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almost to annihilate the good of the created universe, as an ultimate end of the Creator's works. He is “ infinitely the greatest and best of beings. All things else, with regard to worthiness, importance, and excellence, are perfectly as nothing, in comparison of Him.” “To determine 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. In this case, the whole system of created beings would be found as the light dust of the balance.” All this is very true. But does it imply, that the created universe, comprising numberless systems of worlds, with their countless hosts of living and intelligent beings, is in any danger of being overlooked, in the benevolent regards of Him without whose notice, not a sparrow falls to the ground? Can we admit, that their highest welfare is too insignificant to be made an ultimate end by the Creator, “if we consider," as Edwards himself observes, “the degree and manner in which He aimed at the creature's excellency and happiness, in His creating the world; viz. the degree and manner of the creature's glory and happiness, during the whole of the designed eternal duration of the world He was about to create ; which is in greater and greater nearness and strictness of union with Himself,-in constant progression, throughout all eternity ?" “ The good of the creature itself, if viewed in its whole duration, and infinite progression, must be viewed as infinite.”
In endeavoring to show that God makes Himself His end in His works, he observes, that “He values and loves things accordingly as they are worthy to be valued and loved. But if God values a thing simply and absolutely for itself, and on its own account, then it is ihe ultimate object of His value. He does not value it merely for the sake of a farther end to be obtained by it.” In connection with this he adds, "Whatsoever thing is actually the effect or consequence of the creation of the world, which is simply and absolutely good and valuable in itself, that thing is an ultimate end of God's creating the world."
These observations are applied, by Edwards, to the purpose of proving that God's last end, in creating the world, was His own glory. Are they not also applicable to the holiness and happiness of the created universe? Is not this a good which is valuable in itself, on its own account? Is it
not so regarded by God; and not merely for the sake of a farther good to be obtained by it? Is it not an effect or consequence of the creation of the world; and therefore, according to Edwards' own mode of reasoning, an ultimate end of the creation? This is not inconsistent with its being also subservient to a higher end, the glory of God. For, as Edwards observes, "a thing sought may have the nature of an ultimate, and also of a subordinate end; as it may be sought partly on its own account, and partly for the sake of a farther end." He states that“ the happiness and salvation of men was an end that Christ ultimately aimed at, in the labors and sufferings he went through, for our redemption, and consequently, by what has been before observed, an ultimate end of the work of creation.” He holds, however, that “the glory of God, and the emanation and fruits of his grace in man's salvation,” are not to be understood as two distinct things ; as we shall see more particularly as we proceed.
As Edwards endeavors to prove that God makes Himself His ultimate end in His works; others hold that the good of the creation is exclusively the final object of what He does. The late Dr. Samuel Austin, in an able dissertation “respecting the end which God had ultimately in view in creating the world,” calls in question the supposition, that God could be, in any respect, “His own end, in the creation of the world.” He fully agrees with President Edwards, in his representation of the incomparable and ineffable excellence of God, and the worth of His being, as the original and immulable source of all other beings;" and he adds, " It seems perfectly suitable, that He should ever respect this infinite worth and excellence of His own nature.” tion is, whether this respect which God is allowed to have for Himself be not one thing, and the end He had in view in creating, another,-in perfect agreement with it indeed, but distinguishable from it, as any two objects are distinguishable. Could His respect for Himself be a respect to any thing attainable ? Is there any thing attainable in regard to God himself ? Could any thing be added to Him, from that which should wholly proceed from Himself ?—Is not His
“ But the ques
In a volume of Dissertations published at Worcester in
original, immutable all-sufficiency absolutely inconsistent with such an idea ? His hoppiness is original and unalterable; it is incapable of increase or diminution. God's excellency inherently considered, and His respect to this excellenсу of His nature, were the saine before creating, that they were afterwards."*
This is very true. But does it follow, as the writer affirms, that "they must have been the same, if He had not created ; that His personal enjoyment or happiness, as, in any sense, a future and attainable object, could not have been more or less His end in creating ?" Does not His excellence, in some ineasure, consist in His purpose to create, and in actually creating, for the sake of conferring happiness on the beings created ? Does not His own blessedness consist, in part, in the prospect of the bliss which the obedient subjects of His immeasurable kingdom will forever enjoy? Have we any reason to believe that His happiness is independent of His attributes and works?“ Let what will be God's last end," says President Edwards, “that, He must have a real and proper pleasure in; whatever be the proper object of His will, He is gratified in. He is not indifferent whether His will be fulfilled or not.-And if He has a real pleasure in attaining His end, ihen the attainment of it belongs to His happiness.” This does not imply, that there is any increase of God's happiness, by His works of creation and providence; -any
addition to what He has forever possessed. For His eternal purpose renders the glory and blessedness of His created kingdom as certain, as it will be when in actual existence; and His omniscience makes it as present to His view, to be ever the object of His complacence and delight. There is no increase of His happiness, as there is no addition to the objects of joy before his mind. According to Dr. Austin's own view of God's infinite benevolence, He takes great delight in the holiness and happiness of His creatures. But let it be supposed, that nothing had been created, would God then have possessed this joy which He now finds in contemplating the excellence and enjoyment of His creation ? Or would this his joy continue, on the supposition, if it be not irreverent to make the supposition, that the created uni
Pages 35, 36, 37.
verse should cease to exist ? President Edwards observes, that, “in some sense, it can truly be said, that God has more delight and pleasure, for the holiness and happiness of His creatures.” May not the continuance of this delight and pleasure be one ultimate object of His works of providence and redemption ? But how can He rejoice in the highest good of His crcalures, without making that also an ultimate end to be attained ?
This brings us to the last of the three suppositions before stated, concerning the ultimate end for which God created the world, viz. that it was either for Himself alone, or the good of the created universe, or both together. How could one of these be made an ultimate end, without the olber? How can God make ihat in which He has no pleasure an ultimate end; and how can He fail of making His own future pleasure an ultimate end? “ According to the Scriptures," says President Edwards, " communicating good to the creatures is what is in itself pleasing to God; and this is not merely subordinately agreeable, and esteemed valuable on account of its relation to a fariher end—but what God is inclined to, on its own account, and what He deliglits in simply and ultimately." How could communicating good to the creatures be pleasing to God, if this good itself were not an object which He values on its own account? President Edwards, after quoting several passages of Scripture expressing strongly the love and grace of God to man, observes, “If our good he not at all regarded ultimately, but only subordinately; then our good or interest is, in itself considered, nothing in God's regard or love." Again, “ The Scripture represents Christ as resting in the salvation and glory of His people, when obtained, as in what He ultimately sought, as having therein reached the goal at the end of His race ; oblained the prize He aimed at." " That God uses the whole creation, in His whole government of it, for the good of His people, is most elegantly represented in Deut. xxxiii. 26. The good of men is spoken of as the ultimale end of the virtue of the moral world. If the good of the creature be one end of God in all things He does, and so be one end of things that He requires moral agenis lo do—these things may be easily explained; but otherwise, it seems dilliculi to be accounted for, that the Holy Ghost should thus express himself, from time to time." The way in which Edwards en
deavors to reconcile these statements with "the Scriptures, which represent God as making Himself His own last end in the creation of the world,” we shall have occasion 10 consider soon.
Besides the three suppositions which have been already stated, it may be thought, perhaps, that still another may be made ; viz., that the ultimate design of the creation was a display of the divine perfections. This is very particularly dwelt upon by Edwards, in treating of the exhibition, emanation, exercise, manifestation, and communication of God's essential glory. But it is difficult to see how, under any of these forms of expression, the supposition can be made really distinct from each of those which have just been considered. As God and His creation comprise all the objects in the universe, it would seem that the ultimate ends of all voluntary agency must be found in one or the other of these, or in both together. The expression which is used in the Scriptures, more frequently perhaps than any other, to designate the ultimate end of the works of creation and providence, is the glory of God. It is used in two or three different senses, intimately related to each other. The primary meaning appears to be the divine excellence. In this sense, it expresses His whole character; all His glorious attributes, as they exist in Himself. But it is frequently used to signify the manifestation of His excellence ; the exhibition of His perfections to His creatures. In this sense, the whole earth is said to be full of His glory. According to the former of these significations, the glory of God is wholly within Himself. According to the latter, it consists of effects produced among His creatures. President Edwards speaks also of the exercise and expression of the divine attributes, as an end greatly to be desired. But this exercise must either be within Him. self, or it must produce its effects upon the creatures of His power. There are no other objects upon which it can terminate.
In his concluding section, Edwards undertakes to show, “that the ultimate end of the creation of the world is but one. It appears," he observes, “that all that is ever spoken of, in the Scriptures, as an ultimate end of God's works, is included in that one phrase, the glory of God." That all which is thus spoken of may be included in this single expression, may be very true; and yet it may be equally true, that the