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rupt guides, whose authority managed the blind SERM.
multitude, defeating the counsel of God toward LXIX.
themselves, as St. Luke speaketh, (that is, defeat-Luke vii.
ing his gracious purpose of reclaiming them from
disobedience, and consequently of withholding the
judgments imminent,) they reviled the person of
that venerable prophet; He hath a devil, said Matt. xi.18.
they: they slighted his premonitions, and rejected
his advices, by observing which, those dreadful mis-
chiefs, 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 scorn-
ers of his doctrine, was converted unto, or con-
firmed 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 with no incongruous allusion at
least,) Have they stumbled, that they should fall ? Rom. xi.
(or, was there no other design of God's judgments
upon them but their utter ruin?) un 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 reconcilia-
tion unto them all indifferently who would repent,
and were willing to embrace it; so were such of

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SERM. them as were disposed to comply with those invitaLXIX. tions received to grace, how deeply soever involved

in the continued guilt of those enormous persecu

tions, injuries, and blasphemies; as particularly St. 1 Tim. i. Paul, that illustrious example of God's patience and

mercy in this case. So that neither by this instance 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 De Resur. God is indeed optimus ex naturæ proprietate, (most Carnis, c.

good according to property of nature,) although justus ex causæ necessitate, (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 mischiefs would ensues: it may be as necessary as sharp physic to cure public or private distempers; as an instrument of rousing 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 in- SERM.


g' Basil. Orat. Quod Deus non est causa mali, eleganter, et pulchre de hac re.

LXIX. ducement 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 indulgence, not a wise kindness; a cruel, rather than a loving pity, to deal otherwise. In fine, we are to Wisd. i. 12.

Carm. Pyconsider that all the mischiefs we undergo, God

thag. Cyril. doth not so much bring them on us as we do pull Hier. Dathem on ourselves h. They are αυθαίρετα πήματα, affected, or self-chosen mischiefs; they are Kakà Bractíuata a pocupérews, bad sprouts of our free choice, as a Father calls them; they are, as another Father saith, εκουσίων κακών ακούσια έκγονα, 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 saith', do force God to do whatever he doeth 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 giving him leave to spare us. God Miseros vehemently disclaims himself to be the original juranti Deo cause; to design, (according to absolute or primary intention,) to desire, to delight in our grief, or our

credimus. Hier.

Η Πάντα κινεί και πραγματεύεται ο Θεός, ώστε ημάς απαλλάξαι κολάσεως, και τιμωρίας. Chrys. tom. viii. p. 100.

Nos vim Deo facimus iniquitatibus nostris ; nos nolentem ulcisci cogimus. Deus enim pius et misericors est, et qui neminem velit perire, vel lædere, &c. Salv. lib. 5. et 8.


N n

30. xxxiii.



SERM. ruin. As I live, saith the Lord, (and surely when LXIX. God swears, we may believe that he is very serious,) Ezek. xviii

. I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but

that the wicked turn from his way, and live. I Deut. xxx. call heaven to record this day against you, that

I have set life and death before you : therefore Lam. ii.33. choose life. He doth not afflict willingly, nor

grieve the children of men. He would have all men

to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the Wisd. i. 13. truth. He would not have any perish, but that all

should come to repentance. He made not death, nor hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. God then, if we may believe him, is not the first au

thor of our calamities. Who then? He tells us Hos. xiii. 9. himself: 0 Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself: Jer. v. 25. thou hast fallen by thine own iniquity. Your sins Isa. Ixiv. 6. have withholden good things from you. Our iniMatt. xxiii. quities, like the wind, have taken us away. How

often would I have gathered you, but ye would not! The designs and the endeavours of God do tend to our welfare and salvation; it is our will and our

actions which only procure our ruin : It is we, that, Wisd. i. 12. as the Wise Man saith, seek death in the error of

our life, and pull upon our own selves 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 Godk, (or to our opinion and belief concerning it,) do, being well sifted, nowise prejudice it, but rather serve to corroborate and magnify it.

xiv. I.


* St. Chrysostom in divers places doth insist upon the goodness of God in making and threatening hell itself.

Της βασιλείας ουκ έλαττον, ή της γεέννης απειλή δείκνυ αυτού την αγαθότητα, &c. 'Ανδρ. ζ'.

to us.

I shall only further briefly touch (or rather but SERM.

LXIX. 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

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 warmed and softened into affection by so melting a consideration !

2. It should produce, as grateful sense in our hearts, so real endeavours of thankful obedience in our lives. It should make us walk worthy of God, Col. i. 10. to all well-pleasing, bringing forth fruit in every good work; taking heed of doing as did Hezekiah, of whom it is said, that he rendered not according 2 Chron. to the benefit done unto him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore was wrath upon him; that we may not have that expostulation justly applied unto us, Do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and Deut.xxxii. unwise?

3. It should engage us the more to fear God; complying with the prophet's admonition, Fear the Hos. iii. 5. Lord and his goodness; considering that intimation of the Psalmist, There is forgiveness with thee, Ps. cxxx. 4. that thou mayest be feared ; observing that advice of Samuel, Only fear the Lord, and serve him; for 1 Sam. xii. consider what great things he hath done for you. For that indeed nothing is more terrible than goodness slighted, and patience abused.

4. It should humble, ashame, and grieve us, for having crossed and offended such exceeding goodness

xxxii. 25.



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