Obrazy na stronie
[ocr errors]



“ world not only in judgment and righte“ ousness, but likewise in lovingkindness.” What a charming, analogical corroboration is this declaration of those passages in Scripture, which affirm, that “God is not extreme 6 to mark what is amiss: that he remem“ bereth we are but dust: that he pitieth us

as a father doth his children: that though “our sins be as scarlet, they shall on our

repentance be as white as snow; though

they be red as crimson, they shall be as 66 wool: that his tender mercies are over all “ his works: that he is gracious, and that “ his mercy endureth for ever: that he is

loving unto every man: that he will be a “ rewarder of such as diligently seek him: 66 that our labour shall not be in vain in the 6 Lord: and that his mercy is over them “ that fear him throughout all generations." The above-mentioned declaration of the Almighty to the human species is the strongest internal evidence possible that he really loves the human race'; that if we endeavour to please him, we shall please him ; and that if we love, honour, and obey him, and commit our ways unto him, he will bring them to pass; and that if we delight in him, he will give us our hearts' desire; by which is

[ocr errors]

meant not the accomplishment of every unreasonable, vagrant, and silly desire which the folly of man may induce him to make, but · the donation of that peace of mind in this life which the world cannot give, and, through his goodness, and our blessed Saviour's merits, everlasting happiness in a life to come; the two things our hearts should desire.

The chief reason, I apprehend, why men in general have less confidence in the goodness of God than they ought to have, is, that in the events and occurrences of this life they do not make a due discrimination and distinction between such as we have just reason to believe proceed from the will of God, and those which evidently proceed from the -corrupt and depraved will of man. Whatever proceeds from the will of a Being of infinite wisdom, power, and goodness, must necessarily be exactly right, without a possible exception to the contrary; nor are earthquakes or volcanos any exception, for these were either necessary at the original formation of the world, or they are the consequence of the disobedience of Adam; “ Cursed is the ground for thy sake.” Under the first supposition they are unavoid

[ocr errors]

able, as being essential to the constitution of the earth; and under the second they do not originate from the will of God, but the disobedience of man. Whoever considers the goodness of God either in his creation, redemption, or preservation, considers the manner in which God openeth his hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness, giving us fruitful seasons, food and raiment, and all things necessary for our comfortable subsistence; and considers, at the same time, that man has given God no equivalent for any of these blessings, nor can shew the least pretension, or make the least claim to one of them; whoever accustoms his mind to think in this manner of the conduct of God to man, cannot possibly entertain any other opinion than that God delights in governing the world in lovingkindness; that he delights in exercising lovingkindness and mercy towards the human species : in fact, the enumeration of the abovementioned acts of God's goodness puts this matter out of all dispute; consequently the will of God, which is necessarily ever consistent, plainly is, that it is his wish not only that none should perish, and that all should come to everlasting life, but that every man should en

joy a considerable portion of happiness, who is faithful and obedient to him. And we have not the least shadow of reason to suppose


approves of any act of cruelty, ty. ranny, or injustice, exercised from man to man; for the rules he has given to man for his individual and social deportment, by reason, conscience, and his holy word, are all on the side of virtue, mercy, and piety; an obedience to which, in the judgment of all wise men in every age, establishes man's temporal happiness, as their infringement occasions his misery. Till therefore a nation is able to prove that the misery which it suffers has been owing to its obedience to the laws of God, and which no nation ever yet presumed to do, (Cicero in particular ascribing the greatness and splendor of the Roman state entirely to its piety and obedience to the gods,) the goodness of God unquestionably stands clear of all imputation, that its existing misery is chargeable on him. It is certainly declared in the prophecy of Isaiah, “ I make peace, and create evil; I “ the Lord do all these things :” but since the will of God, as to the conduct of his free agent man, is, that he should ever, in thought, word, and deed, obey, to the best

of his power, the intelligible laws of virtue and piety, can any man in his senses suppose that God, as moral Governor of the world, causes or creates evil to those who do so ? Certainly not. He created evil to Adam, because he disobeyed him; he did so to the antediluvians, when he observed there was only evil continually in their hearts ; he did so to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, for their excessive wickedness; to Dathan and Abiram, and their followers, for the same reason: to Solomon, for his ingratitude and idolatry, he created evil, in rending his kingdom (except one tribe) from his family; and to the Jews, for their idolatries and desertion of him, and especially for their crucifixion of our blessed Saviour. But when Abraham, in an exemplary manner, obeyed him, is evil inflicted ? On the contrary, God, by his angel, thus addresses him ; “ By myself have I

sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou “ hast done this thing, and hast not withheld

thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I “ will bless thee, and in multiplying I will

multiply thy seed as the stars of the hea“ ven, and as the sand which is upon the “ shore: and in thy seed shall all the na“tions of the earth be blessed; because thou


« PoprzedniaDalej »