William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

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The Purpose of God's Decrees


by Thomas Boston


And this is no other than his own glory. Every rational agent acts for an end;
and God being the most perfect agent, and his glory the highest end, there can
be no doubt but all his decrees are directed to that end. Rom 11:36, "For of Him
and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever." "that
we....should be to the praise of His glory," Eph 1:12 In all, he aims at his
glory; and seeing he aims at it, he gets it even from the most sinful actions he
has decreed to permit. Either the glory of his mercy or of his justice is drawn
from them. Infinite wisdom directs all to the end intended. More particularly,
God Glorified in the Creation of the World

1. This was God's purpose in the creation of the world. The divine perfections
are admirably glorified here, not only in regard of the greatness of the effect,
which comprehends the heavens and the earth, and all things in them; but in
regard of the marvellous way of its production. For he made the vast universe
without the concurrence of any material cause; he brought it forth from the womb
of nothing by an act of his efficacious will. And as he began the creation by
proceeding from nothing to real existence, so in forming the other parts he drew
them from infirm and inert matter, as from a second nothing, that all his
creatures might bear the signatures of infinite power. Thus he commanded light
to arise out of darkness, and sensible creatures from an insensible element. The
lustre of the divine glory appears eminently here. Hence David says, Psalm 19:1.
"The heavens declare the glory of God." They declare and manifest to the world
the attributes and perfections of their great Creator, even in his infinite
wisdom, goodness, and power. All the creatures have some prints of God stamped
upon them, whereby they loudly proclaim and show to the world his wisdom and
goodness in framing them. Hence says Paul, Rom. 1:20, "The invisible things of
him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the
things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead."

God Glorified in the Creation of Men and Angels

2. The glory of God was his chief purpose and design in making men and angels.
The rest of the creatures glorified God in a passive way, as they are evidences
and manifestations of his infinite wisdom, goodness, and power. But this higher
rank of beings are endowed with rational faculties, and so are capable to
glorify God actively. Hence it is said, Prov 16:4, "The LORD has made all for
Himself" If all things were made for him, then man and angels especially, who
are the masterpieces of the whole creation. We have our source and being from
the pure fountain of God's infinite power and goodness; and therefore we ought
to run towards that again, till we empty all our faculties and excellencies into
that same ocean of divine goodness.

God Glorified in Election and Predestination

3. This is likewise the end of election and predestination. For "having
predestined us....to the praise of the glory of His grace," Eph 1:5,6. That some
are ordained to eternal life, and others passed by, and suffered to perish
eternally in their sin, is for the manifestation of the infinite perfections and
excellencies of God. The glory and beauty of the divine attributes is displayed
here with a shining lustre; as his sovereign authority and dominion over all his
creatures to dispose of them to what ends and purposes he pleases; his knowledge
and omniscience, in beholding all things past, present, and to come; his
vindictive justice, in ordaining punishments to men, as a just retribution for
sin; and his omnipotence, in making good his word, and putting all his
threatenings in execution. The glory of his goodness shines likewise here, in
making choice of any, when all most justly deserved to be rejected. And his
mercy shines here with an beautiful lustre, in receiving and admitting all who
believe in Jesus into his favour.

God Glorified in the Work of Redemption

4. This was the purpose that God proposed in that great and astonishing work of
redemption. In our redemption by Christ, we have the fullest, clearest, and most
delightful manifestation of the glory of God that ever was or shall be in this
life. All the declarations and manifestations that we have of his glory in the
works of creation and common providence, are but dim and obscure in comparison
with what is here. Indeed the glory of his wisdom, power, and goodness, is
clearly manifested in the works of creation. But the glory of his mercy and love
had lain under an eternal eclipse without a Redeemer. God had in several ages of
the world pitched upon particular seasons to manifest and reveal one or other
particular property of his nature. Thus his justice was declared in his drowning
the old world with a deluge of water, and burning Sodom with fire from heaven.
His truth and power were clearly manifested in freeing the Israelites from the
Egyptian chains, and bringing them out from that miserable bondage. His truth
was there illustriously displayed in performing a promise which had lain dormant
for the space of 430 years, and his power in quelling his implacable enemies by
the meanest of his creatures. Again, the glory of one attribute is more seen in
one work than in another: in some things there is more of his goodness, in other
things more of his wisdom is seen, and in others more of his power. But in the
work of redemption all his perfections and excellencies shine forth in their
greatest glory.

This is the goal that God proposed in their conversion and regeneration. Hence
it is said, Isa 43:21, "This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare
My praise." Sinners are adopted into God's family, and made a royal priesthood
according to this very design, 1 Pet 2:9, "But you are a chosen generation, a
royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim
the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light."

 

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