Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13
as our Savior, through whom we have forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 1: 7; Col. 1: 14; Rev. 1: 5) from our Heavenly Father. We have just given a brief digest of the main New Testament passages on God's forgiveness. Certainly both parts of the Bible finely describe this subject and give us great comfort and peace in the consciousness of God's willingness to forgive.
God's forgiveness is a very fruitful thing. It results in putting away His enmity toward the sinner; and it makes the sinner friendly toward God. The consciousness of being forgiven takes away from our hearts the keenest sorrow of which we are capable—remorse—and in its place brings comfort from, and peace with God. Not only so, but our hearts are filled with joy through having it. To receive it we must change our attitude from one that loves sin and hates righteousness to one that hates sin and loves righteousness. Instead of former doubt of God we must have faith in Him to obtain forgiveness, and we must also give Him our hearts in consecration. It fills our hearts with thankfulness to God and appreciation of the great goodness of God and Christ in making possible and actual our forgiveness. It is precedent to our receiving the Holy Spirit and all the benefits of sonship toward God. Accordingly, God's forgiveness is to each one of us a very beneficial thing. But our receiving forgiveness benefits others; for it prompts us to seek to help them to the same benefit. Our own hearts having been blessed by its reception, naturally and spontaneously we seek to have others gain these same blessings; and those who respond to our efforts to help them to repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus and consecration to the Lord, receive the above-indicated blessing of heart and mind to the degree that they make this a motive of their very beings. Then, it is fruitful to God and Christ. It brings them the very results that they sought when the Father gave
up His Son to become a sacrifice for sin and when the Son freely surrendered Himself to death so that God and man may become reconciled. Certainly the Father and the Son rejoice over men reconciled with God. They know the value of a human soul, and therefore know the worth of a saved soul. They love to see people turn to the better, and therefore greatly desire the deliverance of people from death. God and Christ deserve the praise, worship, adoration, love, service, thanksgiving and appreciation that those give Them who heartily receive God's forgiveness. God and Christ are thereby enriched by receiving more and more willing and loving hearts as theirs, made so by a proper reception of God's forgiving grace and love.
What we have said of God's forgiveness and its exercise we are to understand as referring to the Adamic sin and all the sins that result therefrom, i.e., all sins of weakness and ignorance. There is a sin that never is forgiven. This sin is the sin against the Holy Spirit, which means a willful sin against knowledge and ability. The sin against the Holy Spirit is any deliberate and willful sin committed, not from ignorance and weakness, but from the love of sin, fully knowing it to be sin and being fully able to avoid it, yet wickedly committing it. There are two forms of this sin, but neither of them is forgivable. The first form of this sin is committed when there is a measure of weakness or a measure of ignorance present, yet on the other hand there is also a measure of willfulness against some knowledge and ability as respects the sin. Such a sin we call a partially willful sin against the Holy Spirit. While God through the ransom forgives the weakness and ignorance in it, He does not forgive the willfulness in it. But such a partially willful sin is not the form of the sin against the Holy Spirit that puts one into the second death—the sin unto death, as St. John calls it (1 John 5: 16). How, then, does God deal with one who has committed partially willful
sin, so far as its willfulness is concerned? He punishes this willfulness and thus makes the partially willful sinner expiate his own sin by stripes. While Christ died for the sin of Adam and its resultant sins, He did not die for the willfulness in any of our sins. Hence, the willfulness must be striped out of the person, i.e., he will receive such chastisement as will take away from his character the willfulness that prompted the sin. The Scriptures teach this to be the Divine arrangement with such sins (Luke 12: 47, 48).
But when the sin is totally willful, i.e., without any weakness or ignorance and against full knowledge of the nature and quality of the act and against full ability to avoid the act it is expiable only by eternal destruction. But such a sin is never committed by a sinner unless he has previously had the following five experiences: (1) He must have been enlightened as to the Truth in general, and particularly with reference to the act in question; (2) he must have been justified; (3) he must have been spirit-begotten; (4) he must have appreciated the deep things of God's Word or Plan; and (5) he must have appreciated the privilege of becoming one of the Kings and Priests of the next Age. In other words only advanced Christians are capable of committing this sin. If such fall away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. For them is reserved eternal destruction (Heb. 6: 4-8). For them there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, since they have sinned away the merit of the one sacrifice with utter willfulness. In three ways this sin is committed: (1) by their repudiating the ransom sacrifice; (2) by their repudiating their share in the sacrificial sufferings of the Christ and (3) by their destroying the Holy Spirit in their hearts (Heb. 10: 26-29; 6: 6; 2 Pet. 2: 1; Jude 4; 1 John 5: 16). These things, however, cannot be done by one unless he has been an advanced spirit-begotten son of God. Frequently, taking advantage of the ignorance
of those who have not had the five experiences of Heb. 6: 4, 5, Satan deceives them through their ignorance and tender consciences into believing that they have sinned the sin unto death, and thereby most grievously torments them. In not a few cases he has tormented them into insanity and suicide. One of the surest evidences that one has not committed this sin is great grief over what he thinks is it. Satan fails so to torment those who understand the situation. In almost every case those who have committed this sin are so hardened that they never come to remorse. Let us, therefore, turn a deaf ear to Satan's suggestions that we have committed this sin. Those who have committed it have so corrupted themselves as to be incapable of repentance, and God never forgives them. Since they are irreformable God mercifully destroys them, in order to prevent their becoming an eternal curse to themselves and to others. Their sin is expiable only by eternal annihilation. "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, even things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
Apart from the sin against the Holy Spirit, let us remember that there is forgiveness before God for all sins. Let this thought comfort us in our transgressions of weakness and ignorance; and let it lead us to prize our God with supreme appreciation for His wisdom, justice, love and power, which suppress the control of His combativeness and destructiveness, and which thus make Him longsuffering and forbearing and forgiving as to our sins. Hallelujah! What a Savior! And let this praise arise as holy incense to God out of every heart that has experienced God's forgiving grace in Christ!
The next secondary attribute of God's character that we will study is courage—the quality of heart and mind that faces dangers and difficulties with fortitude, calmness, firmness and perseverance. The sphere in which it acts is the dangerous and the difficult.
Some quail before the dangerous and are depressed in spirit before the difficult. Their quality of heart and mind is in contrast with courage, or at least evinces a lack of courage. The opposite of courage is cowardice, which results from a habitual exercise of fear. Fear, as we have already noted, operates through the affection-organ of love for safety. God has this affection-organ and its resultant quality of cautiousness, or carefulness. But He fears no one and no thing. He does not have fear for His own personal safety. He exercises carefulness or cautiousness with respect to His dependents, His word and His works. If love for safety would control Him, He would become cowardly. He never allows it to control Him. He by His higher primary graces suppresses the controllership of His love of safety and thereby exercises the courage that faces dangers and difficulties with fortitude, calmness, firmness and perseverance. In this course there is no depression of spirit in Him. On the contrary, He is spirited and undaunted in the highest sense of these words. Therefore courage is an attribute of God's character; and it is a secondary attribute of His character, because it results from His higher primary graces suppressing the controllership of the lower primary affection-organ of love for safety and is worthy of God.
God Himself could never come into any circumstances in which He would personally come into danger. Hence when we studied God's lower primary grace of cautiousness or carefulness, we saw that it was exercised, not in the interests of His own personal safety, but in the interests of His dependents, like His servants and His new-creaturely and angelic sons, and of His plans and works, to secure their safety. Accordingly, God's courage does not exercise itself in the presence of personal danger; for He has and can have no personal danger; but His courage acts in relation to the dangers and difficulties
which His servants and sons, His plans and works, have had and do have. We do see that frequently the faithful Worthies of the Old Testament and of the Epiphany have been in dangerous and difficult situations. We do see that His angelic and new-creaturely sons have also been in dangerous and difficult situations. Furthermore, there have been phases of God's plan and features of His work that have been in the presence of dangers and difficulties. And amid these God has always shown courage, never quailing, never fearing, never feeling panic-stricken; but facing them with a fortitude that knows no trembling, a calmness that knows no ruffling, a firmness that knows no irresolution and a perseverance that knows no pause.
The agents that occasion God's exercise of courage are inimical to His dependents, His plans and works; and against the purposes and works of these God shows His courage. Satan is the chief of these agents. He seeks the seduction and perversion of God's dependents. He plans and works for the overthrow of God's angelic and new-creaturely sons' loyalty to God, His cause and His people. He plots to thwart God's plans and purposes and to put others into operation for the displacement of these. He tries to corrupt, bury in oblivion or counterfeit God's works. Against such fell plans, purposes and works, in connection with the dangers and difficulties that they involve, God sets Himself courageously, never fainting in His fortitude, calmness, firmness and perseverance. Satan finds support in His putting dangers and difficulties in the way of God's dependents, sons, plans and works, in his associates—the fallen angels—who in every way of iniquity have sought to help him endanger and beset with difficulties God's servants, children, plans and works. The world, too, in proportion to its varying degrees of selfishness and sinfulness, which make it amenable to Satanic uses, has rendered Satan more or less efficient support in his endeavors to endanger
and make difficulties for God's servants, sons, plans and works. And not 'the least efficient of these supporters of Satan is the flesh of God's new-creaturely sons. For in its very nature and relation to them, because of its sinfulness, selfishness, worldliness and erroneousness, it is a standing menace to their safety and a constant source of danger to them. Accordingly, it is because of the activities of Satan, the fallen angels, the world and the flesh, endangering and making matters difficult for God's servants, sons, plans and works, that God must exercise bravery on behalf of the latter against the former.
When we look at the experiences of God's dependents and sons and the circumstances of His plans and works, both in Biblical and post-Biblical times, we find many illustrations of God's courage. Indeed, to have conceived the plan for bringing the universe into existence and for maintaining its existence, as well as of filling it with, and preserving in it appropriate living creatures, is a remarkable display of courage on God's part, especially when we remember that God's foresight enabled Him to see how fraught with danger and difficulty such plans would be. Nor did His foreknowledge of the dangers and difficulties connected with the Plan of the Ages stay in fear His hand from the work of making and carrying it out. Connected with it were many dangers and difficulties. He did not allow the thought of Satan's rebellion to make Him fearful, but courageously He pressed on in spite of Satan's usurpation and direful works. The fall of the angels into rebellion against Him did not cause Him to lose heart and give up; but He kept up His fortitude, calmness, firmness and perseverance, despite their combined efforts to thwart Him. Much less did the rebellion of man discourage Him. If the sentencing of the race to the experience with evil unto death was a hard thing to do, He nevertheless did not lack the courage to put it into effect. The
need of wiping out practically the whole human family by the flood to prevent universal corruption nerved His arm to the necessary work. When Satan sought through proud Egypt's power to destroy the earthly seed, God courageously put Himself into battle with the hosts of darkness and earth's mightiest empire and conquered in the battle of plagues and of the sea. Time and again His courage fought His way through in the opposition of the nations of Canaan and the neighboring nations. In His conflicts with earth's mightiest empires—Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece and Rome—in their efforts to destroy His people, He always courageously entered and victoriously came out of the fray. No matter how great were the dangers that His servants faced and no matter how appalling were the difficulties that beset them, He minded not the dangers, He heeded not the difficulties, and in the end He emerged victorious and brought them to victory. It was His courage that made brave in danger such heroes as Abraham against Chedorlaomer, Moses against Pharaoh, Joshua against the seven nations, Barak against Sisera, Gideon against Midian, Jephthah against Ammon, Samuel against the Philistines, David against Goliath, Jashobeam, Eleazar and Shammah against the Philistine garrison at Bethlehem, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego against the fiery furnace and Daniel against the lions.
But the greatest expressions of God's courage are found in connection with His risks related to His endangered sons, chiefly His firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. To change Him from a high spirit being to a human being was a dangerous procedure. Yet God was equal to the danger therein involved. To put Him on double trial for life—as a human being and as a new creature—with the risk that but the slightest imperfection would lose for Him His best beloved Son and wreck His entire plan for men, new creatures and angels, required a very rare courage
indeed, perhaps the supreme example of courage of all times. Yet the pertinent courage God exercised, and came out of that battle with the greatest of all booty—a Son on the highest plane of existence, and a Vicegerent that could be depended upon under all possible dangers, difficulties and temptations to take God's side and successfully vindicate it. Rare, too, and only next in supremacy to that shown in the dangers and difficulties attendant on His FirstBegotten's trial, was the courage that God has been displaying in connection with the trial of Christ's Body; for here are persons that are weak and more or less out of the way, and to risk their lives and hopes in the sore trials amid which they must prove true to gain the Divine nature and Joint-heirship with His Chief Son, called upon Jehovah to manifest rare courage; and His courage has been equal to the prolonged warfare incidental to their conflicts. When we think of the very testful experiences that these have had, and when we think of the many complete failures that some have made, of the partial failures that others have made and of the great likelihood of failure for the rest of them, we can more readily grasp the risks that God ran in developing a plan in connection with such subjects. Rare indeed has been His courage therein.
Look at it as it displayed itself in the martyr conflicts of Stephen and James, Peter and Paul, Ignatius and Polycarp, Perpetua and Felicitas, Pothinus and Lawrence, Huss and Cranmer, Savonarola and Servitus, Latimer and Ridley, who are but a few leading lights amid a great host of martyrs of Jesus. What courage was it that could run the risks involved in the loss of such noble souls as these! The names of the martyrs and multitudinous others and their deeds and sufferings are unique in human annals, with dangers and difficulties in proportion; yet God's courage in these circumstances did not fail Him; His bravery was not overcome by any of these. On the
contrary, with a bravery unexampled, with a fearlessness that knew not the least trembling, with a courage that could suffer the risk of the greatest losses, God went onward in the course that He laid out for Himself to go, and is now emerging from the final scenes of the present warfare with the laurels of the greatest victory of the Ages. Courageous indeed is our God.
Shortly the conflict with evil and its agents will take on another aspect, its Millennial aspect; and by a combination of mercy and force applied as needed, all His enemies will be subdued for a thousand years, while He delivers their captives from the ruinous effects of the reign of sin. Thereby He will put the human race into a position to meet the final onslaught of sin, whose dangers and difficulties God will have the requisite courage to meet. The battle will last about forty years and will end in the eternal triumph of righteousness and the eternal defeat of sin and its supporters. Then will become fully known the real quality of God's courage, as based upon love for righteousness and hatred of iniquity. Then will the real courage of God shine out in the results attained by His permitting evil. It was a great risk undertaken by God, to allow evil to enter a moral order of affairs and to permit it to work even though restricted, within certain bounds. Knowing the power of Truth toward the faith class, and the power of experience both with evil and good as a teacher imparting hatred for sin and love for righteousness toward the unbelieving class, Jehovah had all the courage necessary to run the risks involved in carrying out the Plan of the Ages, in connection with which there were the greatest dangers and difficulties imaginable. Courageous indeed is our God. In this, as in all His other characteristics, Jehovah is supreme. And for it, as well as for His other graces, He perfectly deserves our gratitude, appreciation and worship.
God's courage has been and will be very fruitful. Great indeed have been and will be His gains in the risks that He has taken in carrying out His Plan. So far it has gotten for Him the Ancient Worthies, Jesus and the bulk of the Little Flock, some of the Great Company and some of the Youthful Worthies. Before many years it will bring to Him as booty the rest of the Little Flock, Great Company and Youthful Worthies. With these four elect classes as gains from the risks connected with the elective features of His Plan, God will have been very fruitful in the results of His courage; for in these He will have won for Himself four dependable classes, the one, the Little Flock, dependable in the most exacting possible conditions; for these will be fitted in the endless succession of future Ages to fulfill all God's good pleasure. Then there are the rich gains that the Millennium will bring to His courage, a perfected human race forever firm in truth and righteousness as the inhabitants of this paradisaic earth, and the restored angels, delivered from their fallen condition and forever glad for their deliverance, and forever loyal to God, their Deliverer. Fruitful indeed will also be that feature of His courage that blots out of existence those who will not sever themselves from sin and its terrible effects. Thus from every standpoint will God be fruitful in the results achieved by His courage. So, too, will His exercise of courage be fruitful to others. To our Lord it will be fruitful in that He will forever have the Divine nature as His and the office of vicegerency for God in the execution of all Jehovah's plans and purposes. To the Little Flock it will be fruitful inasmuch as it will result in their having the Divine nature and Joint-heirship with our Lord in all His offices. To the Ancient and Youthful Worthies and the Great Company, God's courage will be fruitful inasmuch as it will result for them in their obtaining spiritual natures lower than the Divine, but much
higher than the perfect human nature of the restitution class, and in their obtaining the office of the chief assistants of Christ and the Church. For the fallen angels God's bravery will result in their restoration to their former station and privileges; and for the obedient of the world it will result in their restoration to human perfection in God's image and likeness and in their having success in eternal life in Paradise. The fruitfulness of God's courageous course will be manifest in future creations, who will learn wisdom from the brave course of God in the risks involved in carrying out His glorious Plan of the Ages. Praised be our God for His great courage!
God's candor is His next secondary attribute that we desire to study. The grace of candor results from the higher primary graces laying hold on our affection-organ of love for hiding—secretiveness—and suppressing its efforts to control our conduct. By using this organ as a servant of truth and righteousness we develop tactfulness as a lower primary grace, which with the other main primary graces we have already studied. But there are circumstances in which tactfulness, with its accompanying secretiveness, would be out of order, and which require in the interests of truth and righteousness frankness of speech and action. The grace shown under such circumstances is candor. We may define candor as the quality of heart and mind that frankly tells what should be told in the prevailing circumstances. To hide the needed truth would be a misuse of secretiveness. To do so under some circumstances would result in evil to others—be the evil physical, mental, moral or religious, while the telling of the needed truth will often prevent evil to the person or to others. Candor is, therefore, a quality that is more or less associated with telling unpleasant or uncomplimentary things. Hence the prelude, to be candid, or, to speak candidly, is almost always used to introduce a statement of an unpleasant
thought. But when it is necessary for another's welfare that such an unpleasant thought be expressed, and when it is frankly done, candor, in the good use of that word, is being exercised. But sometimes people are brutally candid. They tell the disagreeable thing in a way to make it sting unnecessarily. This is certainly an abuse of frankness. Even while candid we are to be tactful, lest we work evil by our candor.
God has this quality of candor. He is too tactful to be brutally frank. He tells the unpleasant or uncomplimentary truth because He aims at accomplishing good by telling it. He never needlessly tells people unpleasant and uncomplimentary things. He does it to rebuke and correct people who have gone into wrong, or to announce coming punishments for wrong, necessary to vindicate righteousness and truth, and to set aside wrong and error. Hence God's candor is a good quality. It results from His higher primary graces suppressing the controllership of secretiveness. In its exercise He ever keeps in mind, and works to realize, the purpose for which He exercises it. Therefore He suppresses every statement that would prevent His candor from being fruitful. People often flatter others wherein the proper exercise of candor would require a rebuke or correction. This God never does. He uses His candor as a servant of truth and righteousness and not selfishly, as many people do.
The commission of sin, the presence of faultful characteristics, the spread of error and the indulgence in selfishness and worldliness, afford God many opportunities to exercise candor for reformatory purposes. The lack of truth, righteousness, love and heavenly-mindedness furnish God with another set of conditions that calls for His exercise of His candor. So, too, the imperfect development of such qualities afford God another occasion for the use of frankness. As we study the Scriptural illustrations of God's frankness we find it manifesting itself in activity under
just such circumstances. This candor marks Him in His dealings with friends and foes alike. God was candid with Adam and Eve before their trial, telling them just what to do and what to avoid; and when they disobeyed He was frank in pointing out their sin and their punishment. He was frank with Cain, both before and after his killing of Abel. He was candid with Noah in warning him of the coming flood and in His taking proper precautionary measures against it, as He was also candid with the other antediluvians, warning them to repent of their sins and threatening retribution on their failure so to do. He was aboveboard in warning both Abraham and Lot as to the coming punishment upon the cities of the plain. God frankly warned Pharaoh of the wrongs and dangers of his course of obstinacy. God was frank with Israel in offering the Law Covenant to them and in explaining its various provisions to them. When Israel sinned, e.g., in lusting after evil things, in idolatry, in illicit unions at Baal-peor, in complaining against the weariness of their pilgrim journey and in murmuring against Moses and Aaron and in becoming fearful at the evil report of ten of the spies, God in each case clearly set before them their wrong and frankly announced His displeasure.
He was just as candid with individual wrong as with national wrong. He candidly announced His displeasure with the evil sons of Eli and with Eli for permitting their wrongdoings. He did not hide from Saul His disapproval of his wrongs that finally led God to destroy him and take the kingdom from his family. To David He plainly said through Nathan, the prophet, "Thou art the man," when He by a parable told of the unjust course of David toward Uriah and Bathsheba. Through the other prophets He repeatedly sent plain rebukes for the sins of Israel as a nation and of individual Israelites, and often accompanied these with announcements of condigned punishments.
Note the course of Jeremiah with Israel and its rulers and teachers, especially with Coniah and Zedekiah and the false prophets and corrupt priests of his day. Daniel did not hide the Lord's mind from Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar when their iniquities called for their correction and admonition to righteousness. Neither did Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi as God's servants remain silent in the presence of wrongdoers, regardless of whether they were great or small. They candidly as God's mouthpieces pointed out the wrongs committed, advised correction of the misconduct and announced the Lord's judgments pertinent to the several cases.
We find the same candor marking the Lord's New Testament dealings with His servants and enemies, especially as He spoke through Jesus and the Apostles. Some illustrations from New Testament history will show this. In considering these illustrations we are to remember that God exercised His candor through Jesus and the Apostles as His Agents. God's candor is marked in the plain preaching of repentance by John the Baptist, wherein sin and sinners are clearly rebuked. Jesus showed the Father's candor in the fact that He spoke very plainly in rebuke of sin, especially the sins of the religious leaders of His day. Matt. 23, containing Jesus' rebuke of the scribes and Pharisees, is a remarkable example of candor in rebuking the sins of religious leaders. Jesus' telling plainly the truth against Judas' treachery, Peter's officiousness and boasting and the disciples' forsaking Him, are examples of God's candor. Jesus' telling of the difficulties of the narrow way and urging all prospective consecrators to count the cost, is another example of candor. Our Lord's acknowledging His Messiahship and Divine sonship before the Sanhedrin and His kingship before Pilate, are other illustrations of His candor. On Pentecost by Divine inspiration St. Peter frankly told the Jews that they had murdered
the Prince of life. A little later he and John candidly told the Sanhedrin that the Lord Jesus whom they crucified was the one through whom they would have to seek salvation, if they were to attain it. Peter candidly upbraided Ananias and Saphira for their wrong, Simon, the sorcerer, for his wrong heart's attitude and attempt to purchase Divine powers and the exclusive Jewish brethren for not admitting that Gentiles as well as Jews were acceptable for high calling purposes. The Lord, acting through St. Paul, likewise manifested His candor. St. Paul furnishes us a stinging example of it in dealing with Elymas, the Sorcerer, a humble example of it in dealing with the heathen who attempted to worship him and Barnabas and a fearless example of it when he reasoned with Felix on righteousness, temperance and the judgment to come. St. Paul's refusal to accede to Barnabas' desire to take Mark along as a helper, after the latter had defaulted in that capacity on their previous trip, is another notable example of it. St. Paul's preaching and epistles, as well as the other writings of the New Testament, are splendid examples of candor. God's plain messages to persecuting Jews, heathen and nominal Christians, furnish us with many more examples of God's candor, just as His plain speech to His consecrated people throughout the Age, exemplifies the same quality. The book of Revelation, especially its first three chapters, markedly evidence God's frankness. Certainly the Bible and history since Bible times prove candor to be an attribute of God.
As such, it has been fruitful in staying sin within certain grooves, in keeping sinners within certain limits, and in leading responsive ones to repentance and faith in justification, to consecration and to the faithful carrying out of consecration. It will show similar good fruits in the next Age also. In this, as well as in every other quality of God's character, we may, therefore, well rejoice and praise our God.
The next of God's secondary attributes of character that we will study is liberality. We have already studied the lower primary grace, providence, in contrast with which liberality stands. We recall that providence as a lower primary grace results from using as a servant of righteousness and holiness our love for gaining and retaining, which operates through the affection-organ of acquisitiveness. When acquisitiveness is allowed to control, it makes one covetous and miserly; but when wisdom, power, justice and love suppress its efforts to control, we become liberal, i.e., generous in our desire to see others prosper and bountiful and in bestowing of our possessions on others, especially on the needy. Liberality is, therefore, a quality both of the feelings and of the acts. In our feelings it makes us pleased with the prosperity of others. It does not permit us to envy their prosperity, to covet their gains, to seek to draw to ourselves the acquired possessions that they enjoy and to injure them by unfair competition. It makes us feel generous toward them, glad that they are prospering, helpful to them in increasing their prosperity and bountiful in bestowing of our means on them in their needs, i.e., on deserving and needy persons. Liberality, therefore, makes us generous and benevolent in spirit as well as generous and beneficent in action. From such generosity we freely give of our time, talents, strength, means, influence, etc., in order to bless and further others. It prevents our becoming misers, as well as self-seekers. This quality is especially active in the philanthropically and charitably inclined. It lavishes its gains on civic improvements, on benevolent institutions, like asylums, hospitals, etc., on the higher things of life, like religion, education, art, science and reform and uplift movements, as well as on the supply of more private need. It is preeminently the quality of the devotee of a cause; the philanthropist and the
reformer. In the very nature of the case, it is one of the qualities of a truly consecrated Christian.
As in the case of every other good quality, its supreme exemplification is God. God is very liberal in His sentiments and acts. His benevolence makes Him rejoice in the prosperity of others. There is no envy in Him; covetousness finds no place in His heart; He does not plot and scheme to draw to Himself the possible or actual gains of others; and unfair competition finds no expression in His acts. He is generous in the highest significance of that word, and beneficent in the supreme sense of that quality. Owning all things as their Creator and Preserver, He is always giving and never weary in His beneficences. This we see in nature and in grace. He manipulates the laws of nature that they may bestow blessings upon those who would use them aright. He has put the idea of self-giving service into active operation throughout nature. The moon and stars give their light at His bidding to afford guidance to the benighted traveler. He made the sun to give light, warmth, health and strength to man and beast, fish and fowl, reptile and insect. He makes the seasons His servants in bestowing good upon His creatures, all of them contributing the sum total of means of subsistence, though in different ways. He makes water contribute to the comfort and support of His creatures. He causes the air to support their life, the ocean currents to make various agreeable and useful climatic changes, the oceans, lakes and rivers of earth to facilitate men's commercial and other needs, the soil to minister food and clothes for their bodies, the building materials of the earth to furnish man a variety of structures and homes, the metals to supply his practical and ornamental needs, the forces of nature to minister to man's enrichment and comfort. He has stored the bowels of the earth with treasures of metals, precious stones, coal, gas, petroleum, etc., for man's enrichment, comfort
and support. He has stocked its waters, prairies, forests, fields and gardens with food for men's bodies. He has filled nature with scenes of beauty, grandeur and sublimity, to delight men's artistic senses. He has filled the universe and earth with such things, beings, conditions and laws as to give men's higher intellectual powers fruitful and pleasant occupation. He has, in a word, so constituted nature as to be His agent in constant giving of manifold blessings for the good of His creatures. And this proves that He is generous in bestowing the benefactions of nature, and that thus liberality is one of His secondary attributes of character.
But we can see this quality in God's character much more clearly as it displays itself in His works of grace. The whole plan of God, as well as every feature of it, displays His generous heart and beneficent deeds. His choosing to bring free moral agents into existence was an expression of generosity, since it implied His giving an endless succession of benefactions on all of them found worthy of everlasting life, as it also implied a more or less temporary continued giving to those who will not be found worthy of everlasting life. He is the Source of life as its Giver and the Source of the spiritual substances of which spiritual bodies consist, as well as the Source of the material substances of which material bodies consist. Accordingly, from His storehouse of spiritual and material substances and life, God gave the constituent elements for spirit beings and human beings as the things needed for their creation. Then He gave of His time and talents for their creation and thus had given a variety of beings existence. He gave them such powers of being and environment as were conducive to their happiness and continuance, which was another example of His generosity. After some of the angels and the human family fell into sin, He gave them conditions conducive to their learning ultimately to benefit from their experiences and at the same time arranged to give them
later such experiences as would insure these benefits to those rightly exercised by these experiences. Thus we see His generosity in this feature of His plan.
When we consider God's revelation of Himself and His plan, we see His generosity again displaying itself. To Adam and Eve under sentence the Lord gave a message of hope in His prophecy of the outcome of the conflict between God's children and Satan's children and Satan himself. Thus amid a condemnatory sentence His generosity gave some hope. It was His generosity that revealed to Noah the coming flood and a way of escape from it for the best part of the race, needed for a new start this side of the flood. In the main blessing, the one upon Shem, God revealed the blessings of the coming Elect, in the subordinate blessing, the one on Japheth, God revealed the blessing of the restitution class, and in the curse upon Ham God revealed the blessing of a universe clean of those who would mar it. In revealing the Abrahamic Covenant God gave in epitome a statement of His glorious plan that was to be a comfort to many and a blessing to all. In His dealings with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, the Lord gave in the form of types elaborate pictures of the general features and main characters connected with His plan. This was indeed a generous gift. It was His generosity that revealed further unfoldings of His plan in the Law Covenant, and that from a variety of standpoints. In the history of Israel in Egypt, in the countries of their wandering and in their conquest of Canaan, the Lord gave us other typical pictures of future features of His plan. In the events of the periods of the judges, kings, exile and return, we have other pictures unfolding different views of God's plan. The writings of Moses, the Prophets and Holy Men of the Old Testament, are the depository of these and other revelations of God's plan, and, as the Old Testament, constitutes a generous book-gift of incalculable value.