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"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord.” It must be the nature of a perfectly good being to feel affections exactly correspondent to the characters and dispositions of his reasonable creatures. As God loves the good, so he must hate the evil; and as he is disposed to reward the good, so he must be disposed to punish the evil. Accordingly David represents God as feeling and conducting in this manner. “With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright; with the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.” In another place, the Psalmist calls upon the church to praise God for the displays of his goodness, in punishing the wicked. "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy
endureth forever. To him that smote Egypt in their first born: for his mercy endureth for
To him that overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea; for his mercy endureth forever. To him that smote great kings: for his mercy endureth forever.” God's goodness is a consuming fire to the finally impenitent, and will burn to the lowest hell. And this amiable attribute of vindictive justice must be displayed, in order to a full display of divine goodness. Thus God displays all his goodness, when he displays it in the highest possible degree, and in every possible way. It is impossible to conceive, that a more clear and full display of goodness than this, can be made by the greatest and best of Beings. It remains to show,
HI. That God, by thus displaying all his goodness, necessarily displays all his glory. This is plainly supposed in the text. Moses prays, that God would show him his glory, and God replies, “I will make all my
goodness pass before thee.” There appears no pertinency in this reply, unless the Deity would necessarily display all his glory, by displaying all his goodness. But the truth of this will more fully appear, if we consider,
1. That when God displays all his goodness, he displays all his moral character. The Supreme Being has no moral excellence but what is included in his goodness. God is love; all his goodness consists in love; all his love lies in his heart; and his heart is the seat of all his moral excellence. By displaying all his heart, therefore, he necessarily displays all his moral character. But he displays all his heart when he displays all his goodness. For all the feelings of his heart are goodness itself. So that it is impossible for God to display all his goodness, without displaying all his feelings; and when all his feelings are expressed or act. ed out, his whole heart and all his moral excellence is displayed. Besides,
2. When God displays all his goodness, he necessarily displays all his natural as well as moral excellence. Self existence, independence, omnipresence, almighty power, boundless knowledge, and infinite wisdom, form the natural excellence or glory of God. But all these natural attributes derive their real glory from his goodness, without which they would be a blemish, rather than a beauty, in his character. When his natural perfections are under the influence of perfect goodness, and exercised to display it, then they appear in all their glory: but could we suppose them to be disconnected with perfect goodness, and under the influence of a malevolent heart, they would appear infinitely odious and terrible; and form the most malignant and detestable character conceivable. It is the goodness of God, which stamps a beauty and glory upon all his natural attributes. Accordingly, when he displays all his goodness, he necessarily displays all the glory of his natural perfections. The full display of his goodness requires the highest exertions of 'his power, wisdom, and knowledge. All these must be exerted, in order to form and execute a scheme, which is calculated to promote the highest possible good of the universe. If God displays all his goodness, therefore, he must necessarily display all his greatness. This connexion between the displays of goodness and greatness we find in men. Moses could not display all his goodness, without displaying all his greatness. Paul could not display all his goodness, without displaying all his greatness. And Christ could not display all the feelings of his heart, without displaying all the perfections of his nature. So the Supreme Being cannot display all his moral, without displaying all his natural attributes. God has no glory but what consists in and is derived from his goodness; and, therefore, by displaying all his goodness, he must necessarily display all his glory. Having illustrated the several particulars proposed, it remains to draw a number of plain and important inferences from what has been said.
1. If God be a Being, who possesses and displays perfect goodness; then the religion which he has required of mankind, is a reasonable service. He saith to every one, who is capable of understanding his word, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." Supreme love to God is the sum and comprehension of all that religion which he has enjoined upon men. And if he be a Being of supreme moral excellence, then he is worthy of the supreme affection of all his reasonable creatures. It is neither superstition, nor
enthusiasm, to love, to fear, to obey, to worship, and to adore, the greatest and best of Beings. Rational creatures cannot give a brighter display of their rationality, than in discerning the supreme excellencies of their Creator, nor a brighter display of their goodness. than in giving him the supreme affection of their hearts. If it be reasonable to love any object, it is reasonable to love the most amiable object. If it be reasonable to esteem any object, it is reasonable to es teem that which has the greatest natural and moral excellence. If it be reasonable to obey any being, it is reasonable to obey Him, whose will is perfect recti: tude. If it be reasonable to submit to the government of any being, it is reasonable to submit to the govern; ment of Him, who always knows and always does -what is best. If it be reasonable to worship any being, it is reasonable to worship Him, who is infinitely the greatest and best of all Beings. The religion, which God requires, is founded in the nature of things, and must remain a reasonable service on the part of man, as long as he retains his rational na ture, and God possesses supreme natural and moral excellence.
2. If God must display his goodness in order to display his glory; theo by seeking his own glory, he must necessarily seek the good of his creatures. A full display of divine goodness must necessarily promote the highest happiness of the intellectual system, God cannot, therefore, display all his goodness, without aiming to diffuse the largest possible portion of holiness and happiness, through the universe; or in other words, he cannot seek his own glory in the highest degree, without seeking the highest good of the intelligent creation. The Scriptures abundantiy teach us, that God aims at his own glory in all
bis conduct. We read, that "he made all things for himself; and that for his pleasure they are and were created."
In dispensing mercies and judgments, he tells us, he means to display his glory before the eyes of all his intelligent creatures. But, in every instance of displaying his glory, he displays his goodness, and promotes the happiness of the universe. In creating angels and men, and all inferior objects, his ultimate design was to make them instruments in his hand, of promoting the holiness and happiness of the universe. For if there be one creature in the universe, whose creation, destination, and final dis. posal will not display the goodness of God, it cannot subserve his glory. Just so far, therefore, as all created objects will eventually promote the general good of the universe, just so far and no farther will they promote the glory of their Creator. The supreme glory of God, and the supreme good of the universe, are necessarily and inseparably connected. And it is for want of seeing this connexion, that so many object against the ultimate end of God in the creation of the world. They imagine it is derogatory to God to say, that he makes his own glory his ultimate end in creation, providence, and redemption. They attach the idea of selfishness to this motive of action. But if God cannot seek his own glory in any other way, than in displaying his goodness; then to seek his own glory to the highest degree, is the same thing as to give the highest expression of universal and disinterested benevolence.
3. If God cannot display all his glory, without dis. playing all his goodness; then the glory of God required the existence of natural and moral evil. All the goodness of God in all its branches, could not have been displayed, if natural and moral evil had not ex