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Printed for C. Hitch and L. Hawes, J. Hodges, A. Millar, y. and
SE R M O N CLVII.
God the first cause, and last end.
ROM. xi. 36.
For of him, and through him, and to him are all
things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
AVING considered the more eminent and SERM.
absolute perfections of the divine nature, as also that which results from the infinite excellency and perfection of God compared with the imperfection of our understandings, I come in the last place to treat of such as are merely and purely relative; as that he is “the first cause, and the last end” of all things; to which purpose I have chosen these words of the apostle, for the subject of my prefent discourse; “For of him; and through him, &c.”
The dependance of these words upon the former is briefly this. The apostle had been speaking before in this chapter, several things that might tend to raise us to an admiration of the wisdom, and goodness, and mercy of God, in the dispensation of his grace, for the salvation of men, both Jews and Gentiles, and therefore would have us ascribe this work wholly to God; the contrivance of it to his wisdom, and not to our own counsels, v. 34. “For 66 who hath known the mind of the LORD ? and " who hath been his counsellor?” and the bestowing this grace, to his free goodness and mercy, and not to any defert of ours, v. 35. " Or who hath « first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to A 2
SERM. " him again?" Yea and not only in the dispensation
of grace, but of all good things; not only in this work of redemption, but also of creation, God is the fountain, and original, and first cause, from whence every thing proceeds; and the last end, to which every thing is to be refered.
" For of him,” &c. if aurã, “ from him," the efficient cause producing all things ; di aurê, “ by or through him,” as the efficient conserving cause of all things; xj sis autor, " and to him,” as the final cause of all things, and the end for which they were made.
The proposition I shall speak to is, that God is the first cause and last end.
First, I shall a little explain the terms.
1. Negatively, that he had no cause, did not de. rive his being from any other, or does depend upon any other being; but that he was always, and eternally of himself.
2. Positively, that he is the cause of all things besides himself, the fountain and original of all created beings, from whom all things proceed, and upon whom all things depend; or that I may use the expression of St. John, John i. 3. which I know is appropriated to the second person in the Trinity, “ By him all things were made, and without him s was nothing made that was made.” So that when we attribute to God, that he is the first, we mean, that there was nothing before him, and that he was before all things, and that all things are by him.
II. The last end, that is, that all things refer to him ; that is, the design and aim of all things that