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Showing that the ultimate end of the creation of the world is but one, and what that one end is.
From what has been observed in the last section, it appears, if the whole of what is said relating to this affair be duly weighed, and one part compared with another, we shall have reason to think, that the design of the Spirit of God is not to represent God’s ultimate end as manifold, but as ONE. For though it be signified by various names yet they appear not to be names of different things, but various names involving each other in their meaning either different names of the same thing, or names of several parts of one whole; or of the same whole viewed in various lights or in its different respects and relations. For it appears, that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as a ultimate end of God’s works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God; which is the name by which the ultimate end of God’s works is most commonly called in Scripture; and seems most aptly to signify the thing.
The thing signified by that name, the glory of God, when spoken of as the supreme and ultimate end of all God’s works, is the emanation and true external expression of God’s internal glory and fulness; meaning by his fulness what has already been explained; or, in other words, God’s internal glory, in a true and just exhibition, or external existence of it. It is confessed, that there is a degree of obscurity in these definitions; but perhaps an obscurity which is unavoidable, through the imperfection of language to express things of so sublime a nature. And therefore the thing may possibly be better understood, by using a variety of expressions, by a particular consideration of it, as it were, by parts, than by any short definition.
It includes the exercise of God’s perfections to produce a proper effect, in opposition to their lying eternally dormant and ineffectual: as his power being eternally without any act or fruit of that power; his wisdom eternally ineffectual in any wise production, or prudent disposal of any thing, &c. The manifestation of his internal glory to created understandings. The communication of the infinite fulness of God to the creature. The creature’s high esteem of God, love to him, and complacence and joy in him; and the proper exercises and expressions of these.
These at first view may appear to be entirely distinct things: but if we more closely consider the matter, they will all appear to be one thing, in a variety of views and relations. They are all but the emanation of God’s glory; or the excellent brightness and fulness of the divinity diffused, overflowing, and as it were enlarged; or in one word, existing ad extra. God exercising his perfection to produce a proper effect, is not distinct from the emanation or communication of his fulness: for this is the effect, viz. his fulness communicated, and the producing of this effect is the communication of his fulness; and there is nothing in this effectual exerting of God’s perfection, but the emanation of God’s internal glory.
Now God’s internal glory, is either in his understanding or will. The glory or fulness of his understanding, is his knowledge. The internal glory and fulness of God, having its special seat in his will, is his holiness and happiness. The whole of God’s internal good or glory, is in these three things, viz. his infinite knowledge, his infinite virtue or holiness, and his infinite joy and happiness. Indeed there are a great many attributes in God, according to our way of conceiving them: but all may be reduced to these; or to their degree, circumstances, and relations. We have no conception of God’s power, different from the degree of these things, with a certain relation of them to effects. God’s infinity is not properly a distinct kind of good, but only expresses the degree of good there is in him. So God’s eternity is not a distinct good; but is the duration of good. His immutability is still the same good, with a negation of change. So that, as I said, the fulness of the Godhead is the fulness of his understanding, consisting in his knowledge; and the fulness of his will consisting in his virtue and happiness.
And therefore, the external glory of God consists in the communication of these. The communication of his knowledge is chiefly in giving the knowledge of himself: for this is the knowledge in which the fulness of God’s understanding chiefly consists. And thus we see how the manifestation of God’s glory to created understandings, and their seeing and knowing it, is not distinct from an emanation or communication of God’s fulness, but clearly implied in it. Again, the communication of God’s virtue or holiness, is principally in communicating the love of himself. And thus we see how, not only the creature’s seeing and knowing God’s excellence, but also supremely esteeming and loving him, belongs to the communication of God’s fulness. And the communication of God’s joy and happiness, consists chiefly in communicating to the creature that happiness and joy which consists in rejoicing in God, and in his glorious excellency; for in such joy God’s own happiness does principally consist. And in these things, knowing God’s excellency, loving God for it, and rejoicing in it, and in the exercise and expression of these, consists God’s honour and praise; so that these are clearly implied in that glory of God, which consists in the emanation of his internal glory.
And though all these things, which seem to be so various, are signified by that glory, which the Scripture speaks of as the ultimate end of all God’s works; yet it is manifest there is no greater, and no other variety in it, than in the internal and essential glory of God itself. God’s internal glory is partly in his understanding, and partly in his will. And this internal glory, as seated in the will of God, implies both his holiness and his happiness: both are evidently God’s glory, according to the use of the phrase. So that as God’s external glory is only the emanation of his internal, this variety necessarily follows. And again, it hence appears that here is no other variety or distinction, but what necessarily arises from the distinct faculties of the creature, to which the communication is made, as created in the image of God: even as having these two faculties of understanding and will. God communicates himself to the understanding of the creature, in giving him the knowledge of his glory; and to the will of the creature, in giving him holiness, consisting primarily in the love of God: and in giving the creature happiness, chiefly consisting in joy in God. These are the sum of that emanation of divine fulness called in Scripture, the glory of God. The first part of this glory is called truth, the latter, grace, John i. 14. “We beheld his glory, the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Thus we see that the great end of God’s works, which is so variously expressed in Scripture, is indeed but one; and this one end is most properly and comprehensively called, the glory of god; by which name it is most commonly called in Scripture; and is fitly compared to an effulgence or emanation of light from a luminary. Light is the external expression, exhibition, and manifestation of the excellency of the luminary, of the sun for instance: It is the abundant, extensive emanation and communication of the fulness of the sun to innumerable beings that partake of it. It is by this that the sun itself is seen, and his glory beheld, and all other things are discovered: it is by a participation of this communication from the sun, that surrounding objects receive all their lustre, beauty, and brightness. It is by this that all nature receives life, comfort, and joy. Light is abundantly used in Scripture to represent and signify these three things, knowledge, holiness, and happiness. 223223 It is used to signify knowledge, or that manifestation and evidence by which knowledge is received. Psal. xix. 8.and Psal. cxix. 105, 130 Prov. vi. 23 Isa. viii. 20and Isa. ix. 2 and Isa. xxix-. 18 Dan. v. 11 Eph. v. 13“But all things that are reproved , are made manifest by the light; for whatsoever doth make manifest , is light. &c. It is used to signify virtue, or moral ground. Job xxv. 5. Eccl. viii. 1 Isa. v. 20.and Isa. xxiv. 23.and Isa. lxii. 1. Ezek. xxviii. 7, 17. Dan. ii. 31 John i. 5 &c And it is abundantly used to signify comfort, joy & happiness. Est. viii. 16. Job xviii. 8.and Job xxii. 28.and Job xxix. 3.and Job xxx. 26. Psal. xxvii. 1and Psal. xcvi. 11and Psal. cxvii. 27.abd Psal. cxii. 4. Isa. xliii. 16and Isa. i. 10and Isa. lix. 9 Jer. xiii. 16. Lam. iii. Ezek. xxxii. 8. Amos v. 18. Mic. vii. 8, 9. &c.
What has been said may be sufficient to show, how those things, which are spoken of in Scripture as ultimate 120 ends of God’s works, though they may seem at first view to be distinct, are all plainly to be reduced to this one thing, viz. God’s internal glory or fulness existing in its emanation. And though God, in seeking this end, seeks the creature’s good; yet therein appears his supreme regard to himself.
The emanation or communication of the divine fulness, consisting in the knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him, has relation indeed both to God and the creature: but it has relation to God as its fountain, as the thing communicated is something of its internal fulness. The water in the stream is something of the fountain; and the beams of the sun are something of the sun. And again, they have relation to God as their object: for the knowledge communicated, is the knowledge of God; and the love communicated, is the love of God; and the happiness communicated, is joy in God. In the creature’s knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in, and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fulness is received and returned. Here is both an emanation and re-emanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, are something of God, and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God, and in God, and to God; and he is the beginning, and the middle, and the end.
And though it be true that God has respect to the creature in these things; yet his respect to himself, and to the creature, are not properly a double and divided respect. What has been said, (chap. I. sect. 3, 4.) may be sufficient to show this. Nevertheless, it may not be amiss here briefly to say a few things; though mostly implied in what has been said already.
When God was about to create the world, he had respect to that emanation of his glory, which is actually the consequence of the creation, both with regard to himself and the creature. He had regard to it as an emanation from himself, a communication of himself, and, as the thing communicated, in its nature returned to himself, as its final term. And he had regard to it also as the emanation was to the creature, and as the thing communicated was in the creature, as its subject.
And God had regard to it in this manner, as he had a supreme regard to himself, and value for his own infinite, internal glory. It was this value for himself that caused him to value and seek that his internal glory should flow forth from himself. It was from his value for his glorious perfections of wisdom, righteousness, &c. that he valued the proper exercise and effect of these perfections, in wise and righteous acts and effects. It was from his infinite value for his internal glory and fulness, that he valued the thing itself communicated, which is something of the same, extant in the creature. Thus, because he infinitely values his own glory, consisting in the knowledge of himself, love to himself, and complacence and joy in himself; he therefore valued the image, communication, or participation of these in the creature. And it is because he values himself, that he delights in the knowledge, and love, and joy of the creature; as being himself the object of this knowledge, love, and complacence. For it is the necessary consequence of true esteem and love, that we value others’ esteem of the same object, and dislike the contrary. For the same reason, God approves of others’ esteem and love of himself.
Thus it is easy to conceive, how God should seek the good of the creature, consisting in the creature’s knowledge and holiness, and even his happiness, from a supreme regard to himself; as his happiness arises from that which is an image and participation of God’s own beauty; and consists in the creature’s exercising a supreme regard to God, and complacence in him; in beholding God’s glory, in esteeming and loving it, and rejoicing in it, and in his exercising and testifying love and supreme respect to God: which is the same thing with the creature’s exalting God as his chief good, and making him his supreme end.
And though the emanation of God’s fulness, intended in the creation, is to the creature as its object; and though the creature is the subject of the fulness communicated, which is the creature’s good; yet it does not necessarily follow, that even in so doing, God did not make himself his end. It comes to the same thing. God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in union with himself. The creature is no farther happy with this happiness which God makes his ultimate end, than he becomes one with God. The more happiness the greater union: when the happiness is perfect, the union is perfect. And as the happiness will be increasing to eternity, the union will become more and more strict and perfect; nearer and more like to that between God the Father and the Son; who are so united, that their interest is perfectly one. If the happiness of the creature be considered in the whole of the creature’s eternal duration, with all the infinity of its progress, and infinite increase of nearness and union to God; in this view, the creature must be looked upon as united to God in an infinite strictness.
If God has respect to something in the creature, which he views as of everlasting duration, and as rising higher and higher through that infinite duration, and that not with constantly diminishing (but perhaps an increasing) celerity; then he has respect to it, as, in the whole, of infinite height; though there never will be any particular time when it can be said already to have come to such a height.
Let the most perfect union with God be represented by something at an infinite height above us; and the eternally increasing union of the saints with God, by something that is ascending constantly towards that infinite height, moving upwards with a given velocity; and that is to continue thus to move to all eternity. God, who views the whole of this eternally increasing height, views it as an infinite height. And if he has respect to it, and makes it his end, as in the whole of it, he has respect to it as an infinite height, though the time will never come when it can be said it has already arrived at this infinite height.
God aims at that which the motion or progression which he causes, aims at, or tends to. If there be many things supposed to be so made and appointed, that, by a constant eternal motion, they all tend to a certain centre; then it appears that he who made them, and is the cause of their motion, aimed at that centre: that term of their motion, to which they eternally tend, and are eternally, as it were, striving after. And if God be this centre, then God aimed at himself. And herein it appears, that as he is the first author of their being and motion, so he is the last end, the final term, to which is their ultimate tendency and aim.
We may judge of the end that the Creator aimed at, in the being, nature, and tendency he gives the creature, by the mark or term which they constantly aim at in their tendency and eternal progress; though the time will never come, when it can be said it is attained to, in the most absolutely perfect manner.
But if strictness of union to God be viewed as thus infinitely exalted; then the creature must be regarded as nearly and closely united to God. And viewed thus, their interest must be viewed as one with God’s interest; and so is not regarded properly with a disjunct and separate, but an undivided respect. And as to any difficulty of reconciling God’s not making the creature his ultimate end, with a respect properly distinct from a respect to himself; with his benevolence and free grace, and the creature’s obligation to gratitude, the reader must be referred to chap. I. sect. 4. obj. 4. where this objection has been considered and answered at large.
If by reason of the strictness of the union of a man and his family, their interest may be looked upon as one, how much more so is the interest of Christ and his church,—whose first union in heaven is unspeakably more perfect and exalted, than that of an earthly father and his family—if they be considered with regard to their eternal and increasing union? Doubtless it may justly be esteemed so much one, that it may be sought, not with a distinct and separate, but an undivided respect. It is certain that what God aimed at in the creation of the world, was the good that would be the consequence of the creation, in the whole continuance of the thing created.
It is no solid objection against God aiming at an infinitely perfect union of the creature with himself, that the 121 particular time will never come when it can be said, the union is now infinitely perfect. God aims at satisfying justice in the eternal damnation of sinners; which will be satisfied by their damnation, considered no otherwise than with regard to its eternal duration. But yet there never will come that particular moment, when it can be said, that now justice is satisfied. But if this does not satisfy our modern free-thinkers who do not like the talk about satisfying justice with an infinite punishment; I suppose it will not be denied by any, that God, in glorifying the saints in heaven with eternal felicity, aims to satisfy his infinite grace or benevolence, by the bestowment of a good infinitely valuable, because eternal: and yet there never will come the moment, when it can be said, that now this infinitely valuable good has been actually bestowed. 224224 Our author has produced, from the purest principles of reason, and the fountain of revealed truth, abundant evidence, that God’s ultimate and chief end in the creation of the universe, in the operations of providence, and in the methods of salvation, is his own glory. But we do not think it superfluous to add a few observations on this important subject. 1. A clear and comprehensive view of the universe, or what our author calls “the world,” will lead us to observe two grand divisions, which may be termed physical and moral. And though in both the glory of God is the chief end, yet this end is not attained by the same means in the moral as in the physical department. 2. By the creation and disposal of the physical part of the universe, the glory of God’s natural perfections, as of sovereign wisdom, power, and goodness, is chiefly displayed. But by the creation and government of the moral part, the glory of the moral perfections of Deity, that is, of infinite moral rectitude, or equity, and of sovereign benevolence and mercy, is made to appear. 3. God being an infinite sovereign, controlled by no consideration but infinite rectitude, or a regard to the consistency of his own character; and a created universe being capable of two forms, and it should seem, for ought that appears, to the contrary, of two only, physical and moral; a full emanation and display ad extra of the moral perfections of Deity could not be made without a moral system in all its capabilities of relation. 4. The physical part of the universe, even including the physical operations of intelligent beings, may subsist, it is evident, without requiring any other display of glory than what is included in sovereign wisdom, power, and goodness; and it is equally plain, that there would be no opportunity of manifesting strict equity, much less mercy, to existent beings, without a moral system. Therefore, 5. If strict or absolute equity, and sovereign mercy, be manifested, a moral system was necessary. To exercise strict, unmixed, or absolute equity, whereby is given to its object what is due to it, (a capacity for moral agency being supposed,) and yet to preserve that object, that is, a moral agent, from being liable to sin, involves a contradiction. For it is the same as to say, a free agent is not free to sin, though fully permitted to follow his own tendencies. And this is the same thing as to say, an accountable creature is not liable to fall; in other words, a moral agent is no moral agent, and a moral system is no moral system. Man would be impeccable, and the very existence of sin impossible. 6. If it be asked, might not the whole of the moral part of the universe have been preserved from sin? We reply, undoubtedly it might; if sovereign benevolence had though proper to interpose, in order to counteract the exercise of strict, unmixed, and absolute rectitude or equity; but then it must have been at the expense of eternally concealing the glory of this divine perfection.—absolute rectitude. 7. To permit the creature to sin, and to exercise absolute equity, is the same thing; in other words, to exercise this glorious perfection, and not to permit the creature to sin, are incompatible ideas. If this perfection be exercised, there is, there can be, no principle belonging to a moral system, which preserves it from being liable to sin. Nor is there any principle belonging to it independent of sovereign benevolence, which is adequate to preserve that liability to sin from actual defection. But to appeal, in the way of objection, to the alternative of sovereign benevolence, which alone can preserve from sin, is the same as to concede what the proposition asserts. 8. Equity, in one view of it, is indeed compatible with the exercise of sovereign benevolence towards the same object, and at the same time. To question this, would be to question God’s proper sovereignty, and therefore his right of creating and preserving the universe, and of beatifying and creatures he hath made. For neither of these effects could take place but by sovereign benevolence as a cause. But if sovereign benevolence were not compatible with justice, or equity, in one view of it, God could not be benevolent without being unjust, which is absurd. 9. Yet equity, in another view, stands as a contrast to benevolence. Strict or absolute equity, is that which excludes all sovereign, benevolent influence; and when moral agents are its object, (their being and natural capacities, or their moral capabilities, being supposed,) the exercise of absolute equity must necessarily exclude benevolent, sovereign influence. Thus among men we find some resemblance of this abstract but momentous truth. In one view, justice and generosity are compatible; for strict, absolute justice, is the same as justice and nothing more, and therefore must exclude generosity. 10. Therefore, equity, in the one view, implies the exclusion of injustice; and in the other, the exclusion of undeserved favour, or sovereign benevolent influence. The exercise of rectitude in the former sense, might have been without the permission of sin; but not so in the latter sense. If perfect absolute rectitude towards a moral system, be made to emanate ad extra, to the full development of the capabilities of such a system, the permission of sin is not only equitable, but even metaphysically necessary. That is, it involves a contradiction to say, that such a divine perfection may be so displayed, or its glory made to appear ad extra, and yet not to permit the existence of moral defect, or, in other words, to actually hinder its existence. 11. The very idea of a moral system, in which the permission of defect is excluded by equity, is one of the most absurd that can be conceived. For it is the same as to say that God was bound in equity not to permit sin, while at the same time he constituted the agent free, and accountable for the exercise of his freedom; and as he has in fact permitted the introduction of sin into the world, such an idea would be the same as to charge infinite perfection with want of equity. 12. We may therefore safely conclude, that the glory of the divine rectitude, towards the intelligent and moral part of the universe, could not be manifested without the permission of sin. The full exercise of equity must necessarily leave the moral system to its own tendencies and operations. 13. To permit the event of sin, or not to hinder it, implies, that the cause of defection is not in the permitter, but in the permitted; not in the governor, but the governed. There is in the moral part of the universe a cause, why an event which ought not to take place, will take place, if not hindered. If there be no such cause in the system, how could the event take place on permission? If it be said, There is a chance it may not take place, and there is a chance of the contrary — it is but fair to ask, Is this chance something which has a cause, or has it no cause? If the latter, the concession itself reduces chance to a mere nothing. For a contingent event, as the operation of chance is supposed to be, without any cause, is a metaphysical impossibility. If the former; what is the cause of what the objector calls chance? Is it something external, or internal? What is its nature and character? To say that liberty of indifference or a self-determining power, is the chance which requires no preceding cause to produce the event, is to contradict absolute demonstration, if ever there was a metaphysical demonstration of any subject: as our author has abundantly shown in his “Essay on the Freedom of the Will.” 14. It is therefore inaccurate and unintelligible language to say, that either chance, liberty or indifference, or a self-determining power, independent of any antecedent cause, is adequate to account for the event of sin, or a deterioration of a moral system. God, therefore, permitting, there is an inherent adequate cause of failure, distinct from divine causation. What this cause is, and what is its nature, has been shown and proved in a former note. 15. Permission is an act of equity; or, it is the exercise of rectitude, to the exclusion of benevolent influence; whether we regard that influence as preventing the event of sin, or as delivering from its power. Sovereign benevolence prevents the fall of angels; and it delivers, restores, and eternally saves a goodly number of the human fallen race. Without the permission of sin, restoring benevolence, or the exercise of mercy, would have been impossible; and consequently, the glory of that perfection, which can be fully displayed only by its exercise towards the miserable, which would have be eternally concealed. 16. If, therefore, equity be a glorious attribute of God, its emanation and exercise must be glorious. But the exercise of equity, in the strict sense, includes the permission of sin, as before proved. And, here we may add, if not to hinder be an exercise of strict rectitude, the continued existence of sin is not inconsistent with it. 17. It will be allowed by everyone, that, as mercy itself is a glorious attribute, so is the exercise of it a glorious thing. But this would have been impossible, if sin had no existence; nor could sin have existence, if not permitted to exist; and sin could not have been permitted, if strict equity had not been exercised; nor could strict equity have been exercised, if the exercise of preventing sovereign benevolence had not been excluded, in those instances wherein moral defect actually took place. corollaries. 18. The ultimate and chief end of God in the creation and government of the moral part of the universe, is the glory of his moral perfections; which are virtually included in strict rectitude and sovereign benevolence. 19. If strict rectitude be exercised towards the degenerate part of the system, the restoration of those who are the objects of it is not possible; that is, to suppose it is possible involves a contradiction. Therefore, 20. If any degenerate moral agent be restored, it must be necessarily be by the exercise of that sovereign benevolence which we call mercy. 21. “Behold therefore the goodnesS and severity of God! on them who fell, severity; but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” Goodness and severity are but other words for sovereign benevolence and strict equity, the glory of which is abundantly conspicuous in the various divine dispensations towards the children of men, even in this life; but will appear still more transcendent in the day when God shall judge the world in righteousness, and in the day of eternity.—W. 225225
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