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The subject of the preceding chapters—The First Hypothesis : There is a
First Cause self-existent, absolutely free, the Creator of the worldThe motive of creation not necessity nor duty-To be sought in the creation, not in the Creator—The creature is the object of creationThe motive of creation is Love-pure love unmixed with selfishness Second hypothesis : God has made man in His image, i.e. with a free will-Man's duty is to distinguish himself, and thus constitute his personality-He cannot do so by denying God-He can only do so by simultaneously distinguishing God and preserving the link between himself and God- This link is love-Recapitulation of the argument.
HAVE shewn in the first five chapters that there is
an universal antinomy in the world; that man himself, a microcosm, contains all the elements of this antagonism; that conciliation is impossible without the idea of God to harmonize these conflicting elements. I have shewn that without the idea of God as a guarantee for the fidelity of our impressions and the truth of our ideas, there is no certainty on any point, and from beginning to end, all men's reasonings, all men's actions, are irrational. I have shewn that without the idea of God to establish the rights of men dogmatically, those rights have no raison d'être ; and I have shewn that the only authority conceivable by man, if the idea of God be banished, is the authority of force, and that the idea of moral authority is without basis unless God be assumed to found it.
I pass now to the first Christian axiom :-There is a First Cause, self-existent, absolutely free, the Creator of the world. The world exists and we exist. Why? Because God has willed it. Why has God willed it ? On the answer to this question everything depends. It must therefore be considered with care and caution.
Creation is an act of free will, in no way changing the nature of the Absolute Being; for the word creation is used to imply that the idea of production which it involves makes no change in the condition of the Author. Creation being an act of free will, must be the act of a will full of intelligence. Every intelligent and free will supposes a purpose; a purposeless will is blind and fatal.
Liberty acting without motive is no more liberty, it is chance, and chance is another name for ignorance.
If, then, we reject the notion of an ignorant God, which is inconsistent with our hypothesis that He is absolutely free, we are obliged to ask what is the motive of creation. It is evident that the motive of creation must be such as will suit our definition of God.
A preliminary examination of the problem will shew us that the purpose must be sought, not in the idea of the Absolute, but in creation itself.
If we conceive the idea of human motives, it is because we are not absolutely free like the First Principle. We have needs, and the satisfaction of these needs is the motive of our action. But the existence of these needs is a proof of our imperfection. We want something that we have not got, the obtaining of which is necessary to us. But to
the Absolute nothing can be necessary to complete Him; therefore He did not create because the universe was requisite to satisfy any want He felt.
We are subject to moral laws, and are influenced by moral motives. We can obey or disobey the moral rule, but we are obliged to recognize it, and we are unable to change its character. To obey is a duty, and we realize our nature by obedience to the law of right. This law
it is above us. But the Absolute is above law. He is bound by no duty. If the free will of the Absolute assumes the character of goodness, it is by His free act. The distinction between good and evil could not pre-exist before Absolute liberty. As intelligence is before ideas, so is will superior to laws. If the moral order constrained God, the moral order would be God; but then God would be no more free, which is against our hypothesis.
To make this statement clearer, let us suppose God to be the moral law, and see to what consequences we are reduced. Moral order being an intimate necessity, it loses all signification for head and heart. Without a will to institute it, it is an unrealizable abstraction. It is no more moral, for the idea of morality implies the freedom of choice between good and evil, and fatalism reigns over God and men.
Therefore, God did not create the universe from necessity or from duty; and these are the only motives of action inherent in the agent which we can conceive. Either of these suppositions is inconsistent with the idea of an absolutely free God, for a cause acting upon a motive inherent in its nature is not free.
God, then, did not find in Himself any reason for creating. If the reason for creation were to be found in the nature of the Absolute, there would be no creation.
The existence of the world is therefore irrational, for
what can be more irrational than the idea of something added to perfection ? Nevertheless the world exists. Reality is not rational, it is superior to reason.
Is it, then, impossible for us to assign a cause for the production of the world ? Certainly not. All we have proved is, that the motive of creation must be sought not in the Creator, but in creation, if we are to understand it.
The Absolute not finding in Himself any reason for acting, that is, being neither constrained by duty, nor necessitated by His nature, He creates the world by an act of supreme will, for a rational purpose, but that purpose must be sought outside of Him.
But, before any action on the part of the Absolute, nothing could exist except Himself. We must find His motive of action in that which is not as yet. This is what the idea of creation involves. A relative will towards that which is not could only be a creative will; for what could be willed with regard to that which is not, but that it should be? To leave nothing in its nonentity, no will is necessary. To say that the will by which Absolute Liberty manifests itself as such has its purpose outside of the Absolute Being, is to designate it as a creative will; it wills another being, and by that will causes it to be.
This is not all. Not only does God will the creature He makes, but He wills it for its own sake. The creature is willed for itself; such is the essential idea of creation.
This results inevitably from what has gone before. If God created for Himself, He would feel a need; therefore He would not be absolutely free.
Consequently, He creates without regard to Himself, and with regard to the creature alone.
Now this exercise of will is the supreme manifestation of Love. This solves the enigma of creation.
Of love there are two sorts. The first is that whose highest manifestation is seen in the affection of the sexes. This is always egoistic. It arises from either sex being imperfect without the other; and it is the straining of one sex towards that other which will complete it, because alone it is unable to realize perfectly its nature.
Such love as this is not to be spoken of with respect to the motive of creation, for it has its foundation in an imperfection of nature. But there is another sort of love of which we have a sketch in paternal affection. A love rising out of a nature complete in itself, and pouring its benefits on the head of the child, not for any advantage the child can afford, but out of pure unselfish beneficence. This is the love which, in its highest perfection, exhibits · itself in the act of creation. Such a disposition is only conceivable in a being serene and satisfied, because its own aim attained, its own nature is accomplished, and its freedom is therefore absolute. This creative love is therefore the plenitude of liberty making an act of liberty. It is the determined act of will by which liberty manifests itself as liberty; it, and it alone, resolves the difficulty of knowing how that infinite power can realize itself without altering its character; for the power of liberty subsists entire in love.
Love, then, is the principle of creation, or, in other words, its motive; which is equivalent to the statement that creation has no à priori motive, but that it is purely gratuitous.
To create is to love, to will the creature for itself. The creature is therefore willed as its own end. God wills that the creature should be. He wills it in the interest of the creature. He wills its good, and its good consists in the realization of its being.
In the sphere of relations and of finite existences, to do