Page images

from him. But without creation his attributes could have had no exercise; his wisdom could have been exerted in no wise contrivance ; his power in producing no magnificent works; his goodness in communicating no happiness. There is in him transcendent beauty, inexhaustible excellence, immeasurable happiness. Of these, much is capable of communication. By giving being to sentient and intelligent creatures, he saw that he could impart without limit, that he could diffuse without measure, various degrees of these glorious perfections. A disposition thus to communicate himself is an original attribute of his nature; and being so, it is not more certain that he exists, than that he has communicated as high degrees of his perfections as are communicable, to as great a number of creatures as is possible, and that he has communicated them because they are good, that is, because they are happiness. It follows, that the purpose for which he gave being to intelligent creatures, was, that he might communicate to them bis own happiness.

Still he is sometimes said to have created the world for his own glory, or for his own sake, or to have made himself the ultimate object of his creation, and it is very important to observe what is really meant by this language. Strictly speaka ing, there is no excellence imparted to the creature which is not a portion of his own perfection'; for this reason some persons choose to say that he engaged in the work of creation out of a regard to that perfection ; since it was the determination to diffuse that perfection which induced him to give existence to the creature, the creature without that perfection being nothing. Thus they say, that the highest gifts of existence are knowledge, virtue, and happiness, but that the knowledge communicated is a portion of God's own infinite knowledge ; that it is the same in nature, though infinitely less in degree, and that it consists primarily in a knowledge of himself, in a knowledge of his attributes as displayed in his works. That the same is true of virtue; that the virtue of the creature, in the degree in which it is real, is a participation of God's own moral excellence; that it consists in benevolence, in love to being in general, and therefore primarily in love to God, who comprehends in himself all being: consequently, that God's own love of virtue is a love of himself; that is, a love of his own excellence; because in strictness there is no excellence in any creature, nothing which any intelligent being can love, that is not his ; that is not derived from him, and in a manner a part of him; so that in Joving: excellence, he must love himself. In like manner, that God's happiness consists in the exercise, and enjoyment of his own attributes: that the creature's happiness, in the highest

sense, consists in the same ; in the exercise and enjoyment of attributes the same in nature, however different in degree, and with whatever imperfections mixed : in the exercise and enjoy. ment, for example, of wisdom, power, and goodness: that therefore inasmuch as there is no true excellence or happiness in the creature which was not primarily in God, and which was not communicated from God, God must have had in the creation a supreme regard to himself, that is, to the communication of his own excellence and happiness; and have been influenced by a love of himself, that is, a love of his own excellence and happiness.

Now admitting this representation to be just, still, according to it, the love of himself and the love of the creature are so far from being different or opposite, that they are the very same: his love of the creature is the love of himself, and his love of himself is the love of the creature.

There are persons who think that this view is highly calculated to elevate the mind to God, to lead it to attribute to him all that it is, and has, and hopes; to consider him as the only source of being and of beauty, of excellence and of happiness; to annihilate self and every object except the all-pervading, all-comprehending Author of the universe; to see him in every thing, and every thing in him: in the truest sense to render God the great all in all, since in the most real

[ocr errors]

sense, it makes God the fountain of all. For, according to this view, "all the excellence of the creature is God's: 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. So that 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 remanation. The refulgence shine 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."*

Those who feel their conceptions of the Great Author of all things, the only proper agent in the universe, the first cause and the last end of his creatures, elevated by this manner of viewing this important subject, cannot be wrong in indulging it: but it requires considerable comprehensiveness of mind, and some power of abstract reasoning, and of carrying the thoughts. above the imperfection and'obscurity of language. For in the language commonly employed on this subject, there is much that is calculated to misi lead those who are not accustomed to clear think ing and close reasoning. It is important then to bear in mind that all which is really meant is here stated. For God's creation of the world for his own glory, does not signify that he created it in order to render himself more glorious, that being impossible, but to display the glory of his attributes to creatures capable of understanding it, and of participating of it: and thus not only to make it known to myriads of admiring and adoring intelligences, but to communicate it to them. Hence he gives existence to rational beings, in order to render them glorious, by imparting to them his own glory, and he is said to do this out of a regard to his own glory, only because it is the communication of his own excellence that renders them glorious. They are glorious because they partake of the Creator's glory: the Creator gave them being for the purpose of communicating to them that glory: that glory consists in a participation of his own excellence, and therefore it is argued, strictly speaking, he gave them existence from a love of his own glory. * Whatever truth there may be

* Edwards' Dissertation concerning the End for which God created the world, Ch. ii. Sect. vii.

* “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

« PreviousContinue »