« AnteriorContinua »
of his will,) then it is what he takes a real delight and pleasure in. But then, according to the argument of the objection, how can he have any thing future to desire or seek, who is already perfectly, eternally, and immutably satisfied in himself? What can remain for him to take any delight in, or to be further gratified by, whose eternal and unchangeable delight is in himself, as his own complete object of enjoyment ? Thus the objector will be pressed with his own objection, let him embrace what notion he will of God's end in the creation. And I think he has no way left to answer but that which has been taken above.
It may therefore be proper here to observe, that let what will be God's last end, that he must have a real and proper pleasure in. Whatever be the proper object of his will, he is gratified in. And the thing is either grateful to him in itself, or for something else for which he wills it ; and so is his further end. But whatever is God's last end, that he wills for its own sake ; as grateful to him in itself, or in which he has some degree of true and proper pleasure. Otherwise we must deny any such thing as will in God with respect to any thing brought to pass in time; and so must deny his work of creation, or any work of his Providence to be truly voluntary. But we have as much reason to suppose that God's works in creating and governing the world are properly the fruits of his will, as of his understanding. And if there be any such thing at all, as what we mean by acts of will in God; then he is not indifferent whether his will be fulfilled or not. And if he is not indifferent, then he is truly gratified and pleased in the fulfilment of his will. And if he has a real pleasure in attaining his end, then the attainment of it belongs to his happiness ; that in which God's delight or pleasure in any measure consists. To suppose that God has pleasure in things that are brought to pass in time, only figuratively and metaphorically, is to suppose that he exercises will about these things, and makes them his end only metaphorically.
Answ. 3. The doctrine that makes God's creatures and not himself to be his last end, is a doctrine the farthest from having a favourable aspect on God's absolute self-sufficience and independence. It far less agrees therewith than the doctrine against which this is objected. For we must conceive of the efficient as depending on his ultimate end. He depends on this end in his desires, aims, actions, and pursuits ; so that he fails in all his desires, actions, and pursuits, if he fails of his end. Now if God himself be his last end, then in his dependence on his end he depends on nothing but himself. If all things be of him, and to him, and he the first and the last, this shews him to be all in all. He is all to himself. He goes not out of himself in what he seeks ; but his desires and pursuits as
they originate from, so they terminate in himself; and he is de. pendent on none but himself in the beginning or end of any of his exercises or operations. But if not himself, but the creature, were his last end, then as he depends on his last end, he would be in some sort dependent on the creature.
OBJECT. II. Some may object, that to suppose God makes himself his highest and last end, is dishonourable to him ; as it in effect supposes that God does every thing from a selfish spirit. Selfishness is looked upon as mean and sordid in the creature ; unbecoming and even hateful in such a worm of the dust as man. We should look upon a man as of a base and contemptible character, who should in every thing he did, be governed by selfish principles ; should make his private interest his governing aim in all his conduct in life. How far then should we be from attributing any such thing to the supreme Being, the blessed and only Potentate! Does it not become us to ascribe to him the most noble and generous dispositions ; and qualities the most remote from every thing private, narrow, and sordid ?
Answer I. Such an objection must arise from a very ignorant or inconsiderate notion of the vice of selfishness, and the virtue of generosity. If by selfishness be meant a disposition in any being to regard himself ; this is no otherwise vicious or unbecoming, than as one is less than a multitude ; and so the public weal is of greater value than his particular interest. Among created beings one single person is inconsiderable in comparison of the generality; and so his interest is of little importance compared with the interest of the whole system. Therefore in them, a disposition to prefer self, as if it were more than all, is exceeding vicious. But it is vicious on no other account, than as it is a disposition that does not agree with the nature of things ; and that which is indeed the greatest good. And a disposition in any one to forego his own interest for the sake of others, is no further excellent, no further worthy the name of generosity, than it is treating things according to their true value ; prosecuting something most worthy to be prosecuted ; an expression of a disposition to prefer something to self-interest, that is indeed preferable in itself. But if God be indeed so great, and so excellent, that all other beings are as nothing to him, and all other excellency be as nothing, and less than nothing and vanity, in comparison of his ; and God be omniscient and infallible, and perfectly knows that he is infinitely the most valuable being; then it is fit that his heart should be agreeable to this—which is indeed the true nature and proportion of things, and agreeable to this infallible and all-comprehending understanding which he has of them, and that perfectly clear light in which he views them
-and that he should value himself infinitely more than his creatures.
Ans. 2. In created beings, a regard to self-interest may properly be set in opposition to the public welfare ; because the private interest of one person may be inconsistent with the public good ; at least it may be so in the apprehension of that person. That which this person looks upon as his interest, may interfere with, or oppose the general good. Hence bis private interest may be regarded and pursued in opposition to the public.
But this cannot be with respect to the supreme Being, the author and head of the whole system; on whom all absolutely depend : who is the fountain of being and good to the whole. It is more absurd to suppose that his interest should be opposite to the interest of the universal system, than that the welfare of the head, heart, and vitals of the natural body, should be opposite to the welfare of the body. And it is impossible that God, who is omniscient, should apprehend his interest, as being inconsistent with the good and interest of the whole.
Ans. 3. God seeking himself in the creation of the world, in the manner which has been supposed, is so far from being inconsistent with the good of his creatures, that it is a kind of regard to himself that inclines him to seek the good of his creature. It is a regard to himself that disposes him to diffuse and communicate himself. It is such a delight in his own internal fulness and glory, that disposes him to an abundant effusion and emanation of that glory. The same disposition that inclines him to delight in his glory, causes him to delight in the exhibitions, expressions, and communications of it. If there were any person of such a taste and disposition of mind, that the brightness and light of the sun seemed unlovely to him, he would be willing that the sun's brightness and light should be retained within itself. But they that delight in it, to whom it appears lovely and glorious, will esteem it an amiable and glorious thing to have it diffused and communicated through the world.
Here, by the way, it may be properly considered whether some writers are not chargeable with inconsistence in this respect. They speak against the doctrine of God making himself his own highest and last end, as though this were an ignoble selfishness when indeed he only is fit to be made the highest end, by himself and all other beings ; in as much as he is infinitely greater and more worthy than all others—yet with regard to creatures, who are infinitely less worthy of supreme and ultimate regard, they suppose that they necessarily, at all times, seek their own happiness, and make it their ultimate end in all, even their most virtuous actions; and that this principle, regulated by wisdom and prudence, as leading to
that which is their true and highest happiness, is the foundation of all virtue, and every thing that is morally good and excellent in them.
OBJECT. III. To what has been supposed, that God makes himself his end-in seeking that his glory and excellent perfections should be known, esteemed, loved, and delighted in by his creatures-it may be objected that this seems unworthy of God. It is considered as below a truly great man, to be much influenced in his conduct by a desire of popular applause. The notice and admiration of a gazing multitude, would be esteemed but a low end to be aimed at by a prince or philosopher, in any great and noble enterprize. How much more is it unworthy the great God, to perform his magnificent works, e. g. the creation of the vast universe, out of regard to the notice and admiration of worms of the dust, that the displays of his magnificence may be gazed at and applauded by those who are infinitely more beneath him, than the meanest rabble are beneath the greatest prince or philosopher.
This objection is specious. It hath a shew of argument; but it will appear to be nothing but a shew, if we consider,
1. Whether it be not worthy of God to regard and value what is excellent and valuable in itself, and so to take pleasure in its existence.
It seems not liable to any doubt, that there could be no future existence worthy to be desired or sought by God, and so worthy to be made his end, if no future existence was valuable and worthy to be brought to effect. If, when the world was not, there was any possible future thing fit and valuable in itself, I think the knowledge of God's glory, and the esteem and love of it, must be so. Understanding and will are the highest kind of created existence. And if they be valuable, it must be in their exercise. But the highest and most excellent kind of their exercise, is in some actual knowledge and exercise of will. And certainly, the most excellent actual knowledge and will that can be in the creature, is the knowledge and the love of God. And the most true excellent knowledge of God, is the knowledge of his glory or moral excellence; and the most excellent exercise of the will consists in esteem and love, and a delight in his glory. If any created existence is in itself worthy to be, or any thing that ever was future is worthy of existence, such a communication of divine fulness, such an emanation and expression of the divine glory is worthy of existence. But if nothing that ever wag future was worthy to exist, then no future thing was worthy to be aimed at by God in creating the world. And if nothing was worthy to be aimed at in creation, then nothing was worthy to be God's end in creation. VOL. III.
If God's own excellency and glory is worthy to be highly valued and delighted in by him, then the value and esteem hereof by others, is worthy to be regarded by him : for this is a necessary consequence. To make this plain, let it be considered, how it is with regard to the excellent qualities of another. If we highly value the virtues and excellencies of a friend, in proportion we shall approve of others' esteem of them; and shall disapprove the contempt of them. If these virtues are truly valuable, they are worthy that we should thus approve others' esteem, and disapprove their contempt of them. And the case is the same with respect to any being's own qualities or attributes. If he highly esteems them, and greatly delights in them, he will naturally and necessarily love to see esteem of them in others, and dislike their disesteem.And if the attributes are worthy to be highly esteemed by the being who hath them, so is the esteem of them in others worthy to be proportionably approved and regarded. I desire it may be considered, whether it be unfit that God should be displeased with contempt of himself? If not, but on the contrary it be fit and suitable that he should be displeased with this, there is the same reason that he should be pleased with the proper love, esteem and honour of himself.
The matter may be also cleared, by considering what it Svould become us to approve of and value with respect to any public society we belong to, e. g. our nation or country. It becomes us to love our country ; and therefore it becomes us to value the just honour of our country. But the same that it becomes us to value and desire for a friend, and the same that it becomes us to desire and seek for the community, the same does it become God to value and seek for himself; that is, on supposition, that it becomes God to love himself as it does men to love a friend or the public; which I think has been before proved.
Here are two things that ought particularly to be adverted to. (1.) That in God, the love of himself and the love of the public, are not to be distinguished, as in man: because God's being, as it were, comprehends all. His existence, being infinite, must be equivalent to universal existence. And for the same reason that public affection in the creature is fit and beautiful, God's regard to himself must be so likewise.-- (2.) In God, the love of what is fit and decent, cannot be a distinct thing from the love of himself; because the love of God is that wherein all holiness primarily and chiefly consists, and God's own holiness must primarily consist in the love of himself. And if God's holiness consists in love to himself, then it will imply an approbation of the esteem and love of him, in others. For a being that loves himself, necessarily loves love t himself. If holiness in God consist chiefly in love to him