The following excerpt is from Andrew Fuller’s Dialogues and Letters between Crispus and Gaius. Fuller published this work on various theological topics in the Evangelical Magazine between 1793-1795.
Crispus. Your late observations on the importance of truth, and the connexion between doctrinal, experimental, and practical religion, have excited in my mind an increasing desire after a more particular knowledge of the great doctrines of Christianity.
Gaius. I am glad to hear it; and if it be in my power to afford you any additional light on those interesting subjects, it will give me great pleasure.
C. What do you consider as the first and most fundamental principle of true religion?
G. Unless I except the existence of God, perhaps none is more deserving of those epithets than his moral character.
C. What do you mean by the moral character of God?
G. The Divine perfections have been distinguished into natural and moral. By the former we understand those perfections which express his greatness; such are his wisdom, power, majesty, omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, eternity, immensity, &c. By the latter, those which express his essential goodness; such are his justice, his mercy, his veracity, or, in one word, his holiness. These last are the peculiar glory of the Divine nature, and constitute what is meant by his moral character.
C. Are not all the attributes of Deity essential to the character of an all perfect Being?
G. They are; but yet the glory of his natural perfections depends upon their being united with those which are moral. The ideas of wisdom, power, or immutability convey nothing lovely to the mind, but the reverse, unless they be connected with righteousness, goodness, and veracity. Wisdom without holiness would be serpentine subtlety; power would be tyranny; and immutability annexed to a character of such qualities would be the curse and terror of the universe.
C. But as God is possessed of the one as well as the other, they all contribute to his glory.
G. True; and it affords matter of inexpressible joy to all holy intelligences that a Being of such rectitude and goodness is possessed of power equal to the desire of his heart, of wisdom equal to his power, and that he remains through eternal ages immutably the same. Power and wisdom in such hands are the blessing of the universe.
C. Is the above distinction of the Divine perfections into natural and moral applicable to any useful purposes?
G. It will assist us in determining the nature of that most fundamental of all moral principles—the love of God. If holiness constitutes the loveliness of the Divine nature, this must be the most direct and immediate object of holy affection. True love to God will always bear a primary regard to that which above all other things renders him a lovely Being.
C. I knew a lecturer on philosophy, who, by discoursing on the wisdom and power of God as displayed in the immensity of creation, was wrought up into a rapture of apparent devotion, and his audience with him; and yet, in less than an hour’s time after leaving the room, he was heard to curse and swear, as was his usual manner of conversation.
G. You might find great numbers of this description. They consider the Divine Being as a great genius, as a fine architect, and survey his works with admiration; but his moral excellence, which constitutes the chief glory of his nature, has no charms in their eyes. But if that which constitutes the chief glory of his nature have no charms in their eyes, all the admiration which they may bestow upon the productions of his wisdom and power will amount to nothing: the love of God is not in them.
Excerpt from: Dialogues and Letters between Crispus and Gaius. “Dialogue IV: The Moral Character of God.”
Fuller, A. G. (1988). The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: Controversial Publications. (J. Belcher, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 654–655). Harrisonburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications.