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The Divine Attributes by WGT Shedd

The Attributes of God and the Doctrine of God

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The Divine Attributes by WGT Shedd

Charnocke: On the Attributes. Howe: Oracles of God, Lectures XVII.-XXV. Sckleiermacher: Glaubenslehre, g 50-56; 79-85. Twesten: Dogmatik, II. ii. Nitzsch: Christian Doctrine, | 65-75. Hodge: Theology, I. 368-439. Van Oosterzee: Dogmatics, I. 251-272. Martensen: Dogmatics, § 46-51. Strong : Theology, IV. i.

The Divine Attributes are modes either of the relation, or of the operation of the Divine essence. They are, consequently, an analytical and closer description of the essence. “Every divine attribute,” says Nitzsch (Doctrine, § 67), “is a conception of the idea of God.” The terms “conception” and “idea” are here employed as in the philosophy of Schelling. As the general and undefined idea is reduced to the form of the particular and definite conception, so the general Divine essence is contemplated in the particular attribute. The attributes are not parts of the essence, of which this latter is composed. The whole essence is in each attribute, and the attribute in the essence. We must not conceive of the essence as existing by itself, and prior to the attributes, and of the attributes as an addition to it. God is not essence and attributes, but in, attributes. The attributes are essential qualities of God. Hence Augustine, the Schoolmen, Calvin and Melanchthon say that “divinae virtutes sunt ipsa essentia.” Turrettin (ln. v. 7) remarks that “attributa dei non possunt realiter differre ab essentia, vel inter se tanquam res et res.”

The Divine attributes are of two classes, according as they denote a passive relation of the essence, or an active operation of it. 1. The essence considered as passively related to itself, is self-existent and simple; as passively related to duration, is eternal; to space, is immense; to number, is one. Self-existence, simplicity, eternity, immensity, and unity are not active operations of the Divine essence, but inactive relationships of it. Eternity, immensity, unity, and simplicity, and the like, are not modes of energizing but of existing. 2. The essence considered as in action yields attributes of a second class. When, for example, the Divine essence is contemplated as simply energizing, this is omnipotence; as cognizing, this is omniscience; as adapting means to ends, this is wisdom; as energizing benevolently or kindly, this is goodness. These attributes are the Divine essence, whole and entire, contemplated in a particular mode of external operation.

The Divine attributes are objective and real, and not merely man’s subjective mode of conception. We cannot say that we conceive of God as omnipotent, omnipresent, wise, good, and just, but that in fact he is not so. These attributes are objectively real, because the entire Divine essence is in them. The essence is not phenomenal and unreal, consequently the attributes arc not. In proportion as speculation has been engaged with the Divine essence while neglecting or denying the Divine attributes, it has been pantheistic; because it has occupied itself with a subject without predicates, a substance without properties. The Monad of gnosticism and the Absolute of pantheism are examples. These are mere mental abstractions, like the unknown quantity of algebra.

The difference between a Divine attribute and a Divine person is, that the person is a mode of the existence of the essence ; while the attribute is a mode either of the relation, or of the external operation of the essence. The qualifying adjective “external” is important; because the internal operation of the essence describes a trinitarian person. When the Divine essence energizes ad intra, the operation is generation, or spiration, and the essence so energizing is the Father, or the Son; but when the Divine essence energizes ad extra, the operation is omnipotence, or omniscience, or benevolence, etc. A trinitarian person is a mode of the essence; a divine attribute is a phase of the essence.

Several attributes may be grouped under a general term. Wisdom and omniscience fall under the head of the understanding. They are cognitive attributes, involving perception only. Goodness and mercy fall under the head of the will. They are voluntary attributes, in the sense that their exercise is sovereign and optional. Such attributes, consequently, are phases of the Divine understanding and will. In Scripture, all the attributes are sometimes summed up under the term “glory” (Sofa). “The heavens declare the glory of God,” Ps. 19 :1. Sometimes, however, the context shows that a particular attribute is meant, as in Rom. 6:4, where Christ is said to be ” raised by the glory of the Father.” “Glory” here denotes the divine omnipotence. Compare John 2 :11.

The number and classification of the Divine attributes is attended with some difficulty, and has led to considerable difference of opinion among theologians. Some reckon self-existence, immensity, simplicity, eternity, and the like, among the Divine attributes; others do not. Nitzsch (Christian Doctrine, § 66) denies that infinity, eternity, and immutability, are properly denominated attributes.

The Divine attributes have been classified as incommunicable and communicable; natural and moral; immanent or intransitive, and emanent or transitive; positive and negative; absolute and relative; active and passive. The incommunicable attributes are those that belong to God exclusively, so that there is nothing resembling them in a created spirit. They admit of no degrees, but are Divine by their very nature. Such are self-existence, simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability. The communicable attributes are those which are possessed in a finite degree, more or less, by men and angels. Such are wisdom, benevolence, holiness, justice, compassion, truth. It is with reference to these, that man is said to be created in the image of God, Gen. 1: 27; and to be made partaker, by regeneration, of a divine nature, 2 Pet. 1:4; and is commanded to imitate God: “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” 1 Pet. 1:16. That they cannot bo in a creature in an infinite degree is proved by Matt. 19 :17: “There is none [infinitely] good but one.” The natural attributes belong to the constitutional nature, as distinguished from the will of God. Such are self-existence, simplicity, infinity, eternity, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. Wisdom is sometimes assigned to the natural, and sometimes to the moral. The moral attributes are truth, goodness, holiness, justice, mercy, etc. The immanent or intransitive attributes are those whicb do not go forth and operate outside of the Divine essence, but remain internal. Such are immensity, eternity, simplicity, self-existence, etc. The emanent or transitive attributes issue forth and produce effects external to God. Such are omnipotence, benevolence, justice, etc. The positive attributes are those which belong in a finite degree to the creature. The negative are those from which all finite imperfection is negatived or removed. The absolute attributes express the relation of God to himself; the relative attributes express his relation to the world. Among the former are simplicity, self-existence, unity, eternity. Among the latter are omnipotence, omniscience, etc. The active attributes involve the idea of action: for example, omnipotence, justice, benevolence. The passive attributes involve the idea of rest: for example, self-existence, immensity, eternity, etc.

We adopt the classification of incommunicable and communicable attributes. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 4, favors this arrangement, by mentioning first, three of the incommunicable attributes; which are followed by communicable attributes that are qualified by the former: “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”

The Self-existence of God (aseitas) denotes that the ground of his being is in himself. In this reference, it is sometimes said that God is his own cause. But this is objectionable language. God is the uncaused Being, and in this respect differs from all other beings. The category of cause and effect is inapplicable to the existence of a necessary and eternal Being.

The Simplicity of God denotes that his being is uncompounded, incomplex, and indivisible: “a most pure spirit, without parts.” Simplicity does not belong to angels and men. They are complex, being composed of soul and body: two substances, not one. They are not unembodied and mere spirit. The angels, like the redeemed after the resurrection, have a spiritual body, which does not mean a body made of spirit, but one adapted to a spiritual world. A spiritual body belongs to the world of extended form, not of unextended mind. The simplicity of the Divine being is not contradictory to the trinity of his essence, because trinity does not denote three different essences, but one essence subsisting in three modes. The trinitarian distinctions no more conflict with the simplicity of the essence, than do the attributes. The essence is not divided into either hypostases, or attributes. The whole essence is in each person, and in each attribute. The theory of external emanation is incompatible with the simplicity of the Divine essence. A substance which by efflux of particles can flow out into new forms, like rays from the sun, is compounded and complex. When it is said, in Rom. 11: 36, that ” all things are of him ” (ef avrov), it is not meant that the universe is an effluent portion of the Divine essence, but that it originates from him as its creator. When it is said, in Acts 17: 28, that man is the offspring (ye’vo?) of God, it is not meant that man participates in the Divine essence, but possesses a nature similar to that of God.

The Infinity of God is the Divine essence viewed as having no bounds, or limits. And since limitation implies imperfection, the infinity of God implies that he is perfect in every respect in which he is infinite. If knowledge in any being has bounds, it is imperfect knowledge; if holiness has degrees or limits in any rational spirit, it is imperfect holiness. Yet finite holiness is real excellence, and limited knowledge is real knowledge. The finiteness of holiness does not convert it into sin; neither does the limitedness of knowledge convert it into error, or untruth. The imperfection or limitation of the finite relates not to quality, but to quantity. Infinity is a general term denoting a characteristic belonging to all the communicable attributes of God. His power, his knowledge, his veracity is infinite. It also characterizes the being of God, as well as his attributes. His essence is infinite. In this respect, infinity is like eternity and immutability. These latter, like the former, pervade the essence and all the communicable attributes. The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q. 4, defines God to be a Spirit who is “infinite, eternal, and unchangeable,” first in his essential ” being,” then in his ” wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” The Divine infinity is taught in Job 11:7-9. “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? It is as high as heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”

The Immensity (in mensum) of God is his essence as related to space. The Divine essence is not measurable, because not included in any limits of place. “The heaven of heavens cannot contain thee,” 1 Kings 8: 27; 2 Chron. 2: 6; Jer. 23: 24. God’s immensity is spiritual, having no extension of substance.

By virtue of God’s immensity, he is Omnipresent. Immensity and omnipresence are thus inseparably connected, and are best considered in reference to each other. Omnipresence has respect to the universe of created beings and things; to space as filled. Immensity has reference to this, and to what is beyond; to space as void: the ” extra flammantia moenia mundi,” of Lucretius (De Natura, I. 74). God is said to be beyond the universe (extra mundum), not in the sense that there are spaces beyond the universe which he fills by extension of substance, but in the sense that the universe does not exhaust his immensity, or is equal to it. “God’s immensity,” says Schleiermacher (Glaubenslehre, § 53), “is almighty immensity which determines or conditions space itself, and all that exists in space.”

The presence of mind is wholly different from that of matter. Spiritual substance is present, wherever it is present, as a complete tclwle at every point. The human soul, for example, is present as a unity and totality at every point of the body. It is not present as the body is, partitively, or by division of substance. God, also, as the infinite Spirit, is present at every point of space as a totality. He is not present in the universe by division of substance, but as a unity, simple and undivided. This is taught in the dicta: “The soul is all in every part;” “God is a circle whoso centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere.” Omnipresence is taught in Ps. 139 : 7 sq., “Whither shall I go from thy presence ?”; Jer. 23 : 23 sq.; Is. 61 :1; Acts 17:24.

The Divine omnipresence means rather the presence of all things to God, than God’s presence to all things. They are in his presence, but he is not in their presence. When it is said, Jer. 23 : 24, ” Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord,” the language is tropical If God were literally contained in the universe, the universe would be more immense than he is. “Nothing contains thee, but thou containest all things,” says Anselm (Proslogium 19). (a)

omnipresence of God is not like the presence of a material body in a locality. This excludes the presence of another body; but God’s presence does not exclude that of matter. “God,” says Augustine (De diversis quaostionibus, I. 20), “is not at some particular place (alicubi). For what is at some particular place is contained in space; and what is contained in some space is body. And yet because God exists and is not in space, all things are in him. Yet not so in him, as if he himself were a place in which they are.” (b) The Divine omnipresence is not like the presence of a finite spirit embodied in a material form. The soul of man, though not standing in the same relation to space that matter does, is yet not everywhere present, but is confined to a certain place; namely, the circumference of the body. “In quo loco est animus? credo equidem in capite: et cur credam, afferre possum: sed alias: nunc ubi sit animus, certe quidem inte est.” Cicero, Tusc. Quaest. I. 3. (c) Tho omnipresence of God is not by extension, multiplication, or division of essence. He is all in every place, similarly as the soul is all in every part of the body. The whole essence of God is here, is there, and everywhere.

God is said to be “in heaven,” “in believers,” “in hell,” etc., because of a special manifestation of his glory, or his grace, or his retribution. In this reference, sinners are said to be ” away” from God, and God from them. Some theologians have taught a ” specialis aproximatio essentiae divinae ad substantiam credentium,” upon the strength of John 14: 23: “We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” But this is unnecessary. “The essential presence of God is the same everywhere; the influxive declarative presence of God is special, and otherwise in one place than another.” Bates: On Heaven.

Some Socinian and deistical writers deny God’s omnipresence as to essence, and assert only a presence by operation from a distance. Newton seems to refer to this in a scholium at the end of the Principia: “God is one and the same God always and everywhere. He is omnipresent, not by means of his energy (virtus) alone, but also by his substance; for energy cannot subsist without substance.” The pagan acknowledged the Divine omnipresence. “Jovis omnia esse plena,” says Aratus. Virgil remarks that” deum ire per omnes terras tractusque maris, coelumque profundum.” Compare also Seneca: De Benevolentia, I. 8.

The Eternity of God is his essence as related to duration. It is duration without beginning, without end, and without succession. Gen. 21: 33, “The eternal God.” Is. 57: 15, “The One that inhabiteth eternity.” Ps. 90 : 2, “From eternity to eternity, thou art God.” Ps. 102 : 26-28; Is. 41: 4; 1 Tim. 1:17, ” The King eternal.” 1 Tim. 6 :16, “The Lord of lords who only hath immortality.” Rev. 1: 8, “I am Alpha and Omega.” The French version of the Scriptures renders Jehovah by l’Eternel.

Eternity is different from immortality, or simple endlessness. The schoolmen denominated the latter sempiternitas and aeviternitas. This is duration with succession, and has a beginning, but no end. Eternity considered as without beginning is described as a parte ante; as without ending, as a parte post. But the terms ” before ” and “after,” in this description, are tropical. They bring in the notion of time and succession, by which to explain; so that this definition is by quantity, not by quality. Locke’s definition of eternity as “infinite time, without beginning and ending,” is inadequate, because it makes eternity to be a species of time. The omission of successionlessness, in this definition, is fatal to accuracy. Eternity with succession is like immensity with extension, and omniscience with contingency. Some have defined eternity as the ” timeless,” the “supra-temporal,” in order to distinguish it in kind from time. Says Schleiermacher (Glanbenslehre, § 52), “we must negative from God, not only all limits of time, but time itself.”

That clause in the -definition of eternity which represents it as without sequences and succession, defines it according to quality. The schoolmen explain by saying that God, by reason of his eternity, has a simultaneous possession of his total duration. The creature comes into possession of his total duration gradually, and piecemeal. The whole of the Divine knowledge and experience is ever before the Divine being, so that there are not parts succeeding parts. The image that represents eternity is the ocean; that which represents time is the river. “The eternity of God’s existence,” says Edwards (Will, IV. viii.), “is nothing else but his immediate, perfect, and invariable possession of the whole of his unlimited life, together and at once. It is equally improper to talk of months and years of the Divine existence, and mile-squares of deity.” Says Aquinas (Summa, I. x. 4), “eternitas est tota simul; in tempore, autem, est prius et posterius. Ergo tempns et eternitas non sunt idem.” Says Boethius (De Consolatione, V. iv.), “eternitas est mensura esse permanentis, tempus vero est mensura motus.” Says Hooker (Pol., V. Ixix.), ” only God hath true immortality or eternity, that is to say, continuance wherein groweth no difference by addition of hereafter unto now.” Says Smith (Existence of God), “an infinitely comprehensive mind hath a simultaneous possession of its own never-flitting life; and because it finds no succession in its own immutable understanding, therefore it cannot find anything to measure out its own duration. And therefore the Platonists were wont to attribute aut>v or eternity, to God; not so much because he had neither beginning nor end of days, but because of his immutable and uniform nature.” Compare King: Origin of Evil, I. iii.; Locke: Understanding, II. xiv. 10; Anselm: Proslogium, 19.

In Scripture, the eternity of God is denoted by the term “to-day.” Ps. 2:7,” To-day have I begotten thee.” The eternal generation of the second trinitarian person is here described by the present alone, to the exclusion of the past and the future. This is the particular element in time which is best fitted to express the nature of the successionless, and the unchangeable. The instant is a point of time, and has no sequences. Hence eternity has been defined as an “eternal Now,” or an “universal Present.” Kant regards time as a form of the understanding; that is, as the manner in which the finite mind thinks, by reason of its finiteness. Similarly, Berkeley (Principles of Knowledge, § 98) defines time to be the succession of thoughts in the human mind. If this definition be accepted, then there is no time for God, because there is no succession of thoughts in his mind. Tho form and manner of God’s consciousness is totally different in respect to succession, from that of man’s consciousness. He does not think sequaciously as man and angel do. “My thoughts are not as your thoughts,” Is. 55 : 8.

The instantaneous vision, and successionless unchanging consciousness of the Divine omniscience, in comparison with the gradual view and successive increasing knowledge of the creature, have been thus illustrated. A person stands at a street corner, and sees a procession passing, whose component parts he does not know beforehand. He first sees white men, then black men, and lastly red men. When the last man has passed, he knows that the procession was composed of Europeans, Africans, and Indians. Now suppose that from a church tower he should see at one glance of the eye, the whole procession. Suppose that he saw no one part of it before the other, but that the total view was instantaneous. His knowledge of the procession would be all-comprehending, and without succession. He would not come into the knowledge of the components of the procession, as he did in the former case, gradually and part by part. And yet the procession would have its own movement still, and would be made up of parts that follow each other. Though the vision and knowledge of the procession, in this instance, is instantaneous, the procession itself is gradual. In like manner, the vast sequences of human history, and the still vaster sequences of physical history, appear all at once, and without any consciousness of succession, to the Divine observer. This is implied in the assertion that God “declareth the end from the beginning,” Is. 46 :10; and that “known unto God are all things from the beginning of the world,” Acts 15 :18. Both extremes of that unlimited series which make up the history of the created universe, together with all the intermediates, are seen at ouce, by the eternal Creator of the universe. Says Charnocke (Eternity of God), ” though there be a succession and order of things as they exist, there is no succession in God in regard to his knowledge of them. God knows the things that shall be wrought, and the order of them in their being brought upon the stage of the world; yet both the things and the order, he knows by one act [of knowledge]. The death of Christ was to precede his resurrection in the order of time; there is a succession in this; both at once are known by God; yet the [one] act of his knowledge is not exercised about Christ as dying and rising at the same moment; so that there is a succession in things, when there is no succession in God’s knowledge of things.” Man knows a succession successively; God knows a succession instantaneously, and simultaneously. God sees the end from the beginning, and hence for him there is no interval nor sequence between the end and the beginning. Man sees the end from the end, not from the beginning, and hence there is an interval and sequence, for him, between the two.

Not only is God’s act of knowledge eternal and successionless, but his act of power is so likewise. God creates all things from eternity by one act of power, as he knows all things from eternity by one act of knowledge, and as he decrees all things from eternity by one act of will. As we must employ the singular, not the plural, when we speak of the eternal decree, so we must when we speak of the eternal causation. There is one eternal all-comprehending decree, and one eternal all-creating cause. For God, there is no series in his action any more than in his cognition, or in his purpose. God’s energy as the cause of the creation is one and successionless, like his decree; the creation itself, as the effect of this eternal cause, is a successive series. The cause is one; the effect is many. The cause is eternal; the effect is temporal. For the Divine consciousness, the creation of the world is not in the past, and the destruction of the world is not in the future. God is not conscious of an interval of thousands of years between the act by which he created the heaven and the earth ” in the beginning” (Gen. 1:1), and the act by which he created man on ” the sixth day ” (Gen. 1: 26), because, in this case, one would be older than the other, and thus only one of them would be an eternal act. God’s causative energizing in both instances was eternal, and therefore simultaneous; but the effects of it were successive and temporal. It is impossible for the human mind to comprehend, or even to conceive of this. But it is necessary to postulate it, in order to maintain the Divine immutability and omniscience. Neither of these attributes can be established, if it be held that God’s consciousness respecting his exertion of power is successive like that of man or angel. Should we define God’s eternal causation as an endless succession of creative volitions, then God’s consciousness of his future creative volitions is in the future, like that of man and angel. This is fatal to omniscience, when the consciousness relates to cognition; and fatal to immutability, when the consciousness relates to action. If the Divine will, like the human, energized successively through the six days of creation, so that in the Divine consciousness the Divine willing on the first day preceded the Divine willing on the second, and the Divine willing upon the third followed that upon the second, then God, like man and angel, is conscious that two days are longer than one, and three days longer than two; which is contrary to the statement that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” 2 Pet. 3:8; and to the affirmation that “a thousand years in his sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night,” Ps. 90 : 4. The volition by which God created “the heaven and the earth” (Gen. 1:1) is eternal, but the heaven and the earth are not eternal. If the matter of the earth was originated ex nihilo (say) twenty million years ago, this matter is now exactly twenty million years old. But the Divine volition that originated it is not exactly twenty million years old. The created effect can be measured by days and years, but the creative cause cannot be.

Eternity implies perfection and completeness; time implies imperfection and incompleteness. An eternal being, and an eternal consciousness, never improve and never deteriorate; a temporal being and consciousness is continually experiencing one or the other. A creature increases in knowledge in certain directions, and loses knowledge in others. He acquires information and he forgets. The Creator has infinite knowledge at every instant, and neither learns nor forgets. “The duration of everything must of necessity be agreeable to its nature; and, therefore, as that whose imperfect nature is ever flowing like a river, and consists in continual motion and changes one after another, must needs have accordingly a successive and flowing duration, sliding perpetually from present into past, and always posting on toward the future, expecting something of itself which is not yet in being, but to come; so must that whose perfect nature is essentially immutable, and always the same, and necessarily existent, have a permanent duration, never losing anything of itself once present, as sliding away from it, nor yet running forward to meet something of itself before, which is not yet in being.” Cud worth: Intellectual System, I. v. It follows, therefore, that there is no evolution, or development in an eternal essence and consciousness. Evolution is change, by the very definition. Development is a transition from one mode of existence and experience to another. If there be evolution in a consciousness, then the consciousness is mutable, successive, fractional, and incomplete; if there be no evolution in a consciousness, and it is without succession, then the consciousness is immutable, simultaneous, omniscient, and complete.

This characteristic of an eternal being and consciousness is enunciated in the scholastic dictum: “Dens est actus purissimus sine ulla potentialitate.” There is nothing potential or latent in the deity, as there always is in created and finite natures. “Necesse est id quod primum ens, esse in actu, et nullo modo in potentia,” says Aquinas, Summa, I. iii. 1. One fatal error in the pantheistic conception of God is, that it attributes potentiality to him. It maintains that God is capable of evolution, and that he is endlessly passing through a process of development. This obliterates the distinction between the Infinite and the finite, by ascribing to the former a characteristic that belongs only to the latter. Tlie Infinite cannot be the perfect, if the pantheistic postulate be true. For if the Infinite being is passing from lower to higher modes of existence and of consciousness, as finite being is, absolute and immutable perfection cannot be attributed to him. Moreover, since evolution may be from the more perfect to the less perfect, as well as from the less perfect to the more perfect, it follows from the pantheistic theory, that the Infinite being may tend downward, and become evil. See Shedd: Theological Essays, 134.

The all-comprehending and unchanging consciousness of God excludes memory. This can belong only to the finite mind. As there is nothing past in the consciouness of God, there can be no such act in him as that of recalling the past to mind. He neither remembers nor forgets, in the literal sense, because the whole of his knowledge is simultaneously and perpetually present. And this whole, or sum total, of omniscience, includes all that which for the creature is included in past, present, and future time.

The term ” eternity ” is sometimes emploj-ed in a secondary signification, to denote the future world in distinction from this; as when it is said that a deceased man has gone into eternity. In this case, eternity does not denote successionless existence, but the spiritual existence of the next life. Men and angels cannot have the unchanging eternal consciousness of God. Every finite mind must think, feel, and act in time. Time is the necessary form of the finite understanding. This is one of the elements of difference between the Infinite and the finite.

“Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
Than time, or motion; but to hnman ears
Cannot without process of speech be told,
So told as earthly notion can receive.”—Mn/roN.

Augustine upon this point errs, in attributing a successionless intuition to the beatific vision of the saints and angels. In the heaven of heavens, ” the inhabitants,” he says (Confessions, XII. xiii.), “know all at once, not in part, not darkly, not through a glass, but as a whole, in manifestation, face to face, not this thing now, and that thing anon, but all at once, without succession of times.” God understands the finite form of cognition, though it is not the form of cognition for him. He knows that for the creature there is an interval between events, but this does not imply that for him there is an interval. lle perfectly comprehends man’s knowledge by sensation, but this does not prove that he himself has sensation. “He knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust,” but he has no such personal consciousness of frailty.

The idea of an existence and consciousness without sequences and succession is difficult even to entertain, much less to comprehend. There is nothing analogous to it in human consciousness, which is wholly successive. Hence the idea of the Divine eternity as without evolution, and change, is even more baffling to human intelligence than is the idea of triunity. The former is a greater mystery than the latter. The notions of paternity, filiation, and procession, enable the human mind to seize upon the doctrine of the trinity, but there are no corresponding points of contact in the doctrine of the Divine eternity. For this reason, some theologians define eternity as infinite time, and deny that it is without succession. They assert that there are sequences and intervals in God’s consciousness, as there are in that of men and angels. This was the opinion of Clericus. But greater difficulties follow from the denial, than from the affirmation of a consciousness without succession in God. It is certain that God is omniscient and immutable; but he can be neither, if his mind is subject to the same categories of time and space with the created mind. For both are associated. A creature of time is also a creature of space. A finite spirit cannot be omnipresent. It is embodied, and therefore must exist in a local iry. “The eternity of God,” says Schleiermacher (Glaubenslehre, § 52, 54), “is to be conceived as omnipotent eternity, that is, as that which in God determines and conditions time itself, with all that is temporal. God is fidaiXev< ; rav alwvcov, 1 Tim. 1:17.” Similarly, Augustine (Confessions, XL xiii.) denominates God “fabricator tempornm.” Schleiermacher objects to the separation of the attribute of eternity from that of omnipotence, when it is defined as merely the relation of God to duration; in that it represents him as merely existing passively, whereas he is intrinsically active and energizing. The remark that there is nothing analogous in human consciousness to the successionless consciousness of the Supreme being, perhaps needs some qualification. Those who have been brought to the brink of the grave, and then brought back, speak of a seemingly instantaneous survey of their whole past life. The following from Frances Kemble Butler’s liecords of Later Life is striking. She is describing her experience during a fearful storm at sea. “As the vessel reeled under a tremendous shock, the conviction of our impending destruction became so intense in my mind, that my imagination suddenly presented to me the death-vision, so to speak, of my whole existence. I should find it impossible adequately to describe the vividness with which my whole past life presented itself to my perception; not as a procession of events, filling up a succession of years, but as a whole—a total—suddenly held up to me as in a mirror, indescribably awful, combined with the simultaneous, acute, and almost despairing sense of loss, of waste, so to speak, by which it was accompanied. This instantaneous involuntary retrospect was followed by a keen and rapid survey of the religious belief in which I had been trained, and which then seemed to me my only important concern.” In all this, however, there is really a succession and a series; only it is so exceedingly rapid as to seem simultaneous.

The Immutability of God is the unchangeableness of his essence, attributes, purposes, and consciousness. Immutability results from eternity, as omnipresence does from immensity. That which has no evolution and no succession, is the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. Malachi 3 : 6, “I am Jehovah, I change not;” Ps. 102 : 26, “The heavens shall perish, but thou shalt endure;” James 1:17, “With whom is no variableness (irapdXKayq), neither shadow of turning.” Immutability belongs to the Divine essence; God can have no new attributes. It belongs also to the Divine will; his decrees are unalterable. The Socinians Crellius and Vorstius deny this latter; asserting that God can will what he once nilled, and nill what he once willed. This is contradicted by Scripture. Numbers 23:19, “God is not a man that he should lie; nor the son of man that he should repent;” Is. 46:10, ” My counsel shall stand ;” Ps. 33:11, “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever;” Ps. 110:4, “The Lord hath sworn and will not repent;” 1 Sam. 15: 29, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent;” Heb. 6: 17, “Whereby, God, willing to show the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath.” Immutability also characterizes the Divine consciousness. Nothing new is added to it, and nothing old is subtracted from it. Infinite knowledge is a fixed quantity, and so is an infinite experience. God is immutable because: (a) His being is from himself, and not from another. (5) He cannot change for the better, nor for the worse. (c) All causes and reasons for change are wanting, viz.: dependence upon another, error of mind, inconstancy of will and purpose. The act of creation ex nihilo made no change in God. It did not affect his own eternal essence; and his will and power to create were the same from eternity. Emanation ad extra would make a change in the essence. This is the outward effluence of substance, and diminishes the mass from which it issues. Incarnation made no change in God. The Divine essence was not transmuted into a human nature, bnt assumed a human nature into union with itself.

God is said to repent. Gen. 6:6,” It repented the Lord that he had made man upon the earth ;” Jonah 3:10, “God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them.” This means no change in his attributes and character, but only in his manner of treating men. “Repentance in God is not a change of will, but a will to change.” If God had treated the Ninevites after their repentance, as he had threatened to treat them before their repentance, this would have proved him to be mutable. It would have showed him to be at one time displeased with impenitence, and at another with penitence. Charnocke (Immutability of God) remarks that “the unchangeableness of God, when considered in relation to the exercise of his attributes in the government of the world, consists not in always acting in the same manner, however cases and circumstances may alter; but in always doing what is right, and in adapting his treatment of his intelligent creatures to the variation of their actions and characters. When the devils, now fallen, stood as glorious angels, they were the objects of God’s love, necessarily; when they fell, they were the objects of God’s hatred, because impure. The same reason which made him love them while they were pure, made him hate them when they were criminal.” It is one thing for God to will a change in created things external to himself, and another thing for him to change in his own nature and character. God can will a change in the affairs of men; such as the abrogation of the Levitical priesthood and ceremonial; and yet his own will remain immutable, because he had from eternity willed and decreed the change. In like manner, promises and threatenings that are made conditionally, and suppose a change in man, imply no change in the essence or attributes of God. “If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them,” Jer. 18: 7-10. Ko change is made in God, as there is in the creature, by his knowledge. A creature increases his knowledge, and experiences a change intellectually. But God’s knowledge is a fixed quantity, because it is infinite. He knows everything from everlasting to everlasting, and at each instant, and there is no more than everything. He knew before it came to pass, that Christ would be crucified upon Calvary. When that event occurred, it made no change in his knowledge. He was no better informed than he was before. He was no more certain of the crucifixion after the event, than he was before it, because he had decreed that it should take place. He could not have foreknown that it would take place, unless he had predetermined that it should. If God does not first decide that an event shall happen, he must wait and see whether it happens in order to any certain knowledge; and this would make a change in his knowledge.

God is an intelligent being, and knowledge is one of his communicable attributes. “God created man after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness.” Shorter Catechism, Q. 10. The Divine essence considered as cognizing gives the attribute of Omniscience. 1 John 3: 20, “God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things;” John 21:17, “Lord thou knowest all things;” Acts 15:18, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world;” Ileb. 4:13, ” All things are naked and opened (rerpa^(tj\iafieva) unto the eye of him with whom we have to do;” Rom. 11: 33; Matt. 6 :32; 1 Kings 8 :39; Ps. 139:1-16; Isa. 46 :10; Ezek. 11: 5.

The Divine knowlege is (a) Intuitive, as opposed to demonstrative or discursive; it is not obtained by comparing one thing with another, or deducing one truth from another; it is a direct vision. (5) Simultaneous, as opposed to successive; it is not received gradually into the mind, and by parts; the perception is total, and instantaneous. (c) Complete and certain, as opposed to incomplete and uncertain. The Divine knowledge excludes knowledge by the senses, gradual acquisition of knowledge, forgetting of knowledge, and recollection of knowledge.

God’s omniscience, from the creature’s point of view, is foreknowledge; but it is not foreknowledge from God’s point of view. The Infinite mind comprehends all things in one simultaneous intuition, and, consequently, there is for it no “before,” or “after.” Says Charnocke (God’s Knowledge), ” God considers all things in his own simple knowledge as if they were now acted; and therefore some have chosen to call the knowledge of things to come, not prescience, or foreknowledge, but knowledge; because God sees all things at one instant.” Says Owen (Vindiciae, V.), “God knows all things as they are; and in that order wherein they stand. Things that are past, as to the order of the creatures, he knows as past; not by remembrance, however, as we do; but by the same act of knowledge wherewith he knew them from all eternity, even before they were.” But this knowledge of everything simultaneously and at once, is for the finite mind equivalent to knowing before the event. Foreknowledge, strictly taken, implies an interval between the knowledge and the event. Had the Ninevites not repented, Nineveh would have been destroyed in accordance with the prophecy of Jonah. Forty days would have elapsed between Jonah’s foreknowledge of the event, and the event itself. A series of occurrences and experiences would have intervened, and become gradually known by Jonah. But this is not true of the Divine mind. God is not conscious of an interval of several thousand years, between his knowledge of Christ’s crucifixion and the occurrence of the crucifixion. For God, Christ was crucified from eternity, and the event was known and real to him from all eternity. Omniscience excludes both foreknowledge and subsequent knowledge. In this reference, Augustine (De diversis quaestionibus, II. ii. 2) says: “What is foreknowledge but the knowledge of the future. But what is future to God? For, if the divine knowledge includes all things at one instant, all things are present to him, and there is nothing future; and his knowledge is knowledge, and not foreknowledge.” Says Charnocke (God’s Knowledge), ” the knowledge of one thing is not, in God, before another; one act of knowledge doth not beget another. In regard of the objects themselves, one thing is before another; one year before another; one generation of men before another; one is the cause, and the other is the effect; in the creature’s mind there is such a succession, and God knows there will be such a succession; but there is no such order in God’s knowledge; for he knows all those successions by one glance, without any succession of knowledge in himself.”

God has a knowledge of all things that are possible, in distinction from things actual. He knows all that he can do. This is denominated scientia simplicis intelligentiae. It is knowledge that is confined to the Divine understanding, and never causes an act of the will. The things that are possible and known as such, are never made real. Charnocke (God’s Knowledge) explains it as the knowledge not only of the possible, but as speculative in distinction from practical knowledge. “God knows evil not with a practical knowledge, so as to be the author of it, but with a speculative knowledge so as to understand the sinfulness of it: or a knowledge simplicis intelligentiae, of simple intelligence, as he permits it, not positively wills it.” God has a knowledge of what is conditionally possible, that is, of those events which have never come to pass, but which might have occurred under certain possible conditions. This is denominated scientia media, or conditionata. For example, God knows that if a certain person should live to middle life, he would become exceedingly vicious and wicked. He prevents this by an early death of the person. Biblical instances are, Matt. 11: 21-23 (the repentance of Tyre and Sidon; of Sodom and Gomorrah); 1 Sam. 23 : 5-14; Jer. 38:17-20.

The doctrine of scientia media has been employed to explain the imputation of Adam’s first sin to his posterity. This sin is imputed because God foreknew that each one of the posterity would have committed it, if he had been placed in Adam’s circumstances. But upon this theory, any man might be charged with any sin whatsoever; for God knows that there is no sin which he would not commit, if strongly tempted and not kept by divine grace. Furthermore, upon this theory, sin is imputed, in the order of nature, before it is committed. Socinus denies that God has foreknowledge of man’s free acts. Owen: Vindiciae, V. Cicero (De divinatione) contends that prescience and free will are incompatible; and since free will is necessary to responsibility, this must be retained and foreknowledge given up. Augustine examines Cicero’s views, in De Civitate, V. ix.

Wisdom is a particular aspect of the Divine knowledge. 1 Tim. 1:17, ” God only wise.” It is the intelligence of God as manifested in the adoption of means to ends. The Hebrew D2n; and the Greek aocj>6s, primarily signify skilful, expert. It is seen: 1. In creation. Ps. 19 :1-7; “The heavens declare the glory of God;” Ps. 104 :1-34, ” O Lord, how manifold are thy works; in wisdom hast thou made them all;” Job 38 : 5, “Who hath laid the measures thereof?” 2. In providence. Ps. 33 :10, 11, « The Lord brought the counsel of the heathen to nought;” Rom. 8:28, “All things work together for good.” 3. In redemption. 1 Cor. 2:7; Rom. 11:33, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God!” Eph. 3 :10, “The manifold (irokinrolKiXo<;) wisdom of God.” The wisdom of God is called ” the foolishness of God” (1 Cor. 1:25), in order to exhibit its infinite superiority to human wisdom. The lowest degree of Divine wisdom, so low as to be called folly in comparison with the highest degree, is wiser than men. Wisdom is represented as a trinitarian person, in Prov. 8, and is the same as the Logos of John 1:1.

Wisdom implies a final end, to which all secondary ends are subordinate. This end is the glory of God. Rom. 11:36, “To him are all things.” Says Leighton, “As God could swear by no greater, he swears by himself; so as he could propose no greater end, he proposed himself.” The glory of God means such a manifestation of the Divine perfections as leads creatures to worship and adore. Adoration is the highest act of a creature, and the revealed excellence of the Creator is the object that elicits it. The essential glory of God, that is, his glory as it exists per se, is not intended in this definition. This is the same, whether there be a creation or not; whether there be worship or not.

The happiness of the creature cannot be the final end of God’s action. There would be no wisdom in this case, because the superior would be subordinated to the inferior. This would be folly, not wisdom. It would be a mal-adaptation of means to ends. The end would be made the means, and the means the end. The infinite would exist for the finite. Moreover, happiness from its very nature cannot be an ultimate end, because to seek it is to fail of getting it. “He that finds his life shall lose it.” To seek holiness as an ultimate end is to attain it. To seek holiness results in happiness, but not vice versa. Happiness is the effect, and holiness is the cause. Hence the command is, “Be ye holy,” not, “Be ye happy.” Another proof that happiness is not an ultimate end like holiness, is the fact that there are many kinds of happiness, but only one kind of holiness. Happiness depends upon the attainment of an object that is different from itself; and the objects are various: such as wealth, pleasure, fame, in the lower eudaemonism; and knowledge, culture, and virtue, in the higher. But holiness does not depend upon securing an object different from itself. A man is happy, only when he has obtained wealth, or fame, or culture, or something that is other than happiness itself. But a man is holy, not by obtaining wealth, fame, or culture, or something other than holiness, but by obtaining holiness itself. Consequently, holiness can be an ultimate end, but happiness cannot be. Yet, the moral perfection of the creature cannot be regarded as the final end of God’s action, though this is a higher view than the preceding. The creature in any aspect cannot be regarded as the last end, any more than the first cause of all things. The finite will cannot be an ultimate end for the infinite will. The creature must say, “Not my will, but thine be done.” Similarly, a finite nature or being cannot be an ultimate end for the infinite being.

The Power of God is the Divine essence energizing, and producing outward effects. It is the Divine activity ad extra. The immanent activity of the essence ad intra, as seen in the trinal distinctions and their intercommunion, does not come under the category of the Divine power. For this is necessary and constitutional activity. It is not optional with God to be triune. Eternal generation and spiration are not, like creation, providence, and redemption, acts of power, in the sense that if God so please they need not be performed. The Divine power is optional in its exercise. God need not have created anything. And after creation, he may annihilate. Only when he has bound himself by promise, as in the instance of faith in Christ, does his action cease to be optional. It cannot be said that God may keep his promises, or not, as he pleases.

The Divine power is Omnipotence. Ps. 115 : 3, ” Our God is in the heavens; he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased;” Rev. 4:8,” Holy Lord God Almighty ;” Gen. 17 :1, “I am the Almighty God.” Omnipotence is called the ” word” or “command” of God. Ps. 33 : 6, ” By the word of the Lord the heavens were made. He commanded and it stood fast.” This denotes the greatness of the power. Creation requires only God’s fiat. The Divine power is not to be measured merely by what God has actually effected. Omnipotence is manifested in the works of the actual creation, but it is not exhausted by them. God could create more than he ha?, if he pleased. He can do more than he has done, should it be his will. He could have raised up children to Abraham from the stones in the bed of Jordan; he could have sent in aid of the suffering Redeemer twelve legions of angels.

The Divine power is limited only by the absurd and selfcontradictory. God can do anything that does not imply a logical impossibility. A logical impossibility means that the predicate is contradictory to the subject; for example, a material spirit, a corporeal deity, a sensitive stone, an irrational man, a body without parts or extension, a square triangle. These are not objects of power, and therefore it is really no limitation of the Divine omnipotence to say that it cannot create them. They involve the absurdity that a thing can be and not be at the same time. A logical impossibility is, in truth, a nonentity; and to say that God cannot create a nonentity, is not a limitation or denial of power. For power is the ability to create entity.

Again, God cannot do anything inconsistent with the perfection of the Divine nature. Under this category, fall the instances mentioned in Heb. 6:18, “It is impossible for God to lie ; ” and 2 Tim. 2 :13, “He cannot deny himself ; ” and James 1:13, “God cannot be tempted.” God cannot sin: (a) Because sin is imperfection, and it is contradictory to say that a necessarily perfect Being may be imperfect, (b) God cannot sin, because he cannot be tempted to sin, and sinning without temptation or motive to sin, is impossible. God cannot be tempted, because temptation implies a desire for some good that is supposed to be greater than what is already possessed. But God cannot see anything more desirable than what he already has; and his understanding is infallible, so that he cannot mistake an apparent for a real good. All such cases, when analyzed, will be fonnd to imply something contradictory to the idea and definition of God. If it could be supposed that God is capable to be tempted and to sin, it would prove that he is not infinite. God is not able to die, to see corruption (Acts 2 : 27), to become non-existent. This would be finite weakness, not almighty power. Says Augustine (De Symbolo, I. i.), ” God is omnipotent, and yet he cannot die, he cannot lie, he cannot deny himself. How is he omnipotent then? He is omnipotent for the very reason that he cannot do these things. For if he could die, he would not be omnipotent.” Again he remarks (De Civitate, V. x.) that “the power of God is not diminished when it is said that he cannot die, and cannot sin; for if he could do these things, his power would be less. A being is rightly called omnipotent, from doing what he wills, and not from suffering what he does not will.”

A question arose among the schoolmen in regard to the Divine omnipotence, and some of them asserted the absolute omnipotence of God, in the sense that he could do whatever could be conceived of, either logically or illogically; whether good or evil; whether self-contradictory or not.1 They separated the natural from the moral attributes, and asserted the possibility of a conflict between them. Their view of God implied that his natural attributes are more central and ultimate than his moral and ethical attributes; that might in the deity is more fundamental and absolute than right. But the moral attributes are as central and controlling in God as the natural, and it is impossible to conceive that in his most perfect being, bare power can be divorced from wisdom and holiness, and trample them under. Shedd: History of Doctrine, II. 301304.

The manifestations of the Divine power are seen: 1. In Creation. The peculiar characteristic of this exertion of power is, that it originates ex nihilo. The miraculous is the same kind of exercise of omnipotence. The miracle is creative from nothing. Rom. 4:17, “God calleth those things which be not, as though they were.” Isa. 44 : 24; Gen. 1:1. 2. In Providence; by which what has been created is preserved, evolved, and controlled. Heb. 1 : 3, “Upholding all things by the word of his power.” The omnipotence of God exerted in the act of creation is denominated potentia absoluta. In this instance, there is no use made of anything that is in existence. It is the operation of the First cause alone. The Divine omnipotence exerted in providence is called potentia ordinata. In this instance, there is use made of existing things. God in providence em

> Des Cartes asserts this. “God did not will that the three angles of a triangle should be equal to two right angles because he knew it could not possibly be otherwise. But because he willed that the three angles of a triangle should bo necessarily equal to two right angles, therefore this is now true; and so on of other things. Nor is there any need to inquire how God from eternity oould have made it true that twice four should not be eight, for I confess that this cannot be understood by us.” Des Cartes: Besponsiones, § 6. In other places, however, Des Cartes “reasoned more correotly,” says Cudworth, IL 533. TegK’s Ed.

ploys the constitution and laws of nature which he created for this very purpose. The First cause uses second causes previously originated ex nihilo. God causes the warmth of the atmosphere by the rays of the sun, and not by an exertion of absolute omnipotence. All evolution belongs to the province of God’s potentia ordinata. 3. In Redemption. 1 Cor. 1: 24, ” Christ is the power of God.” Rom. 1:16, The gospel is ” the power of God.” Is. 53 :1, “Messiah is the arm of the Lord.” Ps. 80 :17, Messiah is “the man of thy right hand.”

The Holiness of God is the perfect rectitude of his will. The divine will is in absolute harmony with the divine nature. Isa. 6:3,” Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” Isa. 57:15; Ex. 15:11; Ps. 89:35; 145 :17; Amos 4: 2; Rev. 4:8; 15 : 4. God’s word is holy, Rom. 1: 2. His promise is holy, Ps. 105 : 42. His sabbath is holy, Isa. 58 : 13. His people are holy, Isa. 62 : 12. His residence is holy, Isa. 57:15. His angels are holy, Rev. 14:10.

Holiness in God cannot be defined in the same terms in which holiness in man or angel is defined, namely, as conformity to the moral law. The moral law supposes a superior being whose love and service are obligatory upon the inferior. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself,” is no law for God. The moral law is the rule of conduct only for finite beings, who are subjects of the divine government. The words,” thou shalt,” and “thou shalt not,” are inapplicable to the Infinite One. Holiness in God must, consequently, be defined as conformity to his own perfect nature. (.The only rule for the divine will is the divine reasonjS and the divine reason prescribes everything that it is befitting an Infinite being to do. God is not under law, nor above law. He is law. He is righteous by nature and of necessity. The trisagion teaches this truth. God is the source and author of law for all other beings.

The Divine holiness is expressed: 1. By law given to man; 2. By feelings in the Divine nature.

1. God’s holiness is manifested: (a) In the moral law. (5) In physical laws, which appear in the course and constitution of nature, and secure happiness to virtue, and connect misery With vice. (c) In mental laws. Peace of conscience, upon obedience, is the most exquisite enjoyment; remorse of conscience, upon disobedience, is the most exquisite torture. (d) In positive laws. These spring not from the constitution of nature, or of the human mind, but are enactments by the arbitrary will of God. Such are the law of the Sabbath, and the Levitical law.

The moral law is the most important and clearest of the expressions of the Divine holiness. It is drawn out analytically in the ten commandments. These contain two divisions or tables, relating to man’s duty to God, primarily, and to his fellow-man, secondarily. The sermon on the mount is a revised edition of the decalogue, and constitutes the legal basis of the new covenant, as the decalogue did of the old. Christ in the sermon interprets and spiritualizes the ten commandments. This progress in the revelation of the moral law explains the temporary allowance, under the old economy, of some evils that were prohibited and abolished under the new; such as slavery and polygamy. These were tolerated among the chosen people, “because of the hardness of their hearts” (Matt. 19 : 8); that is, because the existing condition and circumstances of the people made their immediate abolition impossible. Toleration is not approval, but the very contrary. It implies that the thing endured is intrinsically wrong. No one tolerates what is intrinsically right. Slavery and polygamy were not legalized and sanctioned by the decalogue, though they were permitted temporarily under the theocracy.

2. Holiness is expressed in the Divine feelings respecting right and wrong. The elder theologians describe it as an attribute of will, in this reference. Turrettin (III. xiv. 1) says: “To the will of God pertain those attributes (virtutes) which denote his perfection in disposition and action.” They are comprised under justice and benevolence. God as delighting in purity is holy. Ps. 11: 7, “The righteous Lord loveth righteousness.” Ps. 35 : 5, “The Lord loveth righteousness.” Ps. 37 : 28; 99:4. God as abhorring evil is holy. Jer. 44 : 4, ” O do not this abominable thing which I hate.” Ileb. 1:13.

Holiness occupies a place second to none among the communicable attributes. “If any,” says Charnocke, “this attribute hath an excellency above the other perfections of God. There are some attributes of God which we prefer because of our interest in them, and the relation they bear to us: as we esteem his goodness before his power, and his mercy whereby he relieves us, before his justice whereby he punisheth us; so there are some that God delights to honor because of their excellency. Where do you find any other attribute trebled in the praise of it? ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.’” Holiness is the quality which man is most particularly commanded to possess: Lev. 19 : 2, “Ye shall be holy, for I am holy.” Compare 1 Pet. 1:1416. It is the attribute which God singles out to swear by. Ps. 89 : 35, “Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie to David.”

Holiness is a general term denoting that quality in God whereby he is right (rectus) in himself, and in all his actions. This is implied in the Hebrew p^s, which means straight; and the Greek SiWto?, which means exactly right (aequus). But right is determined in its manifestation, by the character of the person towards whom it is manifested. What would be right towards an obedient creature, would be wrong towards a disobedient one. This brings to view the attribute of Justice, as a mode of holiness.1 In the

1 Owen: On Divine Justioe. Edwards: Satisfaction for Sin, JL

Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. 7. after describing God as ” most holy,” it is added “most just.”

Justice is that phase of God’s holiness which is seen in his treatment of the obedient and the disobedient subjects of his government. It is that attribute whereby he gives to everyone what is due him. The notion of debt or obligation necessarily enters into that of justice. Sin is indebtedness to law. Matt. 6 :12, “Forgive us our debts.” Cicero (De Finibus, 23) defines justice as “animi affectns suum cnique tribuens.” The element of indebtedness, together with that of retribution and penalty, is eliminated from the attribute in the Socinian soteriology. Justice, in this theory, is employed in the loose and general sense of moral excellence. “There is,” says Socinus (Prelectiones Theologicae, c. 16), “no such justice in God as requires absolutely and inexorably that sin be punished. There is, indeed, a perpetual, and constant justice in God, but this is nothing but his moral equity and rectitude, by virtue of which there is no depravity or iniquity in any of his works.”

The attribute of justice is abundantly taught in Scripture. Dent. 32: 4, “All his ways are judgment, a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Ex. 20 : 5, “I am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” Ex. 34:7, “The Lord God will by no means clear the guilty.” Job 8:3; 34 :12; Ps. 145:17; Dan. 9:14; Matt. 10:28; Rom. 2:6-10.

Rectoral justice is God’s rectitude as a ruler, over both the good and the evil. It relates to legislation, or the imposition of law. God, both in rewarding and punishing, lays down a just law. The reward and the penalty are exactly suited to the actions. Job 34: 23, ” For he will not lay upon man more than right.” Ps. 89:14, “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne.” Distributive justice is God’s rectitude in the execution of law, both in reference to the good and the evil. It relates to the distribution of rewards and punishments. Rom. 2:6, God “will render to every man according to his deeds.”

1 Pet. 1:17, “The Father without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work.” Isa. 3 :10, 11, ” Say ye to the righteous that it shall be well with him. “Woe unto the wicked 1 it shall be ill with him.” Distributive justice is twofold: (a) remunerative justice; (b) retributive justice. 1. Remunerative justice is the distribution of rewards both to men and angels. Ps. 58 :11, ‘■ Verily there is a reward for the righteous.” Deut. 7: 9, 12, 13;

2 Chron. 6:15, “Thou hast kept with thy servant David my father, that which thou hast promised him.” Micah 7: 20; Matt. 25 : 21, “Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things.” Matt. 25: 31; Rom. 2:7; Heb. 11: 26; Jude 6*

Remunerative justice is the expression of the divine love (ijvyairrj), as retributive justice is of the divine wrath {opytf). It proceeds upon the ground of relative merit only. The creature cannot establish an absolute merit before the creator. This is taught by our Lord in Luke 17:10, “”When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants;” and by St. Paul in 1 Cor. 4:7,” What hast thou that thou didst not receive; why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it?” and by God to Job, 41: 11, “Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? Whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine.” According^, the Westminster Confession, VII. i., affirms that ” the distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto him as their creator, yet they could never have any f ruition of him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension on God’s part, which he hath been pleased to express by way of covenant.”

Absolute merit, as distinguished from relative, supposes an independent relation and agency between two parties, like that between man and man. One man does not create and uphold another man, while the one is serving and obeying the other. But this is the state of the case, when man serves and obeys God. Creation, preservation, and redemption all preclude that independent agency by which one party brings another under obligations to him, and establishes an absolute merit or indebtedness. Consequently, the exercise of remunerative justice by God is pactional and gracious. It results from a previous covenant upon his part. The reward of a creature’s obedience is in consequence of a Divine promise. No primary and original obligation rests upon the Creator to recompense for services rendered by a creature whom he has made from nothing, and continually upholds in existence. A soul that is created holy cannot demand from its maker, at the instant of creation, a reward for being holy upon the ground of an absolute indebtedness on the part of its maker. Because God has originated the powers and capacities of a creature from nothing, he is entitled to all the agency of these faculties without paying for it; as the artificer of a watch is entitled to all the motion of the watch, without coming under obligation to the watch. Even this comparison is inadequate; for the maker of the watch did not create the materials out of which it is made. But God creates the very substance itself out of which man’s faculties of mind and body are made. All that strict justice would require on the part of God, in case a creature should continue in the holiness in which he is created is, that he should not cause him to suffer. That he should go further than this, and positively reward him for being and continuing holy, is gracious treatment. If the creature’s holiness were self-originated and self-sustained, instead of concreated and sustained by God, then the merit would be absolute, and God would owe the reward by an original and nncovenanted obligation. Not only are the being and facnlties, by which the obedience is rendered, created and upheld by God, but the disposition rightly to employ them is due to the Holy Spirit. David expresses this truth in 1 Chron. 29:14, ” But who am I, and what is mj people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? For all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.”

But though no primary and original obligation rests upon the Creator, to reward a creature made from nothing, and continually upheld and helped in the service which he renders, yet he can constitute a secondary and relative obligation. He can promise to reward the creature’s service; and having bound7 himself to reward obedience, his own word establishes a species of claim. Obedient man, or angel, may plead the Divine promise as the ground of reward. God desires to be reminded of his promise, and is honored when the creature trusts in it implicitly. And ” if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself,” 2 Tim. 2 :13. In the words of Witsius (Covenants, I. i. iv.), ” God by his promise, has made himself a debtor to men. Or, to speak in a manner more becoming God, he was pleased to make his performance of his promise a debt due to himself. To this purpose, Augustine, Sermo 16, speaks well: ‘God became our debtor, not by receiving anything, but by promising what he pleased. For it was of his own bounty that he vouchsafed to make himself a debtor.1″ The Scripture representations agree with this. In Rom. 6 :23, the recompense of obedience is denominated a “gift” (xupiajja); while that of disobedience is called “wages” (oyfriovia). Sin is the solitary action of the will unassisted by grace; but holiness is the action of the will wrought upon by God. Again, the reward of obedience is denominated an ” inheritance:” Acts 20 : 32, ” To give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Eph. 1:11, 14, ” We have obtained an inheritance.” Col. 1: 2, “The Father hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.” But an inheritance is not the payment of a debt, in the strict sense of the word. It results from the parental and filial relations, and not from those of creditor and debtor. Yet, as an inheritance may be called the reward of filial obedience, so the blessedness of the future state may be and is called the reward of Christian obedience here upon earth.

Since God and redeemed man are two distinct agents, there is a personal quality in man’s obedience whereby it is truly rewardable. When God rewards a believer for his severe struggle with a bosom-sin, he does not reward God’s struggle, but man’s. Though the struggle was started, helped and made successful by the Holy Spirit, yet it was, after all, a human, not a divine conflict with sin. This is rewardable, and when God rewards it, he does not reward himself but his creature. Paul teaches this in saying, “I live.” There is a personal and human quality in the holiness and the obedience. But that this may not be so exaggerated as to imply that the personal and the human has been independent and self-sustaining in the holiness and obedience, and that God has thus been brought under the absolute obligation of a debtor to a creditor, he adds, “Yet not I, but Christ which liveth in me.” That the reward of obedience is gracious is still more true in the case of redeemed man. Here, there has been positive disobedience and ill-desert. The gospel promise of reward, in this case, is made not only to a creature, but to a sinful creature.

The rewards for obedience are: 1. Natural. God so constitutes man and nature that virtue has happy consequences: (a) Peace of conscience: 1 Pet. 3 : 21, “The answer of a good conscience;” (5) Worldly prosperity: 1 Tim. 4:8,” Godliness hath the promise of the life that now is.” 2. Positive. These are the rewards bestowed in the future life, which far exceed the merely natural operations of conscience, and earthly good. They consist principally in a special manifestation of the Divine love and approbation. John 14: 23; Matt. 25 : 34-40; Ps. 16 :11, “In thy presence is fulness of joy.” Ps. 17:15, “I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness.”

Retributive justice (sometimes denominated punitive, vindicative, or, in the older English, vindictive, avenging, or revenging, L. C. 77) is that part of distributive justice which relates to the infliction of penalty. It is the expression of the divine opyq. In a sinless world, there would be no place for its exercise, and it would be comparatively an unimportant aspect of the general attribute of justice. But in a sinful world, retribution must hold a prominent place; and hence in the Christian religion, which is a religion for a fallen race of beings, retributive justice comes continually into view. Hence when justice is spoken of without any qualifying word to show that some other aspect of the attribute is meant, punitive justice is intended. Passages of Scripture which present it are: “Rom. 1: 32, “The judgment of God is, that they which do such things are worthy of death.” Rom. 2:8,” Who will visit tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” 2 Thess. 1:8,” The Lord Jesus shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance (iKSiieqaiv) on them that know not God.” Acts 28 : 4, ” Vengeance (Sucrf) suffereth not to live.” Rom. 12 : 19, “Vengeance (e7coY/er7<rt?) is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”

Retributive justice is expressed: 1. In the commandment that is given with a penalty attached to it. Gen. 2:17, “Thou shalt not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge; in the day that thou eatest thou shalt surely die.” Gal. 3 :10, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the law to do them.” Deut. 27 : 26. Ezek. 18 : 4, “The soul that sinneth, it shalt die.” Rom. 6 : 23, “The wages of sin is death.” The moral law expresses the mind and intention of the lawgiver. 2. In the actual infliction of the penalty threatened. Both are requisite. The former without the latter would evince want of veracity; want of power; or vacillation.

There is an important difference between remunerative and retributive merit, or between the merit of holiness and the demerit of sin. While the former is relative, the latter is absolute. If a disobedient creature were disposed to do so, he could demand the recompense due to his transgression of the moral law, as something that is strictly due to

* him. Divine justice is originally and necessarily obliged

* to requite disobedience, but not to reward obedience. God does not covenant to punish sin, as he does to recompense holiness. The requital in the case of transgression is not pactional and by promise, but necessary. The reason of this is, that sin has the creature for its ultimate and sole efficient. Unlike holiness, sin does not rnn back to God as its author. When obedience takes place, the Infinite will works in the finite will, both to will and to do. But when disobedience takes place, the finite will works alone. In the act of sin, man is an original and unassisted, though not unsupported author. He performs an act that is analogous to the Divine act of creation ex nihilo. It is true that the faculties of the creature by which sin is committed are created and upheld by the creator. God sustains the being of man or angel, in and during the very acting of sin. But the wrong agency is the creature’s alone. God does not cooperate in the act of transgression, and hence its demerit is absolute and not relative.

At this point we notice the doctrine of the Divine concur8us. A distinction has been made between an action and the vicionsness of an action. The first is called the ” material ” part of the action, and the latter the ” formal” part. God, it is said, concurs in the material, but not in the formal part of sin. “Every action is good by a physical goodness, as it is an act of the mind or hand, which have a natural goodness by creation ; but every action is not morally good: the physical goodness of the action depends on God, the moral evil on the creature.” Charnocke: On Holiness, 499. The objection to this distinction between a ” material” and a ” formal” part of sin is, that the material part of it is not sinful. Sin is a compound of guilt and innocence, according to this analysis and definition. But sin is simple, not compound in its nature. It is evil and only eviL To define it as a composition of tbat which is good in itself with that which is evil, is illogical. The following illustration which Charnocke (Holiuess, p. 500) gives, will illustrate this. “Two judges are in joint commission for the trial of a malefactor, and both upon proof of his guilt condemn him. This action in both, considered as an action, is good; for it is adjudging a man to death whose crime deserves such a punishment. But this same act, which is but one joint act of both, may be morally good in one judge, and morally evil in the other: morally good in him that condemns him out of an unbiassed consideration of the demerit of the crime; and morally evil in the other who hath not respect to this consideration, but is moved by some private animosity against the prisoner, and a desire of revenge for some private injury he has received from him. The act in itself is the same materially in both; but in one it is an act of justice, and in the other an act of murder, as it respects the principle and motive of it in the two judges.”

Upon examining this case, it will be found that what is called the ” formal ” part of sin is in reality the essence of it; and what is called the ” material” part of sin is no part of it at all. The sin in the instance of the sinful judge, as Charnocke says, is in the principle and motive of his act of passing sentence. This principle and motive is the selfish disposition of the man; which is simply the inclination or self-determination of his will. This inclination, and this alone, is the viciousness and guilt in the case. Whether the judge actually passed the sentence verbally or not, would make no difference with the fact of his selfishness and sin in the sight of God. This internal action of the will, seen in the self-moving inclination and disposition, is the wickedness of the man. To add to it the action of the physical faculty of the tongue in speaking the sentence, is to add nothing that essentially belongs to the idea and definition of sin. To distinguish, therefore, this bodily and physical part of man’s agency, in which God confessedly concurs, as evidence that God concurs in the act of sin itself, is not to the purpose. The real question is, whether God concurs and co-operates in that internal action of the will which is the real malignity and wickedness in the case supposed. Did God work in the revengeful judge to will, is the question. Did he ” concur ” in his malignant disposition? The answer to this question must be in the negative.

Retributive justice is an attribute whose exercise is necessary, in case there be transgression of the moral law. God cannot lay down a law, affix a penalty, and threaten its infliction, and proceed no further, in case of disobedience. The divine veracity forbids this. He has solemnly declared that ” he will by no means clear the guilty,” Ex. 34: 7. If the penalty is not inflicted, it is not “impossible for God to lie,” Heb. 6:18; and it is untrue that ” the Lord hath sworn and will not repent,” Ps. 110:4. Hence, in every instance of transgression, the penalty of law must be inflicted, either personally or vicariously; either upon the transgressor or upon his substitute. The remission of penalty under the Divine administration is not absolute, but relative. It may be omitted in respect to the real criminal, but, if so, it must be inflicted upon some one in his place.

At this point, the possibility of the vicarious satisfaction of retributive justice requires a brief notice. The full discussion of the topic belongs to the doctrine of Atonement. See Vol. II., p. 451. The exercise of justice, while necessary in respect to sin, is free and sovereign in respect to the sinner. Justice necessarily demands that sin be punished, but not necessarily in the person of the sinner. Justice may allow of the substitution of one person for another, provided that in the substitution no injustice is done to the rights of any of the parties interested. This principle was expressed by the schoolmen in the statement, “impersonaliter poenam necessario infligi omni peccato, eed non personaliter omni peccatori.” In the words of Turrettin (III. xix. 4), “duplex jus oritur circa poenae inflictionem; aliud necessarium et indispeusabile respectu peccati ipsius, aliud vero liberum et positivuin respectu peccatoris.”

This agrees with the intuitive convictions of man. “The profound and awful idea of substitution meets us in the religion of the early Romans. When the gods of the community were angry, and nobody could be laid hold of as definitely guilty, they might be appeased by one who voltunarily gave himself up (devovere se). Noxious chasms in the ground were closed, and battles half-lost were converted into victories, when a brave citizen threw himself as an expiatory offering into the abyss, or upon the foe.” Mommsen : Rome, I. xii. Mommsen adds that the compulsory substitution of the innocent for the guilty, human sacrifice by force, was not allowed in the early Roman commonwealth. There was, moreover, no formal provision for this substitution in the legislation of the Romans. This substitution was the action of popular impulse, and of the voluntary decision of the individual. Some assert that the substitution of penalty is impossible, and cite in proof the passages: Gen 2:17, “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;” and Ezek. 18 : 4, 20, “The soul that sinneth it shall die.” In these passages, the verb, not the pronoun, is the emphatic word. They teach the same truth with Rom. 6 : 23: “The wages of sin is death.” If, in these texts, the emphasis is to be laid upon the pronouns “it” and “thou,” so as to make the Divine declaration to be, that every individual who transgresses shall himself suffer the penalty of transgression, and that no other person shall suffer it vicariously for him, then the salvation of a sinner is impossible. For nothing could occur but the execution of penalty upon the actual transgressor. No exercise of mercy could take place in the universe of God. Such an interpretation admits of no alternative, and every soul that sinned would die. But that this cannot be the explanation intended to be put upon these threatenings, is proved by the fact that not every soul that has sinned does suffer the penalty threatened. The implied meaning of these texts, therefore, is, that “in the day thou eatest thereof, thou or thy redeemer shalt die; the soul that sinneth, it, or its surety shall die.” Sin must be punished personally, or else vicariously. “It may be objected,” says Edwards (God’s Sovereignty), “that God said, If thou eatest thou shalt die; as though the same person that sinned must suffer; and, therefore, Why does not God’s truth oblige him to that? I answer, that the word then was not intended to be restrained to him that in his own person sinned. Adam probably understood that his posterity were included, whether they sinned in their own person or not. If they sinned in Adam, their snrety, those words, ‘If thou eatest,’ meant, ‘If thou eatest in thyself, or in thy surety.1 And therefore, the latter words,’ Thou shalt die,’ do also fairly allow of such a construction as, ‘Thou shalt die, in thyself, or in thy surety.1”

The demand of retributive justice is, that sin be punished to the full measure and degree announced in the law. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,” Rom. 1: 8. The Divine displeasure expressed in punitive justice is not aimed against the person as such, and distinct from his sin. “God,” says Charnocke (Holiness, 473), ” is not displeased with the nature of man as man, for that was derived from him ; but with the nature of man as sinful, which is derived from the sinner himself. God hates only the sin, not the sinner; he desires only the destruction of the one, not the misery of the other.” God loves the person as such. The immortal nature of man is precious in his sight. Divine justice has no angry spite against anyone’s person. Consequently, if its claims can be satisfied by a suffering endured by another person, properly qualified, there is no feeling of animosity against the sinner’s person, to prevent the substitution. It is true that justice is not obliged to accept a substitute. It can insist, if it pleases, upon the infliction of the penalty upon the actual criminal. But neither is it obliged to refuse a substitute. Justice is not tied up, by anything in its own nature, to the infliction of the law’s penalty upon the identical person of the sinner, to the exclusion of any other person whatsoever.

In the sphere of human life, a refusal to admit a substitution of one person for another, in the only case in which. substitution is allowable, viz., in commercial law, would look like malice, and would require explanation. Should a creditor refuse to receive the complete vicarious payment of a debt from a friend of the debtor (though this would involve no difficulty for the debtor, who could of course take his friend’s money and pay it in person, yet), it would evince a malignant and spiteful feeling of the creditor towards the person of the debtor. It would look as if, besides obtaining the full satisfaction of his claims, he desired to injure him, or in some way to vex and worry him.1 But in the Divine sphere, the suspicion of personal animosity, in case of a refusal to permit a vicarious satisfaction of justice, could not arise, because of the absolute perfection of God. “As for God, his way is perfect,” Ps. 18 : 30. And had the Supreme Judge permitted no substitute for man the guilty, it would be necessary to assume that there were good reasons for the procedure. The reasons might be unknown, and perhaps unknowable. But the reason certainly could not be, that the Eternal Judge feels hatred towards the body and soul of a man, as that particular man. There is no malignant feeling in God towards the person of even the most wicked and devilish transgressor. God is not a respecter of persons in any sense. He has no prejudice for, or grudge against, any one of his creatures; and if the complete satisfaction of justice can be secured by a vicarious

1 Compare what Cicero (De Officiis, Lib. L 10) says concerning a “malicious interpretation ” of law.

endurance of penalty, he has no such ill-will towards the sinner’s person, in distinction from his sin, as would prevent him from accepting it, in case there were no reasons in his own mind why he should not. On the contrary, he loves the person, the immortal spirit, of the transgressor; as he has abundantly evinced in the gospel method of mercy. It is, however, to be carefully noticed, in case there be substitution of penalty: 1. That the substituted penalty must be a strict and full equivalent. Justice is inexorable upon this point. Here, the necessary nature of the attribute appears. 2. That the person substituted be able to render complete satisfaction, and be himself no debtor to law and justice.

The sovereignty and freedom of God in respect to justice, therefore, relates not to the abolition, nor to the relaxation, but to the substitution of punishment. It does not consist in any power to violate or waive legal claims. These must be maintained in any event. “Fiat justitia mat coelum” is an intuitive conviction. The exercise of the other attributes of God is regulated and conditioned by that of justice. God cannot exert omnipotence unjustly, or benevolence, or mercy. The question, ” Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18 : 25), must be answered affirmatively. It follows, then, that the sovereignty of God in respect to retributive justice, consists in his power and right to satisfy its claims in more than one way. He has a choice of methods. He may inflict the full amount of suffering due to sin, either upon the sinner, or upon a proper substitute. He may require the complete satisfaction of justice from the transgressor, or he may provide it for him vicariously. Divine justice may smite the guilty man, or it may smite the man who is God’s “fellow,” Zech. 13 : 7. It is free to do either; but one or the other it must do. God is not obliged either to accept or to provide a substituted penalty, and in case he does either, it is grace and mercy towards the actual transgressor. These two particulars, of permitting substitution, and providing the substitute, furnish the answer to the question, ” Where is the mercy of God, in case justice is strictly satisfied by a vicarious person?” There is mercy in permitting another person to do for the siuuer what the sinner is bound to do for himself; and still greater mercy in providing that person; and greater still, in becoming that person.

The Socinian view of retributive justice denies its necessary nature. “There is no such justice in God,” says Socinus, “as requires absolutely and inexorably that sin be punished, and such as God himself cannot repudiate. There is indeed a perpetual and constant justice in God; but this is nothing but his moral equity and rectitude, by virtue o’f which there is no depravity or iniquity in any of his works.” Prelectiones Theologicae, XVI. This makes retributive justice to be an effect of the Divine will; and not an immanent and necessary attribute. Indeed, Socinus (De Servatore, I.) expressly asserts that justice, in the popular (vulgaris) signification, as opposed to mercy, “dei qualitas non est, sed tantum effectus voluntatis ipsius.” It would follow from this, that the moral law together with its penalty is a positive statute, like the ceremonial law. And as God abrogated the latter, so he could abrogate the former, by an act of arbitrary will. Accordingly, in respect to the necessity of the satisfaction of justice, Socinus remarks: “Divinae justitiae, per quam peccatores damnari meremur, pro peccatis nostris neque Christum satisfecisse, neque ut satisfaceret, opus fuisse, arbitror.” But if justice is an attribute at all, of the Supreme being, it must be essential, like all the other attributes. It can no more be an effect of God’s optional will, than his omnipotence can be. An effect or product need not be at all, provided the efficient or producer so pleases.

The history of doctrine shows a difference of opinion in respect to the absolute, or the relative necessity of retributive justice. The question was raised by some of the schoolmen, whether the satisfaction which Christ makes to Divine justice for the sin of man is necessary per se, or only because God so willed it. Schoolmen like Hales, Bonaventura, and Aquinas, adopted the latter view, in opposition to Anselm’s positions in his Cur Deus homo? These theologians took an erroneous view of the divine omnipotence, whereby this attribute is made superior to all others. “In contemplating the Divine power as absolute,” remarks llales, “we conceive of a certain energy (virtus) in the deity that is abstracted from the rest of his nature, and transcends all limitations; and with respect to this form, the divine power cannot have limits set to it (non est determinare).” But it is as impossible and inconceivable, for the divine power to act in isolation from all the other attributes, as it is for the divine omniscience, or for the divine benevolence to do so. Benevolence cannot act without power; and neither can power, in so pei-fect a being as God, act without wisdom or justice. This theory ultimately resolves the deity into mere blind force.

Still, the motive, in some instances, was a good one. There was fear of limiting the divine omnipotence. Twisse, the moderator of the Westminster Assembly, affirmed only the relative necessity of retributive justice, in opposition to the powerful reasoning of Owen, who maintained its absolute nature. Magee (Atonement, I. 191) adopts relative necessity. Bespecting such instances, Turrettin (III. xix. 9) remarks, that although both parties are agreed as against the tenets and positions of Socinus, yet the doctrine of the absolute necessity of justice is much the most consonant with the nature of God, and the language of Scripture, and more efficacious for the refutation of Socinianism (ad haeresim illam pestilentissimam jugulandam). The Remonstrants asserted the relative necessity of retributive justice. In their Apologia they say, that ” to affirm that the avenging justice of God is so essential to his nature, that by virtue of it, God is obliged and necessitated to punish sin, is very absurd and very unworthy of God.” See Witeius: Apostles’ Creed, Dissertation IX.

No one of the Divine attributes is supported by more or stronger evidences, than retributive justice. 1. The testimony from Scripture is abundant. To the passages already cited, may be added, as only a part of the great number of texts, Ex. 34: 7, ” God will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children.” Ps. 11: 6, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest.” Matt. 18: 8, “It is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, than to be cast into hell-fire.” Jude 7, ” Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” Luke 12 : 5, ” Yea, I say unto you, fear him who hath power to cast into hell.” 2 Thess. 1:6, “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you.” Heb. 2 :2, “A just recompense of reward.” 2. The testimony from the human conscience, and the consent of all nations alluded to in Hom. 2:14, 15, “Their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile accusing.”1 3. Sacrifice among pagan nations, and the Jewish system of sacrifices, teach retributive justice. The first is universal, and implies that divine justice requires satisfaction by expiatory suffering. The second was an arrangement for eliciting the consciousness of guilt, and preannouncing its pacification through the suffering Messiah. Heb. 10:3, “In those sacrifices there is a remembrance of sins every year.” * 4. The remarkable provision made in the gospel for the vicarious satisfaction of retributive justice, evinces the reality and importance of the attribute.

» See Plato: Republic X. 614-621; Phaedo, 118,114; Gorgias, 523-527. Tacitus: Annals, VL vi.; XIV. x.; XV. xxvi. Lewis: Plato contra Atheos, Appendix LIX. Tholuck: On Heathenism. Owen: On Divine Justice. Shedd: Theological Essays, 284-293.

9Magee: Atonement (Human Sacrifices; Propitiation as held by Jews and Heathen; Universality of Sacrifice). Owen: On Divine Justice, IV. Smith: Christian Theology, 443-445.

Retributive justice is retrospective in its primary aim. It looks back at what has been doue in the past. Its first object is requital. A man is hung for murder, principally and before all other reasons, because he has transgressed the law forbidding murder. He is not punished primarily from a prospective aim, such as his own moral improvement, or for the purpose of preventing him from committing another murder, or for the purpose of deterring others from committing murder. It is true that moral improvement may be the consequence of the infliction of the penalty. But the consequence must not be confounded with the purpose. Cum hoc, non ergo propter hoc. The criminal may come to see and confess that his crime deserves the punishment, and in genuine unselfish penitence may take sides with the law, and go into eternity relying upon that great atonement of Christ which satisfies retributive justice for his sin; but even this greatest benefit of all, is not what is aimed at in man’s punishment of the crime of murder. For even if there should be no such personal benefit as this attending the infliction of human penalty, the one sufficient reason for inflicting it still holds good, viz., the fact that the law has been violated, and demands the punishment of the offender for this reason simply. Only upon this view of justice, is the true dignity of man maintained. When he is punished because, as a rational and free being, he has responsibly violated the law, there is a recognition of him as a person endowed with free will. But if he is seized and made to suffer for the benefit of others, he is treated like a chattel, or a thing that may be put to use. “The nature of ill-desert and punishableness,” says Kant (Practischer Vernunft, 151, Ed. Rosenkranz), “is always involved in the idea of voluntary transgression; and the idea of punishment excludes that of happiness in all its forms. For although he who inflicts penalty may, it is true, also have a benevolent purpose to produce by the punishment a beneficial effect upon the criminal, yet the punishment itself must be justified first of all as pure and simple requital and retribution: that is, as a kind of suffering that is demanded by the law, without any reference to its prospective beneficial consequences; so that even if no moral improvement and no personal advantage should accrue to the person from the punishment, he must acknowledge that righteousness has been done to him, and that his experience is exactly conformed to his conduct. In every punishment, as such, justice is the very first thing, and constitutes the essence of it. A benevolent purpose, it is true, may be conjoined with punishment; but the criminal cannot claim this as his due, and he has no right to reckon upon it. All that he deserves, is punishment; and this is all that he can expect from the law which he has violated.” The same view is taken of the retrospective aim of justice by Muller, in his lucid discrimination between chastisement and punishment. Doctrine of Sin, I. 244 seq. The opposite view, that punishment is prospective in its primary purpose, and aims only at reformation, was maintained by the Greek sophists. Protagoras is represented by Plato as saying, that ” no one punishes the evildoer under the notion, or for the reason that he has done wrong; only the unreasonable fury of a tyrant acts in that way.” Protagoras, 324. Plato (Laws, X. 904, 905) holds that punishment is retributive. Cicero (De Legibus, I. 14) contends that virtue has regard to justice, not to utility. Grotius defines penalty, as ” the evil of suffering inflicted on account of the evil of doing.” Coke, Bacon, Selden, and Blackstone explain punishment by crime not by expediency. Kant, Herbert, Stahl, Hartenstein, Rothe, and Woolsey (Political Science, II. viii), define punishment as requital. Beccaria and Bentham found punishment on utility and expedience. Penny Cyclopaedia, Article, Beccaria. Paley notices the difference between human punishment and divine. In the former, there is a combination of the retributive with the protective and reformatory, but not in the latter. Moral Philosophy, VI. ix.

If the good of the public is the chief end of punishment, the criminal might be made to suffer more than his crime deserves. If he can be used like a thing, for the benefit of others, there is no limit to the degree in which he may be used. His personal desert and responsibility being left out of view, he may be made to suffer as much, or as little as the public welfare prescribes. It was this theory of penalty that led to the multiplication of capital crimes. Tbe prevention of forgery, it was claimed in England, required that the forger should be executed; and npon the principle that punishment is for the public protection, and not for exact justice and strict retribution, the forger was hanged. But a merely civil crime against property, and not against human life, does not merit the death penalty. Upon this theory, the number of capital offences became very numerous, and the criminal code very bloody. So that, in the long run, nothing is kinder than exact justice. It prevents extremes in either direction: either that of indulgence, or that of cruelty. Shedd: Endless Punishment, pp. 118-140.

Commutative justice implies an exchange of values between two parties, wherein each gives and receives in return. This species has no place in reference to God; for “who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?” Rom. 11: 35.

Public or general justice, is a distinction invented by Grotius, for the purpose of meeting certain Socinian objections to the Anselmic doctrine of strict satisfaction. It is a relaxed form of justice, by virtue of which God waives a full satisfaction of legal claims, and accepts a partial satisfaction in lieu thereof. Analyzed to its ultimate elements, “public justice ” is benevolence, not justice. Justice is the exact distribution of reward or of punishment. Anything therefore that is inexact, is in so far unjust. Too much or too little suffering for a crime is not pure justice. Says the younger Edwards (Against Channcey, ch. IV.), “general or public justice is an improper use of the word justice; because, to practise justice in this sense is no other than to act from public spirit, or from love to the community; and with respect to the universe, it is the very same with general benevolence.” Giotius agreed with Socinus, and both of them agreed with Duns Scotus, in making punitive justice optional, not necessary. Grotius held that punishment could be waived and not inflicted, if God s0 decided. It is not necessary that sin be punished with such a punishment as strictly, and fully corresponds with the guilt. An inferior penalty may be inflicted, or even no penalty at all, if God s0 determine. What then was the difference between Grotius and Socinus? It was this. Socinus asserted that when God decides to waive legal claims, he need not do anything to guard against the evil consequences of so doing. lle can release the sinner from all punishment, and let the matter drop there. Grotius, on the other hand, though agreeing with his opponent that God can dispense with penalty altogether, yet maintained that he cannot do it with safety to the universe, unless he gives some expression to his abhorrence of sin. This he does by the death of Christ. When God remits penalty by this method, he guards against the abuse of his benevolence; which abuse Socinus made no provision for in his system. According to Grotius, the substituted sufferings of Christ are not a strict equivalent for the penalty due to sin, but an accepted equivalent, as when a creditor agrees to take fifty cents for a dollar, in the settlement of a commercial debt.

Grotius applies the principles of commercial justice to the doctrine of Christ’s atonement. He employs an illustration from the Roman commercial law, as presented in the Pandects of Justinian. Commercial justice can be satisfied by word of mouth. If a creditor calls a debt paid, it is paid; and the release is denominated ” acceptilatio,” or acquittance by word of mouth. Commercial justice has no further demands to make, when the creditor has said that the debt is paid. In like manner, if God will say that the moral law is satisfied by an inferior penalty, it is satisfied; and if he should say that it is satisfied with no penalty at all, it would be satisfied. There are no claims standing against the sinner, because the claims being of a positive, not a necessary nature; being constituted by the optional will of God; they can be abrogated by the same almighty will. Socinus (De Servatore, IIL i.) argues “that God is our creditor. Our sins are debts which we have contracted towards him. But a creditor can by an act of will surrender his claim, without making any legal provision for so doing.” This abolishes the distinction between commercial and moral indebtedness, and assumes that the claims of justice and government, like those of a pecuniary creditor, have no necessary quality, but are voidable by an act of will. A pecuniary creditor can abolish his claim by a volition, but a magistrate cannot so abolish a moral claim. Shedd: History of Doctrine, II. 347 sq.

The Goodness of God is the Divine essence viewed as energizing benevolently, and kindly, towards the creature. It is an emanent, or transitive attribute, issuing forth from the Divine nature, and aiming to promote the welfare and happiness of the universe. It is not that attribute by which God is good; but by which he does good. As good in himself, God is holy; as showing goodness to others, he is good or kind. The Septnagint renders aits by yjpr\trrbs = useful. “Good (xpr7oro?) art thou, O Lord, and thou doest good,” Ps. 119 : 68. In Rom. 5: 7, holiness is designated by Sucatos, and kindness by ayaSo<;: “Scarcely for a righteous (Sbccuo<:) man will one die; yet peradventure for a good (dyaS6<;) man, some would even dare to die.” In Luke 18 :19, the reference is to benevolence, not to holiness: “None is good (dyaS6s), save one, that is God.”

Goodness is a special attribute with varieties under it. 1. The first of these is Benevolence. This is the affection which the Creator feels towards the sentient and conscious creature, as such. Benevolence cannot be shown to insentient existence; to the rocks and mountains. It grows out of the fact that the creature is his workmanship. God is interested in everything which he has made. He cannot hate any of his own handiwork. The wrath of God is not excited by anything that took its origin from him. It falls only upon something that has been added to his own work. Sin is no part of creation, but a quality introduced into creation by the creature himself.

God’s benevolent love towards his creatures, considered as creatures merely, is infinitely greater than any love of a creature towards a creature. No earthly father loves his child with a benevolence equal to that which the Heavenly Father feels towards his created offspring. Luke 6:35, “The Highest is kind (^p^oro?) unto the unthankful and to the evil.” Matt. 5:45, “Your Father which is in heaven maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Disobedience and ingratitude deaden and destroy the benevolent feeling of man towards man, but not that of God towards his creatures. Sinful men are the objects of God’s providential care, as well as renewed men. Even Satan and the fallen angels are treated with all the benevolence which their enmity to God will admit of. God feels no malevolence towards them.

The benevolent interest which God as a creator takes in the sentient creature, as the product of his omnipotent power, is illustrated by the following from Aristotle. “The benefactor loves him whom he has benefited, more than he who has been benefited loves the benefactor. The workman loves his own work, more than the work loves the workman. All men feel greater love for what they have acquired with labor; as those who have earned their money love it more than those who have inherited it. Mothers are more fond of their children than fathers are; for the bringing them forth is painful. Parents have greater love for their children, than children have for their parents.” Ethics, IX. vii. Upon this principle, the benevolent affection of God towards his creatures is greater than that of creatures towards each other. God’s compassionate love is more tender than that of an earthly father or mother. Ps. 27 :10, “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Men are commanded to imitate the Divine benevolence as the highest form of this affection. Matt. 5 :44: “Love your enemies, do good to them that hate yon; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven. Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Compare Plato: Republic, I. 33. Montaigne: Essays, VI. viii. (Of the Affection of Fathers).

God’s benevolent interest in the sentient creature, and his care for its welfare, is proportioned and suited to the nature and circumstances of the creature. (a) It extends to the animals: Ps. 145 :16, ” Thou opeuest thine hand, and suppliest the desire of every living thing.” Ps. 104:21, “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.” Compare the whole psalm. Job 38:41, “Who provideth for the raven his’ food?” Matt. 6 : 26, “Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.” Ps. 36 : 6, ” Thou preservest man and beast.” (5) It extends to man. Acts 14: 17, “He left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven.” (c) It extends to sinful man. Matt. 5 :45, “He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” Acts 14 :17, “He suffered all nations to walk in their own ways, nevertheless, filling their hearts with food and gladness.” Neh. 9 :17, “But thou art a God slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.”

The Divine benevolence varies in its degrees, in accordance with the capacity of the object to receive it. The brute experiences all of it that he is capable of. As he is physical only, he can receive from his creator only physical good. Man is both physical and mental; and receives both physical and mental good. Sinful man is deprived of a full manifestation of the Divine benevolence, only by reason of his sin. God manifests to the sinner all the benevolence that he is qualified to receive. He sends him physical and temporal good: rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling his heart with food and gladness ; but he cannot bestow upon a sinful and hostile man his approving love, and fill him with heavenly peace and joy. The Divine benevolence, therefore, is infinite. It is not limited in its manifestation by anything in itself, but only by the capacity and characteristics of the creature.

The chief objections to the doctrine of the Divine benevolence are the following: 1. The permission of sin. 2. The existence of suffering here upon earth. 3. The slow progress of redemption. Respecting the first, it is to be observed that the permission of sin has cost God more than it has man. No sacrifice and suffering on account of sin has been undergone by any man, that is equal to that which has been endured by incarnate God. This shows that God is not acting selfishly, in permitting sin. At the very time that he permits it, he knows that it will result in an infinite sacrifice on his part. Respecting the second, it is to be said, that the suffering of both animals and man is often greatly exaggerated. The ” struggle for existence” in the animal world is not so great as Darwin and others represent. The majority, certainly, survive. If they did not, the species would diminish, and gradually become extinct. But the fact is, that generally they are steadily increasing. And in the human world, there is no struggle at all for existence. Men do not feed upon one another. The amount of enjoyment, in both the animal and the human world, is greater than the amount of suffering. “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord,” Ps. 35 : 5. “After all( it is a happy world,” said Paley. See his proof, in his Natural Theology, XXVI. “It is manifest,” says King (Foreknowledge, II.),”that though good be much mixed with evil in this life, yet there is much more good than evil in nature, and every animal provides for its own preservation by instinct or reason, which it would never do, if it did not think or feel its life, with all the evils annexed, to be much preferable to non-existence. This is a proof of the wisdom, goodness, and power of God, who could thus temper a world infested with so many miseries, that nothing should continue in it which was not in some measure pleased with its existence, and which would not endeavor by all possible means to preserve it.” Furthermore, it must be remembered that in the human world suffering is the effect of sin. Most of the suffering among mankiud comes from poverty and disease; and these are due very greatly to the two vices of intemperance and sensuality. And finally, pain is not an absolute evil for man, unless it is hell-pain. All suffering except that of eternal remorse and despair may be a means of good to him. Respecting the third objection, the success of redemption must be estimated at the end of the process, not at the beginning, or in the middle of it. Thus estimated, the great majority of the human family are redeemed by Christ.

2. Mercy is a second variety of the Divine Goodness.. It is the benevolent compassion of God towards man as a sinner. This attribute, though logically implied in the idea of God as a being possessed of all conceivable perfections, is free and sovereign in its exercise. Consequently, it requires a special revelation in order to establish the fact that it will be exercised. As omnipotence is a necessary attribute of God, and yet its exercise in the creation of the universe is not necessary but optional, so, though mercy is a necessary attribute, its exercise is not also necessary. “The goodness of the Deity is infinite,” says Charnocke (Goodness of God), “and circumscribed by no limits; but the exercise of his goodness may be limited by himself. God is necessarily good in his nature; but free in his communication of it. He is not necessarily communicative of his goodness, as the sun of its light; which chooses not its objects, but enlightens all indifferently. This were to make God of no more understanding than the sun, which shines not where it pleases but where it must. He is an understanding agent, and hath a sovereign right to choose his own subjects. It would not be a supreme, if it were not a voluntary goodness.”

Accordingly, the fact that the attribute of mercy will be exercised towards sinful man is taught only in the written revelation. Indeed, this constitutes the most important and principal part of the teaching of inspiration. In the very first communication made to the fallen pair, there was a promise on the part of God, to show mercy in and by the “Seed of the woman:” the Son of man, the incarnate God, Gen. 3 :15. And in the yet more explicit revelation made to Moses on the mount, in connection with the giving of the law, “Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful (Dirn tender, compassionate), and gracious (‘pan, showing kindness), long-suffering, a”nd abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin,” Ex. 34: 6, 7. To quote all the proof-texts for this attribute, would be to quote the bulk of both the Old and the New Testament.

Grace is an aspect of mercy. It differs from mercy, in that it has reference to sinful man as guilty, while mercy has respect to sinful man as miserable. The one refers to the culpability of sin, and the other to its wretchedness. The two terms, however, in common use are interchangeable. Grace, like mercy, is a variety of the Divine goodness.

Both mercy and grace are exercised in a general manner, towards those who are not the objects of their special manifestation. All blessings bestowed upon the natural man are mercy, in so far as they succor his distress, and grace, so far as they are bestowed upon the undeserving. Matt. 5 :45, “He maketh his sun to rise upon the evil.” Ps. 145 : 9, “The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” Fs. 145:15, 16,” The eyes of all wait upon thee.”

This general manifestation of mercy and grace is in and by the works of creation and providence. It is also seen in one aspect of the work of redemption. Men who are not actually saved by the Divine mercy, yet obtain some blessings from it. (a) The delay of punishment is one; namely, the pretermission {irdpeat,<;) of sin, in distinction from its remission (a^eo-t?). Rom. 3 : 25. God’s forbearance and longsuffering with a sinner who abuses this by persistence in sin, is a phase of mercy. This is ” through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” It is made possible by it. Without Christ’s work, there would have been instantaneous punishment, and no long-suffering. This is also taught in 1 Pet. 3:20, ” The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” (b) The common influences of the Holy Spirit are another manifestation of mercy in its general form.

Special grace and mercy are exercised only in redemption, and towards those whom God is pleased to fix upon. Eph. 1: 4-6, “According as he hath chosen us in him, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted (i^apiraaev) in the Beloved.” Rom. 9:15, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”

The Truth or veracity of God, is that attribute of his nature by virtue of which he performs what he has said. Num. 23 :19, ” God is not a man, that he should lie.” It is seen: 1. In revelation. 1 Pet. 1: 25, ” The word of the Lord endureth forever.” Ps. 100 : 5, ” His truth endureth to all generations.” Matt. 5 :18, “One jot or tittle shall not pass from the law till all be fulfilled.” 2. In redemption. Heb. 10 : 23, “He is faithful that promised.” Heb. 6:17, “God willing [desiring] more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his council, confirmed it by an oath.” 1 Cor. 1:9,” God is faithful, by whom ye were called.” 2 Tim. 2 :13, “He abideth faithful; be cannot deny himself.” 3. In retribution. Heb. 3 :11, “So, I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.” Compare with Heb. 4:1 seq.

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Reformed Theology at A Puritan's Mind