THE BE EVOLE CE OF GOD PUBLISHED BY THE AMERICA TRACT SOCIETY.

Survey the wondrous cure And at each step let higher wonder rise ! Pardon for infinite offence ! and pardon Through means that speak its value infinite ! A pardon bought with blood ! — with blood divine ! With blood of Him I made my foe ! Persisted to provoke ! though woo'd and aw'd. Blest and chastis'd, a flagrant rebel still ! A rebel, 'midst the thunders of his throne ! or I alone ! a rebel universe ! My species up in arms ! not one exempt ! Yet, for the foulest of the foul he dies. Most joy'd for the redeem'd from deepest guilt ! As if our race were held of highest rank. And Godhead dearer as more kind to man ! Young. Proofs of the divine benevolence may be gathered from the widely-extended scene of the visible creation, and also from the harmonious operations of providence ; but it is proposed at present to restrict ourselves to those which arise from the great scheme of redemption. Allow us then, 1. To advert to the character and condition of those for whom it has been devised, as a proof that " God is love." 1 John, 4 : 8. It is generally acknowledged, that we are affected by

a tale of misery in a degree which bears some proportion to the original state of the sufferer, or the superior endowments which he possesses. Suppose, for example, two individuals were laboring under the same sentence of con-

2 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. demnation : the one, a man of a strong mind, a fascinating genius, a brilliant imagination, whose figure and whose manners bore the marks of the most exquisite polish, and who had moved in a high orbit of existence ; the other, a comparatively mean, ignorant, and uncultivated being ; over which would your sympathy spread with the most delicate sensibilities ? and if mercy could be obtained only for one, to which would you rush to administer it ? We know ! But " My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." From the lofty heights of eternity, Mercy looked down, and beheld the angelic and the human nature involved in guilt, and in misery ; but she passed by the nature which presented the strongest physical and intellectual attractions, to rescue man, "doomed to die" — man, in whose warm bosom no love to God was cherished, but the most deep-rooted enmity ; on whose moral character no lineaments of the divine image could be traced, but rather the evil passions which degrade and defile ; and who occupied such an insignificant station in the vast universe, that if he had been annihilated he would scarcely have been missed. " For verily he took not on him the nature of angels ; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.'' And what part of the human race calls forth this spontaneous expression of benevolence ? We know that the moral character of man varies, from the most delicate amiability, to the most brutal and savage ferocity ; and if we had been permitted to speculate on the exercise of mercy, we should have predicted that it would be monopolized by the most virtuous ; we should have concluded, that the .amiable, the intelligent, and the honorable, would be admitted to a participation of its blessings, while the more debased and ignorant would be left to perish in their sins. But saith the Lord, " My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." It is true, the more

BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. 3 virtuous are not denied mercy, but it is not confined to them ; they are not forbidden to indulge the hope of final happiness, but they are not permitted exclusively to enjoy it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ makes provision for the salvation of the chief of sinners ; and frequently those whom men abhor become the objects of its compassion, while the self-complacent and the self-righteous are left under the delusions of their own fancy. Hence said our Lord to the elders and chief priests of Israel, who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others, " Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." How pure and ardent must be that love, which could pass by the angels who kept not their first estate, to rescue fallen man from the awful peril of his condition — and which often passes by those who appear, in many respects, very attractive members of the human family, to save the most guilty, the most depraved, and the most unhappy ! 2. The superior state of bliss to which man is ultimately to be raised, is another proof that " God is love." Man, when created, was placed in the garden of Eden • and if ever a local residence was favorable to human felicity, Eden could boast of unrivalled charms. Intersected with flowing streams — decorated with the most majestic trees, and with the choicest shrubs and flowers creation could supply — rendered melodious by the varied, yet harmonious notes of the feathered tribe — and visited by the occasional presence of the King Eternal, who threw over his uncreated glories a visible form, which, softening their radiance, added, if not to their grandeur, yet to their beauty. Here man dwelt. His eye gazed on a cloudless sky ; his ear listened to the song of the earliest bird ; his nostrils inhaled the breath of uncorrupted morn ; his heart felt the sublimity of bliss. He sinned. Discord rushed from her retreat. Misery started up from every bower in Paradise.

4 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. The thunder of the divine displeasure rolled in loud and lengthened peals over the once tranquil place. And when

concealed, as he thought, amidst the thickset trees, the voice of insulted Majesty was heard, saying, " Adam, where art thou ? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked ; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked ? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" The ground is immediately accursed ; the agent of seduction is at once doomed to punishment; and man is driven from his beloved abode into the wide world, in which he has wandered from that fatal hour to the present, the slave of passion, and the victim of grief. Multifarious rites have been practised, and the most costly sacrifices have been offered up, to appease the vengeance of Heaven ; but it still goes forth against the children of disobedience. But must we despair ? o. " For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that ^vhosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And you who believe in Christ will attain a higher state of honor and of bliss, than you would have acquired if the catastrophe of the fall had never happened. A higher state of honor. Had man never sinned, he would have stood in the relation of a servant, or a subject of the great King ; but now, being mystically united to Jesus Christ, and adopted by an act of grace, he bears the endearing epithet of a son. " But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." A higher state of felicity. Had man never sinned, his felicity would have run on in a smooth and even current, liable to no fluctuations — no impediments — no swellings. His removal from earth to heaven, if that event had ever

BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. 5 taken place, would have increased his happiness, but we have no means of ascertaining the exact proportion. But now, trace a redeemed sinner through this scene of mortality and of woe, till you behold him before the throne of God, and of the Lamb ; and while conscious that he enjoys all the sources of bliss which he would have enjoyed had he

entered glory from a paradisiacal state of innocence, you will perceive that his most exalted felicity arises from his redemption. " Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father ; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." 3. The means by which this state of future felicity is obtained, is another decisive proof that " God is love." What are the means ? Go to Calvary \ What a wonderful scene strikes our senses ! The heavens grow black — the rocks burst asunder — the thunder of the Lord waxeth louder and louder — the vail of the magnificent temple is rent asunder by an invisible hand — the dead arise, and appear in the holy city ! What event do these prodigies attest 1 Tell us, ye ministering spirits, who dwell near the throne of the Eternal ! That God is love ! What ! Love selecting for its heralds the eclipse — the earthquake — and the tempest ? Yes ! Amidst these awful movements of ature, in her disturbed condition, we behold God giving his onlybegotten Son for the salvation of man ; and his death, which consummates the scheme of mercy, is the event which these strange prodigies announce ! He dies, " the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." But could not the salvation of man have been effected by some other expedient ? The question is improper. It is not our province to dictate to the Redeemer the terms of our redemption, nor the means by which it is to be accomplished. Such are the means which infinite wisdom has devised for our salvation; and if we reject them, "there VOL. I. 16

6 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." 4. The metliod by which we enjoy the blessings of this scheme of redemption ; the extent to which they are to be conveyed ; and the provision which is made to guard against their universal rejection, are other proofs that God is love.

The leading blessings which flow to us through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus are, remission of sin — the sanctification of our nature — consolation suited to the varied afflictions of life — and the prospect of eternal glory. How is the remission of sin to be obtained ? Are you required, like the modern pagan, to undertake a distant and dangerous pilgrimage, leaving your family exposed to the insults of the proud, and liable to the pressure of want ? o ! " For through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of- sins, according to the riches of his grace." How is your nature to be purified ? Are you, like the deluded Hindoo, to expose yourself to the scorching heat of a tropical sun ? are you to submit to the deep laceration of self-inflicted torture, before you can be redeemed from the bondage of corruption, and regain that high elevation of moral excellence from which you are fallen 1 o ! God purifieth your hearts hy faith. Faith brings before the mind those facts, and those doctrines — those promises, and those threatenings, which strongly tend to destroy the love of sin, and to subdue its power. How are the consolations of mercy obtained 1 ot by the incantations of superstition, nor the mere force of philosophical reasoning ; but by the belief of those exceeding great and precious promises with which the Scriptures abound. And is not faith the evidence of things unseen, as well as the substance of things hoped for ? " Therefore

BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. 7 being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ : by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Under the Levitical dispensation, Mercy seemed confined to one place, and her blessings were almost exclusively confined to one people. Her residence was within the vail, and from between the cherubim she uttered her responses to the tribes of Israel. But now she has taken the wings of the morning, and following the course of the

sun, her going forth is to be from the end of the heaven, and her circuit to the ends of it, and no human being to be hid from the light thereof Did not our Lord declare that " this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world, for a witness unto all nations ?" See him before his ascension, even while the scars of Golgotha were still fresh on his sacred person, gathering around him his faithful apostles, and hear the last injunction which fell from his lips: " Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." Wherever man resides, thither the scheme of redemption may be conveyed : and though it abounds, in its historical details, in references and allusions to the phenomena of the country in which it was revealed, and in which it was perfected, and to the civil and religious customs of the people to whose care it was first intrusted, yet neither its doctrines, nor its precepts — neither its rites, nor its institutions, discover any local peculiarities which would restrict its progress, or limit its duration. And though these blessings are to be conveyed through the instrumentality of men who possess no ability to secure their reception, yet these men stand in alliance with an invisible agency, which can make the barbarian and the Scythian, the bond and the free, willing in the day of Jehovah's

8 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. power. Hence our preachers are not dependent for success on the force of moral suasion ; neither do they expect to triumph over the passions and prejudices of the human heart by the splendor of evidence, or the charms of eloquence — regarding themselves as the mere instruments through whom the Holy Ghost exerts his almighty energy. And who can withstand, when he arises to promote the growing empire of the Redeemer ? What mind can remain impervious to the rays of truth, when he exhibits it ? What prejudices can retain their strong hold, when he sends forth the subduing efficacy of his grace ? " My word," saith the Lord, " shall not return unto me void ; but it shall accomplish that which I please, and prosper in the thing whereto I send it."

And now consider what practical influence this love of God should have on our minds. 1. The benevolence of God, as displayed in the scheme of redemption, should become a subject of intense meditation. ature throws out attractions, in some of her departments, which invite the traveller to leave his home, and his country, only to gaze on them. And when he reaches the enchanted spot, from whence he can see the lofty pyramid, losing its top amidst the clouds of heaven ; or the long extended valley, where vegetation, in her varied forms, puts forth all her magnificence and beauty ; where the burning mountain is casting up its liquid flames ; or the cataract is thundering amidst the solemn stillness of deserted declivities, into what transports is he thrown ! — nor is it till the scenes become familiar to his senses, that he has power to take a sketch, or describe an object. He passes on till he sees the splendid monuments of ancient times mouldering in ruins ; but does he not feel rich in mental excitement, amidst the desolations which Athens, which Corinth, which Jerusalem, still exhibit ? And shall the unconscious scenes of nature, which, after the lapse of a few more centuries,

BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. 9 will form part of the general conflagration — shall the mutations of Providence, which are only serviceable as they make us wiser and better, awaken the most impassioned interest in the breast of the sentimental traveller 1 and shall the great scheme of redemption by the death of Jesus Christ, pass rapidly over the mind, as though it were too unimportant to fix our attention ? God forbid ! But we must not conceal from you the astonishing fact, that it is treated with cold neglect by the great majority to whom it is revealed. They deem it low and worthless ; and they attempt to vindicate their conduct by saying, with the unbelieving Jews, " Which of the scribes or rulers — which of the learned or dignified of our church, make it the theme of their beautiful addresses, or eloquent harangues? Which of our celebrated men of science, discrimination, and taste, make it the object of their study, or the subject of their discourse ? Does not the preaching of it provoke contempt, and expose the minister to the degrading imputation of fanaticism ?" And yet angels, fascinated by its charms, suspending their

studies of nature, and their lofty pursuits in heaven, descend from the celestial world to look into it ; and whilst they look, they discover new beauties and new wonders incessantly arising, which induce them again to look, and continue the research. They bend, and again they bend their lofty minds, and cannot quit the object ; and by their conduct they seem to unite with the Apostle, in his admiration of the incomparable excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord. And shall angels, who have no direct interest in this subject, be captivated by its beauties, and shall we remain ir\sensible to them ? Shall they turn away from the overpowering grandeur of the heavenly world, to pry into the hidden mysteries of the cross, and shall we treat them with indifference ? God forbid ! But it cannot be that you, who have felt the burden of sin, will ever be guilty of such a crime. It cannot be that you, who have

10 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. derived from it your purest joy and your most sublime anticipations, will ever be accused of such a species of criminal folly and base ingratitude. You can adopt the language of the Apostle, as descriptive of the deep interest which you take in this supremely important subject : " God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." 2. It ought to become a subject of devout imitation. " Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us." If you wish to cherish and display that spirit of benevolence towards others, which God has manifested in the scheme of human redemption, it will be absolutely necessary that you should take that specific view of their character and condition w^hich the Sacred Writers have given us. There are many Christians in modern times, 'who will weep over the ruins of Carthage, and pour forth their bitter lamentations near the site w^here Athens once displayed her unrivalled grandeur — who will mingle their sympathies with the sufferers of Ionia and Marathon, that were doomed to witness the extinction of science, and the destruction of empire — ^but who contemplate the fall of man from his

original state of purity and honor with cool indifference, or impiously declare that he is as pure and as perfect as when first formed by the power of Jehovah. They speak in raptures of the dignity and happiness of the human species, even while the groans of misery are issuing from almost every receptacle of humanity — and unblushingly assert, that no derangement has taken place in the social system, though the history of man is little more than the public record of his ambition, cruelty, fraud, and injustice. To reason with such men is an act of folly, as they seem, on this subject, incapable of feeling the force of the most pal-

BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. H pable evidence ; and the only course which remains to us, is to pity their incorrigible insensibility, and to guard ourselves against the neutralizing and paralyzing influence of their opinions. To expect that such men will ever become the philanthropists of the age in which they live, would be no less visionary than to expect that the author of all evil would, if permitted, come and repair the moral injury which he has done amongst us. And though they may, from birth, and accidental associations, stand connected with Christianity in some of the external forms of her establishment, yet they are no less devoid of her spirit than the avowed infidels, who reject her revelations as fabulous, and her pretensions as absurd. You must view man as a fallen and a guilty creature, before you will feel the tenderness of pity for him. You must view him as in a state of rebellion against the authority of God, and as exposed to the terrors of his righteous displeasure, or you will never feel that deep and paramount anxiety on his behalf which will impel you to aim at his salvation. You must not allow the few social virtues, which sometimes bud and blossom on his character, to induce you to suppose that his moral condition, in relation to God, is less awful and perilous than the Scriptures represent — or that he stands in less need of the cleansing efficacy of the blood of atonement, and the purifying influence of the Holy Spirit, than when he appears in the more repelling form of the bold and profligate transgressor! Be ye, then, imitators of God ; and as he has given his only-begotten Son to die, " the just for the unjust," do all

in your power to convey a knowledge of this fact to every human being. Suffer no false principles of reasoning — no selfish calculations — no considerations of personal ease, to induce you to suppress your tender pity — to smother your strong anxieties — or to withhold your zealous exertions, till all the members of the human family know the only true

12 BE EVOLE CE OF GOD. God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, whom to know is life eternal. Often meditate on the conduct of the Lord Jesus Christ ; ^' who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God ; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men ; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." And why should you meditate on the original dignity, and on the abasement of the Redeemer, but to possess the same spirit of condescension and benevolence which he so gloriously displayed ? Meditate on the greatness of his humiliation — on the intensity of his sufferings — on the ardor of his love — and go forth into the world with the same mind — and let every place you visit, and every individual with whom you come in contact, feel the moral influence of your Christian benevolence. The world may reproach you for your fanaticism, if they see you devoted to the cause of Christ ; and may impeach your good sense, if you speak in raptures of the love of God to man, as displayed in the plan of redemption ; but be regardless of its revilings, and offer the same apology for your conduct which the Apostle once offered for his own, and his fellowlaborers : For the love of Christ constraineth us. But if you reject this scheme of redemption, or treat it with cool indifference, how shall you escape from the overflowings of the divine displeasure ? Do you not know, on the authority of the Scriptures, that " the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ : who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power ; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all

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