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natural attributes they belong to the very being of God as the absolute Personality. They describe Him both as to intrinsic character and the form of His activities. It is difficult to define them in clear and sharp lines of distinction, on account of their blending and coming into complete harmony in the divine life. In contemplating any one or all, each is seen as implying the presence and action of the rest. Theology can mark out only the prominent and essential forms of these ethical qualities.
1. HOLINESS, in which the whole character of God coheres, is that attribute by which everything evil, sinful, or impure is eternally excluded from the divine nature and action. It means a positive, self-affirming purity that both is and maintains an immaculate ethical perfection. God is pure in all that He is and in all that He does or can do. (Lev. xi. 44; Isa. vi. 3 ; 1 Pet. i. 15-16.) It may be viewed under three aspects : (a) As expressing His interior or immanent character, “I am holy.” (6) As transitive, or moving over into an established order in the moral constitution of the world this constitution being made after His own nature and organized in relations and laws that are holy and good. (c) As precep tive, for the free action of moral agents, “Be ye holy.”
, Holiness must be regarded as at once the fundamental and the supreme attribute. More than any other it is that in which the entire moral excellence of God rests, which unites all, and crowns all. It is basal for perfect goodness, it guides and guards justice or righteousness, it conditions love, and reigns in truth. It separates itself from no attribute; it blends its light with all. As theology has rid itself of the false notion of the divine simplicity, in which all the distinctions between substance and attributes were obliterated, it is free to recognize their mutual relations more in accordance with Biblical representation and the redemptory implications. And in these relations the attributes do not appear as merely coordinate. Beyond doubt the Old Testament gives fundamental significance to holiness, and the New represents soterio logical grace as possible only in a way consistent with its unsullied maintenance. The idea of a mutual relation and harmony of the attributes is revealed from the very heart of the Gospel. And the positive conception of the unity of God does not appear so long as we think of a mere co-ordination of predicates, without a disposing and governing principle which most deeply and in the highest sense expresses the absolute character of Deity. While none of the attributes are contingent in God, yet in their inter-relations the moral attributes appear to have their ethical unity in the eternal holiness. Even that of love, which in the working of grace is so sublimely glorified in the sight of men and angels, achieves its wonders of salvation only in consistence with the infinite purity. It is a mistake to take the New Testament declaration, “God is love," as speaking comparatively. But the emphasis thus put upon love is the fitting and necessary one in the Gospel message. For this message is the voice of invitation to sinners. In the very nature of the case it fastens human view upon the divine goodness and grace as the great appeal to the heart for faith, gratitude, and obedience. But the love that, through the great redemption, seeks to save, is still immutably "holy love," working for holiness through a movement of grace that pays its own homage to the inviolability of holiness. “The Christian mind knows nothing of a
love without holiness.” 1 With the truth thus reached, accords the moral constitution of man, in which conscience asserts the supremacy of the ethically right and pure over all other elements of character. And the characteristic result with the theologies which abate from this supremacy has ever been a virtual denial of the attribute itself as an essential ethical principle in the divine will, and a consequent discarding of the Scripture teaching concerning the atonement.
The relation of this attribute to the divine Will has already been, in part, noted. We are yet, if possible, to discriminate its relation to the divine freedom of will, and to the ultimate standard of righteousness. Without doubt we must think of God as the Absolute Personality, and so, absolutely and perfectly free. The idea of fate is utterly inapplicable to His being. Fate, as such, is an annullment of all free aims or purposes, and means fixation, irrespective of the claims of worth or excellence. Ethical goodness is inconceivable apart from self-determined preference for right and holiness. The holiness of God is not in contradiction of His freedom. He is holy in and with His freedom. The perfect ideal of the ethically good dwells forever and immutably in the divine intelligence, and the divine freedom eternally determines itself with respect to it. But the question, often raised, whether, since holiness is thus involved in free choice, God might not have chosen other than He has, and so have become unholy, is not pertinent, because it forgets that He is Himself holy, as well as free, and thus immutably wills the good. Because He is holy, He, through the eternal preference or self-consistency of
His own nature, chooses the ethically pure and right. The notion of the old Scotist teaching that the absolute will of God might, by mere arbitrary volition, make right, or determine what shall be right, as, for instance, command deceit or theft, instead of truth and justice, can have no place in Christian theism. And in order to bring into view this relation in its fullness between His holiness and His free will, we must maintain, further, that He does not choose the morally good simply as it is in Himself, or because it is in Himself, as a Self-choice, but that He loves and chooses goodness also as such, or goodness as it is in itself. For it would not be an ethical choice that did not determine itself in view of the excellence of its object.' The possibility of ethical character in God involves the love and choice of goodness itself as an end. It is only the harmony or self-consistency of the essential holiness of His nature when He thus freely and immutably chooses essential goodness. God is not good simply because He wills goodness, but He is good also in His own eternal nature, and wills in harmony with that nature, forever immutably maintaining holiness in the free choice of that which is holy both in itself and in Himself.
The further relation of the divine Will to the ultimate standard of right comes into view under the light of the truths thus clearly assured. For if holiness is a real and fundamental attribute of the divine nature, and God's omniscience holds immutably a perfect knowledge of what is the ethically good or right, it follows that both His immutable nature and His knowledge preclude the notion that goodness may be a mere effect of changeable divine volition. There is a standard of right in both the absolute nature and absolute knowledge of the absolute Being. It is thus something fixed, to which God's freedom infallibly conforms itself—not something which may be altered by that freedom. The doctrine of an immutable morality thus establishes itself. The logical prius of the divine willing is the divine existence. He must be, in order that He may will. Because He is holy, and, in a perfect knowledge of what holiness or ethical goodness is, eternally loves it as of highest worth, the standard of right exists in His unchanging nature, and its authority is absolute.
1 Ritschl's statement (“ Justification and Reconciliation," T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, p. 283), that the view which says : “God wills the good because it is the good, a priori, for Him " is a 'false supposition,' as well as the Scotist view, cannot be accepted. His reasoning is valid for the overthrow of the Scotist idea. But what he offers against the divine choice of the good " because it is the good, a priori,” has its only and inadequate force from an unjustifiable use of “ before” in connection with the divine volition, as involving an "advance within itself to self-determination,” inconsistent with immutability. And when Ritschl's definition is reached, that “not before,” but “ in His self-determination,” God determines Himself in His own will, the definition leaves fully open the conclusion that in choosing He chooses the good as such, as well as because it is in Himself.
In the application of this truth to the question of the ground of right in the constitution of the world and the human consciousness, a few distinctions are properly made. (a) The ground of right may be viewed under two aspects, according to differing relations, viz.: as proximate and ultimate. In respect to the moral constitution of things and the organization of human life, with ethical imperative in the conscience, inasmuch as creation was not a necessary, but free work of God, and the whole world-order a product of that freedom, His Will may be regarded as the immediate or proximate ground of this moral constitution. Yet as His will but expressed