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that he makes himself happy? And does not his blessedness also result from beholding the consequences and effects of his communicative goodness, wherever they are diffused and enjoyed? With infinite delight does he behold all the fruits of his pure and perfect goodness. “The Lord shall rejoice in his works.” He “rejoices over them with joy;" he joys over them with singing;" he “rests in his love." Is it too much to say, that although God is a pure and perfect Spirit, eternal, unchangeable, infinite in his being, power, wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, that his blessedness results from the same sources which communicate happiness to the minds of all holy creatures, and differs from theirs—this is indeed a mighty difference-only as it is an independent blessedness; as it is without alloy, without interruption, , without limits, and without end; or in other words, only as he differs from them. Created minds are happy in the perfect gratification of all their holy desires. And God is happy in the perfect gratification of all his desires. And since he has no desires that are unholy, all are perfectly gratified; and in this consists his perfect and immutable blessedness.
It is sometimes objected to this view of the divine blessedness, that God could not have been eternally happy. But the objection is more specious than valid. We have no doubt God was originally and eternally happy, and that his happiness always has been unmixed and uninterrupted. But why is he thus blessed? Most certainly, not independently of himself; not independently of his own desires, and of his purposes to gratify them. He was from eternity happy in the view of himself; in the view of all his purposes and creation, and all the happiness he knew would result from them, and which were present to his eternal mind, who “declares the end from the beginning, saying, My coursel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” If God has desires to gratify, and designs to accomplish, it is no impeachment of his independence to say, he cannot be happy without gratifying them. It would be an impeachment of his independence, if, in conformity with some modern notions, he were not able to gratify them. And this objection to their theory, the advocates of this new theology have not, so far as we know, attempted to obviate. If, as they affirm, he has desires for the salvation of men, which he is not able to gratisy, will they tell us, why he is not miserable? Ungratified desire, disappointed purposes, whether in the mind of creatures, or the Creator, must be the
source of pain; and the more in the Creator, because his desires are perfectly holy, and infinitely ardent and strong. Could
without irreverence- we regret there are those who not only make the hypothesis, but insist on the fact-could we suppose the Deity to have one desire which he is unable to gratify; one purpose he cannot accomplish; to us it seems, that one ungratified desire, or purpose, would make him wretched. Most certainly his blessedness could not be unmixed and uninterrupted.
If there be, then, any force in these suggestions, who does not see that it is essential to the eternal, undisturbed gratification of all God's desires, and to the accomplishment of all his purposes, that he be infinitely and forever glorified? It is impossible his desires should be gratified, and his purposes accomplished, without manifesting his character; without a full and combined manifestation of his essential excellence; just as impossible, as that the effect can exist without the
Thus to glorify himself is the consummation of his every desire and purpose. The perfect goodness of his pure and holy mind must be gratified; the exuberant fulness of his amiable and awful perfections must flow out; and if there were any thing effectually to obstruct its course, and oppose its progress, he could not be happy.
Let us look for a moment at the consequences of a possible defeat and disappointment of some of the benevolent desires and purposes of the Deity. What if it were beyond his power to carry into effect the designs of his benevolent mind; what if some grand design, in the dispensations of providence, should fail of its accomplishment; what if some endeared purpose in the method of redeeming mercy should suffer defeat; what if the gates of hell, in an evil hour, should prevail against the Church; what if many whom the Father has given to the Son should not come to him; what, as some affirm, if the hard and stony heart should prove superior to his efficient grace, and multitudes should be lost, whom God, in every view, sincerely and ardently desires to sanctify and save; what if the day of millennial mercy should never arrive, and the earth never be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters fill the sea; what if the voice of the archangel and the trump of God should fail to raise the dead, and summon the universe to his bar; what if the righteous were shut out, and the wicked received into the kingdom of Heaven; not only would every holy mind in the universe lament and wail, but God himself, no longer beholding and enjoying the joy and felicity of his people, and disappointed in the purest and sweetest desires and designs of his wisdom and love, would no longer be “God blessed forever.” Nor does it at all relieve the horror of this result, to suppose that the divine mind is indifferent to it. For, if his benevolence were so torpid as to be unmoved by such disappointment; if his desires and designs of kindness could be all erased from his mind, and he still remain unmoved and happy; if his perfections were so inactive and retired as never to be seen, and so dormant as never to be acted out, or be sensible of injury, then he would not be God.
But we have little need of hypotheses of this sort. God is infinitely happy, because he is, and will be infinitely glorified. Compared with the beauty and glory discoverable in the manifestation of his character, created excellence is lost sight of and forgotten. And in such beauty and glory, it is impossible but that the infinite mind should take supreme delight. He is happy because he is glorified, and he must be glorified to be happy. We venture no rash expression, we say nothing dishonourable, but what is most honourable to God, when we affirm, he would be the most wretched being in the universe, were he not glorified.
Thus would we vindicate the conduct of God in making himself his ultimate end. And let us ask in view of this exposition, what ultimate end can be compared with this? What higher consideration, what weightier inducement, what more benevolent impulse could move the eternal mind than this? We say, benevolent impulse; because there is no selfishness here. Selfishness regards its own, simply because it is its own, and not because it is supremely worthy of regard. It were a novel kind of selfishness that is gratified only in doing good; and this is all the selfishness discoverable in the ultimate end of Deity. It is true, that in all his vast operations, he makes himself first, himself midst, himself every thing; and the reason he does it is, that it is so unspeakably important, as we have seen, that he should be all in all. There is no end he could propose so benevolent as this. It is an end, which, from its very nature, cannot be accomplished without comprising a greater amount of good, than could be secured in any other way. There is no supreme end worthy of God but this. It had been a needless indifference to the best interests of his great empire, to have aimed ultimately, at any
thing below himself. Never does the eternal God appear so excellent, so worthy of supreme love, confidence, and homage, as when the grand object of his pursuit is seen to rise far above all the minor interests of his creation, and he himself is beheld “decked with light, as with a garment,” and creating, upholding, and governing all things for his own glory.
There are several practical thoughts which we are loth to forego, though we have already greatly trespassed on the patience of our readers.
To us it appears, that the prominent truth contained in the preceding remarks, is one which ought to be frequently and faithfully exhibited. There is no principle of greater importance, either in a theoretical or practical view, than that God himself is the ultimate end of every thing he does. There is no truth with which we ought to be more familiar than this, and none which is capable of being more usefully employed, either in the confirmation and illustration of truth, the confutation of error, or the presentation of the most constraining inducements to elevated and consistent piety. No man can understand the doctrines of the Gospel, or discover their beauty and consistency, who does not see them in their relation to this important and fundamental truth; and no man can be led away by the subtilties of error who does. Establish this principle, and you give a mortal wound to every heresy that has distracted the Church and the world; relinquish this, and it is of little moment to which of all the variety of errors you give the preference. Once consent to come down from the lofty elevation that God is above all creatures, and that all things were made by him and for him, and no matter how low you fall. This truth is like a "moral perspective glass," it brings distant objects near, and presents, in their true and real position, objects that are inverted. It presents also a telescopic vision of the works and ways of God, by which every thing that he docs is magnified, and in which he is seen forming his purposes and laying out his plans upon a scale of magnitude and grandeur, that overwhelms the human understanding. If he made all things for himself, then it became him to project and achieve a multitude of designs, the rectitude and magnificence of which, without this ultimate end, would not, and could not have been seen by mortal eyes. It became him to form all his purposes from eternity, and with the sublime view of demonstrating his own excellence and glory. It became him to give existenee to a world of moral agents, and to extend his government over them through interminable ages. "It became him by whom are all things and for whom are all things,” to make the captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings, and to devise a method of mercy, which, though to the Jew a stumbling block, and to the Greek foolishness, is the wisdom and power of God to salvation. It became him to reveal the operations of a mighty and invisible agent in the moral renovation of his people, and thus to produce impressions of the Deity upon their minds, which shall prostrate them in everlasting humiliation before his throne. And it becomes him, in his progressive administrations, to give no account of any of his matters; but to magnify his own august dominion, and make all intelligences understand, that he legislates, not for a province, but for the universe, and that he plans and governs, not for a day, but for an infinite lapse of ages. Nothing so allures a holy mind
a to adoring and humble piety, as the thought that God made all things for himself, and is governing all according to the counsel of his own will. “I know," saith the inspired preacher, “that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God doeth it that men should fear before him.” In a word, establish this principle, and you shed lustre over all the works of God; you have a clue to every labyrinth in providence, and a solution of every mystery in grace; you have the key stone of the arch, sprung by unseen hands, when they laid the beams of his chambers in the mighty waters, and stretched out the line upon the foundations of the earth.
Again: If the suggestions we have made are true, supreme selfishness constitutes neither the religion of the Gospel, nor the religion of heaven. It is very possible, that in all our religious affections, and in all our religious conduct, in all we do for God and our fellow men, we may have a supreme regard to ourselves. Not a few moral philosophers and grave divines have advocated the sentiment, that all religion consists in a well directed selfishness. But if God himself is the ultimate end of all things, this is not the religion of the Gospel, nor of heaven. It matters not how wisely, nor with how much discretion a man undertakes to exalt himself, so long as his supreme object is not to please and glorify God. It is impossible for him, from a supreme regard to himself, to love and honour God more than himself. Every thing he does