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The law of love, is what the Deity himself observes, in the government of the moral system; for God is love. All the divine perfections are summed up in it; and his whole plan, is but the various operations of this single principle. All originates and terminates in the most perfect benevolence. “It was love which brought all creatures into existence, and it is only that which can continue them so." As truly observes the celebrated and pious William Law, “The love and goodness of God, was the cause and beginning of creation. Hence it follows, that to all eternity, God can have no intent towards the creature, but to communicate good; because he made the creature for this sole end—to receive good;" and consequently, to be happy.
The first motive towards the creature, is unchangeable; it takes its rise from God's desire to communicate good and happiness; and it is an eternal impossibility, that any thing can ever come from God, as his will and purpose towards his creatures, but the same love and goodness, which first created and brought them into existance; he must always will to do that which he willed at the creation of them. This is the amiable nature of God; he is the good, the unchangeable, overflowing fountain of good, that sends forth nothing but good to all eternity.He is the love itself, the unmixed, unmeasurable love, doing nothing but from love, giving nothing but gifts of love, to every creature that he has made; requriring nothing of his creatures, but the spirit and fruits of that love which brought them into being."
- As somewhat preparatory to what will follow hereafter, we will now take a view, (as far as our limited capacities will admit,) of the extent of that admirable and divine principle of love in God, and in us, his creatures.
* Love in us is limited by impotence, ignorance, our local situation and circumstances; often the outward and mental distresses of our friends and fellow-creatures, are beyond our power to relieve; and very often, of their real condition and wants, we are ignorant; and as no being but God is omnipresent, and who knows the wants and sufferings of all, he is the only one on whom we can depend, and who can give consolation
- In us, love is but a drop, in God, an oceanin us, a spark, in God a flame-in us, impotent, in God, almighty-in us finite, in God, infinitein us, borrowed, in God, original-in us, partial, in God, universal-in us, ignorant, in God, all-knowing~in us, mutable, in God, unchangeable—in us, it benefits the objects for a time, in God, it will last throughout every future scene of being-in us, love is confined to a spot, in God, it travels through vast immensity, explores millions of systems of worlds; nor is it stayed in its almighty ardour, till the whole family are made as happy as circumscribed creatures can be-in us, love can only soften outward calamities, but in God it reaches the soul, gives peace, and changes the night to day. The self-existent God must exist in the highest and most glorious, though inconceiveable degree of eternal purity and moral worth. His benignity illumines, suslains, loads with bounty, and clothes with variety of glory, suited to their various ranks, all tribes of dependants, from the creeping emmet up to the adoring seraph. All circumscribed beings are so infinitely unequal to the task of describing the almighty love and goodness of God, that, in the attempt, Gabriel must dwindle almost to the level of an infant."
From his love and goodness to his creature, man, to which the scriptures bear abundant testimony, we believe in this consolatory and encouraging truth, that we are formed with a design that all the power and malice of all the worlds in creation, can never alter; i. e. to be through eternity gainers by our existence! This is as clear as that God does exist. For he must be the author of us; and such beings as we are, he must have made us with design to exist beyond this life; not to be miserable, but to be eternal gainers by our existence. As our first creation must have originated in uncontaminated, immutable love! Therefore, an eternal hell, is the mere imagination of the disordered brain of a fanatic! Love, with us finites, can never invent nor inflict tortures, when it can with equal ease liberate and save; it is then the height of blasphemy against God, and all fostering nature, to thus affirm of the Creator of all things. I know the advocates of this horrid doctrine, tell lis, “ that it is inflexible justice that damns the hopeless soul; that God once loved the wretch, but he outstood the day of grace; and, that in the fearful moment, when the sentence is
pronounced, the God of love is his enemy, and has changed from love to hatred;" and to render eternal tortures more severe, the Father of all,
and all the saints in heaven, rejoice over his misery. Any one who can believe this, can believe any thing, however absurd, inconsistent, and abominable.
Did mankind universally believe that God is the merciful and kind Parent of all his intelligent creatures, and that he is kind to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works ; and all men are equally the objects of his love and mercy; this certainly would have a tendency to unite mankind as one family, and in charity and good-will towards each other. But instead of this, and diametrically opposite toit, he has been, and stillis, represented as a being of wrath, anger and hatred, and seeking revenge of his creatures, because in consequence of their ignorance and fallibility, they have offended him; and that he will forever exclude from his mercy and favour, millions of those creatures, (who never did him the least imaginable injury,) whom he made, on purpose for his own glory, and to enjoy him forever! I think the reader, who has never read any thing on this subject before, must begin al* ready to see the absurdity of that which he has long been taught for truth. What a wide difference there is, in the two above short representations of the divine character.
Reader, which appears most like a good God, and most worthy of imitation ? For those whom we conceive God hates, we should hate; and in every respect endeavour to imitate him.
Again, which being is best entitled to the apSpellation of holy, good and merciful? He who forgives all his enemies, enlightens their minds to behold the excellencies of his character, and warms their hearts with love to him and to one another, which perpetuates their happiness, by divesting them of every wrong principle which hath occasioned their sufferings; or he, who, enraged to find his commands disobeyed, and in anger and hatred, consigns his enemies to endless wretchedness and torment? No question can be asked, more easy to answer.
How dreadful the thought, that God should be angry at, and punish his fallible creatures to all eternity, without having the least design for their good or happiness! Can a wise, merciful and good being punish for no purpose, but merely to satisfy what divines (so called) call vindictive justice? which they say, can never be satisfied to all eternity! What greater reflection can there he cast upon the character of God? And how hard is it with respect to man? For instance, what man would not by far have preferred (could he have had his choice) never to have had an existence, rather than to have stood an equal chance of being endlessly happy or endlessly
miserable ? How much more so, in the present state of human nature, when the chance seems more than fifty to one against happiness? Nor can it be supposed, that an infinitely wise and good God, would create creatures that he foreknew would be endlessly miserable?
More dreadful still is the idea which many entertain, that he created them on purpose to be endlessly miserable. But blessed be God, we have no cause to receive either of those pagan, disgraceful systems, as the plan of an all-wise and gracious Father.
All nations and people have believed simi