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gression, and sin.”
“ It is of his mercies we are not consumed, and because his compassions fail not.” When we are in health, it is by his goodness that our constitution is preserved unimpaired, for he daily loadeth us with his benefits. When we suffer affliction," he ever chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness ;" that by pain and sickness he may withdraw our hearts from the world and its pleasures, to himself and the things above.-In whatever condition we are placed, whether in prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, the goodness of God is continually bestowed, and always exceeds our deserts. At all times, and in every circumstance of life, however deplorable, we may partake of the blessings of the gospel, which are the one thing needful. “ Out of the divine fulness we may always receive, and grace for
Another attribute inherent in the divine nature is holi. ness, whereby God possesses perfect rectitude, and a freedom from every kind of moral turpitude. By the perfection of his nature he approves and does whatever is right and proper, and abhors every the least appearance of evil in any of his creatures. He is of purer eyes than to behold wickedness, and hateth all the workers of iniquity, He hath given evidence of his holiness, by his works and dispensations. As he is infinite in rectitude himself, he hath imparted a small portion of this quality to his intelligent creatures. He created the angels in a state of holiness and happiness, though some have fallen from their integrity; he made man at first upright, though we have now sought out many sinful inventions : he hath given us a law for directing our conduct, which is holy, just, and good; prescribing every duty which may promote the perfection of our nature, and restore in us that purity which was our original condition: he hath forbidden every action which is a violation of the law of uprightness, either in thought, word, or deed: he hath testified his displeasure at every transgression, by threatening unutterable punishment against those who persevere in sin without
repent and reform, by appointing our Saviour to expiate the transgression of the penitent, and take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And although we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, yet “we are called to be saints, to be holy as God is holy, and required to be zealous in maintaining good works." Since holiness is such an indispensable qualification in the character of every rational being, we may without doubt conclude, that God who enjoins it, is ħoly, pure, and perfect.“ He is just and righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works;” and nothing but holiness becometh him, and all his saints for evermore.
Connected with the holiness of God, is his equity or justice. This attribute is that eternal rectitude of his nature, whereby he orders and disposes all things according to the rules which his infinite wisdom has prescribed, and governs all mankind in the most impartial manner, by rewarding or punishing them according to their works. God hath given us laws for the regulation of our conduct, and promised rewards as an inducement to excite our obedience, and threatened punishment to deter us from transgression. As these laws are holy, just, and good, it is our interest no less than our duty to aim at conformity to them in our hearts and lives. We are even ready to acknowledge our obligations to obey the divine laws, and cannot help condemning ourselves for their violation. If then our own hearts approve of virtue, and disapprove of vice, we may be assured that much more will God, who is
greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things. And as we feel the good effects of regulating our actions by the precepts of religion, with the pernicious consequences of renouncing its restraints, and yielding to the solicitations of our lusts and passions, even in the present world ; we are led to anticipate the same results from our behaviour in the world to come.
And if God hath discovered to us the issue of our behaviour, in that future state which awaits us,—that he will confer happiness and glory on the righteous, and inflict misery and punishment on the wicked; we cannot but acknowledge the justice of such procedure, if we render ourselves capable of attaining the
former by lives of holiness, or obnoxious to the latter by habits of unrighteousness. For, since God hath forewarned us what will ensue from the tenor of our conduct in the present state, it is just and equitable that he should reward or punish us according to our works. This we regard as right and expedient even in human governments, much more must this be the case under the divine administration, which is conducted with the most perfect rectitude.
That God will render to every one an exact retribution according to the nature of his actions, either in this world or the next, both reason and scripture teach us to believe. For as he knows exactly the characters of his creatures, he cannot be deceived in judging and determining their merit or demerit, and the degree of reward or punishment which each deserves: as he cannot be biassed by any improper motive to shew favour to one or severity to another, he must therefore decide with the most consummate impartiality; as he cannot be overawed by any power to pervert judgment, he is left to the free determination of his own convictions; and as he is incapable of the least de gree of injustice, he must ever do what is right and equal. We shall therefore all receive, either here or hereafter, an exact retribution according to the deeds done in the body, whether these have been good or evil, Accordingly scripture in various passages informs us of the rectitude of the divine procedure." That be far from thee, that the righteous should be as the wicked : shall not the judge of all the earth do right?” “ Righteous art thou, O Lord! and upright are thy judgments.” “ For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every one to receive according to his doings.". “ He will render to every one according to his works, to those who by patient continuance in well-doing, glory, honor, and immortality, even eternal life; but to those who are contentious and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” “ He hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that Alan whom he hath ordained, whereof he hath given assu
rance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead."
The last of the divine attributes which we shall here consider, is that of faithfulness or truth. The faithfulness of God, is that eternal rectitude of his nature, by which he indicates the utmost sincerity in all his declarations, and the most exact fidelity in all his promises or threatenings, if we render ourselves proper objects of them, by our good or bad behaviour. By this quality of the divine nature, we are led to infer that every subject of revelation may be depended on as true and genuine. As God knows every thing without the possibility of error, therefore whatever he declares must be consonant to the real state of the matter represented. Whatever doctrines he may discover to us, must be true in themselves, although we may not perhaps be capable of understanding their meaning. Whatever duties he requires must be founded in equity, although we may not perceive the reasons which render their observance necessary.—But though we shortsighted mortals may be at a loss to judge of the mysterious nature of many truths contained in the scriptures, yet these are all plain and obvious to the understanding of the Almighty; for all his words are true and faithful. Whatever also God hath promised will in due time be accomplished; for “ his covenant will he not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his lips.” There is no cause which might induce the Divine Being to falsify his word, or fail in his resolutions. He has no reason to change his purposes, since they are at first formed upon the most perfect rules of rectitude: he has no motives for adopting other measures, since he perceived the whole relations connected with the subject of his determination: nor can ever he forget to prosecute the intentions of his will, since he remembers the words of his mouth to a thousand generations. Indeed he is concerned to execute the designs of his providence and his distributive dispensations, that he may carry on to its complete consummation the system of moral government which he has established among his rational creatures. Therefore we may expect sooner or later that recompense of reward which God hath promised to perse vering obedience, or that condign punishment which he hath threatened against transgressions. For “ the Lord is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent; hath he said it, and will he not do it, hath he not spoken, and will he not make it good ?” “ Heaven and earth may pass away, but his words shall not pass away." In a future state we shall experience the inviolable fidelity of the divine declarations, that the Lord hath done what he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word, that he commanded in the days of old; there hath not failed aught of any thing which the Lord hath spoken; all is come to pass.
Having thus endeavoured to explain some of the principal attributes of the Divine Being, I shall conclude by shewing, very shortly,
II. The practical application which the subject suggests.
From the spirituality of God, we should learn to conceive a right notion of his essence, by abstracting from it all corporeal appendages, and consider it as endowed only with the qualities of an immaterial being. As he is a Spirit, we should also learn to worship him in spirit and in truth, as one who knows our thoughts, and tries our reins and our hearts, and cannot be deceived by the ap. pearance of devotion, if the reality is wanting.
From the infinity or immensity of the divine nature, we should learn to consider him as every where present, actuating, preserving, and governing the whole and every individual part of his creation. In every vicissitude either of the natural or moral world, let us reflect, that God is there, directing and arranging every event which happens. Let us also impress our minds with a deep sense of his constant presence with us wherever we are; “ that he is about our paths and about our beds, and spieth out all our ways." “ Therefore let us stand in awe and sin not," since we are constantly exposed to his observation, constantly acting in his presence.
From his eternity and immutability we should learn to fear or trust in him, according as the course of our lives is good or evil. Should we continue impenitent, he will exist