(b) Goodness is the eternal principle of God?s nature, which leads him to communicate of his own life and blessedness to those who are like him in moral character. Goodness, therefore, is nearly identical with the love of complacency; mercy, with the love of benevolence.
Notice, however, that transitive love is but an outward manifestation of immanent love. The eternal and perfect object of God?s love is in his own nature. Men become subordinate objects of that love only as they become connected and identified with its principal object, the image of God?s perfections in Christ. Only in the Son do men become sons of God. To this is requisite an acceptance of Christ on the part of man. Thus it can he said that God imparts himself to men just so far as men are willing to receive him. And as God gives himself to men, in all his moral attributes, to answer for them and to renew them in character, there is truth in the statement of Nordell (Examiner, Jan. 17, 1884) that ?the maintenance of holiness is the function of divine justice; the diffusion of holiness is the function of divine love.? We may grant this as substantially true, while yet we deny that love is a mere form or manifestation of holiness. Self- impartation is different from self-affirmation. The attribute which moves ?God to pour out is not identical with the attribute which moves him to maintain. The two ideas of holiness and of love are as distinct as the idea of integrity on the one hand and of generosity on the other. Park: ?God loves Satan, In a certain sense, and we ought to.? Shedd: ?This same love of compassion God feels toward the non-elect; but the expression of that compassion is forbidden for reasons which are sufficient for God, but are entirely unknown to the creature.? The goodness of God is the basis of reward, under God?s government. Faithfulness leads God to keep his promises; goodness leads him to make them.
Edwards, Nature of Virtue, in Works, 2:263 ? Love of benevolence does not presuppose beauty in its object. Love of complacence does presuppose beauty. Virtue is not love to an object for its beauty. The beauty of intelligent beings does not consist in love for beauty, or virtue in love for virtue. Virtue is love for being in general, exercised in a general good will. This is the doctrine of Edwards. We prefer to say that virtue is love, not for being in general, but for good being, and so for God, the holy One. The love of compassion is perfectly compatible with hatred of evil and with indignation against one who commits it. Love does not necessarily imply approval, but it does imply desire that all creatures should fulfil the purpose of their existence by being morally conformed to the holy One; see Godet, in The Atonement, 339.
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