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fully avoids doing it any harm, and uses all its means to administer good; "God is love."-Now, as it is the fixed, unalterable nature of love to do good to all the beings who are its objects, and to render them as blessed as possible with the use of all the means which love can command, it is seen at once, that whatever plans are laid so as to promote the best interest of those creatures who are the objects of the divine love, is in fact the wisdom of God; and as those plans perfectly harmonize with the benevolent purposes of love, it is evident that the wisdom which contrived them is in perfect unison with love.
We here find a fair opportunity to look into the extent of the goodness of God, and that salvation which is brought to man by Jesus Christ, who is said to be "The wisdom of God and the power of God." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." God so loved the world that he sent his own wisdom that the world might be saved by it. If the wisdom of God is not in perfect harmony with his love, he surely would. not have sent his wisdom to carry into effect the purposes of love. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Here both the object and the means are clearly set forth. God loved us while we did not love him. In consequence of this love he designed to do us a favor. The means which he used was to send his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. But if by becoming the propitiation for our sins, no benefit, but an injury should result to those whom God loved then the means would frustrate the object and prove the want of wisdom in the plan.
There is a doctrine in the christian church, that contends, that millions, yea far the greatest part of the human family will be infinitely more miserable in the eternal world, than they would have been if Jesus had never come into the world and died for their sins. If
this doctrine be allowed to stand in harmony with the wisdom of God, it must be granted that his wisdom is hostile to his love, for "love worketh no ill." But the divine testimony assures us, that "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." If therefore, the world or any part of the world should fail of salvation, and be made miserable in the future. world in consequence of what Christ has done, the thing for which he was sent not being fulfilled, and that for which he was not sent being effected, proves the want of wisdom in the plan.
How is it possible for God to exercise a wisdom which is infinite in a way to frustrate the design of his own immutable love? If we examine ever so minutely into the plans and schemes, the causes and effects, the immense, the subtle and the various workings of divine providence, are we not the more convinced of the truth of that ancient declaration, "The Lord is good unto all and his tender mercies are over all his works!" As a proof of the truth of this testimony the Prophet further observes,; "Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing." This is the way by which God makes himself known to be good to his creatures, that is, by actually doing them good. St. Paul said, St. Paul said, "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.” How immense are the love, the goodness of God which are manifested continually in the temporal bounties of his universal providence. Cast your eyes round on every side, carefully inspect the condition of every living thing, and say whether the wisdom of God does not harmonize with universal love. And yet the Apostle allows all this luminous evidence to be no more than twilight compared with the more perfect display of the divine goodness in the dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; for notwithstanding the evidence of divine goodness which were continually manifested in the munificient providence of God, the people, who
were the subjects of such goodness, were ignorant of him and walked in their own way; concerning which the Apostle says; "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent." This special command to repent and turn from dumb idols to serve the living God, was given forth in the more glorious evidences of the mercy and goodness of God communicated in the gospel.
An attempt to illustrate the wisdom which characterises the scheme of the gospel, and the harmony of its several parts, as set forth in the scriptures, would be a much more extensive undertaking than our present limits would justify, if there were no want of ability to do justice to such a subject. It may therefore suffice to remark, that by a careful attention to ancient promises and prophecies concerning a Messiah, his appearance in the world, the wonderful works wrought by his miraculous power; the shameful treatment which he received among men, his death, and the mans ner of it, his resurrection from the dead, the infallible proofs of the same, his ascension, the gifts bestowed on the Apostles whom he appointed to promulgate his gospel, and the wonderful success which attended their ministry, by which the religion of Jesus was established on a foundation which can never be removed, we are led to say; "This is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes."
Who will undertake to point out a single item in all this vast scheme of infinite wisdom which does not perfectly harmonise with the love of God to mankind. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks, foolishness; but unto them who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God." This is that "wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." This is that wisdom which was with the Almighty when he created all things, "rejoicing always before
him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth and whose delights were with the sons of men.
That the divine knowledge is in perfect unison with the love of God to his creatures, we must grant for many reasons, some of which are the following.
First. That we may avoid introducing imperfection into the divine nature, which is nothing short of idolatry. Whenever a desire to do good is in exercise, and the person who possesses this desire knows for certainty, that this desire can never be realized or accomplished, there is proof positive of imperfection.
Secondly. That we may avoid introducing infelicity into the divine Being. For if his universal unchangeable love run in one straight line, and his infallible knowledge disagree with it, we must allow that this disagreement produces an infelicity whose magnitude corresponds with the greatness of those infinite, discordant attributes! Whoever possesses love which inclines the agent to do good to another, and knows at the same time that this will never be effected, must, in the nature of things, be unhappy to a degree which corresponds with the force of this forever unsatisfied desire.
Thirdly. That we may avoid charging God with folly, which we should most surely do if we suppose that in consequence of his love to the world he sent his Son to save the world, when at the same time he knew that this salvation would not be effected. Should a parent who tenderly loves his child see it in distress, no doubt he would try all means which should appear at all favorable to relieve it; but, while he had reason, he would never make use of means which he knew would, in the room of relieving from distress, increase it seven fold. The divine testimony says; "God will
have all men to be saved," and that as a mean of this
is ear many who are unlearned, who are fully persuaded, that all the means which our heavenly Father has seen fit to employ for the purpose of saving sinners, will in the most of instances forever fail of their designed utility. But have we not every good reason for be lieving, that if the divine Being had been fully per suaded of this, he never would have used those abortive means? In order to avoid an endless series of inconsistencies we are compelled to acknowledge a plain simple truth, that the infinite knowledge of God is in perfect harmony with his boundless unchangeable love, which constitutes him infinitely and consummately happy; and lays a foundation on which the human mind may rest and enjoy the sweetest possible repose. How often is it the case, that we are called to witness and to pass through dark scenes of trial in which our weak discernment can see no utility, and we are piJosening with despair, and saying "all these things are against me;" but how divinely comforting is the thought so happily expressed by the Poet;
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That the divine power ever moves according to the directions of the love of God, there is no room to doubt. Power without will to put it in motion and direct it, is dormant and effects nothing. And as it is evident, that God cannot will contrary to his nature which is love, so it is equally evident that his power never effects any thing which his love does not desire. That Almighty Power which controls all worlds, all beings, and all elements, moves only as it is directed by the gentle, kind, and merciful principles of divine love.
The divine attribute which the sensual, partial wisdom of this world has armed with principles hostile to love, is justice. Justice has been held up as an unmerciful foe to the transgressor, knowing no favor, but