thought of God is that of mere Spirit, mysterious and undefined, over against our own spirits. Our next thought is that of God?s greatness; the quantitative element suggests itself: his natural attributes rise before us: we recognize him as the infinite One. Finally comes the qualitative element; our moral natures recognize a moral God; over against our error, selfishness and impurity, we perceive his absolute perfection.
It should also be observed that this moral perfection, as it is an immanent attribute, involves relation of God to himself. Truth, love and holiness, as they respectively imply an exercise in God of intellect, affection and will, may be conceived of as God?s self-knowing, God?s self-loving, and God?s self-willing. The significance of this will appear more fully in the discussion of the separate attributes.
Notice the distinction between absolute and relative, between immanent and transitive, attributes. Absolute ? existing in no necessary relation to things outside of God. Relative ? existing in such relation. Immanent ? ?remaining within, limited to, God?s own nature in their activity and effect, inherent and indwelling, internal and subjective ? opposed to immanent or transitive.? Transitive ? having an object outside of God himself. We speak of transitive verbs, and we mean verbs that are followed by an object. God?s transitive attributes are so called, because they respect and affect things and beings outside of God.
The aim of this classification into Absolute and Relative Attributes is to make plain the divine self-sufficiency. Creation is not a necessity, for there is plh>rwma in God ( <510119>Colossians 1:19), even before he makes the world or becomes incarnate. And plh>rwma is not ?the filling material,? nor ?the vessel filled,? but ?that which is complete in itself,? or, in other words, ?plenitude,? ?fullness,? ?totality,? ?abundance.? The whole universe is but a drop of dew upon the fringe of God?s garment, or a breath exhaled from his mouth. He could create a universe a hundred times as great. Nature is but the symbol of God. The tides of life that ebb and flow on the far shores of the universe are only faint expressions of his life. The Immanent Attributes show us how completely matters of grace are Creation and Redemption, and how unspeakable is the condescension of him who took our humanity and humbled himself to the death of the Cross. <190803>Psalm 8:3, 4 ? ?When I consider thy heavens? what is man that thou art mindful of him??; 13:5, 6 ? ?Who is like unto Jehovah our God, that hath his seat on high, that humbleth himself??; <501706>Philippians 2:6, 7 ? ?Who, existing in the form of God,? emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.?
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