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in infinite goodness, wisdoin, and power, ever have been so, and ever must be so, without one single exception to the contrary, throughout all ages and generations. Our gracious Creator has likewise consulted our gratification, in giving us the innocent pleasures which arise from conversation, and the fine arts; the superior ones which flow from piety, benevolence, and the pursuit of knowledge ; and those inferior ones, which we are permitted to experience daily; in short, of all our senses, as far as is consistent with temperance, moderation, and innocence. If we do right, God gives us the cheerful, happy feeling, arising from the testimony of a good conscience; the result of which is, his peace and favour in this life, and the joyful expectation that, through his goodness and the merits of our Saviour, we shall partake of everlasting happiness in a world to come. Thus if we faithfully endeavour to serve God, and to rule our will and affections by his will and word, the marks and instances of his kindness and goodness are constant, perpetual, and eternal: whilst if we offend him, deeply and grossly offend him, in judgment he is ever so gracious as to remember mercy; and so very far is his displeasure from being
constant, perpetual, or eternal, that we can disarm it when we please, by humbling ourselves before him, relinquishing our sinful conduct, and, in the sincerity and integrity of our heart, imploring his forgiveness, through the merits of his blessed Son. Is not the perpetual reward thus given to obedience, and the quick forgiveness of disobedience, a sure and evident proof of his being the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness?
We are much struck in profane history by reading that Alexander the Great drank off, in the presence of his physician, the draught that he was informed was poisoned by this physician; by Augustus Cæsar's going alone and unarmed into the camp of Lepidus : and by the Emperor Adrian's inviting himself to sup with the man that he was informed intended to assassinate him. This noble confidence, which we so much admire, we ought to feel in our hearts towards God. We should ever entirely believe, that his intellectual system, with respect to the human species, is such, that he will never forsake, overlook, or neglect either the temporal or eternal happiness of any man, who sincerely strives to love, honour, and obey him.
In truth, if we do not trust in his promises, and believe in what God has commanded us to believe, and for that belief has given us all proper evidence, the evidence of our reason, conscience, and the express assurance of his own holy word, we erect ourselves into judgment against God, and, by such perverseness of mind, we are guilty of the very sin of our first parents, by making our own will, and not the will of God, the measure and criterion of good and evil.
In his treatise on Divine Providence, Dr. Sherlock observes, that “ to contemplate and " adore that divine wisdom, power, and good
ness of God, which encompasses the whole “ creation, and which dispenses his favours « with a liberal hand, is a more transporting
pleasure, than all the enjoyments the world
can give us. Here,” he observes, “is a “ noble field, in which to exercise love, joy, " and admiration, the most noble, the most
delightful passions of the soul, and which 5 are as far above the pleasures of sense, as " a man excels a brute; this makes us feel s ourselves happy not only in what we have “ at present, but to rejoice, whilst we adhere “ to God, in the prospect of a secure and permanent felicity. Thus a soul, which
“ has just and noble ideas of God, is en
tirely attached to him, fully relies on him, « desires nothing so ardently as always to “ obey and be resigned to his will, is ra“ vished with the praises of God, and pos“ sessed with a lively sense of his goodness,
can fear no evil, is out of the reach of soli“ citous cares, is contented in every condi“ tion, as allotted by God, nay, is patient “ under sufferings themselves, which he be“ lieves to be the corrections or discipline of
kind father: he considers how much good he receives from God, and how very “ far it exceeds all the evils he suffers; and " therefore that he has reason to bless God “ as Job did, · Shall we receive good from 6 the hand of the Lord, and shall we not “ receive evil?' especially when the good we 6 receive gives us just reason to suppose
evils we suffer to be for our good.” The goodness of God is greatly shewn in annexing pleasure to the discharge of our duty. The two greatest duties of man are worshipping God in spirit and truth, and in making happy the human heart: certainly there is no pleasure on earth so exquisite, so sublime, or so pure, as the practical exercise of these two duties.
The good will of the Trinity to mankind appears in the Father's so loving the world, as to have given his only-begotten Son, that mankind should not perish, but have everlasting life; in the Son's having offered himself as a sacrifice and oblation for the sins of the whole world ; and in the Holy Ghost's sanctifying us, and inclining our hearts to the acquisition of that holiness, without which no man can see God.
It is a great deal too presumptuous in any man to assert there ever was any imperfection in the intellectual system of God to- ; wards the human race, because God is under no obligation to impart knowledge to man at any period in a greater degree than he pleases. But there can be no impropriety or presumption, I apprehend, in asserting, that the intellectual system of God and his goodness towards man never appeared in all its lustre to the world till the promulgation of the Jewish and Christian dispensations, whose doctrines were necessary to assure the human mind of the absolute certainty of a future state, and to inform it of such a career of conduct as is agreeable to the will of God; especially as prior to this promulgation man appears to have been in some respects more