Imatges de pàgina

to the destiny which he has appointed. Then “the Lord God Omnipotent shall reign for ever and ever."

The next communicable attribute of the divine nature is wisdom. This may be defined that faculty by which he disposes and regulates all things to such purposes as may best promote his glory, and the welfare of his intelligent creatures. God hath displayed his wisdom in his works of nature, of providence and grace. Every thing which he hath made indicates the consummate skill of its divine artificer. Wherever we turn our eyes, we behold the wonderful arrangement of means to ends in the system of nature. The sun which 'revolves over our heads is appointed by infinite wisdom to convey light and heat to the world and other globes which move within the sphere of his influence; the planetary worlds are regulated by the same wonderful laws which prevail throughout the boundless extent of creation, and by which all bodies in the universe are kept within their proper orbits, and preserve the regularity of all their motions. But the wise contrivances which we observe in the constitution of things on the surface of the earth, exhibit in a more conspicuous manner, the unerring wisdom of that mighty Being who created and preserves them in number, weight, and measure. What a wonderful provision is made for supplying the wants of man and of beast, by those innumerable species of herbs, and fruits, and plants, which afford sustenance to every creature according to its kind; in what a wonderful manner are the various parts of the earth fitted to the respective purposes for which they are ordained, the dry land containing the materials of food, raiment, and accommodation; the waters serving as a reservoir to nourish and fertilize the soil; the winds to refresh the atmosphere, and promote the health of every living thing!

In short, every object in nature is most admirably suited to fulfil some beneficial purpose in the general system. “ The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens ; by his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew. By the breath of God, frost is given, and the þreadth of the waters is straitened. Out of the south


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cometh the whirlwind, and cold out of the north: and it is turned about by his counsels to do whatever he commandeth on the face of the earth.” How manifold are the works of the Almighty! in wisdom hath he made them all.

The wisdom of God is no less manifest in the nature and condition of man. The human body is the most perfect piece of mechanism, completely adjusted in its several parts to answer the ends for which they were created. By our eye we are enabled to perceive, by our ear to hear, and by all our other senses to perform the functions of animal life. But our mental faculties are still more astonishing effects of infinite wisdom : for by our understanding we can judge concerning right and wrong; and by our will determine our actions according to the apparent utility which will result from the resolutions which we form. Not only are our natural faculties well adapted to regulate our conduct: God hath also wisely appointed us laws and precepts which are no less calculated to promote our advantage. “ The law of the Lord is right, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are pure, enlightening the eyes; the judgments of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. Moreover by them are his servants warned, and in keeping of them there is a great reward.”

But when we transgress these laws, and become guilty before God, he hath exhibited his wisdom in providing a remedy for our offences, and the means of our forgiveness. This he hath done in the appointment of that Mediator, who is the propitiation for our sins, whose obedience unto death he hath accepted in our behalf, and through whose meritorious atonement he is reconciled, and reconcileth to himself all penitent and believing sinners.

By this wise economy, we are now assured, that if we sin through infirmity or the violence of temptation, we are not finally rejected of God, if we desire to return to the ways of well doing; but that “we have an advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous, who is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God through him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for

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them.” This surely is a gracious provision, since we have all sinned; and yet we may be sincerely desirous to walk in the way of holiness, notwithstanding our manifold imper. fections. Thus the wisdom of God is conspicuous in appointing such a suitable plan for accomplishing our re. demption. Thus in all his works, and in all his ways, “ God is wise in heart, and his thoughts are very deep: is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working.”

The next attribute discoverable in the divine nature is goodness. This consists in that benevolence of disposition by which the Deity communicates happiness to his crea, tures, suited to their natures and the conditions in which they are placed. It is most extensively diffused to every being or thing which can partake of its bounty. Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." Whatever be the object on which it is bestowed, it is equally manifested as a principle of universal benignity. Thus, by it the inferior animals receive a supply of food convenient for them; for “ God openeth his hand, and satisfies the desires of every living thing."

The sons of men also are constantly sharing in the gifts of his providence, for every good and perfect gift

“ is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights. He giveth us all things richly to enjoy.” “ He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Yea, he is kind even to the unthankful and evil. Both the righteous and the wicked are daily receiving proofs of his loving kindness and tender mercy. If we fear and serve him, we experience his favour and protection; he maketh our way prosperous, and imparts joy and gladness to our souls; he continues to bless us and to do us good; ho leads and guides us by his counsel while we live, and afterwards receives us to glory. If we even forget him, and transgress his laws, he still waiteth long to be gracious, he is not willing to punish us, but rather would have us to repent and live. “ He is merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.”

“ It is of his mercies we are not con, sumed, and because his compassions fail not.” When we are in health, it is by his goodness that our constitution is preserved unimpaired, for he daily loadeth us with his benefits. When we suffer affliction," he ever chastens us for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness;" that by pain and sickness he may withdraw our hearts from the world and its pleasures, to himself and the things above.--In whatever condition we are placed, whether in prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, the goodness of God is continually bestowed, and always exceeds our deserts. At all times, and in every circumstance of life, however deplorable, we may partake of the blessings of the gospel, which are the one thing needful. “ Out of the divine fulness we may always receive, and grace for grace.”

Another attribute inherent in the divine nature is holiness, whereby God possesses perfect rectitude, and a freedom from every kind of moral turpitude. By the perfection of his nature he approves and does whatever is right and proper, and abhors every the least appearance of evil in any of his creatures. He is of purer eyes than to behold wickedness, and hateth all the workers of iniquity, He hath given evidence of his holiness, by his works and dispensations. As he is infinite in rectitude himself, he hath imparted a small portion of this quality to his intelligent creatures. He created the angels in a state of holi- , ness and happiness, though some have fallen from their integrity; he made man at first upright, though we have now sought out many sinful inventions: he hath given us a law for directing our conduct, which is holy, just, and good; prescribing every duty which may promote the perfection of our nature, and restore in us that purity which was our original condition: he hath forbidden every action which is a violation of the law of uprightness, either in thought, word, or deed: he hath testified his displeasure at every transgression, by threatening unutterable punishment against those who persevere in sin without repentance; and shewn his irreconcilable hatred against every violation of the law of rectitude, even though we

repent and reform, by appointing our Saviour to expiate the transgression of the penitent, and take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And although we are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, yet "we are called to be saints, to be holy as God is holy, and required to be zealous in maintaining good works." Since holiness is such an indispensable qualification in the character of every rational being, we may without doubt conclude, that God who enjoins it, is holy, pure, and perfect. “ He is just and righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works;” and nothing but holiness becometh him, and all his saints for evermore.

Connected with the holiness of God, is his equity or justice. This attribute is that eternal rectitude of his nature, whereby he orders and disposes all things according to the rules which his infinite wisdom has prescribed, and governs all mankind in the most impartial manner, by rewarding or punishing them according to their works.God hath given us laws for the regulation of our conduct, and promised rewards as an inducement to excite our obedience, and threatened punishment to deter us from transgression. As these laws are holy, just, and good, it is our interest no less than our duty to aim at conformity to them in our hearts and lives. We are even ready to acknowledge our obligations to obey the divine laws, and cannot help condemning ourselves for their violation. If then our own hearts approve of virtue, and disapprove of vice, we may be assured that much more will God, who is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things. And as we feel the good effects of regulating our actions by the precepts of religion, with the pernicious consequences of renouncing its restraints, and yielding to the solicitations of our lusts and passions, even in the present world ; we are led to anticipate the same results from our behaviour in the world to come. And if God hath discovered to us the issue of our behaviour, in that future state which awaits us,—that he will confer happiness and glory on the righteous, and inflict misery and punishment on the wicked; we cannot but acknowledge the justice of such : procedure, if we render ourselves capable of attaining the

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