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Of the GooD NEss of GOD.
PSAL. CXlv. 9.
'The Lord is Good to All; and his tender Mercies are over all his Works.
HO' every one of the DivineSerm. Perfections in particular, as- XIV. fords most just ground of A- ^"-'"VNJ doration and Honour; yet That which to Us completes the Idea of God, and represents him under the Notion of the Father as well as Lord of the Universe, and makes the Supreme Being and Governour of all things, to be no less the Object of our Hope and Love, than of our Admiration and Fear; is This Vol. I. Y glorious
S E R M. glorious Attribute, of Goodness. Eternity XIV- and Immensity, amaze our Thoughts t Infinite Knowledge and Wisdom, fill us with Admiration: Omnipotence or irresiiribb Power is great and adoreable; but at the fame time, if considered singly by itself, 'tis also dreadful and terrible: Dominion and Majesty clothed with perfect and impartial Justice, is worthy of the Hgbest Praises; but still to Sinners it appears rather awful and venerable, than the Object of Desire and Love: Holiness and Purity are inexpressibly beautiful and amiable Perfections j but of too bright a Glory, for Sinners to contemplate with Delight. 'Tis Goodness, that finifies the Idea of God; and represents him to us under that lovely Character, of being the Bejl, as well as the Greatest, Being in the Universe. This is That Attribute, which both in itself is infinitely amiable, and as a ground-work interwoven with all the Other Perfections of the divine Nature, makes every one of Them also to become Objects of our Love as well as of our Adoration. Immense and Eternal Goodness Goodness All-powerful and All-wife, Goodness invested with Supreme Dominion,
on, and tempering the rigour of unre- Sermj lenting Justice; This is indeed a Deseri- XIV. ption of a Perfect Being; a Character, truly worthy of God. This is That inexhaustible Fountain of Beneficence, from which the whole Frame of Nature derives its Being j by which all Creatures in the Universe, are continually supported and preserved; from which Man derives" his present Enjoyments, and his future Hopes j which Angelst and Archangels, and the Spirits of just men made perfect, adore with never-ceasing Praises in the regions of eternal Happiness; and of which our Saviour himself who, having been in the Bosom of his Father, knew infinitely better than All These, what was his True and Essential Nature: affirms by way of Eminence and High Distinction, that there is None Good, but One, that is God. The Pfalmist describes this Attribute elegantly, in the words of the Text; The Lord is Good to All, and his tender Mercies are ever All his Works.
I N the following Discourse upon which words, I shall ist> endeavour to show briefly in general, What Goodness is: zdly. I shall prove that God is and cannot Yj but
S E R M . but be Good, according to this general XIV- Notion of Goodness: 3^, I shall endeavour to set forth distinctly in what particular Instances the divine Goodness has more peculiarly displayed itself: ^.thly, I shall consider the Difficulties or Objections which may be raised against this important doctrine, which is the Foundation of true Religion, and the great Guard against Superstition: And Lastly I shall draw some useful Inferences from the Whole.
In the 1/? place, 'tis neceflary to show briefly in general, What Goodness is. For unless we clearly and distinctly understand what Goodness is j 'tis evident we mean nothing, when we fay God is Good; and consequently cannot be certain whether we honour him, or dishonour him, in giving him an unknown Character. Nothing therefore can be more absurd, than the doctrine which has sometimes been advanced; that Goodness in God, is not the fame thing as Goodness in Men -, but something altogether transcendent, and which we understand not. This, I fay, is highly absurd; Because, if This were the case, it would plainly follow, that
when when we affirm God to be Good, Wcserm. should only affirm we know not what; that XIV. is, in reality we should affirm nothing at s',/~w""s, all. There is indeed This difference; that Goodness in Men, even in the Best of men, is short and imperfeSl, frail and mutable, unsteady and always mixt more or less with Evil; and even in Angels and Archangels themselves, 'tis finite and deficient; whereas in God alone, it is ejsential and perfecl. But still the Thing itself is every where the same. Goodness is every where of the fame Nature, tho' not in the fame proportion; and in All Beings whatsoever, in whom it is found at all, it is the fame in Kind, though not in Degree. If Goodness in God, were ( as Some have imagined, ) we know nor what, how could we be commanded to imitate, what we do not understand? or how should any man know, whether he were likely to fare the better or the worse, by means of That which he knows not what it is? What Comfort can any man draw from the consideration of the Divine Goodness, if he means thereby only he knows not what; any thing that Power, any thing that Dominion, any thing that Sovereignty can