God has no need of us:
GOD All-sufficient must needs be his own happiness;
By happiness, the 17thcentury Puritan Edward Polhill means more than a transitory emotional state. He means something like a supreme contentment; the need of nothing else. We as creatures are in constant need of another. We need air and space and time; we need food and water; shelter and sleep; company and care. But God’s happiness is complete in himself. Polhill here details the aspects of God’s self-sufficiency:
he hath his being from himself,
We need God to sustain our existence. Matter has nothing in itself to make itself continue to exist. There is nothing in the rock that keeps the rock in existence. The fact that we seek rocks continue in existence blinds us to this reality. But God has no need of another to come into being and then continue to be.
Second, God needs nothing to save him from ennui:
and his happiness is no other than his being radiant with all excellencies, and by intellectual and amatorious reflexions, turning back into the fruition of itself.
His excellencies are such as would delight his love. Moreover, he has no need for another to avoid being bored:
His understanding hath prospect enough in his own infinite perfections: his will hath rest enough in his own infinite goodness;
His being is from himself, his thoughts and affections have an infinite view to maintain a constant delight.
Negatively, God has no need of anything else, when God has God:
he needed not the pleasure of a world, who hath an eternal Son in his bosom to joy in, nor the breath of angels or men who hath an eternal Spirit of his own; he is the Great All, comprising all within himself:
If God were delighted with any other than God, that other being would be greater and would be God. By definition, God must be content with God:
nay, unless he were so, he could not be God.
At this point, Polhill makes a list of all things which God would not suffer if he never did create.
Had he let out no beams of his glory, or made no intelligent creatures to gather up and return them back to himself, his happiness would have suffered no eclipse or diminution at all, his power would have been the same, if it had folded up all the possible worlds within its own arms, and poured forth never an one into being to be a monument of itself.
His wisdom the same, if it had kept in all the orders and infinite harmonies lying in its bosom, and set forth no such series and curious contexture of things as now are before our eyes.
His goodness might have kept an eternal Sabbath in itself, and never have come forth in those drops and models of being which make up the creation.
His eternity stood not in need of any such thing as time or a succession of instants to measure its duration; nor his immensity of any such temple as heaven and earth to dwell in, and fill with his presence.
His holiness wanted not such pictures of itself as are in laws or saints; nor his grace such a channel to run in as covenants or promises.
His majesty would have made no abatement, if it had had no train or host of creatures to wait upon it, or no rational ones among them, such as angels and men, to sound forth its praises in the upper or lower world. Creature-praises, though in the highest tune of angels, are but as silence to him, as that text may be read. (Psalm 65:1.)
Were he to be served according to his greatness, all the men in the world would not be enough to make a priest, nor all the other creatures enough to make a sacrifice fit for him. Is it any pleasure to him that thou art righteous? saith Eliphaz. (Job. 22:3.)
No doubt he takes pleasure in our righteousness, but the complacence is without indigence, and while he likes it, he wants [lacks] it not.
Edward Polhill, The Works of Edward Polhill (London: Thomas Ward and Co., 1844), 1.
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