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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 às sure as his omnipotency shall be glorified by overtopping all opposing powers, so sure shall his infinite wisdom be glorified, by conquering and befooling the wisdom that is against him.
7. Lastly, 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. And wilt thou feed on lustful, or covetous, or malicious, or unbelieving thoughts, in the eye of God? Remember in thy prayers and every duty, that he knows the very frame of all thy affections, and the manner as well as the matter of thy services. And wilt thou be cold and careless in the sight of God? O remember in thy most secret sins, and thy works of darkness, that nothing is unknown to God; and that before him thou art in the open light: and fearest thou not the face of the Almighty ? Wilt thou do that when he knoweth it, that thou wouldst not do if man did know? He knows whether thou deceive thy neighbour, or deal uprightly! Defraud not therefore, for the Lord is the avenger. (1 Thess. iv. 6.) Do nothing that thou wouldst not have God to know; for certainly he knoweth all things. Shall he not see, that made and illuminateth the eye; and shall he not hear that made both tongue and ears; and shall he not know that giveth us understanding, and by whom we know? (Psal. xciv. 8-10.)
And let this be thy comfort in thy secret duties. He that knoweth thy heart, will not overlook the desires of thy heart, though thou hadst not words as thou desirest to express them. And he that knoweth thy uprightness, will justify thee, if all the world condemn thee. He that seeth thee in thy secret alms, or prayers, or tears, will openly reward thee. (Matt. vi. 4. 6.) 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.” (Psal. xxxvii. 6.) O how many souls are justified with the Omniscient God, that are condemned by the malignant world. And 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! And 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 sought with men," he hath his reward !” (Matt. vi. 2.) For it is a sadder reward that God will give him.
CHAP. IX. 8. 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 his attributes) is fetched from, and 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 sottishly have affirmed; for our end and felicity itself, and God as he is perfect and excellent in himself, is more amiable than all means.
In three respects therefore it is that God is called good or amiable to man. 1. In that he is infinitely excellent and perfect in himself. For the love of friendship is a higher love than that of desire; and the most perfect sort of love is that which wholly carrieth the lover from himself to the perfect object of his love. The soul delighteth to contemplate excellency, when the excellency itself and not the delight, is the ultimate end of that desire and contemplation.
2. God is called good, as he is the pattern and fountain of all moral good; as he maketh us righteous, holy laws, commanding moral good, and forbidding and condemning evil. And thus his goodness is his holiness and righteousness, his faithfulness and truth.
3. God is called good, as he is the fountain of all the creature's happiness, and as he is bountiful and gracious, and ready to do good, and as he is the felicitating end and object of the soul. And this Infinite Goodness must have these effects
upon 1. It must possess us with a superlative love to God. This blessed attribute it is that makes us saints indeed, and maketh that impression on us, which is as the heart of the new creature. It is goodness that produceth love. And love is that grace that closeth 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. (1 Cor. xiii.) Love is the very excellency of the soul, as it closeth with the infinite excellency of God. It is the very felicity of the soul, as it enjoyeth him that is our felicity. Most certainly the prevailing love of God, is the surest evidence of trué 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. (1 Cor. xii. 31 ; xiii. 8–10. 13.) Teaching and distant revelations will not be for ever; and therefore such knowledge and faith as we have now, will not be for ever. But God will be for ever amiable to us, and therefore love will endure for ever. The goodness of God is called love, and as God is love, so " he that dwelleth in love doth dwell in God, and God in him.” (1 John iv. 16.) The knowledge of divine goodness makes us good, because it maketh us love him that is good. It is love that acteth most purely for God. Fear is selfish, and hath somewhat of aversation. Though there be no evil in God for us to fear, yet is there such good in him that will bring the evil of punishment upon the evil; and this they fear. But love doth resign the soul to God, and that in the most congruous, acceptable manner. Make it therefore your daily work to possess your souls with the love of God. Love him once, and all that he saith and doth will be more acceptable to you; and all that you say or do in love will be more acceptable unto him. Love him and you will be loath to offend him; you will be desirous to please him; you will be satisfied in his love. Love him and you may be sure that he loveth you. “Love is the fulfilling of his law.” (Rom. xiii. 10.) And that you may love him, this must be your work, to believe and contemplate his goodness. Consider daily of the infinite goodness or amiableness of his nature, and of his excellency appearing in his works, and of the perfect holiness of his laws. But especially see him in the face of Christ, and behold his love in the design of our redemption, in the person of the Redeemer, and in the promises of grace, and in all the benefits of redemption. Yea look by faith to heaven itself, and think how you must for ever live in the perfect, blessed love of infinite enjoyed Goodness. As
As it is the knowledge and sight of gold, or beauty, or any other earthly vanity, that kindleth the love of them in the minds of men; so is it the knowledge and serious contemplation of the goodness of God that must make us love him, if ever we will love him.
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! And 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 “ delighteth not in the death of sinners, but rather that they turn and live;" and that he will not cast off the soul that loveth him, and would fain be fully conformed to his will. It cannot be that he should spurn at them that are humbled at his feet, and long, and pray, and seek, and mourn after nothing more than his grace and love! Think not of God as if he had less of love and goodness, than the creature has: If you have high and confident thoughts of the goodness and fidelity of any man on earth, and dare quietly trust him with your life and all; see that you have much higher thoughts of God, and trust him with greater confidence, lest you set him below the silly creature in the attributes of his goodness, which his glory and your happiness require you to know.
3. The Infinite Goodness of God, must call off our hearts from the inordinate loơe of all created good whatever. Who would stoop so low as earth, that may converse with God? And who would feed on such poor delights, that hath tasted the graciousness of the Lord ? Nothing more sure than. that the love of God doth not reign in that soul, where the love of the world, or of fleshly lust, or pleasure reigneth. (1 John ii. 15.) Had worldlings, or sensual, or ambitious men, but truly known the goodness of the Lord, they could never have so fallen in love with those deceitful vanities. If we could but open their eyes to see the loveliness of their Redeemer, they would soon be weaned from other loves. Would you conquer the love of riches, or honour, or any thing else that corrupteth your affections; O try this sure
and powerful way! Draw nigh to God, and take the fullest view thou canst, in thy most serious meditation of his infinite goodness, and all things else will be vile in thy esteem, and thy heart will soon contemn them and forget them, and thou wilt never dote
then more. 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, than a hair were taken off his head, were unworthy to see the light of the sun.
And surely he that will turn away froin God himself, to enjoy the pleasures of his flesh, is unworthy to enjoy the Lord. It is bad enough that Augustine in one of his Epistles saith of sottish 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, that 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, and forbearance, and longsuffering of the Lord; but know that his goodness should lead you to repentance.” (Rom. ii. 4.) Would you spit at the sun ? Would you revile the stars ? Would you curse the holy angels? If not, O do not ten thousandfold worse, by your wilful sinning against the Infinite Goodness itself.
But for you Christians, that have seen the amiableness of the Lord, and tasted of his perfect goodness, let this be enough to melt your hearts, that ever you have wilfully sinned against him: O what a good did you contemn in the days of your unregeneracy, and in the hour of your sin ! Be not so ungrateful and disingenuous as to do so again. Remember whenever a temptation comes, that it would entice you
from the Infinite Good. Ask the tempter, man or