Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing every one to love his neighbor as himself, and always do as he would be done by, and that upon pain of eternal damnation....Gal. iii. 10.-Deut. xxvii. 26. And he appears as one

governed by a spirit of the most perfectly disinterested impartiality, in that he spared not the angels that sinned, who were some of the noblest of all his creatures; and in that he is determined not to spare impenitent sinners at the day of judgment, though they cry ever so earnestly for mercy; but, above all, in that he spared not his only begotten Son, when he stood in the .room of sinners. If ever any poor, guilty wretch, round the world, feels tempted to think that God is cruel for damning sinners, and does not do as he would be done by, if he was in their case, and they in his, let him come away to the cross of Christ, and

and just as if nothing could raise his resentment but merely the injury done to ourselves! expressly contrary to Numb. xiv.-II Sam. xii. 10, 14, &c.

4. That we are under no obligations to love God, but merely because it tends to make us happy; and that it is no crime to bate and blaspheme God, but merely because it tends to make us miserable. But if so, then the misery which naturally results from hating and blaspheming God, is exactly equal to the crime; and therefore no positive inflicted punishment is deserved in this world, or in that which is to come. And, therefore, all the punishments which God inflicts upon sinners in this world, and forever in Hell, are entirely undeserved: and so his law and government, instead of being holy, just and good, are infinitely unreasonable, tyrannical and cruel.To say, that God punishes some of his sinful creatures, merely to keep others in awe, whenas they do not, in the least, deserve any punishment, is to suppose the great Governor of the world to do evil, that good may come; and yet, at the same time, to take the most direct course to render himself odious throughout all his dominions. It is impossible to account for the punishments which God has inflicted upon sinners in this world, and designs to inflict upon them forever in hell, without supposing that there is an infinite evil in sin, over and above what results from its natural tendency to make us miserable and that, therefore, we are under infinite obligations to love and obey God, antecedent to any consideration of its tendency to make us happy. From all which, it is evident, to demonstration, that right and wrong do neither result from the mere will and law of God, nor from any tendency of things to promote or hinder the happiness of God's creatures. It remains, therefore, that there is an intrinsic moral fitness and unfitness, absolutely in things themselves: as that we should love the infinitely glorious God, is, in the nature of things, infinitely fit and right; and to hate and blaspheme him, is, in the nature of things, infinitely unfit and wrong: and that, antecedent to any consideration of advantage or disadvantage, reward or punishment, or even of the will or law of God. And hence it is, that God infinitely loves right, and hates wrong, and appears so infinitely engaged to reward the one, and punish the other. And hence, his law and government are holy, just and good....they are glorious; and in and by them the infinite glory of the divine nature shines forth....Isa. vi. 3. -Rev. iv. 8-Rev. xix. 1-6.

F

see God's own Son, his second self, there nailed up, naked, bleeding, groaning, dying, in the greatest possible contempt, ignominy and shame, before ten thousand insulting, blood-thirsty spectators; and let him know that this Jesus is GOD-a person of infinitely greater dignity and worth than all creatures in heaven and earth put together, and infinitely dear to the great Governor of the world, even just as dear as his own self, and upon whom he would not lay these sufferings any sooner than upon himself;-I say, let him stand, and look, and gaze, and learn that God does exactly as he would be done by, when he damns sinners to all eternity, were he in their case, and they in his (if I may so say, when speaking of the most high God), since that for his own Son, a person of infinite dignity, to suffer all these things, is equivalent to the eternal torments of finite creatures : Indeed, it was not because he was not a Being of infinite goodness, that he treated his own Son so; nor is it because he has no regard to his creatures' happiness, that he designs to damn the finally impenitent; but it is merely because sin is an infinite evil, and, according to strict justice, worthy of an infinite punishment: It is right and fit that he should do as he does, and therefore his conduct will forever appear infinitely glorious and beautiful in the eyes of all holy beings. Psalm xcvi. 11, 12, 13 ....Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad : Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. See also Rev. xix. 1—6.

(6.) His infinite goodness is also discovered in his government of the world; for all the laws of this great and good Governor are suited in their own nature to advance all his subjects to the highest perfection they are capable of. His law teaches us to view all things just as they are, and to have our will and affections entirely governed by the truth-by the very reason and nature of things: And so to be according to the measure of such finite creatures, in our wills and in the temper of our minds, after

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the image of the blessed and glorious God, which is the highest dignity and perfection we are possibly capable of. When God commands us to be holy as he is holy, he enjoins that as our duty which at the same time is our highest possible privilege. He bids us be like the angels, and begin our heaven upon earth; yea, even to participate of a glory and blessedness of the same nature with that which he himself enjoys: To behold his glory....to be ravished with his beauty....to esteem him supremely, live to him entirely, and delight in him superlatively, and to become like him in our views of things, and in the temper of our minds, is our highest dignity, glory, and excellency, and our highest blessedness: And, besides, his laws are still further calculated to promote the welfare of his subjects, in that they are suited to establish universal love, peace and harmony, throughout all his dominions. Love thy neighbor as thyself, is one of the fundamental laws of his kingdom: And were his authority duly regarded, and his laws obeyed, love, and peace and harmony, with all their happy and blessed effects, would reign through all the earth, as they do in heaven; and paradise would not be confined to Eden, nor to heaven, but be all over the world.

And the wrath of this good Governor is only revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, which are the ruin and debasement of our nature, and the destruction of our peace and happiness. He threatens damnation to his subjects, to keep them from destroying themselves, as well as to deter them from affronting his Majesty. All the dreadful threatenings of his law result not only from his holiness and justice, but also from the infinite goodness of his nature; in that hereby his subjects are mercifully forwarned of the evil and bitter consequences of sin, to the end they may avoid it. He is a perfect enemy to hatred and revenge-to cruelty and injustice: He cannot bear to see the widow or fatherless oppressed, or the poor despised, or the miserable insulted, or any evil thing done among his subjects: And therefore this good Governor has threatened tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath, against every soul that doth evil; and, with all his authority,

has commanded his subjects, through all this world, upon pain of eternal damnation, to do as they would be done by.

And then, still further to engage his subjects to that in which their greatest glory and blessedness consists, he, in his law, promises eternal life to the obedient: wherein the infinite bountifulness of his nature, as well as his unspeakable concern for his creatures' welfare is discovered.

And if we survey his conduct towards mankind, from the beginning, we may, in ten thousand instances, see the infinite goodness of his nature displayed. If we consider what his ways have been towards an apostate world-how he has given his Son to be a Redeemer, and his spirit to be a sanctifier-how he has sent all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending; and that notwithstanding he knew beforehand what treatment he would meet with from a guilty, ungrateful, God-hating world -how they would murder his Son, resist his spirit, and kill his messengers: if we consider how patient, and forbearing, and long-suffering he has been towards obstinate sinners-how loth to give them over; swearing by himself that he delights not in their death, but rather that they turn and live; even while they have contemned and affronted him in the vilest manner: and if we consider his distinguishing favors towards his elect, and the marvellous things which he has wrought for his church and people;-I say, if we consider these things, and, at the same time, look round the world and behold the innumerable common favors strewed abroad among guilty, hell-deserving rebels, we must be forced to own, that he is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works.

His goodness, indeed, is evidently as unbounded as his power. There is no act of kindness, which his omnipotency is able to do, but that there is goodness enough in his heart to prompt him to do it, if, all things considered, it is best to be done : His propensity to do good is fully equal to his ability. All the treasures and good things of this lower world are his, and he gives all to the children of men; and we should have enjoyed all, without the least sorrow intermixed, had not our sin and apostacy made

[ocr errors]

it necessary for him to give some testimony of his displeasure: and yet, even the calamities of life are well adapted, in our present state, to do us good. All the treasures and glories of heav en are his, and he offers all to a guilty world, and actually gives all to such as are willing to accept of all, through the mediator, in the way prescribed-and what can he give more? Can he give his only begotten son to die for sinners? Behold, he has a heart to do it! Can he give his holy spirit to recover poor sinners to God? Behold, he has a heart to do it....is as ready to give his holy spirit to them that ask, as parents are to give bread to their children! And, finally, can he, in any sense, give himself to his creatures? Behold, he is willing to do so....to be their God, and father, and portion, and be all things to them, and do all things for them, if they will but accept of him through Jesus Christ! So that, as I said, his propensity to do good is fully equal to his ability: And there is no doubt but that he does show all those kindnesses to his intelligent creatures, which, all things considered, are best should be shown. And -his understanding is infinite, whereby he is able to determine exactly what is best in the whole. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds: How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings....Psalm xxxvi. 5, 7.

And such is the goodness of his nature, and so much goodness has he in his heart, that he needs no motive to excite him to do good; i.e. nothing from without: Thus, unmoved and unexcited by any thing from without himself, of his own mere goodness, he did, in the days of eternity, determine to do all that good, which ever will by him be done, to all eternity, when there was nothing existing but himself, and so nothing to move him but his own good pleasure: Yea, such is the goodness of his nature, that he not only needs no motive from without to excite him to do good, but even then, when there are all things to the contrary even every thing in his creatures to render them ill-deserving, and to discourage and hinder his shewing mercy,

« PreviousContinue »