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self, holiness in the creature must chiefly consist in love to him. And if God loves holiness in himself, he must love it in the creature.
Virtue, by such of the late philosophers as seem to be in chief repute, is placed in public affection, or general benevolence. And if the essence of virtue lies primarily in this, then the love of virtue itself is virtuous no otherwise, than as it is implied in or arises from, this public affection, or extensive benevolence of mind. Because if a man truly loves the public, he necessarily loves love to the public.
Now therefore, for the same reason, if universal benevolence in the highest sense, be the same thing with benevolence to the divine Being, who is in effect universal Being, it will follow, that love to virtue itself is no otherwise virtuous, than as it is implied in, or arises from, love to the divine Being. Consequently, God's own love to virtue is implied in love to himself and is virtuous no otherwise than as it arises from love to himself. So that God's virtuous disposition, appearing in love to holiness in the creature, is to be resolved into the same thing with love to himself. And consequently, whereinsoever he makes virtue his end, he makes himself his end. In fine God being as it were an all-comprehending Being, all his moral perfections his holiness, justice, grace and benevolenceare some way or other to be resolved into a supreme and infinite regard to himself; and if so, it will be easy to suppose that it becomes him to make himself his supreme and last end in his works.
I would here observe, by the way, that if any insist that it becomes God to love and take delight in the virtue of his creatures for its own sake, in such a manner as not to love it from regard to himself; this will contradict a former objection against God taking pleasure in communications of himself; viz. that inasmuch as God is perfectly independent and selfsufficient, therefore all his happiness and pleasure consists in the enjoyment of himself. So that if the same persons make both objections, they must be inconsistent with themselves. 2. I would observe, that it is not unworthy of God pleasure in that which is in itself fit and amiable, even in those that are infinitely below him. If there be infinite grace and condescension in it, yet these are not unworthy of God; but infinitely to his honour and glory.
They who insist, that God's own glory was not an ultimate end of his creation of the world; but the happiness of his creatures; do it under a colour of exalting God's benevolence to his creatures. But if his love to them be so great, and he so highly values them as to look upon them worthy to be his end in all his great works, as they suppose; they are not consistent with themselves, in supposing that God has so little value for
their love and esteem. For as the nature of love, especially great love, causes him that loves to value the esteem of the person beloved; so, that God should take pleasure in the creature's just love and esteem, will follow from God's love both to himself and to his creatures. If he esteem and love himself, he must approve of esteem and love to himself; and disapprove the contrary. And if he loves and values the creature, he must value and take delight in their mutual love and esteem.
4. As to what is alledged, that it is unworthy of great men to be governed in their conduct and achievements by a regard to the applause of the populace; I would observe, What makes their applause worthy of so little regard, is their ignorance, giddiness, and injustice. The applause of the multitude very frequently is not founded on any just view of things, but on humour, mistake, folly, and unreasonable affections. Such applause deserves to be disregarded.-But it is not beneath a man of the greatest dignity and wisdom, to value the wise and just esteem of others, however inferior to him. The contrary, instead of being an expression of greatness of mind, would shew a haughty and mean spirit. It is such an esteem in his creatures, that God regards; for such an esteem only is fit and amiable in itself.
OBJECT. IV. To suppose that God makes himself his ultimate end in the creation of the world, derogates from the freeness of his goodness, in his beneficence to his creatures; and from their obligations to gratitude for the good communicated. For if God, in communicating his fulness, makes himself, and not the creatures, his end; then what good he does, he does for himself, and not for them; for his sake, and not theirs.
Answer. God and the creature, in the emanation of the divine fulness, are not properly set in opposition; or made the opposite parts of a disjunction. Nor ought God's glory and the creature's good, to be viewed as if they were properly and entirely distinct, in the objection. This supposeth, that God having respect to his glory, and the communication of good to his creatures, are things altogether different: that God communicating his fulness for himself, and his doing it for them, are things standing in a proper disjunction and opposition. Whereas, if we were capable of more perfect views of God and divine things, which are so much above us, it probably would appear very clear, that the matter is quite otherwise; and that these things, instead of appearing entirely distinct, are implied one in the other. God in seeking his glory, seeks the good of his creatures; because the emanation of his glory (which he seeks and delights in, as he delights in himself and his own eternal glory) implies the communicated excellency and happi
ness of his creatures. And in communicating his fulness for them, he does it for himself; because their good, which he seeks, is so much in union and communion with himself. God is their good. Their excellency and happiness is nothing but the emanation and expression of God's glory: God, in seeking their glory and happiness, seeks himself: and in seeking himself, i. e. himself diffused and expressed, (which he delights in, as he delights in his own beauty and fulness) he seeks their glory and happiness.
This will the better appear, if we consider the degree and manner in which he aimed at the creature's excellency and happiness in creating the world; viz. during the whole of its designed eternal duration; in greater and greater nearness, and strictness of union with himself, in his own glory and happiness, in constant progression through all eternity. As the creature's good was viewed, when God made the world, with respect to its whole duration, and eternally progressive union to, and communion with him; so the creature must be viewed as in infinitely strict union with himself. In this view it appears, that God's respect to the creature, in the whole, unites with his respect to himself. Both regards are like two lines which at the beginning appear separate, but finally meet in one, both being directed to the same center. And as to the good of the creature itself, in its whole duration and infinite progression, it must be viewed as infinite; and as coming nearer and nearer to the same thing in its infinite fulness. The nearer any thing comes to infinite, the nearer it comes to an identity with God. And if any good, as viewed by God, is beheld as infinite, it cannot be viewed as a distinct thing from God's own infinite glory.
The apostle's discourse of the great love of Christ to men, (Eph. v. 25, &c.) leads us thus to think of the love of Christ to his church; as coinciding with his love to himself by virtue of the strict union of the church with him. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it-that he might present it to himself a glorious church. So ought men to love their wives, as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself-even as the Lord the church; for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." Now I apprehend, that there is nothing in God's disposition to communicate of his own fulness to the creatures, that at all derogates from the excellence of it, or the creature's obligation.
God's disposition to cause his own infinite fulness to flow forth, is not the less properly called his goodness, because the good he communicates is what he delights in, as he delights in his own glory. The creature has no less benefit by it; neither has such a disposition less of a direct tendency to the crea
ture's benefit. Nor is this disposition in God, to diffuse his own good, the less excellent, because it is implied in his love to himself. For his love to himself does not imply it any otherwise, but as it implies a love to whatever is worthy and excellent. The emanation of God's glory is in itself worthy and excellent, and so God delights in it; and this delight is implied in his love to his own fulness; because that is the fountain, the sum and comprehension of every thing that is excellent. Nor does God's inclination to communicate good from regard to himself, or delight in his own glory, at all diminish the freeness of his beneficence. This will appear, if we consider particularly, in what ways doing good to others from self-love, may be inconsistent with the freeness of beneficence. And I conceive there are only these two ways,
1. When any does good to another from confined selflove, which is opposite to a general benevolence. This kind of self-love is properly called selfishness. In some sense, the most benevolent, generous person in the world, seeks his own happiness in doing good to others; because he places his happiness in their good. His mind is so enlarged as to take them, as it were, into himself. Thus when they are happy, he feels it; he partakes with them, and is happy in their happiness. This is so far from being inconsistent with the freeness of beneficence, that, on the contrary, free benevolence and kindness consists in it. The most free beneficence that can be in men, is doing good, not from a confined selfishness, but from a disposition to general benevolence, or love to being in general.
But now, with respect to the divine Being, there is no such thing as confined selfishness in him, or a love to himself opposite to general benevolence. It is impossible, because he comprehends all entity, and all excellence, in his own essence. The eternal and infinite Being, is in effect, Being in general; and comprehends universal existence. God, in his benevolence to his creatures, cannot have his heart enlarged, in such a manner as to take in beings 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, he makes objects of his benevolence-not by taking 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 then rejoicing in himself expressed in them, and communicated to them.
2. Another thing, in doing good to others from self-love,
that derogates from the freeness' of the goodness; is acting from dependence on them for the good we need or desire. So that, in our beneficence, we are not self-moved, but as it were constrained by something without ourselves. But it has been particularly shewn already, that God making himself his end, argues no dependence; but is consistent with absolute independence and self-sufficiency.
And I would here observe, that there is something in that disposition to communicate goodness, that shews God to be independent and self-moved in it, in a manner that is peculiar, and above the beneficence of creatures. Creatures, even the most excellent are not independent and self-moved in their goodness; but in all its exercises, they are excited by some object 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 self-moved. The exercises of his communicative disposition are absolutely from within himself; all that is good and worthy in the object, and its very being, proceeding from the overflowing of his fulness.
These things shew, that the supposition of God making himself his ultimate end, does not at all diminish the creature's obligation to gratitude for communications of good received. 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 endeavours 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.