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SERM. sufferings; of his vigilant carefulness over them, and over LXVIII. all their concernments? Methinks the highest expressions that language, assisted with all its helps of metaphor and resemblance, can afford, are very languid and faint in comparison of what they strain to represent, when the goodness of God toward them who love him comes to be expressed As the heaven is high above the carth, so great Psal. ciil. is his mercy toward them that fear him: Like as a father

Psal. xxxvi. 6.

11, 13.

pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him: so David strives to utter it, but with similitudes far short of the truth. If any will come near to reach it, it is that in Moses and Zechariah, when they are compared to the Zech. ii. 8. apple of God's eye, that is, to the most dear and tender part, as it were, about him.

Deut. xxxii. 10.

We find them often styled, and ever treated, as friends and as children; and that in a sense transcending the vulgar signification of those words; for, what friendship could endure, could pass over, could forget, could admit an entire reconciliation and re-establishment 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 posterity, 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 Ps. xxxiv.7. serve a poor attendant, a mean subject of his? Yet, The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth 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 sons of men. But upon examples of this nature, being numberless, and composing indeed the main body of the sacred history, (it being chiefly designed to represent them,) I shall not insist; I shall only observe, for preventing or satisfying objections, (yea, indeed, for turning them to the advantage and confirmation of that which we

John xv.

14. 2 Chron. xx. 7.

assert,) that even in those cases, wherein God's highest SERM. severity hath been exercised, when God hath purposed to LXVII. exhibit most dreadful instances of his justice upon the most provocative occasions; we may discern his goodness eminently shewing itself b: that even in the greatest extremity of his displeasure, in his acts of highest vengeance, mercy Jam. ii. 13. doth κατακαυχᾶσθαι τῆς κρίσεως, (as St. James speaketh,) boast itself, and triumph over justice: that God, as the sun, (to use Tertullian's similitude,) when he seems most to infest and scorch us, doth even then dispense useful and healthful influences upon usc. Even, I say, in the most terrible and amazing examples of divine justice (such as were the ejecting and excluding mankind from Paradise; the ge neral destruction in the deluge; the exscinding and extirpation of the Amorites, together with other inhabitants of Canaan; the delivering Israel and Judah into the Assyrian Vide Chrys. thraldom, the final destruction of Jerusalem, together with Tom.vi.Ór. 8. p. 63. the dispersion of the Jewish nation over the world, and its optime. sad consequences) we may (not hardly) observe particulars, more than savouring of great mercy and goodness.

1. That (in most of these cases, in all according to some account) God was not moved to the displeasure productive of those effects but upon very great considerations. 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 with their filth and corruption; to groan under the burden and weight of them; to pant and labour for a riddance from them.

Ο Γίνεται φιλανθρωπία ή τιμωρία· ὕτω γὰρ ἐγὼ πάθομαι κολάζειν τὸν Θεόν. Naz. Orat. 38.

Ἐγὼ τοσαύτην περίυσιαν εἶναι φημὶ τῆς τῷ Θεῷ κηδεμονίας, ὡς μὴ μόνον ἀφ' ὧν ἐτίμησεν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀφ ̓ ὧν ἐκόλασεν ὁμοίως ἡμᾶς δύνασθαι τὴν ἀγαθότητα αὐτῇ δεικνύναι, καὶ τὴν φιλανθρωπίαν. Chrys. Ανδρ. ζ'.

Ὁ Θεὸς ἀπαθὴς ὤν, κἂν εὐεργετῇ, κἂν κολάζῃ, ὁμοίως ἐσὶν ἀγαθός. Ibid. Tunc maxime est optimus, cum tibi non bonus; sicut sol tibi etiam quan do non putas optimus ut utilis, &c. Tertull. in Marc. ii. 2.


SERM. 2. That God did not upon the first glimpses of provo LXVIII. cation proceed to the execution and discharge of his wrath, but did with wonderful patience expect a change Isa. xxx. in the offenders, waiting to be gracious, as the 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 the inflictions themselves, how grievous soever in appearance, were not really extreme in measure; not accompanied with so acute torments, nor with so lingering pains, nor with so utter a ruin, as might have been inflicted; but that (as Ezra, in respect to one of those Ez. ix. 13. cases, confesseth) they were less than their iniquities dePs. lxxviii. served. That, as it is in the Psalm, He did not stir up all his wrath; which would have immediately consumed them, or infinitely tormented them.


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23, 32.

4. That (consequently upon some of those premises) the afflictions brought upon them were in a sort rather necessary than voluntary in respect of him; rather a natural fruit of their dispositions and dealings, than a free Ezek. xviii. result of his will; however contrary to his primary intenWhence he no less truly than earnestly Lam. iii. disclaims having any pleasure in their death, that he af Hos. xiii. 9. flicted willingly, or grieved the children of men; and charges their disasters upon themselves, as the sole causes of them.

xxxii. 11. tions and desires.


5. That farther, the chastisements inflicted were wholesome and profitable, both in their own nature, and according to his designd; both in respect to the generality of men, (who by them were warned, and by such examples deterred from incurring the like mischiefs; were kept from the inconveniences, secured from the temptations, the violences, the allurements, the contagions of the pre

d Chrys. 'Avde..

Ὁμοῦ καὶ δικατὴς καὶ ἰατρὸς καὶ διδάσκαλός ἐσιν ὁ Θεός. Ibid.

O Hos. xi. 8.

sent evil state; according to that reason alleged for punish- SERM. ments of this kind: All the people shall hear, and fear, and LXVIII, do no more presumptuously,) and in regard to the sufferers Deut. xvii. themselves, who thereby were prevented from proceeding 13. farther in their wicked courses; accumulating (or treasur ing up, as the Apostle speaketh) farther degrees of wrath, Rom. ii. 5s as obdurate and incorrigible people will surely do; (Why, Isa. i. 5. saith the Prophet, should ye be stricken any more? (to what xxvi. 10. purpose is moderate correction?) Ye will revolt more and more.) That he did with a kind of violence to his own inclinations, and reluctancy, inflict punishments on them. Ephraim, how shall I give thee up, O Ephraim? Yea farther: 6. That, during their sufferance, God did bear compassion toward them who underwent it. His bowels, as we Isa. lxiii. are told, sounded and were troubled; his heart was turned 9, 15. within him; his repentings were kindled together; in all Jer. xxxi. their afflictions himself was afflicted; he remembered, and 20% considered they were but dust; that they were but flesh, viii. 21. (that they were but of a weak and frail temper; that they were naturally prone to corruption and evil,) and did there- 39. fore pity their infirmity and their misery.

Hos. xi. 8.

Gen. vi. 3.

Psal. ciii.

14. lxxviii.

7. That God in his wrath remembered mercy, (as the Hab. iii. 2. prophet Habakkuk speaks,) mixing gracious intentions of future refreshment and reparation with the present Gen. vi. 3. executions of justice. I know, saith he in the pro- viii. 21. phet Jeremiah, the thoughts that I think toward you; 11. xxxiii. thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected 6. end. Behold, I will bring health and cure, I will cure

Jer. xxix.

them, and will reveal unto them abundance of peace and truth. And, For a small moment, saith he again in Isa. liv. 7. Isaiah, have I forsaken thee: but with great mercies will I gather thee. And, Ye shall be comforted con- Ezek. xiv. cerning the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem— 2, 23. and, ye shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord; (he saith so in Ezekiel;)

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ε'Επιτίθησι τιμωρίαν, οὐ τῶν ἀπελθόντων ἀπαντῶν δίκην, ἀλλὰ τὰ μέλλωντα diag Duevos. Chrys. tom. viii. p. 99.

SERM. without cause, that is, without a beneficial design toward them.


8. Lastly, That he always signified a readiness to turn from his anger, and to forgive them; and upon very equal and easy terms to be fully reconciled to them; according

Ps. iii. 9. to that in the Psalm, He doth not always chide, neither will he keep his anger for ever; but upon any reasonable overtures of humiliation, confession, and conversion to him, was ready to abate, yea, to remove the effects of his

Psal. xcix. displeasure: Thou wast a God that forgavest them, though


thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.

These 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 affairs,) we may observe most of them in all, all of them in some, either plainly expressed, or sufficiently insinuated 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 serve to the illustration of his mercy and goodness toward all men; may evince it true, what our Lord affirms, that God is xensos érì àxaLukevii.35. gísous xai Tovagoùs, kind and beneficent even to the 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.

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