Thomas Goodwin, when talking about God’s responsibility and man’s responsibility often employs words like due, meet, and suitable. Perhaps “suitable” is the only one we still use as Goodwin would. All are meant to communicate the idea of appropriateness. For instance, if God created humanity with stomachs, it would be appropriate for Him to also create food for them. Creating them and then allowing them to starve would be inappropriate, right! ?
For a moment, I want to dig into what Goodwin says about how humanity is made and what God’s appropriate response is to that. In the end, it will answer the question: What is the meaning of life? Here’s how Goodwin introduces this point:
If God would create intelligent natures out of nothing, it is appropriate for him to give them his own image of holiness whereby they might be able to know, to love, and to enjoy a communion with him, and happiness from himself, as their chiefest good.*
So, first, Goodwin says that if God is going to make us with brains of our own, with the ability to think as humans (unlike the animals), then it was appropriate, due, even required by His goodness, that we would be able, as those made in the image of God, to know and enjoy Him. Isn’t that interesting. Why is that the case? Why “must” God allow us to enjoy Him just because he made us as thinking creatures? Goodwin says:
As it was God’s generous gift to give it, so the very nature of humanity required it as convenient, meet, and suitable to our nature, and without it, God’s creation of us would have been imperfect, yea, miserable…
See, our intellects, if left alone, without God, would be miserable. They needed to be paired with a spiritual capacity as well, namely, an ability to know and enjoy God. This is where it gets really exciting:
For otherwise those vast faculties of understanding and will would have been left empty, like a hungry stomach of a giant, continually craving when it has only crumbs of food, and drops of weak water. They could not otherwise have attained their main end, or arrived at their convenient happiness, which their very natures were created and designed for, which can be filled with nothing but a communion with God.
Our intellects without spiritual encounter with God, without being able to know and enjoy Him, would be a black hole of despair. The very ability to think and understand in creatures made in the image of God, in a sense, demands the ability to think and know the best thing/person: GOD HIMSELF, and to enjoy Him!
If God has provided for their bodies, only, and not their souls with those noble powers of understanding and will, they would be deprived of their chief object; they would be shut out from the communication of the life of God, in which their happiness lay. This spiritual blessedness also must be given, along with those intellectual faculties, by which together they might be able to know, love, and delight in God.
Do you get it? If God made intelligent creatures, then it would it be monstrously cruel for Him to withhold Himself from us. That is the very nature and design He gave us. He gave us stomachs, so food is appropriate as well. Just so, in giving us an intellect and making us in His image, so it is appropriate (meet, due, convenient, necessary) that He gives us HIMSELF! That is what we are made for. To know and enjoy Him forever. That is what will fill the giant stomach of our souls! AND, joy of joys, that is what He delights to give us…HIMSELF!
*I’ve tried to update Goodwin’s language here for easier reading without in any way changing his meaning and intent.