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does exactly as he would be done by, when he damns sinners to all eternity, were he in their case, and they in his, (if I may so say, when speaking of the most high God,) since that for his own Son, a person of infinite dignity, to suffer all these things, is equivalent to the eternal torments of finite creatures. Indeed, it was not because he was not a Being of infinite goodness, that he treated his own Son so; nor is it because he has no regard to his creatures' happiness, that he designs to damn the finally impenitent; but it is merely because sin is an infinite evil, and, according to strict justice, worthy of an infinite punishment. It is right and fit that he should do as he does, and therefore his conduct will for ever appear infinitely glorious and beautiful in the eyes of all holy beings. Psalm xcvi. 11, 12, 13. the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the fields be joyful, and all that is therein: Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: For he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness and the people with his truth. See also Rev. xix. 1-6.
(6.) His infinite goodness is also discovered in his government of the world; for all the laws of this great and good Governor are suited in their own nature to advance all his subjects to the highest perfection they are capable of. His law teaches us to view all things just as they are, and to have. our will and affections entirely governed by the truth; by the very reason and nature of things: and so to be according to the measure of such finite creatures, in our wills and in the temper of our minds, after the image of the blessed and glorious God, which is the highest dignity and perfection we are possibly capable of. When God commands us to be holy as he is holy, he enjoins that as our duty, which at the same time is our highest possible privilege. He bids us be like the angels, and begin our heaven upon earth; yea, even to participate of a glory and blessedness of the same nature with that which he himself enjoys: To behold his glory; to be ravished ed with his beauty; to esteem him supremely, live to him entirely, and delight in him superlatively, and to become like him in our views of things, and in the temper of our minds, is our highest dignity, glory, and excellency, and our highest
blessedness. And, besides, his laws are still further calculated to promote the welfare of his subjects, in that they are suited to establish universal love, peace, and harmony, throughout all his dominions. Love thy neighbour as thyself, is one of the fundamental laws of his kingdom: and were his authority duly regarded, and his laws obeyed, love, and peace, and harmony, with all their happy and blessed effects, would reign through all the earth, as they do in heaven; and paradise would not be confined to Eden, nor to heaven, but be all over the world.
And the wrath of this good Governor is only revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, which are the ruin and debasement of our nature, and the destruction of our peace and happiness. He threatens damnation to his subjects, to keep them from destroying themselves, as well as to deter them from affronting his majesty. All the dreadful threatenings of his law result not only from his holiness and justice, but also from the infinite goodness of his nature; in that hereby his subjects are mercifully forewarned of the evil and bitter consequences of sin, to the end they may avoid it. He is a perfect enemy to hatred and revenge; to cruelty and injustice: He cannot bear to see the widow or fatherless oppressed, or the poor despised, or the miserable insulted, or any evil thing done among his subjects: And therefore this good Governor has threatened tribulation and anguish, indignation and wrath, against every soul that doth evil; and, with all his authority, has commanded his subjects, through all this world, upon pain of eternal damnation, to do as they would be done by.
And then, still further to engage his subjects to that in which their greatest glory and blessedness consists, he, in his law, promises eternal life to the obedient: wherein the infinite bountifulness of his nature, as well as his unspeakable concern for his creatures' welfare, is discovered.
And if we survey his conduct towards mankind from the beginning, we may, in ten thousand instances, see the infinite goodness of his nature displayed. If we consider what his ways have been toward an apostate world; how he has given his Son to be a Redeemer, and his Spirit to be a Sanctifier; how he has sent all his servants, the prophets, rising early
and sending; and that notwithstanding he knew before hand what treatment he would meet with from a guilty, ungrateful, God-hating world; how they would murder his Son, resist his spirit, and kill his messengers: if we consider how patient, and forbearing, and long-suffering he has been towards obstinate sinners; how loath to give them, over; swearing by himself that he delights not in their death, but rather that they turn and live; even while they have contemned and affronted him in the vilest manner: and if we consider his distinguishing favours towards his elect, and the marvellous, things which he has wrought for his church and people; I say, if we consider these things, and, at the same time, look round the world and behold the innumerable common favours strewed abroad among guilty,, hell-deserving rebels, we must be forced to own, that he is good to all, and that his tender mercies are over all his works.
His goodness, indeed, is evidently as unbounded as his, power. There is no act of kindness, which his omnipotency is able to do, but that there is goodness enough in his heart to prompt him to do it, if, all things considered, it is best to be done. His propensity to do good is fully equal to his ability. All the treasures and good things of this lower world are his, and he gives all to the children of men; and we should have, enjoyed all, without the least sorrow intermixed, had not our sin and apostacy made it necessary for him to give some testimony of his displeasure; and yet, even the calamities of life are well adapted, in our present state, to do us good. All the treasures and glories of heaven are his, and he offers all to a guilty world, and actually gives all to such as are willing to accept of all, through the Mediator, in the way prescribed; and what can he give more? Can he give his only begotten Son to die for sinners? Behold, he has a heart to do it! Can he give his Holy Spirit to recover poor sinners to God? Be hold, he has a heart to do it! is as ready to give his Holy Spirit to them that ask, as parents are to give bread to their children! And, finally, can he, in any sense, give himself to his creatures? Behold, he is willing to do so; to be their God, and father, and portion, and be all things to them, and do all things for them, if they will but accept of him through
Jesus Christ! So that, as I said, his propensity to do good is fully equal to his ability: and there is no doubt but that he does show all those kindnesses to his intelligent creatures, which, all things considered, are best should be shown. And his understanding is infinite, whereby he is able to determine exactly what is best in the whole. Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. Psalm xxxvi. 5. 7.
And such is the goodness of his nature, and so much goodmess has he in his heart, that he needs no motive to excite him to do good; i. e. nothing from without. Thus unmoved and unexcited by any thing from without himself, of his own mere goodness, he did, in the days of eternity, determine to do all that good, which ever will by him be done, to all eternity, when there was nothing existing but himself, and so nothing to move him but his own good pleasure: Yea, such is the goodness of his nature, that he not only needs no motive from without to excite him to do good, but even then, when there are all things to the contrary; even every thing in his creatures to render them ill-deserving, and to discourage and hinder his showing mercy, and to provoke him to wrath; even then, when discouragements are infinitely great, and provocations are innumerable; yea, when there is nothing in his creature but what is of the nature of a provocation; even, in such a case, he can show mercy; yea, the greatest of mercies. He can give his Son to die for such, and his holy spirit to sanctify them, and himself at last to be their God and father, and everlasting portion. Such is the incomparable goodness of his nature. Who is a God like unto thee! &c. Mic. vii. 18, 19. But then he is at liberty in such cases, and may act according to his own discretion, and have mercy on whom he will have mercy, and have compassion on whom he will have compassion; and truly, it is infinitely fit he should. To act sovereignly, in such cases, is infinitely becoming; and, indeed, and it is fit he should dispense all his favours according to his sovereign pleasure. It is fit he should do what he will with his own.
He knows best how to exercise his own goodness, and it is perfectly fit that he should be at liberty, and act according to his own discretion; according to the counsel of his own will. And because it is infinitely fit, therefore he actually does so; Eph. i. 11. He passed by the angels that sinned, and pitied sinful men; he passed by the rest of the world, and chose the seed of Abraham; he suffers thousands of sinners to go on in their sins and perish, and in the mean time, seizes here and there one by his all-conquering grace, and effectually saves them; and all according to his sovereign pleasure, because it seems good in his sight so to do. And the reason why he acts sovereignly, is because in the nature of things, it is fit he should; therefore, his sovereignty is a holy and a glorious sovereignty. Hence, when Moses desired to see his glory, he ́discovered this unto him; Exod. xxxiii. 12. And because our Saviour saw how fit and becoming, it was for God to act as a sovereign, in bestowing his favours; therefore he saw a glory in his sovereignty, and so rejoiced in it; Matt. xi. 25, 26. And sovereign grace is glorious grace in the eyes of every one who views things aright, and has a right frame of heart. Considering that all God has is his own; that he knows infinitely the best what to do with what he has; that there can be no motive from without to excite him to act, it is infinitely fit he should be left to himself, to act according to his own discretion; and it is infinite imprudence for a worm of the dust to intermeddle or go about to direct the almighty and infinitely wise God; and it is infinite wickedness to dislike his conduct, and find fault with his dispensations.
Indeed, if there was nothing of greater worth and importance than the happiness of his creatures and subjects, and so nothing that he ought to have a greater regard to, and concern for, then it is not to be supposed that any of his creatures and subjects will be finally miserable. The infinitely good Governor of the world has a great regard to the happiness of his subjects: their welfare is very dear to him, and their misery, in itself, or for its own sake, very undesirable in his sight; yet he has so much greater regard to something else, that, in some instances, he actually does suffer sinners to go on in their sins and perish for ever: yea, he will inflict the