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benevolence. As he loves to promote the happiness of his creatures, so he loves to see the happiness which he bestows and they enjoy. As all his works flow from benevolence, and tend to diffuse happiness among intelligent and percipient beings, so all the effects of his power are no less effects of his love. Of course he enjoys real felicity in beholding all the works of his hand and effects of his goodness. Agreeably to this we are told that when he had finished the work of creation, he “saw every thing that he made, and behold it was very good.” It perfectly pleased him and gratified his benevolent feelings. He continually beholds all his creatures, and all his works, and sees all the happiness which exists in the whole circle of creation. He sees all the joy and felicity which fills the minds of saints and angels in heaven, and all the happiness which is enjoyed in this lower world. As heaven and earth are full of his goodness, so they are full of objects which entirely please and gratify his benevolent heart. Thus in feel. ing and expressing his pure benevolence, and in contemplating the fruits and effects of it through the whole universe, God is truly blessed. The whole of his felicity results from, or consists in these benevolent views and feelings. Nor can we conceive that a pure and perfect Spirit should derive the least degree of happiness from any other source. His natural perfections, without his moral, could yield him no pleasure or satisfaction. His power, knowledge and wisdom, though infinitely great, could only enable him to do and see all things, without
, enjoying any thing. For the bare view of objects, without any exercises of heart, can afford neither pleasure nor pain to a percipient being. Happiness is seated in the heart, and not in any mere intellectual faculties. This is true of beings that are composed of flesh and spirit, and much more of him who is a pure, uncreated mind. If this great, original and external Spirit be truly happy, his happiness must exist in his heart. And if it exist in his heart, it must flow from his pure, benevolent feelings; for no other kind of feelings can afford real happiness to any intelligent, moral being. Were the Deity a pure Intelligence, as inany heathen philosophers and Christian divines have supposed, it would be impossible, in the nature of things, that he should be truly blessed. But if he possesses true benevolence, he must enjoy self approbation, which is real happiness. I now proceed to show,
II. That he is perfecily and for ever blessed. This will appear from various considerations.
1. The blessedness of the Deity is without the least alloy, or mixture. It is as pure as his perfect benevolence, from which it flows. God is love, and in him is no malevolence at all. Though the benevolence of saints in this life affords them some real happiness, yet it is mixed with many painful feelings, which arise from the mixture of their selfish with their benevolent affections. Their selfishness opposes their benevolence, and obstructs the happiness which they would otherwise enjoy. But there is no such contrariety of feelings in the divine Being. His goodness is without alloy, his love without defect, and his benevolence without malevolence. All the affections of his heart are uniform and harmonious. Though his affections are infinitely strong, yet his mind is perfectly serene. There is no perturbation in his feelings; and though they are as various as the immense variety of creatures and objects in the universe, yet, as they are all of the same benevolent nature, he never feels the least conflict or discord in his own mind. If his benevolent feelings, therefore, yield him the least degree of happiness, they must necessarily give hirn pure, perfect and permanent felicity.
2. The blessedness of the Deity must be not only unmixed, but uninterrupted. There are many things which serve to interrupt the happiness of saints here in this imperfect state, besides their discordant feelings. But there is nothing in the universe to interrupt the pure and unmixed felicity of the divine Being. He never slumbers, nor sleeps, nor falls into a state of insensibility a single moment. He is never obliged to turn his attention from one object to another, as all his intelligent creatures are. They cannot view two worlds, nor even two distant objects in the same world, at once. But God can behold all things done in heaven, and earth, and all parts of the universe, at one and the same time. He can feel and express his benevolence, and see all the effects of it among all his creatures, without a moment's interruption, or intermission. He never finds any difficulty or obstacle in the way of extending his benevolent regards to any of his creatures, who are always in his sight and his reach. He never sees a good to be done, which is out of his power to do. He never sees an evil to be removed from his creatures, which it is out of his power to remove. And he never meets with any resistance from any other being, which he cannot with infinite ease surmount. There is indeed nothing within himself nor without himself, which can, in a single instance, or for a single moment, interrupt the most free and perfect exercise of his benevolence. It necessarily follows that his happiness which flows from his benevolence, is constant, uninterrupted and permanent. His perfect love is a fountain from which perpetual streams of happiness must constantly flow, and fill his vast, unmeasurable mind. Any interruption in the divine blessedness would be a great imperfection in it; but there can be no imperfection in the nature, or happiness of the Deity. He so absolutely fills and governs the universe, that he can never be disappointed, or obstructed in the gratification of his perfect benevolence, which constitutes his felicity.
3. The blessedness of God must be unlimited, as well as unmixed and uninterrupted. The happiness of some created beings is unmixed and uninterrupted, but never can be unlimited. Their finite natures will for ever set bounds to their enjoyments. Their felicity must necessarily fall short of perfection. But the blessedness of the Deity can admit of no limitation. It is as great as possible. This is evident from the great scheme or mode of operation which God formed from eternity. Among all possible modes of operation which stood present to his omniscient eye, his infinite wisdom chose the best, to give the most free, full, extensive expressions of his perfectly benevolent feelings. Among all possible things to be done, he determined to
. do all those which would diffuse the greatest sum of happiness through the universe. He determined to make as many worlds, and to place as many creatures in them, and to give those creatures as great capacities for enjoying good, as would be necessary to form a system which should contain the highest possible happiness. In short, he meant to display his infinite wisdom and almighty power, to give the benevolence of his heart the largest possible field of operation. And by forming this scheme of operation, which would give the most unlimited indulgence to his benevolent feelings, he laid a foundation for his own unlimited felicity and self enjoyment. For he is so absolutely able to fulfil his purposes, that he views them all as absolutely certain of accomplishment. Of consequence, he enjoys his whole benevolent scheme before it is consummated and brought to a close. If infinite wisdom could have conceived of any creature, or of any object, or of any event, which does not belong to that eternal scheme of operation which God has adopted, he would certainly have taken that creature, or that object, or that event into his original design of displaying his benevolence to the greatest advantage. We may justly conclude, therefore, that God has devised and adopted the best possible method to act out the perfect benevolence of his heart, and to promote his own highest possible blessedness. This leads me to observe,
4. That his blessedness is as perfect in duration as in degree. The apostle says in the text, He is blessed for ever. " He is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” He can never see any reason to alter his designs, and therefore it is certain that he never will alter them. He can never meet with any insurmountable diffi.
culties in carrying his designs into effect, and therefore he will infallibly accomplish them. And if he does eventually accomplish all his purposes, his joy will be full, and his blessedness complete and eternal. He was blessed in forming his benevolent designs; he has been blessed in carrying them on; he will be blessed in bringing them to a close; and he will be blessed in contemplating them, through interminable ages. His blessedness will certainly be as great at the end, as at the beginning of the world. Nor does it imply any absurdity, to suppose that it will be much greater. At the end of the world, all the fruits and effects of his infinite benevolence will rise into view, and actually appear as realities in all their variety, excellence, magnitude and importance. We must suppose that God views things as they are, and not as they are not. He views things which do not exist, as not existing; and things which do exist, as actually existing. He now views the end of the world and the consummation of all his designs, as things future and not come into existence. But when they have come into existence, he will view them as present, and actually existing. Where, then, is the absurdity of supposing that the happiness of the Deity will rise higher when his great and benevolent scheme is accomplished, than it ever was before? And where is the absurdity of supposing that his blessedness should perpetually rise higher and higher, as the successive scenes of eternity are perpetually opening, and displaying new effects of his benevolence? It is certain that the felicity of saints and angels will perpetually and eternally increase, as they perpetually discover new and glorious effects of the divine benevolence in the works of creation, providence and redemption. And why should not the divine felicity increase, as God perpetually and eternally sees the growing holiness and happiness of all his holy creatures; which are new effects of his infinite benevolence? This does not imply that the divine blessedness has not been, and will not be, as great as possible, in any moment of infinite duration. But whether his blessedness will for ever increase or not, yet there is a foundation, in his nature and designs, for being supremely and infinitely blessed for ever and ever.
1. If the blessedness of God essentially consists in the benevolence of his heart, then we may clearly understand what is meant by his acting for his own glory. The scripture represents him as making this his supreme object in all his conduct. We read that “the Lord hath made all things for himself” - that “ of him and through him and to him are all things, to whom be
glory for ever.” God himself often declares in his word, I will do this and that, for my name's sake-for my praise — for my glory. These expressions are all of the same import, and sig. nify that God always acts with an ultimate and supreme regard to his own glory. The question now is- What is to be understood by his glory? It is often said that his acting for his own glory consists in displaying his perfections before the eyes of his intelligent creatures. It is true, indeed, that when he acts
, for his own glory, he does display his perfections before the eyes of his intelligent creatures; but this is only an end subordinate to his supreme end, which is his own glory, or the most perfect gratification of his infinitely benevolent heart. If the display of his perfections did not gratify his own benevolent feelings, which are the source of his blessedness, they would not promote his own glory. It has often been asked — What motive could God, who is perfectly happy, have, to create the heavens and the earth, and give existence to angels and men? To say he created all things to display his perfections, does not appear to answer the question; for it may still be asked — Why should a perfectly happy being desire to display his perfections? But if what has been said in this discourse be true that the happiness or blessedness of God consists in gratifying his benevolent feelings, then it is plain that this must have been his motive in all his works of creation, providence and redemption. He supremely and ultimately aimed to promote his own benevolent blessedness, in every thing he ever has done, or ever will do. As God saw from eternity all the holiness and happiness which it was in his power to produce, by creating such a system as he has created, his perfectly benevolent heart moved him to create it; and he could not have been perfectly blessed, if he had not created it. His creating the universe for his glory, means his creating it for his own most benevolent and perfect blessedness.
2. If God's blessedness, which consists in the gratification of his benevolence, be his glory, which he seeks in all his works, then his glory and the good of the universe cannot be separated. Men are very apt to separate them, and to imagine that God's acting for his own glory prevents his acting for the good of his creatures. But this is not true. His acting for his glory is acting to express his pure benevolence to his creatures, in promoting their highest happiness. It is impossible that God should promote his own glory to the highest degree, without promoting the highest good of the universe. Every benevolent being places his happiness in the happiness of others, as well as in his own happiness. David and Jonathan were both benevolent, and loved one another as their own souls; and, consequently, they placed their own happiness in the happiness