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'even the most sacred. But the tendency of'*truth/
and the tendency of the perversion of truth, are '.
Very different things. us
That God, of his insinite mercy, through our Lord Jesus Chrst, hath made ample provision for the restoration of all men to virtue and happiness; and that, in the result of the divine mediatorial plan, all men will, in fact, be made virtuous and happy; this is the divine benevolence, according to the ^
loose sense of the word, as Mr. S, is pleased to call it.
That God, of his insinite mercy, through our Lord telus Christ, hath made sufficient provision for the Virtue and happiness of all men 5 but, as he never designed the virtue and happiness'of all, so, in the iesult of the divine mediatorial plan, a part only will be made virtuous and happy, and the rest will be left to spend a sinful and miserable eternity in hell. This is the divine benevolence in the restrained fense of the word j which Mr. S. thinks is the true
According to the loose sense of benevolence, God is good unto all, and his tender mercies are over all his works, in the moral and spiritual, as well as natural meaning. According to the strict and restrained sense of benevolence, though God causes the fun to rife on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust j yet he entertains no design that the evil and the unjust shall ever be
L 1 made
made good' and just, ot ever share in the spiritual
ancfteternal blessing of the gospel kingdom.
In one sense of the word benevolence, God ia the Father and the friend of all men, considers and treats the whole race of Adam as his children; designs to make them all virtuous and holy, and sinally to collect them all together, in one harmonious and happy society. In the other sense of the word benevolence, God k the Father and friend of the elect only; and these he designs to make virtuous and holy, and finally to collect them together ia heaven, where they will be happy for ever: leaving the rest destitute of efficacious grace, to perish ia their sins to all eternity.
In one sense of the word, the virtue, holiness, and happiness of the whole human race will redound to the highest declarative glory of God, and the supreme happiness of his intellectual and moral kingdom. In the other sense of the word, the eternal sin and misery of millions of millions of mankind, produce, as necessary means, the greatest glory and blessedness of God, and of his holy intelligent kingdom.
I need to proceed no farther, in contrasting the two very different meanings of the; word benevolence. The difference is insinitely great. Our business is to inquire which of these senses of the word benevolence has the evil tendency.
Here, my kind reader, I will appeal, not to your passions, but to your reason. According to one sense
of <©f the word benevolence, God is represented as having made, and origimUy intended, you for virtue, bolinese, and happiness. In the other, God is represented as having made, and originally intended, you for eternal sin and misery., Which representation appears to be the moil just? In which does God appear to be the most just, and good, and glorious? Does it appear to you to be just, that God sliouid. have.called you from an eternal sleep in nonentity, where you lay, innocent as himself, and, by an irxesistable act of omnipotence, impose existence upon you, that you might fin and suffer to al! eternity "l Is this reconcilable with your best ideas of the insinitely persect rectitudepf God.
Satan tempts men to siri, and, ia this way, oega£ons their suffering. Bat.Satan never made any man to be sinful and miserable. Whereas, according to one sense of the word benevolence, God made millions of millions of human creatures with express design that they should be etcrna!;y sinful and miserable; that he might be g'oriSsd, and his holy intelligent kingdom mads happy.
Does it give you a most noble and sublime idea of the wisdom, power, and g-jodness of God, that he hath so constructed the natural snd moral system of the universe, that he could not enjoy the highest glory, nor his,virtuous rhteliectual creatures supreme happiness; unless a great part of his intellectual creatures should be eternally sinful and rtuserable ? does this give ycu an idea of a most a
miable and most glorious character? does this chaiacter of God attract your esteem and veneration f do you love and adore it?
The sacred scripture tells you, that Gtd is good unto all. Was he good to you, when he called you out of nothing into being, to be eternally miserable? the scripture tells you, that God is love. Was it an act of love, to give you existence, upon the hard condition, of enduring eternal misery ? do you see reason to love, adore, and obey that God who hath so constructed the system of the universe as to make it neceLUry that you, with millions multiplied by millions, of your fellow creatures, should be eternally sinning and suffering, in order that he may J»e glorisied, and a part of his intelligent crea« tures be made supremely happy?
But why need I urge this matter any farther ? it is impossible, in the very nature of things, that any man should entertain the least veneration for such a character of God, as this sense of the word benevolence gives him. And, if a man can have no veneration for God, he cannot obey him with any more generous disposition, than that with which the wretch labors who is chained to the oar for life, or the condemned criminal in the mines of Peru or Potosi.
In' the other sense of the word benevolence, ym are led to the contemplation of such a system of creation and moral government, with such a mediatorial dispensation annexed, as comprehends ever/
individual son and daughter of Adam, tenders the virtue and happiness of them all, and will sinally present them all hefove the throne of God with exceeding and eternal joy.
On this plan of creation and providence, you seel grateful to your divine Creator, that he gave you existence. You cordially thank him for your intellectual and moral powers ; and that he hath designed you for immortality. You see your God to be'just and good. You seel cause to love him with supreme affection; and you obey him with great and increasing delight. Such views of our Maker, and of his impartial regard, and universal benevolence to all meo, as his creatures, the works of his hands, his children, have a most direct and powerful tendency to induce all men to love God, and obey him with alacrity and cheerfulness. The goodness of God leads to repentance. Repentance and obedience are the natural effects of divine goodness, on every ingenuous mind.
But on the plan of partial election, and eternal misery, there absolutely can be no motive, no encouragement, derived from eternal considerations, to love God, to repent of sin, or to obey the gospel. Unless a man knew that be was one of the favorite* of heaven; and that his name was written in the Lamb's heok of life \ what assurance has he of forgiveness or repentance? or that his obedience will meet with divine acceptance? the number of the e
lect and of thereprobate, was determined from all