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It is of the highest importance in itself, that God should appear in the perfect exercise and exhibition of his divine excellence. The importance of this exhibition depends on the intrinsic and manisold perfections of the divine nature. If there were no excellence in the Deity, we should be far from considering it desirable that his true character should appear; much less should we desire that the full and complete exhibition and gratification of it should be the ultimate end of all that he does. In itself considered, no matter how long, or how impenetrably, intrinsic turpitude of character lies concealed; it is deformed and disgusting to look at; it makes no one the better or happier for being familiar with it; but the more fully, the more impressively intrinsic excellence is disclosed, the deeper is the conviction of its reality and loveliness, and the more sublime and beautiful the survey and inspection of its glories. Now, it is because God is infinitely great and good, that it is desirable to "see him as he is.” That immensity and majesty, that power and wisdom, that supremacy and immutability, that pure, perfect, and universal goodness, which diffuse their energy into all the divine plans, and spread such beauty and glory over all the divine works and conduct, are in him excellencies of the highest kind, and immeasurable in degree. We do not appreciate the exhibition of the divine excellence, because we have such low and grovelling thoughts of God. Were this immensely great and infinitely glorious Being always viewed as he is, did we see him to be the first fair and the first good,” were we always possessed of just and comprehenssve conceptions of his glory, we should entertain no doubt, that the reflection of this excellence, the progressive diffusion of these concentrated rays, is the highest and best end which the Supreme Intelligence could propose to himself in all his works. The principle on which we affirm this, is inwoven with all our common sense and moral calculations. Every man regrets, and deems it an unhappiness, when a measure of mere human excellence is hid from the public eye. When virtue languishes in solitude, when genius withers in retirement, when the heavy hand of external discouragement or internal depression bears down the rising efforts of intellectual or moral greatness, what benevolent mind does not reflect upon such calamity with pain? And if in proportion to the degree of excellence is the importance that it should be unfolded, beyond conception important is it that the matchless, manifold, infinite, and eternal excellence of the Deity should
appear, and be displayed abroad in all its glory. If the king, eternal, immortal, and invisible, possesses, not the resemblance and image, but “the living features” of perfection, who feels it not to be important that the light of his fair countenance should be lifted upon the universe he has made, and that every subject of his empire should be constrained to see, that "none in heaven can be compared unto the Lord, and none among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” Not only is there in this disclosure ineffable loveliness and beauty, but there is equity both to himself and his creatures. If he is a holy God, and there is beauty in his holiness, then ought it to appear that he is holy and not sinful. If he is just, and there are beauties and amiableness in his justice, then is it desirable and important that his justice should appear, and be magnified; and that he should forever be acquitted of the imputation of cruelty, caprice, and injustice. If he is wise, and powerful, and good, then is it infinitely desirable that these perfections of his nature should be acted out, and he exalted and gratified; and that no order of beings should ever call in question the wisdom, efficacy, or benevolence of his adminis. trations. If he is gracious and merciful, then ought all men to see what is the fellowship of the mystery which from the beginning of the world, hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent that now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places, might be known through the Church, his manifold glory.” If he is supreme, then is it desirable that his supremacy should appear, and that all should know, that he does his pleasure in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth.” And if he is in every view a being of faultless, unequalled perfection, and that every intellectual and moral excellence adorns his nature, and are the habitation and glory of his throne, then is it of the highest importance that his unblemished glory should shine forth, and that nothing mar its unrivalled beauty. There was an emphasis in the inquiry of Moses, that sinks into the soul of every godly man and every bending seraph, “What will become of thy great name?" We know that among fallen spirits, and in this world of ours that lieth in wickedness, the divine character has been subjected to the foulest stains, his government reproached, and his designs defamed; and unless his excellence appear in cloudless glory, dissipating the obscurity in which it has been enveloped by the ignorance, misconception, and wickedness of creatures, the stain can never be wiped away. God must be glorified. Every supposed blemish must be removed by the exhibition of himself. Every murmur against him must die away. “Every mouth must be stopped.” And nothing short of the actual development of the divine nature can attain this end. All that God is, and all that he does, must come to the light,” that it may be approved and applauded by ten thousand tongues, and ten thousand times ten thousand consciences, and that their approbation and their plaudits may be eternal.
It is also through the bright exhibitions of his own glory, that the God of love designs to secure and perpetuate the perfect and progressive holiness of unnumbered multitudes of his creatures. Some of the creatures of God were created holy, and have maintained their primeval integrity, and will maintain it for ever. Some were created holy, and fell from their primitive rectitude, and have given birth to a race of beings, fallen like themselves. Of these, a great multitude are recovered from their apostacy, and will continue steadfast in their obedience without end. And it is obvious to remark, that whether true holiness, or moral rectitude, is found among angels or men, it is advanced and perpetuated by the same means. Wherever it is found, it consists in holy love, and primarily, in love to the adorable and ever blessed God. " Love is the fulfilling of the law.” “He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.” He that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love." Now it accords with the Scriptures, and all the experience of good men that the love of God exists and is sustained through the knowledge of God. The Divine Spirit is, indeed, the immediate and only cause and author of this heavenly disposition; but the knowledge of God is the great instrument of it. This is the aliment of all healthful, moral existence. Wherever sinful beings are made holy, it is by becoming acquainted with God. When God renews the hearts of the sons of men, aud sheds abroad his love in them, they are illumined from above, and enabled to discern the supreme excellence and glory of the divine character. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, shines in their hearts, to give them the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Jesus Christ.” And wherever holy beings see and learn most of God, they become most holy. Holy affections delight in nothing but a holy object, and the most holy affections delight in nothing so much as the most holy. The highest holiness in creatures can be found only where God is best known, and loved perfectly. Upon nothing does their holiness so much depend, as the knowledge of God. It is possible for us to conceive of a sinless being, who knows nothing except his obligations to his fellow creatures; but it would be a rectitude without a name—an anomaly in the moral universe—a rectitude that falls far below the actual rectitude, the real moral elevation of all holy creatures. We do not see how it is possible there should be any more conformity to God, than there is knowledge of his true character. Other things being equal, the reason why one good man is more holy than another, is that he possesses more clear and comprehensive views of God. One reason why Moses, and David, and Paul were so much more holy than the mass of good men, is that they possessed such high and extended views of God. It is necessary, therefore, to the existence of holiness in the world, and its advancement and perpetuity, and especially its strength and vividness, that there should be a clear development of the divine character, and that the great God should be exalted and glorified. It is worthy of God as the friend and patron of holiness, to select as the ultimate end of all he does, the most perfect exhibition of his own nature. This he must do, to be loved, admired, and adored to the extent and degree in which holy beings will admire and adore his entire excellence. It is when “with unveiled face, they behold as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, that they are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." Take away from the bosom of the holy, on earth or in heaven, those strong affections which arise from their perception of the glory of the divine nature, and you abate the fervour and intenseness of their piety. You starve their graces, and well nigh transform their character. It is indispensable to the highest and best state of religious affection, that the glory of God, progressively, and in all its fullorbed splendour, should shine upon the world. He made this lower world to unfold the greatness and goodness of his character, and because his greatness and goodness are and will be here so wonderfully unfolded, and the whole earth become full of his glory, it is the school of morals and piety, where the first and the last lesson is God himself, and where, by becoming acquainted with God, rational and immortal beings are trained up for perfect holiness and an eternal heaven.
This leads us to remark, that the propriety of God's making himself his ultimate end, appears more clearly from the fact, that by the manifestation of his glory, the greatest aggregate of happiness is secured to intelligent beings. The import of this remark will not, we think, be misunderstood. God is the first cause. All existence, all happiness flows from him; and flows only by the exhibition of his own glory. Without some expression of the divine perfections, neither created happiness, nor creatures would have had a being. There would have been nothing in existence, beside God, and nothing beside himself to be happy. There would have been no effort of his power; no results of his wisdom; no effects from his benovolence; but his inert perfections would have been buried in the retirement of eternity, and have slept for ever in the recesses of his own infinite mind. Literally, therefore, does all created happiness depend upon the manifested excellence of the Deity. Nor is it less certain that the amount of created good is advanced by the continued and increased exhibition of the divine excellence. Had the natural and moral perfections of the Deity ceased to act, and to be illustrated immediately after the creation, or immediately after the deluge, or immediately after the death of Jesus Christ, who does not see, that the aggregate of created happiness would have suffered a lamented diminution? Since no created happiness could originally have existed without some manifestation of the divine nature, so none would have continued to exist. The exhibition of the divine glory is not less essential to the increase and perpetuity, than to the original existence of created good. But it is not necessary to suppose an actual cessation in the diversified exhibitions of the Deity. Had there been a partial intermission, suspension, or limitation in the exhibition of the divine excellence, the effect, though less serious, would have been no less perceptible. In proportion to the limit imposed on the illustration, would have been the diminution in created happiness. Had there been fewer and less impressive exhibitions of the divine power, there had been fewer and less magnificent and less exalted beings and objects created and upheld and governed by the divine hand. Had there been fewer and less impressive exhibitions of the divine wisdom, there had been, in the vast and complicated system of God's operations, an end less benevolent than that which has been selected, and means less admirably adapted to accomplish it. Had there been fewer and less impressive exhibitions of the divine mercy, it had been