Samuel macauley jackson, D. D., LL. D




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In English and American Theology: In Great

Britain and America the idea of God has undergone

many vicissitudes. In the period of

:. The Deism (q.v.), 1650 1800, the doctrine

Deistic of God was profoundly affected by

Period in certain modern questions which were

England. already emerging: the scientific view

of nature as a unity, the denial of the

principle of external authority, the right and suf­

ficiency of reason, and the ethical as compared with

the religious value of life. The deists yielded to

none of their contemporaries in affirming that God

was personal, the cause of the fixed providential

order of the world, and of the moral order with its

rewards and punishments both here and hereafter.

The cosmological was the only theistic argument.

God's wisdom and power were expressed neither in

supernatural revelation nor in miracle. His nature

was perfectly apprehensible to man's reason. He

was, however, absolutely transcendent, i.e., not

merely distinct from but removed from the world,

an absentee God. This process of thought reached

its negative skeptical result in David Hume; the

being of God could be proved neither by rational

considerations nor by the prevailing sensationalist

theory of knowledge. Outside of the deists, the

demonstration of the being and attributes of God

by Samuel Clarks (q.v.) was thoroughly represent­

ative of the time. Something must have existed

from eternity, of an independent, unchangeable

nature, self existent, absolutely inconceivable by us,

necessarily everlasting, infinite, omnipotent, one

and unique, intelligent and free, infinitely powerful,

wise, good, and just, possessing the moral attributes

required for governing the world. Bishop Butler

(Analogy of Religion) held as firmly as the deists

the transcendence of God, and if he made less of the

cosmic, ethical, and mysterious than of the redemp­

tive side of the divine nature, this is to be referred

not to hid underestimate of the redemptive purpose

of God, but to the immediate aim of his apologetic.

Accepting the fundamental tenet of Matthew Tindal

(q.v.), i.e., the identity of natural and revealed

religion, he shows that the mysteries of revealed

religion are not more inexplicable than the facts of

universal human experience. Thus he seeks to open

a door for God's activity in revelation prophecy,

miracles, and redemption A new tendency in the

idea of God appears in William Paley (q.v.). The

proof of the existence and attributes of the deity is

teleological. Nature is a contrivance of which God

is the immediate creator. The celebrated Bridge­

water Treatises (q.v.) follow in the same path,

proving the wisdom, power, and goodness of God

from geology, chemistry, astronomy, the animal

world, the human body, and the inner world of

consciousness. Chalmers sharply distinguishes be­

tween natural and revealed theology, as offering two

sources for the knowledge of God. In this entire

great movement of thought, therefore, God is con­

ceived as transcendent. God and the world are pre­

sented in a thoroughly dualistic fashion. God is the

immediate and instantaneous creator of the world

as a mechanism. The principal divine attributes

are wisdom and power; goodness is affrmed, but

appears to be secondary: its hour has not yet come.

In America during the same period Jonathan Edwards (q.v.) is the chief representative of the idea of God. His doctrine centers in

z. The that of absolute sovereignty. God is a

Same personal being, glorious, transcendent.

Period in The world has in him its absolute

America. source, and proceeds from him as an

emanation, or by continuous creation,

or by perpetual energizing thought. As motive for

the creation, he added to the common view the

declarative glory of God that of the happiness of

the creature. On the basis of causative predestina­

tion he maintains divine foreknowledge of human

choice a theory pushed to extreme limits by later

writers, Samuel Hopkins and Nathanael Emmons

(qq.v.; also see NEw ENGLAND THEOLOGY). His

doctrine of the divine transcendence was qualified

by a thorough going mysticism, a Christian experi­

ence characterized by a profound consciousness of

the immediate presence, goodness, and glory of God.

His conception of the ethical nature of God con­

tained an s atinomy which he never resolved; the

Being who showed surpassing grace to the elect and

bestowed unnumbered common favors on the non­

elect in this life, would, the instant after death,

withdraw from the latter every vestige of good and

henceforth pour out upon them the infinite and

eternal fury of his wrath. Edwards' doctrine of God

and its implications later underwent, however,

serious modifications. In the circle which recognized

him as leader, his son reports that no less than ten

improvements had been made, some of which, e.g.,

concerning the atonement, directly affected the idea

of God. Predestination was affirmed, but, instead

of proceeding from an inscrutable will, following

Leibnitz, rested on divine foreknowledge of all

possible worlds and included the purpose to realize

this, the best of all possible worlds (A. A. Hodge,

Outlines of Theology, New York, 1900; S. Harris,

God, the Creator and Lord
of All, ib., 1896). The

atonement was conceived as sufficient but not

efficient for all (C. Hodge, Systematic Theology,

Philadelphia, 1865), or, on the other hand, as ex­

pressing the sincere purpose of God to redeem all

sinners (A. E. Park, The Atonement; Introductory

Essay, Boston, 1859)` Divine sovereignty was

roundly affirmed; for some it contained the secret

of a double decree, for others it offered a convincing

basis for the larger hope.

During the nineteenth century a new movement appeared in English thought. Sir William Hamilton

held that God was the absolute, the

3• Nine  unconditioned, the cause of all (PhiL 

teenth  osoPhy
of the Unconditioned, in Edin, 

Century burgh Review, Oct. 1829). But since

Develop  all thinking is to condition, and to con 

ments. dition the unconditioned is self con­

tradictory, God is both unknown and

unknowable. Following in the same path H. L. Mansel (Limits of Religimua Thought, London, 1867) found here the secret by which to maintain the mysteries of the faith of the church in the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, and other beliefs. Revelation was therefore required to supplement men's ignorance and to communicate what human intelligence was unable to discover. Hence the





9 RELIGIOUS ENCYCLOPEDIA God

dogmas concerning God which had been found re­pugnant or opaque to reason were philosophically reinstated and became once more authoritative for faith. In his System of Synthetic Philosophy Herbert Spencer (First Principles,
London, 1860 62) main­tains on the one hand an ultimate reality which is the postulate of theism, the absolute datum of con­sciousness, and on the other hand by reason of the limitations of knowledge a total human incapacity to assign any attributes to this utterly inscrutable power. In accordance with his doctrine of evolu­tion he holds that this ultimate reality is an in­finite and eternal energy from which all things pro­ceed, the same which wells up in the human con­sciousness. He is neither materialistic nor atheistic. This reality is not personal according to the human type, but may be super personal. Religion is the feeling of awe in relation to this inscrutable and mysterious power. With an aim not unlike that of Herbert Spencer, Matthew Arnold sought to recon­cile the conflicting claims of religion, agnosticism, evolution, and history, by substituting for the traditional personal God the "Power not ourselves that makes for righteousness." Side by side with this movement appeared another led by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, based upon a spiritual philosophy, which found in the moral nature a revelation of God (Aids to Reflexion, London, 1825). This has borne fruit in many directions: in the great poets, Words­worth, Tennyson, Browning; in preachers like Cardinal Newman, Dean Stanley, John Tulloch, Frederick William Robertson, and Charles Kingsley; in philosophical writers, as John Frederic Denison Maurice and James Martineau (qq.v.). The idea of God is taken out of dogma and the category of the schools and set in relation to life, the quickening source of ideals and of all individual and social advance. Religious thought in America has fully shared in these later tendencies in Great Britain, as may be seen by reference to John Fiske, Idea of God (Boston, 1886), unfolding the implications of Spencer's thought, and, reflecting the spirit of  Coleridge, William Ellery Channing, Works {6 vols., Boston, 1848), W. G. T. Stead, " Introductory Essay " to Coleridge's Works (New York, 1884), and Horace Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural, and Sermons (in Centenary edition of his Works, New York, 1903). An idea of God based on ideal­ism, represented in Great Britain by John Caird, Philosophy of Religion (London, 1881), Edward Caird, The Evolution of Religion (ib. 1893), in Canada by John Watson, God's Message to the Human Soul (New York, 1907), has received im­pressive statement by Josiah Royce, The Concep­tion of God (ib., 1897), and The World and the In­dividual (2 vols., 1899 1901). God is a being who possesses all logical possible knowledge, insight, wisdom. This includes omnipotence, self conscious­ness, self possession, goodness, perfection, peace. Thus this being possesses absolute thought and ab­solute experience, both completely organized. The absolute experience is related to human experience as an organic whole to its integral fragments. This idea of God which centers in omniscience does not intend to obscure either the ethical qualities or the proper personality of the absolute.

Turning from the historical survey to specifie

aspects of the idea of God which have in more

recent times engrossed attention, there

q. Theistic come into view the theistic
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