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In this proposition I shall endeavour to shew the goodness of God to the human species, by an induction of particulars, and an exemplification of it in several instances.
In a sermon * which the late Bishop But-, ler preached at the Temple, “ On the Love “ of God,” this pious and learned Prelate makes this just observation ; that some men, lest they should become enthusiasts, or be suspected of enthusiasm, have manifestly got into a contrary extreme, under the notion of
reasonable religion :” so very reasonable indeed, as to have nothing to do with the heart and affections, if these words signify any thing more than the faculty by which we discern speculative truth. By a perusal of the third chapter of the Revelations, these people will find this lukewarm religion to be
* This sermon is so superlatively excellent, that it ought, in my humble opinion, to be studied and admired by every Christian with the same approbation and rapture as a young painter would contemplate a fine picture of Titian or Guido. It is included in fifteen sermons, published in octavo in the year 1736. Printed for W. Botham, and J. and P. Knapton.
utterly offensive to God : and it must be so; for such a religion proceeds from the cold conclusions of mere intellect: whereas the religion God requires from man must proceed from the feelings of the heart, and be expressed by that intense and animated worship and obedience to his commands, which a grateful man gives with the utmost delight and pleasure, from the consciousness of the important blessing he has received, and from a knowledge that this worship and obedience is the only return he can make for that inexpressible goodness, which has been, is at present, and will hereafter be exerted towards him in a still more eminent degree. Indeed, of all the affections which exist in the human mind, by far the sublimest, and by far the most delightful, is that of a genuine love of God, proceeding from a proper foundation, an entire belief in his goodness, and a strong sense of having experienced it. For this love not only, as the Apostle observes, casts out fear, but it voluntarily sways the human heart, in the freest and noblest manner, to an unfeigned and sincere endeavour to adopt universally such a course of conduct, as it thinks will be most pleasing to God, and best shew.
its gratitude for the numerous and important blessings conferred on it; but then this genuine love of God must be a fixed, settled principle, for ever operating in the soul, and formed in it, (as before observed.) Wollaston remarks, important truth ever must be from silent, unbroken meditation on the reasons and causes of it, and from thoughts on it often revised and corrected, and particularly generated in it from an intimate acquaintance with Scripture. This love is very much connected with the ebullitions both of the heart and imagination : for though its foundation is certainly laid in the reason and understanding of man, yet the fruit and vir, tue of it consists in those charming, ardent, and intense sallies which arise in the heart from this foundation, and in the feeling of which consists the sovereign good of man ; that sovereign good which neither the ho. nours, riches, nor pleasures of this world ever did or can give, nor their deprivation
But before the heart of man can enjoy this exquisite bliss in any steady, uniform, vigorous manner, his reason must first be convinced there are adequate causes for the existence of this love, or it will either not exist at all, or at least have no radical
depth. It will therefore be the object of this proposition to assign reasons why it should exist, by a further induction of particulars, and by an exemplification of it in a variety of instances, tending to prove how strongly the goodness of God is and has ever been. exerted towards the human species.
Having, in the first proposition of this Treatise, endeavoured to obviate those objections which the inconsiderateness rather than the reason of man has presumed to make against the goodness of God, by shewing there is no truth in the impious charge made against that goodness in the writings of John Calvin, in his assertion, that God has unconditionally decreed a portion of mankind to eternal damnation ; likewise by proving, that, instead of one event accruing in this world equally to the righteous and unrighteous, God, in the most important article of human happiness, has decreed an everlasting distinction between them, by granting habitual cheerfulness, serenity, and peace of mind to the former, and for ever denying the enjoyment of these to the latter ; evidently and incontestibly proving hereby that he is a rewarder in this life of such as diligently seek him: and having in the same
proposition endeavoured to prove, that though there is a great deal of misery in this world appointed for man to suffer, yet, when the cause of that misery is duly considered, the existence of it cannot be justly ascribed ab origine to God, but to an absolute and wilful infringement on the part of man of a solemn, positive injunction, which his Créator, in right of creation, had a clear, and just power to enjoin him, and which he was created with full capacity to have obeyed: and since all rational government between God and his moral intellectual agents must proceed on the principle or discipline of reward and punishment, and man having offended, therefore some punishment must be inflicted in consequence of his offence: the existence therefore of such misery or punishment, as has been thus caused by his disobedience, and by the abuse of his free will and free agency, in making his own will, and not the will of God, his measure of good and evil, is, in truth and reality, no more an imputation on the goodness of God, than the passing sentence of punishment on any criminal, who has knowingly and wilfully disobeyed the laws of his country, is an imputation on the merciful nature of the