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De Moor VIII:17: The End of Creation, Part 1

Finally, the Fittingness of the Production is also evident in the End, which God has proposed to Himself in all His work.  And it is the Highest Glory of God.  Indeed, God, Nature (as the minister of God), and the Wise (who as such follow reason), do nothing in vain; neither is the Most Wise God able to be conceived of as acting, unless He at the same time has perfectly wise reasons why He acts thus, and an End that He proposes to Himself in acting.  But God does not propose this End to Himself out of Need; in which manner Spinoza also, in the Appendix, part I, of his Ethics, pages 34 and following, denies that in the Creation of the World God intended any Ends, because this Doctrine removes the Perfection of God; with this reason added, that, if God acts because of an End, He necessarily seeks something that He is without.  As if something were added to God Himself, when He produces a thing outside of Himself, of which He had been previously destitute; and by this very thing the Perfections of God were augmented, which, before any other things existed, were infinitely perfect.  Therefore, that enumeration is not complete, when they say that God either in vain or out of need created the World; indeed, a third thing has to be added, even to reveal the abundance of His Goodness and other Perfections to His creatures through the communication of Himself; thus indeed, God, being altogether Independent, makes all things because of Himself, intending an End, not of Need, but of Sufficiency.  That there is no other Supreme End of Creation, than the manifestation of divine Majesty and infinite Glory through such illustrious examples of Wisdom, Power, and Goodness; is argued by the Primacy of God in every sort of cause, which does not allow all these things to be on account of any other than Him, by whom are all things.  THOMAS Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, part I, question XLVI, article I, page 90a, has this:  God is the Cause of the world, the final Cause with respect to His goodness, the exemplary Cause with respect to His wisdom, and the effective Cause with respect to His power.  While AUGUSTINE here also expressly denies that every End arise from Need, book XI, The City of God, chapter 24:  By no necessity, by no need of any utility for Himself, but by His goodness alone, did God make what He made.

Nevertheless, Man is rightly regarded as a Subordinate End:  both a subordinate End Of Which, and also To Which.  An End Of Which, or that which is intended, since Man alone among the visible Creatures its suited to recognize and celebrate the divine Virtues manifested in Creation, which accordingly is Man’s most seemly duty.  Thus it was the divine will, says VRIESIUS, in his Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXIII, § 19, to reflect upon this public house of Nature as the Temple of the Most High God, hallowed by the divine Omnipresence:  for which, in the place of an altar is the human spirit; in the place of offerings to be consecrated, all the wealth of nature at hand; in the place of a perpetual liturgy, Man himself, who by obedient sacrifice would devote all creatures to his Creator.  In Man himself also, in an altogether special way, the divine Virtues are manifested, but in his fabric and government, and especially also in his End, to which he has been destined.  But there is also a Subordinate End To Which, for whose benefit and use the remaining Creatures in the visible World were produced.  We believe, says the Belgic Confession, § 12, that God created and preserves all things, so that they might serve man, to the end that man himself might serve his God.

This is taught, α.  expressly by Scripture, 1 Corinthians 3:21, 22; indeed, β.  it more particularly confirms the same by going through Individual Things, for example, concerning the Earth, Psalm 115:16; concerning all the terrestrial Animals, over which dominion was granted to man, Genesis 1:28, which, having been lost through sin, is restored to believers through Christ, the heir of all things; in addition, concerning Heaven, both the Atmospheric, Hosea 2:20-22, and the Sidereal with its Luminaries, Genesis 1:15, and the Supreme Heaven itself, 2 Corinthians 5:1, together with the Angels, its inhabitants, who otherwise excel men, Hebrews 1:14.  γ.  An Argument is added, from the Excellence of Man among bodily things, furnished with Reason:  1.  For what is more agreeable both to the Wisdom of the Creator, and to the nature of created things; than that the other less perfect things were ordained for the use of that thing, which through Rationality stands forth as the most perfect among every sort of visible creature, which sort is Man?  2.  What is one more prone to think than that all things were destined for his use, by whose spirit and mouth alone was honor and glory from the work of Creation able to return to God?  3.  A probable Argument for this thesis is able to be sought from the very Order of Creation:  indeed, the Order, which the Creator preserved in forming man, appears to imply the ordering of all other things for the advantage of Man:  insofar as what things precede in execution, with respect to those things that follow last, generally have the relation of Means.

Johann a Marck

Nevertheless, our AUTHOR adds cautions, which he wants to be observed on this opinion, and by which are cut off the cavils of others, whereby they attempt to discredit this thesis as absurd and ridiculous.

More specifically, α.  Individual Men are not to be understood here, as if all things together were created for the sake of Individual Men:  since in various regions of the World and in diverse ages, with Men living in the same, various and diverse things also were destined and granted for use:  each Land has its own produce and supplies its own peculiar food.  What gold- and silver-mines were not yet discovered in former ages, share their wealth with a following age.

β.  Neither do we mean that Man is the sole End of Creation.  We do not say that Man is the Ultimate End of Creation; that is God Himself.  Let it be far from us, says MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 23, page 210a, to set Man as the end of God; but let is also be far from us to deny that Man is the end of the divine works, so that on account of them he might praise and honor his Creator.  Neither do we wish to grant that all things were destined for the use of him Alone as the subordinate End:  indeed, God makes grass to grow for beasts, Psalm 104:14; the alternations of day and night and the heavenly lights also serve the interests of beasts, which also make use of their light, Psalm 104:19-21, where in verses 17, 18, trees and rocks also are said to serve the uses of birds and animals, to find nests in them.  But animals well fed in turn yield food for Man, as others serve man in agriculture, or in the bearing of burdens; and the providence of God concerning animals also rouses Man to the Praise of Him.

γ.  Finally, the bodily Advantage of Man ought not to be considered here alone, when we call him the Subordinate End, for whose pleasure all things were made, for whose use all things serve.  For, not all things fall to the use of Man in the same way; some things fall to him for food or clothing, others delight him and make for the ornamentation of this mundane habitation:  all ought to make for the exciting of the sense of Man, so that he might acknowledge and declare with admiration the Creator’s Wisdom, Power, and Goodness; and to move the affections of the Man unto the love and fear of this God as the highest Good.

And, with these limitations added, the thesis concerning Man as the Subordinate End of Creation is altogether true, and JOHN of DAMASCUS rightly observes, book II de orthodoxa Fide, chapter X, page 110:  Οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ οὐδὲν ζῶον, οὐδὲ φυτὸν, ἐν ᾧ οὐκ ἐνέργειάν τινα, τῇ τῶν ἀνθρώπων χρείᾳ χρησιμεύουσαν ὁ δημιουργὸς ἐναπέθετο, that is, for there is nothing, neither animal nor plant, in which the Creator and Workman of things has not placed some operation conducive to the use of men.  The very Gentiles saw and acknowledged this matter as sufficiently meeting the eyes of all:  CICERO, book II, de Natura Deorum, chapters LXII-LXIV, elegantly shows that all things in this world, of which men make use, were made and prepared for the sake of men.  See the agreement of BURMAN, in his Synopsi Theologiæ, book I, chapter XLII, § 83, whose words are cited by MARESIUS, Systemate Theologico, locus V, § 23, in the notes, page 210b.  REIMARUS also deserves to be consulted on the proof of this thesis, over de voornaamste Waarheden van den natuurlichen Godtsdienst, Essay 3, § 1-6, 9, pages 125-147, 157-162, Essay 6, § 1, pages 413, 414; and also HENDRIK LUSSING Matthysz, de Noodzakelykheid van den Godtsdienst in ’t gemeen, en de Zekerheid van den Christelyken in ’t byzonder, veweert, part I, dissertation II, chapter II, § 213-240, pages 177-198.

Rene Descartes

Nevertheless, Descartes has been pleased to deny this, who says that this opinion does not at all seem likely to him, but rather ridiculous and inept in physical consideration, Principiorum Philosophiæ, part III, § 3.  Bekker[1] also undertakes to make opposition to this thesis in his book de Cometis, chapter XXX, pages 148 and following.  And in the year 1659, a certain Theodorus Callerus, a Candidate for Sacred Ministry, adorned with the Doctoral laurel by the Leiden Theologians, wrote a Disputation de Veritate Religionis Christianæ, which, although already fixed to the doors and distributed to a number of men, yet was prohibited to be defended by the authority of the Prepotent Orders:  now, in this Disputation, as the whole was impregnated with Cartesian philosophy, so in thesis XXXII he was also affirming, that this thesis concerning all things on earth having been made for Man’s sake is the foundation of all Impiety and Atheism:  see SPANHEIM’S de novissimis in Belgio Dissidiis, pages 69, 70.  However, what things are set in opposition are not of the greatest moment.

Objection 1:  Many things on account of Distance furnish No Use for Man:  thus they speak concerning Islands, uncultivated and furnishing no use to Man; concerning the Planets and the other Stars furnishing only slight use to us, while it could be so much greater, if they were not so far removed from us.  Thus they declare that it is in no wise necessary, that the Sun be created so immense and vast a body, if it were created only for the use of mankind, and to illuminate and warm this world; but it would be situated in a Position closer to the Earth.

Responses:  α.  Many places now deserted were formerly able to be inhabited, or perhaps will be inhabited in the future.  β.  Even if the celestial Stars were not necessarily obliged to be of such great magnitude in order to supply for us light or heat:  in their great magnitude and vast distance from us, which demonstrates the immense height and extension of the Heavens; we learn to admire and revere the Creator’s Wisdom and Power to the point of speechlessness, which use is sufficiently great for us.

Objection 2:  Many things lie hidden from ManResponses:  α.  Yet because of that it is able to happen that a great many things fall to our Use without our knowledge, as it is wont to be observed by students of Medicine and Physics; in the same way that an infant Heir placed under tutors enjoys the Use of goods competent for him, from which he is nourished, even if he himself be all the while ignorant of this matter and of his riches:  a potion, which a Physician prescribes for us, is able to serve our health in a most agreeable way, even if we are ignorant of the drugs or elements of which it is compounded.  β.  Things are able to lie hidden for a time, the manifestation of which God has kept for other times; as daily many κειμήλια and treasures are excavated from the earth, which, if they all had been known at the same time, the treasure of the earth would have been too quickly exhausted.

Objection 3:  Descartes, Principiorum Philosophiæ, part III, § 2, 3, Thus Man would think too highly of himself.  But, α.  our AUTHOR rightly respondsIt is not Pride, if Man acknowledges from the Scriptures his own pre-eminence with humble gratitude toward God.  β.  On the other hand, whoever denies this, reveals his Incredulity towards the written Word, neither has he learned to refer all things to God with so grateful a heart.  γ.  And shall this be charged with Pride, that we acknowledge with a grateful heart that a great many bodily things were created for our sake? when Scripture testifies that God, moved with φιλανθρωπίᾳ/ philanthropy, gave to Elect man His only Begotten Son, and delivered Him to an ignominious death for him, John 3:16; Romans 8:32; Matthew 20:28.

Objection 4:  Bekker contends that Man, who esteems all that he sees to have been created for his own use, thinks no less foolishly, than if one should obtain from a King a tower for habitation, from which there would be a pleasing view of the sea; and would image to himself that all the ships that he was able to see from this tower coming and going pertain to himself, and hence begins a computation how much his treasures are augmented by these ships.

I Respond, that the things compared are quite dissimilar; seeing that, α.  every sober man recognizes, that the goods of this World were distributed among Men most freely by God; but whether to Peter or to Paul, yet they fall to the Use of Man.  β.  In like manner, the wise man knows that all things do not fall to his Use in the same way:  but if they furnish this Use only for him, that he acknowledges the virtues of the Creator for the creatures, and hence learns to ascend to the celebration of His praises; the man has not mistakenly thought that this creature was determined for his Use.

But, 5.  as far as that assertion is concerned, concerning this thesis, that all things on Earth were made for the sake of Man, as the foundation of all Impiety and Atheism; it is able to have regard both to those things that we have already heart out of Descartes concerning Man thus carrying himself too proudly:  and to those things that the same Descartes has in his Epistolis, part I, Epistle VII, page 16, that, should we conceive the Earth to have been made for the sake of Man, hence it is going to happen that we are going to be more inclined to think that this World is our principal seat, and that nothing better than this life pertains to us.  But, α.  among all the things that were prepared for the Use of Man, with respect to pious men Scripture teaches us that there is also the third Heaven.[2]  β.  Hence the pious man does indeed give the greatest thanks possible concerning this terrestrial habitation, prepared so beneficently for him, and equipped with such furnishings:  but, that anything should hence incline him to think that this Earth is his principal seat, and that nothing better than this life pertains to him, is so far from him, that to what extent the inhabitants of heaven are more blessed than the inhabitants of earth, to that extent in his longings does he hasten to those heavenly and eternal mansions, for the sake of the obtaining of which he knows the Use of the Earth to have been granted to him for a time.  γ.  But if that thesis be thus accommodated to inflame Man with Pride, and render him prone to Epicureanism, as from the Physical perspective Descartes was saying the same to be ridiculous and inept:  whence is it, what he asserts in Ethics to be pious, namely, to say that all things were made by God for us, more specifically, so that we might be all the more driven to give thanks to Him, and all the more inflamed with love for Him? Principiorum Philosophiæ, part III, § 3.  Frigid is that piety, VRIESIUS rightly warns, Exercitationibus Rationalibus XXIII, § 18, indeed, mere superstition, that impels the soul to give thanks to God by proud suppositions, not having the appearance of truth, ridiculous, in ept.  Compare on this controversy VAN MASTRICHT, Gangræna Novitatum Cartesianarum, posterior Section, chapter XIX, § 22-25, pages 355-360.

[1] Balthasar Bekker (1634-1698) was a Dutch minister, although ultimately deposed.  He was a proponent of Cartesian Rationalism, arguing that philosophy and theology must be kept in separate spheres, the former for the exploration of natural truths, and the latter for the exploration of supernatural truths of Scripture.

[2] See 2 Corinthians 12:2.

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