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The divine teacher said to the woman of Samaria; "God is a spirit, and seeketh such to worship him, who worship him in spirit and in truth." Love is this spirit of God, and love is the spirit in which God is truly worshipped. "God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him."
It may tend to promote the object in view to mention a summary of moral attributes, and proceed to notice them both distinctly and conjunctively, by which their harmony in divine love may be made to appear. We read in Revelations, of the "Seven spirits of God," which we may suppose comprehend the perfection of the communicable attributes of the divine Being. Without any design to be arbitrary, we will name seven moral attributes; and though some may think a less number would comprehend the whole, and others, that a much greater number should be mentioned, it seems safe to calculate that the perfect number, seven, was designed to comprehend the whole and nothing more.-And if we may be favored with a view of the harmony of the seven which we shall name, no doubt the candid mind will be satisfied, that if more moral attributes could be named, they would all be found to harmonize in love.
The seven we shall name are the following: Wisdom, Knowledge, Power, Justice, Truth, Mercy,-and Love in which they all harmonize.
Wisdom is that attribute of mind by which designs are drawn and plans are laid. It regards things, circumstances, causes and effects as they relate to each other. The wisdom of any plan is seen in the cooperation of its several parts tending efficiently to produce what the projector designs. Should any part of a plan fail of eventuating in the object designed, that failure, were it ever so small, would prove a lack of wisdom in drawing the plan.
When we view the visible objects of creation, their existence seems to fill the mind with admiration, and as soon as our thoughts advance to the consideration of the regular motions of the heavenly bodies, wisdom irresistibly attracts our notice, and seems to waken up
a spark of devotion to the great Author of the universe. Continuing to meditate on the order, regularity, and harmony of the works of nature and providence ; and to notice the concatenation of causes and effects which produce whatever is fit and good in the order and nature of things, no language seems more proper than that of the Psalmist; "O Lord, how manfold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all.”
Knowledge is a principle of intellectual nature by which the simple facts relating to things are comprehended or understood. This attribute in God is an all-seeing eye; from its pervading sight nothing can be hid. Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world.
Power in the divine Being is that ability by which all the purposes of his vast and infinite scheme are carried into execution.' "Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."
Justice is that attribute of God, by which a righteous and equitable administration is directed towards all moral accountable beings; and by which every such being receives a just recompence of reward accordingly as moral powers are exercised. Divine justice likewise requires that all moral beings should act in such a manner as to discharge every duty and obligation which the connexions and relations in which they are placed render necessary. "Justice and judgment are the habitations of his throne."
Truth is whatever is opposed to falsehood, and is the reality of all things, circumstances and events, past, present and future. This is forever with him who varies not, for "He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment; a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he."
Mercy is that divine perfection of God which pities and relieves from sin and wretchedness, those who stand in need of such compassion, "For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." According to his mercy he saved us.
Love is a property which delights in an object, care
fully avoids doing it any harm, and uses all its means to administer good; "God is love."—Now, as it is the fixed, unalterable nature of love to do good to all the beings who are its objects, and to render them as blessed as possible with the use of all the means which love can command, it is seen at once, that whatever plans are laid so as to promote the best interest of those creatures who are the objects of the divine love, is in fact the wisdom of God; and as those plans perfectly harmonize with the benevolent purposes of love, it is evident that the wisdom which contrived them is in perfect unison with love.
We here find a fair opportunity to look into the extent of the goodness of God, and that salvation which is brought to man by Jesus Christ, who is said to be "The wisdom of God and the power of God." "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." God so loved the world that he sent his own wisdom that the world might be saved by it. If the wisdom of God is: not in perfect harmony with his love, he surely would not have sent his wisdom to carry into effect the purposes of love. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." Here both the object and the means are clearly set forth. God loved us while we did not love him. In consequence of this love he designed to do us a favor. The means which he used was to send his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. But if by becoming the propitiation for our sins, no benefit, but an injury should result to those whom God loved then the means would frustrate the object and prove the want of wisdom in the plan.
There is a doctrine in the christian church, that contends, that millions, yea far the greatest part of the human family will be infinitely more miserable in the eternal world, than they would have been if Jesus had never come into the world and died for their sins. If
this doctrine be allowed to stand in harmony with the wisdom of God, it must be granted that his wisdom is hostile to his love, for "love worketh no ill." But the divine testimony assures us, that "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." If therefore, the world or any part of the world should fail of salvation, and be made miserable in the future world in consequence of what Christ has done, the thing for which he was sent not being fulfilled, and that for which he was not sent being effected, proves the want of wisdom in the plan.
How is it possible for God to exercise a wisdom which is infinite in a way to frustrate the design of his own immutable love? If we examine ever SO minutely into the plans and schemes, the causes and effects, the immense, the subtle and the various workings of divine providence, are we not the more convinced of the truth of that ancient declaration, "The Lord is good unto all and his tender mercies are over all his works!" As a proof of the truth of this testimony the Prophet further observes; "Thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.' This is the way by which God makes himself known to be good to his creatures, that is, by actually doing them good. St. Paul said, "Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness." How immense are the love, the goodness of God which are manifested continually in the temporal bounties of his universal providence. Cast your eyes round on every side, carefully inspect the condition of every living thing, and say whether the wisdom of God does not harmonize with universal love. And yet the Apostle allows all this luminous evidence to be no more than twilight compared with the more perfect display of the divine goodness in the dispensation of the gospel of Jesus Christ; for notwithstanding the evidence of divine goodness which were continually manifested in the munificient providence of God, the people, who
were the subjects of such goodness, were ignorant of him and walked in their own way; concerning which the Apostle says; "The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent." This special command to repent and turn from dumb idols to serve the living God, was given forth in the more glorious evidences of the mercy and goodness of God communicated in the gospel.
An attempt to illustrate the wisdom which characterises the scheme of the gospel, and the harmony of its several parts, as set forth in the scriptures, would be a much more extensive undertaking than our present limits would justify, if there were no want of ability to do justice to such a subject. It may therefore suffice to remark, that by a careful attention to ancient promises and prophecies concerning a Messiah, his appearance in the world, the wonderful works wrought by his miraculous power; the shameful treatment which he received among men, his death, and the mans ner of it, his resurrection from the dead, the infallible proofs of the same, his ascension, the gifts bestowed on the Apostles whom he appointed to promulgate his gospel, and the wonderful success which attended their ministry, by which the religion of Jesus was established on a foundation which can never be removed, we are led to say; "This is the Lord's doings, and it is marvellous in our eyes."
Who will undertake to point out a single item in all this vast scheme of infinite wisdom which does not perfectly harmonise with the love of God to mankind. "God commendeth his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' "We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks, foolishness; but unto them who are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the wisdom of God and the power of God." This is that "wisdom that is from above, which is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." This is that wisdom which was with the Almighty when he created all things, "rejoicing always before