Whately: the circle of unmeaning
Feast of Paulinus, Bishop of York, Missionary, 644
Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
—Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
If [one] attaches no meaning to the words “good,” and “just,” and “right,” except that such is the divine command, then, to say that God is good, and his commands just, is only saying in a circuitous way, that He is what He is, and that what He wills He wills; which might equally be said of any Being in the universe...
And any one would be equally involved in a vicious circle, who, while he held [this] theory, should refer to the pure and elevated moral tone of the New Testament as an internal evidence (and in reality it is a very strong one) to prove that it could not be the unaided work of ignorant, half-crazy Jewish peasants and fishermen. For, if all our moral notions are entirely derived from that book, to say that the morality of the book is correct, is merely to say that it is what it is.
... Richard Whately (1787-1863), Dr. Paley’s Works: A Lecture Delivered by Richard Whately, London: John W. Parker and Son, 1859, p. 27-28 (see the book)
See also Ps. 34:8; Jer. 31:14; Matt. 7:11; Luke 1:53; Phil. 4:8; Tit. 3:4-7; 2 Thess. 1:11; Jas. 1:17; 1 John 4:7-10
Quiet time reflection:
Lord, Your truth is absolute.
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