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one that is influenced by such a spirit, is not in the simple proportion of the degree of benevolent affection seen, but in a proportion compounded of the greatness of the benevolent Being or the degree of Being and the degree of benevolence. One that loves Being in general, will necessarily value good will to Being in general, wherever he sees it. But if he sees the same benevolence in two Beings, he will value it more in two, than in one only. Because it is a greater thing, more favorable to Being in general, to have two Beings to favor it, than only one of them. For there is more Being that favors Being: both together having more Being than one alone. So, if one Being be as great as two, has as much existence as both together, and has the same degree of general benevolence, it is more favorable to Being in general than if there were general benevolence in a Being that had but half that share of existence. As a large quantity of gold, with the same degree of preciousness, i.e. with the same excellent quality of matter, is more valuable than a small quantity of the same metal.
6. It is impossible that any one should truly relish this beauty, consisting in general benevolence, who has not that temper himself. I have observed, that if any Being is possessed of such a temper, he will unavoidably be pleased with the same temper in another. And it may in like manner be demonstrated, that it is such a spirit, and nothing else, which will relish such a spirit. For if a Being, destititute of benevolence, should love benevolence to Being in general, it would prize and seek that which it had no value for. Because to love an inclination to the good of Being in general, would imply a loving and prizing the good of Being in general. For how should one love and value a disposition to a thing, or a tendency to promote a thing, and for that very reason, because it tends to promote it—when the thing itself is what he is regardless of, and has no value for, nor desires to have promoted. 1755–1758
From Dissertation: Concerning the End for Which
God Created the World 8 Chapter I: What Reason Teaches Concerning Creation SECTION 11. Some farther observations concerning those things which reason leads us to suppose God aimed at in the creation of the 8. Like "The Nature of True Virtue," infinite love and fullness, from which this work of his Stockbridge period all creation emanates cosmically infused represents the fullness of Edwards' by God, is not the patriarchal and perfaith and power. Indeed, this disserta- sonalized God of the Old Testament; tion as a whole takes him back to the even as the God of Love there is a mysticism of his youth, but now bal- dimension obtained perhaps from the anced with accumulated knowledge and Newtonian universe, and this quality experience. His vision of God as the has caused some commentators to find a
world, shewing particularly what things that are absolutely good, are actually the consequence of the creation of the world.
From what was last observed it seems to be the most proper and just way of proceeding, as we would see what light reason will give us respecting the particular end or ends God had ultimately in view in the creation of the world; to consider what thing or things, are actually the effect or consequence of the creation of the world, that are simply and originally valuable in themselves. And this is what I would directly proceed to, without entering on any tedious metaphysical inquiries wherein fitness, amiableness, or valuableness consists; or what that is in the nature of some things, which is properly the foundation of a worthiness of being loved and esteemed on their own account. In this I must at present refer what I say to the sense and dictates of the reader's mind, on sedate and calm reflection.
I proceed to observe,
1. It seems a thing in itself fit, proper and desirable, that the glorious attributes of God, which consist in a sufficiency to certain acts and effects, should be exerted in the production of such effects, as might manifest the infinite power, wisdom, righteousness, goodness, &c. which are in God. If the world had not been created, these attributes never would have had any exercise.
of God, which is a sufficiency in him to produce great effects, must for ever have been dormant and useless as to any effect. The divine wisdom and prudence would have had no exercise in any wise contrivance, any prudent proceeding or disposal of things; for there would have been no objects of contrivance or disposal. The same might be observed of God's justice, goodness and truth. Indeed God might have known as perfectly that he possessed these attributes, if they had never been exerted or expressed in any effect. But then if the attributes which consist in a sufficiency for correspondent effects, are in themselves excellent, the exercises of them must likewise be excellent. If it be an excellent thing that there should be a sufficiency for a certain kind of action or operation, the excellency of such a sufficiency must consist in its relation to this kind of operation or effect; but that could not be, unless the operation itself were excellent. A sufficiency for any act or work is no farther valuable, than the work or effect is valuable.9 As God therefore esteems these attri
foreshadowing of the later transcendentalism in this latest aspect of his writings.
This, Dissertation is composed of two short chapters, of which the first, “What Reason Teaches Concerning Creation," is much more interesting, ideologically, than the second, "What the Scriptures Teach." Section II of Chapter I, as an entity one of the best
of Edwards' essays, is also a remarkable statement of infinite divine love and its creativity.
This work appeared with “The Nature of True Virtue” in the posthumousvolume Two Dissertations, 1765. 9. As we must conceive of things, the end and perfection of these attributes does as it were consist in their exercise: “The end of wisdom (says Mr. G. Tennent, in his Sermon at the opening of the Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia) is design; the end of power is action; the end of goodness is doing good. To suppose these perfections not to be exerted, would be to represent them as insignificant. Of what use
butes themselves valuable, and delights in them; so it is natural to suppose that he delights in their proper exercise and expression. For the same reason that he esteems his own sufficiency wisely to contrive and dispose effects, he also will esteem the wise contrivance and disposition itself. And for the same reason as he delights in his own disposition, to do justly, and to dispose of things according to truth and just proportion; so he must delight in such a righteous disposal itself.
2. It seems to be a thing in itself fit and desirable, that the glorious perfections of God should be known, and the operations and expressions of them seen by other beings besides himself. If it be fit, that God's power and wisdom, &c. should be exercised and expressed in some effects, and not lie eternally dormant, then it seems proper that these exercises should appear, and not be totally hidden and unknown. For if they are, it will be just the same as to the above purpose, as if they were not. God as perfectly knew himself and his perfections, had as perfect an idea of the exercises and effects they were sufficient for, antecedently to any such actual operations of them, as since. If therefore it be nevertheless a thing in itself valuable, and worthy to be desired, that these glorious perfections be actually expressed and exhibited in their correspondent effects; then it seems also, that the knowledge of these perfections, and the expressions and discoveries that are made of them, is a thing valuable in itself absolutely considered; and that it is desirable that this knowledge should exist. As God's perfections are things in themselves excellent, so the expression of them in their proper acts and fruits is excellent; and the knowledge of these excellent perfections, and of these glorious expressions of them, is an excellent thing, the existence of which is in itself valuable and desirable. It is a thing infinitely good in itself that God's glory should be known by a glorious society of created beings. And that there should be in them an increasing knowledge of God to all eternity, is an existence, a reality infinitely worthy to be, and worthy to be valued and regarded by him, to whom it belongs to order that to be, which, of all things possible, is fittest and best. If existence is more worthy than defect and nonentity, and if any created existence is in itself worthy to be, then knowledge or understanding is a thing worthy to be; and if any knowledge, then the most excellent sort of knowledge, viz. that of God and his glory. The existence of the created universe consists as much in it as in any thing: Yea this knowledge, is one of the highest, most real and substantial parts, of all created existence, most remote from nonentity and defect.
would God's wisdom be, if it had nothing to design or direct? To what purpose his almightiness, if it never brought any thing to pass? And of what avail his goodness, if it never did any good?” [Edwards note).
3. As it is a thing valuable and desirable in itself that God's glory should be seen and known, so when known, it seems equally reasonable and fit, it should be valued and esteemed, loved and delighted in, answerably to its dignity. There is no more reason to esteem it a fit and suitable thing that God's glory should be known, or that there should be an idea in the understanding corresponding unto the glorious object, than that there should be a corresponding disposition or affection in the will. If the perfection itself be excellent, the knowledge of it is excellent, and so is the esteem and love of it excellent. And as it is fit that God should love and esteem his own excellence, it is also fit that he should value and esteem the love of his excellency. For if it becomes any being greatly to value another, then it becomes him to love to have him valued and esteemed: And if it becomes a being highly to value himself, it is fit that he should love to have himself valued and esteemed. If the idea of God's perfection in the understanding, be valuable, then the love of the heart seems to be more especially valuable, as moral beauty especially consists in the disposition and affection of the heart.
4. As there is an infinite fulness of all possible good in God, a fulness of every perfection, of all excellency and beauty, and of infinite happiness; and as this fulness is capable of communication or emanation ad extra; so it seems a thing amiable and valuable in itself that it should be communicated or flow forth, that this infinite fountain of good should send forth abundant streams, that this infinite fountain of light should, diffusing its excellent fulness, pour forth light all around. . . . And as this is in itself
.. excellent, so a disposition to this, in the divine being, must be looked upon as a perfection or an excellent disposition, such an emanation of good is, in some sense, a multiplication of it; so far as the communication or external stream may be looked upon as any thing besides the fountain, so far it may be looked on as an increase of good. And if the fulness of good that is in the fountain, is in itself excellent and worthy to exist, then the emanation, or that which is as it were an increase, repetition or multiplication of it, is excellent and worthy to exist. Thus it is fit, since there is an infinite fountain of light and knowledge, that this light should shine forth in beams of communicated knowledge and understanding: And as there is an infinite fountain of holiness, moral excellence and beauty, so it should flow out in communicated holiness. And that as there is an infinite fulness of joy and happiness, so these should have an emanation, and become a fountain flowing out in abundant streams, as beams from the sun.
From this view it appears another way to be a thing in itself valuable, that there should be such things as the knowledge of God's glory in other beings, and an high esteem of it, love to it, and delight and complacence in it: This appears
in another way, viz. as these things are but the emanations of God's own knowledge, holiness and joy.
Thus it appears reasonable to suppose, that it was what God had respect to as an ultimate end of his creating the world, to communicate of his own infinite fulness of good; or rather it was his last end, that there might be a glorious and abundant emanation of his infinite fulness of good ad extra, or without himself, and the disposition to communicate himself, or diffuse his own FULNESS, which we must conceive of as being originally in God as a perfection of his nature, was what moved him to create the world. But here as much as possible to avoid confusion, I observe, that there is some impropriety in saying that a disposition in God to communicate himself to the creature, moved him to create the world. For though the diffusive disposition in the nature of God, that moved him to create the world, doubtless inclines him to communicate himself to the creature, when the creature exists; yet this cannot be all: Because an inclination in God to communicate himself to an object, seems to presuppose the existence of the object, at least in idea. But the diffusive disposition that excited God to give creatures existence, was rather a communicative disposition in general, or a disposition in the fulness of the divinity to flow out and diffuse itself. Thus the disposition there is in the root and stock of a tree to diffuse and send forth its sap and life, is doubtless the reason of the communication of its sap and life to its buds, leaves and fruits, after these exist. But a disposition to communicate of its life and sap to its fruits, is not so properly the cause of its producing those fruits, as its disposition to communicate itself, or diffuse its sap and life in general. Therefore to speak more strictly according to truth, we may suppose, that a disposition in God, as an original property of his nature, to an emanation of his own infinite fulness, was what excited him to create the world; and so that the emanation itself was aimed at by him as a last end of the creation. 1756–1758
1765 1. I shall often use the phrase God's meaning; and partly because I am led fulness, as signifying and comprehend- hereto by some of the inspired writers, ing all the good which is in God natu- particularly the Apostle Paul, who often ral and moral, either excellence or hap- useth the phrase in this sense [Edpiness; partly because I know of no wards's note] better phrase to be used in this general