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tended conduct to the human race, and prove that his actions have been exactly correspondent with that proclamation. Secondly, I shall endeavour to refute the two greatest objections made by Sceptics against the divine mission of our blessed Saviour; the first, that it is inconsistent with our natural ideas of the majesty of God to suppose that he would send his Son into this world for any period however short, or for
human purposes however great; the second, that it was the occult design of our Saviour to make himself a temporal king of the Jewish people; and then I shall assign such reasons as ap+ pear to me convincing in proof of his divinity and divine mission.' And in the third and last proposition I shall attempt to shew the goodness of God to the human species, by an induction of particulars, and by an exemplification of it in a variety of instances.
All religion is, at best ceremonial, and without any vital essence or effect, unless accompanied with a firm belief in the infinite goodness of God; and I apprehend, so far from any person's being able to accomplish the first and paramount duty he is enjoined by his Saviour to perform, of loving God with all his heart, with all his mind,
with all his soul, and with all his strength, it is morally impossible he can love him at all, unless his heart is fully impressed with an absolute conviction of his love and good ness to the human species. I shall therefore endeavour in this treatise to prove, that God's attribute of goodness deserves to be as entirely and universally admitted and received into the human mind, and as completely believed in, as those of his omnisci: ence and omnipotence. But before I proceed to invalidate the various objections which have been made to his goodness, I shall attempt to define its nature, and to state the degree of it which man has any just reason to expect will be exerted towards him in this life by his heavenly Father. - In a conversation between Socrates and Aristippus on the good and beautiful, recorded in Xenophon's Memorabilia, the latter asks Socrates, What is goodness? To which question Socrates replies, that it is impossible to give an accurate definition of it, either in quality or degree, without adverting to a specific application of it to a particular case, and to the circumstances of that case. Goodness therefore in an abstract sense is to be considered of a relative or contingent nature;
consequently, before we can with any precision ascertain the goodness of the Deity as it is now exerted towards man, it is necessary we should consider the two very different predicaments in which the human species stands with respect to its Creator, the first in its state of innocency, and the second after its disobedience, and the effect which that disobedience has produced on its nature. For though the goodness of God is in itself ever equal and the same, the exertion of that goodness, in the administration of a wise and just Being towards an intelligent and free agent, must be adapted to his state and character, and in great measure be determined by the conduct of the individual to whom.it is applied. The nature and degree of goodness therefore exerted by the Almighty towards man is to be estimated, not according to what it is in the power of God to exert, or by the greater degree in which it would certainly have been exerted, had man never disobeyed him, but according to what man, who is to be considered in this world as a reprieved culprit, deserves to have exerted towards him in his present fallen state. Therefore · when we meet with instances in real life which seem to bear hard
on the goodness of God, before we suffer the beauty and splendor of this most amiable of all his attributes to be tarnished in our judgment, let us with humility, candour, and impartiality, examine, when all circumstances are fairly and coolly considered, in such in stances as the reason of man,
presumption, may be permitted to contemplate, whether the conduct of God could consistently with his wisdom and justice have been otherwise, and whether it may not be resolved into this conclusion ; that God is as good to man as it is fitting he should be, considering man as a free agent, who, by the abuse of his freedom, has disobeyed his Creator, and by that disobedience is now a delinquent, who has so debased and infected his original nature with evil, that it is requisite, whilst he lives in this world in a state of probation, that he should suffer a degree of punishment, mortification, and discipline, as salutary medicines, absolutely necessary to purify his character, and to qualify it with that holiness, without which, the Scriptures assure us, no man shall see God, or enjoy the happiness of heaven. And it is incumbent on us to consider whether this conduct, which by his disobedience man has
forced on God to observe, is not as great a proof of his goodness, in many instances, (especially towards men of proud, unjust, and passionate tempers,) as his blessings of health and prosperity ; more particularly as we have every reason to be of opinion, that the aim and intention of God with respect to man has a much stronger and more direct reference to his enjoyment of eternal than temporal happiness; and we have equal reason to believe from man's present nature and acquired depravity, that what we call misfortune and adversity has in truth and reality a very strong tendency to invite and awaken in the mind serious and solemn thoughts, to wean and detach it from sensual pleasures and pursuits, and to subdue pride and those irregular passions, which, till they are subdued, disqualify its attainment of that holiness and leavenly disposition of soul, which it is as agreeable to the reason of every man who entertains just ideas of the purity and holiness of God, as it is to the doctrine of Scripture, that each person must possess : before he can be admitted into the presence of the Deity.
I must therefore beg of the reader, whilst he peruses this treatise, that he will con