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THREE SERMONS:

THE

DE CREES OF GOD

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FOUNDATION OF PIETY.

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THREE SERMONS.

SERMON I.

I know that, whatsoever God doth, it shall be forever ; nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; and God doth it, that men should fear before him. — Ec. üi. 14.

We may be sure that the infinitely great, eternal, omniscient Being, who is the First and the Last, the Almighty, does nothing for an end, or with a view to accomplish any design, which is temporary and shall wholly cease and come to nothing, so that every thing which remains shall, in all respects, be just as it would have been had he not done it. For this would be infinitely unworthy of such a Being, infinitely beneath him, and unbecoming his character; it would be really more unbecoming and trilling than for a man to do all he does through life for no end at all, were this possible, or for the greatest monarch on earth to spend his life in action for no higher and more important ends than those which children have in what they do. That which ceases to exist in all its effects and consequences, so that the universe is in no respect better or otherwise than if it had not been, is of infinitely less worth and importance than that of which the consequence and good effect, or the end of which, is without end, or forever. Therefore, the infinitely great, wise, and good Being will do nothing but that which shall answer an end which never shall cease, so that the consequence and good effect of it shall exist forever.

If this visible world were to cease to exist, and every effect and consequence of its having existed were to cease forever, so that no end were to be answered by it but what took place during the existence of it, and no existence, or circumstance of existence, should be in any respect otherwise than if it had not existed, -it would have been created and preserved during

Written in the year 1789.

the existence of it, in a great measure, if not altogether, in vain. It is certain no end would be answered worthy of the infinite Creator. There would really nothing be gained by such a work; all would be lost. Therefore, we may be sure that none of the works of God are of this kind, but every thing that he does will, in the effect and consequence of it, exist forever, or the end to be answered by it will never cease.

The natural world which we behold, with all the works of man in it, is to come to an end at least as to the form in which it now exists — when the end of the existence of it is answered, but that end which was designed to be accomplished by the creation and continuation of the existence of it will remain forever. The natural world, the sun, moon, and stars, with this earth, and all the creatures and things contained in them which are not capable of moral agency and moral government the natural world was created, and is upheld, for the sake of the moral world, and those creatures which are capable of moral government and of conformity to God in moral exercises, as a house is built, not for its own sake, but for the sake of those who are to live in it; and when this world, having answered the end with respect to the moral world for which it was made and preserved, shall be burnt up, the moral world, and all moral agents, will continue forever, with all the effects and consequences of the natural world, respecting the moral world, which were designed to be produced by creation and providence.

Hence it is demonstrably certain that moral agents, at least some of them, (and if some, why not all ?) will exist without end; for they cannot answer the end of their existence, and the end of all those works of God which he has done for their sake, if they should cease to exist; they must, therefore, exist forever.

It will appear evident and certain, no doubt, if duly considered, that moral government cannot be perfectly or properly exercised unless it be endless, and, consequently, unless moral agents, the only subjects of this government, continue to exist forever. This is evident from the text we are considering and what has been observed upon it. But the evidence of this arises from another view of this point. Moral government cannot be exercised without a law pointing out and requiring the duty of moral agents, and fixing the penalty of disobedience, and maintaining and executing this law, agreeably to the requirements and sanctions of it. The punishment which a transgression of the divine law deserves is endless evil or suffering; and, therefore, this must be the penalty of the law of God, and must be executed on the transgressor, unless some

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thing can take place to answer the same end; therefore, he upon whom this penalty is executed must exist forever, in order to suffer the penalty of the law; and although it be not essential to the law of God that there should be an express promise of endless life to the obedient, yet the threatening of evil to the transgressor seems to imply favor to the obedient, and is inconsistent with putting an end to their existence, and depriving them of endless happiness, which in their view, and in reality, would be an infinite negative evil; and, therefore, must be inconsistent with the wisdom and goodness of God, yea, with his distributive justice, for they deserve no evil, so long as they continue obedient. Therefore, nothing but transgression can put an end to the existence and happiness of a moral agent; it hence follows, that they who persevere in obedience must exist happy forever, and they who transgress must suffer evil without end; consequently, every moral agent must exist forever, in order to the proper and full exercise of moral government. Therefore, whatever God does respecting moral agents (and he has respect to these in all he does) in this sense shall be forever; he has a view to an endless dura. tion, and aims at an end which never shall cease, but must exist forever.

It has been observed, that the moral world is the end of all God's works, and that the subjects of moral government must exist forever; and that, in this sense, all that God does shall be forever. But the subjects of moral government, and all the events that immediately relate to them, do not comprehend all the moral world; God himself must be considered as included in this everlasting, moral kingdom, as the supreme Head and eternal King of it; and he, being infinitely greater, more important, and worthy of regard than any or all creatures, must, therefore, be the end of all that is done; that is, he must make himself the highest and last end, and do all for himself, as the Scripture asserts: “ The Lord hath made all things for bimself.” The exercise, manifestation, and display of his own perfections and glory must be the supreme end of all the works of God, which necessarily includes the greatest possible happiness of the obedient subjects of his moral kingdom, which, therefore, must be forever, or without end; for a temporary display of the divine glory, and the temporary happiness and glory of the moral kingdom of God, would be infinitely less than an eternal and increasing duration of these, and nothing in comparison with this. In this view, we see how whatsoever God doth is forever. His design in all he does is his own glory in his everlasting kingdom. This is his end, and the issue of all is this, which shall have no end. The

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