Of The Moral Attributes Of The Divine Being -- By: George I. Chace

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 007:28 (Oct 1850)
Article: Of The Moral Attributes Of The Divine Being
Author: George I. Chace

Of The Moral Attributes Of The Divine Being

George I. Chace

Having in a former article considered the proofs of an author of the universe, from the manifestations of intelligence and design in the outward world, we propose to inquire in the present, what light may be derived from the same source concerning his character. Previous to engaging in this inquiry, however, it may be well to direct our attention for a moment to its nature and the proper mode of conducting it.

When a chemist or natural philosopher enters upon the investigation of any new substance, he is guided in putting his questions by what he has already learned of the properties of other similar bodies. He first asks whether the substance be simple or compound? If on being subjected to the proper tests it prove to be an element, he then inquires what relations it holds to the other elementary bodies? with which of them it enters into union, what are the conditions necessary to such union, what are the phenomena attending it, what are the products resulting from it? He further investigates the relations of this new substance to the imponderable agents. He inquires whether it be an electro-positive or an electro-negative body? whether it be a conductor or a non-conductor of heat, a refractor or non-refractor of light? Having obtained answer to these and other similar questions suggested by his acquaintance with the ordinary properties of matter, he is unable to proceed further. He has no intuitions, no pre-conceptions to guide him in his inquiries. There are no ‘a priori’ considerations, no antecedent probabilities of any kind that can be of avail to him. All his light must come from experience. If the substance under examination chance to possess properties different in kind from any with

which he has become acquainted in the study of other bodies, he can put no direct questions concerning them. Their discovery if made at all, must be either accidental or else the result of a process of investigation instituted with reference to some hitherto unexplained phenomenon in the production of which they have had part.

But, when we come to inquire concerning the attributes of the Supreme Being, our knowledge of other beings can afford us no assistance. “He is God; there is none else beside him.” “Nec viget quidquam simile aut secundum.” Here all analogy even fails. The eternal, self-existent and all-powerful Creator of the universe is separated by too wide a remove from the most highly endowed of his creatures to admit of any parity of reasoning between them. Experience therefore can render us no aid in directing or limiting our inquiries. Our guides must be sought from within.

In the firs...

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