صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

tained by such as call themselves Christians. The notion of God's creating the world in order to receive any thing properly from the creature, is not only contrary to the nature of God, but inconsistent with the notion of creation; which implies a being's receiving its existence, and all that belongs to its being, out of nothing. And this implies the most perfect, absolute, and universal derivation 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 itself, is worthy that God should value for itself, and on its own account; or which is the same thing, value it with an ultimate value or respect. It is therefore worthy to be ultimately sought by God, or made the last end of his action and operation, if it be a thing of such a nature as to be properly capable of being attained in any divine operation. For it may be supposed that some things, which are valuable and excellent in themselves, are not properly capable of being attained in any divine operation; because they do not remain to be attained; but 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, and infinitely valued by God, yet 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 that is capable of being sought and attained, is worthy to be made a last end of the divine operation.


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 capa ble of being his own end in the creation of the world, then it is reasonable to suppose that he had respect to himself 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 be ings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance and excellence, are perfectly as nothing in comparison of him. And, therefore, if God esteems, values, and 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 the heart of God, whereby he is disposed to every thing that is fit, suitable and amiable in itself, consists in his having infinitely the highest regard to that which is in itself infinitely highest and best: Yea, it is in this that it seems chiefly to consist. The moral rectitude of God's heart must consist in a proper and due respect of his heart to things that are objects of moral 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; yea, infinitely most, and in effect all. For God is infinitely 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 moral agent, either God, or any intelligent Being is capable of. To him belongs all the heart. Therefore, if moral rectitude of heart consists in paying the respect or regard 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 supreme regard here, would be a conduct infinitely the most unfit. Therefore a proper regard to this Being, is what the fitness of regard does infinitely most consist in. Hence it will follow....That the moral rectitude and fitness of the disposition, inclination or affection of God's heart, does

chiefly consist in a respect or 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 those 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 amiaable 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 his moral 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 excellency does primarily consist.

When we are considering with ourselves, what would be most fit and proper for God to have a chief respect to, in his proceedings in general, with regard to the universality of things, it may help us to judge of the matter with the greater ease and satisfaction to consider, what we can suppose would be judged and determined by some third being of perfect wisdom and rectitude, neither the Creator nor one of the creatures, that should be perfectly indifferent and disinterested. Or if we make the supposition, that wisdom itself, or infinitely wise justice and rectitude were a distinct, disinterested person, whose office it was to determine how things shall be most fitly and properly ordered in the whole system, or kingdom of existence, including king and subjects, God and his creatures; and upon a view of the whole, to decide what regard should prevail and govern in all proceedings. Now such a judge in adjusting the proper measures and kinds of regard that every part of existence is to have, would weigh things in

an even balance; taking care, that greater, or more existence should have a greater share than less, that a greater part of the whole should be more looked at and respected, than the lesser in proportion (other things being equal) to the measure of existence, that the more excellent should be more regarded than the less excellent: 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 so that they might be much greater and better, and have a greater share of the sum total of existence and excellence than another individual, yet no one exceeds others so much as to countervail all the rest of 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 weight and importance, or the measure it has of existence and excellence. To determine then, what proportion of regard is to be allotted 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, considerable and excellent, is to be estimated and 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 be found as the light dust of the balance, (which is taken no notice of by him that weighs) and as nothing and vanity; so the arbiter must determine accordingly with respect to the degree in which God should be regarded by all intelligent existence, and the degree in which he should be regarded in all that is VOL. VI.


done through the whole universal system; in all actions anḍ proceedings, determinations and effects, whatever, whether creating, preserving, using, disposing, changing, or destroying. And as the creator is infinite, and has all possible existence, perfection and excellence, so he must have all possible regard. As he is every way the first and supreme, and as his excellency is in all respects the supreme beauty and glory, the original good, and fountain of all good; so he must have in all respects the supreme regard. And as he is God over all, to whom all are properly subordinate, and on whom all depend, worthy to reign as supreme head with absolute and universal dominion; so it is fit that he should be so regarded by all and in all proceedings and effects through the whole system: That this universality of things in their whole compass and series should look to him and respect him in such a manner as that respect to him should reign over all respect to other things, and that regard to creatures should universally be subordinate and subject.

When I speak of regard to be thus adjusted in the universal system, or sum total of existence, I mean the regard of the sum total; not only the regard of individual creatures, or all creatures, but of all intelligent existence, created, and uncreated. For it is fit that the regard of the creator should be proportioned to the worthiness of objects, as well as the regard of creatures. Thus we must conclude such an arbiter, as I have supposed, would determine in this business, being about to decide how matters should proceed most fitly, properly, and according to the nature of things. He would therefore determine that the whole universe, including all creatures, animate and inanimate, in all its actings, proceedings, revolutions, and entire series of events, should proceed from a regard and with a view, to God, as the supreme and last end of all: That every wheel, both great and small, in all its rotations, should move with a constant, invariable regard to him as the ultimate end of all; as perfectly and uniformly, as if the whole system were animated and directed by one common soul; or, as if such an arbiter as I have before supposed, one possessed of perfect wisdom and rectitude,

« السابقةمتابعة »