« PreviousContinue »
isted. If there had been no sinners among the creatures of God, he could never have had an opportunity of displaying his grace in forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin; nor of displaying his justice in punishing the guilty and impenitent. There was the same kind, if not the same degree of necessity in the divine mind, to create sinful, as to create holy beings. If God meant to display all his goodness in creation, he was obliged to bring into being objects, upon which he might display both his justice and mercy. God's: goodness will shine brighter, in his conduct towards sin than in his conduct towards holy beings. More of the heart of God will be seen in the work of redemption, than in all his other works. In this scheme of grace, a foundation is laid for a full discovery of all the natural and moral perfections of the Deity. The glory of God, therefore, required, that just such sinful creatures as mankind are should exist, that they might be both the monuments of divine justice, and of di
4. If the supreme glory of God consists in his good ness; then those, who like any part of his character, must necessarily like the whole. His natural perfections are under the entire control of his moral; and his moral perfections summarily consist in goodness, or universal, disinterested benevolence. His power is a benevolent power; his wisdom is a benevolent wis . dom; his sovereignty is a benevolent sovereignty; his justice is' a benevolent justice; and every other moral perfection of his nature is only a branch of general benevolence. No man, therefore, can understandingly approve of any one of the divine attributes, without approving of all. It is a great mistake in any to imagine, that they love the goodness, or mercy of God, while they feel opposed to his justice or sovereignty,
or any other divine attribute. The character of God is absolutely perfect and uniform. The characters of men are mixed characters, in which there are often some things to be liked, and others to be disliked. But in the Deity perfect goodness stamps a beauty and glory upon all his attributes, and forms a character completely and infinitely amiable. The only reason, why any imagine, that they love some parts of the divine character, and not the whole, is, that they do not really understand the nature of divine goodness, but suppose, that God is altogether such an One as them" selves. They love the goodness of God, when they consider it as partial in their favor; but this is a false idea of it, and entirely consistent with hãtred to his justice, and every other divine attribute.
5. If the supreme glory of God consists in his good. ness; then those, who dislike any part of the divine character, must necessarily dislike the whole. Some pretend to like the natural perfections of the Deity, while they object against his moral attributes. Those of a Deistical turn profess to believe, that there is one Supreme Being, who is possessed of almighty power, boundless knowledge, and every other natural perfection. And they insinuate, that they have no objections against the existence and character of such a self-existent and eternal Being. Nor do mankind in general find fault with the natural attributes of the Deity, while they view them as disconnected with his moral character. The reason is obvious. The bare existence of the natural perfections of God, while they lie dormant, and are not voluntarily directed to any particular end, nor employed to promote any particular design, cannot in the least degree affect the interest or happiness of mankind. And the worst of men are willing there should be a being of infinite natural perfec
tions, if he will let them entirely alone: But there is no room to consider the natural attributes of God as separate from his moral, for they are all under the influence of his goodness. And being under the constant direction of his goodness, they cannot be really approved of, without approving of his goodness. Those, therefore, who dislike the goodness of the Deity, which comprehends his whole moral character, must necessarily dislike every perfection of the divine nature. There are others among the believers of divine Revelation, who profess to like all the natural perfections of the Deity and some of his moral attributes, especially his goodness and grace; but yet heartily oppose his inflexible justice and absolute sovereignty. But if they dis. like the justice and sovereignty of God, they must of necessity dislike his goodness and mercy, and every other natural and moral attribute. For the justice of God is only a branch of his perfect benevolence, and his sovereignty is a benevolent sovereignty, God does not dislike any of his own perfections; and those whe are partakers of the divine nature, cannot dislike any of its natural and moral excellencies. It is not possible, that any man should really know all the perfeetions of the Deity, and yet hate one and love another. Those, who really hate any part of his goodness, must necessarily hate all his goodness; or all the perfections of his nature, which flow from it, and are always under the influence of it.
6. If the goodness of God forms his whole moral character; then those who do not love him supremely, must necessarily hate him supremely. There is no defect, nor blemish in the moral character of God. It is supremely amiable and glorious. In this light it appears to all holy beings. Angels and saints in heaven. discern the moral glory and excellency of the Deity.
and accordingly love him supremely. They love the goodness of God which constitutes him the best of beings, and therefore they love him above all other beings. But, on the other hand, those who discern no moral excellence in the universal and disinterested benevolence of his nature, must necessarily discern an infinite blemish in his character, and view. him as the most odious and detestable being in the universe. This: we know is the case with respect to fallen angels. They now hate God supremely for that same good-. ness and moral glory, for which they once loved him supremely. And we find this to be the case with res pect to sinners of mankind. When they are brought to realize the Being, and to attend to the moral character of God, they feel their carnal mind rise in perfect enmity and opposition to him. They view all his natural perfections under the influence of impartial and universal goodness. This they hate in any being, and above all in the Supreme Being. While they consid. er all his perfections under the influence of his perfectly benevolent heart, they hate his power, his wisdom, his justice, his sovereignty, his grace and faithfulness. They hate God in exact proportion to his goodness and greatness. And as they believe him to be infinitely great and good, so they hate him infinitely more than any other, yea, than all other beings.
7. Does the glory of God consist in his goodness, or in his feeling properly towards all bis creatures, of every character and conditiop? Hence we learn that it is the true character of God, which sinners hate. They do not hate him, while they imagine he is regardless of their character and conduct. And they do not hate him while they think he is altogether such an One as themselves, and feels a partial regard for their interest and happiness. But as soon as they real
ize that he loathes their characters, and feels disposed to punish them to all eternity, for all their selfish feelings and conduct, then they begin to hate him with a perfect hatred. There is nothing in God, which they so heartily oppose, as that very goodness or benevolence, which constitutes all his moral excellence and glory. They would not hate him so much, if they could only believe, that he was opposed to them upon the principle of perfect malevolence. There are no two dispositions so diametrically opposite to each other, as perfect benevolence and perfect selfishness. The first forms the character of God, and the second the character of sinners. Hence sinners perfectly hate that amiable and glorious disposition in the Deity, by which he is perfectly opposed to all their views and feelings. And the more they see the impartial, disinterested, sovereign goodness of his nature displayed in his works and in his word, the more directly and vigorously their hearts rise against him. Many suppose that all the opposition, which sinners feel and express towards God, arises entirely from ignorance of his true character; and, therefore, they conclude if sinners could only be made acquainted with God's true character, and his real feelings towards them, they would instantly renounce their enmity, and become his most cordial friends. But this is a very great mistake. It is the very nature of sinful creatures to hate their benevolent Creator. They would not be sinners unless they possessed a selfish heart; and so long as they possess this, they cannot be reconciled to the character, nor subject to the holy and righteous law of God. Besides; if a clear and just view of the character of God would reconcile sinners to him in this world, why not in the next? All the damned will have a clear, realizing, just view of the moral character of