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ledged with gratitude by every man,“ sitting under his vine and his fig-tree, without fear."
Let us in like manner, ascribe to his goodness, that social order and good behaviour, which generally prevail, in this and in other civilized countries, and which contribute so much to the comfort of life. There are some faint traces of the moral law, upon the hearts of men, in general ; and we owe still more to the common influence of Christian truth, Christian worship, and Christian example, upon multitudes of persons who, it may be feared, are not real and serious Christians : But, considering man as a fallen creature, we ought to be thankful that the state of things is no worse than it is, and ascribe to · his goodness whatever is moral, decent, peaceable, and commendable among men :-the kindness of parents, the dutifulness of children, the submission of servants, the fidelity of husbands and wives, the obedience of subjects, and the justice of magistrates, all are the effects of divine goodness.
Our daily exemption from surrounding evils is also the fruit of divine goodness. The “ earth was cursed for man's sake ; " and Sin opened the floodgates of Misery. That we are preserved, so generally as we are, and for many years together, from painful, loathsome, and dangerous diseases ; from storms and tempests, lightning, earthquakes, and inundations, should be the theme of our daily praise, Nor should we lose sight of those seasonable alleviations, which are afforded to the afflicted.
The arts of medicine and surgery, the provision of soothing and healing remedies, the hospitals, infirmaries, and dispensaries, which abound in our land : and (which are some of its most beautiful ornaments) the parish relief provided by our humane laws, so superior to the precarious charity of other countries, and the innumerable societies established among us, for the instruction of poor children, the visitation of the sick, the care of the insane, the blind, the deaf and dumb, and other benevolent purposes; all these ben
efits, through whatever channel they flow, must be traced to their original source, and that source is the goodness of God.
6. To form a just estimate of the divine bounty, let it be remembered, that it is bestowed upon unworthy and sinful creatures. God, who is infinitely holy, and who hates sin with a perfect hatred, might justly withdraw from his rebellious creatures all the tokens of his favour. This is in fact, “ the manner of men." Men are used to feed their prisoners with " the bread of affliction, and the water of affliction ;"
" if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away ?”—but the great and blessed God treats his bitterest enemies with kindness ; and the generous conduct which he recommends to us, is other than that which is constantly observed by himself. _“If thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink ; for in so doing, thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head :" it is thus that he melts down his obdurate foes, and subdues them with the arms of love. Those, therefore, who have entertained a just view of themselves as guilty sinners, have expressed their admiration of the divine bounty in the strongest terms. Thus Jacob, when surveying the interpositions of Providence in his favour, exclaims, “ I am less than the least of all thy mercies !” and David, reflecting on the beneficence of Heaven, in raising him to a crown, cries,
" Who am I, O Lord God, that thou shouldest bring me hitherto !"
Thus we have taken a slight view of the goodness of God to man, in his original formation ;- in the powers of his body and mind ; in the ample provision made for his support and comfort ; in the preservation of the world ; his deliverance from innumerable evils—and his enjoyment of innumerable blessings. All these are great, unspeakably great ; but there is yet another display of his goodness which exceeds any one of these ; which exceeds them all put together ; which exceeds all the powers of language, all the stretch of conception-it is the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ-concerning this it is said said by the lips of the Redeemer himself— God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” “ There is more of his bounty,” says an eminent writer, "expressed in that one sentence, than there is in the whole volume of the world. It is an incomprehensible word-So: a word that all the angels in Heaven cannnt analyze. Few comment upon, or understand the dimensions of this so. In creation, he formed an innocent creature of the dust of the ground ; in redemption, he restores a rebellious creature by the blood of his Son. It is greater than the goodness manifested in creation, in regard of the difficulty of effecting it ; in regard of its immense cost; in regard of man's desert of the contrary : it was greater goodness than was shewn to the angels who stood,-greater than was granted to the angels who fell.” But as this must be the subject of a future discourse, we shall not now enlarge upon it. For the present, let us endeavour to make some practical use of the doctrine of divine good
1. Let God be praised for his goodness. This is the pepper-corn of acknowledgment, which he demands, and expects, of us; and how frequently does the writer of the 107th Psalm, in which the displays of divine bounty are enumerated, exclaim, “ Othat men would praise the Lord for his goodness!” Alas! that ungrateful man should need to be repeatedly urged to this reasonable and pleasant duty !
Let us not be satisfied with a general view of the goodness of God. Let every one of us review the blessings of God to him in particular.
" Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniqui
ties; who healeth all thy diseases ; who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.” Let each record his own history, and trace the streams of mer. cy in his infancy, childhood, and youth : in the tender cares of parents, now perhaps numbered with the dead; in the advantages of early education, and salutary restraint; in preservation from the disorders of infancy ; in deliverance from some threatening danger. How many thousand times has thy table been spread with the good creatures of God! how many refreshing and comfortable meals hast thou enjoyed! how many thousand nights of safe and comfortable repose ! how often has he restored thee from pain and sickness! what favourable turns took place in thy affairs ! but time would fail to enumerate all his benefits, O forget not all his benefits!
2. If such be the goodness of God, how base is the ingratitude of man! so God himself complains. "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” The goodness of God is awfully abused by sinners. The goodness of God should excite the love of our hearts, and secure the obedience of our lives ; but how is it perverted by sin! how is it abused to the purposes of luxury, of lewdness, of intemperance, of sabbath-breaking! How do men, like Jeshurun of old, wax fat, and kick against God; and thus, the bounties of Providence are turned into weapons of rebellion against their Giver, and instruments of destruction to themselves. thus requite the Lord?” Is it thus, that “thou despisest the riches of his goodness, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ?" But this cannot be done with impunity. God olsserves with a severe eye, and he will revenge with a heavy arm, the abuses of his kindness.
3. On the contrary, Let the goodness of God attract our hearts, and engage them to adore, love, obey, and trust in him. "How great is his goodness! how
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great is his beauty! He is infinitely worthy to be supremely loved.
Among men, the shadow of his goodness excites our esteem, and “ for a good man, possibly some would even dare to die." But the supreme Good demands our supreme regard. Let his name be adored ;-let his worship be our delight ;-let his praise be our employ ;-—let his commandments be our rule ;-let his goodness encourage us to pray ;- let his goodness invite us to trust in him, for “ the Lord is good, he is a strong-hold in the day of trouble.” He who gave us Christ, will withhold no good thing from them that love him. “ O taste and see that the Lord is good! blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” “O praise the Lord, for he is good ; sing praises unto his name, for it is pleasant !
4. Let us imitate him. Let us endeavour, in our humble measure, to resemble God in the goodness of his disposition, and to imitate him in acts of kindness to our fellow-men. Sufficient objects will ever surround us : “the poor ye have always with you, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good." “ To do good, then, and to communicate, forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." For this purpose divine Providence permits an inequality among men: some have too little ; others have somewhat to spare ; and it is a high privilege conferred upon any, that they are able and willing to help their neighbours. We ought to remember the saying ofour Lord Jesus, “ It is more blessed to give than to receive ;” and it is God-like to imitate our Saviour, who “ went about doing good." Nor let our favours be confined to the deserving. Our Lord's direction is this : " Bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil, and on the good ; and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." “Let us, therefore, as we have