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Gai. The Divine perfections have been distinguished into natural and moral; by the former we understand those perfections which express his greatness-such are his wisdom, power, majesty, omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, eternity, immensity, &c.; by the latter, those which express his essential goodnesssuch are his justice, his mercy, his veracity; or, in one word, his holiness. These last are the peculiar glory of the Divine nature, and constitute what is meant by his moral character.

Crisp. Are not all the attributes of Deity essential to the character of an all-perfect Being?

Gai. They are; but yet the glory of his natural perfections depends upon their being united with those which are moral. The ideas of wisdom, power, or immutability, convey nothing lovely to the mind, but the reverse, unless they be connected with righteousness, goodness, and veracity. Wisdom without holiness would be serpentine subtilty, power would be tyranny, and immutability annexed to a character of such qualities, would be the curse and terror of the universe.

Crisp. But as God is possessed of the one as well as the other, they all contribute to his glory.

Gai. True; and it affords matter of inexpressible joy to all holy intelligences, that a Being of such rectitude and goodness is possessed of power equal to the desire of his heart, of wisdom equal to his power; and that he remains through eternal ages immutably the Power and wisdom in such hands are the bless ing of the universe.


Crisp. Is the above distinction of the Divine perfec

tions into natural and moral, applicable to any useful purposes?

Gai. It will assist us in determining the nature of that most fundamental of all moral principles, the love of God. If holiness constitutes the loveliness of the Divine nature, this must be the most direct and immediate object of holy affection. True love to God will always bear a primary regard to that which, above all other things, renders him a lovely Being.

Crisp. I knew a lecturer on philosophy, who, by discoursing on the wisdom and power of God as displayed in the immensity of creation, was wrought up into a rapture of apparent devotion, and his audience with him; and yet in less than an hour's time, after leaving the room, he was heard to curse and swear, as was his usual manner of conversation.

Gai. You might find great numbers of this description. They consider the Divine Being as a great genius, as a fine architect, and survey his works with admiration; but his moral excellence, which constitutes the chief glory of his nature, has no charms in their eyes. But if that which constitutes the chief glory of his nature have no charms in their eyes, all the admiration which they may bestow upon the productions of his wisdom and power will amount to nothing; "the love of God is not in them."

Crisp. You consider the moral character of God as a fundamental principle in religion; what then are those principles which are founded upon it?

Gai. The equity of the Divine laws, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the ruined state of man as a sinner,

with the necessity of an Almighty Savior, and a free salvation.

Crisp. Will you oblige me by pointing out the connexion of these principles?

Gai. If there be infinite loveliness in the moral character of God, then it is right and equitable that we should love him with all our hearts, which, with a subordinate love to our neighbor as ourselves, is the sum of what the Divine law requires. And in proportion to the loveliness of the Divine character must be the hatefulness of aversion to him, and rebellion against him; hence follows the exceeding sinfulness of sin. And if sin be odious in its nature, it must be dangerous in its consequences, exposing us to the curse of the Divine law, the just and everlasting displeasure of a holy God. Finally, If, as rebels against the moral government of God; we be all in a ruined and perishing condition, we need a Deliverer who shall be able to save to the uttermost, whose name shall be called the Mighty God; and a salvation, without money and without price, that shall be suited to our indigent condition.

Crisp. Is not the moral excellence of the Divine character admitted by great numbers who reject these principles which you say arise from it?

Gai. I suppose no person who admits the being of God, would expressly deny the excellence of his moral character; but it is easy to observe that those who deny the foregoing principles, either discover no manner of delight in it, but are taken up, like your philosophical lecturer, in admiring the productions of God's natural perfections, or else are employed in modelling his moral character according to their own depraved ideas

of excellence. Being under the influence of self-love, they see no loveliness but in proportion as he may subserve their happiness; hence the justice of God in the punishment of sin is kept out of view, and what are called his goodness and mercy (but which in fact are no other than connivance at sin, and indifference to the glory of his government) are exalted in its place. A Being thus qualified may be easily adored; it is not God however that is worshipped, but an imaginary being, created after the image of depraved men.

Crisp. "To know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent;" in other words, to know the true glory of the Law-giver and the Savior, seems to be of vast importance.

Gai. True; the former is absolutely necessary to the latter, and both to grace and peace being multiplied here, and our enjoyment of eternal life hereafter.

Crisp. Farewell, my dear Gaius; I hope I shall soon see you again.





OUR last conversation, on the moral character of God, has led me, my dear Gaius, to desire your thoughts on the nature of man, as a subject of moral government,

Gaius. This is, no doubt, a very interesting subject: As we all feel ourselves accountable beings, and must all give account of ourselves another day, it becomes us to know ourselves, and the nature of those powers with which the Creator hath invested us.

Crisp. Do you consider man as a free-agent?

Gaius. Certainly; to deny this, would be to deny that we are accountable to the God that made us. Necessarians and anti-necessarians have disputed wherein free-agency consists; but the thing itself is allowed on both sides.

Crisp. Suppose, then, I were to change the question; and ask, Wherein does free-agency consist?

Gai. I should answer, In the power of following

one's inclination.

Crisp. And is it in our power, in all cases, to follow our inclination?

Gai. No: There are numberless instances in which we are obliged to act against inclination, and to forbear acting as we desire; but in these cases we are not accountable beings.

Crisp. Some have thought man to be a free-agent in natural things, but not as to things moral and spiritual.

Gai. This is the same as supposing him accountable only for those things in which there is neither good nor evil; and this, if true, would prove that we are not subjects of moral government, and shall never be called to give account of either good or evil. Besides, it is a fact that we as freely pursue our inclinations in spritual as in natural things; we as freely yield ourselves to he the servants of sin, or of God, as ever we chose to eat, drink, or walk.

Crisp. Then you think we are free-agents in all those matters which are inseparably connected with eternal salvation?

Gai. Certainly: If otherwise, we should be equally

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