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in the boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed of it.” Our veneration of the Supreme Being should not proceed from any partial, or limited discovery of his benefits ; but from a consideration of the whole operation of his hand in the vast, illimitable circle of exist
It is by the principles and measures he pursues, upon this most extended plan, that he lays a foundation for the praise he receives from men and angels. By these means he substantiates and enforces his claims to the confidence of creatures.
His being God over all, and Lord of heaven and earth, makes it requisite and proper, that all should have a share in the provisions of his king. dom ; that not an individual creature should be left out of the account, or be passed by unregarded. If the whole machine of the universe be not kept in a proper tone, one part duly proportioned to another, and the balance maintained free from all irregularity and discord, it must argue some kind of deficiency in the great Artist ; and this would prove him unworthy of that confidence, which would, otherwise, be his due. We cannot yield unreserved and unqualified applause to one, who is, in any degree, incompetent to his undertaking, to the task, which properly falls upon him.
It is not enough, therefore, that we believe God to be inconceivably greater and more upright than men. As much as this might be true, while it would be totally unreasonable and unsafe for creatures to rest themselves entirely upon
him. More virtue and ability than men or angels possess, by thousands of degrees, would not be sufficient to constitute a being fit to exercise universal sovereignty, and to be adored as supreme. Numbers cannot be carried high enough to compute the superiority of the Godhead to the highest creature that can possibly exist. Let creature suff. ciency be raised to its greatest altitude, and it will do nothing towards inspiring confidence, such confidence as moral subjects should cherish towards the being who gov
Creatures, it is true, may act from so pure and elevated a principle, as not directly to do wrong; and thus far they may be confided in. But to be entitled to confidence, as a creature, is a very different thing from requiring, or receiving, it as the sole propri. etor, law-giver, and judge, of the world. We cannot even illustrate what we owe to God, what honours are his due, from any obligations we are under to any of our follow-creatures. The rclation, that subsists between God and his creatures, has no parallel. There is nothing like it in nature. To be great and good, is a thing not unknown among men ; but to be a God, is peculiarto
As we cannot measure the character of God, his offices and glories, by what we see in men, even the best that have ever appeared in the world ; so reither can we estimate our duty to him, our obligations to rest upon him, from those ties, which unite cur hearts to those of our fellow-creatures,
whom we are constrained to reverence and honour. As much as God is greater than man, so much more secure and happy should we esteem ourselves in being united to him and making his providence our refuge, than in looking to an arm of flesh.
To deduce the propriety and obligation of trusting in God, from his rectitude, from the consideration, that he will do right, we shall endeavour to show what is implied in rectitude of conduct, as applicable to God. It is the opinion of some, that the will of God alone lays a foundation for what we call moral rectitude ; that such or such actions are to be deemed virtuous, merely because God has enjoined them. Others say, there is, in the nature of things, and aside from the di. vine requirement, a reason why certain actions should be done and the contrary omitted ; that God is himself bound to conform to this law, founded in the nature of things, and therefore his will cannot be the origin of it ; that it would exist and have force, even upon supposition there were no authority or will of the Deity exercised about it. Whether there be a real difference between these two suppositions ; or, if there be, which is on the side of truth, perhaps it would not be expedient to take up any great length of time to inquire. It is enough to say,
that the will of God is sufficient to bind any creature, and that lis will cannot be in opposition to the nature of things. Nothing can be more necessary than the perfection,
the immaculate holiness of the divine will. The nature of God, which is umblemished, is, at least, as ancient, as independent, as aniform, and as immutable, as the nature of things, whatever it be that this phrase imports. If Jehovah acts according to his own nature, he does the thing that is right. If creatures act as God has commanded them, they cannot do wrong.
Hence it appears, that the holiness of creatures can, in no instance, interfere with the holiness of God, any more than the branches of a tree can interfere with the stock out of which they grow. This, however, does not imply, that it would not be positively sinful, in any creature, to put himself in God's stead, and affect to do the work of God, under a pretence of becoming more eminently good. And as it would be impious in man to aim at performing such deeds, as are proper to proceed from God; so it would be wrong in God to place himself in a situation to act the part of a man.
To discern the peculiar beauty of God's character, we must contemplate him in his own proper sphere of action 1; sustaining a rank, and occupying a place, which no other being ever did, or can. And as doing right, or wrong, implies that the action bears a relation to some being, who is to be benefited or harıned by it, so God does not act without respect to some object. If he did wrong, it would be by doing some one an injury, instead of a benefit. His do. ing right, is, therefore, of the contrary kind.
It is expressly yielding to some one his proper right ; or exerting upon him such an infuehce, as his happiness justly requires. Doing right, in the strictest sense, is performing an act of justice; conceding to one that for which he has a fair and equitable demand. To perform a favourable action towards any one, unless, for some well founded reason, it is his due, would be wrong. This proves it to be an act of justice. And if it be not what justice requires, then it is unjust, and fraught with guilt. - In every moral action, either justice, or injustice, is done to some
every instance of divine rectitude, justice is executed.
The action has respect to some being, by whom it is properly de. manded. Now, to whom does God stand indebted, except to himself? To creatures he owes nothing And if he owes them nothing, then he can, ultimately, design them nothing ; viz. he cannot make them, or their interest, his last end, in any of his works. But that he is under obligations to himself, I conclude will not be denied, especially by those who feel themselves constrained, as forcibly as most people do, to vindicate themselves, when an insult, or an abuse of any kind, is offered them. To some it may, perhaps, appear a singular mode of expression, to say of any one, that he is under obligations to himself. But it will be indiscreet to cavil about the phrase, if the sentiment be correct.
And who will deny, that, if his own character were to be assault