In contemplating the words and acts of God, as in contemplating the words and acts of individual men, we are compelled to assign uniform and permanent effects to uniform and permanent causes. Holy acts and words, we argue, must have their source in a principle of holiness; truthful acts and words, in a settled proclivity to truth; benevolent acts and words, in a benevolent disposition.
Moreover, these permanent and uniform sources of expression and action to which we have applied the terms principle, proclivity, disposition, since they exist harmoniously in the same person, must themselves inhere, and find their unity, in an underlying spiritual substance or reality of which they are the inseparable characteristics and partial manifestations.
Thus we are led naturally from the works to the attributes, and from the attributes to the essence, of God.
For all practical purposes we may use the words essence, substance, being, nature, as synonymous with each other. So, too, we may speak of attribute, quality, characteristic, principle, proclivity, and disposition, as practically one. As, in cognizing matter, we pass from its effects in sensation to the qualities which produce the sensations, and then to the material substance to which the qualities belong; and as, in cognizing mind, we pass from its phenomena in thought and action to the faculties and dispositions which give rise to these phenomena, and then to the mental substance to which these faculties and dispositions belong; so, in cognizing God, we pass from his words and acts to his qualities or attributes, and then to the substance or essence to which these qualities or attributes belong.
The teacher in a Young Ladies? Seminary described substance as a cushion, into which the attributes as pins are stuck. But pins and cushion
Was this article helpful?