« VorigeDoorgaan »
Let us, therefore, methodically proceed: we have proved that God is the cause of all the goodness in the world, in heaven and earth, and therefore must needs be best himself. And it is certain, that all the sins and calamities which you mention are in the world, and that the creature hath all those imperfections; therefore, it is certain that these two verities are consistent, whatever difficulty appeareth to you in reconciling them. Thus far there is no matter of doubt. And next we are, therefore, certain, that the measure of God's goodness is not to be taken from the creature's interest. And yet we know that his goodness inclineth him to communicate goodness and felicity to his creatures; for all the good in the world is from him. It remaineth, therefore, that he is good, necessarily and perfectly; and that he doeth all well, whatsoever he doeth; and that there is in the creature a higher goodness than its own felicity, even the image of God's power, wisdom, and goodness, in which his holiness and justice have their place. And that this goodness of the universe, which consisteth in the glorious appearances of God in it, and the suitableness of all to his will and wisdom, includeth all things, except sin, which are contained in your objection; and that punishment of sinners, though it be malum physicum to them, is a moral good, and glorifieth God's justice and holiness; and even the permission of sin itself is good, though the sin be bad. And yet that God will also glorify that part of his goodness which consisteth in benignity; for he hath an amor beneficentia, of which the creature only is the object; but of his amor complacentiæ he himself is the chief object, and the creature but the secondary, so far as it participateth of goodness; and complacency is the essential act of love. Think but what a wonderful fabric he hath made of all the orbs, composed into one world and can you possibly have narrow thoughts of his goodness! He hath placed more physical goodness in the nature of one silly bird, or fly, or worm, than human wit is able to find out; much more in plants, in beasts, in men, sea and land, in the sun, and fixed stars, and planets: our understandings are not acquainted with the thousandth thousandth thousandth part of the physical goodness which he hath put into his creatures: there may be more of the wonderful skill, and power, and goodness of God, laid out on one of those stars that seem smallest to our sight, than millions of human intellects, if united, were able to comprehend. And who
knoweth the number, any more than the magnitude and excellency, of those stars? What man can once look up towards the firmament in a star-light night, or once read a treatise of astronomy, and then compare it with his geography, and compare those far more excellent orbs with this narrower and darker world we live in, and not be wrapt up into the astonishing admiration of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Creator? when the anatomising of the body of one man or beast might wrap up any considerate man into Galen's admiration and praises of the Maker. And how many myriads of such bodies hath God created? And how much more excellent are the forms or souls, than any of those bodies? of those bodies? And how little know we how incomparably more excellent the nature of angels may be than ours? And what glorious beings may inhabit the more glorious orbs? And yet can you think meanly of the Creator's goodness!
Oh, but you say, that all these lower creatures have still the fore-mentioned sorrows and imperfections.
I answer you: 1. They were not made gods, but creatures, and therefore were not to be perfect: 2. It is the corrupt and blinded, sensual mind which crieth out, for want of sensible pleasure, and can see no goodness in any thing but this. But true reason telleth any man that hath it, that our sensible pleasure is a thing too low to be the highest excellency of the creature, and to be the ultimate end of God; and that the glory of the whole world, even the inanimate parts as well as the animate, showing the glory of the infinite Creator, is the excellency of the world. What, if the sun, and stars, and earth, and sea, the fire and air, have no feeling; have they, therefore, no goodness but what is a means to the sensible delights of lower things? Hath a worm more goodness than
4 Si quis omnia alia habeat, valetudinem, divitias, &c., sed malus ex confesso sit, improbabis illum. Item si quis nihil habet eorum quæ retulit, careat pecuniâ, clientum turbâ, avorum et proavorum serie, si ex confesso bonus fit, probas illum. Ergo hoc unum bonum hominis, quod qui habet, etiamsi aliis destituitur, laudandus est; quod qui non habet, in omnium aliorum copia damnatur, ac rejicitur.-Sen. Inter fines, is qui perfectus est, semper præcellit imperfectum. Perfectus porrò est, quo admoto, nullo amplius opus est.-Arist. Mag. Mor. 1. c. 3. et Rhet. 7. Finis est cujus gratiâ omnia comparantur. Majus bonum est finis, quàm quod finis non est : et Met. 2. c. 2. Quod per se bonum est suâque vi et naturâ, id omne finis est. Nothing more common in philosophy, than that publicæ saluti privata incolumitas est postponenda. Therefore, self-love must not persuade us that there is nu-" thing higher than our own good to be intended.
the sun, if it have more feeling? These are the madnesses of sensual men. May not an excellent limner, watch-maker, or other artificer, make a picture, a watch, or musical instrument, merely for his own delight? And may he not delight in the excellency of it, though you imagine him to have no need of it, or of the delight? And what is the excellency of such a picture, but to be the full demonstration of the author's skill, in the fullest representation of the thing resembled? Will you say that he hath done no good, because he made not his picture sensible, and made not its pleasure his ultimate end? Those things which in particulars we call bad, are good, as they are parts of the universal frame; as many darkenings and shadowings in a picture may conduce to make it beautiful. The eye is a more excellent part of the body than a finger, or a tooth; and yet it maketh to the perfection of the whole, that there be fingers and teeth, as well as eyes. So it doth to the perfection of the world, that there be men, and beasts, and plants, as well as angels; and poor men as well as rich, and sick men as well as sound, and pain as well as pleasure. Our narrow sight, that looketh but on a spot or parcel of God's work at once, doth judge according to the particular interest of that parcel; and so we would have no variety in the world, but every thing of that species which we think best. But God seeth all his works at once, uno intuitu, and therefore seeth what is best in reference to the glory of the universe, and seeth what variety is beautiful, and what each part should be, according to the office and order of its place.
And, 3. Doth not your own experience reprehend your own, complaint, as guilty of contradiction? You would have all things fitted to your own particular interest, or else you think God is not good enough to you; and may not every other crea-, ture say the same as justly as you? and then how would you have a horse to carry you, an ox to plough for you, a dog to hunt for you, a hare or partridge to be hunted; yea, a bit of flesh to nourish you; yea, or the fruit of trees and plants; yea, or the earth to bear you, or the air to breathe in, or the water to refresh you? for every one of these might expect to be advanced to be as high in sensual pleasure as you.
He that compareth, as aforesaid, the elements and orbs, which have no sense, with a worm that hath it, will think that sense hath blinded reason; when it is so overvalued as to be thought the most excellent thing, or a meet measure of the goodness of the Creator.
4. Most of the calamities of the rational creature, which you mention, are sin, and the fruits of sin; and when man bringeth in sin, it is good that God should bring in punishment it is an act of justice, and declareth his holiness, and warneth others. Therefore, all your complaints against these penal evils should be turned only against the sinner; and all should be turned to the praise of the righteous Governor of the world."
5. And as for the sin itself, which hath depraved the world so foully as you describe it, it is none of the work of God at all. If you say that he might have prevented it if he had pleased, I answer, He hath declared his detestation of it; as our Ruler, he hath forbidden it. He deterreth men from it by his sorest threatenings; he allureth them from it by his richest promises of reward; he appointeth kings and magistrates, to suppress it by corporal penalties: this and much more he doeth against it, and more he could do, which should prove effectual; but his wisdom saw it not meet, nor conducible to the glory of the universe, to make all moral agents of one size, any more than all natural agents, and therefore he made not man indefectible. Do you think that a rational creature, with free-will, being the lord of its own acts, and a self-determining principle to act without force, is not a thing which God may make and take delight in ? as well as a watch-maker taketh delight to make a clock that shall go of itself, without his continued motion; and the longer he can make it go without him, and so the more like to himself, the more excellent he thinks his work. If God may make such a free agent, then it is no impeachment to his goodness, if it abuse its freedom unto sin; especially when he will overrule even that sin, so far as to bring good out of it by accident.
And, lastly, as for all the objections from sin and misery, against God's goodness, I answer you with these questions: Do you know what number the holy and glorious angels are, in comparison both of wicked men and devils: whether they may not be ten thousand to one? Do you know how many thousand fixed stars there are, besides planets: do you know whether
Non quoniam mutabiles vires habemus, improbitatis nostræ culpa in Deum conferenda est. Non enim in facultatibus sunt vitia, sed in habitibus. Habitibus autem ex electione et voluntate sunt. Itaque nostra ipsorum electione et voluntate improbi evadimus, non naturâ sumus.-Nemesius de Nat. Hom. c. 41. Homo est principium suarum operationem.-Aris. 3, Eth. Nemo nolens bonus et beatus est.-Sen. Si divitias velis, rem bonam esse scias nec omnia in te sitam. Si vero beati, id ad bonum est et penes te. Opes enim fortuna ad tempus commodato dat: beatitudo autem à nostrâ voluntate procedit.-Epictet.
they are all suns; and how much larger they are than the earth; and how much more glorious? Do you know whether they are all inhabited or not; when you see almost no place on earth uninhabited, not so much as water and air? Do you know whether those thousands of more glorious orbs have not inhabitants answerable to their greatness and glory, beyond the inhabitants of this darker orb; do you know whether sin and sorrow be not kept out there, and confined to this, and some few such obscure receptacles; do you know the degrees of holiness and glory which those superior inhabitants possess; and do you know that all these things set together, the demonstration of God's goodness by the way of beneficence, is not ten thousand times beyond the demonstrations of it in the way of justice, and all the other sorrows that you complain of? Till you know all these, do not think yourselves meet, from your sensible troubles, to argue against that infinite goodness which demonstrateth itself so unquestionably to all, by all the goodness of the whole
I may boldly, then, conclude that God is our Father, our chief Good, our chief Benefactor, and ultimate End.
And so that, in sensu plenissimo, there is a God that word comprehending both the aforesaid trinity of principles in the unity of his essence, and the trinity of relations in the unity of the relation of our Creator.
III. Of Man's Relation to God, as he is our Father, or our Chief Good; and of our Duty in that Relation.
SECT. 1. God being to man, efficiently and finally, his chief, yea, his total Good, as is declared; it must needs follow, that man is, by immediate resultancy, related to him as his total Beneficiary, and Recipient of his benefits; and oweth him all that which goodness, conjunct with sovereignty and dominion, can oblige him to.
Whether all obligation, which is truly moral, to a duty, do arise from sovereignty and rule, and belong to us as subjects only in the nearest formal sense, or whether benefits simply, without
s Read Gassendi Phys., sect. 2. 1. c. 6. sint ne cœlum et sidera habitabilia. And Card. Nic. Causanus, 1. 2. de doct. ignot. 11. in Coroll., cited also by Gassendus.