Thus we see now that man, being
a part of the whole of Nature,
on which he depends, and by which
also he is governed, cannot of himself do anything for his
happiness and well-being; let us, then, just see what Uses we
can derive from these propositions of ours. And this [is] all the
more [necessary] because we have no doubt that they will
appear not a little offensive to some.
In the first place, it follows therefrom that we are truly servants,
aye, slaves, of God, and that it is our greatest perfection to be such
necessarily. For, if we were thrown back upon ourselves, and thus
not dependent on God, we should be able to accomplish very little,
or nothing, and that would justly give us cause to lament our lot;
especially so in contrast with what we now see, namely, that we are
dependent on that which is the most perfect of all, in such a way
that we exist also as a part of the whole, that is, of him; and we
contribute, so to say, also our share to the realization of so many
skilfully ordered and perfect works, which depend on him. [N1]
[Note N1]: B: In the first place, because we depend on that which is the
most perfect of all, in such a way that, being also a part of the
whole, that is, of him, we also contribute our share to the realization
of so many skilfully ordered and perfect works, which depend on
him, it follows therefore that we are God's servants, and that it is
our greatest perfection to be such necessarily.
Secondly, this knowledge brings it about that we do not
grow proud when we have accomplished something excellent
(which pride causes us to come to a standstill, because
we think that we are already great, and that we need do
nothing further; thereby militating precisely against our own
perfection, which consists in this -- that we must at all times
endeavour to advance further and further); but that, on the
contrary, we attribute all that we do to God, who is the first
and only cause of all that we accomplish and succeed in effecting.
Thirdly, in addition to the fact that this knowledge inspires
us with a real love of our neighbour, it shapes us so that we
never hate him, nor are we angry with him, but love to help
him, and to improve his condition. All these are the actions of
such men as have great perfection or
Fourthly, this knowledge also serves to promote the greatest
Common Good, because through it a judge can never side with
one party more than with the other, and when compelled to
punish the one, and to reward the other, he will do it with a
view to help and to improve the one as much as the other.
Fifthly, this knowledge frees us from Sorrow, from Despair,
from Envy, from Terror, and other evil passions, which, as we
shall presently say, constitute the real hell itself.
Sixthly, [A adds: and lastly.] this knowledge brings us so far
that we cease to stand in awe of God, as others do of the Devil (whom they
imagine), lest he should do them harm. For why indeed should
we fear God, who is the highest good itself, through whom all
things are what they are, and also we who live in him?
*Seventhly,* this knowledge also brings us so far that we
attribute all to God, love him alone because he is the most
glorious and the most perfect, and thus offer ourselves up
entirely to him; for these really constitute both the true service
of God and our own eternal happiness and bliss.
For the sole perfection and the final end of a slave and
of a tool is this, that they duly fulfill the task imposed on
them. For example, if a carpenter, while doing some
work, finds his Hatchet of excellent service, then this
Hatchet has thereby attained its end and perfection; but
if he should think: this Hatchet has rendered me such
good service now, therefore I shall let it rest, and exact
no further service from it, then precisely this Hatchet
would fail of its end, and be a Hatchet no more. Thus
also is it with man, so long as he is a part of Nature he
must follow the laws of Nature, and this is divine
service; and so long as he does this, it is well with him.
But if God should (so to say) will that man should serve
him no more, that would be equivalent to depriving him
of his well-being and annihilating him; because all that
he is consists in this, that he serves God.