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becomes the people of God to rejoice, that their God reigoeth, and is exercising an universal agency to promota ideir good and the good of the universe, as much and as fast as possible. Though God causes both darkniss and evil; yet in him there is no evil nor darkD:ss at all.
In his light, his people may always see light; and in bis government, his people may always see good and enjoy peace. hearts and hauds in carryin at them only unite their
his and holy purposes ; and they may rest satisfied & comforted that all things shall work togetber for their good.
6. If God be an wiversal agent and operates upon the hearts of all bis intelligent creatures, then he will infallibly counteract the designs and disappoint the hopes of all his enemies, in every part of the universe. Though Gon gives all men full liberty to devise their own ways, yet he always directs their steps. Though his agency always controls their agency, yet it never destrossit. They are perfectly free and they are conscious that they are perfectly tree, notwithstanding his agency upon their hearts. Though his enemies freely ani voluntarily form a thousand designs to frustrate his destes; yet he always can and does fulfil bis own designs and disappoints theirs. It is, as vain, as impious, for them to attempt to rise up against him and endeavor to frustrate his wise and holy purposes. For the counsel of the Lord shall stand ; and he will do all his pleasure. The enemies of God have often made the experiment and attempted to frustrate the counsel of God, but have always been disappointed. Pharaoh was disappointed Esau was disappointed. A hab was disappointed. Saul of Tarsus was disappointed. God will counteract the designs of all sinners at this day However numerous and powerful and confident the enemies of God may be, he will defeat all their designs an I exertions; and he will cause their folly and wickedness to manifest his wisdom and goodness. Thrir hands and their tongues and their hearts are constantly and entirely under the holy and sovereign agencyf God, who works all things after the counsel of his own will. “For nf } im d. through him and to him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
THE BLESSEDNESS OF GOD.
ROMANS, 1. 25.-Who is blessed forever.
As Paul was the great apostle of the Gentiles, so he was better qualified than any other of the apostles to instruct the Gentiles, in the great and essential doctrines of the g spel. And as he had not had an opportunity of preaching to the Church at Rome, which was principally composed of those, who were converted from heathenism to Christianity, he wrote this epistle to them, in order to give them a more clear, extensive and systematic knowledge of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, which they had professed to embrace. This is the apology he makes for writing to them. "Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, but was let h therto, that I might have some fruit among you also even as among other Gentiles. I am a deitor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you, that are at Rome also”, but as he did not know that he ever should be permitted to go to Rome, he determined to write this letter to the Christians there for their spiritual instruction and edification. Accordingly, he first teaches them the kn«wledge of the only living and true God, in contrast with the gross ignorance and idolatry of the heathen world, who were inexcusable for not acknowledging and glorifying their great Creator. 6 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead ; so that they are without excuse. Because that when they know God, they glorified him not as God neither were
thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” He goes on to describe the corruption and idolatry of these heathens, until he says, “They changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.' Amen ”.-Though the phrase, blessed God, be very commonly used, yet it seems to be very rarely understood. It is proposed, therefore, in this discourse,
1. To describe the blessedness of God; And,
To bless is to make happy ; and to be blessed is to be happy. But though it be easy to define the termi blessed, when applied to the Deity, yet it is not so easy to form clear and just conceptions of the blessedness, or happiness of a being, who is all mind, or a pure immaterial spirit. “ God is a Spirit,” who is neither material, nor connected with any thing material, as our spirits are. This obliges us to conceive of the divine felicity, as purely intellectual. The blessedness of God wholly consists in mental views, exercises and emotions. And this leads us to inquire what those mental views, exercises and emotions are, which conspire to produce his essential blessedness. And here I would observe,
1. He is necessarily happy in his benevolent feel. ings. God is love. He possesses not only the natural perfections of intelligence, wisdom and power, but also the moral attribute of universal benevolence. His benevolent heart is as large as his infinite understanding, which comprehends the knowledge of himself and of all intelligent and unintelligent creatures.
He has a full and adequate view of all bis own great and amiable excellencies and perfections, which affords bim the highest self-approbation. . He knows the infinite worth and importance of his own infinite existence; and he exercises both benevolence and complacency towards him. self, according to bis supreme greatness and goodness. And he has the same constant and comprehensive view of all other beings besides himself; and he feels per
fectly benevolent towards the immense number of individuals, who compose the whole family of his creature's in heaven and earth and all parts of his vast dominions. In a word, his benevolence is as extensive as the universe, and has a kindly influence over all, that are capable of enjoying the least degree of happi
Now we all know, that benevolence of any kind always gives pleasure to the mind. There is a selfish benevolence, which is a happy feeling so long as it continues. There is also a pure disinterested and universal benevolence, which yields a purer, higher, and more lasting satisfaction to the mind. And such is the benevolence of the Deity. His benevolent feelings, therefore, towards himself and all his various and numerous creatures, must be a source of pure and permanent felicity.
2. God is necessarily happy in expressing his be. nevolent feelings. This is something different from the simple feelings of benevolence. There are immanent emotions of benevolence, which are not productive of any external act. Good men have a thousand benevolent affections, which they never did and never could express by any external actions. The benevolent feelings of the Deity, which we have mentioned under the first particular, were chiefly of this kind. He is also both able and disposed to express his benevolence in acts of kindness and beneficence, according to his unlimited and unerring wisdom. He diffuses as much happiness among his creatures as his almighty power, guided by his unsearchable wisdom, can produce. He is incessantly exerting his almighty power in upholding and preserving both angels and men ; and satisfying the desires of the many millions of his dependent creat
And all these expressions of his goodness are extremely gratifying to his benevolent heart. He makes himself happy by making his creatures happy. Christ took great pleasure in going about to do good and to promote the temporal and eternal bappiness of mankind. But God takes far more pleasure in the innumerable expressions of his goodness towards all creatures in heaven and earth. Do parents feel peculiar satisfaction in expressing their love to their children, so does the kind parent of the universe in expressing his goodness and grace to his rational offspring Hence says our Saviour, “ If ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the holy spirit to them that ask him ?” The prophet Micah represents God as delighting in the expressions of his pardoning mercy. - Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity and passeth by the transgression of his heritage,be. cause he delighteth in mercy.” And God himself gives the same representation of the pleasure he enjoys in the expressions of his benevolence. “I am the Lord, which exercise loving kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth : for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” Much of God's blessedness results from the great and innumerable expressions of his goodness. All his acts are benevolent in the works of creation, providence and grace; and all conspire to make him truly blessed. Besides,
3. God is necessarily happy in beholding the effects of his benevolence. As he loves to promote the happiness of his creatures, so he loves to see the happiness, which he bestows and they enjoy. As all his works flow from benevolence and tend to diffuse happiness among intelligent and percipient beings, so all the effects of his power are no less effects of his love. Of course he enjoys real felicity, in beholding all the works of his hand and effects of his goodness. Agreeably to this, we are told that when he had finished the work of creation, "he saw every thing, that he had made ; and behold it was very good.” It perfectly pleased him and gratified his benevolent feelings. He continually beholds all bis creatures and all his works and sees all the happiness, which exists in the whole circle of creation. He sees all the joy and felicity, which fills the minds of saints and angels in heaven and all the happiness, which is enjoyed in this lower world. As beaven and earth are full of his goodness, so they are full of objects, which entirely please and gratify his benevolent heart. Thus in feeling and expressing his pure