposed to himself in so vast, complicated, and wonderful a work of his hands. And though it be true, that the revelation which God has given to men, as a light shining in a dark place, has been the occasion of great improvement of their faculties, and has taught men how to use their reason ; and though mankind now, through the long continued assistance they have had by this divine light, have come to

great attainments in the habitual exercise of reason; yet I confess it would be relying too much on reason, to determine the affair of God's last end in the creation of the world, without being herein principally guided by divine revelation, since God has given a revelation containing instructions concerning this very matter. Nevertheless, as objections have chiefly been made against what I think the scriptures have truly revealed, from the pretended dictates of reason, I would, in the first place, soberly consider in a few things, ubat seems rational to be supposed concerning this afteir; and then proceed to consider what lighi divine revelation gives us in it.

As to the prsi of these, I think the following things appear to be the dictates of reason:

1. That no notion of God's last end in the creation of the world is agreeable to reason, which would truly imply any indigence, insufficiency, and mutability in God; or any dependence of the Creator on the creature, for any part of his perfection or happiness. Because it is evident, by both scripture and reason, that God is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably, and independently glorious and happy: that he cannot be profited by, or receive any thing from the creature ; or be the subject of any sufferings, or diminution of his glory and felicity from any other being. The notion of God creating the world, in order to receive any thing properly from the creature, is not only contrary to the nature of God, but incon. sistent with the notion of creation; which implies a being receiving its existence, and all that belongs to it out of nothing. And this implies the most perfect, absolute, and universal deri. vation and dependence. Now, if the creature receives its ALL from God, entirely and perfectly, how is it possible that it should have any thing to add to God, to make him in any respect more than he was before, and so the Creator become dependent on the creature ?

2. Whatsoever is good and valuable in itseif, is worthy that God should value it with an ultimate respect. It is therefore worthy to be made the last end of his operation ; if it be properly capable of being attained. For it may be supposed that some things, valuable and excellent in themselves, are not properly capable of being attained in any divine operation; because their existence, in all possible respects, must be conceived of as prior to any divine operation. Thus God's existence and infinite perfection, though infinitely valuable in themselves, cannot be supposed to be the end of any divine operation; for we cannot conceive of them as, in any respect, consequent on any works of God. But whatever is in itself valuable, absolutely so, and is capable of being sought and attained, is worthy to be made a last end of the divine opera. tion:--Therefore,

3. Whatever that be which is in itself most valuable, and was so originally, prior to the creation of the world, and which is attainable by the creation, if there be any thing which was superior in value to all others, that must be worthy to be God's last end in the creation; and also worthy to be his highest end. In consequence of this it will follow,

4. That if God himself be, in any respect, properly capable of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himseif, as his last and highest end, in this work ; because he is worthy in himself to be so, being infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And therefore, if God has respect to things according to their nature and proportions, he must necessarily have the greatest respect to himself. It would be against the perfection of his nature, his wisdom, holiness, and perfect rectitude, whereby he is disposed to do every thing that is fit to be done, to suppose otherwise. At least a great part of the moral rectitude of God whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable, and amiable in itself, consists in his having the highest regard to that which is in itself highest and best. The moral recțitude of Gud must consist in a due respect to things that are objects of morul respect; that is, to intelligent beings capable of moral actions and relations. And therefore it must chiefly consist in giving due respect to that Being to whom most is due; for God is intinitely the most worthy of regard. The worthiness of others is as nothing to his ; so that to him belongs all possible respect. To him belongs the whole of the respect that any intelligent being is capable of. To him belongs all the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect of the heart which is due, or which fitness and suitableness requires, fitness requires infinitely the greatest regard to be paid to God; and the denying of supreme regard here would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Hence it will follow, that the moral rectitude of the disposition, inclination, or affection of God CHIEFLY consists in a regard to HIMSELF, infinitely above his regard to all other beings; or, in other words, his holiness consists in this.

And if it be thus fit that God should have a supreme regard to himself, then it is fit that this supreme regard should appear in tlose things by which he makes himself known, or by his word and works, i. e, in what he says, and in what he does. If it be an infinitely amiable thing in God, that he should have a supreme regard to himself, then it is an amiable thing that he should act as having a chief regard to himself; or act in such a manner, as to shew that he has such a regard : that what is highest in God's heart, may be highest in his

actions and conduct. And if it was God's intention, as there is great reason to think it was, that his works should exhibit an image of himself their author, that it might brightly appear by his works what manner of being he is, and afford a proper representation of his divine excellencies, and especially bis nioral excellence, consisting in the disposition of his heart; then it is reasonable to suppose that his works are so wrought as to shew this supreme respect to himself, wherein his moral excellence primarily consists.

When we are considering what would be most fit for God chiefly to respect, with regard to the universality of things, it may help us to judge with greater ease and satisfaction, to consider, what we can suppose would be determined by some third being of perfect wisdom and rectitude, that should be perfectly indifferent and disinterested. Or if we make the supposition, that infinitely wise justice and rectitude were a distinct disinterested person, whose office it was to determine how things shall be most properly ordered in the whole king. dom of existence, including king and subjects, God and his creatures; and, upon a view of the whole, to decide what regard should prevail in all proceedings. Now such a judge, in adjusting the proper measures and kinds of regard, would weigh things in an even balance; taking care, that a greater part of the whole should be more respected, than the lesser, in proportion (other things being equal) to the measure of existence. So that the degree of regard should always be in a proportion compounded of the proportion of existence, and proportion of excellence, or according to the degree of greatness and goodness, considered conjunctly. Such an arbiter, in considering the system of created intelligent beings by itself, would determine, that the system in general, consisting of many millions, was of greater importance, and worthy of a greater share of regard, than only one individual. For, however considerable some of the individuals might be, no one exceeds others so much as to countervail all the system. And if this judge consider not only the system of created beings, but the system of being in general, comprehending the sum total of universal existence, both Creator and creature ; still every part must be considered according to its importance, or the measure it has of existence and excellence. To determine then, what proportion or regard is to be alloted to the Creator, and all his creatures taken together, both must be as it were put in the balance; the supreme Being, with all in him that is great and excellent, is to be compared with all that is to be found in the whole creation; and according as the former is found to outweigh, in such proportion is he to have a greater share of regard. And in this case, as the whole system of created beings, in comparison of the Creator, would

« ZurückWeiter »