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ing right, of being just and equal, is what
supports the Deity himself in his claims upon the confidence of his creatures. To bring us into a frame of confident reliance upon him, we need only to be convinced that he will do right. In our endeavour to promote this conviction, we are not to enquire so much what it is for men or angels to do right, as what is right for God to do. That, which is perfectly right in one, may be totally wrong in another. The rights, prerogatives, and obligations of individuals, result, in a great measure, from the rank, circumstances, and condition they hold in the scale of being. It is right for parents to command their children, but it would be wrong, palpably and egregiously so, for children to exercise such authority over their parents, or others of the household, to which they belong. It is right for the officer of justice to lay restraints upon the violator of the public peace, to put him in hold, and order him to punishment ; but for any private member of the community to assume such an authority would be wrong. It would be deemed a most indecent and inexcusable outrage upon good order. Hence we see, that in order to know whether we have ground of confidence in any one, we are to enquire what
particular conduct befits him in the place he fills; and not whether he proceeds in the
same way that others do, who are allowed
to act with propriety. Though we may be
never so consistent and well established in
our notions of human rectitude, of the conduct, that is suitable for men ; yet will this of itself give us to understand, whether the Judge of all the earth, in certain supposed operations of his hand, does right? whether such or such administrations ofdivine government are equitable or not : No doubt we may argue from the less to the greater, in this case, and say, that whatever is right in man, cannot be wrong in God ; as that, which is laudable in a private citizen, must be equally so, at least, in a public officer. But to turn the tables, and argue from the greater to the less, as that a man may be justified in doing, or wishing to do, any thing that he sees done. by the arm of the Most High, would be glaringly absurd. If it be right for God to take vengeance on evil doers ; will it follow, that men are to be allowed to do the same 2 Does. not the scripture conclude rather, that man. has no right to countenance himself in such an action, because this right is inherent in God : “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath : for it is written, Vengeance is mine ; I will repay, saith the Lord.” It could not have been right for Abraham, nor for the angels, who were employed in the redemption of . Lot, to counsel the destruction of Sodom, even upon their supposed perfect knowledge of the sins of that people. It would have been wicked in them to have desired such an event. . But this does nothing towards proving, that the Judge of all the earth did
wrong, in turning their country into ashes, and condemning them with an overthrow. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Any thing, which may be fairly considered as a departure from truth and goodness, as it would be criminal in man, so, in Deity, it would render him undeserving of confidence from the rational world. It would be equally a blemish, a moral imperfection, in God. But if God is pleased to deluge a city in flames, or doom any number of men to perdition, would this be as evidently an infringement of truth and the maxims of goodness, as if a creature should take it upon, him thus to do The case is as plain, as that there is a difference between the Creator and the creature. Until we can reduce Jehovah to an equality with his own offspring, feeble, dependent creatures, we cannot subject him to the same rules of conduct that are binding upon them. Not that there are two or more kinds of right or wrong, in direct opposition to each other. Right is not an arbitrary, an equivocal, or a mutable thing. It is capable of being defined with the most exact precision ; and cannot be supposed to require, at one time, what absolutely disallows at another. The nds of good and evil, and their true point 'erence, are as clearly, critically, and .
unaltably, fixed, as the nature of God. The rectitude of God and that of his creatures nicely agree and harmonize with each other, and nothing can cause or manifest a variance between them. Still we have a somewhat different course to pursue, in tracing the matchless excellence of the divine character, from that which leads us to a view of those moral beauties, which appear in the faithful among men. Through inattention to this difference, some have been led to impeach the moral justice of God, in those judicial dispensations of his providence, which are the most unlike to the transactions that are proper for men. If Jehovah were to govern himself by all those particular rules of conduct, which are given to limit and regulate the actions of men, or other intelligent creatures, instead of doing right, he would fill the universe with wrong, and give just cause of universal alienation from, rather than of confidence in, him. It ought to be remembered, that our confidence in God is not such as we sometimes have occasion to place in man. A creature, furnished with the best endowments, natural and moral, may justly claim to be respected and treated according to the excellencies he possesses, and the opportunity he has to render them beneficial to others. Our estimation of his worth will allure us to his bosom, and into his arms we shall throw ourselves, with expectations of sharing, liberally, in the fruits of his good properties. But here is nothing original, nor independent, too rest upon. Is he a king, or governor ; he will not protect, nor enrich us, of his own unborrowed lenity or power. He will do us good, only as his heart is moved, and his hands strengthened, by the great Lord and Benefactor of the world. By such considerations is our confidence modified and restricted. But can we address ourselves to God, and cast ourselves on his beneficence, with these narrow and impoverished views of his grace, his power to sustain and save us : If we set our hope in God, it is not as if he were man, that he might lie, or the son of man, that might repent. It is not as if he were domesticated to the little spot of earth.
we inhabit ; or were immured within the
walls of the town, in which we dwell. It is not as if he had taken his stand, for purposes of government, at the head of our nation, or commonwealth, in preference to all others. It is not as if he had abandoned the vast interests and concerns of the universe, or had naturally no connection with them, that he might be the more especially and closely attentive to our little affairs and movements of yesterday, to-day, and to-morrow. It is not, as if, within a few years or lustrums past, he had begun to plan for our existence and welfare; and would never suffer his care to
be drawn forth beyond that circle of objects,
which compasses our own more particular and appropriate interests. It is not as if he rere posted, as a sentinel, upon the watch