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S ER M. have preserved Sodom itself; fo that our Saviour
could with a compassionate grief deplore the unfuc
cessfulness of his tender affection, and solicitous care Matt. xxiii. for their welfare, in these passionate terms : How often
would I have gathered thy children as a hen gathers ber chickens under her wing, but ye would not ! That St. John the Baptist's sharp reproofs, his powerful
exhortations, his downright and clear forewarnings Matt. iii. of what would follow (Even now, said he, the axe is
laid to the root of the tree), attended with so remarkable circumstances of his person, and his carriage (which induced all the world about him to regard him as no ordinary man, but a special instrument of God, and messenger from heaven) did yet find no effect considerable: the Pharisees and Lawyers, those corrupt
guides, whose authority managed the blind multiLuke vii. tude, defeating the counsel of God toward themselves, as 30. St. Luke speaketh (that is, defeating his gracious pur
pose of reclaiming them from disobedience, and confequently of withholding the judgments imminent),
they reviled the person of that venerable Prophet; Nízt, xi. 18. He hath a devil, said they : they flighted his premo,
nitions, and rejected his advices, by obferving which, thofe dreadful mischiefs, which fell upon their rebellious heads, might have been averted. We may add, that even those fearful judgments were tempered with mixtures of favourable design, not only to the community of mankind (which, by so remarkable a vengeance upon the persecutors of our Lord and the fcorners of his doctrine, was converted unto, or confirmed in, the christian faith), but even toward that people whom it served to convince of their errors and crimes ; to induce them to repentance, to provoke them unto the acknowledgment and embracing of God's truth, so palpably vindicated by him. So that I might here apply that passage of St. Paul (if not
directly and adequately according to his sense, yet Rom. xi. 11. with no incongruous allusion at least) Have they stiimbled, that they should fall? (or, was there no other
design of God's judgments upon them, but their s ER M. utter ruin ?) peń yévoito. No such matter ; but through their fall salvation came to the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy (or emulation). And, in effect, as our Lord in the midst of his sufferings did affectionately pray for God's mercy upon them, as the Apostles did Offer reconciliation unto them all indifferently, who would repent, and were willing to embrace it; fo were such of them as were disposed to comply with those invitations, received to grace, how deeply foever involved in the continued guilt of those enormous persecutions, injuries, and blasphemies; as particularly St. Paul, that illustrious example of God's patience 1 Tim, i. and mercy in this case. So that neither by this in- 16. stance is any attribute of God more signalized, than his transcendent goodness, in like manner as by the former instances, and in analogy to them by all others, that may be assigned. By all of them it will appear that God is primarily and of himself disposed to do all fitting and possible good to men, not to inflict evil more than is fit and necessary; that God is indeed optimus ex nature proprietate (most good according De Refurr. to property of nature), although justus ex caufa necessitate Carnis
, 6(severe from the necessity of the case), as Tertullian speaketh. To afflict men (either some men singly, or whole societies of men) may be sometimes expedient upon several accounts; for vindicating the esteem, and supporting the interest of goodness, which may by impunity be disgraced, endamaged, endangered; for the discrimination of good and evil men, in an observable manner; for the encouragement and comfort of the good, the reduction and amendment of the bad; for preventing the contagion, and stopping the progress of iniquity, whereupon greater guilts and worse inischiefs would ensue; * it may be as necessary as sharp phyfic to cure public
* Bafil. Orat. Quod Deus non est causa mali, eleganter et pulchre de hac re.
SE R M. or private distempers ; as an instrument of rouzing
us out of our sinful 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 distasteful 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 Wild. i. 12. loving pity, to deal otherwise. In fine, we are to Carm. Deyiconsider, that all the mischiefs we undergo, God doth Hier . Da." not so much bring them on us, as we do pull them
on ourselves*. They are «uIzigeta nýuato, affeeted, or self-chosen mischiefs ; they are xaxa Bacsiuata a poæspérews, bad sprouts of our free choice (as a Father calls thein); they are (as another Father faith) &xxciw xaxūv axécia éxyova, the unwilling offsprings of wilful evils; 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 up, 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 afflict us ; not so much as Miseros nos giving bim leave to spare us. God vehemently disclaims some point himself to be the original cause ; to design (accordmus. Hier. ing to absolute or primary intention), to desire, to deEzek, xvii. light in our grief, or our ruin. As I live, faith the
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
* Πάντα κονεί και πραγματεύεται ο θεός, ώσε ημάς απαλλάξαι κολάσεως, my touwelas. Cbryf. tom. 8. p.100.
+ Nos vim Deo facimus iniquitatibus noftris; nos nolentem ulcisci cogimus. Deus enim pius et misericors eft, et qui neminem velit perire, vel lædcre, &c. Salv. lib. 5. et 8.
live. I call heaven to record this day against you, that I SER M. have set life and death before youl, therefore choose life. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of
He would have all men to be saved, and to come Deut. xxx. to the knowledge of the truth. He would not have any Lam. iii
. 33. perish, but that all should come to repentance. He made Wild. i. 13. not death, nor hath be 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: O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself : thou hast Hof. xiii. 9. fallen by thine own iniquity. Your fins have withholden xiv. 1. good things from you. Our iniquities like the wind have ira. lxiv., iaken 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 felves 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 fifted, 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 infist upon the goodness of God in making and threatening hell itself.
Της βασιλείας στα έλαττον, η τ γείνης απαλό δείκνυσιν αύτε την αγα• Sórnya, &c. 'Arde. 3.
SER M. warmed and softened into affection by so melting a
2. It thould produce, as grateful sense in our
hearts, so real endeavours of thankful obedience in Col. i. 10. our lives. It should make us walk zworthy of God, to
all well-pleasing, bringing forth fruit in every good work;
taking heed of doing as did Hezekiah, of whom it is 2 Chron. faid; that he rendered not according to the benefit done xxxii. 25. unto him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore was
upon him ; that we may not have that expoftuDeut. xxxii. lation justly applied unto us: Do ye thus requite 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
mayest 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 nothing is more terrible, than goodness Nlighted, and patience abused.
4. It should humble, alhame, and grieve us, for having crolled and offended such exceeding goodness and mercy. It should cause us greatly to detest our fins, which lie under so 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 goodness; nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and casi 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