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nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one; that, though there be many that are called gods in heaven and in earth, to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ.' And again ; . There is one God and Father of us all, who is above all, and in you all.' These passages are very clear and express, and can never be mistaken, to us Christians; that is, . There is one God, blessed for evermore.' We hear, nevertheless, of three divine persons ; we speak of the trinity. We read of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.' Now concerning these, it is to be observed, that they must all be understood in such a manner as to be consistent with the above positive declarations, that there is one only supreme God. What is that union which subsists in the divine nature; of what kind is that relation by which the divine persons of the trinity are connected, we know little ; perhaps it is not possible that we should know more. But this we seem to know, first, that neither man nor angel bears the same relation to God the Father as that which is attributed to his only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ; and secondly, that very thing does not break in upon the fundamental truth of religion, that there is one only supreme God, who reigneth and dwelleth in heaven and on earth, who is All in All, the same spirit always, unchangeable, 'who only hath immortality, dwelling in light which cannot be approached, whom no man hath seen, nor can see; to whom be glory and dominion for
THE GOODNESS OF GOD PROVED FROM THE LIGHT
OF NATURE AND REVELATION.
PSALM XXXIII. 5.
The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.
Of all the great and glorious attributes of the being whom we worship, whose we are, and on whom we depend, none is so endearing or so important to us as his goodness. That magnificent power which laid the foundation of the earth, which spread abroad the heavens as a curtain, which assigned for the sea its channels and its bounds, saying it should not pass them; who hath brought into being ten thousand worlds like our own, rolling in the firmament, all of which are put in motion and sustained in their orbs by his almighty hand; that consummate wisdom which created universal nature, which drew such regularity as this out of chaos and confusion, which contrives, with such exquisite skill, the largest as well as the least part of creation, from globes of immeasurable magnitude down to the limbs of insects too small for our eyes to perceive; although such are a just and never to be exhausted subject of astonishment and adoration, yet neither of them is of that immediate concern and consequence to ourselves as the benevolence, and kindness, and goodness of his disposition; because, if we ever find that these illustrious qualities are under the direction of a good and gracious will, then, but not till then, they become a solid ground of love, and confidence, and resignation, to all who are to depend upon them besides. If God be not good, what reason have we to believe that by doing good we please him? So that the subject of the divine goodness lies at the root of all morality and religion, of all our rules of conduct, and all our hopes of happiness.
Now no man hath seen God at any time; we can know him only by his works and his word. His works are to be taken into consideration, both from this being the natural order, and because it is from his works we collect that his word is to be relied upon. We will therefore state, as briefly as we can, the argument by which is made out the divine goodness and benevolence to his creatures; for the main thing wanted, in an argument of this sort, is, that it be short and intelligible, that every one may retain and revert to it in his own thoughts.
When God created the human species, either he wished their happiness, or he wished their misery, or he was indifferent and unconcerned about either; no other supposition is to be made. If he had wished our misery, he might have made sure of his purpose by framing our senses to be so many sores and pains to us, as they are now instruments of gratification and enjoyment, or by placing us amidst objects as ill suited to our perceptions as to have continually offended us, instead of ministering to our refreshment and delight. He might, for example, if he had pleased, have made every thing we tasted bitter, every thing we saw loathsome, every thing we touched a sting, every smell a stench, and every sound a discord. If he had been indifferent about our happiness or misery, we must impute to our good fortunes, as all design by this supposition is excluded, both the capacity of our senses to receive pleasure, and the supply of external objects fitted to excite it; but either of these, and still more both of them, being too much to be attributed to accident, nothing is left for it but the first supposition, that God, when he created the human species, wished their happiness, and made for them the provision he has made, with that view and for that purpose.
This is the argument in brief; but it deserves to be displayed somewhat more at large ; for, I trust, the more it is considered, the more satisfactory it will be found. The world about us was certainly made, and made by God, and there are three suppositions, and only three possible suppositions, as to the disposition and design with which he made it; either from a delight in the misery and torment of his creatures, or with a total unconcern what became of them one way or the other, or with the good and gracious will and wish that they should enjoy and be happy in the existence which he was giving them. If these are the only three possible suppositions, and the first two can be made out incredible, it will follow that the third is the true one.
Now the supposition of a malicious purpose, like what we sometimes hear of in eastern tyrants, a pleasure in the sufferings of others, without any conceivable end and advantage to be answered to themselves, though it be possible he can do such a thing, is actual mischief, is the perverseness and corruption of the human heart. Yet it is absolutely excluded from being the case here; because the same power which framed and contrived our several faculties, and made us susceptible of so many pleasures, and placed so many pleasing objects within our reach, could, if he had been so minded, have converted any one of these into instruments of torment and disgust. The power cannot be questioned, because he who could do one could do the other; he who could make a creature happy, or capable of happiness, could make it miserable and destined to inevitable misery. The first supposition, therefore, I think is clearly out of the question.
Some may think that there is more probability in the second, namely, that our Creator was unconcerned and indifferent about either our happiness or misery. I believe, upon inquiry, it will be found that there is not much more likelihood in this than in the other ; for suppose the Divine Being to have had no regard, or affection, or solicitude for the happiness of the crea
tures he was producing, there was nothing but chance for it, or good fortune as I may say, that we are so well as we are ; for, as to design in our favor, you say there was none. flect for a moment how the chances stand ; what likelihood was there that such an organ as the eye, for instance, fitted and contrived for so many valuable purposes both of convenience and pleasure, should have been the effect of chance? That is, can we imagine that the author of all things, when he planned and fabricated the useful and exquisite mechanism of this precious sense, did not forsee and contemplate the uses it was to serve, and did not mean and intend that the creature to whom he gave it should receive happiness and enjoyment from it? Was there but this instance in the world, it would be sufficient to confute the notion that God meant and intended nothing about our happiness and enjoyment at all. But the eye is but one sense of five, seeing is but one faculty out of many ; our hearing, speech, hands, feet, together with the several endowments of our minds and understandings, all admit of the same observation. If this alone was so small that we could accidentally receive one such important faculty, how out of all proportion and calculation is it, that we should thus find ourselves in possession of so many! Nor is this all. Suppose we had the several senses, still they had stood us in little stead, if we had not been placed amidst objects precisely suited to them ; our eyesight, for instance, might as well have been denied
if the objects which constantly surround us had been too great or too small, too near or too distant to be perceived. Our taste and smell had better have been out of the composition, if the meats that had generally been presented to the one had been nauseous or insipid, and the odors which exhaled from objects had continually offended us. It is only particular things that can, from their nature, please and gratify our senses; and out of the infinite variety which the capacity of nature allowed us, how extraordinary is it, suppose intention and design to have us happy to be laid out of the case, that the particular things should have been created, and still more that we should find ourselves in the midst of them! These instances appertain to
! the human species, because it is the disposition of the Deity towards his rational creatures which we are inquiring after, and precisely concerned in ; but all nature speaks the same language. Every animal may, to the lowest reptile, possess some faculty or other, some means of gratification, which would not have been given it by a malevolent being who delighted in misery, and which it would not have received, without a degree
of good fortune of which we see no example, from a being who produced it without any concern about its happiness or misery at all. By the goodness of God, we see his kindness to his creatures ; and as the world, which we see now, could not have been constituted at first, either with an evil design, or without design at all, what other conclusion is lest, but that our Creator intended and wished our happiness when he made us, and that the same will and wish continue, so long as the same creation and order of things is upheld by him ? for any change in his counsels and character, were it possible, would be immediately followed by a corresponding alteration in the laws and order of nature.
But after all is said, evil, and pain, and misery exist among us still; diseases and sickness, and maladies and misfortunes, are not done away by reasoning about them, or by any opinion we entertain of the divine goodness; how are these to be reconciled with the beneficence which we attribute to the divine character ? Now I think there is one observation which will go a great way to take off the edge of the objection ; namely, that evil is never the object of contrivance. We can never trace out a train of contrivances to bring about an evil purpose. The world abounds with contrivances of nature; and all the contrivances we are acquainted with, will conduce to beneficial purposes.
As this is a distinction of great consequence, I will endeavour to illustrate it.
If you had occasion to describe the instruments of husbandry you would hardly say, this is to cut or wound the laborer's hand, this to bruise his limbs, this to break his bones; though, from the construction of several implements of husbandry, and the manner of using them, these misfortunes commonly happen; the mischief that it does, however, is not the object of the contrivance. Whereas, if
Whereas, if it was necessary to describe engines of torture, you would say of one, this is to extend the sinews, this to dislocate the joints, this to search the flesh.
Here pain and misery is the very object of the contrivance, which is a different case from the former one, though the same result may actually follow it. Now nothing of this kind is to be found in the works of nature ; nothing where there appears contrivance to bring about mischief. Of the beneficial faculties, the contrivance is often evident. Ask after our eyesight, the anatomist will show you the structure of the eye, its coats, humors, nerves, and muscles, all fabricated and put together for the purpose of vision, as plainly as a telescope or microscope for assisting it, and in the very same way. Ask after the