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* dieth, faith the Lord God, wherefore turn and live. Rent syour hearts, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord
your God, for he is gracious and merciful, low to anger " and of great kindness. Thus, faith the Lord of hofts, turn “ye unto me, and I will turn unto you." There were in Niniveh aged, middle aged and young finners. " They turned “ from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he “ said he would do unto them, and he did it not.” Let the prayer of all, of every age and of every rank, be, “ Turn us, * O God, and cause thy face to fhine, and we shall be saved."
God the Author of all Afflictions and Troubles.
Job, v. 6, 7. Although affliction cometh not forth of the dust
neither deth trcuble spring out of the grourd; yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.
THE being and perfections of God lie at the foundation of all piety and religion. A due knowledge and sense hereof is the first and most immediate ground of all true exercises and holy affections. The glorious attributes of Jehovah are the primary objects, to which religion in all its branches has refpe&t. Not only so, but the very effence of it consists, in sentiments, sensations and feelings of heart suitable and answerable to the beauty, glory and excellency of these perfections, and which, when properly apprehended and realized, are adapted to produce, and will certainly produce in all tional creatures, whose temper and taste is as it ought to be. In this correspondence therefore of the frame, temper and exercises of the soul to the real character or name of God, consists much of true religion. Hence some just and true knowledge of the great Supreme must be the origin of every spiritual feeling and of all godly practice. Of confequence, if our notions and conceptions of his nature, truths and perfections are erroneous and false, and not agreeable to the accounts he has given of himself in his word, whatever degree of affections, and seemingly good exercises of heart, these notions and apprehensions may produce in us, there can be nothing in them of true religion. Because the objects by which these affections are excited, are delusive and false ; they have no existence, but in our own blind and deceived minds, hence these exercises and affections have no correspondence to the real nature and perfections of God, in which consists the very ellence of all fincere piety and christian godliness. For the sake of illustration, let us suppose a person to have conceived a notion of God as a being of a blind and undistinguishing propenfity to compassion, mercy and indulgence; of such absolute facility of temper, as not to adhere to the rules of justice, or to regard the moral conduct of his creatures ; now for a perfon from these apprehensions of God, to be pleased with him, love him, and feel transports of affection, there can be no religion in such exercises as these, for all is mere fancy and delufion. There is no such God, and the being he respects and admires is a mere idol of his imagination. On the other hand, let us suppose a person to have conceived an idea of God, as a rigorous, cruel and vindi&tive being, and disposed to punish his creatures, merely for the sake of punishment, now for this person to be filled with fear and dread of this supposed deity, and is very cautious in all his conduct, left he should excite his refentment, there can be no religon in this fear, for the reasons already aligned.
From these observations, it cannot but appear, how neceffary a revelation from God is, to teach us his true character, and to give us a just knowledge of his nature and perfeéiions in order to the being and practice of religion. And how carefully should we attend to the accounts given us in this revelation respecting himself.
Some proper knowledge of God is necessary to form us to thoie frarnes, exercises and sentiments, which we ought to feel with regard to all his providential dispensations, especially such as give us a great deal of pain and affliction, and appear to be intended for this very purpose. Many such dispensations we are the subje&s of in the course of our lives ; many that are excedingly painful and greivous. Our text assures us that Done of the evils which befal us come by chance, or are for tuitous events. However God may employ secondary cau. ses in the affiction of maukind, yet it is his hand behind the scene that directs the whole. " Affliction cometh not forth of " the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground ; yet “ man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards.” Neither foil nor clinate produce afiliations without the agency of God. Nay, so infignificant an incident as a sparrow falling to the ground, cannot take place without the notice of our heavenly father. When it is here denied that afflictions and troubles are not mere accidental events, nor the effects of natural and common causes, there must be some efficient in these matters of great importance, and this can be none other but God. The denial of the attribution of this effect to any natural agency, certainly implies in the clearest manner, that God is the author of all allliction, calamity and trouble, which befal the children of men.
The implicated affertion in these words shall employ our attention at present, to wit, that when mankind are afflicted, pained and grieved, that it is the hand of God which doth these things. Or in other words. when mankind is in trouble, God is the author of all their afflictions.
To this head of afli&tions are to be reduced all the natural crils which men feel, or are the subjects of. All those natural things universally, which give us pain and distress, destroy our comfort, ease and happiness, and involve us in misery, anguish and wretchedness in all their infinite and indescribable forms. In this are included not only the more common and ordinary, but the more signal and extraordinary events which produce these effects in their higher and more painful degrees. The enumeration of these, even under general heads, exceeds the powers of calculation. Such as wars, famines, pestilences, conflagrations, inundations, bereavements, diseases, death, &c. In one sentence, all the plagues and natural evils of this life and of the world to come. He who can count the drops of the ocean, or the sands on the ebbing fhore, let him undertake the enumeration. When we speak of the divine agency in the evils among rational beings throughout the universe, or the evils comprehended in time and eternity, all know that evils are of two kinds, natural and moral, and we mus always carefully diftinguilh between them. Natural evil is that which confifts in pain and suffering in all its infinite variety and ex. tent ; moral evil is that which is contrary to duty, a want of conformity to the divine law, or a violation of moral obligation. God is not the author of moral evil, neither indeed can be. This is absolutely out of the power of his nature as it implicates impotency, weakness and inconfiftency, which are . ever far from God. He is infinitely abhorrent to every thing of this kind. 'He is not tempted with evil, neither doth he tempt any man. All pofitive agency or dire and immedi ate influence in the production of fin would be a renunciation of his existence, a denial of himself, and, o blasphemous expression, that he had commenced finner ! Few of the authors of metaphysical divinity, from Dr. Twiss down to the present day, but what I have read ; I know they can twill words to speak things which they mean not, and which they would not with any to understand in their ufial acceptation. Disires ard moralifts, like other philofophers, become sometimes in.