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"doth his children; that the very hairs of our "head are numbered; and that he so loved "the world, that he sent his only-begotten Son "into it, that mankind should not perish, but "have everlasting life." If we admit any other idea of God's infinite goodness, this attribute of the Deity, which must necessarily ever operate, would, with respect to man, cease to operate; which cannot be: and therefore when the predicament, in which man by his disobedience had placed himself, was such, that he must be extricated from it, or utterly perish; as it was suitable to the justice of God to punish man for his disobedience, it Was equally suitable to this ever-operating principle of his infinite goodness that he should design some plan, consistent with his own' dignity, to extricate him from the miserable situation he was in; and since this could no otherwise be done, than by the vanquishment of death, and by destroying the' power of the Devil; (two things it is not to be conceived any mere man could achieve, Without limiting God's goodness, which is illimitable;) no man, who properly considers the nature of infinite goodness, will be staggered, but, on the contrary, will receive and admit, with heartfelt joy, the idea of the
infinite mercy of God, which is in its own nature such, as to have induced him to send his Son into the world to accomplish so important a purpose as the salvation of millions, and millions of millions, of intellectual beings, created in his own image. And though, from man's infraction of the command of God, and his breach of that injunction which by creation God had a right to impose on him, had God thought proper to inflict on him the awarded penalty of non-existence; however the conduct of the Almighty might in so doing have been sanctioned by justice, yet how great, how admirable, how illustrious an instance of his being the "Lord God, merci** ful and gracious, long-suffering, and abun"dant in goodness," is his devising a gracious plan for the pardon of original sin, and for the restoration of the human species to his forfeited favour!
With respect to those people who affect to be shocked at the idea of the Son of God's coming on earth for the benefit and salvation of the inhabitants of this small planet, the cause of their affected delicacy, of their false zeal for the honour of God, I conceive to arise from such persons judging of the na
ture of God, and of his infinite goodness, from their own nature. Goodness in man is a rare quality, of casual, occasional, arbitrary, and adventitious operation, and, for the most part, not very prone to great and noble achievements: but the goodness of God is far otherwise; the Scriptures define it to be infinite, constant, permanent, uniform, immutable, and invariable; as neither slumbering nor sleeping. God in these holy pages is described to be "gracious, and his "mercy as enduring for ever; abundant in "goodness, and forgiving iniquity, transgres"sion, and sin." " It is of the Lord's mercies "that Ave are not consumed, because his com"passions fail not: they are new every morn"ing*." His love to the human race is described to be greater than that of a mother towards her infant child; as loving to every man; and as loving the world so greatly, "that he gave his only-begotten Son, that man "should not perish, but have everlasting life/' Since therefore God was not shocked at appointing our Saviour to this mission, nor our Saviour at undertaking it, there is all imaginable cause why man should rejoice, but
* Lamentations iii. 22, 23.
none at all why his feelings or his reason should be shocked on this occasion; for this world is a planet, however inconsiderable, of God's creating, as well as other greater and superior planets. He is the heavenly Father of all his creatures, and of course of the inhabitants of this planet, who are intellectual beings, created in his own image. His infinite goodness is, as before observed, an everoperating principle, conjoined to his wisdom and power, and inseparable from them; and therefore, I apprehend, without either rashness or presumption, it may be imagined impossible for him to suffer millions and millions of intellectual beings (though they have offended him) utterly to perish, without making such effort to save them as is consistent with his justice and wisdom. And our blessed Saviour accordingly represents the conduct of G od towards the human race to be like that of a shepherd, who may have one hundred sheep, and if he loses one, leaves the ninety and nine in search of that one; " It is not the will of my Father that "one of these little ones should perish;" and therefore, though there should be ever so many solar systems besides our own, yet this being one inhabited by intelligent beings,
created in the image of God, capable of worshipping and adoring him, and of enjoying immortal happiness; it is as congenial to right reason as to Scripture to believe that God would, in that effective way he pleases, interpose, and prevent the utter destruction of so many millions of such beings; and who, without such interposition, must perish for ever. Even where this attribute of goodness is true and genuine in the character of a man, though it will or ought to be subject to the control of reason, and be influenced by attendant circumstances, yet it will be general, universal, and consistent; it will exert itself on very small as on very great occasions; and the same principle or motive that actuates its exertion to make the widow's heart leap for joy, will influence it even to relieve any the most insignificant brute, or even reptile, from evident and visible distress: and if so, if the distress of a brute can stimulate finite goodness into action, the distress, the lost state of millions and millions of intellectual beings, created in the image of God, with a capacity of worshipping him, and of enjoying immortality, may very rationally be supposed capable of stimulating infinite good-!