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hath assured us, that, this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruptible shall put on incorruption. He hath declared, that, when he shall appear in the glory of his Father and his holy angels, his voice shall be heard throughout the regions of death ; at the sound of the trumpet, the tyrant shall shrink from his throne and abdicate his dominion, the subjects of his power shall be released from their bondage, and those who are in their graves shall come forth.
These are some of the most important of those religious truths, of which the knowledge has been improved, enlarged, or communicated by Jesus Christ. From this rude and imperfect sketch of them, we cannot consider the conduct of Pilate, upon this occasion, without the greatest wonder and astonishment. Jesus Christ, in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, stands before him, ready to explain unto him, the newest, the most wonderful, the most sublime and the most interesting truths which ever engaged the attention of the world; and he contents himself with asking a general question in a careless and insulting manner, and without waiting for an answer, goes out! Let not us imitate his example: but let us search the scriptures wherein those truths are contained ; let us study, seriously and diligently, to acquire that knowledge which maketh wise unto salvation. Great is the light which is come into the world: If we love darkness rather than light, it must be because our deeds are evil.
The goodness of God, as displayed in his works,
not impaired by the existence of natural and moral evil.
1 John, CHAP. 4, Ver. 8.
« God is love."
WHEN we look abroad through nature, and behold the sun, the moon, and the stars walking in their brightness, when we contemplate this earth, and consider the order, harmony, beauty, and grandeur which every
prevail, where is the man whose thoughts do not, involuntarily, ascend to the great first cause of all, who spoke, and it was done, who commanded, and it stood fast! God has not left himself without a witness; his works speak in an universal language, intelligible to every nation, and heard throughout every land. In them he has displayed the perfections of his nature; and, though abstract and general rea
soning may be highly useful to demonstrate the existence of a supreme being, yet, it is, only, in his works that we can trace the features of his mind, and acquire that knowledge of his character which is fitted to inspire us with sentiments of piety and devotion. In them he is ever present, ever felt, and ever active in diffusing love, and joy, and happiness.
When we examine the works of God, and endeavour thence to deduce the character of their Authour, we meet with so many marks of goodness, that they, directly, lead us to infer, that, he is a being of the most unbounded love and benevolence; whose great delight is in the happiness of his creation. He is, in the language of the Apostle, love or goodness itself. This divine perfection constitutes, as it were, the essence of his nature, or is essential to his existence. It is this perfection which softens the awful grandeur of his character, and inspires his offspring with confidence and joy.
It is my design, at present, to collect and lay before
you some proofs of that goodness and love which shine, so unconfined, throughout all God's works; secondly, to consider those objections to the divine goodness which arise from the existence of natural and moral evil in the world—and, having done so, to point out, thirdly, the moral influence of such speculations.
The works of God form two great divisions, those of nature and those of grace. Let us take a short survey of each, and distinguish those emanations of goodness which flow from the fountain of the divine benevolence.
The works of nature comprehend those of creation, and of providence. The former lead our thoughts to the original constitution of things, the latter to the continual preservation of that constitution in its order and beauty.
When we examine the constitution of nature, we plainly perceive the happiness of his creatures to have been the great object of their Maker. To man he has given powers which make him capable of the most exquisite enjoyment. Upon every other creature, he has bestowed faculties suitable to its condition. Every thing which lives and moves, is fitted to feel the pleasure allotted to its sphere, and to exult with joy in the beneficence of its Creator. Not only is the goodness of God displayed in the frame of every animal, and in