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persons who hate God the most sensibly, till their carnal mind is slain, and holy love is shed abroad in their hearts. Our Saviour, who knew what was in man, represents sinners as hating God, not because they are ignorant of him, but because they know him. He expressly says, “ If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin; but now have they both seen, and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause." Sinners hate God for his goodness, which is no just cause for their hating him. Their hearts are evil because he is good. They hate him more for his goodness than for any thing else in his character. They hate his power, knowledge and wisdom, because these natural attributes are under the constant influence of his pure, holy, disinterested benevolence; and of course, the more they know of his natural and moral perfections, the more their carnal mind rises against him.
5. If God be purely, perfectly and universally good, and always acts under the influence of this disposition, then he will display his goodness in the everlasting punishment of the finally impenitent. He loves them with the love of benevolence in this world, and desires, simply considered, that they might not perish, but have everlasting life. This he declares under the solemnity of an oath. “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye, from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” And again we read, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” As God loves the impenitent in this life with the love of benevolence, so he will always feel benevolently towards them while he manifests towards them the tokens of his everlasting displeasure. His perfect goodness disposes him to hate their perfect wickedness, and to punish them for it. And as it is his goodness that disposes him to punish them, so it will dispose him to punish them for ever. If he punished them from a principle of malevolence and revenge, there could be no evidence that he would punish them for ever. But since his perfect goodness leads him to regard the highest good of the universe, and to oppose whatever is opposed to that, his goodness requires him to punish those who are the opposers of that good, so long as the highest good of the universe renders their punishment necessary. And we can see no reason why the good of the universe should not require their eternal, as well as temporary punishment. God's displeasure towards the finally impenitent will be a holy and benevolent displeasur
and his goodness turned into wrath will for ever burn to the lowest hell, and give a peculiar intenseness to the miseries of the damned. If they could only see that God punished them in the exercise of a malignant and a revengeful spirit
, it would be a great relief to their sorrows; but they will always know and feel that God always acts under the influence of perfect goodness, while he pours out the vials of his wrath upon them, which must serve to sink them deeper and deeper in darkness, misery and despair. The goodness of God, instead of being an argument in favor of universal salvation, affords the strongest argument to prove that, since God punishes sinners in this life, he will punish them for ever, except they repent.
6. If God is purely and perfectly good, and always acts under the influence of his goodness, then those who are finally happy will for ever approve of the divine conduct towards the finally miserable. Some have supposed that the everlasting miseries of the damned would disturb and diminish the happiness of the blessed. And they undoubtedly would, if their miseries did not flow from the perfect goodness of God. But they will see and believe that God displays his goodness in displaying his justice, and this display of goodness and justice will be so far from diminishing their felicity, that it will augment it for ever. Though the blessed will not take pleasure in the mere miseries of the damned, yet they will take pleasure in the pure, impartial and perfect goodness of God, in giving them the due reward of their deeds. Moses and the pious Israelites rejoiced in the goodness of God, which sunk Pharaoh and his hosts in the merciless waves. And we know that the heavenly hosts sing the song of Moses, and say, “ Amen, Alleluia," while they behold the smoke of the torments of the damned. And the only reason is, that they see the displays of divine goodness in punishing those who have opposed and always will oppose the glory of God, and the highest good of the universe.
2. If the pure, perfect, immutable goodness of God be consistent with his pure, perfect, immutable justice, then while sinners remain impenitent, they have no ground to rely upon his mere goodness to save them. While God gives them health, and strength, and prosperity, and pours into their bosoms the common blessings of his providence, they are extremely apt to imagine that his goodness will terminate in his special grace, and that after he has done them so much good in this world, he never will inflict everlasting punishment upon them in the world to come. This notion of divine goodness gives them habitual ease and security in the neglect of duty from day to day, and often affords them hope in their last moments.
How often do we find those on a sick and dying bed who feel easy and safe, though they have never embraced the gospel! And
if they are asked why they are not distressed about their future and eternal state, they will readily reply, that they hope in the mercy of God to prepare them to die before they leave the world. They cannot believe that a being of infinite goodness will cast them off for ever. But they have no ground to rely upon the mere goodness of God, which may be displayed in their destruction, as well as in their salvation. This is certain from the nature of his goodness, and the displays of it in ten thousand cases.
What terrible calamities has he inflicted upon mankind from
in this world! He has once swept away all the inhabitants of it, with the besom of destruction. He burnt up Sodom and Gomorrah, as a prelude to future and everlasting punishment. He has set them forth" for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." What ground then have the dying impenitent to hope that the mere mercy of God will save them in their impenitence and unbelief? The immutable goodness of God will never move him to act contrary to his declarations and original designs, to save an impenitent sinner from endless destruction.
8. If God be purely, permanently, and universally good, then the terms of salvation proposed in his word, are as low and condescending as possible. He requires nothing of sinners but to love his pure and perfect goodness, in order to enjoy it for ever. He declares, “ I love them that love me, and those who seek me early shall find me.” It is certainly reasonable that those who have hated God without a cause, should love him for his goodness, which is the highest reason for loving any being in the universe. And there is nothing in the way of their loving the pure and perfect benevolence of God, but their present voluntary selfishness. It is only because they love themselves supremely, that they cannot love God supremely, who is infinitely worthy of their supreme affection. If they perish, therefore, they must perish by their own choice, in opposition to that love which would save them. It is their immediate and important duty to turn from sin to holiness, which is only turning from hating to loving God.
9. If God be perfectly and immutably good, then he will cause all things to work together for the good of them that love him. All that he has designed to do and ever will do, will display his goodness, which will be the constant and perpetual source of light, of joy and blessedness to them that love him. Their happiness is as secure as his blessedness, and they will enjoy all good, so far as their natures will adinit. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”
THE MORAL RECTITUDE OF GOD.
THAT be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wick. ed, and that the righteous should be as the wicked ; that be far from thee
Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? – GENESIS, xviii. 25.
When God was about to destroy Sodom, he appeared to Abraham, and told him his design ; this deeply affected the heart of that pious man, who instantly offered the most fervent and importunate cries to the Father of mercies, to spare that corrupt and degenerate city. And the only plea he urged before the supreme Disposer of all events was the rectitude of his own character. " And Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein ? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" Abraham implicitly acknowledged that it would be right for God to punish the guilty who deserved to be punished, but not to punish the innocent who did not deserve to be punished. This leads us to conclude,
That Abraham knew that God is a being of moral rectitude. I shall show,
I. That God is a being of moral rectitude, and
Though we do not know every thing about God, yet we know something about him. We know that he has an eternal and underived existence, and that he possesses almighty power, perfect knowledge and wisdom, and all the essential attributes of a moral agent. He knows the natures, relations and connections of all beings in the universe. And this knowledge necessarily confers moral obligation. For that which the apostle lays down as a maxim, is an eternal truth: “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” This applies to the Deity as well as to all other intelligent agents. God perfectly knows the relation he bears to his creatures, and the relation they bear to him, so he perfectly knows how he ought to treat them, and how they ought to treat him. He knows what is right and wrong respecting his own conduct, and respecting the conduct of all other moral beings in the universe. He ought therefore to feel and act according to his moral discernment of what is right in the nature of things. And as he feels much more sensibly his obligation to moral rectitude than any other being, so we have far more reason to believe that he possesses moral rectitude, than that any other being in the universe does.
2. God claims to be a being of moral rectitude. When Moses requested him to show him his glory, " The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.” Moses says, “ He is the rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he.” Elihu says, “Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity.” David says, “ The righteous Lord loveth righteousness." "Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; mercy and truth go before thy face.” rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." sented as a being of immutable veracity. Balaam under a divine impulse says, “ He is not a man that he should lie; neither is he the son of man, that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good ?” We read of the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began. To give greater security to the heirs of this promise, God confirmed the immutability of his counsel by an oath : “ That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, they might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them.” In these divine declarations, God claims to be
6 He is my He is repre