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Gen. i. 31, that God saw every thing that he had made, and behold it was very good. He regarded the works of his hand with complacency and delight, as perfectly corresponding with his grand and magnificent idea; and he still beholds his creatures with the same complacency; for all his glorious works are the result of his wise and benevolent counsels : and whatever God does, or appoints, is and must be right. Nor is the evil, whether natural or moral, which exists under the divine government, properly speaking, an exception to this general principle: because, though evil, in the abstract, never can be the object of divine approbation and complacency, yet it is all under the direction and control of his wisdom and his power; not a particle of evil exists without his permission ; nor can it prevail beyond its appointed limits. And the proportion of evil to good in the works of God, is but as a drop of water to the ocean, or as a grain of sand to the terraqueous globe. And to the all-comprehending mind of the omnipotent Creator,
all evil is absorbed and lost in the immense preponderance of good to which it tends, and of which, under the divine direction and control, it will be eventually productive.
And God regards his creatures with an eye of benevolence as well as complacency. He gave them their existence, with all their power of action and enjoyment: he feels the affection of a parent towards them. Of a parent, did I say? O! far more refined, far more intense than that of the kindest earthly parent to his best beloved child. He wills their happiness, and they shall be happy. What God wills, must be done. Omnipotent benevolence must eventually triumph over all opposition, and will fully accomplish its magnificent purpose.
The benevolence of God is proclaimed both in the Old Testament and in the New. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. This is the language of the old dispensation. God is Love, is the harmonious response of the New.
2. Love exists in God in its greatest perfection.
God is the great original, self-existent, illimitable Being. Whatever attribute he possesses,
possesses necessarily and independently; and therefore infinitely and immutably. But that benevolence, kindness, love, is an attribute of God, is plain from all his works, from all his dispensations, from the universal thirst after happiness, from the means of gratifying this intense desire, from the happiness actually possessed, and from lhe universal, irresistibletendencies of things to a better and happier state. What but love could have prompted the Creator to make this beautiful and happy world? Love therefore is the attribute of God; original, essential Love; unbounded, unchangeable goodness ; benevolence in its greatest excellence, in the highest possible degree. And, could we fully comprehend the divine nature, we should no doubt see that it is impossible, that it would involve a contradiction in the nature of things, that the First and most excellent of beings should be
otherwise than infinitely and unchangeably good.
But when we attempt to fathom the divine excellences, and to form an idea of the attributes of God as they exist in the allperfect mind, the imagination is overwhelmed with the immensity of the subject; and reason is confounded and absorbed in the profundity of its speculations. But seeing, as we do, the goodness that is manifested in the works of God, knowing that this attribute exists in him in the most excellent manner and in the most perfect purity, unable to conceive
motive which should prompt a Being, whose goodness is so great, whose knowledge is so úniversal, and whose power so irresistible, to accomplish his purposes by the ministry of evil, if they could be effected equally well without it, or to bring to pass the less sum of happiness, when the greater was equally in his view and in his power, we may safely, and justly, and triumphantly conclude, that a Being originally so good must be absolutely good; that a benevolence so perfect must be absolutely without limit; it must be benevolence in the abstract, benevolence in its very essence; in other words, God is Love.
3. All the counsels and purposes of God are prompted by Love.
The counsels of God are his comprehension of all things both actual and possible, that comprehensive survey of all possible systems, with all their possible circumstances, and results, antecedent, at least in the order of our conceptions, if not in the order of time, to the creation of the first star, to the formation of the first world, and to the selection of that system which he has fixed upon as most worthy of himself, as affording the most glorious display of his perfections, and without which foresight he could not have ascertained the plan which would most effectually exhibit his greatness and his goodness. The purposes
and decrees of God are the result of his counsels; they are the determinations of his will, founded upon a clear, comprehensive knowledge of all possible contingencies. And these counsels