« PreviousContinue »
choose a brutish appetite, a malignant world, tions. There are no arguments but what are and a malicious devil, as a wiser or fitter con- lower and subordinate to this. Therefore if thy ductor than the Lord ! But blessed is the man reason be at a loss, as to the cause or manner, that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, yet hast thou the greatest reason to believe that but his delight is in the law of the Lord. Woe all is just and true that proceeds from the wisto the ungodly, that reject and set at nought the dom of the Lord. If flesh and blood, and all counsel of the Lord, and will have none of it! the world gainsay it, yet rest in the word of that wait not for his counsel, that rebel against God. the words of God, and contemn the counsel of 4. The next effect that God's omniscience the most High.' Woe to them that take counsel should have upon our minds, is to take all the against the Lord and his Christ, that they may sayings of men as folly, that are against the break asunder his bonds, and cast away his obli- Lord. Let them be high or low, learned or ungations. Woe to them that are 'given up to the learned, if they contradict the God of infinite lusts of their own hearts, and to walk in their wisdom, take it but as the words of a distracted owo counsels ;' for by their own counsels shall Did you ever meet with any man of them, they fall.' But had they hearkened to the Lord, that durst say he was wiser than God himself? and walked in his way, with the fulness of his Herod, who was eaten to death with vermin, was blessings would he have satisfied them. Resolve applauded by the flattering crowd, but with this therefore, whatever the Aesh or the world say, acclamation, ' It is the voice of a god, and not of that the testimonies of God shall be your coun- a man. Will you say of any man that he is sellors,' and bless the Lord that giveth thee wiser than God? If you dare not say so, how counsel.' For his counsel is infallible; having dare you hear them and believe them against the guided thee by his counsel, he will bring thee to word of God ? How dare you be drawn from a
holy life, from a self-denying duty, or from the 3. The infinite wisdom of God, must resolve truth of God, by the words of a man, yea, perthe soul to rest in his determinations. We are haps of a fool, who speaks against the word of most certain that God is not deceived. Though God! To the law, and to the testimony ; if they all men seem liars to you, let God be true: for speak not according to these, it is because there it is impossible for him to lie. If our reason be is no light in them.' to seek, so is not God. When we are saying 5. The infinite wisdom of God, should estabwith Nicodemus, How can these things be ? God lish our confidence concerning the fulfilling of knows how: and it is enough for us to know all his word. He will not fail for want of knowthat they are so.
If infinite wisdom say the ledge: when he spoke that prophecy, that proword, believe it, though all the world contradict mise, or that threatening, he perfectly knew all it. Though proud unbelievers say, that the things that would come to pass, to all eternity. words of God are improbable, let them know that He knew therefore what he said when he gave God is not at a loss when men's dark under-out his word, and therefore will fulfil it. “Heaven standings are at a loss: the sun is not taken out and earth may pass away, but one jot or tittle of the firmament, whenever a man closes or loses of his word shall not pass away till all be achis eyes. What! will those cavillers puzzle the complished.' Almighty; will they pose omniscience? Doth 6. From the infinite wisdom of God, the it follow that the course of the planets, the church must be encouraged in its greatest straits, heavens, and all the creatures are out of order, and against all the cunning and subtilty of their if these silly moles understand not the order of enemies. Are we ever in such straits, that God them? No more will it follow that any word of knows not how to bring us out ?
When we see God is false, or any rule of God is crooked, be- no way for our deliverance, doth it follow that cause they see not its truth and rectitude. Shall he sees none ? If cunning serpents are too subtle dust and ashes judge the Lord ? who hath been for us, do we think that they can deceive the his counsellor, and with whom hath he advised Lord ? What had become of us long ago, if God for the making, redeeming, or governing of the had not known whatever is plotted in Rome, or world? There is no rest to an inquisitive soul, Spain, or hell against us? If he knows not of all but in the infinite wisdom of the Lord. Find the consultations of the conclave, and of all the once that it is his word, and inquire no further. contrivances of jesuits and friars ; and of all the It is madness to demand a further proof. As all jugglings of the masked emissaries. If God had goodness is comprised in his will and love ; so not known of Vaux and his powder mine, it all truth is comprised in his wisdom and revela- might have blown up all our hopes. But while we know that God is in their councils, hearing lath his reward! For it is a more sad reward every word they say, and knowing every secret that God will give him. of their hearts, and every mischief which they enterprise, let us do our duty, and rest in the
CHAP. IX. wisdom of our great protector, who will prove The next of God's attributes that must make all his adversaries to have played the fool: for its impress on the soul, is his infinite goodness. as sure as his omnipotency shall be glorified by The denomination of goodness, as all other of overcoming all opposing powers, so sure shall his his attributes, is suited to the capacity or affecinfinite wisdom be glorified, by conquering and tions of the soul of man. That which is truly befooling the wisdom that is against him. amiable is called good. Not as if there were no
7. If God be infinite in knowledge, it must goodness, but what is a means to man's felicity, resolve us all to live accordingly. O remember, as some most foolishly have affirmed: for our whatever thou thinkest, that God is acquainted end and felicity itself, and God as he is perfect with all thy thoughts. Wilt thou feed on lust- and excellent in himself, is more amiable than ful, covetous, malicious, or unbelieving thoughts, all means. in the eye of God? Remember in thy prayers In three respects therefore it is that God is and every duty, that he knows the very frame called good, or amiable to man. 1. In that he is of all thy affections, and the manner as well as infinitely excellent and perfect in himself. For the matter of thy services. Wilt thou be cold the love of friendship is a higher love than that and careless in the sight of God ? O remember of desire. The most perfect sort of love is that in thy most secret sins, and thy works of dark- which wholly carries the lover from himself to ness, that nothing is unknown to God; and that the perfect object of his love. The soul delights before him thou art in the open light. Fearest to contemplate excellency, when excellency itself, thou not the face of the Almighty. Wilt thou and not the delight, is the ultimate end of that do that when he knows it, that thou wouldest desire and contemplation. 2. God is called not do if man did know ? He knows whether good, as he is the pattern and fountain of all thou deceive thy neighbour, or deal uprightly : moral good. As he makes us righteous, holy defraud not therefore, for the Lord is the aven-laws, commanding moral good, and forbidding ger. Do nothing that thou wouldest not have and condemning evil. And thus his goodness is God to know. For certainly he knows all things. his holiness and righteousness, his faithfulness Shall he not see, that made and illuminates the and truth. 3. God is called good, as he is the eye? And shall he not hear, that made both fountain of all the creature's happiness, and as tongue and ears ? Shall he not know that gives he is bountiful and gracious, and ready to do us understanding, and by whom we know? good, and as he is the felicitating end and ob
Let this be thy comfort in thy secret duties. ject of the soul. He that knows thy heart, will not overlook the This infinite goodness must have these effects desires of thy heart, though thou hadst not words upon us. 1. It must possess us with a superlaas thou desirest to express them. He that knows tive love to God. This blessed attribute is it thy uprightness, will justify thee, if all the world that inakes us saints indeed, and makes that imcondemn thee. He that sees thee in thy secret pression on us, which is as the heart of the new alms, or prayers, or tears, will openly reward creature. It is goodness that produces love. thee. Let this also comfort thee under all the Love is that grace that closes with God as our slanders of malicious or misinformed men. He happiness and end, and is the felicitating enjoythat must be thy judge and theirs, is acquain- ing grace. Without it we are but as sounding ted with the truth ; who will certainly bring brass, or tinkling cymbals, whatever our gifts forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy and parts may be. Love is the very excellency judgment as the noon-day.' O how many souls of the soul, as it closes with the infinite excelare justified with the omniscient God, that are lency of God. It is the very felicity of the condemned by the malignant world ! How soul, as it enjoys him that is our felicity. Most many blots will be wiped off before the world at certainly the prevailing love of God, is the surest the day of judgment, that here did lie upon the evidence of true sanctification. He that hath names of faithful, upright men! O how many most love, hath most grace; and is the best and hypocrites shall be then disclosed ; what a cutting strongest Christian ; and he that hath least love, thought should it be to the dissembler, that his is the worst or weakest. Knowledge and faith secret falsehood is known to God; and when he are but to work our hearts to love; and when hath the reputation that he fought with men, he love is perfect, they have done their work. Teaching and distant revelations will not be for ever; | not in the death of sinners, but rather that they and therefore such knowledge and faith as we turn and live ; and that he will not cast off the have now, will not be for ever. But God will soul that loves hiin, and would wish to be fully be for ever amiable to us, and therefore love will conformed to his will. It cannot be that he endure for ever. The goodness of God is should spurn at them who are humbled at his called love, and as God is love, so he that feet, and long, pray, seek, and mourn after dwelleth in love doth dwell in God, and God in nothing more than his grace and love. Think him.' The knowledge of divine goodness makes not of God as if he had less of love and goodus good, because it makes us love him that is ness, than the creature has : If you have high good. It is love that acts most purely for God. and confident thoughts of the goodness and Fear is selfish, and hath somewhat of aversion. fidelity of any man on earth, and dare quietly Though there be no evil in God for us to fear, trust him with your life and all; see that you yet is there such good in him that will bring the have much higher thoughts of God, and trust evil of punishment upon the evil ; and this they him with greater confidence, lest you set him fear.
But love resigns the soul to God, and below the silly creature in the attributes of his that in the most acceptable manner.
Make it goodness, which his glory and your happiness therefore your daily work to possess your souls require you to know. with the love of God. Love him once, and all 3. The infinite goodness of God must call off that he saith and doth will be more acceptable our hearts from the inordinate love of all created to you ; and all that you say or do in love, will good whatever. Who would stoop so low as be more acceptable unto him. Love him and earth, that may converse with God? Who would you will be loth to offend him; you will be de- feed on such poor delights, that hath tasted the sirous to please him; you will be satisfied in his graciousness of the Lord ? Nothing more sure love. Love him and you may be sure that he than that the love of God doth not reign in that loves you. “Love is the fulfilling of his law.' soul where the love of the world, or of fleshly That you may love him, this must be your work, lust, or pleasure, reigns. Had wordlings, or sento believe and contemplate his goodness. Con- sual, or ambitious men, but truly known the sider daily of the infinite goodness or amiable- goodness of the Lord, they could never have so ness of his nature, and of his excellency appear. fallen in love with those deceitful vanities. ing in his works, and of the perfect holiness of we could but open their eyes to see the lovelihis laws. But especially see him in the face of ness of their Redeemer, they would soon be Christ, and behold his love in the design of our
weaned from other lovers. Would you conquer redemption, in the person of the Redeemer, in the love of riches, honour, or any thing else that the promises of grace, and in all the benefits of corrupts your affections? o try this sure and redemption. Yea, look by faith to heaven itself, powerful way! Draw nigh to God, and take the and think how you must for ever live in the per- fullest view thou canst ; in thy most serious fect blessed love of infinite enjoyed goodness. meditation of his infinite goodness, and all things As it is the knowledge and sight of gold, beauty, else will be vile in thy esteem, and thy heart will or any other earthly vanity, that kindles the soon contemn them and forget them, and thou love of them in the minds of men ; so is it the wilt never dote upon them more. knowledge and serious contemplation of the 4. The infinite goodness of God should in. goodness of God that must make us love him, if crease repentance, and win the soul to a more ever we will love him.
resolute, cheerful service of the Lord. O what a 2. The goodness of God must also encourage heart is that which can offend, and wilfully the soul to trust him. For infinite good will not offend, so good a God! This is the odiousness deceive us. Nor can we fear any hurt from him, of sin, that it is an abuse of an infinite good. but what we wilfully bring upon ourselves. If I This is the most heinous, damning aggravation knew but which were the best and most loving of it, that infinite goodness could not prevail man in the world, I could trust him above all with wretched souls against the empty Aattering men; and I should not fear any injury from him. / world : but that they suffered a dream and shaHow
many friends have I that I dare trust with dow, to weigh down infinite goodness in their my estate and life, because I know that they esteem. And is it possible for worse than this have love and goodness in their low degree! to be found in man? He that had rather the Shall I not trust the blessed God, that is love sun were out of the firmament, then a hair were itself, and infinitely good ? whatever he will be taken off his head, were unworthy to see the in justice to the ungodly, I am sure he delights light of the sun. And surely he that will turn
away from God himself, to enjoy the pleasures and live like the redeemed of the Lord indeed, of his flesh, is unworthy to enjoy the Lord. It is be much in the exercise of this heavenly work, bad enough that Augustine, in one of his epistles, and with holy David, make it your employment, says of worldly men, that they had rather there and say, 'O how great is thy goodness which were two stars fewer in the firmament, than one thou hast laid up for them that fear thee. — The cow fewer in their pastures, or one tree fewer in earth is full of the goodness of the Lord;' what their woods or grounds. But it is ten thousand then are the heavens? • Thy congregation hath times a greater evil that every wicked man is dwelt therein : thou, O Lord, hast prepared thy guilty of, who will rather forsake the living God, goodness for the poor.- O that men would praise and lose his part in infinite goodness, than he the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful will let go his filthy and unprofitable sins. O sin- works to the children of men! For he satisfieth ners, as you love your souls, despise not the the longing soul, and filleth the bungry soul with riches of the goodness, forbearance, and long- goodness. The goodness of God endureth consuffering of the Lord ; but know that his goodness tinually.— Truly God is good to Israel, even to should lead you to repentance. Would you spit such as are of a clean heart.-0 taste and see at the sun ? Would you revile the stars? Would that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that you curse the holy angels? If not, O do not trusteth in him.— The Lord is good, his mercy ten thousand-fold worse, by your wilful sinning is everlasting, his truth endureth from generaagainst the infinite goodness itself.
tion to generation. The Lord is good to all, and But for you Christians that have seen the his tender mercies are over all his works-0 amiableness of the Lord, and tasted of his perfect praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises goodness, let this be enough to melt your hearts, to his name, for it is pleasant.' Call him as David, that ever you have wilfully sinned against him: 'my goodness, and my fortress, my high tower, O what a good did you contemn in the days of my deliverer, my shield, and he in whom I your unregeneracy, and in the hour of your sin! trust.—Let men therefore speak of the glorious Be not so ungrateful and disingenuous as to do honour of his majesty and of his wondrous so again. Remember whenever any temptation works : let them abundantly utter the memory comes, that it would entice you from the infinite of his great goodness, and sing of his righteousgood : ask the tempter, man or devil, whether ness. If there be a thought that is truly sweet he hath more than an infinite good to offer you : to the soul, it is the thought of the infinite goodand whether he can out-bid the Lord for your ness of the Lord. If there be a pleasant word affection ?
for man to speak, it is the mention of the infinite And now for the time that is before you, how goodness of the Lord! And if there be a pleacheerfully should you address yourselves unto sant hour for man on earth to spend, and a de. his service; and how delightfully should you lightful work for man to do, it is to meditate follow it on from day to day! What manner of on, and with the saints to praise the infinite persons should the servants of this God be, that goodness of the Lord. What was the glory that are called to nothing but what is good! How God showed unto Moses, and the taste of heagood a master ; how good a work ; and how good ven that he gave him upon earth, but this, I company, encouragements, and helps ; and how will make all my goodness pass before thee, and good an end! All is good, because it is the in- I will proclaim the name of the Lord before finite good that we serve and seek: and shall thee ; and I will be gracious on whom I will be we be loitering, unprofitable servants !
gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will 5. Moreover, this infinite goodness should be show mercy.' And his proclaimed name was, ' the the matter of our daily praises. He that cannot Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longcheerfully magnify this attribute of God, so suit- suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth? able to the nature of the will, is surely a stran. These were the holy praises that Solomon did ger to the praises of the Lord. The goodness of consecrate the temple with, “ Arise, O Lord God, God should be a daily feast to a gracious soul, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy and should continually feed our cheerful praises, strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be as the spring or cistern fills the pipes. I know clothed with salvation, and let thy saints reno sweeter work on earth, nay, I am sure there joice in goodness. O Christians, if you would is no sweeter, than for faithful sanctified souls, have joy indeed, let this be your employment' rejoicing to magnify the goodness of the Lord, Draw near to God, and have no low undervaluand join together in his cheerful praises. oing thoughts of his infinite goodness ; for how Christians, if you would taste the joys of saints, I great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty? Why is it that divine consolations are so strange causes his suffering he calls evil. So when he to us, but because divine goodness is so lightly hath deserved it himself by his sin, he thinks thought upon ? As those that think little of God that the law is evil for threatening it, and that at all, have little of God upon their hearts; so God himself is evil for inflicting it; so that inthey that think but little of his goodness in par- finite goodness must be tried and judged by the ticular, have little love, or joy, or praise. vicious creature, and the rule and standard must
6. Moreover, the goodness of God must pos- be reduced to the crooked line of human actions sess us with desire to be conformed to his good or dispositions ; and if God will please the worldness, in our measure. The holy perfection of his ling, the sensualist, the proud, the negligent, who will, must make us desire to have our wills con- should please him, then he shall be good, and he formed to the will of God; we are not called to shall be God; if not, say these judges, he shall imitate him in his works of power, nor so much be evil, and unmerciful, and no God. They in the paths of his omniscience, as we are in his will not believe that he is good that punishes goodness, which as manifested in his work and them. Thus if the thief or murderer had the word, is the pattern and standard of moral good choice of kings and judges, you may know what ness in the sons of men. The impress of his persons he would choose; no one should be a goodness within us, is the chief part of his image judge, or accounted a good man, that would conon us; and the fruits of it in our lives is their demn and hang him. holiness and virtue. As he is good and doth But I beseech you consider, what is fit to be good, so must it be our greatest care to be as the rule and standard, if not perfection of goodgood, and do as much good as possibly we can. ness itself. Do you think that the will of igAny thing within us that is sinful and contrary norant, fleshly, sinful man, is more fit to be the to the goodness of God, should be to our souls rule of goodness, than the will of God ? We as poison to our bodies, which nature is excited are sure that God is not deceived, and sure that to strive against with all its strength, and can there is no iniquity with him; but we know that have no safety or rest till it be cast out; and for all men are liable to deceit, and have private doing good, it must be the very study and trade interests, and corrupted minds and wills that of our lives. As worldlings study and labour have some vicious inclination. O what blasphemy for the world, and the pleasing of their flesh: 80 is in the heart of that man, that will sooner conmust the Christian study and labour to improve demn the holy will and law of God, than his own his master's talents to his use, and to do as much will, or the wills of any men, be they ever so good as he is able, and to please the Lord. • The seemingly wise or great! The will of God is desire of the righteous (as such) is only good. revealed in his laws, concerning the necessity -To depart from evil and do good,' is the care of a holy life; and the will of foolish, wicked of the just. We must please our neighbours for men is by their scornful speeches and sinful lives good to their edification.—While we have time revealed to be against it. Which of these do we must do good to all men, as we are able ; but you follow ; which is it that prescribes you the especially to them of the household of faith? better course? The will of God that is infinNot only to them that do good 10 us, but to our itely good, or the will of man that is miserably enemies. This is it that we must not forget ; evil? If you know any better than God, follow and which by ministers we must be put in mind him before God. But if none be greater and of; which all that love life and would inherit more powerful than he, if none be wiser or of the blessing, must devote themselves to. In this more knowledge, it is as sure that none is better. we must be like our heavenly Father, and ap. Much less are those ignorant, wicked men, that prove ourselves his children.
despise the scripture and a holy life, and would 7. From the perfect infinite goodness of God, persuade you that they can tell you of a better we must learn to judge of good and evil, in all way. Let me speak it to the terror of the unthe creatures. To this must all be reduced as godly soul, who by the deceits or scorn of any the standard, and by this must they be tried. sort of men is drawn away from Christ and holiIt is a most wretched absurdity of sensual men, ness; it shall stand on record against thee until to try the will, word, or ways of God, by them- the day of judgment, and it shall stick continuselves, and by their own interests or wills; and ally as a dagger in thy heart, that thou didst to judge all to be evil in God that is against prefer the reason and the will of man, yea, them. And yet, alas, how common is this case! perhaps of a drunkard, or a worldling, beEvery man is naturally loth to be miserable: fore the word or will of God: and thoughi thy suffering he abhors; and therefore that which tongue durst not speak it, thy life did speak it,