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Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume One
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SECT. II.

Wherein some positions are advanced concerning a just method of arguing in this affair, from what we find in the Holy Scriptures.

We have seen, that the Scriptures speak of the creation of the world as being for God, as its end. What remains therefore to be inquired into, is, which way do the Scriptures represent God as making himself his end? It is evident, that God does not make his existence or being the end of the creation; which cannot be supposed without great absurdity. His existence cannot be conceived of but as prior to any of God’s designs. Therefore he cannot create the world to the end that he may have existence; or may have certain attributes and perfections. Nor do the Scriptures give the least intimation of any such thing. Therefore, what divine effect, or what in relation to God, is that which the Scripture teacheth us to be the end he aimed at, in his works of creation, and in designing which he makes himself his end?

In order to a right understanding of the Scripture doctrine, and drawing just inferences from what we find said in the word of God, relative to this matter; and so to open the way to a true and definite answer to the above inquiry, I would lay down the following positions.

Position 1. That which appears to be God’s ultimate end in his works of providence in general, we may justly suppose to be his last end in the work of creation. This appears from what was observed before, under the fifth particular of the introduction, which I need not now repeat.

Position. 2. When any thing appears, by the Scripture, to be the last end of some of the works of God, that thing appears to be the result of God’s works in general. And though it be not mentioned as the end of those works, but only of some of them; yet as nothing appears peculiar in the nature of the case, that renders it a fit, beautiful, and valuable result of those particular works, more than of the rest; we may justly infer that thing to be the last end of those other works also. For we must suppose it to be on account of the value of the effect, that it is made the end of those works of which it is expressly spoken as the end; and this effect, by the supposition, being equally, and in like manner, the result of the work, and of the same value, it is but reasonable to suppose, that it is the end of the work, of which it is naturally the consequence, in one case as well as in another.

Position 3. The ultimate end of God in creating the world being also the last end of all his works of providence, we may well presume that, if there be any particular thing, more frequently mentioned in Scripture, as God’s ultimate aim in his works of providence, than any thing else, this is the ultimate end of God’s works in general, and so the end of the work of creation.

Position 4. That which appears, from the word of God, to be his ultimate end with respect to the moral world, or the intelligent part of the system, that is God’s last end in the work of creation general. Because it is evident, from the constitution of the world itself, as well as from the word of God, that the moral part is the end of all the rest of the creation. The inanimate, unintelligent part, is made for the rational, as much as a house is prepared for the inhabitant. And it is evident also from reason and the word of God, that it is for the sake of some moral good in them, that moral agents are made, and the world made for them. But it is further evident, that whatsoever is the last end of that part of creation, which is the end of all the rest, and for which all the rest of the world was made, must be the last end of the whole. If all the other parts of a watch are made for the hand of the watch, in order to move that aright, then it will follow, that the last end of the hand is the last end of the whole machine.

Position 5. That which appears from the Scripture to be God’s ultimate end in the chief works of his providence, we may well determine is God’s last end in creating the world. For, as observed, we may justly infer the end of a thing from the use of it. We must justly infer the end of a clock, a chariot, a ship, or water-engine, from the main use to which it is applied. But God’s providence is his use of the world he has made. And if there be any works of providence which are evidently God’s main works, herein appears and consists the main use that God makes of the creation.—From these two last positions we may infer the next, viz.

Position 6. Whatever appears, by the Scriptures, to be God’s ultimate end in his main works of Providence towards the moral world, that we may justly infer to be the last end of the creation of the world. Because, as was just now observed, the moral world is the chief part of the creation, and the end of the rest; and God’s last end in creating that part of the world, must be his last end in the creation of the whole. And it appears, by the last position, that the end of God’s main works of Providence towards moral beings, or the main use to which he puts them, shews the last end for which he has made them; and consequently the main end for which he has made the whole world.

Position 7. That which divine revelation shows to be God’s ultimate end with respect to that part of the moral world which are good, in their being and in their being good, this we must suppose to be the end of God’s creating the world. For it has been already shown, that God’s last end in the moral part of creation must be the end of the whole. But his end in that part of the moral world that are good, must be the last end for which he has made the moral world in general. For therein consists the goodness of a thing, its fitness to answer its end; at least this must be goodness in the eyes of its author. For goodness in his eyes, is its agreeableness to his mind. But an agreeableness to his mind, in what he makes for some end or use, must be an agreeableness or fitness to that end. For his end in this case is his mind. That which he chiefly aims at in that thing, is chiefly his mind with respect to that thing. And therefore, they are good moral agents who are fitted for the end for which God has made moral agents. And consequently, that which is the chief end to which good created moral agents, in being good, are fitted, this is the chief end of the moral part of the creation; and consequently of the creation in general.

Position. 8. That which the word of God requires the intelligent and moral part of the world to seek, as their ultimate and highest end, that we have reason to suppose is the last end for which God has made them; and consequently, by position fourth, the last end for which he has made the whole world. A main difference between the intelligent and moral parts, and the rest of the world, lies in this, that the former are capable of knowing their Creator, and the end for which he made them, and capable of actively complying with his design in their creation, and promoting it; while other creatures cannot promote the design of their creation, only passively and eventually. And seeing they are capable of knowing the end for which their author has made them, it is doubtless their duty to fall in with it. Their wills ought to comply with the will of the Creator in this respect, in mainly seeking the same, as their last end, which God mainly seeks as their last end. This must be the law of nature and reason with respect to them. And we must suppose that God’s revealed law, and the law of nature, agree; and that his will, as a lawgiver, must agree with his will as a Creator. Therefore we justly infer, that the same thing which God’s revealed law requires intelligent creatures to seek, as their last and greatest end, that God their Creator had made their last end, and so the end of the creation of the world.

Position 9. We may well suppose, that what is in Holy Scripture, stated as the main end of the goodness of the moral world—so that the respect and relation their goodness has to that end, is what chiefly makes it valuable and desirable—is God’s ultimate end in the creation of the moral world; and so, by position the fourth, of the whole world. For the end of the goodness of a thing, is the end of the thing.

Position 10. That which persons who are described in Scripture as approved saints, and set forth as examples of piety, sought as their last and highest end, in the instances of their good and approved behaviour; that, we must suppose, was what they ought to seek as their last end: and consequently by the preceding position, was the same with God’s last end in the creation of the world.

Position 11. What appears by the word of God to be that end, in the desires of which the souls of the best, and in their best frames, most naturally and directly exercise their goodness, and in expressing their desire of this end, they do most properly and directly express their respect to God; we may well suppose that end to be the chief and ultimate end of a spirit of piety and goodness, and God’s chief end in making the moral world, and so the whole world. For, doubtless, the most direct tendency of a spirit of true goodness, in the best part of the moral world, is to the chief end of goodness, and so the chief end of the creation of the moral world. And in what else can the spirit of the true respect and friendship to God be expressed by way of desire, than in desires of the same end which God himself chiefly and ultimately desires in making them and all other things.

Position 12. Since the Holy Scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ is the Head of the moral world, and especially of all the good part of it; the chief of God’s servants, appointed to be the Head of his saints and angels, and set forth as the chief and most perfect pattern and example of goodness; we may well suppose, by the foregoing positions, that what he sought as his last end, was God’s last end in the creation of the world.

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