Skeletons of a Course of
By Charles G. Finney
Moral Attributes.--No. 6.
Holiness Of God.
1. The whole of a moral being is his nature and his character.
2. His nature composes his substance and essence, including the whole of his natural attributes.
3. His character consists in the exercise or use he makes of his nature.
4. A natural attribute has no moral character.
5. A moral attribute is a disposition, and as a disposition is a voluntary state of mind. Therefore moral attributes are what principally constitute moral character.
Second. Define Holiness.
It is a disposition to do universally right in opposition to wrong. It is a disposition to do what is upon the whole best to be done. It is moral purity. It is benevolence, guided by wisdom, justice, and mercy. It includes complacency in right character, and opposition to sinful character. Holiness is moral perfection, and nothing short of moral perfection, or moral rectitude, is holiness. In other words: it is conformity of heart and life to the perceived nature and relation of things. In creatures it may improve in degree, because knowledge may improve. But in kind it can never improve. Holiness is holiness. It is the opposite of all sinfulness, and all improvement in holiness must be in degree and not in kind.
In God holiness can never improve in any sense, because his knowledge is already infinite. Holiness in man expresses the whole of moral excellence. So in God it may express the whole of his moral excellence, and is properly styled an attribute only in the largest sense of that term, or in the same sense in which benevolence may be styled an attribute of God. God is called light. His moral attributes viewed separately are like prismatic colors. When combined they are an ineffable blaze of holiness. In other words, the holiness of God when considered as embracing his whole moral perfection, is a moral light, so ineffably intense as that the highest intelligences in the universe are represented in the Bible as unable to behold it without veiling their faces.
That holiness is purity or moral perfection, is proved by the following facts:
1. That the Bible represents holiness as the contrast of defilement or pollution.
2. That whatever was to be set apart, or consecrated to God, and considered as sanctified, must be physically perfect. Any blemish or imperfection was inconsistent with its being sanctified.
3. The Bible represents holiness as the opposite of sin.
Third. Holiness is an attribute of God.
1. God is holy or sinful. As he is a moral being, it is impossible that he should not be one or the other. As was said of his benevolence, so I now say of his holiness, that he cannot possibly be of a mixed character. He must be perfectly holy or sinful, because holiness and sin are opposite states of mind, and he cannot by any possibility exercise them both at the same time.
2. His character, whether holy or sinful, must be unchangeable. As he can have no new thoughts, and consequently no motives of any kind whatever to change.
3. His holiness or sinfulness must be infinite, for as his nature is, so are his attributes. But that the universe was not created and is not governed by an infinitely wicked being is most evident.
4. Our own nature is proof of the holiness of God. We constitutionally approve of holiness and disapprove of sin. If God is not holy he has so created us as to lay us under the constitutional necessity of abhorring him whenever we know him.
5. If he is not holy he must abhor himself.
6. If he is infinitely sinful, he must be infinitely miserable.
7. All holy beings know from their own consciousness, that holiness necessarily results in happiness, and that sin necessarily results in misery. If therefore, God is holy, he is infinitely happy: if sinful, he is infinitely miserable.
8. If not holy he must resist absolutely infinite motives to holiness.
9. The physical perfection of his works, declares his moral purity.
10. The Bible every where ascribes holiness to God.
11. His moral law is but an expression, or an embodying and holding forth the holiness of his heart.
12. The work of atonement is an overwhelming proof of the holiness of God.
13. The conditions of the Gospel are such as strongly to manifest the holiness of God.
14. He is worshipped in heaven as a holy God. Isaiah 6:3: "And one cried unto another, and said, holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." Revelation 4:8: "And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within; and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.