Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

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CHAPTER III.

 

THE ELEMENTS AND THE HIGHER

PRIMARY GRACES OF GOD'S CHARACTER.

 

RIGHTEOUS ATTITUDE TOWARD EVIL. HOLY AFFECTIONS. THE GRACES. STRENGTH. DOMINANCE OF HIS HIGHER PRIMARY GRACES. BALANCE. CRYSTALLIZATION. THREE CLASSES OF GRACES. THE HIGHER PRIMARY GRACES. WISDOM. JUSTICE. CHARITY. LOVE. POWER. THE FUNCTION OF GOD'S HIGHER PRIMARY GRACES.

 

IN THE preceding chapter we have considered the attributes of God's being. As an initial feature to the study of His character it would be proper to study the elements of His character, i.e., the general forms in which His character exists and acts, the general ingredients of which it consists. There are seven of these: (1) a righteous attitude toward evil; (2) holy affections; (3) the graces; (4) strength in every element of character; (5) domination over His lower primary affections and graces, and His secondary and tertiary graces by His higher primary graces properly blended; (6) balance of character; and (7) crystallization of character. In this discussion it is not our purpose to give details on these points; rather it is our purpose to give only generalities thereon, as details naturally will follow. The first element of God's character suggested above is that it sustains a righteous attitude toward evil. A righteous attitude toward evil, first of all, abhors it, hates it as an abomination, and God does this because He is righteous, and it is evil—evil in itself and evil in its effects. It is evil in itself because it is opposed to God's law, which is based on, is in harmony with, and flows out of His justice, and because it works harm in a moral order of affairs; for certainly it disrupts the fellowship relations between God and His sinning free

 

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moral agents and does this to the relations of those creatures to one another, as well as harms these creatures. Accordingly, a righteous being's righteous attitude toward evil must be one of abhorrence. Therefore, God, as a righteous being, in the nature of the case, must abhor evil. The Bible gives us abundant evidence to this effect: "All His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity; just and right is He" (Deut. 32: 4). "The Lord is upright: … there is no unrighteousness in Him" (Ps. 92: 15). "What iniquity have your fathers found in Me, that they have gone far from Me?" (Jer. 2: 5). "Thou are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity" (Hab. 1: 13). Additionally, the following cited passages show that God abhors evil: Gen. 6: 6; Deut. 25: 16; Ps. 5: 4-6; Prov. 6: 1619; 21: 27; Jer. 44: 4, 22; Zech. 8: 17; Luke 16: 13; Rev. 2: 6, 15. Thus the first feature of His righteous attitude toward evil is abhorrence, which we recognize is proper.

 

Out of such abhorrence God avoids evil. He will not practice it, because it is contrary to His character in its holiness and in its righteousness. He, being perfect in character, naturally must abhor it and, therefore, will not, nor can He, practice evil. The Scriptures are plain on this feature of His righteous attitude toward evil. We will quote a few pertinent Scriptures: "Far be it from God that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that He should commit iniquity. Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment" (Job 34: 10, 12). "Who can say, Thou has wrought iniquity?" (Job 36: 23). "To subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not. … Out of the mouth of the Most High proceedeth not evil." (Lam. 3: 36, 38). "Shall not the judge of all the earth do right?" (Gen. 18: 25). "There is no iniquity with the Lord, our God" (2 Chron. 19: 7). "Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid" (Rom. 9: 14).

 

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"Neither is there respect of persons with Him" (Eph. 6: 9). "God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love" (Heb. 6: 10). Accordingly, we see that the Bible teaches that God avoids evil as a part of His righteous attitude toward sin. And from the same attitude of Him toward sin He opposes it. He opposes it by teaching against it, by warning against it, by punishing those who play with it, by setting up arrangements and movements against it. In the Bible are many teachings and examples of this feature of His righteous acts against evil. His teaching and warning of Cain, Pharaoh, Israel, Balaam, Saul, David, etc., are illustrations of certain forms of His opposition to evil; and His punishments of these and others are illustrations of still another form of opposing evil. The arrangements that He gave natural and spiritual Israel against it in its various forms constitute another way in which He has shown His opposition to evil. Furthermore the experience of the race under the curse, the Day of Vengeance and the Second Death are only some more illustrations of His opposing evil. The following citations bear this out: Gen. 3: 7-24; 4: 9-14; 6: 5-7; 1 Kings 13: 33, 34; Ps. 94: 23; Is. 50: 11; Jer. 5: 25; 21: 14; Ezek. 11: 21; Rom. 5: 12-21; Gal. 6: 7. Thus we see that God opposes evil. Accordingly, in His abhorring, abstaining from, and opposing evil, God shows that one of His character elements is a righteous attitude toward evil.

 

The second element of God's character is holy affections. This means that God's affections are holy in their nature, in the objects to which they attach themselves, and in the manner in which they express themselves. These affections are partly intellectual, partly artistic, partly religious, partly selfish (not sinfully selfish) and partly social. His intellectual affections are His love for knowing, love for remembering and love for reasoning. This form of His love is holy; it exercises itself in a holy manner and toward holy objects.

 

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His artistic affections are His love for the beautiful, His love for the sublime, His love for the eloquent, His love for the humorous, His love for the pleasant and His love for the creative. This love is holy in itself: it exercises itself in holy ways and attaches itself to the holy in these things. His religious affections are His love for believing in, and relying upon the things of faith, His love for hoping for the things of hope, His love for firmness of the will, His love for perseverance of the will, His love for just veneration toward good principles, His love for just love for His creatures and His disinterested veneration for good principles and for His creatures. His religious love, His disinterested love, He exercises in a holy manner, it reaches out toward holy objects; and if certain objects, like the fallen angels and men, are not holy, He exercises this love toward making them holy.

 

Then God's selfish affections are holy. Selfish affections may be holy or unholy, dependent on their quality, their manner of exercise and the things to which they attach themselves. In God all His selfish affections are holy, for their qualities are holy: they work in a holy manner and attach themselves to holy things. Thus He has love for a proper self-esteem, others' esteem, ease, safety, life, self-defense, concealing, gaining and retaining, attacking and (spiritual) eating and drinking. God's social affections are holy. On these sentiments there must be some explanations made so as to clarify matters. E.g., God loves His wives; but it must be explained that, as man understands the matter of wives, God has not had, does not have and will not have wives. But He has had, does have and will have symbolic wives. Is. 54: 1-17, compared with Gal. 4: 27, proves that the Sarah Covenant, i.e., the oath-bound promises to the Christ, Head and Body, and the servants that apply them to the faithful new creatures, are God's (symbolic) wife. Gal. 4: 21-31 proves that also the Hagar Covenant, i.e., the Law

 

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promises to Israel and the servants that applied them to Israel, have likewise been a symbolic wife to God. The same will be true of the New Covenant, which is typed by Keturah, the third wife of Abraham, as we gather from the parallels of Sarah and Hagar and the allusion to Keturah's descendants as picturing those developed as children under the New or Millennial Covenant (Is. 60: 6). Hence we say that God has a love for wife, love for children, love for friends, love for home (His Paradise, Rev. 2: 7) and love for country (the universe). This love is holy, because holiness is its quality, because it is exercised in a holy way and goes out to holy objects. Accordingly, God's affections are the second element of His character.

 

The third element of God's character is His graces. Usually we speak of the main attributes of God's character as wisdom, power, justice and love. But, as St. Peter shows us in his famous addition problem (2 Pet. 1: 5-7), these are capable of being resolved into their parts as follows: Wisdom is a combination of faith, hope (which is the heart of fortitude) and knowledge. Power (will power as distinct from omnipotence, which is an attribute of being and not of character) is a combination of self-control and patience. Justice is a combination of piety (duty-love to God; in God's case this goes out to good principles, not to any person, which, if it did, would imply that God has a superior—an impossibility) and brotherly love (duty-love to the neighbor). St. Peter does not analyze love; he simply mentions it as charity. These seven graces we call the higher primary graces, because they are the graces that, acting through the religious affections as their qualities, are the chief and dominating graces. These graces in God are holy; they act in a holy manner and attach themselves to holy objects only. But in addition to the higher primary graces God has as parts of the third element of His character lower primary graces, secondary graces and tertiary graces.

 

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God's lower primary graces are the qualities that act through His selfish and social affections, as their qualities. Thus God's self-confidence, self-satisfaction and self-respect are the graces that act through His self-esteem, as its qualities. God's approbativeness is the grace that acts through His love of others' esteem, as its quality. God's peace is the grace that acts through His love of rest, or ease, as its quality. God's combativeness is the grace that acts through His love of self-defense, as its quality. God's selfpreservativeness is the grace that acts through His love of life, as its quality. God's cautiousness is the grace that acts through His love of safety, as its quality. God's tactfulness is the grace that acts through His love of concealment, as its quality. God's aggressiveness and executiveness are the graces that act through His love of attacking injurious, opposing and difficult things, as its qualities. God's enterprisingness and providence are the graces that act through His love of gaining and retaining, as its qualities. God's appetitiveness (love for the Truth and its spirit) is the grace that works through His love for (spiritual) food and drink, as its quality. God's conjugality is the grace that acts through His love for His (symbolic) wives, as its quality. God's fatherliness is the grace that acts through His love for His children, as its quality. God's friendliness is the grace that acts through His love for friends, as its quality. And God's domesticity and patriotism are the graces that act through His love of home and country, as their qualities. Thus these graces—those that act through God's selfish and social affections—are His lower primary graces.

 

God's secondary graces do not have any affections through which they act. Rather, they act from the higher primary graces' suppressing the control of Himself by the selfish and social affections and their graces. Thus suppressing self-esteem's control, God exercises humility; suppressing the control of others' esteem,

 

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God exercises reticence, modesty and simplicity; suppressing His love of ease, God exercises industry; suppressing the control of love for self-defense, God exercises longsuffering; suppressing the control of love for life, God exercises self-sacrificingness; suppressing the control of love for safety, God exercises bravery; suppressing the control of love for concealment, God exercises candor, frankness; suppressing the control of love for attacking, God exercises forbearance and forgiveness; suppressing the control of love for gaining and retaining, God exercises liberality, generosity; suppressing the control of love for spiritual food and drink, God exercises temperance. Thus He exercises His secondary graces as these are related to a proper control of the selfish affections. He exercises the secondary graces as these are related to the proper control of His social affections as follows: Suppressing the control of love for wife and children, God exercises family headshipliness; and suppressing the control of love for friends, home and country, God exercises impartiality. God's tertiary graces are mixed graces, i.e., they are the graces in which there is a combination of higher primary with lower primary and secondary graces, in which combination the higher primary graces control. The following are God's main tertiary graces: Meekness, zeal, moderation, goodness, gentleness, joy, obedience, faithfulness. As we have shown elsewhere how various of the higher primary, the lower primary and the secondary graces combine in the exercise of these graces, we will not enter into that phase of the subject here. But it will be in place to remark that in God everyone of the primary, secondary and tertiary graces is a holy quality, acts in a holy manner and attaches itself to holy objects alone.

 

The fourth element of God's character is His strength of character in all the respects hitherto mentioned. His character is strong in its righteous attitude toward evil and never does He exercise the slightest

 

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weakness in abhorring, avoiding and opposing evil. His character is strong in the exercise of His intellectual, artistic, religious, selfish and social affections. His character is strong in His exercise of the higher primary graces, of the lower primary graces, of the secondary graces and of the tertiary graces. Never does He show any weakness in the exercise of His intellectual, artistic, religious, selfish and social affections, His exercise of His higher and lower primary graces or of the exercise of His secondary and tertiary graces. And this strength that He has and exercises in all His attitudes and acts toward evil and in all of His affections and graces is a very important element in His character, as being a necessary part of its perfection.

 

The fifth element of God's character is the domination of His lower primary affections and graces and His secondary and tertiary graces by His higher primary graces properly blended. In God's varying relations, as proper principles will require, there always must be a varying blending in coordination, superordination or subordination among His higher primary graces, when they are the only ones of His graces called into activity by the needs and conditions of certain given actions. Furthermore, when His attitudes and works toward evil and His lower primary affections and graces and His secondary and tertiary graces act, these must act under the domination of the higher primary graces properly blended, since otherwise sin would set in—a thing that is impossible with God. This domination is exercised in two ways (1) In suppressing the control or, if the case require, even the activity of the lower primary graces and affections and the secondary and the tertiary graces. This prevents sin and keeps right-doing in activity. (2) In using the lower primary affections and graces and the secondary and tertiary graces as servants of righteousness and holiness. E.g., when love for self-defense

 

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and anger would be contrary to the control of the blended higher primary graces, God's higher primary graces suppress the activity of these. If longsuffering or zeal in God should be inclined to work and the higher primary graces forbid it, they will, as blended, suppress its activity. But if any of these or any other of their fellow affections or graces would further righteousness or holiness, God's higher primary graces would set them into exercise to make them servants of righteousness and holiness, e.g., God's higher primary graces use His combativeness to overthrow the attacks of sin and error whereby He uses combativeness as a servant of righteousness and truth.

 

The sixth element in God's character is balance. By balance in God's character is meant the adjustment of His affections and graces in harmony with one another in such coordination, subordination and superordination as the principles of Divine wisdom, power, justice and love in their ordered relations to one another require. Balance in God's character, therefore, operates in all of the previously mentioned five elements of His character and adjusts all their details within each of them and in their relations with one another. It is due to this fact that balance in God's character is almost universal in His character activities; for it permeates all the preceding five elements of His character.

 

The final element in God's character is crystallization in the preceding six element of His disposition. By crystallization in God's character its unbreakableness in the six preceding elements is meant. This is the crowning perfection of God's character. It means that nothing can change God from His righteous attitude toward evil, in abhorring, avoiding and opposing it, nor change His affections from their holiness in their qualities, manner of working or objects, nor change His graces of all three kinds into the opposite disgraces, nor change His strength of character into weakness in any point, nor change the domination of

 

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His blended higher primary graces over His lower primary affections and graces and over His secondary and tertiary graces, nor change His balance of character, nor change such crystallization in itself. No matter what the pressure on God may be, it cannot impair this crystallization in the slightest degree. Hence the climax of God's perfection of character is His crystallization therein. And when God invites us to be perfect as He is perfect, He means that we, after His example, are to have all seven of these character elements in our characters. But, among others, there is this difference: God has not had to develop any of these features of His character; for He has always had them, while we have to cultivate them as the chief thing in life.

 

All of God's attributes which are not qualities of character we call His attributes of being. Above, in the previous chapter, we treated on fourteen of God's attributes of being. There are other attributes of God's being than these fourteen, but those considered are the principal ones of that class of His characteristics, and their discussion will, we trust, suffice for our present study of that class of His attributes. We now turn to the discussion of His attributes of character, and believe their study will bless us even more than that of His attributes of being; for the former are in themselves more noble and appreciable, and in our relation to Him are fuller of joy, peace and satisfaction for us than the latter. Moreover, they occupy a larger place in God's Word and works than His attributes of being. In the study of them more especially do the words of the Lord to Moses apply, "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." May we enter into this study with reverence, faith and love; so it will prove a very rich blessing indeed, such as all of us desire.

 

A few explanations on the classes of God's attributes of character should precede our study of our subject in order to its better understanding and appreciation.

 

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God has three classes of character qualities, corresponding to our three classes of character attributes, a correspondence due to our being as new creatures mental, moral and religious images of God. These may be called primary, secondary and tertiary qualities or graces. Like ourselves God has a variety of affections, each one of which has its own separate organ of expression, e.g., firmness, continuity, spirituality, combativeness, secretiveness, restfulness, self-esteem, etc. By our affection-organs exercising themselves we develop graces or attributes of character. Those qualities that are the direct effect of such exercise of our affection-organs are the primary graces. E.g., by exercising our organ of spirituality we develop faith; by exercising our organ of firmness we cultivate self-control; by exercising our organ of continuity we produce patience, etc. The natural working of any affection-organ produces as its primary effect the quality that corresponds to that organ of affection. It is for this reason that we call that grace that is produced by the direct action of an affection-organ a primary grace. Hence we define the primary graces as the qualities produced by the direct exercise of the affection-organs.

 

The primary qualities are of two kinds—higher and lower. The higher primary attributes are those that should control all our other qualities, i.e., the lower primary, the secondary and the tertiary graces. The higher primary graces are faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity. The following are some of the lower primary graces: self-confidence, dignity, attractiveness, restfulness, defensiveness, aggressiveness, tactfulness, providence, etc. These lower primary graces must not be allowed to dominate us or they will produce the disgraces, e.g., self-confidence controlling us produces self-sufficiency; dignity controlling us produces arrogance and self-exaltation; attractiveness controlling us produces ostentatiousness and vanity; restfulness controlling us produces

 

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laziness; defensiveness controlling us produces contentiousness; aggressiveness controlling us produces cruelty; tactfulness controlling us produces hypocrisy; and providence controlling us produces covetousness. Controlled by the higher primary graces, the lower primary graces do much good. They are, therefore, not to be controllers, but to be controlled by the higher primary graces.

 

For the sake of clearness we will make a few explanations on the secondary and tertiary graces, qualities or attributes. The secondary graces individually do not have individual affection-organs by whose natural exercise they are developed. If they had, they would not be secondary, but primary graces or qualities. They are developed by the primary, especially the higher primary graces suppressing the efforts of the lower affection-organs to control us. Thus the higher primary graces suppressing the efforts of self-esteem to control us produce humility, suppressing the efforts of restfulness to control us develop industriousness, suppressing the efforts of combativeness to control us produce longsuffering, suppressing the efforts of destructiveness to control us cultivate forbearance, forgiveness, etc. Thus the secondary graces are more or less negative, for they are not produced by an affection-organ as its natural effect, but by other graces forcing the lower affection-organs to remain inactive so far as controllership is concerned.

 

The tertiary graces, attributes or qualities differ from the primary graces in this: that whereas the primary graces are the direct effect of the working of the higher affection-organs by themselves, or of the lower primary affection-organs by themselves, but never by combination of the higher and the lower ones to produce primary graces, each tertiary grace is the effect of one or more of the higher and lower affection-organs and secondary graces combined. E.g., faith, a higher primary grace, is developed by the activity of

 

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the affection-organ of spirituality; and tactfulness, a lower primary grace, is cultivated by the working of the affection-organ of secretiveness. While, as in the case of the higher primary graces of piety, brotherly love and charity, there is a combination of operation in higher affection-organs, the higher primary graces are not qualities produced by a combination in the workings of higher and lower affection-organs. But zeal, a tertiary grace, results from the combined working of the higher primary graces of faith, hope, piety, brotherly love and charity, the lower primary graces of aggressiveness and enterprisingness and the secondary graces of self-sacrifice, industriousness and bravery. Thus the tertiary graces are produced by a combination in the working of the higher and lower affection-organs and secondary graces. And therein consists their difference from both the primary graces and the secondary graces, the latter having no direct organs for their expression.

 

The above explanations on the three classes of graces, qualities or attributes of character in us as new creatures are made in order the better to enable us to understand and appreciate these three classes of character attributes in God. The reason why they are helpful toward these ends is that as new creatures we are becoming images of God in attributes of character. And if faithful, we will be perfect character images of Him. Hence the understanding and appreciation of our new creaturely qualities enable us better to understand and appreciate God's attributes of character. We are now ready to take up our subject for discussion.

 

The Scriptures stress as God's higher primary graces four attributes, which may be analyzed into seven. These four are wisdom, justice, love and power. There is no one literal passage in the Scriptures that expressly contains mention of all four of these Divine attributes, though there are several figurative ones that picture forth all four of them under the symbols of an

 

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eagle (wisdom), a lion (power), an ox (bullock, used in the atonement sacrifice—justice) and a human face (love) (Ezek. 1: 5-14; Rev. 4: 6, 7). In Job 37: 23 all four of them are mentioned, two of them expressly and two of them by other terms: "He [the Almighty] is excellent in power, and in judgment, [discernment, i.e., wisdom] and in plenty of justice, and He will not [willingly] afflict [love]." So in Jer. 9: 24 they are all indicated, either expressly or impliedly: "I am the Lord that exerciseth [a function of power] lovingkindness [love], judgment [wisdom] and righteousness [justice] in the earth; for in these things [power, love, wisdom and justice] I delight, saith the Lord." So, too, partly by implication and partly by expression these four attributes are set forth in Deut. 32: 4: "His work [the expression of His power] is perfect; all His ways are judgment [wisdom]; a God of truth [the basis of wisdom and love] without iniquity; just and right [justice] is He." There are, of course, many passages that treat of at least one or another of these Divine attributes. Thus, e.g., wisdom as a Divine attribute is set forth in Rom. 11: 33, 34; Eph. 1: 8; 1 Tim. 1: 17. So, too, is power as a Divine attribute set forth in Gen. 17: 1; Ps. 115: 3; Matt. 19: 26; Luke 1: 37; Rev. 19: 6. Likewise this is true of justice as a Divine attribute in Ex. 20: 4; Ps. 89: 14; Jer. 50: 7. And, finally, this may be said of love as a Divine attribute in John 3: 16; Rom. 5: 8; Titus 3: 4; 1 John 4: 8-10, 19. Thus the Scriptures prove that these are Divine attributes.

 

In a celebrated passage where St. Peter tells of our call to glory and virtue, i.e., to a character like God's, he analyzes these four attributes as they are to be developed in us into seven graces and a mental acquirement, i.e., knowledge—2 Pet. 1: 3-7. By the words faith, fortitude [the heart of fortitude is hope of victory, hence here fortitude is used for hope, which, as one of the three chief graces (1 Cor. 13: 13), should

 

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appear in a list of the seven chief ones] and knowledge (v. 5) he gives us the elements or ingredients of wisdom; by the words self-control [temperance] and patience (v. 6) he gives us the elements or ingredients of power as an attribute of character, but not as an attribute of being; by the words piety [godliness] and brotherly love [neighbor love, brotherly kindness] he gives us the elements or ingredients of justice; and by the word charity he gives us the synonym of love. Thus seven of these—faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity—are graces, and one—knowledge—is a mental acquisition. It is certainly true that wisdom is a combination of faith, hope and knowledge; for confidence in our knowledge and the hope to effect good by it is exactly what wisdom is—the trustful and hopeful use of the Truth in making plans for securing good results. It is also true that self-control and patience [steadfastness, constancy] are the ingredients or elements of power as a character attribute, i.e., will-power, as distinct from physical power or might; for will-power is firmness [self-control] and continuity [patience] in a good course. Justice certainly consists of supreme love to God [piety] and equal love to the neighbor [brotherly love]. Thus in this section St. Peter analyzes into their component parts what are the four attributes of God's character that must be developed in us as our higher primary graces.

 

Having given above a few general considerations on God's higher primary attributes of character, we will now discuss each one in turn, beginning with wisdom. Wisdom may be defined as the confident and hopeful use of true knowledge in planning practical things in harmony with power, justice and love. It will be noticed that in this definition a number of things are affirmed of wisdom. In the first place, it is shown what the ingredients or elements of wisdom are—faith, hope and knowledge (2 Pet. 1: 5). Second, the work of

 

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wisdom is noted—planning practical things. Third, the sphere of wisdom's operation is presented—things harmonious with power, justice and love. Each one of these features of wisdom may well engage our attention. Among its ingredients—faith, hope and knowledge—the basal one is knowledge. But knowledge as the basis of wisdom is not every kind of knowledge. Sinful and erroneous knowledge is not the basis of wisdom. It is the basis of its opposite— folly. And if such knowledge is confidently and hopefully used, cunning, not wisdom, is the actor. Therefore true knowledge—the Truth—is the basis of wisdom. This is the reason that the Scriptures so frequently speak of wisdom and true knowledge connectedly, and not infrequently synonymously, when using wisdom in its narrow sense (Job 12: 12, 13; 28: 12-28; 32: 9; Prov. 1: 5, 7; 2: 1-10; 3: 13-23; 4: 4-13, 18-22; 7: 2-4; 8: 1-11; 9: 10; 14: 8; 22: 17; 23: 23; Acts 6: 10; 1 Cor. 2: 6-16). It weaves all its plans out of and in harmony with true knowledge—the Truth. This also shows the reasonableness for faith and hope as elements of wisdom acting in respect to such knowledge. Of course faith can rest upon it, and hope can desire and expect according to it. Assuredly faith can confidently use such knowledge in hope when planning practical things, and both faith and hope can act with it in planning things harmonious with power, justice and love. So God's wisdom acts. He confidently and hopefully uses His knowledge— the Truth—in every plan that He forms and makes such plans to secure practical purposes in harmony with power, justice and love. He never makes a plan by erroneous or sinful knowledge; for He could have no confidence and hope in such a plan. Nor do any of His plans—the product of wisdom—ever conflict with power, justice or love.

 

If we look at His plans in nature and grace as manifest in His works, we will always recognize in them that they are worked out of true knowledge, in

 

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confidence and hope of attaining practical results, and are harmonious with power, justice and love. Contemplate for a moment God's creative works. All of them display the thought that true knowledge, confidently and hopefully used, wove the plans of which creation is the product. Creation, material and spiritual, is the marvelous product of a plan that confidently and hopefully made use of a knowledge embracing all things natural and spiritual, in all their qualities, relations, reactions, possibilities and potentialities, blended with the principles of power, justice and love. The providences that sustain such a creation are the product of similar plans similarly conceived. If we look at God's creative work as concerns man, we see here again Truth trustfully and hopefully used in forming a plan that blends in its every feature power, justice and love. In the creation of man fit for everlasting life, Divine wisdom had to solve the following problem with reference to which it was to make a practical plan, displaying the harmonious cooperation of power, justice and love: the creation of a race of free moral agents, who, from an intelligent appreciation of sin in its nature and effects and of righteousness in its nature and effects, would forever hate and avoid the former and forever love and practice the latter.

 

The creation of such a free moral agent implied certain conditions, i.e., he could not be a machine; for that would destroy his free agency. Hence he had to be made a free agent who could choose sin, if he would, and could choose righteousness if he would. Therefore Divine wisdom had to plan for a being endowed with intellect, sensibilities and will, as well as with a physical organism. Power, justice and love demanded that he be planned as a sinless being in God's image, since it would be weak, unjust and loveless to make him sinful, and powerful, right and loving to make him good. Power, justice and love further required that he be made mortal, so that if he should sin, he could be destroyed.

 

 

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