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next verse, "For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness.' His holy nature prompts him to love righteousness, and consequently to hate and punish all unrighteousness.
(4.) It is evident from the nature of sin. What is sin but the offering of the highest indignity to the Infinite and Supreme Being, the Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor of mankind ? It is an affronting of all his perfections, a reflection upon his wisdom, a contempt of his power, an insult to his holiness, a disparagement of his goodness, and an open defiance to his truth and faithfulness. If then sin be such an evil, an evil infinitely worse than we are capable to represent it, how can any imagine that God will forbear or neglect to punish such who obstinately love and die in the practice of it?
(5.) This will appear, if ye consider God as a Governor and Lawgiver. For his authority as such can never be preserved and maintained, if there be an universal impunity of criminal offences. Rebellion against Heaven would spread far and wide, devils and wicked men would grow absolutely unruly, the Divine Majesty and dominion would become contemptible, and his glorious sovereignty would be rendered vile and despicable, if bold offenders were not severely checked and punished for their enormities.
(6.) Consider, that if vindictive justice be not essential to God, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to give any tolerable account of the death and sufferings of Christ.
2. Is God infinitely just? Then there is a judgment to come. The justice of God requires that men should reap according to what they have sown; that it should be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked. But it is not apparently so now in this present world. Here things are out of course; sin is rampant, and runs with a rapid violence. Many times the most guilty sinners are not punished in the present life; they not only escape the justice of men, but are under no conspicuous marks of the justice of God. As sinners prosper and flourish, so saints are wronged and oppressed. They are often cast in a right cause, and can meet with no justice on the earth ; yea, the best men are often in the worst condition, and merely upon account of their goodness. They are borne down and oppressed, because they do not make resistance; and are loaded with sufferings many times, because they bear them with patience.
And the reason of these dispensations is, because now is the time of God's patience and of our trial. Therefore there must be a day wherein the justice of God shall be made manifest. Then he will set all things right. He will crown the righteous, and condemn the wicked. Then God shall have the glory of his justice, and his righteousness shall be openly vindicated. At the last day God's sword shall be drawn against offenders, and his justice shall be revealed before all the world. At that day all mouths shall be stopped, and God's justice shall be fully vindicated from all the cavils and clamours of unjust men,
3. This lets us see how unlike to God many men are. Some have no justice at all. Though their place and office oblige them to it, they neither fear God nor regard man. Many times they pervert justice, they decree unrighteous decrees, Isa. x. 1. Many are unjust in their dealings; they trick, cheat, and defraud their neighbours ; sometimes in using false weights, the balances of deceit are in their hands, Hos. xii. 7. Some hold the Bible in one hand, and false weights in the other ; they cozen, defraud, and cheat, under a specious profession of religion. Some adulterate their commodities; their wine is mixed with water, Isa. i. 22. They mix bad grain with good, and yet sell it for pure grain. There are many ways by which inen deceive and impose upon their neighbours. All which shew what a rare commodity justice is among them. But remember this is very unlike God. For he is the just and right one; he is righteous in all his ways. That man cannot possibly be godly who is not just. We are commanded to imitate him in all his imitable perfections. Though he doth not bid you be omnipotent, yet you ought to be just.
4. Is God infinitely just ? Then we must not expostulate with or demand a reason of his actions. He hath not only authority on his side, but justice and equity. In all his dispensations towards men, however afflictive they be, he is just and righteous. He layeth judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet, Isa. xxviii. 17. It is below. him to give an account to us of any of his proceedings. The plumb-line of our reason is too short to fathom the great depths of God's justice : for his judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out, Rom. xi. 33. We are to adore his justice, where we cannot, see the reason of it.
God's justice hath often been wronged, but never did wrong to any. How unreasonable, then, is it for men to expostu: lare with and dispute against God?
5. Is God infinitely just? Then the salvation of sinners who have believed in Christ is most secure, and they need not doubt of pardon and acceptance. God is faithful and just to forgive them their sins,' i John i. 9. God hath proîhised it, and he will not break his word; yea, he stands bound in justice to do it ; for Christ hath' satisfied his justice for all your sins who are believers, so that it hath nothing to crave of you. It doth not stand with the justice of God to exact the same debt from you. Your Redeemer did not only satisfy justice, but also merited the exercise of it on your behalf. Hence it is that God is bound in justice to justify you upon your believing on Christ ; for he is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, Rom. iii. 26. So that the thoughts even of divine justice, which are terrible to others, may be comfortable to believers.
6. Is God infinitely just ? Then the destruction of wicked and impenitent sinners is infallibly certain. For the just God will by no means acquit the guilty. His justice, which is essential to him, cannot but take vengeance on you.
7. Lastly, However severely the Lord deals with us, he neither doth nor can do us any wrong; and therefore we should lay our hand on our mouth, Lam. iii. 39. "Why doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?
Sixthly The goodness of God is the next communicable attribute that falls to be considered. The divine goodnessis that essential property wliereby' he is altogether good in himself, and the author of all good to his creatures : Thou at good, and dost good, says the Psalmist, Psal. cxix. 68. There is a twofold goodness of God; his absolute and his te lative goodness.
1. Tiiere is an absolute' goodness of God. This is that whereby he is conceived to be good in himself, without any relation to his creatures. God is thus good, because his nas ture is infinitely perfect.
2. There is his relative goodness, by which we are tó'un derstand his bounty and benignity. As all fulness dwells in him, so he hath a strong inclination to let it out to his people on all occasions. The whole earth is full of his goodness, Psal. xxxiii. 5.
The goodness of God is manifested,
1. In creation. There is no other perfection of the divine nature so eminently visible in the whole book of the creatúres as this is. His goodness was the cause that he made any thing, and his wisdom was the cause that he made every thing in order and harmony. Here the goodness of God shines with a glorious lustre. All the varieties of the creatures which he hath made are so many beams and appari. tions of his goodness. It was great goodness to communicate being to some things without himself, and to extract such a multitude of things from the depths of nothing, and to give life and breath to some of these creatures. Divine goodness formed their natures, beautified and adorned them with their several ornaments and perfections, whereby every thing was enabled to act for the good of the common world. Every creature hath a character of divine goodness upon it. The whole world is a map to represent, and a herald to proclaim, this amiable perfection of God. But the goodness of God is manifested especially in the creation of man. He raised him from the dust by his almighty power, and placed him in a more sublime condition, and endued him with choicer prerogatives, than the rest of the creatures. What is man's soul and body but like a cabinet curiously carved, with a rich and precious gem inclosed in it! God hath made him an abridgment of the whole creation : the links of the two worlds, heaven and earth, are united in him. He communicates with the earth in the dust of his body, and he participates with the heavens in the crystal of his soul. He has the life of angels in his reason, and that of animals in his sense. Further, the divine goodness is manifested in making man after his image, in furnishing the world with so many creatures for his use, in giving him dominion over the works of his hands, and making him lord of this lower world.
2. In our redemption by Jesus Christ. O what astonishing goodness was it for the great and glorious God to give his only begotten Son to the
death for such vile rebels and enemies as we all are by nature ! The goodness of God, under the name of his love, is rendered as the only cause of our redemption by Christ, John iii. 16. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.' This is an inexpressible so, a so that all the angels of heaven Vol. I.
cannot analyse. None can conceive or understand the boundless extent and dimensions of it. God gave Christ for us to commend his love, and set it off with an admirable lustre. • God commended his love towards us (saith the apostle), in that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for
O what an expensive goodness and love was this! Our redemption cost God more than what was laid out on the whole creation. The redemption of the soul is precious,' says the Psalmist. We are not redeemed with corruptible things, such as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ. Here God parted with his richest jewel, and with the eternal delight of his soul. This cost Christ dear. The Sun of righteousness behoved to be eclipsed, and must vail the beams of his divine glory. He made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, and was found in the likeness of sinful flesh. He did not appear in worldly pomp and magnificence, attended with a splendid retinue, and faring deliciously but in a mean and low condition, without a settled dwelling-place, and was exposed to poverty and reproach. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The last scene of his life was most painful. Upon the very apprehension of his last sufferings it is said, he began to be sorrowful,' as if he had been a stranger to grief till then. He endured with unparalleled patience all that wrath and misery that his people deserved to have suffered for ever in hell. O what a dreadful deluge of wrath and fiery indignation fell from heaven upon our ark, of which that of Noah was only but a type! He was bruised and ground to powder as it were in his agony in the garden. O how did his innocent soul boil under the fire of divine wrath! His blood brake through every pore of the vessel, by the extremity of that flame. God spared not his own Son, but dealt with him in extreme severity. He paid the utmost mite of satisfaction for his people's sins that justice could demand. Owhat admirable love and goodness is manifested here!
3. In his providential conduct and government. Here we must distinguish a twofold goodness of God, common and special.
(1.) There is God's common goodness, which is comnion to all the creatures. . God is good to all,' says the Psalmist. All the creatures taste of his goodness. He preserves