Page images



mouths of all mankind with food and gladness. He
bestows as many and as great favours upon this sinful
world, as it is morally possible for him to bestow.
He treats every individual creature as well as the
good of his great system will allow. His impar-
tial goodness leads him to regard the whole more
than a part, and to govern individuals in subser-
viency to the good of his whole family in heaven and on
earth. Though the goodness of God moved him to
do great good in the works of creation; yet it has
moved him to do unspeakably more good in the works
of providence. He has been doing good every mo-
,ment in every part of the universe, for nearly six thou-
sand years; nor is there a rational, nor irrational crea-
ture that has ever existed, but has felt the influence of
his universal and constant goodness. But it may be
further observed,

4. That the perfect goodness of God must move him, to make the intelligent universe as holy and happy as possible, through the interminable ages of eternity. He will do as much good to his creatures, as it is possible in the nature of things that he should do. His power and wisdom will always be under the influence of his permanent, immutable, and universal goodness. He will never be less able, or less disposed to do good, in time to come, than in time past. He has formed the best plan to do good for ever, and he is able to do all the good that he has determined to do from eternity. He has all his creatures under his eye and under his control, and will employ them all, to promote the general good of the universe. God can no more cease to do good, than he can cease to be good; and he can no more cease to be good, than he can cease to exist. The good he has done bears no more proportion to the good he will do, than time bears proportion to eternity. He means to make all his goodness pass before the eyes of all his intelligent creatures. Angels and men will be as capable of enjoying holiness and happiness after the end of the world, as they were before, and God will be as able,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

and as much disposed to make them holy and happy, after that period as before; therefore, as long as his boundless power and goodness remain, we may be certain, they will be incessantly and perpetually employed in augmenting the holiness and happiness of the blessed inhabitants of heaven. And who can conceive to what a height of felicity God can and will raise the objects of his complacency and delight, in future and eternal ages ! Thus it appears from the nature and permanency of divine goodness, that God must make the intelligent universe as holy and happy as their natures will admit, through every period of their interminable existence. This important and consoling truth is not supported by fine spun reasonings, but is demonstrated by the immutability of the existence and perfections of God.

I now proceed to the improvement of the subject and observe,

1. The goodness of God is discoverable by the light of nature. It is a question, which has been frequently and warmly agitated, whether the goodness of God can be discovered by the works of God, without his word. But if God be not only good, but does good ;'then we may fairly conclude, that his goodness may be discovered by his works alone, without the aid of divine revelation. It is a common and infallible maxim, that actions speak louder than words. The goodness of men is more clearly and certainly discovered by their conduct, than by their declarations. It is true, that detached parts of their conduct may be ambiguous or doubtful, and their actions may appear better than they are; but this is because we cannot always know from what motives they act. But taking the whole of their conduct together, it affords the highest evidence we can have of their goodness; certainly much higher, than any declarations they can make. But if it be true, that God is good, and his goodness governs all his conduct; then his conduct is the highest possible evidence of his perfect goodness. His word is only an evidence of his goodness, after his goodness has been

[ocr errors]


demonstrated by his works. After we have demonstrated, that God is good by his works, then we know that he speaks the truth in his word, when he declares that he is good; but before we have demonstrated by his works, that he is good, we cannot know that he speaks the truth, when he tells us in his word that he is good. It is not only true, that the goodness of God may be discovered by his works, but it is true, that his goodness cannot be discovered in any other way, either in this world or in the world to

For, if the evils in this world be an argument against his goodness, greater evils in another world will be stronger arguments against it. It is said by those, who deny, that the goodness of God can be discovered by his works in this world, that we do not know how he will treat mankind in a future state, without the aid of the bible ; he may, notwithstanding his apparent goodness towards them in this life, annihilate them, or make them perfectly miserable. But we cannot know the contrary to this merely by his word ; for though he has promised to make some of them happy; yet we cannot know that he will fulfil his promise, without knowing by his works, that he is perfectly and immutably good. The works of God, therefore, afford us the first and most infallible evidence, that God is good. Accordingly, the apostle asserts, that all the nations of the earth may discover the goodness of God by his works, and are inexcusable, if they do not. He says,

“ because that which may be known of God is manifest in them;" that is, the heathens, “ for God hath shewed it unto them. For 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

It is not for want of evidence, by the works of God, that the pagan world have not discovered the being and goodness of the only living and true God,but because of their moral depravity, and their criminal stupidity arising from it. “All men might discover the goodness of God, which he is daily and constant


79 excuse.

ly acting out before them, if they would critically and impartially attend to his works, which afford the highest possible evidence he can give them of his goodness, either in this life, or the next.

2. If God always acts under the influence of pure, permanent, universal, and perfect goodness; then all the objections, that ever have been made, or ever can be made, against any part of his conduct, are objections against his goodness, which must be altogether unreasonable and absurd. Our eyes must be evil, if we object against God, because he is good. But if we object against any part of his conduct, we object against his goodness; for whatever he has done, he has been moved to do, by his pure and perfect goodness. It is as certain that his whole conduct is good, as that his whole heart is good. So that we cannot object against a single instance of his conduct, without virtually objecting against his goodness. This will appear, if we distinctly consider any objections we have ever formed against any part of his conduct.

If we object against his forming any or all his purposes from eternity, we object against his goodness; for his goodness required him to form his purposes as soon as his perfections enabled him to form them, or as soon as he knew what was best for him to do. But his essential knowledge enabled him to know what was best for him to do from eternity; and when he knew this, he could not consistently with his perfect. knowledge and goodness, delay forming all his purposes, because there could be no reason for his delaying; and to delay without reason must have been contrary to his perfect rectitude. He acted under the influence of his perfect goodness informing his purposes from eternity; and in forming just such purposes as he did form. We cannot therefore object against his forming his purposes from eternity, nor against any purposes he did then form, without objecting against his goodness; for his whole conduct in forming his purposes was the genuine fruit of his unerring wisdom.

guided by his pure, impartial, and universal benevolence, which ought to be loved and approved by every intelligent creature.

If we object against God's conduct in placing Adam as the publick head of mankind, and suspending their moral character upon the condition of his perfect obedience, we object against his goodness, which moved him to place Adam and his posterity in such a critical and dangerous state. God might have determined, that each individual of the human race should have been placed as the angels were, without any publick head, whose single act should so deeply affect millions and millions of others. But his perfect goodness moved him to appoint Adam to be the publick head of all his posterity, that by one man's disobedience, many should be made sinners. And since divine goodness determined this important event we cannot have the least reason to object against it.-If we object against God's agency in governing the hearts and conduct of mankind in the manner he does, we object against his goodness. For every act of his government is an act of pure goodness, which seeks the highest good of the universe. He could, if he pleased, make every one of mankind act entirely right, and prevent every one from acting wrong; and it is owing to his goodness, that he does not govern the moral world in this manner. He could have prevented all natural and moral evil from coming into the world, if he had pleased; and he could now banish all natural and moral evil from the world, if he pleased. But his perfect and universal goodness moves him to overrule both natural and moral evil, for the benefit of the universe, and who can object against it, without objecting against his good

ness ?

If we object against his saving one person, and destroying another, according to his original purpose, which he purposed in Christ Jesus, we object against his goodness. For it was pure, perfect benevolence, which moved him to form all his purposes of special grace. If we only admit the perfect goodness of God, and

« PreviousContinue »