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who advises you when doubts overwhelm you; who smooths the brow of care, and partakes in all your afflictions? Have you á friend of this character? Or, if you have parents who reared you with the utmost tenderness, to whom you were dear as life, what affections do you feel arising in your breasts when you think of them? Are they not those of love, and of gratitude, which is nearly allied to love? It is just as natural to expect these in every human mind in such circumstances, as to expect from a field properly cultivated, warmed by the kindest influences of Heaven, and watered by its gentlest showers, a plentiful return of that feed which is sown in it. Is it not reasonable then, nay, is it not unavoidable to love men, when they are conspicuous for good dispositions and acts of beneficence? · Suppose, now, that the sphere of man's influence were extended, and that the imperfection which attends him through all the steps of life were removed, would he not thus be rendered more amiable, and consequently . be the object of the greater love? As God, therefore, is not only the most powerful and the wiseft, but likewise the best of beings,
whose goodness is infinite, and whose tender mercies are over all his works', does he not justly challenge the utmost degree of love? This truth is no sooner proposed than it is acknowledged by Christians. But to make not only the understanding to perceive it, but the heart also to feel it, let us more particularly consider that perfection of the divine nature, and those exertions of it, which are ft for inflaming the affection. And, O Father of mercy, while I humbly attempt to delineate a portion of thy goodness, let thy grace influence all our hearts, so as to produce that love to thee which is the ornament of man here, and in which consists his perfection and happiness hereafter.
As I speak to an assembly who profess themselves disciples of Jesus, I shall at present omit the arguments that tend to establish those facts of which you already are sufficiently persuaded. Let us then, my brethren, stretch our imaginations to the utmost, and contemplate, as well as our narrow faculties will permit, that exalted and infinite Being who has no wants to supply. View him
b Psalm cxlv. 9.
from eternal ages, enjoying perfect felicity, and incapable of any addition of glory. Yet behold at once an act of the most unexampled power, and of the most disinterested goodness. He commands, and numberless worlds arise, replenished with life, and stored with the means of happiness. Those worlds which his power and his goodness at first formed, his goodness and his power still preserve; and from the inexhaustible source of his bounty, all the blessings that are possessed by the various orders of beings, through the boundless extent of space, are solely derived. Could the eye of man survey all these worlds, or his understanding comprehend them, how reasonable is it to expect that they would all consent, both in declaring the glory, and proclaiming the goodness of their Author! But as it is only a small part of his works which we can comprehend, let us, my brethren, consider that small part with which we are best acquainted, and take notice of some of the most obvious instances of divine good
Observe how the influences of the sun, and the rains which descend from Heaven, cooperate with other means in occasioning that
never-ceasing fertility of this carth, by which provision is made for the nece!lities of man, and of every creature that inhabits it. Does not reason, as well as religion, teach us to attribute this to the continued energy of nature's sovereign? Both inform us, thất the eyes of all things wait upon God. That be cpeneth his liberal band, and fatisfith the desire of every living thing? The grateful variations of day and night, the time for action, and the time for repose, he constituted them.The useful changes of the seasons are of his appointment. The mutual connexion and fubferviency of the different animals, and their general subjection to man, proceed from his contrivance. Were I able, or did time permit, what an ample fund for discourse is here! All the works of nature, the air which we breathe, the light which directs us, the earth which yields us food, the water fo necessary for our refreshment, so useful for the commerce of life; all, when considered in connexion with the living creatures for whose support they are intended, present us with so many distinct proofs of the goodness
Plalm cxiv, 15, 16.
of their creator. Marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almightyd. The Heavens and the Earth shew forth thy praise. In their continual revolutions, their voice to him that hath understanding is, The goodness of our author and preserver is unsearchable. But I hasten to trace some of the marks of it with relation to man in particular. Who, then, bestowed upon thee, O man, that living and immortal soul of which thou art possessed? Did not the Almighty give it; a ray of his own lustre, a particle of divinity to dwell within thee, and direct thee? What constant exertion of the same goodness, my beloved brethren, has been requisite to preserve those fouls with which God has indued us? Through the journey of life, who has cared for you, and conducted you? When you first saw the light, you entered upon a scene beset with temptations, surrounded with dangers, and exposed on every side to storms and tempests. To all these, by your ignorance, inexperience, weakness, rashness, you have been a thousand times laid open. A ship this hour lies safe in the harbour; the sailors are all asleep: by H 2
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