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THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
OUR health, food, and raiment, are means of enjoyment to us daily, throughout our lives. Our friends and connections also, continually and extensively, contribute to our happiness. The pleasantness of seasons, the beauty and grandeur of the earth and the heavens, the various kinds of agreeable sounds ever fluctuating on our ears, the immensely various and delightful uses of language, the interchanges of thought and affection, the peace and safety afforded by the institution of government, the power and agreeableness of motion and activity, the benefit and comfort afforded by the arts and sciences, particularly by those of writing, printing, and numbering, and the continual gratification found in employment, are all, in a sense, daily and hourly sources of good to man; all furnished, either directly or indirectly, by the hand of God. If we consider these things with any attention, we shall perceive that some of them are unceasing, and that others of them are so frequently repeated as almost to deserve the same appellation. We shall also perceive that they are blessings of high importance to our wellbeing; and that, notwithstanding this character, they are apt to be forgotten in the list which we form of our blessings, and to be numbered among those which we call things of course. It ought to be remembered, that in this manner we are prone to diminish both the number and the greatness of our blessings, and the goodness of God in bestowing them; and that we are thus apt to regard them with a very erroneous estimation. But if we consider the number and the importance of these and the like blessings, the frequent recurrence of some of them, and the uninterrupted continuance of others; we cannot fail, if influenced by a just and
candid spirit, to unite with the Psalmist in his earnest wish, "that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men."
a subject, of all others, And that God is good,
THE goodness of God is the most interesting to man. we are not left to conjecture from indications which may seem to authorize such a conclusion; we are not left to infer from premises themselves doubtful. The goodness of God is a truth so clearly revealed, and so variously attested, that we might with as much show of reason affect to dispute the divine existence as question the divine goodness. The more we examine the subject, the more clearly we discover that by every mode of reasoning by which it can be proved that God is, it may be established that he is good. HE who is GOD, cannot but be good-goodness is essential to the divine nature. GOODNESS, is that which sheds a lustre on all the other attributes of the Deity. GOODNESS is the character by which JEHOVAH delights to make himself known: It is his NAME; and this name is inscribed, as with his own hand, on every part of his works. Wherever we turn our eyes, innumerable proofs of this crowd upon our vision. In the visible heavens above-in the earth beneath; around us, and on every side, we have the most indubitable and convincing proofs of His beneficence-the earth is full of the riches of his goodness. If we survey the different orders of animated beings-their nature and circumstances their orders and usefulness, the goodness of the Deity is more apparent still; "The eyes of all wait upon Him, and he giveth to all a portion of meat in due season." But especially, if we contemplate our own species, we trace His goodness. Goodness in
calling us into being; in placing us so high in the scale of being; in preserving our lives, and supplying our wants; in "giving us all things richly to enjoy." If we review the past, and trace the way in which God has led us, shall we not feel compelled in gratitude, and in justice too, to acknowledge, "Goodness and mercy hath followed us all the days of our lives?" But, while "God is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works," there is one expression of his love which infinitely transcends all the rest, and without which all the rest would be in vain to us. And this is so great, that no combination of language can describe its magnitude, so great-so glorious, that like the orb of day, it can only be seen in its own light.
ALL creation bears witness to the truth, that "God is good." The noontide sun, and cheerful day; the full-orbed moon, and silent night; the green earth, and the bespangled firmament; the fruitful shower, the healthy breeze, the varying seasons, the birds which are watched by His care-all, all proclaim the goodness of the Lord. The year is crowned, and the earth is filled, with his goodness. The flowers, which are dressed by His hand, the beasts, which are fed by His providence-streams, woods, and mountains-nay, the whole creation is vocal; the universe is filled with song, and the universal song is, "the Lord is good."
Bear witness to this truth, ye sons of men-and tell us, ye careless sinners, whether God has not been good to you? Has he not given you life, and health, and reason? Has he not preserved you through infancy, childhood, and youth? Has he not given you food and raiment, and all things richly to enjoy? Has he not given you His word, to make you wise to salvation; His Son, to die for your sins; and His Spirit,
to make you fit for heaven? Does he not offer you His saving grace, and promise you His eternal glory? Surely, even careless sinners, who misimprove all these blessings, must yet confess, that "the Lord is good."
"In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth." Gen. i. 1.
With what entire propriety is God exhibited in the very first verse of the Scriptures, as the Creator of all things.
This verse may be regarded as an introduction, or preface to the whole Bible, and to the system of doctrines which it contains. Accordingly it announces to us in few and simple, but those most sublime and affecting terms, the two great subjects about which the Bible and its doctrines are employed: God, and his immense kingdom. Him it exhibits to us in the character of Creator, and all things else as created by him.
On the act of creating is founded a great part of that character, in which especially he calls for the obedience of intelligent beings. As the Creator of the universe he appears irresistibly to every eye, as a Being possessed of infinite power, wisdom and greatness; and therefore able to preserve and govern the vast work which he was thus able to make; of power, which nothing can resist or escape; of wisdom, which nothing can circumvent or elude; and of greatness, with which nothing can be compared. As the Creator of the universe, he is exhibited as the absolute Proprietor of the work which he has made. Creation is
the highest ground of property which can exist. All is his; and his in a sense superior to that in which any thing can be ours. All therefore is rightfully required to be employed supremely and solely in his service, for his purposes, and according to his pleasure.
Intelligent creatures, particularly, have no property in any thing, except as he has given it; and on no terms, and for no uses, beside those which he has established. They themselves are as absolutely his property as any thing which he has made. Their faculties and their time are as truly his; for they were made by him, and therefore are not their own. Of course they are justly required by him, and ought to be devoted by themselves to whatever services he is pleased to enjoin. Of course also, to refuse or neglect to render to him themselves, and whatever they do or possess, is plain and gross injustice, and refusing or neglecting to "render to God the things which are God's."
By his character of Creator also they are called upon, in the most solemn and affecting manner, to regard him with unceasing admiration, reverence and awe. There is something singularly awful, something singularly fitted to inspire profound reverence in the character of God as our Creator, in the consideration of him as the Being by whom we were made. On this Being we cannot but feel, if we feel at all, that as we derived our existence from him, so we absolutely depend for our continuance in being, and for all which can render that being comfortable or desirable. In this view we can scarcely fail to realize that we are nothing, and that he is all.
At the same time, the amazing nature of the works themselves, their number, their variety, their beauty, their grandeur, their magnificence, the glory of the end for which they are made, and the astonishing fitness of the means by which it is accomplished, neces