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SER M.or private distempers ; as an instrument of rouzing
us out of our finful lethargies ; as that which may cause us better to understand ourselves, and more to remember God; as a ground of fearing God, and an inducement to believe his providence. For those and many such purposes, to bring upon men things diftasteful to sense may be very requisite ; nor doth the doing it anywise prejudice the truth of divine goodness, but rather confirms it, commends it, and advances its just esteem. It would be a fond indul
gence, not a wise kindness; a cruel, rather than a Wird. i. 12. loving pity, to deal otherwise. In fine, we are to Carme Paris consider, that all the mischiefs we undergo, God doth Hier. Da not so much bring them on us, as we do pull them
on ourselves h. They are avlaipeta anuata, affected, or self-chofen mischiefs ; they are xaxá Bresýpata mpoopérews, bad sprouts of our free choice, (as a Father calls them ;) they are (as another Father faith) &xxcíw xxxãn á xéonce éxyové, the unwilling offsprings of wilfulevils; they are the certain results of our own will, or the natural fruits of our actions ; actions, which (however God desire, advise, command, persuade, entreat, excite) we do will, we are resolved to perform. We in a manner, as Salvian faith', do force God to do whatever he doth in this kind; violently plucking down vengeance on our own heads; compelling the kind and merciful Lord,
against his nature and will, to affli&t us ; not so much as Miferos nos giving him leave to spare us. God vehemently disclaims Je nec juranti himself to be the original cause ; to design, (accordmus. Hier. ing to absolute or primary intention,) to desire, to deEzek. xviii light in our grief, or our ruin. As I live, faith the 30. xxxiii. Lord, (and surely when God swears, we may believe
that he is very serious,) I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and
+ Πάντα κονεί και πραγματεύεται ο Θεός, ώςε ημάς απαλλάξαι κολασεως, και τιμωρίας. Cbry/. tom. 8. p. 100.
i Nos vim Deo facimus iniquitatibus noftris ; nos nolentem ulcisci cogimus. Deus enim pius et misericors eft, et qui neminem velit perire, vel lædere, &c. Salv. lib. 5. et 8.
live. I call heaven to record this day against you, that Is erm. have fet life and death before you, therefore choose life. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of Deut. Ixx. men. He would have all men to be saved, and to come 19. to the knowledge of the truth. He would not have any Wira. i. 13: perish, but that all should come to repentance. He made not death, nor hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. God then, if we may believe him, is not the first author of our calamities. Who then? He tells us himself: 0 lfrael, thou huft destroyed thyself: thou haft Hof. xiii. 9. fallen by thine own iniquity. Your fins have withholden Jer. V: 25. good things from you. Our iniquities like the wind have Ifa. Ixiv. 6. taken us away. How often would I have gathered you, Matt. xxiii. but ye would not ! The designs and the endeavours of 37. God do tend to our welfare and salvation ; it is our will and our actions which only procure our ruin : It is we, that (as the wise man faith) seek death in the Sap. i. 5. error of our life; and pull upon our own selves destruction. So that, to conclude this part of our discourse, even those passages of providence, which at first glimpse appear most opposite or disadvantageous to the goodness of God", (or to our opinion and belief concerning it,) do, being well sifted, no wise prejudice it, but rather serve to corroborate and magnify it.
I shall only farther briefly touch (or rather but mention) the uses and effects, to the producing which, the consideration of God's goodness, in so manifold ways declared, should be applied.
1. It should beget in us hearty love and reverence toward God, in regard to this attribute so excellent and amiable in itself, so beneficial and advantageous to us. What can we esteem, what can we love, if so admirable goodness doth not affect us? How prodigiously cold and hard is that heart, which cannot be
* St. Chryfoftom in divers places doth infift upon the goodness of God in making and threatening hell itself.
Της βασιλείας ούκ έλαττον, και της γιέννης απειλή δείκνυσιν αυτή την αγαθότητα, &c. 'Ανδρ. ζ.
SER M. warmed and softened into affection by so melting a
2. It should produce, as grateful sense in our
hearts, so real endeavours of thankful' obedience in Col. i, 10. our lives. It should make us walk worthy of God, to
all well-pleasing, bringing forth fruit in every good
work'; taking heed of doing as did Hezekiah, of 2 Chron. whom it is said'; that he rendered not according to the *. 25. benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up; there
fore was wrath upon him; that we may not have that Deut.xxxii.expoftulation juftly applied unto us: Do ye thus requite 6.
the Lord, O foolish people and unwise ?
3: It should engage us the more to fear God; Hof. iii. 5. complying with the Prophet's admonition ; Fear the
Lord and his goodness. Considering that intimation Pfal. cxxx. of the Psalmist; There is forgiveness with thee, that thou
mayeft be feared; observing that advice of Samuel, 1 Sam. xii. Only fear the Lord, and serve him ; for consider what
great things he hath done for you. For that indeed no. thing is more terrible, than goodness Nighted, and patience abused.
4. It should humble, ashame, and grieve us, for having crossed and offended such exceeding goodness and mercy. It should cause us greatly to deteft our fins, which lie under fo heinous an aggravation, to be deeply displeased with ourselves, who have so unworthily committed them.
5. It should therefore render us wary and vigilant against the commission of any sin; that is, of incurring the guilt of so enormous ingratitude and base
ness ; making us cautious of doing like those, of Neh.ix. 25, whom it is confessed in Nehemiah ; They did eat, and
were filled, and delighted themselves in thy great goodnefs; nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy laws behind their back.
6. It should also breed and nourish in us faith and hope in God. For what reason can we have to diftrust of so great goodness; that he will refuse to help us in our need ; that he will fail in accomplishment
2. tom. 6.
of his promise ; that he will withhold what is conve- s ER M. nient for us? It should preserve us from despair. What temptation can we have to despair of mercy, if we heartily repent of our misdoings, and fincerely ad Theod. endeavour to'please him?
p. 63. opti. 7. It should upon the same account excite us to me et fule. a free and constant exercise of all devotions. For Matt. vii. why should we be shy or fearful of entering into so friendly and favourable a presence ? why should we be backward from having (upon any occasion or need) a recourse to him, who is fo willing, so desirous, so ready to do us good? what should hinder us from delighting in oblations of blessing and praise unto him?
8. It ought to render us fubmiffive, patient, and contented under God's hand, of correction, or trial, as knowing that it cannot be without very just cause, that such goodness seemeth displeased with us; that we are the chief causes of our suffering, or our want ; so that we can have no good cause to repine, or complain: for, Wherefore doth the living man complain? Lam. ii. fonce a man (suffers) for the punishment of his fins; fince 39. it is our fins that withhold good things from us; since Jer. v. 25. also we considering this attribute may be assured, that aļl God's dispensations do aim and tend to our good.
9. It should also, in gratitude toward God, and imitation of him, engage us to be good, kind, and bountiful, peaceable, and apt to forgive; meek and gentle, pitiful, and affectionate toward our brethren. To be good and merciful, as our heavenly Father is mer-Luke vi. ciful and benign even toward the wicked and ungrate- ''Sohn iii. ful; to be kind unto one another, full of bowels, for-16. giving one another, as God for Christ's sake hath for-13. given us.
10. Lastly, we ought to have an especial care of perverting this excellent truth by mistakes and vain presumptions ; that we do not turn the grace of God Jude 4. into wantonness, or occasion of licentious practice. Be.
SER M. cause God is very good and merciful, we must not
conceive him to be fond, or slack, or careless; that he is apt to indulge us in fin, or to connive at our presumptuous transgreffion of his laws No; TE
το αγαθώ, ή αγαθόν, η μισοπονηρία, (the hatred of wickedness is consequent upon goodness even as fich, as Clemens Alexandrinus faith,) God, even as he is good, cannot but detest that which is opposite and prejudicial to goodness; he cannot but maintain the honour and interest thereof; he cannot, he will not endure us to dishonour him, to wrong our neighbour, to spoil ourselves. As he is a sure friend to us as his
creatures, so he is an implacable enemy to us as imPsal. xi. 5. penitent rebels and apoftates from our duty. The
wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth.
As he is infinitely benign, so he is also perfectly holy, Hab. i. 13. and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. He is not a
God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil Pfal. v. 4. dwell with him. The foolish shall not stand in his fight; Pfal. xxxiv. he hateth all workers of iniquity. His face is against
them that do evil. Finally, as God is gracious to all such as are capable of his love, and qualified for his mercy; so he is an impartial and upright Judge, who will deal with men according to their deserts, according to the tenour of his laws and ordinances ; according to his iinmutable decree and word: so that as we have great reason to trust and hope in him, so we have no true ground to presume upon him, vainly to trifle, or insolently to dally with him.
But I leave this point to be farther improved by your meditations.