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* peculiar people, zealous of good works." And our Lord himself says, John xv. viii. 66 Herein " is my father glorificd, that ye bear much s6 fruit."
Lastly, it is impossible that the practice of universal virtue, absolute or relative, fhould be more strongly enforced than it is in all the apoftolical epistles, and especially towards the close of them. See Rom, ii. 4. &c. 12. 1 Cor. vi. 9. &c. Eph. i. 4. v.
i Thes. v. 22. the epistle of James throughout, 1 Pet. 11. 11. &c. i John iv. 20.
It is in vain that we look for any thing that can be compared with this in any system of heathen religion. Almost the best that can be said of them is, that they enjoin practices that are merely idle and insignificant; for too often they countenance the most destructive vices.
Of the goodness of God.
THE "HE goodness of God seems to be pretty clearly
inferred from a view of the works of creation, a benevolent design being sufficiently manifeft in every thing that we understand. Indeed the great mixture that we fee of apparent evil is apt to stag.
ger even well disposed minds, especially when them. felves are affected by it; but in the scriptures we see all these doubts removed. All events are promiscuously ascribed to God; but his intention is represented as being good and kind, even when his proceedings are the most fevere. David, addressing himself to God, fays, Pl. cxix. 68. “ Thou art “ good, and doelt good.” Pf. cxlv. g. “ Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are
over all his works.” Pf. xxxiii. 5. " earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.” Pf.
“ The eyes of all wait upon thee, and " thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou “ openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of “ every living tbing.
Our Lord says, Matt. xix. 17: “ There is none “ good but one, that is God;" and in his fermon upon the mount, he enforces the duty of universal benevolence by the confideration of that of our heavenly father, Matt. v. 45. " That ye may be " the children of your father who is in heaven, 66 for he maketh his fun to rise on the evil and on " the good, and fendeth rain on the just and on the “ unjust." The apostle John expresses himself in the most emphatical manner concerning this fubject, when he says, 1 John iv. 16. “ We have " known and believed the love that God hath to “ us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, “ dwelleth in God, and God in him.” And the
apostle James says, ch. i. 17. Every good gift, " and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh “ down from the father of lights.”
The severity with which good men are fumetimes treated, is always represented in the scriptures as the correction of a tender father, intended to promote the reforination and good of his children; and what he always inflicts with reluctance. Jeremiah says, Lam. iii. 31. « The Lord will
not cast off for ever. But though he caufe so grief, yet will he have compaffion, according “ to the multitude of his mercies; for he doth not “ afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men.” The prophet Hofea draws a most affecting picture of the painful reluctance with which the divine being has recourse to severity, after the most aga gravated and repeated provocations, Hosea' xi. I. &c. " When Israel was a child, then I loved « him, and called my son out of Egypt.“ They sacrificed unto Baalim, and burnt incenfe « to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to
go, taking them by their arms, but they knew " not that I healed them. I drew them with cords “ of a man, with bands of love.—My peo« ple are bent to backsliding from me : though " they called them to the most High, none at "s all would exalt him. How shall I give thee up, “ Ephraim ? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how « shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set
66 thee u thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within
me, my repentings are kindled together. I will
not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will « not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God, “ and not man, the holy One in the midft of " thee.”
The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, also, reminds the perfecuted christians of his age, of these conforming sentiments, fo peculiarly proper to their circumstances, Heb. xii. 5. &c. “Ye have “ forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto
you as unto children, my son, despise not thou “ the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou « art rebuked of him. For whom the Lord loveth “ he chafteneth, and scourgeth every fon whom he u receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God deal" with you as with fons: for wbat son is he whom © the father chafteneth not?
-Now no chara tening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but “ grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the 6 peaceable fruit of righteousness, unto them who “ are exercised thereby.”
Lastly, the dispensation of the gospel is always represented as an instance of the exceedingly great love and goodness of God, John iii. 16.
16 God «« so loved the world, that he gave his only begot
ten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John " In this was manifested the love of God
« towards us, because that God sent his only be “ gotten son into the world, that we might live “ through him. Herein is love, not that we loved « God, but that he loved us." Rom. viii. 32. “ He that spared not his own son, but delivered os him up for us all, how shall be not with him so also freely give us all things.”
Of the mercy' of God.
of God to those who are disposed to return to their duty, when they have once rendered themselves obnoxious to his difpleasure by their offences, is a subject of which mankind, especially those whose minds were rendered timid and fearful by a consciousness of guilt, would be more apt to entertain doubts, than of the goodness of God in general. No proof by way of inference only, how short and plain foever, would be sufficient for such persons; and yet it is easy to see, that it is of the utmost importance, that such persons fhould receive all possible satisfaction with respect to it: left, through a distrust of the mercy of God, they should be driven into absolute despair. Besides, nothing is so engaging, and furnishes ro powerful a motive to a return to duty, as a