« PreviousContinue »
Of the divine veracity.
HE laft of the moral attributes of the divine
being, of which I shall take particular notice, is his veracity, or regard to truth, and his fidelity with respect to his promises and engagements. Of this we can have no direct knowledge from the light of nature, though we infer from it that we should have reason to depend upon the truth of all the declarations of the divine being, if he should think proper to make any ; but in the scriptures we find both the most express declarations concerning the veracity and faithfulness of God, and likewise a sufficient number of facts corresponding to those declarations.
In Is. Ixv. 16. he is called the God of truth. It is faid of him, Pl. cxlvi. 6. " he keepeth truth for “ ever;" and he himself says, Pl. lxxxix. 34. " My covenant will I not break, nor alter the " thing that is gone out of my lips :" and If. xlvi.
“ I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; “ I have purposed it, I will also do it.” Lastly, we read, Heb. vi. 18. " It is impossible for God to lie."
With respect to facts, it is sufficient to say, that no instance is mentioned of the divine being having failed to fulfil any promise that he had made, respecting either individuals, or nations of mankind; but a great variety of facts are recorded, in which the performance exadly corresponds to the engagement. I shall recite only one of them. After the children of Israel were settled in the land of Canaan, it is said, Josh. xxi. 43. “ and " the Lord gave unto Israel all the land which he
sware to give unto their fathers : and they pos" sessed it, and dwelt therein. And the Lord
gave them reft round about, according to all " that he sware unto their fathers : and there stood
not a man of all their enemies before them : the " Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand. « There failed not ought of any thing good which “ the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel : “ all came to pass.”
On such ground as this (the Jewish and christian religions having been proved to be divine) we have fufficient reason to depend upon the truth of those divine declarations, the time for the accomplishment of which is not yet come; especially with respect to the grand catastrophe of the whole scheme, viz. that there shall be a refurrection of all the dead, followed by an ample reward for the righteous, and an adequate punishment for the wicked.
CH A P.
OF THE DUTY WHICH GOD REQUIRES OF
HE unity, and the moral attributes of God
being so clearly revealed to us in the scriptures, we naturally expect that the chief thing which he will require of man will be purity of heart and integrity of life, or the genuine principles, the uniform practice, and the confirmed habits of all moral virtue; comprehending an unfeigned reverence and love of himself, the highest respect for his authority, and a humble and chearful submission to all the dispensations of his providence, together with all the natural expressions of our dependence upon him, and obligation to him. We might also expect that he would require of us a fincere regard to the welfare of our fellow-creatures, and all those actions which naturally arise from that gem nerous principle, viz. all the duties of justice, equity, and humanity. Lastly, we might expect that his authority should be interposed in favour of those virtues which more immediately respect ourselves, and the government of our appetites and passions; so that in all things we be chaste and
temperate, no Naves to violent and unreasonable pasions, or to any affection of mind by which we might debase our natures, or expose ourselves to the temptation of disturbing and injuring others.
Of the duty of man with respect to God.
HE duties of piety, or devotion, consisting of.
a right difpofition of mind with respect to God, and the actions which Aow from that difpofition, are, in a manner, peculiar to the Jewish and christian religions; being almost unknown to the Gentile world. But in the scriptures very great stress is deservedly laid upon them.
In general the fear and love of God, and an habitual regard to his inspection, authority, and example, are represented in the scriptures as the most effectual guard, and the most powerful and animating principle of virtue; and every branch of virtue is constantly spoken of as his express command, and as an observance of the laws which he has thought proper to prescribe as the rule of our conduct. Sentiments of this kind are expressed with an infinite diversity of manner through the whole of the Old and New Testament; so that the dif
ference, ference, in this respect, between the books of fcrip. ture and the best moral pieces of the heathen writers is exceedingly striking.
When Joseph was tempted to commit adultery in the most private manner, he replied, Gen, xxxix. 9. " How can I do this great wickedness, and fin “ against God ?” Solomon also says, Prov. ix. 10. " The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wiso dom." and Prov. xvi. 6. By the fear of the “ Lord, men depart from evil." We are exhorted to be “holy, because God is holy," Lev. xix. 2. 1 Pet. i. 16; to “ be perfect, even as our fa" ther who is in heaven is perfect," Matt. v. 48. and also to,
« be followers of God as dear chil. “ dren," Eph. v. 1. And, for this reason, to “ be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving “ one another, even as God in Chrift hath forgiven
us." Ch.iv. 32.
On the other hand, it is mentioned as characteristic of the wicked, that " there is no fear of « God before his eyes.” Pl. xxxvi. 1. and " that God is not in all his thoughts." Pf. x. 4.
The disposition of mind which we are required to cultivate, with respect to God, is represented in the scriptures as a mixture of filial reverence, love, and confidence, as to a most affectionate father, and equitable moral governor; and has in it nothing of that terror and anxiety, which is inspired by a subjection to a cruel or capricious being. On