Skeletons of a Course of
By Charles G. Finney
Moral Attributes.--No. 4.
Truth Of God.
First. Define Truth.
Truth, as a moral attribute, is a state of mind. It is a disposition to represent things and facts as they are. There are other definitions of truth. But the inquiry now is, what is truth as an attribute of mind? It is the opposite of falsehood, which, considered as an attribute, is a disposition to misrepresentation.
A distinction is sometimes made between physical and moral truth. But I can see no other meaning to the distinction than that one respects physical, and the other moral objects.
Second. Prove that Truth is an attribute of God.
1. It may reasonably be inferred from the uniformity and certainty of the operation of the physical laws of the universe.
2. His truth may be inferred from his unbending firmness in the execution of the penalty of physical laws, lest public confidence in the entire certainty of their operation, should be shaken. E.g.--With all his benevolence, and tender love for his creatures, what an amount of suffering and pain does he witness and inflict in consequence of a violation of physical laws, rather than interpose by miracle, and thus beget uncertainty in the minds of men with respect to the results of such violation.
3. His truth is strongly manifested by the sacrifice he made in the Atonement, lest public confidence in his veracity should be shaken.
4. Our constitutional love of truth and abhorrence of falsehood affords the just inference that truth is an attribute of God. If he has so constituted us that we necessarily venerate truth and abhor falsehood, if he is not a God of truth, his works entirely contradict the real state of his mind. But this cannot be, for his works are nothing else than the effects of his volitions. Therefore as his character is, so his works are. If moral beings, the only beings capable of truth or falsehood, are so made as necessarily to abhor lies, and approve of truth, it affords the highest evidence that truth is an attribute of God.
5. God must be either true or false. Truth or falsehood must be an attribute of God. It is impossible that he should be inclined to tell neither truth nor falsehood. But he cannot be both. These are opposite states of mind, and cannot both possibly exist in the same mind at the same time.
6. If falsehood is an attribute of God, he is infinitely and unchangeably false. The same reasonings that have been suggested in speaking of his Benevolence, Justice and Mercy, are as conclusive in respect to this as any of his other attributes.
7. If God is not a God of truth, no moral being can respect or love him.
8. If not, he deserves to be hated by all moral beings.
9. If not, he can have no complacency in himself.
10. If not, he must infinitely and eternally abhor himself.
11. If not, he must be as much more miserable than Satan is, as he is greater than Satan. Satan is a liar and the father of lies. And as truth is the natural element of mind, it must be certain that an infinite disposition to misrepresentation, would produce infinite misery in the mind of God.
12 If falsehood is an attribute of God, it is so in opposition to the influence of absolutely infinite motives in favour of truth.
13. The entire consistency of his works, providence, and word, evinces his truth.
14. His benevolence, affords an unanswerable argument in favour of his truth.
15. The independence of God is such, as that he can have no conceivable motive to falsehood, or, to say the least, motives to misrepresentation are infinitely outweighed by the inducements to represent things as they are
16. The moral power of God consists wholly in his truth. The power of any being to influence mind, depends upon the confidence reposed in his veracity.
17. Truth must be believed to be an attribute of God, or moral government could not exist.
18. Universal and hearty confidence in this attribute of God, would give entire efficiency to moral government, and render its influence over the minds of moral beings complete.
19. If truth be not an attribute of God, he must forever deceive the universe, or his moral government over the universe must be entirely destroyed.
20. If falsehood be an attribute of God, his disposition to deceive is infinite. It therefore follows with absolute certainty that he always will so perfectly deceive his creatures, as to render it impossible for them to perceive that truth is not an attribute of his.
21. The Bible proves his truth.
(1.) It requires truth of us.
(2.) It requires us to abhor liars.
(3.) It declares that God abhors liars.
(4.) That he is a God of truth.
(5.) That he cannot lie.
(6.) That he is a God keeping his covenants and promises, fulfilling his threatnings, and many instances are recorded in the Bible of his great faithfulness and truth.
(7.) The fulfillment of prophecy.
(8.) The redeeming his pledge to support his government by the sacrifice of his Son.
(9.) He requires us to believe him upon pain of eternal death.
As the Bible has been shown to be true, its testimony is both admissible and conclusive.
22. Faith or confidence in his veracity is the sine qua non of all virtue.
23. Confidence in his truth invariably produces a holy life.
To the truth of God it is objected that as a matter of fact, God did not fulfill his threatening denounced against Adam, nor against Nineveh. To this I answer:
1. In Jeremiah 18:7, 8, we are informed of the principle in the government of God, involved in all his dealings with his creatures. "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them."
2. A promise, or threatening, positive in form, may imply a condition, and when the condition is understood, or may and ought to be understood, there is exact truth, if God acts in conformity with the threatening or promise, whenever the condition is fulfilled.
3. It is plain that Jonah and the Ninevites understood that God's threatening was conditional. Jonah expressly informs God that he so understood him. Jonah 4:2.--"And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee, O Lord, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before into Tarshish; for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." That the Ninevites understood his threatening as conditional, is perfectly plain both from what they said, and what they did. The king proclaimed a fast expressly with the hope and expectation that the city would be spared if the people repented. Jonah, 3:5 10:--"So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh, (by the decree of the king and his nobles,) saying, let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing; let them not feed, nor drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn, every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."
4. The passage already quoted from Jeremiah shows that all God's promises and threatnings are conditional, whether the condition is expressed or not--that this is a universal principle with him.
5. With respect to Adam it is no doubt true, that death, in the sense intended by God, really began its ravages immediately upon his transgression.
1. If God is a God of truth, he means as much by what he says, as he appears to mean.
2. If so, he has no secret will contrary to his expressed will.
3. If so, he really deserves universal confidence.
4. If so, how great must be the sin of unbelief.