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not only to recommend this little volume to every parent and teacher, in all the confidence of our conviction, that it is well worthy of a purchase and a perusal-yes, of oft repeated perusal—but also to suggest to every clerical reader, whether, if his judgment coincide with ours, he might not extensively serve the cause of Christian education, and consequently of the world's conversion, by recommending it from the pulpit, as well as in private, to the people of his charge.
ART. VI.-GOD HIMSELF THE ULTIMATE END OF
It is natural to inquire, while surveying the extended works of God, What is the ultimate end of this great and complicated system? Some parts of it, we can easily see, were formed for others; objects that are small and insignificant, for those that are greater and more important; and again, these for others greater and more important still. The pebble and the drop were made to constitute the mountain and the river; and the mountains and the rivers to adorn and embellish the face of nature, and in a thousand ways, to minister to the wants of those who dwell on the earth. The solid earth, with all its immense quantities of matter, its diversified surface, its fertile soil, its rapid motions, its elastic atmosphere, was evidently intended to be the habitable abode of men. The extended ocean, with all its mighty expanse and unmeasured depth of waters, while it is the grand reservoir of nature, and the source of evaporation, perpetually enriching the earth with fertility and verdure, every where distributes its watery treasures for the sustenance and benefit of the numerous tribes of animated and intelligent existence. If we extend our views to the solar system, or from the solar system to the starry heavens, in these trackless regions we behold an assemblage of resplendent orbs, spacious perhaps as the sun of our own system, and all subserving the interests of unnumbered worlds, not improbably invested, like our own, with intelligence and immortality. Matter, in all its variety and magnificence, we see, is made for mind, and one portion of this great and complicated system for another.
What then is the ultimate end of all things? The lights of unaided reason are far from fitting us to solve this high problem; and yet, so far as we are enabled to follow them, they conduct us to the same conclusion to which we are conducted by a supernatural revelation, when it so happily and explicitly instructs us, that “The Lord hath made all things for himself.”
When we say that God acts for the purpose of displaying abroad the perfections of his nature before the intelligent creation—when we say that God made all things for himself, we mean, that his supreme end, "is his own glory, or the most perfect gratification of his infinitely benevolent mind.” The word glory, when applied to God, sometimes denotes the inherent and full perfection of the divine nature, and sometimes the manifestation of the divine nature in creation, providence, and grace. There is a difference between the intrinsic and the manifested excellence of the Godhead. By his intrinsic excellence, is meant his essential perfections; by his manifested excellence, is meant his essential perfections exhibited to himself and the created universe. There is a richness, a fulness of perfection which constitutes his essential glory; and there is a diffusion, a resplendency in his perfections which, if I may so speak, reflects the Deity to himself and the universe; which casts its light through all worlds, and constitutes his manifested glory. The chief excellence of God consists in his goodness. Infinite amiableness and beauty are treasured up in his perfections, because the basis of them is the most pure, permanent, universal, and perfect goodness.
This is the glory of his nature. But the intrinsic, or essential goodness of God does not admit of increase or diminution. God cannot possess more essential goodness than he does possess; and, therefore, cannot be made essentially more glorious than he is. When, therefore, we speak of God's being glorified, or of the advancement and promotion of his glory, we speak of the augmentation of his manifested excellence-of the expression, or gratification of his infinite goodness, in some of its forms and modifications. It is not incompatible with his immutability, that the exhibition he makes of his nature, should be capable of continual growth and enlargement, and that his manifested excellence should receive fresh accessions, and be continually growing more extended and more refulgent. For all that we know, the manifested glory of God is susceptible of augmentation that is perpetually progressive. In the same proportion in which the scene opens, will the true character of God be unfolded, and his perfect goodness made known. And as the drama draws to a close, and the catastrophe of the mighty plot begins to be developed, at every step of this progressive disclosure will the heart of God be acted out, the name of God magnified, the glory of God displayed abroad, and the divine goodness infinitely and forever exalted and gratified. This is what we mean when we say, that the glory of God is the ultimate end of all his conduct, and that he made all things for himself. It was that he might manifest the perfections of his nature, and thus exalt and gratify his infinite goodness.
This is God's ultimate end. This is the end to which all other ends are subordinate and subservient. Jehovah, the king of Israel, is “the first and the last;" he is “ Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending;" the first cause and the last, or supreme end of all things. “Of him, and to him, and through him are all things.” “ All things that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, principalities, and powers, all were created by him and for him. God himself often declares in his word, that he will do, or refrain from doing, “for his own sake,”—for “his name's sake,"_"for his praise,"_" for his glory,”-and, that “in all things he emay be glorified." What means the sublime declaration in the Apocalypse ? “And the four beasts rest not day nor night, saying, holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory, and honour, and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth forever and ever, the four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for THY PLEASURE they are, and were created.!”
Whom could God ultimately regard, in the creation of all things, except himself? Before the creation there was none other in existence but God. The motives to create must of necessity be within himself. Is it said, that future existence itself may be an end in proposing and causing it to exist? Is it said, that the excellence of his work was an inducement to create ?
But for what purpose did God propose happiness? Did he act without a motive? Or was it to express and gratify his own perfect goodness? Was it his love of happiness, his delight in happiness, that induced the purpose and the wish?
The divine glory deserves the most regard. Not only must the infinite and eternal Creator have had some end in view in the creation, but one that justifies the expressions of his omnipotence, and that is worthy of the greatest and best Being in the universe. We can conceive of many ends that might have presented themselves to his mind, but we can conceive of no supreme end short of himself, without derogating from his perfect excellence. Universal creation is but a point compared with God. Language and figures, and comparisons, are lost in the contemplation of his being and nature. The material and intellectual universe is but a faint adumbration of what God himself is, and presents a mere shadow, an emblem of his infinite perfections. All nations, all worlds, are but a “drop of the bucket,” compared with him, and no more than the small vapour to the immense ocean. Immeasurable glories and blessedness belong to Him who fills immensity. The glory of the infinite God, therefore, deserves the highest regard. And, with reverence be it spoken, it became him to make this his design, as really as it becomes him to give the preference to an archangel above an insect.
The use which God actually makes of his creation, shows what end it was intended to answer. It subserves the end for which it was originally intended. And what do the Scriptures and facts declare this to be? Obviously, not the happiness of all God's creatures; for they are not all happy. Human misery stares us in the face wherever we turn our eyes. In eternity, there are, and will be greater and deeper miseries than are found in time. So that if the happiness of all God's creatures be the ultimate end of creation, most certainly the divine purpose is defeated. But facts and the Bible unite in declaring, that the use God makes of his universe is the promotion and advancement of his own glory. When we survey the works of creation, to what do we see them so really and so much subservient, as the glory of the Creator? “All thy works praise thee.” “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory.” If we survey the works of Providence, what do they illustrate so clearly, as the supremacy, wisdom, goodness, power, and presence of the Almighty and efficient Ruler? What grand and deep impression do they produce on the mind, if not this, that they are
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full of God?—that by them his name is “declared throughout all the earth”-and that through them men "may know that he is the Lord?” It will not be doubted that the glory of God is the great end of the work of redemption. Angels, when they announced it, sang “Glory to God in the highest!" The Redeemer, when he achieved it, prayed “ Father glorify thy name!” All its promises are yea
and amen to the glory of God, by Jesus Christ.” The graces, and hopes, and joys it imparts to the saints, are to “make known the riches of his glory.” And the final and triumphant song it inspires in the heavenly world, is “unto to him be glory!” Not only is the glory of God the ultimate end of all his goodness and mercy to the saints, but of all his justice and indignation to the ungodly. “ The wrath of man shall praise the Lord.” Alleluias to God and the Lamb shall ascend, when the smoke of the torments of the damned go up for ever and ever. And the close of this terrestrial scene shall declare and confirm the truth we are enforcing with a deep and memorable emphasis. A voice from heaven shall then be heard, saying, * It is done; I am Alpha and Omega!” When the great design shall be consummated, and creation, providence, and redemption shall have been brought to their final issue, and the Judge shall have pronounced the final sentence, then shall this redeeming God and King “deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, and GOD SHALL BE ALL IN ALL;" and this surrender shall eternally proclaim to the universe, that "God made all things for himself.” God shall be all in all. God shall be infinitely and forever glorified.
But it may not be amiss to occupy a few pages in VINDICATING THE CONDUCT OF GOD IN THUS MAKING HIMSELF HIS
There is nothing which the Scriptures represent as more essential to enlarged and consistent views of truth, as well as to the great interests of vital piety, than some just conceptions of this part of our subject. There is nothing of which God himself is so jealous, nothing he regards so deeply as his own glory. This he is immutably resolved to secure and advance, and by all means, and at every step of its development, to make men see. He “ will not give his glory to another.” His glory is with him, a consideration of paramount influence, in every condition and circumstance, and in all worlds. It is second to nothing which the Infinite Mind itself has ever conceived. Holy beings in heaven and on earth have no larger wish, no greater desire, than to behold greater and brighter exhibitions of the divine excellence.