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Pet. i, 7. “ For which cause we faint not, but, though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh out for us a far more exceeding and cternal weight of glory:” 2 Cor. iv, 16, 17.
Too many indeed there are, among men, to whom the moral discipline of pain and sorrow, as well as every other adminis3 tration of divine wisdom, is applied in vain—who, unmoved
alike by kindness and by chastisemnent, continue in their state
of sinfulness-hard, stubborn, and impenitent. If the sufferEings of such persons are unmitigated—if they find no valid
consolation under them-it is not because there is any inadequacy in the goodness of God, but because they are separated from that goodness by their sins. And, if they continue to despise the long-suffering, and to reject the proffered grace, of a perfectly benevolent Deity, till the time of their visitation, the period of their probation, shall have passed away for ever, and thus expose themselves to the outpouring of his wrath in the world of future retribution, the goodness of God is still unimpeachable--their blood is upon their own heads. In the
moral attributes of the Deity, there is to be observed the har. bus mony of a perfect adjustment. Every one of those attributes line occupies its own province, and fulfils its own end; and, while
they operate in different directions, there exists among them an entire congruity. God is benevolent : he is also holy: and his benevolence is incapable of being ever so exerted as
to interrupt or annul his holiness. It can never be applied div
in such a manner as to confound the distinction between right ati
and wrong, to destroy the standard of virtue, or to subvert that unalterable principle--that the wages of unrepented sin is
V. Let it be remembered, however, that the holiness and benevolence of God meet in his attribute of mercy. When the Lord condescended to display his glory to Moses, he descended in the cloud, and proclaimed the name of the Lord: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin :" Exod. xxxiv, 6, 7. Of all the attributes of the Deity, indeed, there is none more largely unfolded in Scripture than his mercy-his gracious and unfailing disposition to pardon the iniquities of his children, on their forsaking their sins, on their turning back again to the God of their salvation, on their offering to him the acceptable sacrifice of a contrite heart. “ If thou, Lord, sbouldst mark iniquity," said David, “O Lord, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. Let Israel hope in the Lord ; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption :" Ps. cXXX, 4. 7.
« It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not:" Lam. iii, 22. “ Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live?” Ezek. xviii, 23. “ Let the wicked forsake bis way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have meruy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon :" Isa. lv, 7.
Nothing can be conceived more tender and exquisite than the compassions of Jehovah. He follows his unworthy children in all their wanderings; he visits and revisits them with his Holy Spirit; he suffers their rebellion long; he pleads with them as a father; he says, “ How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel ? How sball I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together;" Hosea xi, 8. The prodigal son, humbled under the miserable consequences of his dissolute life, returns with a penitent heart to his paternal homę. His father beholds him while yet he is a great way off-runs towards him-falls on his neck and kisses bim--puts on him his best robe-kills the fatted call for his entertainment—and fondly rejoices over hiin, because he “ was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found:" Luke xv.
But it is in the scheme of redemption, as revealed to man kind in the Gospel of Jesus Christmin that wonderful truth, that the Father gave the Son to be the Sacrifice for sin, and the Saviour of Sinners--that the mercy of God towards his corrupted and degraded children is displayed in all its brightness, and in all its consistency with the holiness of his nature. “ God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us:" Rom. v, 8. “ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ :' Eph. ii, 4, 5. • Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins:") 1 John iv, 10. When we contemplute this amazing scene, and are humbled in the view of it; when we hear the Spirit say, Come, and the bride say,
Come, and, in compliance with ihe invitation, draw near to the “ fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness ;” when we wash our robes, and make them wbite in the blood of the
Lamb, and “take the water of life freely;"—then are we prepared to confess of a truth the perfect holiness of Jehovah-then also can we enter into the strength and spirit of the apostle's declaration, that “GOD IS LOVE:" i John iv, 16.
VI. Lastly, let it be observed, that God is true and faithful. “ The word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth :” Ps. xxxiii, 4. “ The works of his hands are verity and judgment--all his commandınents are sure; they stand fast for ever and ever; and are done in truth and uprightness :" Ps. cxi, 7, 8. The truth, no less than the mercy, of God, called forth the praises of his inspired servants. “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness, and for thy truth; for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name:" Ps. cxxxviii, 2. “ The Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations :" Ps. c, 5. “ Also the strength of Israel will not lie :" 1 Sam. xv, 29. “ If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself;" 2 Tim. ii, 13. The divine quality so plainly declared in these and numerous other passages of Holy Writ is of unutterable importance, because it affords a pledge of that eternal stability in the operation of all his other moral attributes, upon which his dependent creatures may place a perfect reliance. The word of the Lord is
His law is unalterable. His judgments are certain. His promises cannot fail. Let the wicked tremble before him, in the certain assurance that his threats will be executed that the day of his wrath will come in its season. Let the righteous rejoice, because they have a faithful Creator, to whom, with absolute security, they may commit the keeping of their souls, 1 Pet. iv, 19; because “ he which hath begun a good work in them, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i, 6; because they have an hope “ which entereth into that within the vail," as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast,” Hebrews vi, 19; because “he is faithful that promised,” Heb. x, 23; because God, who “sent redemption unto his people, hath commanded his covenant for ever :" Ps. cxi, 9.
Such is a feeble sketch of the account presented to us in the Scriptures, of the nature and character of God. In the recollection of the principal features of our subject, we are once more to observe, that there is no other God but Jehovah; that this one God is from eternity to eternity; that he gave existence to all other beings, and alone is the Creator of the heavens and the earth; that, in the work of creation, he displayed an absolute omnipotence and perfect wisdom; that he meni
fests the same attributes in the perpetual maintenance of the laws of nature; that he is the absolute sovereign of the universe, and orders the whole course of events by his providence; that he is invisible, yet omnipresent, filling his own works; that he is omniscient, penetrating the inmost recesses of the hearts of his children ; that he is absolutely holy, the Fountain of purity, abhorring sin, rejecting and condemning all iniquity; that he is just, conducting his moral government on a system of righteous retribution, in which it is well with the good, and ill with the wicked; that, in the application of this retributive system, he maintains a perfect equity : that he is good, abounding in benevolence towards all his sensible creatures, protecting the injured and oppressed, and, in an especial manner, extending his fostering care to those who fear and serve him ; that, although he leaves the impenitent sinner to suffer, yet he comforts and supports every contrite mourner
, and overrules the afflictions of the righteous to their eternal advantage ; that he is willing to forgive, and rich in mercy towards the whole degraded family of mankind; that, in the scheme of man's redemption, above all, it is made abundantly manifest, that GOD IS LOVE. Finally, that, in his truth and faithfulness, we have an unfailing warrant that his judgments will be executed, his mercies perfected, and all his promises found to be yea and amen for ever.
In retiring from the consideration of this awful subject, must we not exclaim with the Psalmist, “ When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him!” Must we not be humbled in the dust under a sense of the incomprehensible condescension of God, who is pleased to dwell in us, and to invite us, as a father, to dwell in Him? And ought we not to press with holy diligence after that better state of being, in which we shall know God, “ even as we are known”-in which we shall find eternity not too long for contemplating the attributes, performing the will, and declaring the praise, of JEHOVAH.
ON THE UNION AND DISTINCTION IN THE DIVINE NATURE.
THE contents of the preceding essay afford abundant evidence that the doctrine of the unity of God is not only explicitly declared by the inspired writers, but lies at the very foundation of their system of religion, and pervades it in every part. Whether they were led to write of his power, his omniscience, and his wisdom, or to expatiate on his moral attributes, it never failed to be on the allowed and declared principle, that there is no other God but Jehovah, the Creator and Governor of all things, the only proper object of spiritual allegiance and adoration. While, however, this primary truth must ever be held sacred on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is on the same authority that we admit another doctrine,-namely, that, his revealed operations, and more especially in the appointment and application of the scheme of man's redemption, God has manifested himself to us as the FATHER, the son, and the HOLY SPIRIT,
In order to the elucidation of this subject--a subject which ought never to be approached without a feeling of profound humility and reverence--we may now advert to some of those scriptural declarations, from which we learn that the Father is God; that the Son is God; and that the Holy Spirit is God.
1. That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sent his only-begotten Son into the world, is God, is universally admitted by Christians; and, on the present occasion, nothing can be needful but to adduce two or three of those numerous texts of Scripture, in which he is at once distinguished as the Father, and described as the Deity. “ God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the ld ; but that the world through him might be saved :" John iii, 17. “ God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord :" 1 Cor. i, 9. 6 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ :” 1 Pet. i, 3. Such and similar are the terms in which the sacred writers invariably express themselves respecting the Father of our Lord Jesus