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them in creatures; (however close and inseparable the connection may be between these different objects) so much more is the former an original and chief end of God in creation, than the latter.
3. It follows, from what has been said, that God will take effectual care, that in all his administration, the majesty, the superior dignity of his own infinitely excellent character, shall be fully and perfectly preserved. Since God made the world for the sake of displaying his own true character, we may rest assured that he will take effectual care that the glory and dignity of it be effectually preserved in the view of all his creatures. Nothing will ever take place in the divine government that will have a tendency finally to sink the character of God, in the view of his creatures : But, on the other hand, in his progressive administration, it will continually rise higher and higher, appear more and more respectable, and be clothed with greater majesty and glory. Every part of the divine conduct, will certainly be such as to demand the highest veneration and esteem, and tend in the view of all intelligencies, to increase that infinite distance which really subsists between him and all created beings.
No part of the divine conduct will ever be such as naturally tends to represent in diminutive light, his hatred of all opposition to the good for which he made the world, or his abhorrence of rebellion and wickedness. For this would not exhibit his true character, but the reverse; this would not correspond with his oracles, his verbal declarations, but contradict them. We may therefore certainly conclude, on the other hand, that in God's progressive dealings with his creatures, that transcendantly excellent and glorious disposition of the divine Mind, whereby he holds all moral evil in the greatcst possible abhorrence, will be continually appearing in more lively and glowing colours.
To suppose that this will certainly be the case, is perfectly correspondent with what the holy Scriptures teach us must originally have been the design of God in giving existence to moral creatures. While, on the other hand, should the divine government, in its progressive steps, impress the minds of creatures, with no deeper and more affecting sense of his infinite purity and hatred of iniquity; the whole moral character of the great Governor of the world must, of necessity, suffer; and appear not uniform, nor wholly without defect.
An inquiry into the original ground of the necessity of an Atonement, in order to the forgiveness of sin.
THE original design of God, in the creation of the world, will naturally lead us to suppose that a disposition to exhibit his character in its true colours, was the cause of his requiring an atonement for sin, before he would exercise pardoning mercy. Since this was God's original end in creation; this must, also be the governing principle in all his future administration. Of course, therefore, the true reason why God required an atonement for sin was, that the real disposition of his own infinite mind, toward such an object, might appear; even though he pardoned and saved the sinner: Could the character of God, the disposition of the divine mind both toward holiness and sin, otherwise appear to equal advantage; there is not the least reason to imagine that he would ever have required an atonement: Because God will never be at expense, where no advantage is gained. But, to say that this is the consideration which originally made an atonement necessary; is the same as to say that the necessity of it in order to a proper exercise of mercy, arose
from the very nature of the divine character, and the essential perfection of God. For it is the essential perfection of the divine nature, and the genuine character of God, that are to be displayed in all his works and government.
It is reasonable to suppose that God required an atonement for sin, that his creatures might be sensible of the abhorrence he has of it, notwithstanding the forgiveness he is pleased to exercise toward the sin
er. The end which God had in view. in the creation of the world, forbids the exercise of mercy toward sinners, in such a way as naturally tends to diminish the ideas of their infinite guilt and ill desert in his sight. As the real aversion of the divine mind from sin is infinite, it evidently became his character to adopt some measures in his providence, effectually to convince his creatures that this aversion still subsists, in all its strength, even though he pardons the sinner. Other-wise, the character of God would, of necessity, be misapprehended by his creatures; and the nature of his mercy be misunderstood.
We may confide in it that nothing will ever take place in the divine government, which will tend to render the spotless holiness of God in the least degree suspicious; or represent him less an enemy to sin, than a friend to virtue. And that, in order to this, there was originally in the nature of things, a necessity of an atonement, before mercy could be exercised in the pardon of the sinner; will appear from the following considerations, viz.
I. SHOULD God pardon absolutely, or without adopting measures, at the same time, to convince his creatures of his infinite hatred of iniquity; his regards to the good of the great community over which he
presides, would necessarily appear to his creatures to be defective.
IT is essential to the goodness of a Governor, or King, to guard the rights, secure the peace, and promote the prosperity of his subjects. No one can be called a good Governor, who doth not exercise his supremacy and authority, in framing and executing laws for the protection and safety of his subjects. It is as essential to the character of a good Ruler, to punish vice, as to reward virtue; to avenge the wrongs of his subjects, as to secure their interests: Yea, the former is essential to the latter; since, only the fear of punishment restrains wicked men from violence. Should a ruler suffer crimes to go unpunished; the laws, however good and righteous in themselves, would presently lose their authority; and government fall into contempt. Laws have no force, any further than they are carried into execution; and authority loses its respect whenever it ceases to be exercised. Whenever the supreme Magistrate neglects the execution of the laws, he loses the confidence of the pecple; and his regard to the public welfare becomes suspected. No one can confide in his public spirit, when he suffers the disturbers of the peace to go unpunished: For ideas of true regard to public good, as necessarily connect punishments with crimes, as rewards with virtue.
THE Confidence of a community in the character of a Governor, arises, in a great measure, from the apprehensions they have of his sincere, benevolent re gards to the general good. And they can no further confide in his regards to the public good, than they believe him to be averse from every thing that injures the public. As, it is impossible that the love of virtue, in any being whatever, should exceed his hatred of vice; it is impossible for any one to give evidence of the for
mer, when, the object being presented, he neglects expressing the latter, in ways becoming his character.
SHOULD God pardon the sinner, without taking ef fectual measures to minister conviction of his hatred of his sins; the evidence of his love to the public good, would necessarily be defective. This, of course, would be a mode of administration exceedingly inconsistent with his original design in the creation and government of the world. For,
II. Ir God should pardon sin without an atone>< ment, he could not be believed to hate iniquity.
THE views which God has of the characters of his creatures, and the affection of his mind respecting them, can be no where so clearly seen as in the treatment he actualy gives them. God is a spirit invisible to men; and, cannot be known intuitively by his creatures. We can see him only in his word and works; and, when we consider him as the parent and fountain of all being and good; and ourselves as the mere creatures of his power, most absolutely dependent on him; it will be natural for us to suppose that his ultimate treatment of us affords the best rule whereby we may judge of the light in which he views our characters; and of the disposition he entertains towards us. And though words are significant, they are yet less so than actions. It is a common, and a just observation, that actions speak louder than words: Yea, a maxim on which we so firmly rely, that we give the whole weight to the former, when they contradict the latter. All agree that the mind and will of God may be intelligibly expressed in words. Yet, no one will deny that they may be written in much deeper and more legible characters, in the sensible pleasures and pains which he may bestow, or inflict upon us. Therefore, the evidence of God's love of virtue, and his hatred of