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have an important part in the religious impression which the divine character makes upon us. It is not, however, by any direct, independent force, but by their alliance with the divine goodness and justice.
With these facts of the religious life, it is a plain proposition, that the idea or recognition of God is a requisite to any proper religious development. If the affections must have objects in order to an active state, so must we have the conception of their objects, else they can have no power over us. This fact holds in religion as fully as elsewhere; and, without the idea of God, there can be no outgoing of the affections toward him. This is so plain a truth as to require no further illustration; and we pursue it mainly for the purpose of explaining the office of the intellect in religion, and to show that, while giving such prominence to the affections in the religious life, we in no wise depreciate the prominence and work of the mind. The office of the truth in the development of the religious life will also thus appear. The affections cannot be active independent of the intellect. The mind must first perceive their objects, and convey the information of them to the heart; only then can they rise to an active state. Hence there must be the intervention of knowledge or truth; truth as the information of the objects of the affections, under the force of which they are quickened into life. But the mind must receive this truth, and convey it to the heart; and only in this mode can man, under any divine dispensation, become truly religious. Nor does this law deny or exclude the immediate, extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. With all its agency there must still be truth addressing itself to the mind, and through it reaching the affections, in order to any proper religious development. Hence, under all dispensations of religion, God has addressed divine truth to men. What is this truth? We answer specially, the knowledge of the divine goodness and justice. There is much valuable truth beside. This is indispensable. Whatever other knowledge of God we may have, or however full and clear in the conception of the mind, all will not avail us. We must pass beyond, and include the knowledge of his goodness and justice. We must study these until our soul receives their living impression. Not till then can we have any true religious development.
And have we not here the solution of a perplexing fact? It is a notable and painful fact that many men of profound science, and whose researches constantly display to them the clearest views and most conclusive evidences of the wisdom and power of God, are yet not religious. They live in communion with the divine wisdom and power. In the vast range of ontology; in chemistry and physiology; in geology and astronomy; in all the powers and laws of intellective endowment and action: wherever they search, the divine wisdom and power are present, beaming upon their eye, flashing in upon their soul; seen and felt, confessed and admired. Surely one would think all such are truly feligious; yet, alas! many of them are not. How strange! we say. The solution of this seemingly strange fact is in the laws of the religious life above evolved. They are conversant only with the wisdom and power of God, which attributes do not directly nor of themselves appeal to the religious affections. And it is natural to their case that, the more exact and profound the scientific cast of their mind and pursuits, the less likely are they to see anything of God beyond such attributes. These alone fall within the range and view of their science, and they can see nothing beside, nothing beyond. No, it would not be scientific to see anything beside or beyond. The pride of science excludes all else. Now they may have a profound admiration of the divine wisdom and power, and speak of them in terms of lofty esteem and praise. But this is not religion. It has no element of the religious life. It is the same as their admiration of the laws and forces of nature, or the lofty achievements of human genius in art and science. It is an esthetic feeling, a scientific admiration. But all this feeling brings them not to the outer circle of the true sphere of religion. They must pass beyond these partial views of God, and behold his goodness and justice, till the vision thereof becomes a power upon their soul, evoking its profoundest emotions of love and reverence, before they can enter the true religious life.
It is not within our plan formally to treat of these attributes, yet a brief statement of their characteristics is in place, and in some measure important to further views of this subject. Their relation to religion in man makes correct views of them a matter of first importance. The religious life takes its form chiefly
from our idea of them. If this idea is perverted or false, that development is perverted or false. Such has often been the case, and the consequences have been lamentable. Religion has been distorted and rendered feeble, or oppressive and cruel, according to such perverted or false view.
THE DIVINE GOODNESS:
First, this is the disposition of God to confer happiness; in a word, his benevolence. It is all expressed in one word, love: "God is love." It would see all happy. It would make all happy. It would dry every tear and calm every troubled breast; comfort the sorrowful, and cause the mourner to rejoice; encourage the desponding, and shed the light of hope upon the darkness of despair. It would redeem sinners, exalt saints, enrapture angels. Such is goodness in the divine disposition.
Then this goodness takes the form of active benevolence: it is beneficent. Here we find it in the actual bestowment of blessings and happiness. We see it in the creation of holy and happy intelligences, enthroning them in the highest conditions of well-being, surrounding them with every source of pleasure, opening to them the deep and living fountains of joy. In regard to sinners, we see the goodness of God in his longsuffering; in his reluctance to punish; in the delays of his wrath; in the provisions of his grace for their redemption and reconciliation; in the offer of a free and full salvation; in the gift of pardon and life to all who repent and return.
His goodness is without partiality. The divine dispensations are indeed very diverse. The same fact doubtless holds, in a measure, through all orders of created intelligences. It is with propriety so, and any voluntary divergence of moral life makes it necessarily so. It is unavoidably thus in regard to men as sinners, and that God may wisely adjust his remedial measures to their condition and the need of the world. Yet is the goodness of God without partiality, and primarily equally seeks the happiness of all. We hesitate not to say that, aside from the claims of justice, the interests of moral government, and the demerit of sin, he as much wills the happiness of the vilest sinner as of the purest saint; as much the happiness of the foulest fiend in the depths of hell as of the holiest angel in the heights of heaven. This we believe to be truth;
the truth of revelation and of the character and providence of God.
Yet the divine goodness never confounds the righteous and the wicked. It seeks the happiness of all, but finally saves only such as accept its gracious offers. It suffers none to perish who do not finally fall by the demerit of their own sin, nor brings to final happiness any who are persistently impenitent and impious: otherwise it were in opposition to the divine justice. These views are truthful and important. And all opinions which deny to the goodness of God its discrimination, or make it alike free and saving to all, to the finally wicked as to the good, not only make it to clash with justice, but strike both down together. Then both are impotent for moral good; piety has no reward; sin, impunity and free license. The results of such perversion can be but evil.
THE DIVINE JUSTICE:
The justice of God, broadly considered, is his infinite love of the right and the pure, and his deep abhorrence of the wrong and the impure. It is often taken in its punitive restriction. But his punitive justice proceeds from his own character; it is therefore in the fullest harmony with his infinite holiness. He is not a mere law-officer to execute the law against offenders, and whose own regards of the turpitude of sin may be quite indifferent. His law is a truthful expression of his own estimate of the evil and demerit of sin. The mere law-officer may even regard the criminal as worthy of commendation rather than of condemnation, and wish that the law were other than it is, and yet feel constrained by the requirements of his office to execute it. Not so with God. His laws, proceeding from himself, are all in truth and righteousness. Sin has a turpitude and demerit according to its status under the law. And his own estimate of it is according to that status. It is utterly offensive in his sight; utterly abhorrent to his love of righteousness and the infinite holiness of his nature.
Then the divine justice is a disposition in God to punish sinners. Not that he has any pleasure in the suffering which punishment involves. This were wholly contrary to his goodness, as it is to the frequent express declarations of his word. But punishment is due to sin, on account of its inherent turpitude and demerit. It is requisite to the maintenance and authority
of good government, and to the protection of the good against injury and wrong. It is, therefore, due to all the subjects of the divine government that sinners should be punished: justice demands it, and the disposition of God is in harmony with that demand.
But this position should be guarded against perversion or abuse. We note a few facts which will suffice for this purpose, and at the same time serve for the further illustration of the divine justice.
This is not a disposition of anger or revenge, as these passions sometimes find place in the human heart. True, the Scriptures speak of the anger of God against sinners, of his hatred and wrath toward the ungodly; but this is a necessary accommodation of language. We cannot well conceive of the moral or affectional regards of God, except in analogy to our own. But we must not allow this usus loquendi to mislead us, or to. convey any idea contrary to the character and perfections of God. And it is utterly inconsistent with these perfections to suppose that he is ever moved by any such spirit of excited anger, or fiery vindictiveness and revenge, as often moves the soul of man.
This disposition has no cruelty. There is such a disposition in man; a cruel, barbarous spirit, which has, alas! too often made him to joy and gloat over human torture and suffering. Such a disposition has been more common with men of power. Military chieftains, who have ravaged peaceful homes and carried ruin over unoffending peoples, and imperial despots, who have crushed their helpless and hapless people to the earth, furnish many examples. Equally may you find this same spirit in men of power, far less ample, but alike autocratic. The petty tyrant and the slave-master are instances. Most of all has it been found in the history of men of politico-ecclesiastic power, as the devotees of popery. Here have been men of a barbarous, savage cruelty. They have taken joyfully the torture and anguish of their hapless victims. In their despotic intolerance and rampant fury against all opposition or dissent, they have labored with tortures of infernal devisement to make earth sensible to the pains of perdition and vocal with the wailings of hell. Nor have men, while exercising rightful and legitimate powers in the ministration of punitive justice,