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God, but we have no reason to think, that their knowledge of his character and conduct will ever subdue their enmity, and reconcile them to his vindictive justice. But if the true knowledge of God will not have this effect in a future state, then it cannot have this effect in the present state. Indeed, it is the highest absurdity to suppose, that the clear knowledge of that being, whom sinners naturally hate, should lead them to love him. But it is easy to see, that the more selfish creatures know of the benevolence of the Deity, the more they will hate and oppose him.
8. If the glory of God consists in his goodness; then a clear view of his goodness would destroy all the false hopes of sinners, respecting their good estate. It is evident from Scripture, that sinners may think they have true love to God, and stand entitled to eternal life, while they are really in a state of total alienation from God. The Israelites entertained false hopes respecting the favor of God, when they received the law at Mount Sinai. The Scribes and Pharisees thought they stood high in the favor of God, The young man in the gospel, and Saul the persecutor, viewed themselves as really religious and friendly to God. And Christ represents many as being fatally and finally deceived, respecting their good estate. Such deception always arises from sinners having a false idea of the true character and supreme glory of God. Did they understand the true nature of his goodness, which forms his supreme glory, they would not imagine they loved him, while they were real enemies to him. They would be so far from thinking they loved him supremely, that they would sensibly feel a total opposition to his character. But when sinners have only a partial view of God's goodness they may love it, and feel strong affections of gratitude to the
greatest and best of beings. This is the case with respect to a very great part of those, who live under the light of the gospel; they have formed such an idea of divine goodness, that they really feel friendly to the divine character. And this is more particularly the case with those, who have been awakened to a sense of danger and guilt, and by some text of Scripture, or by some other circumstance, have been led to believe, that their sins are pardoned, and their persons accepted through Christ the beloved. But all these religious hopes and affections are false; and a clear view of all God's goodness, or of his goodness in all its branches, would totally destroy them. Let sinners only be convinced, that God's goodness is impartial, and leads him to hate and reject all those, who love him merely for a supposed partial affection towards them, and they would lose all their love and feel a bitter enmity against his whole character. This is demonstrated by the conduct of the Israelites, who sang God's praises at the Red Sea, but murmured, and rebelled, and died in the wilderness; and by those multitudes, who cried hosanna to Christ, but afterwards cried crucify him, and finally embrued their hands in his blood. A just view of God's goodness must necessarily destroy all those religious affections, which flow from a false view of it.
9. If the glory of God consists in his goodness; then we learn, why sinners are represented as blind to his glory. The Scripture speaks much of the moral blindness of sinners, and represents them as incapable of seeing the moral beauty of the divine character. Our Savior frequently offended the Pharisees, by calling them blind. Paul says, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them,
because they are spiritually discerned." The Apostle John says, “Me that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." Those who are entirely under the influence of a selfish heart, cannot know how an infinitely benevolent being feels. Though they may have a speculative knowledge of disinterested love, and discern an essential difference between selfishness and benevolence; yet they have no experimental knowledge of the supreme beauty and glory of the Deity. They must feel as he does, in order to have a moral view of his moral excellence
10. If God's glory essentially consists in his goodness; then those, who have seen his real glory in the least degree, will desire to see more and more of it. This appears from the nature of spiritual discoveries, which afford peculiar satisfaction to those, to whom they are made. Moses had seen the moral beauty of the divine character, and this led him to desire a more full and perfect discovery of it. “I beseech thee, shew me thy glory." David had seen the glory of God, and his partial views of it led him to desire larger and clearer views of his moral beauty. “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord." Those, who possess the least degree of grace, and have had the least view of the moral excellence of the Deity, heartily desire to see all the glory of God displayed, in all the manifestations of his goodness. They are not afraid of seeing his power, nor his wisdom, nor his sovereignty, nor his justice, nor his grace, too fully discovered, because they know that all his perfections are under the influence of that perfect benevolence, which they love. They are not afraid of looking into suturity, and sending their thoughts into the regions of light, and the regions of darkness, for they know that wherever they shall see the hand, they shall see the heart of God; and it will be impossible to discover any part of his character, or any instance of his conduct, which will not display his goodness. Blessed are the pure in heart, who love to see God. Their desires shall be completely satisfied, when they arrive at the kingdom of glory; and with this hopeful prospect they may possess their souls in patience, as David did. “As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness.”
Let all take occasion from what has been said, to inquire whether they sincerely love the glory of God. This is something very different from loving their own happiness, and loving God for promoting it. To love the glory of God, is to love all his goodness, and all the perfections of his nature, which are under the influence of it. It is to be pleased with every part of the divine character, and every instance of the divine conduct. God has displayed his goodness towards angels and men; both in a state of holiness, and in a state of sin. He has discovered his feelings towards holy and unholy creatures. He has manifested the highest complacency and delight in those, who love him; and the highest displeasure against his enemies. He has provided a heaven of holiness and happiness for the righteous, and a place of everlasting torment for the wicked. He is now forming vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath, upon whom to display all his goodness in all its branches to all eternity. Now, do you desire to see the glory of God displayed in all these ways and upon all these objects? Are you wishing for the accomplishment of all God's designs to display his glory? Can you enter into his views and feelings, in the plan of redemption, which is to unfold all his goodness? Can you desire, that this scheme of perfect benevolence should be carried into execution, whether it shall raise or sink, happify or destroy you forever? If these be your feelings, you are really friendly to God. And that goodness, which you love, will have a most friendly aspect upon your happiness. It will engage
all the attributes of the Deity in your favor; and conduct you finally to that kingdom, which was prepared for you, before the foundation of the world. But, on the other hand, if you cannot enter into the benevolent views and feelings of the Deity, nor heartily acquiesce in all the displays of his goodness, you are real enemies to God and to all righteousness. And that goodness, which you hate and oppose, will engage all his perfections against you. He cannot display all his goodness, unless he makes his wrath and power known, in your everlasting destruction. The same goodness of God, which requires him to save penitent, believing sinners, equally requires him to destroy the impenitent and unbelieving. The same goodness of God, which prompts him to raise saints to the third heavens, will equally prompt him to sink sinners to the lowest hell. Let the goodness of God, therefore, both alarm and allure sinners to exercise that godly sorrow, which worketh repent: ance unto salvation. Amen.