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It is necessary, however, at this point, to safeguard against misapprehension by adding a further discrimination. This absoluteness of the divine holiness as the reason for the use of punishment against sin, might be supposed—but only illogically—to exclude the possibility of divine mercy, or to be inconsistent with the whole redemptory action of grace. But punitive administration has not the same absoluteness that belongs to the divine holiness itself. Punishment is for the sake of holiness—for its vindication and maintenance. Penalty is not a good in itself, its own end, but a means. The final end of the world-system, as involved in both the divine holiness and love, is the ethically good, the supremacy and blessedness of righteousness. Punishment is by no means the end of the system. It may, therefore, be remitted in any case, if, in God's wisdom and resources, the end can be gained in some other way, and, perhaps, in more glorious and triumphant measure. If He can provide an atonement in which at once He can furnish a clear expression of the principle of righteousness and offer to the world conditional forgiveness of sins, and through love win back to holiness millious on millions of the sinful, the means of mercy may be vastly more efficient than that of penalty for the very ends of holiness. The principle of punitive justice is not the supreme or absolute one, but the principle of holiness. To make the former principle first and absolutely governing would leave no room for forgiveness and reconciliation, and forin an obstacle to Christian faith."

3. LOVE, or GOODNESS, is that attribute in virtue of which God evermore delights in communicating that

See Ritschl's, “The Christian Doctrine of Justification and Sanctification,” p. 262.

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which is good and blessed, in harmony with holiness and justice. It expresses His nature as eternally desiring to create and bestow happiness, acting in kindness. It is not the same as holiness, though it can seek its aims only in harmony with holiness. It denotes, distinctively, the divine altruismthe divine self-direction and action for the good of created being. We are, therefore, to see in it the reason of the supreme teleological purpose and plan in the world. Acting in His own immanent love, He acts for ends of love. Since He is holy, and, therefore, chooses holiness as holiness, i, e., the ethically good as the supreme good, this good, as the highest of all, must necessarily be included in all the aims of God's love for His moral creatures. And, thus, that which His love seeks for them through both creation and providence is holy happiness. Evidently, it was to bring into full view and unquestionable clearness this glorious attribute—the attribute that ever expresses the heart of God's teleological order and purpose for manthat He so adjusted His Biblical self-revelation as to make its culminating assurance to the world, “God is love," sustained by the unspeakable fact of redemption for recovery of his self-ruined children to their true life and blessedness. Declarations of His goodness appear, indeed, in increasing measure in that revelation, from the first (Ex. xxxiv. 6; 1 Chron. xvi. 34 ; Ps. cxlv. 9). The teleology of nature, too, abounds in evidences of benevolent aim. But the full manifestation of this attribute could come only in the gift and work of the divine Saviour, in which the glory of the divine love, in its “breadth and length and depth and height,” “passing knowledge,” may savingly impress and inspire the human soul.

We properly mark distinctions under which this attribute may be conceived, according to the different relations to creature existence and conduct. When viewed in the broadest and most universal relation to created being, it takes the generic form of benevolence, a desire for the welfare and happiness of all, and the misery of none. Considered with respect to all that is morally right and good in the spirit, aims, and conduct of men, it assumes the form of moral complacency, approving love, delight in holy character or in all sincere desire or effort toward it by obedient subjects of divine grace. When it is contemplated in relation to the wretchedness of creatures in error and sin, its manifestation becomes compassion, pity, or mercy-love toward the undeserving

-widely different in type from moral complacency, yet akin to it in that it is still love, desiring creature well-being. It is patience or long-suffering when it forbears from just retribution, for the sake of rescuing from sin and recovering to righteousness. Because God is holy He hates sin, but because He is love He seeks to win the sinner from it. His goodness, in saving man, is victory for both holiness and love.

It is needful here to guard against the ideas of the old scholastic teaching of the absolute impassibility of God, which, while attempting by misguided representation to explain the divine love, explained it away. In its extreme effort to free the conception of God from all ideas of dependence or change, it carefully eliminated from His love all emotion or mutation of feeling from what creatures do or suffer. It cautioned against supposing that He really feels either pity or affection, or suffers any influence from creature conditions. Love is reduced

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to pure action of will, without emotion. Though emotion is the very heart of our human idea of love, this element, it was said, must not be included in the divine love. Neither complacency nor compassion was to be imagined, since any experience of such feelings would be inconsistent with God's absolute independence. The existence of a feeling, of either sympathy or delight, in God was supposed to be contrary to His necessary immutability, making Him subject to the changing conditions of human life. But if His necessary independence excludes the possibility or reality of these feelings, from sight of human life, must we not then also hold that the entrance of the ever-changing activity of human freedom into the divine knowledge also destroys God's independence? This notion of the divine impassibility is not only inconsistent with the Scripture portraiture of God and of the way He holds Himself toward men, but, if carried to its logical issues, would forbid all belief in divine concern for human happiness, and the possibility of a divine administration of the world measuring itself to the mutations of moral character and conduct, or adjusting a redemptive provision to a self-corrupted race. If the divine independence means that His love is to be reduced to an unfeeling, immobile will, holding itself utterly apart from all influence from without, or coming from the needs of the creatures made in the divine image, the voice of prayer or praise may as well be hushed. The idea of love is, in fact, obliterated if reduced to mere knowledge and will, acting in a self-determining sovereignty that is irresponsive to and unmoved by the creature needs which creational power has brought under absolute administra

So even Gerhard, “ Loci," II., cap. viii., sec. 9.

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tion. If love in God is only a name for the attributes of "knowledge” and “will,” it disappears as a distinct attribute. But as an immanent attribute, it must of necessity involve feeling; and if God is without feeling, impassible to the mutations of His creature's needs and appeals, He is without love. “ We must adhere to the truth in its Scriptural form or we lose it alto gether." While we ought to guard our conception of God from a spurious anthropomorphism, His self-revelation in the Scriptures is, without doubt, meant to guide us in the conception in which He wishes us to view Him. And the correct method for the actual truth is, not to empty the concept "love" of its distinctive reality, but to purify and elevate it (via eminentiæ) to perfection. Like the attributes of knowledge and wisdom, love is not less, but more real in God than in man. It must be regarded as peculiarly unfortunate that theology has so largely, by a mere dictum, resolved the inspiring reality of sympathy and pitying goodness in God, of which the Scriptures seem specially concerned to assure us, into a cold sovereignty that is without feeling and an absolute independence that never suffers itself to be moved by delight in creature happiness nor compassion toward creature wretchedness—a God whose knowledge and will and power are real, but whose love is only a name, an anthropomorphic attribution of our human imagination. Is it this impassibility that the Scriptures teach when they say, “Like as a father pitieth his children, so Jehovah pitieth them that fear Him” (Ps. ciïi. 13) ? Or, “The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy”? Or when God exclaims, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How

1 Hodge, “Systematic Theology," Vol. I, p. 429.

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