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ever be saved. But this did not alter the nature of his sin, nor diminish, in his own view, his just desert of endless perdition. Joseph's brethren did a great deal of good, by selling him to the Egyptians. But this did not alter the nature of their malevolence, or diminish their criminality, in their own view, or in the view of God. If sinners do prophecy, work miracles, preach the gospel, and do ever so many things, which promote the glory of God and the good of others, still the selfishness of their conduct remains the same, and deserves the same punishment, that it would have deserved, if no good had followed from it. Accordingly, Christ informs sinners, that their plea of having done good in the world, will be of no avail to prevent their final condemnation to eternal punishment, at the last day. This is a sentiment which sinners are very loth to believe, and if they do believe, they heartily oppose it. They choose to judge of their own conduct contrary to the dictates of their own conscience, and contrary to the plain declarations of scripture. But if they are ever saved, they will cordially acknowledge, that their best services deserved eternal punishment.
4. If God be a being of moral rectitude, then it is morally impossible, that he should ever injure any of his creatures. They are extremely apt to think, that he often injures them, both by withholding good, and inflicting evil. But he never withholds good from any creature, only when his moral rectitude requires him to do it. He is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works He feels perfectly benevolent towards all his enemies, and does them all the good, that he can do them consistently with his immutable rectitude. He causes his sun to rise and his rain to
. fall upon them, and gives them as large a portion of the good things of life, as he can consistently. So that he never can injure them, by withholding any good thing from them, which his perfect rectitude permits him to bestow. Nor can he injure them, by inflicting more pain or misery upon them, than they justly deserve.
Though millions of mankind are every day suffering extreme pains and calamities ; yet not one of them has any just ground to complain, or even to think hard of God, on account of the evils he suffers, and though many myriads of the spirits in prison, are constantly suffering the weight of God's wrath; yet they have no just ground to complain, or even to think hard of God. A proper sense of the moral rectitude of God, in the government and disposal of his creatures, and a cordial reconciliation to it would silence every murmur and complaint in the minds and mouths of this rebellious world. And it is nothing but a firm belief of the moral rectitude of God, and a cordial approbation of it, that does now, and always will prevent all murmurs and complaints in heaven, in the view of the damned. Though the effects and consequences of his immutable moral rectitude, are unspeakably dreadful; yet the moral rectitude from which they flow, is supremely amiable, and deserves the approbation and praise of all holy beings, and will induce them to sing alleluia, in the view of it to all eternity. They will rejoice, that the righteous Lord has loved, and done righteous
5. If God be a being of moral rectitude ; then all the objections which have been made or can be made against his conduct are altogether groundless. For he has always acted agreeably to the moral rectitude of his nature. If it be said, that it was wrong for God to determine to save some, and not all mankind, before the foundation of the world ; there is no just foundation for the objection. If indeed he had determined to punish a part of mankind, who were innocent ; this would have been a solid ground of objection. But he did not determine to do this ; he only determined to punish a part, and not all who were guilty. And who can say, that there is any injustice in such a determination ?
If it be said, that God does not make a proper distinction between good and bad men in this world; the objection is groundless, because he treats them all bet. ter than any of them deserve.
If it be said, that it is wrong for God to punish men for doing that, which he enables them by his universal influence over their minds to do; the objection is groundless, because he does not punish them if they are not guilty ; but if they are guilty, then they deserve
; to be punished, and he does right in punishing them. They know, that they act freely under his influence, and consequently when they do wrong, it is because they choose to do wrong, and such a sinful choice, deserves to be condemned and punished, they themselves being judges. Sinners often condemn themselves as Judas did, and Joseph's brethren did, for doing that which God enabled and disposed them to do to promote his own glory. Since God always acts agreeably to the moral and immutable rectitude of his nature, he always acts right, and never gives the least ground of just complaint, in any part of his conduct towards his rebellious and murinuring creatures.
6. Since God is a being of perfect moral rectitude, all his works will eventually praise him. They will deserve and receive the approbation and praise of all his holy, creatures. They will discover not only the wisdom and goodness of the divine character displayed in them, but the perfect rectitude of the divine conduct. Without the discovery of God's moral rectitude, there could be no just foundation to praise him for any or all his works. This is the reason, why the great works of Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, and the Cæsars, will eventually lose all their praise. They never had, nor displayed any moral rectitude in all they did, and consequently all they did will finally redound to their everlasting reproach, and self condemnation. But the works of God will shine brighter and brighter to all eternity, and afford new arguments of gratitude and praise to all the hosts of heaven.
7. If God be a being of moral rectitude; then the weight of his wrath will be insupportable to the finally miserable. They will know, that he does not punish them from malice, revenge or malevolencey
but from true, pure, disinterested benevolence and justice. This will add an emphasis to their punishment, which they cannot support. They must sink under it, though they bid defiance to it before it comes. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a holy God. Unspeakably more fearful than if he were not holy. No selfish creature, perhaps, would punish his worst enemies for ever. Satan would not. His malice may be satiated ; but moral rectitude can
; never be satisfied, without giving sinners a just recompense of reward. 8. If God be a being of moral rectitude ; then it is
; the immediate and important duty of sinners to become reconciled to him. He has never done them any injury, but has always done them good. They have never had any reason to hate and oppose him. But they have always had good reasons to love and serve him. And they must become reconciled to him, or he will be obliged by the rectitude of his nature to punish them for ever. He now invites them to be reconciled; he now commands them to be reconciled ; and he now threatens to destroy them, if they finally refuse to be reconciled to him upon his own gracious terms.
Finally, if God be a being of moral rectitude, then all his cordial friends are safe. They are the righteous, whom he will not destroy with the wicked. He has promised them eternal life, and his faithfulness cannot fail. They are safe amidst all the evils and calamities which fall upon the wicked world in this life. Abraham was safe, while he stood a solemn spectator of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Saints are safe, while thousands fall on their right hand and on their left, and sink down in endless darkness and despair. And though they may suffer many fiery trials in their way to heaven, as Abraham did, yet they will soon come out of great tribulations, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of glory. AMEN.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
PSALM cxix. 68.
Thou art good and doest good David was early and intimately acquainted with God. From his youth he delighted to contemplate upon the works and ways of God, and to trace all secondary causes to the first and supreme cause. While he watched his flocks by night, and surveyed the shining orbs above, his pious heart led him to exclaim in the language of joy and praise, “ The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth his handy work." He had an eye to see God in the works of providence as well as in the works of creation. And the longer he observed the divine conduct towards himself and towards the rest of mankind, the more he was convinced of the goodness of God. He was able to say, from his own experience and observation, in his nearest approach to God, “ Thou art good, and doest good.” The plain import of these words is,
That God's goodness moves him to do good. I shall,
1. The first thing is, to describe the goodness of God.
Goodness is the same in God as in man. Ir man it comprizes every amiable, moral quality of the heart, and signifies the same as general benevolence, which is the essence of every virtuous or holy affection. There are benevolent and selfish affections ; goodness consists in benevolent affections, and badness in selfish