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θνητών του θείου" ηδέ μέση τούτων διάστασις, άμαυροί της του καλού θέαν οφθαλμοίς μεν γαρ τα σώματα θεατά, γλώττη δε τα ορατά λεκτά, το δε ασώματος και αφανές, και άσχημάτιστον, και μήτε εξ ύλης υποκείμενον, υπό των ημετέρων αισθήσεων καταληφθήναι ου δύναται. 'Εννοούμαι και τάτεννοούμαι, και εξειπείν ου δυνατόν, τούτό εστιν ο Θεός. And Calicratides apud Stob., Serm. 83: Το δε έν έστιν άριστον αυτός, όπερ έστι κατταν έννοιαν, ζώον ουράνιον, άφθαρτον, αρχά τε και αιτία τάς τών όλων διακοσμάσιος.
Of the like import is that distich of Xenophanes in Clemens Alexan., Strom. 5:
Είς Θιός ήν τι θεοίσι και ανθρώποισι μέγιστος
Θύτε δίμας θνητοίσιν ομοίίος, ουδε νόημα.
Who is like to mortals neither as to body nor mind.”
Whereunto answers that in Cato:
“Si Deus est animus nobis ut carmina dicunt," etc.
And Æschylus, in the same place of Clemens, Strom. 5:
Χωρείτε θνητών τον Θεόν και μη δοκει
“Ομοιον αυτό σαρκικόν καθιστάναι. “Separate God from mortals, and think not thyself, of flesh, like him.”
And Posidonius plainly in Stobaeus as above : “ο Θεός έστι πνεύμα νοερόν και πυρώδες, ουκ έχον μορφήν·-«God is an intelligent fiery spirit, not having any shape.” And the same apprehension is evident in that of Seneca, “Quid est Deus? Mens universi. Quid est Deus? Quod vides totum, et quod non vides totum. Sic demum magni
. tudo sua illi redditur, qua nihil majus excogitari potest, si solus est omnia, opus suum et extra et intra tenet. Quid ergo interest inter naturam Dei et nostram ? Nostri melior pars animus est, in illo nulla pars extra animum.” Natural. Quæst. lib. i. Præfat. It would be burdensome, if not endless, to insist on the testimonies that to this purpose might be produced out of Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Epictetus, Julius Firmicus, and others of the same order. I shall close with one of Alcinous, de Doctrina Platon. cap. x.: "ATOTOV O dv Θεόν εξ ύλης είναι και είδους ου γάρ έσται απλούς ουδε αρχικός-«It is absurd to say that God is of matter and form ; for if so, he could neither be simple, nor the principal cause."
The thing is so clear, and the contrary, even by the heathen philosophers, accounted so absurd, that I shall not stand to pursue the arguments flowing from the other attributes of God, but proceed to what follows.
Of the attribution of passions and affections, anger, fear, repentance, unto God
In what sense it is done in the Scripture.
His next inquiry about the nature of God respects the attribution of several affections and passions unto him in the Scriptures, of whose sense and meaning he thus expresseth his apprehension :
Ques. Are there not, according to the perpetual tenor of the Scriptures, affections and passions in God, as anger, fury, zeal, wrath, love, hatred, mercy, grace, jealousy, repentance, grief, joy, fear? Concerning which he labours to make the Scriptures determine in the affirmative.
1. The main of Mr Biddle's design, in his questions about the nature of God, being to deprive the Deity of its distinct persons, its omnipresence, prescience, and therein all other infinite perfections, he endeavours to make him some recompense for all that loss by ascribing to him in the foregoing query a human visible shape, and in this, human, turbulent affections and passions. Commonly, where men will not ascribe to the Lord that which is his due, he gives them up to assign that unto him which he doth abhor, Jer. xliv. 15-17. Neither is it easily determinable whether be the greater abomination. By the first, the dependence of men upon the true God is taken off; by the latter, their hope is fixed on a false. This, on both sides, at present is Mr B.'s sad employment. The Lord lay it not to his charge, but deliver him from the snare of Satan, wherein he is "taken alive at his pleasure"! 2 Tim. ii. 26.
2. The things here assigned to God are ill associated, if to be understood after the same manner. Mercy and grace we acknowledge to be attributes of God; the rest mentioned are by none of Mr B.'s companions esteemed any other than acts of his will, and those metaphorically assigned to him.'
3. To the whole I ask, whether these things are in the Scriptures ascribed properly unto God, denoting such affections and passions in him as those in us are which are so termed? or whether they are assigned to him and spoken of bim metaphorically only, in reference to his outward works and dispensations, correspondent and answering to the actings of men in whom such affections are, and under the power whereof they are in those actings? If the latter be affirmed, then as such an attribution of them unto God is eminently consistent with all his infinite perfections and blessedness, so there can be no difference about this question and the answers given thereunto, all men readily acknowledging that in this sense the Scripture doth ascribe all the affections mentioned unto God, of which we say as he
· Crell. de Deo : seu Vera Relig., cap. xxix. p. 295.
of old, Ταύτα ανθρωποπαθώς μεν λέγονται, θεοπρεπώς δε νοούνται. But this, I fear, will not serve Mr B.'s turn. The very phrase and manner of expression used in this question, the plain intimation that is in the forehead thereof of its author's going off from the common received interpretation of these attributions unto God, do abundantly manifest that it is their proper significancy which he contends to fasten on God, and that the affections mentioned are really and properly in him as they are in us. This being evident to be his mind and intendment, as we think his anthropopathism in this query not to come short in folly and madness of his anthropomorphitism in that foregoing, so I shall proceed to the removal of this insinuation in the way and method formerly insisted on.
Mr B.'s masters tell us “That these affections are vehement commotions of the will of God, whereby he is carried out earnestly to the object of his desires, or earnestly declines and abhors what falls not out gratefully or acceptably to bim.” I shall first speak of them in general, and then to the particulars (some or all) mentioned by Mr B.:
First, In general, that God is perfect and perfectly blessed, I suppose will not be denied; it cannot be but by denying that he is God.' He that is not perfect in himself and perfectly blessed is not God. To that which is perfect in any kind nothing is wanting in that kind. To that which is absolutely perfect nothing is wanting at all. He who is blessed is perfectly satisfied and filled, and hath no farther desire for supply. He who is blessed in himself is all-sufficient for himself. If God want or desire any thing for himself, he is neither perfect nor blessed. To ascribe, then, affections to God properly (such as before mentioned), is to deprive him of his perfection and blessedness. The consideration of the nature of these and the like affections will make this evident.
1. Affections, considered in themselves, have always an incomplete, imperfect act of the will or volition joined with them. They are something that lies between the firm purpose of the soul and the execution of that purpose. The proper actings of affections lie between these two; that is, in an incomplete, tumultuary volition. That God is not obnoxious to such volitions and incomplete actings of the will, besides the general consideration of his perfections and blessedness premised, is evident from that manner of procedure which is ascribed to him. His purposes and his works comprise all his actings. As the Lord hath purposed, so hath he done. “He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” “Who hath known his
1 “ Voluntatis divinæ commotiones, præsertim vehementiores, seu actus ejusmodi, quibus voluntas vehementius vel in objectum suum fertur, vel ab eo refugit, atque abhorret,” etc.—Crell
. de Deo: seu Vera Relig., cap. xxix. p. 295. Vid. etiam cap. xxx., xxxi. · Deut. xxxii. 4; Job xxxvii. 16; Rom. i. 25, ix. 5; 1 Tim. i. 11, vi. 15. 3 Crell. de Deo, ubi supra.
mind? or who hath been his counsellor? Of him, and through hirr, and to him, are all things."
2. They have their dependence on that wherewith he in whore they are is affected; that is, they owe their rise and continuance to something without him in whom they are. A man's fear ariseth from that or them of whom he is afraid; by them it is occasioned, on them it depends. Whatever affects any man (that is, the stirring of a suitable affection), in all that frame of mind and soul, in all the volitions and commotions of will which so arise from thence, he depends on something without him. Yea, our being affected with something without lies at the bottom of most of our purposes and resolves. Is it thus with God, with him who is I AM? Exod. iii. 14. Is he in dependence upon any thing without him? Is it not a most eminent contradiction to speak of God in dependence on any other thing? Must not that thing either be God or be reduced to some other without and besides him, who is God, as the causes of all our affections are? “ God is in one mind, and who can turn him? what his soul desireth, that he doeth,” Job xxiii. 13.
3. Affections are necessarily accompanied with change and mutability; yea, he who is affected properly is really changed; yea, there is no more unworthy change or alteration than that which is accompanied with passion, as is the change that is wrought by the affections ascribed to God. A sedate, quiet, considerate alteration is far less inglorious and unworthy than that which is done in and with passion.' Hitherto we have taken God upon his testimony, that he is the "LORD, and he changeth not," Mal. iii. 6; that "with him there is neither change nor shadow of turning;”-it seems like the worms of the earth, he varieth every day.
4. Many of the affections here ascribed to God do eminently denote impotence; which, indeed, on this account, both by Socinians and Arminians, is directly ascribed to the Almighty. They make him affectionately and with commotion of will to desire many things in their own nature not impossible, which yet he cannot accomplish or bring about (of which I have elsewhere spoken); yea, it will appear that the most of the affections ascribed to God by Mr B., taken in a proper sense, are such as are actually ineffectual, or commotions through disappointments, upon the account of impotency or defect
Corol. To ascribe affections properly to God is to make him weak, imperfect, dependent, changeable, and impotent.
Secondly, Let a short view be taken of the particulars, some or all of them, that Mr B. chooseth to instance in. “Anger, fury, wrath, zeal” (the same in kind, only differing in degree and circumstances),
i Isa. xiv. 24; Eph. i. 11; Rom. xi. 33-36; Isa, xl. 13, 14, 2 Τι αν ασίθημα μείζον γίνατο του υπολαμβάνειν το άτ ιπτον τρέπεσθαι ;-Philo.
are the first he instances in; and the places produced to make good this attribution to God are, Num. xxv. 3, 4; Ezek. v. 13; Exod. xxxii. 11, 12; Rom. i. 18.
1. That mention is made of the anger, wrath, and fury of God in the Scripture is not questioned. Num. xxv. 4, Deut. xiii. 17, Josh. vii. 26, Ps. lxxviii. 31, Isa. xiii. 9, Deut. xxix. 24, Judges ii. 14, Ps. lxxiv. 1, lxix. 24, Isa. xxx. 30, Lam. ii. 6, Ezek. v. 15, Ps. lxxviii. 49, Isa. xxxiv. 2, 2 Chron. xxviii. 11, Ezra x. 14, Hab. iii. 8, 12, are farther testimonies thereof. The words also in the original, in all the places mentioned, express or intimate perturbation of mind, commotion of spirit, corporeal mutation of the parts of the body, and the like distempers of men acting under the power of that passion. The whole difference is about the intendment of the Holy Ghost in these attributions, and whether they are properly spoken of God, asserting this passion to be in him in the proper significancy of the words, or whether these things be not taken &vpwmoratūs, and to be understood 380TPTWs, in such a sense as may answer the meaning of the figurative expression, assigning them their truth to the utinost, and yet to be interpreted in a suitableness to divine perfection and blessedness.
2. The anger, then, which in the Scripture is assigned to God, we say denotes two things :
(1.) His vindictive justice, or constant and immutable will of rendering vengeance for sin. So God's purpose of the demonstration of his justice is called his being “ willing to show his wrath” or anger, Rom. ix. 22; so God's anger and his judgments are placed together, Ps. vii. 6; and in that anger he judgeth, verse 8. And in this sense is the "wrath of God” said to be "revealed from heaven,” Rom. i. 18; that is, the vindictive justice of God against sin to be manifested in the effects of it, or the judgments sent and punishments inflicted on and throughout the world.
(2.) By anger, wrath, zeal, fury, the effects of anger are denoted : Rom. iii. 5, “Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance ?” The words are, ó éripépws only opráv,—“who inflicteth or bringeth anger on man;" that is, sore punishments, such as proceed from anger; that is, God's vindictive justice. And Eph. v. 6, “For these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Is it the passion or affection of anger in God that Mr B. talks of, that comes upon the children of disobedience? or is it indeed the effect of his justice for this sin ?' Thus the day of judgment is called the “day of wrath" and of “anger," because it is the day of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God :” Rom. ii. 5, “ After thy hardness,"
· Vid. Andr. Rivetum in Ps. ii. p. 11, et in Exod. iv. p. 14, et Aquinat. 1, part. q. 3, art. 2, ad secundum. “ Ira dicitur de Deo secundum similitudinem effectus, quia proprium est irati punire, ejus ira punitio metaphorice vocatur."
3 "'H éprin roő Osū, Divina ultio, Rom. i. 18, Col. iii. 6."-Grotius in locum.