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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 the most High.' Woe to them 'that take counsel against the Lord and his Christ, that they may break asunder his bonds, and cast away his obligations.' Woe to them that are given up to the lusts of their own hearts, and to walk in their own counsels;' for by their own counsels shall they fall.' But had they hearkened to the Lord, and walked in his way, with the fulness of his blessings would he have satisfied them. Resolve therefore, whatever the flesh or the world say, that the testimonies of God shall be your counsellors,' and bless the Lord that giveth thee counsel.' For his counsel is infallible; having guided thee by his counsel, he will bring thee to his glory.
3. The infinite wisdom of God, must resolve the soul to rest in his determinations. We are most certain that God is not deceived. Though all men seem liars to you, let God be true: for it is impossible for him to lie. If our reason be to seek, so is not God. When we are saying with Nicodemus, How can these things be? God knows how and it is enough for us to know that they are so. If infinite wisdom say the word, believe it, though all the world contradict it. Though proud unbelievers say, that the words of God are improbable, let them know that God is not at a loss when men's dark understandings are at a loss: the sun is not taken out of the firmament, whenever a man closes or loses his eyes. What! will those cavillers puzzle the Almighty; will they pose omniscience? Doth it follow that the course of the planets, the heavens, and all the creatures are out of order, if these silly moles understand not the order of them? No more will it follow that any word of God is false, or any rule of God is crooked, because they see not its truth and rectitude. Shall dust and ashes judge the Lord? who hath been his counsellor, and with whom hath he advised for the making, redeeming, or governing of the world? There is no rest to an inquisitive soul, but in the infinite wisdom of the Lord. Find once that it is his word, and inquire no further. It is madness to demand a further proof. As all goodness is comprised in his will and love; so all truth is comprised in his wisdom and revela
4. The next effect that God's omniscience should have upon our minds, is to take all the sayings of men as folly, that are against the Lord. Let them be high or low, learned or unlearned, if they contradict the God of infinite wisdom, take it but as the words of a distracted Did you ever meet with any man of them, that durst say he was wiser than God himself? Herod, who was eaten to death with vermin, was applauded by the flattering crowd, but with this acclamation, 'It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.' Will you say of any man that he is wiser than God? If you dare not say so, how dare you hear them and believe them against the word of God? How dare you be drawn from a holy life, from a self-denying duty, or from the truth of God, by the words of a man, yea, perhaps of a fool, who speaks against the word of God! To the law, and to the testimony; if they speak not according to these, it is because there is no light in them.'
5. The infinite wisdom of God, should establish our confidence concerning the fulfilling of all his word. He will not fail for want of knowledge: when he spoke that prophecy, that promise, or that threatening, he perfectly knew all things that would come to pass, to all eternity. He knew therefore what he said when he gave out his word, and therefore will fulfil it. Heaven and earth may pass away, but one jot or tittle of his word shall not pass away till all be accomplished.'
6. From the infinite wisdom of God, the church must be encouraged in its greatest straits, and against all the cunning and subtilty of their enemies. Are we ever in such straits, that God knows not how to bring us out? When we see no way for our deliverance, doth it follow that he sees none? If cunning serpents are too subtle for us, do we think that they can deceive the Lord? What had become of us long ago, if God had not known whatever is plotted in Rome, or Spain, or hell against us? If he knows not of all the consultations of the conclave, and of all the contrivances of jesuits and friars; and of all the jugglings of the masked emissaries. If God had not known of Vaux and his powder mine. it might have blown up all our hopes. But while
we know that God is in their councils, hearing hath 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 wisdom of our great protector, who will prove all his adversaries to have played the fool: for as sure as his omnipotency shall be glorified by overcoming all opposing powers, so sure shall his infinite wisdom be glorified, by conquering and befooling the wisdom that is against him.
The next of God's attributes that must make its impress on the soul, is his infinite goodness. The denomination of goodness, as all other of his attributes, is suited to the capacity or affections of the soul of man. That which is truly amiable is called good. Not as if there were no goodness, but what is a means to man's felicity, as some most foolishly have affirmed: for our end and felicity itself, and God as he is perfect and excellent in himself, is more amiable than all means.
7. If God be infinite in knowledge, it must resolve us all to live accordingly. O remember, whatever thou thinkest, that God is acquainted with all thy thoughts. Wilt thou feed on lustful, covetous, malicious, or unbelieving thoughts, 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 desires of thy heart, though thou hadst not words as thou desirest to express them. He that knows thy uprightness, will justify thee, if all the world condemn thee. He that sees thee in thy secret alms, or prayers, or tears, will openly reward thee. Let this also comfort thee under all the slanders of malicious or misinformed men. He that must be thy judge and theirs, is acquainted with the truth; who will certainly bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day. O how many souls are justified with the omniscient God, that are condemned by the malignant world! How many blots will be wiped off before the world at the day of judgment, that here did lie upon the names of faithful, upright men! O how many hypocrites shall be then disclosed; what a cutting thought should it be to the dissembler, that his secret falsehood is known to God; and when he hath the reputation that he fought with men, he
This infinite goodness must have these effects upon us. 1. It must possess us with a superlative love to God. This blessed attribute is it that makes us saints indeed, and makes that impression on us, which is as the heart of the new creature. It is goodness that produces love. Love is that grace that closes with God as our happiness and end, and is the felicitating enjoying grace. Without it we are but as sounding brass, or tinkling cymbals, whatever our gifts and parts may be. Love is the very excellency of the soul, as it closes with the infinite excellency of God. It is the very felicity of the soul, as it enjoys him that is our felicity. Most certainly the prevailing love of God, is the surest evidence of true sanctification. He that hath most love, hath most grace; and is the best and strongest Christian; and he that hath least love, is the worst or weakest. Knowledge and faith are but to work our hearts to love; and when love is perfect, they have done their work. Teach
ing 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 him, 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. If 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 goodness of God that must make us love him, if ever we will love him.
2. The goodness of God must also encourage the soul to trust him. For infinite good will not deceive us. Nor can we fear any hurt from him, but what we wilfully bring upon ourselves. If I knew but which were the best and most loving man in the world, I could trust him above all men; and I should not fear any injury from him. How many friends have I that I dare trust with my estate and life, because I know that they have love and goodness in their low degree! Shall I not trust the blessed God, that is love itself, and infinitely good? whatever he will be in justice to the ungodly, I am sure he delights
4. The infinite goodness of God should increase repentance, and win the soul to a more resolute, cheerful service of the Lord. O what a heart is that which can offend, and wilfully offend, so good a God! This is the odiousness of sin, that it is an abuse of an infinite good. This is the most heinous, damning aggravation of it, that infinite goodness could not prevail with wretched souls against the empty flattering world: but that they suffered a dream and shadow, to weigh down infinite goodness in their esteem. And is it possible for worse than this to be found in man? He that had rather the sun were out of the firmament, then a hair were taken off his head, were unworthy to see the 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 bad enough that Augustine, in one of his epistles, says of worldly men, that they had rather there were two stars fewer in the firmament, than one cow fewer in their pastures, or one tree fewer in their woods or grounds.' But it is ten thousand times a greater evil that every wicked man is guilty of, who will rather forsake the living God, and lose his part in infinite goodness, than he will let go his filthy and unprofitable sins. O sinners, as you love your souls, despise not the riches of the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of the Lord; but know that his goodness should lead you to repentance. Would you spit at the sun? Would you revile the stars? Would you curse the holy angels? If not, O do not ten thousand-fold worse, by your wilful sinning against the infinite goodness itself.
be much in the exercise of this heavenly work, and with holy David, make it your employment, and say, 'O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee.—The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord;' what then are the heavens? Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O Lord, hast prepared thy goodness for the poor.- O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.-The goodness of God endureth continually.-Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.-O taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that trusteth in him.—The Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, his truth endureth from generation 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, whetherness.' If there be a thought that is truly sweet he hath more than an infinite good to offer you: and whether he can out-bid the Lord for your affection?
And now for the time that is before you, how cheerfully should you address yourselves unto his service; and how delightfully should you follow it on from day to day! What manner of persons should the servants of this God be, that are called to nothing but what is good! How good a master; how good a work; and how good company, encouragements, and helps; and how good an end! All is good, because it is the infinite good that we serve and seek and shall we be loitering, unprofitable servants!
to the soul, it is the thought of the infinite goodness of the Lord. If there be a pleasant word for man to speak, it is the mention of the infinite goodness of the Lord! And if there be a pleasant hour for man on earth to spend, and a delightful work for man to do, it is to meditate on, and with the saints to praise the infinite goodness of the Lord. What was the glory that God showed unto Moses, and the taste of heaven that he gave him upon earth, but this, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and I will be gracious on whom I will be 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, 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 be reduced to the crooked line of human actions or dispositions; and if God will please the worldling, the sensualist, the proud, the negligent, who should please him, then he shall be good, and he shall be God; if not, say these judges, he shall be evil, and unmerciful, and no God. They will not believe that he is good that punishes them. Thus if the thief or murderer had the choice of kings and judges, you may know what persons he would choose; no one should be a judge, or accounted a good man, that would condemn and hang him.
6. Moreover, the goodness of God must possess us with desire to be conformed to his goodness, in our measure. The holy perfection of his will, must make us desire to have our wills conformed to the will of God; we are not called to imitate him in his works of power, nor so much in the paths of his omniscience, as we are in his goodness, which as manifested in his work and word, is the pattern and standard of moral goodness in the sons of men. The impress of his goodness within us, is the chief part of his image on us; and the fruits of it in our lives is their holiness and virtue. As he is good and doth good, so must it be our greatest care to be as good, and do as much good as possibly we can. Any thing within us that is sinful and contrary to the goodness of God, should be to our souls as poison to our bodies, which nature is excited to strive against with all its strength, and can have no safety or rest till it be cast out; and for doing good, it must be the very study and trade of our lives. As worldlings study and labour for the world, and the pleasing of their flesh: so must the Christian study and labour to improve his master's talents to his use, and to do as much good as he is able, and to please the Lord. The desire of the righteous (as such) is only good. -To depart from evil and do good,' is the care of the just. We must please our neighbours for good to their edification.—While we have time we must do good to all men, as we are able; but especially to them of the household of faith.' Not only to them that do good to us, but to our enemies. This is it that we must not forget; and which by ministers we must be put in mind of; which all that love life and would inherit the blessing, must devote themselves to. In this we must be like our heavenly Father, and ap. prove ourselves his children.
7. From the perfect infinite goodness of God, we must learn to judge of good and evil, in all the creatures. To this must all be reduced as the standard, and by this must they be tried. It is a most wretched absurdity of sensual men, to try the will, word, or ways of God, by themselves, and by their own interests or wills; and to judge all to be evil in God that is against them. And yet, alas, how common is this case! Every man is naturally loth to be miserable: suffering he abhors; and therefore that which
But I beseech you consider, what is fit to be the rule and standard, if not perfection of goodness itself. Do you think that the will of ignorant, fleshly, sinful man, is more fit to be the rule of goodness, than the will of God? We are sure that God is not deceived, and sure that there is no iniquity with him; but we know that all men are liable to deceit, and have private interests, and corrupted minds and wills that have some vicious inclination. O what blasphemy is in the heart of that man, that will sooner condemn the holy will and law of God, than his own will, or the wills of any men, be they ever so seemingly wise or great! The will of God is revealed in his laws, concerning the necessity of a holy life; and the will of foolish, wicked men is by their scornful speeches and sinful lives revealed to be against it. Which of these do you follow; which is it that prescribes you the better course? The will of God that is infinitely good, or the will of man that is miserably evil? If you know any better than God, follow him before God. But if none be greater and more powerful than he, if none be wiser or of more knowledge, it is as sure that none is better. Much less are those ignorant, wicked men, that despise the scripture and a holy life, and would persuade you that they can tell you of a better way. Let me speak it to the terror of the ungodly soul, who by the deceits or scorn of any sort of men is drawn away from Christ and holiness; it shall stand on record against thee until the day of judgment, and it shall stick continually as a dagger in thy heart, that thou didst prefer the reason and the will of man, yea, perhaps of a drunkard, or a worldling, before the word or will of God: and though thy tongue durst not speak it, thy life did speak it,