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goodness. And if he should change his affections without any change in the object of them, this would also discover imperfection, and prove that his affections were wrong either before, or after he changed them. If a man should love a person to-day and hate him to-morrow, or if he should hate a person to. day and love him to-morrow, without any alteration in the person's character, this would manifest a fickle and sinful disposition. But God is subject to no such mutability as has been mentioned. He never changes his purposes or designs; because these were formed un der the influence of perfect goodness and unerring wisdom. Nor does he ever change his affecțions, unless the objects of them change; and in that case to change his affections argues no imperfection. If a man, who was a sinner yesterday, becomes a saint today, it implies no imperfection in God to change his affections towards that person, and love him to-day, whom he abhorred yesterday. The doctrine of divine affections, therefore, supposes no mutability in the Supreme Being, but what is a beauty and perfection in his character.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. This subject may give us some faint conception of the strength and ardency of the divine affections. God is infinite in all his attributes. His moral perfections bear a just proportion to his natural. All his sfeelings are infinitely strong. His love is omnipotent love; his wrath is omnipotent wrath. The inspired writers, therefore, seize the boldest images in nature, to display the beauty, and strength, and terror, of the divine affections.
By the love of the bridegroom to the bride, they represent the love of God to his people. "As the
bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee." By the pity of a father to his children, they represent the pity of God to the afflict. ed. “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.” By the fondness of a moth, er for the infant of her womb, they represent the compassion of God to his church. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” How terrible is the wrath of the furious beasts of prey! Yet their wrath is but a faint image of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God to the wicked. “Therefore I will be unto them, saith the Lord, as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them. I will meet them as a bear bereaved of her whelps, and I will rend the caul of their hearts, and there will I devour them like a lion.” God loves and hates with all his heart, with all his mind, and with all his strength. There is something infinitely amiable and awful in the divine affections.
2. In the view of this subject we may discover what it was, which moved God to the work of creation. It is generally and justly supposed, that God was perfectly blessed in the enjoyment of himself from all eternity; but perfect blessedness seems to exclude all motive to action. Why should a being move, who has nothing to gain by moving? Why should a being act, who has nothing to gain by acting? Why should a being exert himself, who has nothing to gain by his exertions? What, then, could move God, who was perfectly happy before the foundation of the world, to bring it into existence? This difficulty will immediately vanish, if we only consider the source of the divine blessedness. God is love, and all his happiness flows from the perfect gratification of all his benevolent feelings. But these could never have been completely gratified, without displaying all his perfections in the work of creation. God being from eternity all sufficient and infinitely benevolent, must have had an infinitely strong propensity to exert his omnipotent power in the production of holiness and happiness. Hence it was morally impossible, that he should have been perfectly blessed, without devising and performing the work of creation. The doctrine of divine affections, therefore, clearly shows us not only, that God might have had some motive to create the world, but also, that his own enjoyment, felicity, or blessedness, was that motive.
3. It appears from what has been said, that God is pleased with the existence of every thing, which takes place in the universe. His heart is in all his works. He feels interested in all events. And we know, that the stronger the affections of any being are, the more pain and distress he feels, whenever they are crossed or disappointed. If, therefore, all things do not take place, just as the Deity desired and intended, his infinitely strong desires and affections are deeply wounded. But it is the universal voice of Scripture, as well as the dictate of reason, that God is infinitely above the reach of pain, and enjoys the most perfect and permanent felicity. Though, therefore, there are ten thousand things constantly taking place in the world, which are in their own nature disagreeable to the De. ity; yet there never did, and never will one single event exist, which, all things considered, he did not choose and intend should actually exist.
4. This subject suggests matter of great consolation to those, who are interested in the divine favor. God hath set them as a seal upon his heart, and as a
seal upon his arm. Though their love may wax cold, yet his love will never cease; though they may forget him, yet he will never forget them. He will keep them in the hollow of his hand, and guard them as the apple of his eye. He will cause all things to work together for their good. He will raise them as high in holiness and happiness, as infinite power, wisdom, and goodness can raise them. With what joy and transport, therefore, may they look up to God and say, “Whom have we in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that we desire beside thee. Thy favor is life; and thy loving kindness is better than life!”
5. This subject warns sinners to flee from the wrath to come. God is angry with the wicked every day, and his wrath continually abides upon them. And though he now waits to be gracious to them, and endures them with much long suffering and patience; yet, unless they repent and become cordially reconciled to him, he will whet his glittering sword, and his hand will take hold on judgment, and he will give them a just recompense of reward. It will be a terrible thing for sinners to fall into the hands of the living God, who is a consuming fire, and whose wrath will burn to the lowest hell. But God is now seated on a throne of grace. Let the wicked therefore forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Exodus xxxiii, 18, 19.
he said, I will make all my goodness pass before
MOSES became early acquainted with God. He en. joyed peculiar manifestations of his favor in the family of Pharaoh. In his retirement in Midian, he main. tained, for forty years, a near and familiar intercourse with the Deity. At length, he was called to the great and arduous work of leading the people of God from the house of bondage to the land of promise. This gave him still better opportunities of seeing the glory of God, and of enjoying the manifestations of his love. God freely conversed with him, face to face, as a man converses with his friend. He not only saw the displays of divine vengeance in the plagues poured upon Egypt, and the displays of divine love in the mercies granted to Israel; but he was let into the designs of the Deity, and employed as an instrument of making them known to his people. Under these happy circumstances, he made a rapid progress, both in the knowledge and the love of God. The more he saw of the divine glory, at one time, the more he wished to see of it, at another. Having just been interceding with God to pardon his people, for making and worshipping the golden calf, and having received assurance that God would both preserve and guide them through the wilderness, by his gracious and visible presence; he