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  • WORKS OF ARMINIUS - GOD'S ATTRIBUTES: RELATING TO MORAL VIRTUES


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    DISPUTATION XXI

    ON THOSE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD WHICH HAVE SOME ANALOGY TO THE MORAL VIRTUES, AND WHICH ACT LIKE MODERATORS OF THE AFFECTIONS, CONSIDERED IN THE PRECEDING DISPUTATION.

    I. But these attributes preside generally over all the affections, or specially relate to some of them. The general is justice, or righteousness, which is called "universal" or "legal," and concerning which it was said by the ancients, that it contains, in itself, all the virtues. The special are, particular justice, patience, and those which are the moderators of anger, and of chastisements and punishments.

    II. The justice of God, considered universally, is a virtue of God, according to which he administers all things correctly and in a suitable manner, according to that which his wisdom dictates as befitting himself. In conjunction with wisdom, it presides over all his acts, decrees and deeds; and according to it, God is said to be "just and right," his way "equal," and himself to be "just in all his ways."

    III. The particular justice of God is that by which he consistently renders to every one his own -- to God himself that which is his, and to the creature that which belongs to itself. We consider it both in the words of God and in his deeds. In this, the method of the decrees is not different; because, whatever God does or says, he does or says it according to his own eternal decree. This justice likewise contains a moderator partly of his love for the good of obedience, and partly of his love for the creature, and of his goodness.

    IV. Justice In deeds may be considered in the following order: That the first may be in the communication of good, either according to the first creation, or according to regeneration. The second is in the prescribing of duty, or in legislation, which consists in the requisition of a deed, and in the promise of a reward, and the threat of a punishment. The third is in the judging about deeds, which is retributive, being both communicative of a reward and vindicative. In all these, the magnanimity of God is to be considered. In communication, in promise, and in remuneration, his liberality and magnificence are also to come under consideration; and they may be appropriately referred partly to distributive, and partly to commutative justice.

    V. Justice in words is also three-fold.

         (1.) Truth, by which he always enunciates or declares exactly as the thing is, to which is opposed falsehood.

         (2.) Sincerity and simplicity, by which he always declares as he inwardly conceives, according to the meaning and purpose of his mind, to which are opposed hypocrisy and duplicity of heart. And

         (3.) Fidelity, by which he is constant in keeping promises and in communicating privileges, to which are opposed inconstancy and perfidy.

    VI. Patience is that by which he patiently endures the absence of that Good, that is, of the prescribed obedience which he loves, desires, and for which he hopes, and the presence of that evil which he forbids, sparing sinners, not only that he may execute the judicial acts of His mercy and severity through them, but that he may also lead them to repentance, or that he may punish the contumacious with greater equity and severity. And this attribute seems to attemper the love [which God entertains] for the good of justice.

    VII. Long suffering, gentleness or lenity, clemency and readiness to pardon, are the moderators of anger, chastisements and punishments.

    VIII. Long suffering is a virtue by which God suspends his anger, lest it should instantly hasten to the depulsion of the evil, as soon as the creature has by his sins deserved it.

    IX. Gentleness or lenity is a virtue, by which God preserves moderation concerning anger in taking vengeance, lest it should be too vehement -- lest the seventy of the anger should certainly correspond with the magnitude of the wickedness perpetrated.

    X. Clemency is a virtue by which God so attempers the chastisements and punishments of the creature, even at the very time when he inflicts them, that, by their weight and continuance, they may not equal the magnitude of the sins committed; indeed, that they may not exceed the strength of the creature.

    XI. Readiness to forgive is a virtue by which God shows himself to be exorable to his creature, and which fixes a measure to the limits of anger, lest it should endure for ever, agreeably to the demerit of the sins committed.

    COROLLARIES

    Does the justice of God permit him to destine to death eternal, a rational creature who has never sinned? We reply in the negative.

    Does the justice of God allow that a creature should be saved who perseveres in his sins? We reply in the negative.

    Cannot justice and mercy, in some accommodated sense, be considered, as, in a certain respect, opposed? We reply in the affirmative.

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