Oldalképek
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

and his mind towards others, and not what he is to the Jews alone) Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin." All which is inconsistent with the relation of God, as a judge of a people, only under the curse of an unremedied violated law, and unredeemed, though he add, “and that will by no means clear the guilty." &c. that is, will neither judge them innocent that are guilty of the crime, nor judge them to life that are guilty of death, according to the tenor of the law which they are under; 'Purificando non purificabit' as the literal version; that is, will not judge unjustly, by acquitting him that is to be condemned, or as the Chaldee paraphrase hath it, not justifying those that are not converted.'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

It is enough for us therefore to know, that the visible church hath manifold privileges above all others; Rom. iii. 1-3., &c. And that salvation is more easy, sure, and plenteous, where the Gospel cometh, than with any others; and that we have therefore great cause to rejoice with thankfulness for our lot, and that the poor world lieth in wickedness, and must be pitied, prayed for, and helped to our power, and that "God is the Saviour of all men, but especially of them that believe; and that he is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works ;" and that he will never damn one soul that loveth him as God. But what is in the hearts of all men in the world, and consequently how they shall be used at last, he only that searcheth the heart can tell; and it is neither our duty nor our interest, nor possible to us, to know it of all particulars, much less to conclude, that none among them have such love, who believe him to be infinitely good, and to be to them a merciful, pardoning God. And we know withal, that all they that know not Jesus Christ, as this determinate person that was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, buried, rose again, &c., do yet receive all the aforesaid mercies by him, and not by any other name or mediation, nor yet without his purchasing mediation.

13. And if besides all the mercy that God sheweth to others, he do antecedently and positively elect certain persons, by an absolute decree, to overcome all their resistances

[blocks in formation]

of his Spirit, and to draw them to Christ, and by Christ to himself, by such a power and way as shall infallibly convert and save them, and not leave the success of his mercy, and his Son's preparations, to the bare uncertainty of the mutable will of depraved man, what is there in this that is injurious to any others? Or that representeth God unmerciful to any but such whose eye is evil, because he is good, and as a free benefactor, may give more mercy to some than others of equal demerits? If they that hold no grace but what is universal, and left, as to the success, to the will of man, as the determining cause, do think that this is well consistent with the mercifulness of God; surely they that hold as much universal grace as the former; and that indeed all have so much, as bringeth and leaveth the success to man's will, and deny to no man any thing which the other give, do make God no less merciful than they; but more, if they moreover assert a special decree and grace of God, which with a chosen number, shall antecedently infallibly secure his ends in their repentance, faith, perseverance, and salvation. Is this any detraction from, or diminution of his universal grace? Or rather a higher demonstration of his goodness? As it is no wrong to man that God maketh angels more holy, immutable and happy.

[ocr errors]

ལ ོ་མར་རྒྱུ

14. And what if men cannot here tell how to resolve the question Whether any, or how many are ever converted and saved, by that mere grace which we call sufficient, or rather necessary, and common to those that are not converted; and whether man will ever make a saving, determining improvement of it;' must plain truth be denied, because difficulties cannot easily be solved? And yet in due place I doubt not but I have shewed, that this question itself is formed upon false suppositions, and is capable of a satisfactory solution.

15. I conclude in general, that nothing is more sure, than that God is most powerful, wise, and good, and that all his works, to those that truly know them, do manifest all these in conjunction and perfect harmony; and that as to his decrees and providences, he is the cause of all good, and of no sin in act or habit, and that our sin and destruction is of ourselves, and of him is our holiness and salvation; and that he attaineth all his ends as certainly, as if men's will had no liberty, but were acted by physical necessita

tion: and yet that man's will hath as much natural liberty, as if God had not gone before it with any decree of the event, and as much moral liberty as we have moral virtue or holiness.

[ocr errors]

And these principles I have laid down in a little room, that tempted persons may see, that it is our dark and puzzled brains, and our selfish, diseased hearts, that are the cause of our quarrelling with God, his decrees and providences; and as soon as we come to ourselves and are cured, these odious apprehensions vanish, and God appeareth as the unclouded sun, in the lustre of his amiable goodness: and when we come to heaven, we shall see to our joy, and his glory, that heaven, earth and hell, declare him to be all perfectly good, without any mixture of evil in himself, or in any of his word or works. And we shall find all our sinful suspicions and murmurings turned into a joyful consent to the angelical praises. Psal. cxxxvi. 1. 2. 26. &c. “O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good, for his mercy is for ever. O give thanks unto the God of heaven, for his mercy is for ever; Rev. iv. 8. 11. Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come- Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and power; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are, and were created. Rev. vii. 12. Amen, blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, unto our God for ever and ever, Amen. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works. The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy;" Psal. cxlv. 8, 9. "The word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth: he loveth righteousness and judgment; the earth is full of the goodness of the Lord;" Psal. xxxiii. 4, 5. "O how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men ;" Psal. xxxi. 19. "O therefore that men (instead of quarrelling with his unknown mysteries) would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men ;" Ps. cvii. 8. 15. 21.31.

[ocr errors]

In the conclusion, I take it to be wholesome advice to those that are under this temptation :

1. That they will oft read over the Psalms of praise, and think when they read them, whether David and the ancient

church, were not more likely to know what they said, than a self-conceited, or a melancholy tempted sinner?

That they would consider, who it is that is the grand enemy of the glory of God's goodness, and they shall soon find that it is none other than the devil; none but he that is most evil, can most envy Infinite Goodness his honour. And is the devil fit to be believed against God? And that after the warning of our first parents' ruin, which befel them for believing satan, when he slandered both God's wisdom, truth, and goodness to them?

3. That they would bethink them to what end it is, that the tempter, and the enemy of God, do thus deny his goodness. Is it not a plain act of malice against God and us? Is it not that he may disgrace God as evil, and rob him of his glory; and also that he may hinder man from loving him, and so destroy all piety, and virtue, and goodness in the world? Who can love him whom he believeth to be bad, and so unlovely? And what grace or happiness can there be without the love of God?

4. That they would think what horrid wickedness this sin containeth (where melancholy and involuntariness do not extenuate it). Is it any better than a denying that there is any God? As is said before; to be God, is to be perfectly powerful, wise and good and if there be none such, there can be no God. And then who made the world, and all that is good in it by derivated goodness? Yea, is it not to represent the most amiable blessed God, in satan's image (who is most evil and a murderer from the beginning;" John viii. 44.) that so men may hate him, and fly from him as they do from devils? And can you tell how great a crime this is?

5. That they would consider, how this impious conceit is calculated for the licensing of all manner of villany in the world, and to root out all the relics of goodness from among mankind. For who can expect that any man should be better than his Maker, and that he should have any good, who denieth God to be good?

6. That they would labour hard to be better themselves; for he that hath a true created goodness, is thereby prepared to relish and admire God's primitive uncreated goodness: whereas a wicked, or a guilty sinner, cannot much value that which he is so unsuitable to, and which he thinks will

66

be to him a consuming fire. Truly God is good to Israel, and to such as are of a clean heart;" Psal. lxxiii. 1. But he that liveth in the love of sin, will be doubting of the love of God, and fearful of his wrath, and unfit to relish and delightfully perceive his goodness. "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth ́in him;" Psal. xxxiv. 8.

7. Study God's love as manifested in Christ; then you shall see what man on earth may see. But think not falsely, narrowly, or basely of his office, his performance, or his

covenant.

8. Dwell in the believing foresight of the celestial glory; the reflections of which may wrap up a believing soul on earth, into ecstasies of gratitude and delight.

9. Remember what goodness there is in the holiness of God, which is demonstrated in his severest justice; yea, what mercy it is to forewarn men of the punishment of sin, that they may want no necessary means to escape it.

10. Remember how unfit the selfish interest of obstinate despisers of grace and salvation is, to be the measure or index of the goodness of God: and how much more credible the concordant testimony of the heavenly host is, who live in the love of Love itself, and are everlastingly delighted in the praises of the infinite greatness, wisdom, and goodness of the most perfect, blessed, glorious God.

END OF THE EIGHTH VOLUME.

R. EDWARDS, CRANE COURT, FLEET STREET, LONDON.

« ElőzőTovább »