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or particular occasions. But if they are last ends of God's proceedings in the use of the world in general, this shews that his making them last ends does not depend on particular cases and circumstances, but the nature of things in general, and his general design in the being and constitution of the universe.
Ninthly, If there be but one thing that is originally, and independent on any future, supposed cases, agreeable to God, to be obtained by the creation of the world, then there can be but one last end of God's work, in this highest sense : But if there are various things, properly diverse one from another, that are, absolutely and independently on the supposition of any future given cases, agreeable to the divine being, which are actually obtained by the creation of the world, then there were several ultimate ends of the creation, in that highest sense.
Wherein is considered, what Reason teaches con
cerning this Affair.
Some Things observed in general, which Reasoni
Having observed these things, which are proper to be taken no
tice of, to prevent confusion in discourses on this subject, I now proceed to consider what may, and what may not be supposed to be God's ultimate end in the creation of the world.
AND in the first place, I would observe some things which reason seems to dictate in this matter. Indeed this affair, seems properly to be an affair of divine revelation. In order to be determined what was aimed at, or designed in the creating of the astonishing fabric of the universe which we behold, it becomes us to attend to and rely on what he has told us, who was the architect that built it. He best knows his own heart, and what his own ends and designs were in the wonderful works which he has wrought. Nor is it to be supposed that mankind, who, while destitute of revelation, by the utmost improvements of their own reason, and-advances in science and philosophy, could come to no clear and established determination who the author of the world was, would ever have obtained any tolerable settled judgment of the end which the author of it proposed to himself in so vast, complicated and wonderful a work of his hands. And though it be true, that the revelation which God has giren to men, which has been in the world as a light shining in a dark place, has been the occasion of great improvement of their faculties, has taught men how to use their reason ; (in which regard, notwithstanding the nobleness and excellency of the faculties which God had given them, they seemed to be in themselves almost helpless.) And though mankind now, through the long, continual assistance they have had by this divine light, have come to attainments in the habitual exercise of reason, which are far beyond what otherwise they would have arrived to; yet I confess it would be relying too much on reason, to determine the affair of God's last end in the creation of the world, only by our own reason, or without being herein principally guided by divine revelation, since God has given a revelation containing instructions concerning this matter. Nevertheless, as in the disputes and wranglings which have been about this matter, those objections, which have chiefly been made use of against what I think the scriptures have truly revealed, have been from the pretended dictates of reason....I would in the first place soberly consider in a few things, what seems rational to be supposed concerning this affair ; and then proceed to consider what light divine revelation gives us in it.
As to the first of these, viz. what seems in itself rational to be supposed concerning this matter, I think the following things appear to be the dictates of reason :
1. That no notion of God's last end in the creation of the world is agreeable to reason, which would truly imply or infer any indigence, insufficiency and mutability in God; or any dependence of the Creator on the creature, for any part of his perfection or happiness. Because it is evident, by both scripture and reason, that God is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably, and independently glorious and happy ; that he stands in no need of, cannot be profited by, or receive any thing from the creature ; or be truly hurt, or be the subject of any sufferings, or impair of his glory and felicity from any other being. I need not stand to produce the proofs of God's being such a one, it being so universally allowed and main
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 capable 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 beings. 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 bave 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 10 ihat 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