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kind. As we depend upon God for our very existence, with every comfort and blessing which we enjoy, it is of infinite importance to us, to know his true character and real disposition towards us: for which purpose let us take this infallible standard for our guide, and humbly enquire, for what purpose, and with what designation, did the Deity create us? If he is infinitely good, he certainly wished and designed finally to fix us in a permanent state of happiness. If infinitely wise, he has certainly laid his plan so as to prevent the possibility of being disappointed or frustrated.
And if he is infinitely powerful, no union or combination of the powers of all created beings could possibly prevent the fulfilment of his most gracious purpose.
To affirm that when God created us he did not wish or design to bring us finally into a state of permanent happiness, is positively to deny his infinite goodness and benignity.
To affirm that he formed a plan which he could not execute agreeably to his will, or original design, is denying his claim to infinite wisdom.
To acknowledge the benevolence of the design, and the wisdom of the plan, and at the same time to deny that the Deity was possessed of sufficient power to execute it, is an absurdity too glaring for belief or serious refutation. And yet all those who believe in the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell, cannot, at the same time, believe in the infinite goodness, wisdom and power of God.
We are told in Genesis, that when God had finished the work of creation, that he pronounced all the things which he had made to be very good, and in consequence he must have loved every thing which he had made, because it was good. And if he is an unchangeable being, the same yesterday, to day, and forever, whatever he once loved, he will still continue to love, otherwise he would be mutable. If it should be said that God loved mankind as long as they continued to be good and innocent, and began to hate them when they became sinners, what, then, are we to believe with respect to his omniscience? Were not every action of our future lives as if present in his sight? If so, he must have loved and hated us infinitely at the same time, or he must have loved us infinitely at one time, and hated us infinitely at another: for all his attributes are infinite, and it is impos
sible that the Deity should be infinitely good and kind, and infinitely cruel and implacable.
We have abundant evidence from scripture, reason, and experience, to convince us that God has loved us, does love us now, and will continue to love us forever. We therefore conclude that he will not sentence any soul which he has loved, and continues to love, to hell, to suffer eternal torments. We are also informed in Genesis, that God made man in his own likeness, and man has very courteously returned the compliment by attributing to the Deity the greatest number of our revengeful vindictive passions; and insinuates that he exercises these vindictive passions in a degree far exceeding in cruelty any thing that has been known amongst men. The custom of torturing criminals has been discarded in every civilized country; but what are temporary tortures (of even the most savage invention) either in severity or duration, when compared with those which many suppose God will inflict upon the souls which he has made. This is certainly not the true character of our heavenly Father; but if any sincere enquirer should wish to know the real character of the Father, and the Son, they will find both perfectly delineated by Christ himself, in the 15th chapter of Luke. He first gives his own charac
ter in the parable of the lost sheep. Although he is represented in the parable to have an hundred sheep, he is not willing to lose one which had strayed; but leaving the ninety and nine in the wilderness, he determines to search for that which was lost, until he find it. He does not wait until the poor, silly, stray sheep can discover its way back, and return of its own accord to the fold, but searches until he finds it; and instead of beating it severely for having gone astray, he lays it on his shoulders and returns home rejoicing, and calls upon his friends his to rejoice with him, because he had found sheep which was lost. He concludes by telling the Scribes and Pharisees (who murmured because he received sinners) that there would be joy in Heaven over one sinner that repented, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance. He also gives the genuine character of his Father in the parable of the prodigal son. The youngest son, probably impatient of restraint, and wishing to exercise the freedom of his own will, solicited his Father to give him his proportion of the goods, which his Father might allot to him; and not many days after, the Father divided his property between his two sons; the youngest collected his share together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance in
riotous living, and was reduced to the sordid condition of a swine herd, and reduced by famine to the most extreme degree. In these deplorable circumstances, he resolves to return to his Father, confess his guilt, and implore his pardon; but probably entertaining the same opinion of his father's disposition, which is but too generally harboured at the present day, he laboured under the most distressing apprehensions that he would not receive him as a son, but determined to petition to be received as a servant; but how agreeably must he have been surprized, when, instead of meeting an angry, resentful Father at home, to load him with the most bitter reproaches for his licentious conduct, his indulgent parent meets him on the way, embraces him in the most affectionate manner, orders his servants to bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: he orders the fatted calf to be killed, to make a feast and rejoice, because his son that was dead is now alive again, was lost, and is found.
This is the genuine character of the merciful Father of mankind delineated by Christ himself, and also a description of the means by which he reforms his prodigal children, to teach them by experience, that the paths of vice