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as diligently seek him. Nothing ought more to induce us to repose a full trust, faith, and confidence in God, than when we find on all occasions a perfect coincidence and agreement between his words and actions: indeed, our minds are so formed, that we cannot reasonably refuse to place confidence in an intelligent being, when we find his actions exactly correspond with his words and promises, more especially if those actions, words, and promises are founded in goodness, wisdom, and power, in reason, justice, and mercy.
God Almighty was pleased by his servant Moses to make an express proclamation of his own nature, and of the particular mode in which it is his pleasure to deport himself to the human species, in the following words ; “ Anid the Lord passed by before him, (Moses,) " and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, “ merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and 6 abundant in goodness and truth; keeping « mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity " and transgression and sin, and that will by " no means clear the guilty*."
These are the words of God; and if any
* Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7.
man entertains in his heart an idea of the character of God, or of his conduct to man, contrary to the plain and evident meaning of this gracious proclamation, he is guilty of an inexcusable want of faith, and greatly wrongs, and ungratefully dishonours, his Creator. We are now, to remark how exactly the actions of Almighty God correspond: with these words. Agreeably to this proclamation of his mercy and goodness, God clearly intended the happiness of inan when he created him ; for he gave him organs for the enjoyment of that happiness, and he fitted and adapted objects to those organs, on which they might energize and operate. He created man even after his own image, with a capacity to ent joy happiness in this world, and immortal happiness in a world to come. He allowed him the great and astonishing privilege of enjoying, at all times, a holy intercourse and communion with himself. He had likewise a companion granted him, that he might partake the further happiness of social intercourse. He was made lord of this world, and had an employ in it allotted him suited to his nature, and calculated to promote equally the health of his body, and the cheerfulness and satisfaction of his mind. But, at
the same time that he was created innocent, and ignorant of evil, he was created a free agent, and, as such, with a power of obeying or disobeying his Creator. We know too well how he disobeyed him; and God, in his unalterable system of conduct towards man, which declares he will by no means clear the guilty, was therefore under the necessity of punishing him with that death which he had previously informed Adam should be the
penalty of his disobedience : enmity was like wise hereafter to exist between the Tempter and mankind; woman was to conceive in sorrow; the ground was cursed, and in sorrow man was to eat of it all the days of his life.
How fully and clearly each of these penal. ties have been inflicted and fulfilled, every man and woman is sufficiently sensible: but God's invariable system of conduct equally declares him “ longsuffering, and abundant “ in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for “ thousands, and forgiving iniquity, trans
gression, and sin.” Before he punishes man with temporary death, he is pleased graciously to give him obscure hopes of pardon, and of a restoration, to his favour, by declaring, that “ the seed of the woinan
“ should bruise the serpent's head.” This is afterwards again virtually repeated to Abraham, and more generally to mankind, by the prophet Isaiah ; .“ The Lord himself shall
give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall con“ ceive, and bear a son.” The conquest of death is likewise foretold by the prophet Hosea *, in these remarkable words ; “ I will “ ransom them from the power of the grave; 6 I will redeem them from death: O death, I “ will be thy plagues ; O grave, I will be thy “ destruction."
Now as we are convinced by our senses and feelings that that part of God's denunciation on the tempted is literally fulfilled, which informs us, that the ground is cursed, and shall bring forth thorns and thistles ; that woman should conceive in sorrow; and that man should be subject to sorrow all the days of his life; that there should be enmity betwixt the Devil and man, that is, a perpetual warfare in every human being, between the flesh and the spirit, between reason and passion: we ought by analogy to imagine that the remaining part of the denunciation passed on the Tempter would be equally ful
* Hosea xii. 14.
filled; namely, that the serpent's head should be bruised; in other words, that death should be vanquished, and man restored to a capacity of being accepted by God, and rendered capable of enjoying that immortality he had forfeited, on his performing the conditions required of him for this purpose, viz. on his believing in the divine mission of Jesus Christ, and acquiring in this life such holiness, as every one must possess before he can be admitted into the presence of God.
Whoever will attentively consider the words of God and his actions relative to this most important of all important concerns, must allow an exact conformity and coincidence between them; and that in the gracious scheme of man's redemption a plan is clearly discernible, at one and the same time gratifying God's attribute of mercy, and satisfying that of his justice; and that in that scheme God is “ abundant in goodness,
keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving
iniquity, transgression, and sin;" and yet that he by no means clears the guilty, till, by the sacrifice of his Son on the cross, a due compensation and atonement is made for the offence committed against him.
The next proof to be adduced of the same