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character to be good, and do it honour; then no inan can be his disciple, but he who loves that character too. To hate that character, is to be an enemy to the cross of Christ. He that hath cars to hear, let him hear,
When Christ was upon earth, the Pharisees, the most religious sect of people then in the world, joined very unanimously to hate his character, pretending at the same time great love to the God of Israel. But our Saviour and his apostles insisted upon it, that if they really loved God, they would love him ; and if they hated him, it was a full proof they
17 hated God; because both their characters were alike. John viii. 10. 29. 48. Chap. xy. 21. 24. Chap xyi. 1, 2, 3. 1 John ü, 22. 23. But the Pharisees bad quite lost the true meaning of the law of Moses ; so that with the greatest truth it might be said, that they did not believe Moses' writings. John v. 47. And consequently had lost a right idea of the true God, as exhibited in his writings. Meanwhile they had formed a new scheme of religion in their fancy, and got themselves to believe it to be the saine that was taught by Moses, a scheme which justified such characters as theirs; and as was their scheme of religion, such was their notion of God. And having thus made themselves a God of a character to
a suit their own hearts; this God they loved. But they hated Christ, who was the express image of the true God. A full proof they hated the true God himself. Even so now also it is in this present age. Christ has been gone to heaven a long time, and the true sense of his Gospel has been in a manner totally lost by many, who have professed a great regard to his name. And new Christs, and new Gospels, have been invented more agreeable to the taste of au apostate world; but of a character essentially different from the God of Israel. And so it is come to pass that men are prepared to distinguish between the character of God as exhibited in the law, and the character of God as exhibited in the Gospel; and hate one and love the other; as characters essentially different; nay, even contrary the one to the other; not knowing that it was the very design of the mediatorial office and work of Christ, to assert bis Father's character, as exhibited in the law, to be an absolutely perfect character, without spot or
blemish ; although it is expressly affirmed, that he was set forth to be a propitiation for this very end, to declare his Father's righteousness. Or, in the language of the prophet, to magnify the law and make it honourable. I
pray that it may be considered, that if vindictive justice is essential to the divine character, and if it is in its own nature a bad thing, an upamiable property, that this one blemish will spoil God's wbole character: and it will be impossible for any holy being in the universe to love him. None can love him but stupid, selfish creatures, who believe that he loves them, and who care not what becomes of others. For; if it must have rendered God's character hateful to have punished me according to his law; it must, for the same reason, render it hateful to punish any other according to his law. So that on this hypothesis, if I am saved, yet God's character must appear odious in my eyes to all eternity, unless he save all others. So I shall hate God's character in heaven, wbile I view the torments of the damned. And all the love I shall have to him, will be simply from a selfish, narrow principle : because he has elected, and loved, and saved me. For I can see no beauty in his character. For in fact there is . none, if vindictive justice be a bad and an unamiable property. For one bad property entirely approved of, and constantly exercised, will render any character entirely devoid of moral beauty. Therefore,
The rapturous joys of sinners, who are blind to the beauty of the divine character as exhibited in his law, arising merely from a belief that God loves them and will save them, have nothing of the nature of holiness or love to God in them; nor will this kind of religion, although raised to the highest perfection, in the least qualify a man to live in heaven. To view things as they do there, would kill this kind of religion in a moment. A sight of the state of the damned would put an end to all their good thoughts of God, in the twinkling of an eye. And while heaven, ravished with the beauty of the divine conduct, resounds with hallelujahs, they would begin
“No, no, he is a tyrant ! see, yonder is my neighbour, my brother, my child, in torments !" And away would they flee, to their proper company, side with them, and join
in their blasphemies. Unless we suppose this sort of converts, should they come to heaven, so entirely destitute of any thing like benevolence, as to feel perfectly easy at the misery of others, merely because they do not care for any but themselves.
If vindictive justice were not glorious, it would be impossible, that the Son of God incarnate should make such a glorious appearance as he will at the day of judgment. He would rather be dressed in sackcloth. Impossible, that he who wept over Jerusalem, would now, without the least reluctance, pronounce the final sentence on the wicked. And impossible, that this sentence should be succeeded with unmixed, endless joys, among angels and saints, beings perfect in benevolence, and the most generous goodness.
But neither Christ, nor angels, por saints, will, at that day, look on the controversy which has subsisted between God and his rebellious subjects, as it is generally looked upon now among mankind. God's infinite worthiness of supreme love and honour, and universal obedience, and the infinite evil of sin, will then be seen; and the wisdom, holiness, justice, and goodness of all God's ways will be brought to light; and the unreasonable disaffection, and inexcusable obstinacy of an apostate race will appear in their true colours. The whole history of mankind will be opened, and all the opposition made to the truth, from the blood of Abel, to the blood of Christ, nay, to the blood of the last martyr, will be brought into the account, with all the despisings of the divine authority, threatenings, warnings, calls, &c. So that all holy beings will be fully and perfectly satisfied, nay, perfectly pleased, with the last sentence on the wicked. And id will be so far from lessening their happiness, that it will give them uew additional joys. And they will all join in saying, Amen, Hallelujah; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth ; and true and righteous are his judgments. And again they will say, Hallelujah: while the smoke of their torments ascends for ever and eter. And all this in perfect consistence with the purest benevolence. Yea, all this will be the native result of benevoJence, of love to God, and to the general good of the universe; as the wicked will be viewed as enemies to being in general, to God, to the universe, and to ALL GOOD.
GOD, who is the supreme, all-sufficient good, can, consistently
with his honour, and is willing to become a God and Father, and everlasting purtion, to all who return to him through Jesus Christ.
THAT God is an absolutely perfect, and so an infinitely glorious and amiable Being, is the first article of faith in the creed of every true Christian. And the second, which in point of importance, is like unto it, is, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. On these two articles hang all the law and the Gospel, all the doctrines of natural and revealed religion. As it is written, Joho xvii. 3. This is life eternal, to know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. A variety of consequences from these two fundamental truths have been already pointed out; and we now go on to add
1. If God is an absolutely perfect, an infinitely amiable and glorious being, of necessity he must be the supreme, all-sufficient good. And,
II. If Jesus of Nazareth is his Son, it is equally certain that he can, consistent with his honour, and is willing to become a God and Father and everlasting portion, to all who return to him through Jesus Christ.
I. If God is an absolutely perfect, an infinitely glorious and amiable being, of necessity he must be the supreme allsufficient good. He must be the supreme good; for it implies a contradiction to say, that any thing can be better than the best. And God cannot be better than he is. Absolute perfection cannot be more perfect than it is. Infinite wisdom, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth, armed with almighty power, constitute a character absolutely perfect : a beauty without a blemish, a beauty infinitely bright. In the knowledge, love, and enjoynient of such a being, therefore; must consist the greatest possible happiness.
And at the same time, the absolute perfection of the divine nature, renders the deity infinitely amiable and delightful in himself; the whole universe exists by him, is entirely in his hands, and under his government, and at his control. In him all live and move, and have their being. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therrin. And his throne is established in tbe heavens, and his kingdom ruleth over all. His counsel shall stand, and he will do all his pleasure. So that he is the fountain and source of all being, possessed of authority absolutetly supreme, the sum and source of all good, and therefore in the highest sense absolutely all-sufficient. To have God for our God, is infinitely better than to be ourselves sët up at the head, and made Lords of the whole universe.
There are things of an earthly nature which are good in their places, as health, food, raiment, friends, &c. which we receive from God, the original Lord of all things; and for wbich therefore we ought to be thankful to him, and improve to his glory. But they are not fit to be the portion of our souls. And if we set our hearts upon them as our supreme good, we are guilty of idolatry. And if we set them up for our God, and bow down our souls to them, we act as stupid and sinful a part as those who, of old, bowed down to idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. And when we come to die, they will prove as insufficient for our happiness, as the gods of the heathen did for theirs. Nay, the society of angels and saints in heaven, leave God out of the account, would by no means afford that refined and sublime, that complete and stable happiness we need, to give us full and perfect satisfaction; much less will the society of saints on earth. Nay, leave God out of the account, and angels and saints, and the whole universe, would sink into nothing in a moment. So that God is not only the supreme all-sufficient good ; but strictly speaking, the sum total of all good. Psal. lxxiii. 25. Whom have I in heaven but thee; and there is none on earth I desire besides thee. Therefore,