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VI.

SER M. punishments, as the truth of the case

and circumstances of the objects require. And in a more enlarged sense, it is to do what is right and fit, according to the nature and truth of things. And in the same manner it is to be understood with respect to God, only in an infinitely more perfect and excellent degree. Justice must be the same in kind with God, and among men.

For if it is not the same we cannot reason at all about it, nor can we know whether he is poffeffed of any

such perfections. ' And in general, all the moial attributes of God must agree with our notions of moral perfection, or else it is impossible for us to know whether he is of a moral character or not; and if there is any room to doubt in this case, such a doubt leads directly to atheism.

In discoursing farther on this subject,
I shall endeavour to prove,
I. That God is perfectly just and true
in his

ways.
II. To show how he exercises this

moral attribute among his creatures. III. To obviate fome difficulties that

may be objected to the Justice of his government. And

Lastly,

Lastly, to draw some practical infe- SERM,

VI.

rences.

I. I am to endeavour to represent to ỳou that God is perfectly just. It is evident, that we naturally think Justice a good disposition, or habit of mind, from our reflection upon the reasonableness and importance of it. It seems to be the plain dictate of nature, engraven upon the hearts of all men ; it is our natural notion of right and wrong, founded upon the reason and truth of things. Now if Justice is our natural perception, it is plain that he who foried our nature, must have the same kind of perception and sentiments, though in an infinitely more perfect manner. Our minds must be an imperfect transcript, or likeness of his own infinite mind; and therefore God himself must be just, who has implanted in us those notions of Justice and righteousness. For it is impossible for us to imagine, that he would have formed our minds contrary to his own nature, and the immutable relation of things. And as God has all knowledge and understanding, he can never be deceived with

appearance; hę

must

any false

H 2

VI.

SERM. must always see things as they are, and

according to what is just and right to be done. Nor can he be biassed with any wrong affection, with any hopes or fears to draw him aside to any injustice, because he is all-fufficient and happy in himself, and infinitely beyond the reach of any temptation. And therefore, he must always be just, and his actions ever conformable to the eternal rules of righteousness and truth.

Again, if we consider God as an infinitely perfect being, who acts always in the most perfect manner, which is our natural notion of him, he must then be absolutely just. For it must be allowed, that to be just is a moral perfection, and becomes a reasonable being; and injuftice is the greatest imperfection and depravation of any moral agent; it is to act inconsistently and absurdly, as a weak and 'malevolent being : and if so, it is impossible that he who is the author of all perfection and goodness, can ever act unjustly; he cannot act contrary to his own excellent nature, he cannot deny himself. So that from reason we may certainly conclude, that God must be just,

and

VI.

and there can be no unrighteousness with SER M. him.

And accordingly, we see that men in all ages, even in the heathen world, have had the same sentiments of him. They have always considered the supreme Being, the Father of Gods and men, as he was often stiled, to be perfectly just. They ever appealed unto him as inflexibly upright, and invoked him as the great Avenger of injustice and violence. However rude their notions might be of him with regard to some other things, they always accounted Justice as his most glorious attribute, by which he was qualified to be the Judge of the world. And even those of them who were the most ignorant, who imagined a plurality of gods, almost of equal power and dignity, believed them to be just, and to be revengers of wrong, and defenders of innocence.

But in the holy scriptures, this attribute of the Justice of God is declared in the fullest and strongest manner. In some places he is described, as impartially diftributing Justice among his creatures ; Shall not the Judge of all tbe earth do right? says the patriarch Abraham, Gen. xviii. 25.

And

H 3

VI.

SE R M. And to the same purpose, says Mofes to

the Israelites, Deut. xxxii. 4. He is a God of truth, and without iniquity, juft and right is he. In other places of scripture, Justice is represented as essential to his nature, as if it was impossible for him to do injustice. Thus in Job xxxiv. 10. it is said, far be it from God that he should do wickedness

, and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity. And elsewhere, he is called the righteous God. Psalm vii. The righteous Lord, a juft God, and a Saviour, Psalm lxxxix. 14. And that Juftice and judgment are the habitation of his throne, Psalm lxxxix. And our blessed Saviour himself, calls him the righteous Father, John xvii. From these and many other passages, which might be tedious to mention, it is plain, that the fcriptures clearly cońcur with our reafon, to assert that God is perfectly just, in the same sense in which we understand Juftice among men.

And in them indeed, all the divine attributes are defcribed in a

manner agreeable to our most accurate · reasoning

The Justice of God in general, being then certain, let us in the

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