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relation of man to man. Hence we give it the title of Moral; borrowing the term from those social acts, which the divinity has rendered obligatory upon his intelligent creatures, in their relative capacity. This is the attribute upon which the chief excellence of character depends. It is a perfect security against the abuse of power; it renders knowledge truly valuable; and it diffuses a charm over all the plans of wisdom. The right direction of power, knowledge, and wisdom, consists in their being the instruments and means of goodness, and in the accomplishment of all its beneficent designs." Hence we perceive that the harmony of the relative attributes of God admits and demands, that those which possess the least of what we deem excellence, should be subservient to those which possess the most. Power has no claim to precedency over knowledge or wisdom, but it is to be directed and controlled by them. Wisdom, to maintain its character, requires for its object some plan of high importance, that its operations may be directed to some useful end, that is, to something productive of good. The action of a wise and beneficent cause, implies a motive of action correspondent to his moral character; to the nature and extent of his intelligence; and to his power of execution. The most excellent, the most wise, and most powerful Cause of all things, must operate to the best of purposes, and according to the wisest plans. But no purpose can be equal to the production of Good; that is, to the possession of bliss, and to the communication of such portions of enjoyment, as are best adapted to the state of individuals, and most consistent with the good of the whole. To him who is in the full possession of All, the exercise of his perfections must proceed from the determination to impart good. Although to will, to plan, to execute, be equal and instantaneous, respecting the divine mind, yet in the order of our conceptions, the Goodness of God prompting him to create, is the first attribute that presents itself. The next is that of boundless Knowledge, by which he discerns effects in their causes, and every possible result from every possible energy. From such sources Wisdom is enabled to form its plans of extensive good, and to establish those laws, by which life shall be diffused, and its enjoyments multiplied: that Wisdom which has devised and constituted such a diversity of powers and properties, in the material and inanimate creation; of instincts and propensities in the animal king
* See Note A.
dom; and has endowed the human species with those intellectual and moral faculties, which are the inexhaustible sources of the most exalted and refined enjoyments. Such plans of wisdom and beneficence will be indubitably accomplished in their order, both of time and place, by a power which conquers all opposition; compels apparent obstacles into its service; changes disorder into harmony; and distressinto blessings: brings light out of darkness, and cherishes virtue in the midst of depravities that confound and appal!!
ON THE JUSTICE OF GOD, As A MODIFICATION OF HIS GOODNESS,
IN our analysis of the Social Affections, under the article BENEvol. ENcE, we endeavoured to shew, that this principle indicates itself in the human species, under various characters, according to the state and circumstances of its objects. It is sometimes confined to sympathy; at others it assumes the title of generosity, of pity, commiseration, compassion, mercy. These terms express, in a concise manner, the distinctions which take place in the exertions of Benevolence, according to the exigencies, mental distresses, dangers or delinquencies, of those upon whom it is exercised. The same distinctions are applicable to that Being who implanted the benevolent principle within us. For, although the goodness of God be immutably the same in its nature, yet the manifestations of it are diversified, according to the state and situation of the subject. The inanimate creation cannot be susceptible of the divine goodness; but as its formation, and every law by which it is regulated, respect the accommodation of living and susceptible beings, and their various powers of enjoyment, the material world is an evidence of the Divine goodness. In the different endowments of living Beings with capacities for enjoyment, the goodness of God assumes the character of beneficence; and when the number and greatness of his gifts forcibly strike the mind, we prefer the term Munisicence, as more ample and dignified. In relief administered to distress, it is compassion; in the suspension or remission of deserved punishment, it has the character of forbearance and mercy; in the approbation of right conduct, it is complacency. Nor is the Justice of God to be considered in any other light than as an emanation from the immutable principle of goodness. When we were examining the nature of Justice, we perceived that it consists in that conduct towards others which preserves their rights inviolate; and we remarked that a regard to equity is essentially obligatory upon moral agents, because it secures to every man a certain portion of good, which he claims as his own, or which is according to the extent of his rights. The