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SERM. give you an expected end. Behold, I will bring LXVIII. health and cure, I will cure them, and will reveal
unto them abundance of peace and truth. And, Isa. liv. 7. For a small moment, saith he again in Isaiah, hare
I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I Ezek. xiv. gather thee. And, Ye shall be comforted concern
ing the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem-
shall know that I have not done without cause all that I have done in it, saith the Lord; (he saith so in Ezekiel ;) 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 Ps. ciii. 9. them; according 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 displeasure: Ps. xcix. 8. 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 xenotòs eni Luke vi. 35. exaplotous kai trompoùs, kind and beneficent even to the most ingrateful and unworthy persons. To make SERM. which observation good, and consequently to assert
LXVIII, 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.
OF THE GOODNESS OF GOD.
PSALM cxlv. 9.
The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all
his works. SERM. I SHALL now more particularly consider the seLXIX.
veral instances before mentioned.
I. The punishment inflicted on mankind for the first transgression containeth in it much of depth and mystery, surpassing perhaps all capacity of man to reach; its full comprehension being by divine wisdom, I conceive, purposely concealed from us ; so that I cannot pretend thoroughly to explain it; and shall not therefore speak much about it.
This indeed is clear, that God did in his proceedings, occasioned thereby, intend remarkably to evidence his grievous resentment and indignation against wilful disobedience; yet in the management thereof we may observe, that,
1. After that provocation (in itself so high, and liable to so great aggravations) *God did express his resentment in so calm and gentle a manner, that Adam, though abashed upon the conscience of his fault, was not yet by the vehemency of the reproof utterly dismayed or dejected.
a Vid. Chrys. 'Ανδρ. ζ'. Ου γαρ είπε, καθάπερ είκός ήν υβρισμένον ειπείν, ώ μιαρέ, και παμμίαρε, &c. Ιbid.
2. God used great moderation in the infliction of SERM. this punishment; mitigating the extremity of the LXIX. sentence justly decreed and plainly declared to Adam, Gen. ii. 17. (that, in case of his offending against the law prescribed him, he should immediately die,) for notwithstanding his forfeiture that very day of life, God reprieved him, and allowed him a long life, almost of a thousand years, after.
3. God did not quite reject man thereupon, nor did withdraw his fatherly care and providence from him, but openly continued them; insomuch that, immediately after the curse pronounced upon our first parents, the next passage we meet with is, that unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats, Gen. iii. 21. and clothed them.
4. Although indeed man was by his fault a great loser, and became deprived of high advantages; yet the mercy of God did leave him in no very deplorable estate, simply considered, as to his life here; the relics of his first estate, and the benefits continued to him, being very considerable; so that we the inheritors of that great disaster do commonly find the enjoyment of life, with the conveniences attending it, to be sweet and desirable.
5. The event manifests, that while God in appearance so severely punished mankind, he did in his mind reserve thoughts of highest kindness toward us; even then designing not only to restore us to our former degree, but to raise us to a capacity of obtaining a far more high pitch of happiness. While he excluded us from a terrestrial paradise here, he provided a far better celestial one, into which, if we please, by obedience to his holy laws we may certainly enter. So that in this of all most heavy in
SERM. stance of vengeance, God's exceeding goodness and LXIX.
clemency do upon several considerations most clearly shine.
II. The calamity, which by the general deluge did overflow the world, was not (we may consider) brought upon men but in regard to the most enormous offences long continued in, and after amendment was become desperate: not till after much forbearance, and till men were grown to a superlative pitch of wickedness, by no fit means (by no friendly warning, no sharp reprehension, no moderate chastisement) corrigible; not until the earth was become (especially for persons of any innocence or integrity) no tolerable habitation, but a theatre of lamentable tragedies, a seat of horrid iniquity, a sink of loathsome impurity. So that in reason it was to be esteemed rather a favour to mankind to rescue it from so unhappy a state, than to suffer it to persist therein. To snatch men away out of so uncomfortable a place, from so wretched a condition, was a mercy ; it had been a judgment to have left them annoying, rifling, and harassing ; biting, tearing, and devouring; yea, defiling and debauching each other; and
so heaping upon themselves loads of guilt, and deeper Gen. vi. 11, obligations to vengeance.
The earth, saith the text, was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. God looked upon the earth, and behold it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its way upon the earth; which universal and extreme corruption had not in probability sprung up in a small time; for,
Nemo repente fuit turpissimus,is true not only of single men, but of communities; no people, no age doth suddenly degenerate into