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them in their beings, continues the species of all things, concurs with them in their distinct offices, and quickens the womb of nature. O Lord, thou preservest man and beast,' says David. He visits us every day, and makes us feel the effects of his goodness, in giving us rain and fruitful seasons, and filling our hearts with food and gladness. He waters the ground with his showers, and every day shines with new beams of his goodness.
(2.) There is a special goodness of God to his own people, whom he privileges with spiritual and saving blessings, His goodness to them is truly wonderful, in pardoning their iniquities, healing their spiritual diseases, sanctifying their natures, hearing and answering their prayers, bearing with their infirmities, accepting their imperfect services, supporting them under and delivering them from temptations, solving their doubts, directing and guiding them in their difficulties.
4. The goodness of God will be most signally manifested at the last day. It is laid up in heaven, Psal. xxxi. 19. O who can tell how great goodness is laid up there? In heaven they shall have full draughts of his goodness, even as much as they can hold. There God will be all in all to them, and communicate himself to them immediately, without the intervention of ordinances.
I shall conclude with a few inferences.
1. God is a merciful God, and delights in mercy, His tender mercies are over all his works,' Psal. cxlv. 9. There can be no case so bad as to be above or beyond the reach of mercy, to such as come to him in his own way, Isa. lv. 7. seeing his goodness is infinite. The difference between the goodness and mercy of God is, that mercy respects only the miserable, but goodness extends to the happy also.
Object. But how is the severity of God against the wicked, and the godly too, consistent with that infinite goodness?
Ans. It is the property of goodness to hate and punish sin. Hence the Lord said to Moses, Exod. xxxiii. 19. “I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom Į will shew mercy. Compare chap. xxxiv. 7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty. The afflictions of the godly are the effect of the divine goodness, and effect goodness in them. Hence says the apostle, Heb. xii. 6. • Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.' And says the Psalmist, Psal. cxix. 71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.'
2. God can fully satisfy the desire of the soul, and in him it may rest with complacency and delight. He is all-sufficient in and to himself, and all his creatures. And this bountiful God should be the centre of our affections, desires, and joys. We should be restless and uneasy till we find him, and earnestly long for the rich manifestations of his love and grace.
3. This doctrine of the divine goodness should strongly recommend to us those hard lessons prescribed by our Lord, and which he urges upon his followers from the consideration of his own goodness and beneficence, Mat. v. 44, 45. Love your enemies,' &c. 4. Abuse not the divine goodness. This is a great evil
, and it is very frequent and common. It began in the first ages of the world, yea, it commenced a few minutes after the creation, and it continues to this very day. O abuse not the goodness of God, by forgetting his benefits, murmuring and repining at your lot and situation in the world, or by taking liberty to sin because of his goodness.
3. Seek not your happiness in created things and enjoy. ments, but in an ever-bountiful God, who is the spring and source of all goodness and mercy, and who can fully satisfy all the desires of an immortal soul.
Seventhly, The last communicable attribute of God to be taken notice of is his truth, which is that perfetion of his nature whereby he is faithful, and free from all falsehood. Hence he is called the God that cannot lie,' Tit. i. 2. He is true in himself, Deut. xxxii. 4. 'A God of truth, and without iniquity.' Now God is true,
1. In his works both of creation and providence; and that both in his common and more ordinary works of providence, in preserving and governing the creatures ; and extraordinary ones, such as the glorious work of redemption, his great and miraculous operations, and the wonderful preservations of and deliverances granted to his church and people when exposed to the greatest dangers. God is true in
all these; as Psal. cxi. 7, 8, · The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness.' Psal. xxv. 10. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. It is a part of the church's song, Rev. xv. 3. Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, ; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Rev. xvi. 7. • Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.' All God's works are true and real things, not chimeras or appearances. He executes true judgments, grants true deliverances, works true miracles ;
; his mercies are true mercies, and his comforts are true comforts. He does not deceive or delude his people with vain shews and appearances.
4. In his word. His word is most pure truth. • Thy word is truth,' says our Saviour, John xvii. 17. And,
(1.) God is true in all the doctrines which he hath revealed. There is no flaw nor corruption in any of them. They are all the true form of sound words. And especially he is true in the doctrines of the gospel. Hence we read of the truth of the gospel, Gal, ii. 5. ; and the gospel is called the word of truth,' Eph. i. 13. Some of the doctrines revealed there are above the reach of human reason, as the doctrines of the glorious and adorable Trinity, the union of the two natures in the person of Christ, and the mystical union between him and believers. But though they cannot be comprehended by reason, they are not contrary to it.
(2.) In the historical narratives which he hath recorded in his word, as those of the creation, the fall of man, the drowning of the old world with the deluge, the incarnation of Christ, the many miracles which he wrought, his life and bloody death, &c. In these and other historical relations which we have in the word of God, there is no lie nor mistake at all. Hence Luke says, in his preface to his history, chap. i. 3, 4. “It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus, that thou mightst know the certainty of those things wherein thou hast been instructed.'
(3.) In his prophetical predictions. None of them fail or come short of their accomplishment, but they are all fulfilled in their season. A man may foretel such things as depend on natural causcs, as rain and snow, heat and cold, the eclipses of the sun and moon, &c. But things are foretold in the scriptures which are merely contingent, depending upon the free grace of God, or the free will of man, as the rejecting of the Jews, the calling of the Gentiles, &c. None of its predictions have fallen to the ground. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but his words shall not pass away. The Lord tells the prophet, 'The vision is for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie,' Hab. ii. 3. And after divers prophetical predictions, it is said, Rev. xxii. 6. . These sayings are faithful and true.'
(4.) In his commands. All his commands are faithful, and his law is truth. All his precepts which he has given us are counter-parts of his own heart, real copies of his approving will. The matter of them is exactly consonant to his holiness, and most acceptable and well-pleasing in his sight. God approves of all that he commands: so that his precepts are a true and perfect rule of holiness, without any flaw or defect.
(5.) In his threatnings. They are always accomplished in their season ; not one of them shall fail.' Says the Lord to the Jews, by the prophet, Zech. i. 6. . Did not my word take hold of your fathers?' And the apostle Paul tells us, Rom. ii. 2. We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.' It is true, indeed, some threatenings are conditional, and to be understood with the exception of repentance; so that unfeigned repentance and reformation prevents the execution of them; as is clear in the case of Nineveh, and from Jer. xviii. 7, 8. “At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: if that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. But divine threatenings will surely
be executed upon impenitent and incorrigible sinners.
(6.) In his promises. All the promises are yea and amen, į. e. there shall be an infallible accomplishment of them. Therefore promised blessings are called sure mercies, Is. lv. 3. And the gospel, which is the compend of all the promi. ses, is often called the word of truth. God's people have found the truth of the promises many times in their
comfortable experience. Says Joshua to the Israelites, Joshua xxiii. 14. ' Ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof."
Joshua was now about to die, and therefore could not be supposed to feign and dissemble; and he appeals to their own consciences, * Ye know,' &c. And Solomon speaks to the same purpose, 1 Kings viii. 56. ^ Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.' All the promises which he hath made to his people shall have their accomplishment in due time. Now, the truth of God is most frequently taken in this sense in scripture, and in this his faithfulness doth peculiarly consist. And,
[1.] This truth and faithfulness of God shines with peculiar lustre in accomplishing the many promises recorded in the holy scriptures ; such as that made to Abraham concerning his seed, that, after their sojourning in a strange land four hundred and thirty years, they should come out again with great substance; which was punctually fulfilled, as Moses tells us, Exod. xii. 41. ' And it came to pass, at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.' Such also was the ac
complishment of the promise relating to the return of the de Israelites from the Babylonish captivity after seventy years.
No length of time nor distance of place can wear the remembrance of his promise from the divine mind. He remembered his holy promise,' says the Psalmist, and Abraham his servant,' Psal. cv. 42.
[2.] In accomplishing the promises concerning the Messiah. So it is said, Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ;
grace in regard of our pardon, and truth in regard of the el promise of God. This appears in performing the promise há of Christ's incarnation after so many revolutions of time, and
many expectations of his coming, and many contrary appearances, and long stay of four thousand years after the hrst promise. After all this, God made good his word, by sending his Son into the world. It appears in performing