MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I.17. THE IDEAS OF GOD.
Crucifixion and Saints (detail)
17. THE IDEAS OF GOD.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.
I. By the ideas of God theologians mean those models, as it were, in the mind of God, according to which creatures were made. There is nothing outside God which He can copy or reproduce in creation ; but He made all things as manifestations or expressions of His perfections. Each thing, therefore, is in some sense a likeness of something in God. The divine ideas, then, are the Divine Essence considered as the infinite reality which is shadowed forth imperfectly in finite creatures. St. Paul indicates this when he writes : " The world was framed by the Word of God, that from invisible things visible things might be made " (Heb. xi. 3). Some beings imitate God simply in that they exist ; others in that they have life ; others as having sense ; and others again as being intelligent, spiritual, free, immortal, supernatural. Creatures represent variously God s wisdom, strength, ingenuity, providence, fatherly-love, beauty. Everything proceeding from the hand of God is good ; everything should remind us of God, teach us some thing about Him, and lead us to love Him. Strive to recognize the hand of God in all that happens, and believe that all is good for you though it seem to be evil ; even if it be really evil God will bring forth good from it.
II. We may also understand by the ideas of God the reflection,, as it were, of each thing separately in the divine mind ; comparing God s knowledge of things to the images or impressions formed in our senses by outward substances, and then conveyed to our brain. Every creature of God is, in a sense, reflected in God as in a mirror. As God is immutable, and acquires nothing anew but has always possessed it, these ideas or reflections have been in Him from all eternity. Not only did God see in Himself what we and all things were to be, but He saw all as if actually existing. When we are admitted to the sight of God we shall, in seeing His divine mind and participating in His ideas, see these reflections of all things in Him ; and thus, without investigation or study, but by a mere glance, we shall possess our knowledge in God. Your image too has been impressed on the consciousness of God from all eternity, as an object of His Providence and His love. Therefore He says by the prophet : " Behold I have graven thee in My hands " (Isa. xlix. 16) : and again, " I have loved thee with an everlasting love " (Jer. xxxi. 3). In return keep the reflection of God s image always vivid in your mind.
III. There is one thing that has no counterpart idea in the mind of God, which derives nothing from Him, and reflects nothing from out of the great total of reality and good which exists in Him. That thing is the state of sin. In sin, therefore, there is no particle of good ; it is the privation of good and the contradictory of God, as nothingness is the contradiction and the destruction of existence. It is essentially evil of its own nature ; it is the supreme evil as being the opposite of supreme good ; and it is the only real evil, since everything else is from God. God in deed sees, and knows, and has for ever known our acts of sin ; after sin He still bears with the sinner patiently, is mindful of him, loves him, and invites him to penance. But the state of the sinner is an abomination to God, and destructive of God in its tendency, and actually exterminates God from that soul ; and this, of course, cannot become an idea, i.e. an actuality, in God Himself. Thus the sinner s state and the supernatural state, i.e. heaven, i .e, God, are absolutely incompatible. Keep sin, therefore, out of your mind and your heart. Remember it only for contrition and atonement. No consequences but evil ones can follow from essential evil, however plausible its appearance.