permit it to be exercised. Not so with justice: justice must always be exercised; when it ceases to be exercised, it also ceases to be.
The story of the prodigal shows a love that ever reaches out after the son in the far country, but which is ever conditioned by the father?s holiness and restrained from acting until the son has voluntarily forsaken his riotous living. A just father may banish a corrupt son from the household yet may love him so tenderly that his banishment causes exquisite pain.
E. G. Robinson: ?God, Christ and the Holy Spirit have a conscience, that is, they distinguish between right and wrong.? E. H. Johnson, Syst. Theology, 85, 86 ? ?Holiness is primary as respects benevolence; for
(a) Holiness is itself moral excellence, while the moral excellence of benevolence can be explained.
(b) Holiness is an attribute of being, while benevolence is an attribute of action; but action presupposes and is controlled by being.
(c) Benevolence must take counsel of holiness, since for a being to desire ought contrary to holiness would be to wish him harm, while that which holiness leads God to seek, benevolence finds best for the creature.
(d) The Mosaic dispensation elaborately symbolized, and the Christian dispensation makes provision to meet, the requirements of holiness as supreme; <590317>James 3:17 ? ?First pure, then [by consequence] peaceable.??
We are ?to do justly,? as well as ?to love kindness and to walk humbly with? our God ( <330608>Micah 6:8) Dr. Samuel Johnson: ?It is surprising to find how much more kindness than justice, society contains.? There is a sinful mercy. A School Commissioner finds it terrible work to listen to the pleas of incompetent teachers begging that they may not be dismissed, and he can nerve himself for it only by remembering the children whose education may be affected by his refusal to do justice. Love and pity are not the whole of Christian duty, nor are they the ruling attributes of God.
(c) From the actual dealings of God ? in which holiness conditions and limits the exercise of other attributes. Thus, for example, in Christ?s redeeming work, though love makes the atonement, it is violated holiness that requires it; and in the eternal punishment of the wicked, the demand of holiness for self-vindication overbears the pleading of love for the sufferers.
Love cannot be the fundamental attribute of God, because love always requires a norm or standard, and
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