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God's

way and work? Does it not intend the perfection of an all-suf. ficient God? And can it imply any thing less than his having done his best ? Such an interpretation of these texts is confirmed by this pas. sage: "O Lord, how manifold are thy works ; in wisdom hast thou made them all.” Ps. civ. 24. Here there is a confidence expressed that though God had many and various works, yet he had made them all in wisdom. Could they all have been made in wisdom, had not every thing been adapted to answer the best end? And could the best end be answered, short of their effecting the most pefect display of the divine glory? When Solomon says concerning the work of God, that “ nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it," does he not manifestly teach us, that it is absolutely perfect, so that no place can be found in all that he has done, or ever will do, where it could be improved either by adding to it or subtracting from it?

It is calculated to confirm our opinion, that we have not mistaken the import of the passages, which have been adduced to prove the absolute perfection of God's work, when we find there are other passages, which seem expressly designed to relieve our minds concerning the most unpromising events, by informing us that even these are made to subserve a good end. The stormy wind, it is said, fulfils his word, and the wrath of man praises him. Ps. cxlviii. 8 ; lxxvi. 10. These events, in the natural and moral world, seem to be arrayed in opposition to the perfection of God's providence; and yet we are here taught that they will be made to subserve it. The scriptures lead us to con. template God, as intending to accomplish good by those actions of men, to which they are prompted by base motives. “ Ye thought evil against me,” said Joseph to his brethren, “ but God meant it for good.” Where the accomplishment of any mischievous device, which wicked men have imagined, would actually mar the plan of divine wisdom, they are represented as being hindered in their attempts to perform it. Ps. xxi. 11. When we are assured the wrath of man shall praise God, we are made equally sure that the remainder of wrath (i. e, all which will not praise him) shall be restrained. God can have no sincere praise from his creatures, any further than it is obtained by his disclosing to them the perfections of his nature. From the passage just referred to, it would seem that the wrath of man, or human wick. edness, will give him opportunity to make that disclosure more complete; and where it can not, by the wisdom and power of the Almighty, be overruled to promote this desirable object, its existence will be effect. ually prevented. Thus we see that the same conclusion concerning the perfection of God's work, to which reason would conduct us, is clearly sanctioned by the voice of scripture.

4thly. The grand object of this display of divine glory, made by the works of creation and providence, is the promotion of holy bless. edness. Holiness is moral excellence; and blessedness, when distin. guished from “ the pleasures of sin," is that happiness in which holiness naturally results. The fruit of the Spirit is both love and joy ; the one is holiness, and the other happiness. There is no good, of which we can form a conception, that is superior to the holy blessed. ness of intelligent beings. If the universe, which the Almighty has brought into existence, is designed to embrace in it the greatest possible sum of holiness and blessedness, it is then the best created system which could have been originated. By the works of creation and providence, God does not add to the benevolence of his own mind, but he brings it into a delightful exercise ; for he is blessed in so doing. He is as really blessed in acting wisely and benevolently, as in possessing these amiable perfections. When he had accomplished the stupendous and glorious work of creation," he was refreshed : " and the psalmist tells us, “ the Lord shall rejoice in his works." He is truly happy in doing what he does. Among all the conceivable systems of creation and providence, he saw no other which would afford such pleasure to his holy mind, as the one he chose. And this · circumstance furnishes one important reason for calling it the best.

To say, that all sin and suffering are incompatible with the best system, would be to argue against known facts. We know that sin and misery exist; and we have seen them overruled for good. I will here advert to a single instance : the sin of those who crucified the Lord of glory, and the sufferings he underwent, have been productive of immense good; but neither his suffering, nor their sin, was considered as being in the least degree desirable, except in connection with the influence they were designed to exert in promoting the holy blessedness of the moral system, which is in itself a real good, and dear to the heart of God. Since both moral and natural evil have already been made to further the cause against which they were arrayed, their continuance may consist with the general interests of Jehovah's government. But were these evils to spread through his whole empire, none of his subjects would retain such a character as to derive any benefit from them. We may therefore be assured that so long as there is a creation, there will be holy and happy creatures. Were it to be otherwise, the end for which the worlds were made would be completely lost.

If holiness of character, and consequent blessedness, are of such primary importance to the perfection of God's works of creation and providence, we may safely conclude that these works are in the best manner adapted to promote this great and desirable object. That creatures of a holy character exist among his works, is no contingent event. He gave them their superior faculties on purpose to render them capable of possessing a holy character; and has filled the creation with lessons of moral instruction, calculated to form and sustain such a character. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Rom. i. 20. The world of nature furnishes means not only for the expansion of our minds, but also for the sanctification of our hearts, and to lead us up to nature's God.

The events of providence show the finger of God, and are well adapted to the promotion of piety, benevolence, and uprightness among creatures who are endowed with reason and conscience. When Solomon was speaking of God's work and the perfection of it, he says: "God doth it that men should fear before him.” By what is passing before our eyes God makes himself known, and that with a view to attract our attention and engage us in his service. Prosperity and

adversity have each a place in his scheme of providence, and they are set one over against the other, both of them being designed to contribute their influence in improving our character. The goodness of God leadeth us to repentance; and the rod of affliction bids the wanderer to turn to him that smiteth him. Were we docile as we ought to be, we should find on every page of the book of providence that instruction which is calculated to make us wise unto salvation.

It is a totally wrong view which is entertained by some, that in the kingdom of providence God manages every thing by such immutable laws, as to render it impossible for him to turn aside, either to the right hand or to the left, to adapt events to the existing state of the moral world. It is true there are some things in the natural world that move on in an undeviating order ; such as the revolution of day and night, summer and winter. To interrupt this order, would be nothing less than a miracle ; and would ordinarily be no advantage to the moral system.

But the word of God represents him, as giving or withholding rain, sending health or sickness, war or peace, plenty or famine, at his pleasure. Job xxxiii. 19—30 ; xxxiv. 29 ; xxxvii. 1113. Ez. xiv. 21. Jer. xviii. 7,8. Were it not so, how unmeaning would be such a menance as that, Jer. v. 29, “ Shall I not visit for these things ? saith the Lord ; shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Where can he punish the nation, as such, except in the present world? Since holiness of character is man's chief excellency, being altogether more important than those things which minister to the health of the body, or those which relate to the cultivation of the intellect, is not the sentiment an unnatural one, that God never so shapes his providences as to manifest his approbation of holy, or his abhorrence of unholy characters ? As the present is a state of probation, and not of retribution, there is a sense in which “ all things come alike to all.” Prosperous and adverse events happen both to the righteous and the wicked. But even now there are some discriminations made between the righteous and the wicked, in the book of providence as well as in the scriptures. Righteousness always exalts a nation. It often exalts a family, and an individual. Prov. xiv. 34; iii. 33 ; xii. 2.

5thly. The display of divine glory, which is made in the works of creation and providence, is designed to be durable, to last forever. To suppose it to be a mere temporary thing, would be derogatory to the character of the Most High. Has he made himself known, to be forgotten, and remembered no more? Does not the suggestion impute to the great Eternal the fickleness of a child ? What motive could prompt him to begin the display of his glory, which will not induce him to continue it? Has he gratified himself by what he has done ; and will not his benevolent heart be gratified by the prosecution of this great work? Or has the display, which he has begun to make, given pure joy to created minds; and does not their enjoyment, and even their existence, depend on its continuance? The Lord has made nothing in vain; nor has he made the least thing to answer a mere temporary purpose. “I know,” said one under the guidance of the Spirit of truth, “ that whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever.” Ecc. iii. 14. He could not mean, however, that every plant, tree, and animal,

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which God has made, will remain forever : for we are assured that even the earth and the works thereof shall be burnt up. But that exhibition of the Creator's glory, which is made by the existence of the earth, and by every animal and insect, by every tree and plant, will remain forever. This is clearly the sentiment which is expressed by David, when he says, “ The glory of the Lord shall endure forever ; the Lord shall rejoice in his works.” Ps. civ. 31. By the glory of the Lord, he meant his manifested glory, the glory displayed in his works, which had been the theme of his contemplation through the whole psalm. It is as certain that the display of God's perfections will remain, as that he will remain perfect ; and as certain that he will shine forth in the emanations of his glory, as that he will continue to have light in himself.

The scaffolding, which the builder erects to aid him in accomplish. ing his work, is taken down as soon as the edifice is finished ; and yet the benefit gained by it is as permanent as the edifice itself. So it may be with some parts of the creation : like the scaffolding, they may be entirely laid aside, and yet their use remain forever. The earth is to be burnt up; and yet the object to be answered by its being brought into existence, will be as lasting as eternity. It is the birth-place, both natural and spiritual, to millions of human beings, who will shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father forever and ever.

That mere matter should remain forever, is certainly of no impor. tance on its own account ; for it knows nothing and enjoys nothing. As to the brutal race, their chief importance consists in their subser. viency to our convenience and comfort; and since they would be of use to us in the world of spirits, their existence ends with the present state. “The spirit of the beast goeth downward to the earth.” Ecc. üi. 21.

“ The beasts perish.” Ps. xlix. 20. But rational creatures, who are the subjects of moral government, are all of them to endure forever. If these were not to be kept in existence, the manifestations of divine glory could not, in any proper sense, be said to endure : for what could be meant by a continuance of manifestations when no creatures remained to whom they could be made ;' at least, none capa. ble of receiving instruction by them?

I have introduced but a small part of the proof which the Bible furnishes in support of the truth embraced in this Article. With propriety may it be said, that the whole of the sacred volume supports this truth.

By this it is not meant, that every text bears direct testimony in its favor; but who will pretend that there is a single text on the other side ; that there is a single text that tells us that creation and providence are not the work of Jehovah ; or that they were never intended to make a display of his glorious perfections ; even the best and most enduring display which could be made? Texts enough can be found which will show, that creatures have done wrong ; but has not God done right when they have done wrong? Has not his wisdom been displayed even in their folly? And is it not manifest that in those very things, wherein they thought evil, he meant it for good ; and that from those actions of theirs, which were calculated to dishonor him, he has gained more abundant honor ?

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How sweet is the harmony of melodious sounds! Nor is the harmony, which is perceived to exist between the precious truths of the Bible, any less grateful. The Article we have now been contemplating has an internal harmony, or self-consistency. It presents to our view two stupendous works, each of which requires unlimited powers for its performance; and both these works it assigns to the same almighty Agent. It represents the Creator of the world as being also the Provider for it. The two works are so connected, that the creation is brought into being, to be used and managed by the Creator, to accomplish the designs of his wisdom and benevolence. If our Article had represented God as infinitely wise in planning a creation, but as less wise in his providential arrangements; or as almighty in originating the world, and less powerful in controlling it, there had been a want of internal harmony. But this has not been the representation. On the contrary, both these works have been shown to exhibit the glory of a Being infinitely great and good.

But it will be more particularly my object, under the harmonizing department of the Article, to point out its agreement with those which precede it, and which have already been seen to derive their support from the word of God. We have now before us two Articles of the doctrinal series. Let us compare them together, and we can not fail to discover their agreement. The first of these contains the foundation of all other truth, the existence of God, that is, of a being possessed of unlimited attributes, both natural and moral. In a being possessed of such attributes, we discover an adequate cause for the origin of a dependent universe, and for its preservation and management. That such an all-sufficient being would have a creation, might be argued a priori, i. e. from the very nature of things. Is it not natural to conclude that he would employ his wisdom in some wise contrivance, and his power in carrying it into execution ? Can we conceive how a being possessed of such infinite capabilities, as the scriptures attribute to Jehovah, should be perfectly blessed without exerting them! Must it not be as essential to his blessedness to act wisely and benev. olently, as it is to be so ? This does not imply that the Creator is dependent on his creatures for his happiness, although it is promoted by their existence ; since their existence, with all its consequences, depended entirely on the good pleasure of his will. Nor does this suppose his happiness to be greater after the world was made than before ; since he that inhabits eternity is as fully capable of enjoying the future as the present.

But if the certainty of the future existence of the world could not have been inferred from the perfections of God, its actual existence must irresistibly carry us back to him as its first cause. The agreement therefore between the two Articles before us is very manifest. That Being who has been from everlasting must be the Creator of the world; and if there is no other such in existence, besides Jehovah, then the work of creation must be attributed to him.

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