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understanding and almighty power, but also infinite and unchangeable in all moral propensities—as one having a perfect sense of the moral fitness and unfitness of things, and an answer. able frame of heart; or, in scripture-language, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty....the holy one of Israel: The Lord God gracious and merciful, but by no means clearing the guilty....Of purer eyes than to behold iniquity....Who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity....Who renders to every one according to their doings, &c. Without a right idea of God, the supreme Governor of the world, and a realizing, living sense of him on our hearts, it is impossible we should rightly understand the meth. ods he has taken to open a way for his mercy to come out after à rebellious, guilty world, or truly see into the grounds of his conduct—the reasons of his doing as he has done. If we know God, and have a taste for moral beauty, we shall be in a disposition to understand the gospel ; but otherwise we shall not.... John vii. 17, and viii. 47: For, in the whole of this great affair of our redemption, he has acted altogether like himself.
(2.) God is infinitely excellent, glorious, and amiable in being what he is. His having such a nature or temper, and, at the same time, being of infinite understanding and almighty power, renders him infinitely excellent, glorious, and amiable, far beyond the conceptions of any finite mind. Isa. vi. 3.... Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of thy glory.
Hence, God loves, esteems, and delights in himself infinitely: not indeed from what we call a selfish spirit; for could we supo pose there was another just what he is, and himself an inferior, he would love, esteem, and delight in that other, as entirely as he does now in himself: It is his being what he is, that is the ground of his self-love, esteem, and delight.
Hence, again, he loves to act like himself, in all his conduct as moral Governor of the world, as entirely as he loves himself ; and it is as much contrary to his nature to counteract the temper of his heart, in his public conduct, as to cease to be what he is : And the plain reason is, that there is the same ground for the one as for the other. He loves himself, because he is most ex
eellent in being what he is ; and, for the same reason, he loves to act like himself, because that is most excellent too : He can, not be willing to cease to be of that temper or nature he is of, because it is most excellent ; and, for the same reason, he can. not be willing to counteract it, because it is most excellent to act agreeably to it in all things : He is under necessity to love himself; and he is under the same necessity to act like him. self....Gen. xviii. 25: Hence it is a common thing for God, in great earnestness, to say in his word, I will do so and so, and they shall KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD : as if he should say~ “ A guilty, rebellious race may think and say what they will " of me, yet I am what I am, and I will act like myself, and all “ the world shall know that I am the Lord, i. e. that I am what “ I pretend to be : They shall know it by my conduct, sooner or later."
(3.) God cannot be said to act like himself, unless he appears as great an enemy to sin, in his public government of the world, as he really is at heart. If his conduct as moral Governor of the world, the whole being taken together, should look with a more favorable aspect towards sin, or appear less severe than really he is, then it is self-evident that his conduct would not be like himself, nor would it tend to exhibit a true idea of him to all attentive spectators in all his dominions. If his creatures and subjects, in such a case, should judge of his nature by his conduct, they would necessarily frame wrong notions of the divine Being: And he himself must see and know that he did not act like himself ; nor appear, in his conduct, to be what he was in his heart.
But God, the supreme Governor of the world, does, at heart, look upon sin as an infinite evil ; and his aversion and enmity to it is infinite. He looks upon it, and (in speak of him after the manner of men) is affected towards it, as being what it really is. But it is infinitely wrong and wicked, for us not to love him with all our heart, and obey him in every thing : The least sin is an infinite evil ; and such he sees it to be, and as such does he abhor it. The infinite evil of sin does not consist
in its lessening God's essential glory or blessedness ; for they are both independent on us, and far out of our reach : nor does it consist merely in its tendency to make us miserable : But, in its own nature, it is infinitely wrong, in as much as we are under infinite obligations to perfect holiness. Our obligations to love God with all our heart are in proportion to his amiableness; but that is infinite : not to do so, therefore, is infinitely wrong. But, as has been said, God has an infinite sense of the moral fitness and unfitness of things, and an answerable frame of heart: i. e. he infinitely loves that which is right, and infinitely hates that which is wrong: And therefore he infinitely hates the least sin.
If, therefore, he acts like himself, he must, in his public goyernment of the world, his whole conduct being taken together, appear, in the most evident manner, to be an infinite enemy to the least sin : He must appear infinitely severe against it ; and never do any thing, which, all things considered, seems to look at all with another aspect.
(4.) God, the supreme Governor of the world, cannot be said to appear an infinite enemy to sin, and to appear infinitely severe against it, and that without the least appearance of a favorable aspect towards it in his conduct, unless he does always, throughout all his dominions, not only in word threaten, but in fact punish it, with infinite severity, without the least mitigation or abatement in any one instance whatsoever.
If he should never, in his government of the world, say or do any thing against sin, it would seem as if he was a friend to it, or at least very indifferent about it. If he should say, and not do....threaten to punish, but never inflict the punishment, his creatures and subjects might be tempted to say, “He pretends to be a mighty enemy to sin, and that is all.” If he should generally punish sin with infinite severity, but not always, there would at least be some favorable aspect towards ein, in his visible conduct; and his subjects might be ready to say, “ If he can suffer sin to go half unpunished, why not alto"gether? And if altogether at one time, why not at another?
“ And if he can abate the threatened punishment in some degree,
in some instances, why not altogether in all instances? “ If there is no absolute necessity that sin should be punished, “ why does he ever punish it? But if it be absolutely necessary, “ why does he ever suffer it to go unpunished?” It would seem, at least, by such a conduct, as if sin was not so exceedingly bad a thing but that it might escape punishment sometimes—and as if God was not such an infinite, unchangeable enemy to it, but that he might be disposed to treat it with a little favor :-In a word, if God should always punish sins, not one excepted, and that throughout all his dominions, and yet not do it always with infinite severity ; but, in some instances, one in a million we will say, should abate a little, and but a very little ; yet so much as he abates, be it more or less, so much does he treat sin in a favorable manner, and so much does he fall short of treating it with due severity, and so far does he appear, in his conduct, from being an infinite, unchangeable enemy to it : So that it is very evident that he cannot, in his conduct, as moral Governor of the world, appear an infinite, unchangeable enemy to sin, without the least appearance to the contrary, in any other possible way or method, than by always punishing it with infinite severity, without the least abatement, in any one instance, in any part of his dominions, in time or eternity. And this would be to act like himself; and in and by such conduct, he would appear to be what he is. But to do otherwise, would be to counteract his own nature, and give a false representation of his heart, by a conduct unlike himself.
Thus, it is the nature of God, the great Governor of the world, in all his conduct, to act like himself : But he cannot be said to act like himself, unless he appears as great an enemy to sin, and as severe against it, as he really is, without the least shadow of the contrary : but his conduct cannot appear in this light, unless he does, in fact, punish sin with infinite severity, throughout all his dominions, without the least mitigation, in any one instance, in time or eternity : therefore it is the nature of God, the Governor of the world, to do so ; and therefore he
can no sooner, nor any easier, be willing to let any sin go unpunished, than he can to cease to be what he is :* For, as was before proved, it is as impossible for him to act contrary to his own nature, as it is to cease to be what he is : and he can consent to the one as easily as to the other.
Hence, we may learn, this is really a branch of the law of nature, That sin should be punished : it results from the nature of God, the Governor of the world; it was no arbitrary constitution; it did not result from the divine sovereignty. It would, in the nature of things, have been no evil for · Adam to have eaten of the tree of knowledge, had not God forbidden it ; herein God exercised his sovereign authority, as absolute Lord of all things : But in threatening sin with eternal death, he acted not as a sovereign, but as a righteous Governor : his nature prompted him to do so ; he could not have done otherwise. As it is said in another case, It is impossible for God to lie ; so it may be said here, It is impossible for God to let sin go unpunished. As he cannot go counter to himself in speaking, so neither in acting. It is az contrary to his nature to let sin go unpunished, as it is to lie; for his justice is as much himself, as his truth ; and it is, therefore, equally impossible he should act contrary to either.
Hence, this branch of the law of nature is not capable of any repeal or abatement : For since it necessarily results from the nature of God, the Governor of the world, it must necessarily remain in force so long as God continues to be what he is. Besides, if God should repeal it, he must not only counteract his own nature, but also give great occasion to all his subjects to think he was once too severe against sin, and that now he had altered his mind, and was become more favorable towards it : which he can no more be willing to do, than he can be wil.
* God's mild and kind conduct towards a guilty world at present, is nothing inconsistent with this ; because mankind are now dealt with in and through a mediator, upon whom our sins have been lail, and who has been made a curse for us. In him our sins have been treated with infinite severit;, without the least abatement. But for this, God's conduct, no doubt, would be very inconsistent with his perfections.