Imatges de pÓgina

stantially should the divine omniscience be regarded as meeting this "faith” and all the life of human freedom only as the possibilities emerge into the actualities? Already under the accepted doctrine of foreknowledge, since things at first future, and known as such, move into the present, and thence into the past, the contingent possibilities ever passing into actualities, not only must the divine knowledge attend this in its course, but also the divine working in grace and administration. Already there is presupposed, say in connection with the temporal transition from a possible faith into an actual faith, an alteration in the form of the divine cognition, and also in the divine activities of regenerating and saving power. Already God's knowledge and administration are a knowledge and administration conditioned, according to His own plan, by temporal history, intertwining and progressing with it.

But the chief difficulty arises in connection with the larger view of the divine sovereignty and its supremacy for the maintenance of the ordained progress of history and the triumph of the kingdom. The question presses, unless God fully and certainly foreknows all that men, personally and jointly, will do, how can He assure, as He does, the world's redemptive and administrational movement and hold it to its destined goal? How can He know the resultant totality of free action without a knowledge of the almost infinite constituent parts, especially if the truth of predictive prophecy be included, since thousands of contingencies may intervene between the prophecy and its fulfillment, while yet the fulfillment depends on the certainty of every one of them ? The real crux appears at this point. The only attempt offered to solve the problem has been through the fullest and strongest emphasis on God's perfect omniscience of all things, except these future free acts alone. With His complete knowledge of all things actual, and especially of all things possible, possible to the freedom of men and possible to His own resources, it is suggested that, matching His own infinite possible resources to the activities of human freedom, He may always hold the Providential course of history to the accomplishment of the essentials of His plan, without annulling that freedom. His relation is conceived of as not that of a mere spectator of unfolding events, but as the supreme ruler in the drama of freedom, carrying it forward in reciprocal conflict and work with human free activities. A statement from Martensen best defines the theoretical view : “If we would preserve this reciprocal relation between God and His creatures, we must not make the whole actual course of the world the subject of His foreknowledge, but only its eternal import, the essential truth it involves. The final goal of this world's development, together with the entire series of its necessary stages, must be regarded as fixed in the eternal counsel of God; but the practical carrying out of this eternal counsel, the entire fullness of actual limitations on the part of this world's progress, in so far as these are conditioned by the freedom, can only be the subject of a conditional foreknowledge, i. e., they can only be foreknown as possibilities, as futurabilia, but not as realities, because other possibilities may actually take place. In thus asserting that God does not actually foreknow all that actually occurs, we by no means imply that every event is not the subject of His all-penetrating cognizance. God is not only before His creaturesbefore the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth was made—He is also in and with His creatures, in every moment of their development. While God neither foreknows, nor will foreknow, what He leaves undecided, in order to be decided in time, He is no less cognizant of and privy to all that occurs. Every movement of His creatures, even in their secret thoughts, is within the range of His all-embracing knowledge. “Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from Thy presence ? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there : if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou art there' (Ps. cxxxix.). His knowledge penetrates the entanglements of this world's progress at every point; the unerring eye of His wisdom discerns in every moment the relation subsisting between free beings and His eternal plan; and His almighty hand, His power, pregnant of great designs, guides and influences the movements of the world, as His counsels require. Dr. Dorner says: “For the di. vine Providence the question is of little importance, since it will at all times act most conformably with ethical laws, and since nothing can befall it unexpectedly or unawares, if it still surveys all possibilities eternally.” 2

An analogy recently offered illustrates how this supreme control and final triumph of Providence may be possible under this view—in the relation of a perfect expert and a novice before a chessboard. The expert is not, indeed, able to forsee exactly what actual moves may be made, but only the possible moves, and yet he knows in advance how to meet them by moves of his own, so as to

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1 " Christian Dogmatics," sec. 116.

“System of Christian Doctrine," I., p. 334.

lead infallibly towards victory. The infinite Creator's plan may supposedly be left contingent as to many of its paths of advance, but with all possibilities marked down and provided for. The contingent ways of men would wait on human determination, but the actualities be safeguarded by the infinite resources of Providence from resulting in defeat of the final triumph of all the possibilities of wisdom and love. The only remaining difficulty that suggests itself at this point is that this overruling gui ce seems to involve either an incessant intervention of miraculous correction, or, since the movement lies still in the sphere of human life, such a handling of human wills as would, at least in part, infringe their real freedom. But to remove this difficulty, it is enough to remember that such corrective divine overruling does not mean physical miracles, as in founding Christianity, but only the established action of supernatural grace and power through spiritual forces; and that, without at all involving for a single soul a limitation of its freedom by an absolute predestination of destiny, God may intensify, through His truth and Spirit, the working energies and activities of the obedient subjects of that grace. God may not abridge, but use the freedom of His people to lift up standards against unrighteousness.

This view, however, is not to be preferred to the traditional faith in the divine foreknowledge in the realm of freedom. For the possibility of the traditional view has not been disproved, and, indeed, cannot be. And until the more obvious and natural interpretation of the Scriptures on the subject is shown to be mistaken, there is no occasion for falling back upon the theory of nescience, with its large difficulties of harmonization with the facts of prophecy and the truth of election according to foreknowledge.

1 Prof. William James, “The Will to Believe," pp. 181-182.

10. WISDOM. Though closely allied to knowledge and resting in it, this attribute marks a distinct and special feature of the divine nature. It is more than mere cognition. It is, specifically, that attribute by which God chooses the best ends and perfectly adapts the means for their accomplishment. It expresses the elective quality of God's intelligence. With His infinite knowledge and omnipotent power, He understands and wills what is best, directing all things to the highest aims under the most perfect adaptations. Human life presents perpetual illustrations of the proper definiteness of the term. The world abounds with men of immense knowledge, but of small or doubtful wisdom. All the attributes of God, so far as revealed to us—real, positive, and distinct-are yet so united in their totality as to act not separately, but together. Power would not mean blessedness without love ; knowledge would not suffice without wisdom. But God acts in the fullness of all His perfections. And in His wisdom, all the resources of omniscience, omnipotence, and goodness receive what seems a crowning guaranty of the excellence of His creative work and providential care.

"O Lord, how manifold are Thy works! In wisdom hast Thou made them all” (Ps. civ. 24). “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowl. edge of God!” (Rom. xi. 33).


These express, comprehensively, the ethical character of God. They are His moral perfections, in the chief forms in which they have been revealed to us. Like the

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