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good to any one is to facilitate the free development of his being; in the absolute sense, it is to give being. Creative love therefore implies the realization of the creature.
But realization is impossible without liberty. The free creature can alone say of itself “I am.” In a word, the free creature is the only one with veritable being.
Love, in itself, is liberty making an act of liberty; considered in its effect, it is liberty making free creatures.
To render this clearer, let us restate it, somewhat modifying the expression.
The motive of creation is the love of God for His creature. God wills, then, the good of His creature; but the love of God is a perfect love.
To will the good of the creature is to will it to resemble God. But God is absolutely free. If God wills His creature to be like Him, He wills it to be free. Its good consists in the reality of being, and the reality of being is only consistent with liberty.
The creature is therefore made free. But liberty is potential. To create a free being is to place before it the problem of its destiny.
The free being is only that which makes itself free. This is true of the finite being as it is of the Absolute. Freedom consists in the exercise of the will in overthrowing every opposition which restrains the development of the nature of the creature. The freedom of the Absolute consists in the exercise of will in manifesting or not manifesting itself.
God wills man to be free, but the emancipation of himself is in man's own hands.
We arrive now at the second Christian hypothesis, which indeed is not a hypothesis, but a rigorous deduction from its first axiom :
God has made man in His own image, i.e. He has given him a free will.
Man and God being placed face to face, one as contingent, the other as absolute, the contingent lives as contingent and the absolute as absolute. To live as absolute, is to be at once the power and principle of life; to live as contingent is to live as effect, without ever being able to live as principle.
Man's freedom is willed and given potentially, and on purpose that he may exercise it, so as to reach that perfection of development to which he, as contingent, can attain. He can exercise that liberty, and so progress to that term, or he can refuse it and remain stationary, or even retrogress, by enslaving himself.
He can do either because he is free to will.
He is called to realize his liberty by becoming the principle of his own actions, his own centre, his own end, and thus to distinguish himself from his Creator.
But in constituting himself free in this manner, in proclaiming his independence, does he not put his own existence in contradiction with the divine will, and thus deny God? That is quite possible.
Man must emphasize himself, and consequently must distinguish himself from God. He must recognize these two terms, himself and God, as terms distinct, not only in thought, but by an act of will, for man must will himself, and by willing himself constitute his personality.
However, he must do this without separating himself from God, without excluding God. He must will himself, but he must at the same time wili God.
For man to will God, to personify God, and not to distinguish himself, is to lose himself in mysticism.
For man to will himself, to make himself the centre, and
not to distinguish God, is to become, what I have called elsewhere, a personal autocrat; in other words, a practical atheist. To distinguish one's self sharply from God, without breaking the link which unites us; to constitute one's self one's own centre, without forgetting that God is the centre of all personalities, such is the problem. God is the sun around Whom all creatures revolve, but each revolves around his own axis. Break the solar attraction, and he shoots into infinite and outer darkness.
To distinguish one's self from God, and to separate one's self from Him, are two very different things.
The only manner of distinguishing without separating is to will that God should be, and to will one's self to be, but not apart from God, but for Him—that is, to love God.
Thus, the law we seek, the manner in which the creature can preserve its liberty whilst manifesting it, is the love of God. God loves us, and He our model. The supreme law is a reflexion of the supreme fact. Love is the rule of rules, the key to all mysteries. To obey God is to realize our liberty, and to obey God is to love Him.
In love, the two terms, the subject and the object of love, are perfectly distinct, though they mutually interpenetrate. By loving God, the creature constitutes itself in its complete personality, as the idea of liberty requires, without for a moment forgetting the existence of God on one side, and the existence of itself on the otber.
Before advancing to the third hypothesis of Christianity, let us briefly recapitulate our argument.
The motive of creation cannot be found in the nature of the Absolute, for an inherent motive would destroy the idea of the liberty of the Absolute.
The motive 'must therefore be sought in the possible creature. We find in this idea, which is the idea of love, the only reason which could induce a perfect being to create.
The power, wisdom, and goodness of God exhibit themselves in Creation, but He does not create with the intention of manifesting His power, wisdom, and goodness; His motive is not to acquire a superfluous glory, but to make another being happy. But happiness is the manifestation of well-being, and God wills the well-being of His creature, and that creature knows when it is accomplishing the will of God when it feels happy.
The perfection of well-being is to love God; the condition of well-being is liberty.
Consequently the creature is primitively free. It is therefore primitively indetermined; it is called to compose its own destiny, to produce its own nature or to fix its relation to God, which is the same thing; for its nature and its destiny depend wholly on the relation in which it stands towards God.
It is indetermined, but the indetermination is not absolute, since its creation is not purposeless.
Being free, it may become what it will, but it ought to become what God wills it; that is, the liberty which it has potentially it should make effective. It can only make this effective by willing itself, that is its liberty, and it can only fulfil its liberty and establish its personality by maintaining its relation to God.
The act of will constitutes the personality of the creature. Personality is, in fact, only a free being emphasizing and recognizing itself as such. Every man makes his own personality, he is to that extent his own creator. Personality is not an attribute, but an act of force.
When the creature takes full possession of the liberty it has received it becomes a person. This decisive act may
be accomplished in many ways. But this act is what God wills, for it is what constitutes the well-being of the creature.
But this cannot take place apart from God. The wellbeing of the creature can only be effected by recognition of God and by maintaining union with Him by love. To be, and to be for itself, the creature must distinguish itself from God by an act which unites it to Him. This act is love.
By the love of the creature for its Creator, all the problems of reason are resolved. The work of creation is completed. God, the Absolute, Who, by His essence, is All, abases Himself, by creation, to the sphere of relations; He consents to be not-All, that He may re-become All by the act of His creature.