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ing to be attached to them is, that the actions described by them, are such as would be the effects of those organs among men.
That this is the true way of considering the question appears, from the anxiety always evinced to prevent men from framing an image of the Deity. If God were possessed of a body, this anxiety would be unaccountable.
Again, God has no parts.a
Parts belong only to body ; if he has not the latter, therefore he cannot have the former.
Lastly, God is without passions.
Passion is an agitation of the mind, which supposes pain to arise from the contemplation of the past, or anxiety, from the uncertainty of the future. Both produce present uneasiness; an imperfection which is evidently inconsistent with the nature of God. It is true, that anger
Besides, parts imply quantity and locality. If, therefore, God kad parts, since be is immense he should fill all space to the exclusion of every thing else.—See Welchman in Articulis.
• In the original, Bishop Burnet adds a clause to that given above, in which he ascribes parts to a spirit, viz. : “ thoughts distinct from its being." Bat I am inclined to doubt that these can properly be called parts. Parts are those, which taken together, constitute the whole. But thoughts added together do not make a spirit. They are the effects of the power of thinking, which is essential to its existence. Certainly, if Mr. Locke's doctrine be true, that our souls are not always in a state of thinking, they should thus be constantly changing from creation to annihilation, and vice versů, according as the thinking faculty was suspended or exercised.
and other passions are ascribed to the Deity in Scripture. But these expressions - intend no more than this, that there is then, in the providences of God, a vehemence of action, which among men would be considered as the effect of the passion attributed to him.
It may be necessary to observe, that though God is said to be a spirit, there is yet an infinite distance between his nature and that of all other spirits. The thoughts of the latter are successive, and liable to change, but God has all the varieties of things under his view at the same moment. And here a distinction may be made between the immanent and transient acts of the Deity. The former, (such are his knowledge and decrees,) are co-existent with his essence; the latter, (such are creation, particular providence, and miracles,) are the effects of these, and are executed in a succession of time.
4th. We proposed to consider the attributes of God.
(1.) He is a Being of infinite power.
To give being to things which had no existence, and to add to that existence all the possibilities of motion and figure, is plainly the act of omnipotence. It is no diminution of this power, that God cannot produce results of their own nature impossible, as to take from any being that which is essential to it. Thus, he has formed matter so that it is capable of various figures. Matter, therefore, could not exist and yet be incapable of such figures. For then it should both be and not be at the same time; since no substance can exist without its essential properties.
(2.) He is a Being of infinite wisdom.a
The wisdom or knowledge of God has been divided into three kinds, according to its various objects. First, the knowledge of simple intelligence or apprehension, whereby he sees all the possibilities of things, previous to any determination in favour of one more than another. The second, called the knowledge of vision, whereby he knows all things that have been in time past, all that now are, and all that shall be hereafter. This knowledge arises from his decrees with respect to the existence of these things. The third, called middle knowledge, whereby he sees with certainty in what way free agents will choose to act, in all the contingencies in which they may be placed. Such wisdom as is here supposed, is necessary to the creation and preservation of the world, and is infinite in its extent; since there is no circumstance to which it does not reach.
See Sherlock on Providence, c. 8. and Scott's Christian Life, Part 2. v. 2. p. 242.
o See Turretin's Inst. Theol. L. 3. Q. 13.
· The existence of a middle knowledge in God, has been denied by some writers. Their arguments shall be considered hereafter.
(3.) He is a Being of infinite goodness.
The goodness of God abstractedly considered, is a' tendency to communicate the divine perfections to all created beings, according to their several capacities. And since he has made rational creatures capable of certain degrees of happiness and purity, the perfection of which he himself possesses, his goodness is accordingly exerted in a twofold manner. The primary act of it consists in proposing to them, méans calculated to exalt them to the rank he has enabled them to attain ; in exciting them to the proper use of those means, and aiding their sincere endea
The secondary act of his goodness is subordinate to the former, and consists in accepting their exertions and continuing to assist them, as long as any possibility remains of their final success. Thus, his first aim is to make us, like himself, good and happy, for which purpose he adopts such means as are calculated to effect it.
Lastly, we proposed to consider the works of God. For this purpose we shall observe,
1. He is the Maker of all things, both risible and invisible.
This is evident from their original.
We have seen the absurdity of supposing the world to have existed from eternity. It must, therefore, have been made in time by the supreme first cause. This proof, too, is not confined to the natural world, since it has been shown that eternal succession is quite as inconsistent with spi. ritual as with material substances. God, therefore, is the Maker of all things both visible and invisible.a
Analogous to God's power of creation out of nothing, is his power of annihilating that which already has existed. This power, however, has been modified by others, who have supposed that all things have a natural tendency to decay, and would fall back into nothing, unless upheld by his providence. But according to this opinion, the preservation of the world should be an act of constant violation to nature. Besides, it is inconceiveable how any thing should have an inclination towards that which is essentially opposite to, and destructive of, it."
Bishop Burnet derives another argument in proof of this, from the preceding inference ; that God is of infinite power, which, therefore, supposes that of creation. But the reader will find that he establishes God's omnipotence, by the fact of bis having made the world. I have, therefore, omitted this argument, to avoid a fallacy which logicians call a circle.
• The objections are, to my mind, far from convincing. A tendency to self-preservation nothing but animal instinct. If, therefore, according to Bishop Burnet's idea, this tendency be implanted in material things, they thence become living beings. Besides, when it is said that all things have a tendency to decay, it is not meant that such a tendency or inclination is implanted in them as an active living principle. It is rather a negative than a positive quality. It is the absence of a power of self-preservation, and surely