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Having attended to the particulars in which the moral perfections of God consist, and found that they are all comprised in holiness, or moral goodness; the way is prepared to attend, more fully, to the evidence of his goodness.
Admitting the authenticity of the scriptures, which has been fully established; we have abundant evidence from them, not only in a way of declaration, but also in a way of reasoning and just conclusion, that the Lord is good; and, that the Lord our God is holy. There is indeed no want of proof, from the light of nature, that the moral character of God is good. And this is a subject of immense importance. For if, in fact, the evidence of God's goodness did not exist, except in the book of divine rev. elation; how could the ignorant and untutored savages of the wilderness be wholly without excuse, in not knowing and worshipping the true God? With great candor and attention, therefore, it is incumbent on us to look into the evidence from the light of nature, as well as from the light of scripture, that the Lord our God is holy, just and good. On this ground, the whole world appears to be guilty before God. And we are happy to find, that, in the scriptures themselves, the evidence of the moral perfections of God is exhibited from the light of nature. Their reasonings we may adopt, with all safety; and their conclusions will be full of validity. The arguments from scripture are drawn from the mighty works of God, and particularly from the work of creation. “ The invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power
and Godhead; so that they are without excuse, because, that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God; neither were they thankful. But became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.” In the connection of this noted passage, it is said concern. ing those, against whom the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, that 6 That which may be known of God is manifest to them, for God hath shewed unto them.” He manifested his true character, as we have found, by
his mighty works. He manifested his eternal power and Godhead, in such a manner and degree, by the great and glorious work of creation, as to render the heathen without excuse, in all their idolatries. That Godhead which was manifested by the work of creation, was something more than eternal power ; which is only a natural perfection. It implied, also moral perfection, which is necessary to render God the object of love and adoration. The same argument from the light of nature, is stated in the 19th Psalm. “ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech ; and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard;" i. e. the voice of the heavens, and the firmament, proclaiming the glory of God. But what glory could possibly redound to God, from his mighty works, if he were destitute of moral perfection, and were an unholy and malevolent being ? An omnipotent being, void of goodness, and devoted to evil, would justly merit the abhorrence and detestation of all rational creatures. And would not such a being feel conscious of his own infinite baseness and malignity ? which would render him supremely and eternally miserable! If God has the least regard to his own honor and glory, and to his own happiness, he must certainly be an infinitely holy being, possessed of perfect moral goodness and benevolence.
We further observe, that in the scriptures, the moral perfection of God is inferred from his infinite supremacy and independence. The patriarch Abraham relied on this argument, when he interceded for the Sodomites; 6 Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Is it possible, that an infinite being, a being absolutely supreme and independent; a being far above all possible interest, motive, or inducement to do evil, should pervert judgment, and do wickedly ! To act without a motive would seem to be impossible, but to act against the strongest motives, is clearly and decidedly impossible.
Another evidence of the goodness and even the mercy of God, arises from the good which he actually does; and
from the numberless favors, which he confers on the guilty race of men. All who can distinguish at all, between right and wrong, must be sensible of great sinfulness and ill desert. All, therefore, ought to realize the great goodness and mercy of God, manifested in their daily preservation, and daily comforts.
Thus reasons the Apostle. Speaking of the living God, who made heaven and earth ; and who, in tiines past, suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; he adds, “ Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and
gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
Thus it appears, that the common blessings of divine providence afford conclusive evidence, that the Lord is good; and that he is merciful.
66 It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, and because his compassions fail not."
Further; the system of divine law and government, which is revealed in the bible, affords unquestionable evidence of the holiness and goodness of God. 66 The law is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good. Especially does this appear, since the law is enforced by an adequate penalty. The character of legis. lators is learnt by their code of laws; and by the sted. fastness, with which they enforce their laws. If we attend also, to the history of divine providence, we discover increasing evidence of the infinite goodness of God. He always acts the part of a friend to holiness, and an enemy to wickedness. This he did, in the destruction of the ungodly world by the flood, when Noah was saved in the ark. This he did, when Sodom was destroyed, and just Lot was delivered. This he did, when the Egyptians and Canaanites were in their turns, destroyed, and his chosen people were delivered, and inherited the promises. Also, in the destruction of all the proud and idolatrous empires of the earth, which have, from time to time, oppressed the people of God, he has displayed his love of righteousness, and hatred of wickedness. Beyond all doubt therefore, he is holy, just and good. He claims the
confidence, the submission, the fervent love, and most cheerful obedience, of all his intelligent creatures.
The Unity and Trinity of the Godhead.
In pursuance of the system of divine truth, we have found evidence of the being of a God; and that the scriptures of the old and new testaments were given by divine inspiration. We have, in the last place, attended to an illustration and proof of the natural and moral perfections of God.
Depending chiefly on the holy scriptures, for light and evidence, on the high and mysterious subjects which relate to the Godhead, we may, in the next place, proceed to a consideration of the Unity and Trinity of God.
Previously to attending to the doctrine of the sacred Trinity, it is thought proper to consider the evidence of the unity of God. For the principal objection to the doctrine of the Trinity is, that it destroys bis unity. The Unity of God is abundantly asserted in the holy scriptures, and is agreeable to the dictates of reason. The scriptures declare, that The Lord our God is one Lord.” 66 I am the Lord, and there is none else.” He is called “ The holy One of Israel." 6 The only Lord God.”
66 Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.” The unity of God has also been said to be agreeable to the dictates of reason. It is evident from the divine perfections. In all his attributes and perfections, God is infinite, and supreme. In his power, omniscience, omnipresence, God is supreme; he is só all in all.” It is absurd to suppose, that there is a plurality of Deities, each of whom is supreme ; each of whom is all in all. It is said that in his wisdom and knowledge, God is infinite,
and unsearchable. “None by searching can find out God.” But if there are more Gods than one, then, by searching, they can find out one another. To conceive of more than one being, who is self-existent, independent, uncontrollable, immutable, eternal and infinite, is utterly impossible. If we attempt to conceive of two such beings as God is represented to be; they must, in all respects, be perfectly alike. In all their attributes and works, they must be exactly the same. This would render them one and indivisible. It is therefore, in the nature of things, impossible; or to say the least, inconceivable, that more than one infinite being should exist. The created universe is infinitely too small to admit of a plurality of Gods. Nor is a plurality conceivable.
Having, in opposition to all idolatry, established the unity of the Godhead; the way is now prepared, with all humility and reverence, to attend to a discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is taught and supported, only by divine revelation; and, of course, no attempt will be made to explain or prove it, by arguments drawn from any other source. As a clue to this high and mysterious doctrine, we find, in the beginning of the bible, and elsewhere, that the name of the Deity is used in the plural, as well as in the singular number. In the Hebrew language, which was the original language of the old testament, the name of God is generally plural. “ In the beginning, Gods created the heaven and the earth. Pronouns relating to God are also used in the plural number. “ Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” It is added, in support of the unity, as well as the plurality of the Godhead ; 66 So God created man in his own image ; in the image of God created he him. After the apostacy of man, in order to keep
up the idea of plurality, as well as unity, God said, “ Behold the man is become like one of us to know good and evil.”
To frustrate the building of Babel, the Lord said, “Let us go down, and there confound their language.' In many other places, in the old testament, the
name of God, and the pronouns relating to it, are expressed in the plural number, indefinitely. But waving these, let