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" but to do justly, and to love mercy, and “ to walk humbly with thy God ?” To the same purpose see also Pf. 1. Jer. vii. 2. Hof. vi. 6. and Amos v. 21.
In the New Testament, we find John the Baptist exposing the vain confidence of the Jews, on account of their having Abraham for their father, Matt. iii. 9. and our Saviour also, when they made the fame boast, in his presence, says, John viii. 39. “ If ye were “ Abraham's children, ye would do the “works of Abraham. Ye are of your father “the devil, and the lusts of your father ye “will do.” Again, speaking of his natural relations, he says, Matt. xii. 50. “ Whoso“ever shall do the will of my father who · “is in heaven, the same is my brother, and “ fifter and mother.”
If we consider the great object and end of all the parts of the scheme of revelation, we cannot but see that it was intended to promote the practice of moral virtue, in order to men's attaining to the greatest degrees of perfection and happiness. The ten comVol. II.
mandments, which God spake from Sinai, are all of a moral, and most of them of a focial nature. His earnest exhortations to the Ifraelites, through the whole of the book of Deuteronomy, enforces the practice of virtue in the strongest manner; and so do all the writings of the prophets. The purport of their earnest exhortations is, “ Cease to do “ evil, learn to do well; turn ye, turn ye, “ from your evil ways; why will ye die, “O house of Israel.”
Repentance and works meet for repentance, was the chief subject of John the Baptist's preaching, and also of that of our Saviour. Our Lord's admirable sermon on the mount, confifts chiefly of precepts of the most sublime moral virtue; and he represents the fate of all mankind at the last day, as determined by a regard to their moral character only, and especially their benevolence.
Whenever the general design of the gospel is mentioned, it is always spoken of as intended to reform and bless mankind. Thus the apostle Peter, in his address to the Jews,
after the effusion of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost, says, Acts iii. 26. “God, hav“ing raised up his Son Jefus, sent him to “ bless you, in turning away every one of you “ from his iniquities.” To the same purpose the apostle Paul, Titus ii. 11. “ The “ grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath " appeared to all men ; teaching us, that * denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, " we should live soberly, righteously, and “ godly in this present world; looking “ for that blessed hope, and the glorious " appearing of the great God, and our Sa“ viour Jesus Christ: who gave himself for "us, that he might redeem us from all " iniquity, and purify unto himself a pecu" liar people, zealous of good works.” And our Lord himself says, John xv.viii. “Here"in is my Father glorified, that ye bear "much fruit."
Lastly, it is impossible that the practice of universal virtue, absolute or relative, should be more strongly inforced than it is in all the apostolical epistles, and especially towards the close of them. See Rom. ii. 4. Q 2
&c. 12. I Cor. vi. 9. &c. Eph. i 4. v. 2. &c. 1 Thef. v. 22. the epistle of James throughout, 1 Pet. ii. 11. &c. 1 John iv. 20.
It is in vain that we look for any thing that can be compared with this in any fystem of heathen religion. Almost the best that can be said of them is, that they enjoin practices that are merely idle and insignificant; for too often they countenance the most destructive vices.
S E CTION III.
Of the goodness of God.
THIE goodness of God seems to be pretty
clearly inferred from a view of the works of creation; a benevolent design being fufficiently manifest in every thing that we understand. Indeed the great mixture that we see of apparent evil is apt to stagger even well disposed minds, especially when them
felves are affected by it; but in the scriptures we see all these doubts removed. All events are promiscuously ascribed to God; but his intention is represented as being good and kind, even when his proceedings are the | most severe. David, addressing himself to
God, fays, Pf. cxix. 68. « Thou art good, - " and doest good.” Pf. cxiv. 9. “ The
" Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies " are over all his works.” Pl. xxxiii. 5. “ The earth is full of the goodness of the “ Lord.” Pl. cxlv. 15. “ The eyes of all "wzít upon thee, and thou givest them “ their meat in due season. Thou openest "thine hand, and satisfies the desire of "every living thing.”
Our Lord says, Matt. xix. 17. “ There "is none good but one, that is Go:l;” and in his fermon upon the mount, he enforces the duty of universal benevolence by the confideration of that of our heavenly father, Matt. 1.45. “ That ye may be the children of your "father who is in heaven, for he maketh “his fun to rise on the evil and on the good, “ and sendeth rain on the just and on the