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the earth, fo great is his mercy toward them that fear's E R M. bim. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear bim ; so David strives to utter it, but with similitudes far short of the truth. If any Pial. cii. will come near to reach it, it is that in Moses and Zechariah, when they are compared to the apple of Deut xxxii. God's eye, that is, to the most dear and tender part, Zesh. ii. 8. as it were, about him.
We find them often styled, and ever treated, as John. XV. friends and as children ; and that in a sense tran-2 Chron. scending the vulgar signification of those words ; for, xx. 7. what friendship could endure, could pass over, could forget, could admit an entire reconciliation, and reestablishment in affection after such heinous indignities, such infidelities, such undutifulness, as were those of Adam, of Noah, of David, of Peter? Who would have received into favour and familiarity a Manasses, a Magdalen, a Paul ? Who would so far extend his regard upon the posterity (upon such a pofterity, so untoward, so unworthy) of his friend, as God did upon that of Abraham, in respect unto him? What great prince would employ his principal courtiers to guard and serve a poor attendant, a mean subject of his ? Yet, The angel of the Lord en-Pfal. xxxiv. competh round about them that fear him, and delivereth 7. them; and many instances we have of those glorious inhabitants of heaven by God's appointment stooping down to wait upon, and to perform service to the fons of men. But upon examples of this nature, being numberless, and composing indeed the main body of the facred history (it being chiefly designed to represent them), I shall not inlift; I shall only observe, for preventing or fatisfying objections (yea, indeed, for turning them to the advantage and confirmation of that which we assert), that even in those cases *, where
Γίνεται φιλανθρωπία ή τιμωρία έτω γαρ εγω πείθομαι κολάζειν Θεόν. Naz. Orat. 38.
$ ER M. in God's highest severity hath been exercised, when
God hath purposed to exhibit most dreadful in. stances of his justice upon the most provocative occasions; we may discern his goodness eminently shewing itself: that even in the greatest extremity
of his displeasure, in his acts of highest vengeance, Jam. ii. 13. mercy doth nataxauxárfai vñs sepíosws (as St. James
speaketh) boast itself, and triumph over justice : * that God, as the sun (to use Tertullian's fimilitude) when he seems most to infest and scorch, us, doth even then dispense useful and healthful influences upon us. Even, I say, in the most terrible and amazing examples of divine justice (such as were the ejecting and excluding mankind from paradise; the general destruction in the deluge; the exscinding
and extirpation of the Amorites, together with other Vide Chryf. inhabitants of Canaan ; the delivering Israel and Ju8. p. 63.
dah into the Affyrian thraldom, the final destruction of Jerusalem, together with the dispersion of the Jewish nation over the world, and its fad confe. quences) we may not hardly) observe particulars, more than favouring of great mercy and goodness.
1. That (in most of these cases, in all according to fome account) God was not moved to the displeasure productive of those effects but upon very great confiderations. That he did not seek advantages, nor embrace all occasions ; but was incensed by superlative degrees of iniquity and impurity (such in their own nature, and much aggravated by their circumstances), such as rendered common life inconvenient, and insupportable to men; made the earth to stink
"Εγω τοσαύτην περιεσίαν είναι φημι της τέ Θεέ κηδεμονίας, ως μή μόνον αφ' ών ετίμησεν, αλλα και αφ' ών έκόλασεν ομοίως ημας δύνασθαι την αγαν ότητα αυτά δεικνύναι, και την φιλανθρωπίαν. Chryf. ανδρ. ζ.
ο Θεός απαθής ών, καν ευεργετη, καν κολάζη, ομοίως εσίν αγαθός. Ibid.
* Tunc maxime est optimus, cum tibi non bonus ; ficut Sol tibi etiam quando non putas optimus et utilis, &c. Tertull. in Marc. ii. 2.
with their filth and corruption; to groan under the S E R M. burthen and weight of them; to pant and labour for a riddance from them.
2. That God did not upon the first glimpses of provocation proceed to the execution and discharge of his wrath, but did with wonderful patience expect a change in the offenders, waiting to be gracious, as the Ifa. ***. Prophet speaketh ; affording more than competent time, and means more than sufficient of appeasing him by repentance ; vouchsafing frequent admonitions, solicitations, threatenings, moderate corrections, and other such proper methods conducing to their amendment, and to their preservation.
3. That their inflictions themselves, how grievous soever in appearance, were not really extreme in measure ; not accompanied with so acute torments, nor with fo lingering pains, nor with fo utter a ruin, as might have been inflicted; but that (as Ezra, in respect to one of those cases, confeffeth) they were less Ez, jx. 13. than their iniquities deserved. That (as it is in the Psalmı) He did not stir up all his wrath; which would Pfal.lxxviii
, have immediately consumed them, or infinitely tormented them.
4. That (consequently upon some of those premises) the afflictions brought upon them were in a fort rather necessary than voluntary in respect of him ; rather a natural fruit of their dispositions and dealings, than a free result of his will; however con- Ezek. xviii. trary to his primary intentions and desires. Whence 23, 32. he no less truly than earnestly disclaims having any Lam.iii. 33. pleasure in their death, that he afflicted willingly, or Hol. xiii. 9. grieved tbe children of men; and charged their disasters upon themselves, as the sole causes of them..
5. That farther, the chastisements inflicted were wholsome and profitable, both in their own nature, and according to his design ; both in respect to the generality of men (who by them were warned, and by such examples deterred from incurring the like
Ila. i. 5. xxvi. 10.
SER M. mischiefs ; were kept from the inconveniences, se1. cured from the temptations, the violences, the al
lurements, the contagions of the present evil state ;
according to that realan alledged for punishments of Deut. xvii. this kind : All the people shall bear, and fear, and do
no more prefumptuously) and in regard to the sufferers themselves if, who thereby were prevented from pro
ceeding farther in their wicked courses ; accumulatRom. ii. s. ing (or treasuring up, as the Apostle speaketh) farther
degrees of wrath, as obdurate and incorrigible people will surely do: (Why, saith the Prophet, should ye ftricken any more? (to what purpose is moderate correction?) Ye will revolt more and more.) That he did
with a kind of violence to his own inclinations, and Hof. zi, 8. reluctancy, inflict punishments on them. O Ephraim,
bow shall I give thee up, o Ephraim ? Yea farther,
6. That, during their sufferance, God did bear Ifa. Ixiii. 9, compassion toward them who underwent it. His Hof. xi. 8. bowels, as we are told, founded and were troubled ; his Jer. xxxi. heart was turned within him; his repentings were kindled Gen. vi. 3. together; in all their afflictions himself was afflicted; he
remembered and considered they were but dust ; that they 34. Ixxviii, were but flesh (that they were but of a weak and frail
temper; that they were naturally prone to corruption and evil), and did therefore pity their infirmity, and their misery.
7. That God in his wrath remembered mercy (as the
prophet Habakkuk speaks), mixing gracious intenGen. vi. 3. tions of future refreshment and reparation with the Jer. xxix. present executions of justice. I know (faith he in the 1. xxxiii. prophet Jeremiah) the thoughts that I think toward you ;
ihoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Behold, I will bring health and cure, I will cuke them, and will reveal unto them abundance of peace and
Hab. iji. 2.
* Chryf. 'Ardp. 8.
+ Επιτίθησι τιμωρίαν, και των απελθόντων απαιτών δίκην, αλλα τα μέλ2orta dopopavosa Chryf. tom. 8. p. 99.
truth. And, For a small moment (faith he again in s E R M.
8. Lastly, That he always signified a readiness to
Theie particulars, if we attentively survey those dreadful examples of divine severity forementioned (the greatest which history acquaints us with, or which have been shewed on this theatre of human af. fairs), we may observe most of them in all, all of them in some, either plainly expressed, or sufficiently infinuated by the circumstances observable in the historical narrations concerning them ; so that even the harshest instances of God's wrathful dealing with some' men, may well sérve to the illustration of his mercy and goodness toward all men ; may evince it true, what our Lord affirms, that God is, xensòs éti ágapísas xai tounga's, kind and beneficent even to the Luke vi. 35. most ingrateful and unworthy persons. To make which observation good, and consequently to assert the verity of our text (that God is good unto all, and merciful over all his works) against the most plausible exceptions, I shall examine the particulars in the following discourse.