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in his own essence. The first Being, the eternal and infinite Being, is in effect, BEING IN GENERAL ; and comprehends universal existence, as was observed before. God, in his benevolence to his creatures, cannot have his heart enlarged in such a manner as to take in beings that he finds, who are originally out of himself, distinct and independent. This cannot be in an infinite being, who exists alone from eternity. But he, from his goodness, as it were enlarges himself in a more excellent and divine manner. This is by communicating and diffusing himself; and so instead of finding, making objects of his benevolence ; not by taking into himself what he finds distinct from himself, and so partaking of their good, and being happy in them, but by flowing forth, and expressing himself in them, and making them to partake of him, and rejoicing in himself expressed in them, and communicated to them. 2. Another thing, in doing good to others from selflove, that derogates from the freeness of the goodness, is doing good to others from dependence on them for the good we need or desire ; which dependence obliges. So that in our beneficence we are not selfmoved, but as it were constrained by something without ourselves. But it has been particularly shewn already, that God's making himself his end, in the manner that has been spoken of, argues no dependence, but is consistent with absolute independence and selfsufficience. And I would here observe, that there is something in that disposition in God to communicate goodness, which shews him to be independent and selfmoved in it, in a manner that is peculiar, and above what is in the beneficence of creatures. Creatures, even the most gracious of them, are not so independent and selfmoved in their goodness, but that in all the exercises of it, they are excited by some object that 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 selfmoved. The exercises of his communicative disposition are absolutely from within himself, not finding any thing, or any object to excite them or draw them forth ; but all that is good and worthy in the object, and the very being of the object, proceeding from the overflowing of his fulness.
These things shew that the supposition of God’s making himself his last end, in the manner spoken of, does not at all diminish the creature’s obligation to gratitude, for communications of good it receives. 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 endeavors 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, and thus prepare our minds for a more full acquiescence in the instructions it gives, according to the more natural and genuine sense of words and expressions, we find often used there concerning this subject.
Wherein it is inquired, what is to be learned from
the holy Scriptures cancerning God's last End in the Creation of the World.
The scriptures refiresent 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. 6. “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.” Verse 1 1. “I am alpha and omega, the first and the last.” Verse 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 be. ginning and the end, the first and the last.” And when God is so often spoken of as the last as well as the first, and the end as well as the beginning, what is meant (or at least implied) is, 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 scems 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, principalities and 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.” In Prov. xvi. 4. It is said expressly, “The Lord hath made all things for himself.” And the manner is obscrvable, 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 fiositions are advanced concerning a just method of arguing in this affair, from what we find in holy Scrifitures.
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 inquired into, is, which way do the scriptures refrescnt God as making himself his end ? It is evident that God does not make his existence or being the end of the creation ; nor can he be supposed to do so without great absurdity. His being and existence cannot be conceived of but as prior to any of God's acts or designs; they must be presupposed as the ground of them. Therefore it cannot be in this way that God makes himself the end of his creating the world. He cannot create the world to the end that he may have existence; or may have such attributes and perfections, and such an essence. Nor do the scriptures give the least intimation of any such thing. Therefore, what divine effect, or what is it in relation to God, that is the thing which the scripture teacheth us to be the end he aimed at in his works of creation, in designing of 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; so to open the way to a true and definitive answer to the above inquiry, I would lay down the following positions.
Positios 1. That which appears to be spoken of as 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.
Position 2. When any thing appears by the scripture to be the last end of some of the works of God, which thing appears in fact, to be the result, not only of this work, but 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 being actually the result of other works as well as that, and nothing appears peculiar, in the nature of the case, that renders it a fit, and beautiful and valuable result of those particular works, more than of the rest; but it appears with equal reason desirable and valuable in the case of all works, of which it is spoken in the word of God as (and seen in fact to be) the esfect; we may justly infer, that thing to be the last cnd of those other works also. For we must suppose it to be on account of the valuablencss of the effect, that it is made the end of those works which it is expressly spoken of 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 supposc, that it is the end of the work, of which it is naturally the consequence, in one case as well as in another.