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August 04, 2005

Ch.IX. Q.56. Divine Love and Mercy

The love of God is the attribute by reason of which God wills a personal fellowship with Himself of those who are holy or capable of being made so.1

2. Love pre-supposes a personal subject loving, and discharges itself towards a personal object.2 Mutual congeniality is involved also. These conditions are satisfied within the Divine essence. The Father loves His Son, and is loved by the Son, and the Holy Ghost is the bond of Divine love. Love is in fact the moral expression of the Divine unity, and is the focus of all Divine attributes. God is Love;3 and Divine love did not begin with the appearance of creatures.

3. The goodness of God moved Him to create other beings on whom He might pour forth His love. He made man in His own image and after His own likeness, thus producing mutual congeniality between man and Himself. Because of this congeniality, and because the nature which He has imparted to them is good,4 God loves all men. But, so far as they depart from His holiness and corrupt themselves, He does not love them.5 Mutual congeniality is to that extent destroyed. Yet God loves sinners in so far as they are His creatures, made for Himself, and capable of being restored to the Divine likeness.6

4. The MERCY of God is that characteristic of His love which moves Him to plan the salvation of sinners, that they may become worthy of union with Himself. If they take advantage of His salvation, mutual congeniality is restored, and He unites them to Himself in everlasting love. To save them, He goes so far as to give His Beloved Son to die for them.7

5. The dispensation of God's mercy is embodied in a kingdom of GRACE, wherein every help and sanctifying instrument which the wisdom of God has devised, is gathered and administered.8 But the grace of God is not confined to the Church. It is imparted to all men in various measures, under different conditions, and with various possibilities.

1 St. Thos., Summa, I., xx.; Martensen, Dogmatics, §51; Strong, Syst. Theol., pp. 127, 137; Mason, Faith of the Gospel, ch. i., § 14; Clarke, Outline of Theol., pp. 94-102; Wilhelm and Scannell, Manual, Vol. I., pp. 233-237.

2 Martensen.

3 John xvii. 26; Ephes. ii. 4, 7; I. John iv. 16.

4 Gen. i. 26, 31.

5 Mal. i. 3; Rom. ix. 13.

6 St. Thos., I., xx. 2 ad quart.; Clarke, pp. 98-102.

7 St. Thos., I., xxi. 3, 4; Strong, p. 137; Schouppe, Elementa, Tr. V., §§207, 209; Wilhelm and Scannell, pp. 246-247. Cf. Exod. xxiv. 6, 7; Num. xiv. 18; II. Chr. xxx. 9; Neh. ix. 17, 31; Lam. iii. 22, 23; Dan. ix. 9; Joel, ii. 13; Luke i, 50; Ephes. ii. 4, 7; Jas. v. 11; II. Pet. iii. 9, 15.

8 Divine grace treated of in Vol. III.

Posted by Debra Bullock at August 4, 2005 07:25 PM

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