Page images

« and not to God: and I would not that ye should “ have fellowship with demons. Ye cannot drink « the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons:

ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and " of the table of demons.” The apostle John also concludes his General Epistle to the christian churches with these words, 1 John v. 21.

" Lit “ tle children, keep yourselves from idols.” Lastly, the eating of meat facrificed to idols was one of the charges which our Lord, after his ascension, brought against the churches of Pergamos, and Thyatira, Rev. ii. 14. 20.

Through the whole of the New Testament, there is not so much as one example of

ne example of any invifible being, who is addressed as the object of prayer, but the fame one living and true God, who is also called “ the God and Father of our Lord Jesus « Christ,” (Eph. iii. 14.

" For this cause I " bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord « Jesus Christ,”) and every initance of homage approaching to divine is strongly repressed. When Cornelius fell down at the feet of Peter, though it cannot be supposed that he who was himself a worshipper of the true God, meant to pay him divine honours, the apostle replied, Alls X. 26, “ Stand

up; I myself also am a man.” And twice that John fell down before the angel who was explaining to him the visions of the book of Revelations,

he xxii. 9.

he was rebuked in the same manner, Rev. xix. 10.

“ See thou do it not: I ain thy fellow“servant, and of thy brethren that have the ters timony of Jefus: worship God."

Considering how strongly this great article, the worship of one God only, is guarded in all the books of scripture, it would seem impossible that it should ever be infringed by any who profefs to hold the books of the Old and New Testament for the rule of their faith and practice ; and yet we shall fee, that this very article was the subject of one of the first and the most radical of all the corruptions of christianity. For upon the very fame principles, and in the

very same manner, by which dead men came to be worshipped by the antient idolaters, there was introduced into the christian church, in the first place, the idolatrous worship of Jesus Christ, then that of the Virgin Mary; and lastly, that of innumerable other saints, and of angels allo; and this modern christian idolatry has been attended with all the absurdities, and with some, but not all the immoralities, of the antient heathen idolatry. It has, however, evidently promoted a very great neglect of the duties we owe both to God and man.



Of the moral attributes of God.


VAT God is a being of the greatest purity and

rectitude is another important doctrine of revealed religion; and though, like the doctrine of the divine unity, it may be said to be the dictate of nature, it was a doctrine which mankind had in a great measure overlooked, and never sufficiently attended to. Entertaining low notions of the beings on whom they supposed that they immediately depended, and ascribing to them a great variety of objects and pursuits, some of which were exceedingly trifling and unworthy, they had recourse to a variety of methods by which they thought to recommend themselves to their favour, many of which had no connection with moral virtue, and some of them were gross violations of the most fundamental rules of it.

Judging of their Gods as having been, many of them, men no better than themselves, but subject to envy and jealousy, they were in general more especially prone to that kind of superstition which consists in mortifying themselves, in order to ren commend them to God. If any great calamity be


fel them, imagining the wrath of their God was to be appeased, like that of revengeful and unreason able men, with something that cost them very dear, , they sometimes did not spare their own children, but put them to a cruel death in their facrifices; and they made dreadful havock of the rest of their fpecies on much less occafions.

In the Jewish and christian revelations, on the contrary, we see the moral character of the divine being set in the clearest, the strongest, and most amiable light. We find that the God with whom we have to do loves all his creatures ; that if he chastises them it is with reluctance, and only for their good, and especially for their improvement in virtue; that he stands in no need of any of his creatures, and has no pleasure either in the compliments they pay him, or the gifts and facrifices which they make to him, though, as an expression of their homage, dependence, and gratitude, he may think proper to require such things.

The proper seat of virtue and solid happiness being in the heart, the divine being, as his character is revealed to us in our books of scripture, appears to be most solicitous that our hearts and affections be right, and not to pay much attention to mere external actions, which was every thing that the heathen Gods were imagined to trouble themselves about. On the contrary, the God of the Jews and christians is always represented as searching


the hearts, and as attending to the inmost thoughts, inclinations, and purposes of the mind; so that no secret or intended iniquity can escape his animadversion.

In order to exhibit the doctrines of the scriptures concerning the moral attributes of God, I shall, first confider his purity or holiness, including his regard to moral virtue in general, and then his goodness, mercy, and veracity, in the order in which they are here mentioned.

Passages which express the purity or holiness of God in general, are exceedingly numerous, and many of them very emphatical; as Lev. xix, 2. “ Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am " holy.” The angels, in the vision of Isaiah, vi. 3. are represented as crying one to another, “Holy “ holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth " is full of his glory.” Moses, in that remarkable song which he composed for the Ifraelites, in order that they might commit it to memory, says, Deut.


. “ I will publish the name of the Lord : “ ascribe ye greatness unto our God. 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.” Habbakuk, addressing himself to God, says, ch. i. 12:

66 Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine holy “ one? Thou art of purer eyes than to behold “ evil, and canst not look on iniquity.” When

« PreviousContinue »