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insufficient, or rather an insolent reason hath the audacity to oppose to it. .
III. Qur netion of the goodness of God should agree with the holiness of his designs. I mean, that it would imply a contradiction to suppose that a Being, who is supremely holy, should have a close communion of love with unholy creatures, considered as unholy and unconverted. By this principle, we exclude the dreadful consequences that weakness and wickedness have been used to infer from the doctrine under our consideration. We oppose this principle to the execrable reasoning of those libertines who say, (and alas ! how many people, who adopt this way of reasoning, mix with the saints, and pretend to be saints themselves !). Let us continue in sin that grace may abound, Rom. vi. 1. With the same principle the prophet guards the text, Like as a father pitieth his children, so doth the Lord pity,--whom? Them who establish their crimes on the mercy of God ?-God forbid ! So doth the Lord pity them that fear him. This truth is so conformable to right reason, so often repeated in the holy scriptures, and so frequently enforced in this pulpit, that none but those who · wilfully deceive themselves can mistake the matter: and for these reasons we dismiss this article.
IV. The love of God is in perfect harmony with the independence of his principles. Interest is the spring that moves, and very often the effect that destroys human friendships. It must be allowed, however, that though principles of interest may appear low and mean, yet they often deserve pity more than blame. It would be extremely difficult for a debtor, if he were oppressed by a merciless creditor, to love any person more than him, who should be both able and willing to free him from the oppresfor's iron rod. It would be strange if a starving
man were not to have a more vehement love for him who should relieve his necessities, than for any one else. While our necessities continue as pressing as they are in this valley of tears, principles of interest will occupy the most of our thoughts, and will direct the best of our friendships. Disinterested love seems to be incompatible with the state of indigent creatures.
But God forbid we should entertain similar notions of the Deity! God is supremely happy. His love to his creatures is supremely disinterested. Indeed what interest can he have in loving us ? Were this world, which hath existed but a little while, to
material and immaterial, to return to their non-entity; were God to remain alone, he would enjoy infinite happiness; in possessing himself he would possess perfect felicity. Every beast of the forest is his, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, Psal. 1. 10. sacrificial flesh affords no nourishment to him; clouds of fragrant incense com
ed with the harmony of the music that is performed in his honor; for our goodness extendeth not to him, Psal. xvi. 2. The praises of seraphims can no more augment the splendor of his glory, than the blasphemies of the damned can diminish it.
V. The love of God to his creatures agrees with the immutability of his will. There is but little reality, and less permanency, in human love. The names of steadiness, constancy, and equanimity, an indeliable image, an everlasting impression, a perpetual idea, an endless attachment, an eternal friendship, all these are only names, only empty, unmean
ments, which the most faithful friends, entertain for each other.
I am not describing now those light and inconstant people only, who are as ready to break as to form connections: I am describing people of another, and a better, disposition of mind. We are ignorant of ourselves when we imagine ourselves capable of a permanent attachment, and when we think we shall always love, because we are assured we love at present, we are the first to deceive ourselves. This man who only at certain times discovers sentiments of tenderness, is not a hypocrite. That woman was very sincere, when weeping over a dying husband, and in some sense, more agonizing than he, she just gathered strength enough to close the eyes of her departing all, and protested she should never enjoy another moment except that, in which the great disposer of all events should appoint her to follow her beloved partner to the grave: the woman expressed what she then felt, and what, she thought, she should always feel : but however, time brought forward new objects, and other scenes have calmed the violence of her passions, and have placed her in that state of tranquillity and submission to the will of God, which all the maxims of religion had not the power of producing.
People are not always to be blamed for the slightsomeness of their friendships. Our levity constitutes in some sort, our felicity, and our imperfections apologize for our inconstancy. Life would be one continued agony, if our friendships were always in the same degree of activity. Rachel would be infinitely miserable, if she were always thinking about her children, and would not be comforted because they are not, Matt. ii. 18. I only mean to observe, that a character of levity is essential to the friendships of finite human minds. - God alone is capable, (O thou adorable Being, who only canst have such noble sentiments, enable us to express them !) God only, my dear brethren, is capable of a love, real, solid, and permanent; free from diversion and without interruption. What delineations, what representations, what purposes, revolved in the infinite mind, before that appointed period, in which he had determined to express himself in exterior words, and to give existence to a multitude of creatures? Yet throughout all these countless ages, through all these unfathomable abysses of eternity (I know no literal terms to express eternity) yet through all eternity he thought of us, my dear brethren; then he formed the plan of our salvation: then he appointed the victim that procured it; then he laid up that felicity and glory which we hope forever to enjoy! What care and application are required to inspect, to order and arrange the numberless beings of the whole earth? The whole earth, did I say?--the whole earth is only an inconsiderable point: but what care and application are required to inspect, to order and arrange the worlds we discover revolving over our heads, with other worlds, which we have a right to suppose, in the immensity of space? Yet this application doth not prevent his attention to thee, believer ; thy health he guards, thy family be guides, thy fortune and thy salvation he governs, as if each were the only object of his care, and as if thou wert alone in the universe! What an immensity of happiness must fill the intelligence of God, who is himself the source of felicity; of a God, who is surrounded with angels, archangels, and happy spirits, serving him day and night, con: tinually attending round his throne, and waiting to fly at a signal of his will; of a God, who directetla and disposeth all; of a God who existing with the woru, and the holy Spirit, enjoys in that union inconceivable and ineffable delights; and yet the enjoyment of his own happiness doth not at all divert his attention from the happiness of his creatures ! If a Saul persecute his church, he is persecuted with it, Acts ix. 4. and when profane hands touch his children, they touch the apple of his eye, Zech. ii. 8. In all our afflictions he is afflicted, Isa. Ixin. 9. Lo! he is with us always, even unto the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20. · VI. The goodness of God must harınonize with the efficiency of his will. The great defect of human friendships is their inefficacy. The unavailing emotions that men feel for each other, their ineffectual wishes for each others happiness, we denominate friendship. But suppose an union of every heart in thy favor, suppose, though without a precedent, thyself the object of the love of all mankind, what benefit couldst thou derive from all this love in some circumstances of thy life? What relief from real evils ? Ah! my friends, ye are eager to assist me in my dying agonies; Alas! my family, you are distressed to death to see me die ; you love me, and I know the tears that bathe you flow from your hearts; yes, you love me, but I must die!
None but the infinite God, my dear brethren, none but the adorable God hath an efficient love. If God be for us, who can be against us, Rom. viii. 31. Let the elements be let loose against my person and my life; let mankind, who differ about every thing else, agree to torment me, let there be a general conspiracy of nature and society against my happiness, what doth all this signify to me? If God love me, I shall be happy: with God to love and to beatify, is one and the same act of his self-efficient will. - VII. But, finally, the goodness of God must