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some knowledge of astronomy, and is in possession at least of some of the reasons and evidence on which that fact is founded. Undoubtedly, in the investigation and contemplation of this wonderful event, our minds must be possessed, in the first place, with an exalted idea of the infinite goodness of God, as'a proper basis for our belief in it; for if we reject this faith, and only constitute our uninformed or natural ideas as the criterion or judge of it, they will certainly in this case mislead us, as they frequently do in others; as, for example, in the instance just mentioned ; for our natural ideas lead us to imagine that the sun goes round the earth, whilst we are sure, from the parallax of its annual motion, so notoriously apparent in the phænomena of comets, that the contrary is the truth, and that the earth revolves round the sun. Thus it is certain our uninformed ideas are often ideas not so much distinctive of truth, as of ignorance and error; and we shall do well, when we consider the divine mission of our Saviour, to follow our improved reason and Scripture, as surer and more infallible guides.
When we reflect on that infinite goodness of God, which is so strongly displayed in
his having planned the redemption of man, and sent his Son for that purpose into the world, we must not so narrow our ideas of this glorious attribute of the Deity, as to consider it of a limited, circumscribed, or passive nature only; but, on the contrary, of so-active a one, as to be always operating; for we have every reason to believe that God as necessarily acts from his attribute of infinite goodness, as from those of his infinite wisdom and power, and that he has ever done so from all eternity: therefore the same infinite goodness that prompted God to create such an intellectual being as man, must necessarily and at all times actuate him to foster that being, to watch over him, and to intend his happiness: and accordingly God is pleased in his Scriptures to give this description of his conduct to man;
“Can a woman forget her sucking “ child, that she should not have compassion
on the son of her womb? yea, they may for
get, yet will I not forget thee.” The whole ténor, the whole spirit of Scripture supports this idea, as well as the letter of it; which informs us, that “the tender mercies of God
are over all his works; that he remembers we “ are but dust; that he pitieth us as a father
“ doth his children; that the very hairs of our '" head are numbered ; and that he so loved “ the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son “ into it, that mankind should not perish, but “ have everlasting life.” If we admit any other idea of God's infinite goodness, this attribute of the Deity, which must necessarily ever operate, would, with respect to man, cease to operate; which cannot be: and therefore when the predicament, in which man by his disobedience had placed himself, was such, that he must be extricated from it, or utterly perish ; as it was suitable to the justice of God to punish man for his disobedience, it was equally suitable to this ever-operating principle of his 'infinite goodness that he should design some plan, consistent with his own dignity, to extricate him from the miserable situation he was in; and since this could no otherwise be done, than by the vanquishment of death, and by destroying the power of the Devil ; (two things it is not to be conceived any mere man could achieve, without limiting God's goodness, which is illimitable ;) no man, who properly considers the nature of infinite goodness, will be staggered, but, on the contrary, will receive and admit, with heartfelt joy, the idea of the
infinite mercy of God, which is in its own nature such, as to have induced him to send his Son into the world to accomplish so important a purpose as the salvation of millions, and millions of millions, of intellectual beings, created in his own image. And though, from man's infraction of the command of God, and his breach of that injunction which by creation God had a right to impose on him, had God thought proper to inflict on him the awarded penalty of non-existence; however the conduct of the Almighty might in so doing have been sanctioned by justice, yet how great, how admirable, how illustrious an instance of his being the “ Lord God, merci“ ful and gracious, long-suffering, and abun“ dant in goodness,” is his devising a gracious plan for the pardon of original sin, and for the restoration of the human species to his forfeited favour!
With respect to those people who affect to be shocked at the idea of the Son of God's coming on earth for the benefit and salvation of the inhabitants of this small planet, the cause of their affected delicacy, of their false zeal for the honour of God, I conceive to arise from such persons judging of the na
ture of God, and of his infinite goodness, from their own nature. Goodness in man is a rare quality, of casual, occasional, arbitrary, and adventitious operation, and, for the most part, not very prone to great and noble achievements : but the goodness of God is far otherwise; the Scriptures define it to be infinite, constant, permanent, uniform, immutable, and invariable; as neither slumbering nor sleeping. God in these holy pages is described to be “ gracious, and his
mercy as enduring for ever; abundant in
goodness, and forgiving iniquity, transgres“ sion, and sin." “ It is of the Lord's mercies “ that we are not consumed, because his com“ passions fail not: they are new every morn“ing*.” His love to the human race is described to be greater than that of a mother towards her infant child; as loving to every man; and as loving the world so greatly, " that he gave his only-begotten Son, that man “ should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Since therefore God was not shocked at appointing our Saviour to this mission, nor our Saviour at undertaking it, there is all imaginable cause why man should rejoice, but
* Lamentations iii. 22, 23.