De Sacramentis 1.2.1

1.2.1 “On the cause of man’s creation, and on the primordial causes of all things.”

Hugh restates his point from his preface that this work was undertaken not on his own initiative but on that of others, and that it is a work “especially suited for beginners.” He says that although man was made after everything else in time, he is before everything else in the order of causes, for all things else were made for his sake.

The world was made for man, and so causally man is prior to the world. Man, however, was made for “the sake of God,” and so God is before all. So the world was made to serve man, and man was made to serve God. Hugh is careful to clarify that in creating man for his own “sake” and to serve himself, God had no need or lack that was filled up or satisfied by his creation of man. Man is in a “middle position” of serving that which is above him and beings served by that which is below, so that he “might receive from both sides and claim all for himself, and that all might redound to man’s good, both the homage which he received and that which he rendered.” Man serves God and is “helped” in this by those things below him.

Hugh’s statement that man can “claim all for himself,” including not only creation below him but also God above him, is a bold one, yet Hugh takes it quite seriously, as he goes on to say that “all good belonged to man, that is, both what was made for his own sake, and that for whose sake he himself was made.” Man can “claim” God for himself because in some sense God “belongs” to man? Audacious. But Hugh would be bolder still when, distinguishing the good below man as being for his “necessity” while the good above him as being for his “happiness” (which he explicitly identifies as being “in the Creator”), he says that both of these goods “were brought to man since both were due man.” Hugh seems to have a quasi-Aristotelian conception of nature here, according to which a natural substance is, you might say, “entitled” to the ends towards which it is ordered by nature. Thus, if man is made for the sake of God, having the possession of God as his end, then everything else being equal (i.e., if man does not forfeit his claim through sin), man has a sort of “right” to God. As Hugh himself explains it, God is “due man, because for the sake of one [God], man was made, that he might posses and enjoy it…”

Hugh has already clarified that although man was made for God’s sake, God on account of his perfection or complete goodness nevertheless had no need of man or his help, but he poses the question now, “Why did god make the creature if He Himself could not have been helped by the creature?” The answer to this question, which he admits “may trouble some,” will be pursued in the following pages, but he gives some indication of where the answer to this question must lie, namely “in the sole author of things.”

 

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