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were ready to give him their eyes, for joy. People never desire their physicians to please them at the risk of their life, and it is no less criminal and absurd, to desire their ministers to please them, at the risk of their eternal salvation. But how many at this day, are running after false teachers, who are crying peace, peace to them, while they are standing on the brink of endless destruction! Such persons will not so much as give a hearing to plain and profitable preaching, and endeavour to prevent others from hearing it. Their folly will sooner or later be made manifest.
6. This subject calls upon all to inquire, whether they approve, or disapprove of plain and profitable preaching. There is nothing more sensibly affects the heart than preaching, and therefore there is nothing, which has a greater tendency to discover to every person, whether his heart is good, or bad, than his feelings under preaching, whether the preaching be good, or bad. To be pleased with bad preaching, is one of the surest marks of a bad heart; and to be pleased with good preaching is one of the surest marks of a good heart. You have all had an opportunity to hear both bad, and good preaching; now let me ask, which has been the most pleasing? Your feelings are a mark to yourselves, if you never express them to others; and they are a mark to others, if you express them. How ready are people to express their feelings in respect to preaching, not considering that they thereby expose both their understanding and hearts. Be entreated then, to examine your feelings, for your own benefit, and for the benefit of others.
THE MORAL RECTITUDE OF GOD.
GENESIS xviii. 25.
That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?
When God was about to destroy Sodom, he appeared to Abraham and told him his design. This deeply affected the benevolent heart of that pious man, who instantly offered the most fervent and importunate cries to the Father of mercies, to spare that corrupt and degenerate city. And the only plea he urged before the Supreme disposer of all events was the rectitude of his own character. "And Abraham drew near and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this mannar, to slay the righteous with the wicked; and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. Shall not the Judge of ali the earth do right?" Abraham implicitly acknowledges, that it would be right for God to punish the guilty who deserved to be punished, but not to punish the innocent who did not deserve to be punished. This leads us to conclude,
That Abraham knew, that God is a being of moral rectitude. I shall show,
I. That God is a being of moral rectitude; And,
I. I am to show, that God is a being of moral rectitude. To make this appear, it may be observed
I. That God ought to be a being of moral rectitude. Though we do not know every thing about God, yet we know something about him. We know that he has an eternal and underived existence, and that he possesses almighty power, perfect knowledge and wisdom, and all the essential attributes of a moral agent. He knows the natures, relations, and connections of all beings in the universe. And this knowledge necessarily confers moral obligation. For that which the Apostle lays down as a maxim is an eternal truth: "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." This applies to the Deity as well as to all other intelligent agents. As God perfectly knows the relation he bears to his creatures, and the relation they bear to him; so he perfectly knows how he ought to treat them, and how they ought to treat him. He knows what is right and wrong respecting his own conduct, and respecting the conduct of all other moral beings in the universe. He ought, therefore, to feel and act according to his moral discernment of what is right in the nature of things. And as he feels much more sensibly his obligation to moral rectitude, than any other being; so we have far more reason to believe, that he possesses moral rectitude, than that any other being in the universe does.
2. God claims to be a being of moral rectitude.
When Moses requested him to show him his glory, "The Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty." Moses says, "He is the rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth; and without iniquity, just and right is he!" Elihu says, "Far be it from God that he should do wickedness, and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity." David says,
The righteous Lord loveth righteousness. Justice
and judgment are the habitation of his throne; mercy and truth go before his face. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him." He is represented as a Being of immutable veracity. Balaam under a divine impulse says, "He is is not a man, that he should lie; neither is he the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" We read of the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before the world began. To give greater security to the heirs of this promise, God confirmed the immutability of his counsel by an oath, "That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, they might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them." In these divine declarations, God claims to be immutably holy, faithful, righteous, just, and good; and these immutable moral attributes constitute the highest possible perfection of moral rectitude.
3. God has made his rational creatures capable of discerning his moral, as well as natural attributes. He has implanted in their minds a moral sense, by which they can distinguish moral beauty from moral deformity-in moral characters. But can we suppose, that he would have done this, if he knew that his own moral character would not bear examination? He must have known, that if his rational creatures should discover any thing in his heart, or conduct, which was contrary to moral rectitude, it would dissolve their moral obligation to love his character, to obey his commands, or to submit to his government, and lay them under moral obligation to hate him supremely. For if his heart were evil, he would be the most odious instead of the most amiable Being in the universe. His conduct in making us competent to judge of his moral rectitude, is complete evidence of the perfection of his moral rectitude, and confirms his own declarations concerning it in his word.
4. God has not only made us capable of judging of his moral rectitude, but commanded us to do it. "Judge, I pray thee, between me and my vineyard." "Are not
my ways equal? are not your ways unequal? saith the Lord." His knowledge of his own moral perfections, is the only ground, upon which he can, with propriety, or even safety, appeal to us in respect to his moral rectitude. And since he has made the appeal, it amounts to irresistable evidence of the moral perfection of his
5. God has not only commanded his intelligent creatures to judge of his moral rectitude, but has placed them under the best advantages to judge. He has placed them all in a state of trial, and in different parts of the universe, where they have had great opportunities and strong inclinations, to examine his conduct with the strictest scrutiny. All mankind have been in a state of trial in this world; but some have been more tried, than others. No me on earth, perhaps, were more severely tried than Abraham and Job. And their peculiar trials led them to examine the hand and heart of God, and to discover, if possible, some injustice, or want of goodness in God. But after all their investigations into the divine character and conduct, they were obliged in conscience, to proclaim to the world his perfect rectitude in all his dealings towards them. The angels of heaven have had much greater abilities, advantages, and opportunities to look into the works and ways of God; but though they have looked with the greatest diligence and attention, yet they have been constrained to proclaim, in the strongest terms, the perfect rectitude of the divine character and conduct. Isaiah heard the heavenly hosts "cry one to another and say, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." And John says he heard them " Sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." Now, if the greatest and best of God's intelligent creatures, after their strictest scrutiny of his conduct in the various parts of the universe, have not been able to discover the least moral defect or imperfection in his character and conduct, we