Friday, July 30, 2004

Just because

All the works of God are founded on unity, for they are founded on Himself, who is the most awfully simple and transcendent of possible unities. He is emphatically One; and whereas He is also multiform in His attributes and His acts, as they present themselves to our minds, it follows that order and harmony must be of His very essence. To be many and distinct in His attributes, yet, after all, to be but one,—to be sanctity, justice, truth, love, power, wisdom, to be at once each of these as fully as if He were nothing but it, as if the rest were not,—this implies in the Divine Nature an infinitely sovereign and utterly incomprehensible order, which is an attribute as wonderful as any, and the result of all the others. He is an infinite law, as well as an infinite power, wisdom, and love. Moreover, the very idea of order implies the idea of the subordinate. If order exists in the Divine Attributes, they must have relations one to another, and though each is perfect in itself, it must act so as not to impair the perfection of the rest, and must seem to yield to the rest on particular occasions. Thus God's power, indeed, is infinite, but it is still subordinate to His wisdom and His justice; His justice, again, is infinite, but it, too, is subordinate to His love; and His love, in turn, is infinite, but it is subordinate to His incommunicable sanctity. There is an understanding between attribute and attribute, so that one does not interfere with the other, for each is supreme in its own sphere; and thus an infinitude of infinities, acting each in its own order, are combined together in the infinitely simple unity of God.

Such is the unity, and consequent harmony and beauty of the Divine Nature, even when viewed in the lights which are supplied to us by the traditions of the human race and the investigations of the human intellect. But, wonderful as is that order and harmony, considered only in the way of nature, much more wonderful is it in the mysteries of Revelation. There we are introduced to the ineffable, the adorable, the most gracious dogma of a Trinity in Unity, which is what I may call the triumph of Unity over difficulties, which, to our limited faculties, seem like impossibilities and contradictions. How strong,how severe, how infinitely indivisible, must be that Unity of God, which is not compromised by the truth of His being Three! How surpassing is that Unity of substance which remains untroubled and secure, though it is occupied and possessed wholly and unreservedly, not only by the Father, but also by the Son; not only by Father and Son, but by the Holy Ghost also! And, moreover, as there is a subordination, as I have said, of attribute to attribute, without any detriment to the infinitude of each of them individually, and this is the glory of the God of Nature; so also does an order, and, as I may say, a subordination exist between Person and Person, and this is the incommunicable glory of the God of Grace.

Venerable John Henry Newman, C.O., Sermons Preached on Various Occasions


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