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32.

S ER M. bounty of our Lord ; that he is in disposition very 1. different from pettish and impatient man, who, should

he have the reins put into his hands, and in his ad. ministration of things should be so often neglected, crossed, abused, would soon overturn all things ; and, being himself discomposed with passion, would precipitate the world into confusion and ruin. Things would not have subsisted hitherto, and continued in their orderly course, but by the moderation of an im

mense goodness ; by that Claud.

magni custos clementia mundi. Lam. iii. It is by the Lord s mercies that we (we, the whole body

of sinful men, so guilty of heinous provocations and rebellions against our Maker) are not consumed. And what again God in the Prophet speaks concerning

Israel, he might have applied to the whole nation of Hof. xi. 8. men : How Mall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how shall

I deliver thee, Israel? how mall I make thee as Admah? how fall I set thee as Zeboim ? I will not execute the fierceness of my anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God, and not man. The reason (for I am God, and not man) is observable; implying (upon parity of reason in the cases, concerning that one nation, and concerning the body of men) that it is an indulgence and forbearance above, if not contrary to the temper of man, and even beyond human conceit, whereby the state of things here doth subsist, and is preserved from ruin.

Thus nature, and thus Providence do bear witness concerning the disposition of God. As for Scripture, there is nothing either in way of positive affertion more frequently inculcated, or by more illuftrious examples set forth, and made palpable, than this attribute of God. When God would impart a portraiture, or description of himself to his dearest

friend and favourite, Moses ; the first and chief lixxxiv. 6.

neaments thereof are several sorts, or several instances

of goodness; he expresses himself Merciful and graSom cious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness : (Mer

Exod.

אל

ciful: ciful : El rachum) a God of pitying, or strong in pity ; S ER M. that is, most apt to commiserate, and to succour I. those who are in need or distress. Gracious, that is, ready both freely to forgive wrongs, and to dispense favours. Long-suffering, or longus irarum, that is, not foon moved, or apt easily to conceive displeasure; not hasty in execution of vengeance, or venting his anger in hurtful effects. Abundant in goodness, that is, not sparing as to quantity or quality, either in the multitude or magnitude of his favours, but in all respects exceedingly liberal ; conferring willingly both very many, and very great benefits. Such did God Pfal. represent himself to Moses, when he desired a fuller .xxxvi. 5 knowledge and nearer acquaintance with him, than ordinary means afford. The same character in substance we have often repeated ; and sometimes with advantage of emphatical expression, well deserving our observation and regard ; as when the prophet Joel faith, that God is penitent, or forry, for evil in- Joel ii. 12 flicted; and Micah, that he delighteth in mercy; and Micah vii. when Nehemiah calleth him a God of pardons; and Neh when Isaiah represents him as waiting (or seeking oc-17: casions) to be gracious : and all this in the Old Testa-18. ment, where God seems to look upon man with a less serene and debonair aspect. Indeed, as that dispensation (suitably to the nature and condition of things under it) doth set out God's mercy and goodness, with especial relation to this present world, or temporal estate ; so the New one more abundantly difplays his more excellent care and love of our souls; his great tenderness of our spiritual and eternal welfare. It is all of it in its nature and design but as it were one entire declaration of the tóxensòv toŨ Osoữ, (the be- Rom. ii. a. neficial disposition, the benignity, or bountifulness of God, as St. Paul telleth us ;) it is a rare project of divine philanthropy; an illustrious affidavit of God's wonderful propensity to bless and save mankind; manifested by the highest expressions and instances of love and goodness that were possible. (For his

not

cahien Ifaiahemiah cali that he tem, or when the

Isai. xxx.

SER M. not sparing his own Son, the express image of his fub1. ftance, the dearest object of his infinite love, the par

taker of his eternal nature and glory, but delivering him up a sacrifice for our offences; his moft earnest wooing our baleness and unworthiness to reconciliation with him, and admission or acceptance of his favour ; his tendering upon so fair and ealy terms an endless life in perfect joy and bliss; his furnishing uś

with so plentiful means and powerful aids for attainRom. v. 21. ing that happy state-how pregnant demonstrations

are these, of unspeakable goodness toward us! whence)

The ordinary titles in this dispensation attributed unto , Cor. xiii. him, are, the God of love and peace, of hope, of patience; 11.1.3.. of all grace, of all consolation; the father of pities, rich Eph. ii. 4. Jam. v. ii. in mercy, full of bowels; love and goodness itself. Thus : John iv. doth the Scripture positively aflert God's goodness;

thus it directly represents and describes his gracious disposition toward us. And as for examples, (which must serve as to illustrate and explain, so also to ve• rify and assure matters of this nature,) if we carefully

attend to God's ordinary proceedings with men there

· recorded, we shall find this disposition very conspiLuke vi. cuous in them. Who can recount the number, or 35; For he set out the value of those instances wherein God's is kind unto the unthank goodness is expressed toward such as loved him? Of ful, and to

his admirable condescension in drawing them to him; The evil.

of the affectionate tenderness, with which he con. stantly embraced them ; of his merciful indulgence toward them, when provoked by their untowardly behaviour; of his kind acceptance, and munificent recompensing their endeavours to please him; of his deep compassionating their sufferings ; of his vigilant carefulness over them, and over all their concernments ? Methinks the highest expressions that language, assisted with all its helps of metaphor and re.

femblance, 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, xxxvi. 6. comes to be expressed : As the heaven is high above

the

bele affect Ondercentard such

Pfal.

Zech. ii. 8.

Chron.

the earth, fo great is his mercy toward them that fear serm. him. Like as a father pitieth his children, fo the Lord I. pitieth them that fear him ; so David strives to utter it, but with similitudes far short of the truth. If any Psal. ciii. will come near to reach it, it is that in Moses and", 13. Zechariah, when they are compared to the apple of Deut. God's eye, that is, to the most dear and tender part, max

xxxii. 10. as it were, about him.

We find them often styled, and ever treated, as John sv. friends and as children ; and that in a sense tran-14: 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. Psal. campeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth EXIV. * 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 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 assert,) that even in those cases, where

in

** Γίνεται φιλανθρωπία ή τιμωρία ύτω γαρ εγώ πείθομαι κολάζειν Θεόν. Naz. Orat. 38.

'Egal

s. Even Penfe useful fest and lan's line

SER M. in God's highest severity hath been exercised, when 1. 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 xatarauxáo tau rñs xpitiw5, (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 amaz. ing 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 JuTom.6. Or. dah into the Assyrian thraldom, the final destruction 8. p. 63. optime. of Jerusalem, together with the dispersion of the

Jewish nation over the world, and its sad confequences) we may (not hardly) observe particulars, more than favouring of great mercy and goodness.

I. 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 cominon life inconvenient, and insupportable to men; made the earth to stink

'Εγω τοσαύτην τεριεσίαν είναι φημι της τύ Θεξ κηδεμονίας, ως μή μόνον ao & iTung, GAAa xa: ac ix,Aaqtv bua ac qua; vacSai Tày ayzSórnta autê derxvývar, xai Thu Qonavegwiav. Chryf. ardp. .

'o Ocos atoa ons wv, xão eúspystñ, xạo xonalan, öncías esin ciyadós. 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

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