Page images

But setting aside this atheistical Sect, Vol. Vil the rest of the Heathen did unani

mously affirm'and believe the Goods ness of God; and this was the great foundation of their Religion; and all their Prayers to God, and Praises of him, did necessarily suppose a perswasion of the Divine Goodness. Whosoever prays to God, must have a perswasion, or good hopes of his readinefs to do him good; and to praise God, is to acknowledge that he hath received good from him. Seneca hath an excellent paffage to this purpose,

He (says he) that denies the Good“ness of God, does not surely 'confi« der the infinite number of Prayers, " that with hands lifted up to Heaven 66

are put up to God, both in private “and publick; which certainly would “not be, nor is it credible, that all “ Mankind should conspire in this “ madness of putting up their Suppli“cations to deaf and impotent Deities, “ if they did not believe, that the “ Gods were so good, as to confer benefits upon

those who prayed to

[ocr errors]

" them.

[ocr errors]

But we need not to infer their belief of God's Goodness, froin the acts of

their devotion, nothing being more common among them, than exprefly Vol.VII. to attribute this perfection of Good ness to him, and among the Divine Titles, this always had the preeminence, both among the Greeks and Ron mans ; čūs ne pezas , Deus optimus masimus, was their constant ftile; and in our Language, the naine of God seems to have been given him from his Goodness. I might produce innumerable passages out of the Heathen Authers to this purpose; but I.Thall only mention that remarlyable one out of Seneca, primus deorum cultus est deos crea dere ; deinde reddere illis majeftatem fuam, reddere bonitatem, fine quâ nulla majestas, “ The first act of Worshipis to believe “the Being of God; and the next, to * afcribe Majesty or greatness to him; " and to ascribe Goodness, without " which there can be no Greatness.

II. From the testimony of Scripture and Divine Revelation. I fhall mention but a few of those many Texts of Scripture, which declare to us the Goodness of God, Exod. 34. 6. where God makes his Name known to Moses, the Lord, the Lord God gracious and merciful, long suffering, abundant in good


ness and truth. Pfal. 86. 5. Thou Lord Vol. VI.

art good, and ready to forgive. Pfal. 119. 68. Thou art good, and dost good. And that which is so often repeated in the Book of Psalms, O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. Our blessed Saviour attributes this Perfection to God, in so peculiar and transcendent a manner, as if it were incommunicable, Luke 18. 19. There is none good' save one,

that is God. The meaning is, that no Creature is capable of it, in that excellent and transcendent degree, in which the Divine Nature is pofseft

of it.

To the same purpose are those innumerable Testimonies of Scripture, which declare God to be gracious, and merciful, and long suffering; for these are but several Branches of his Good. ness; his Grace is the freeness of his Goodness, to those who have not deserved it ; his Mercy is his Goodness to those who are in misery; his Pati'ence is his Goodness to those who are guilty, in deferring the Punish ment due to them.

III. The Goodness of God may likewise be argued from the Perfection


of the Divine Nature, these two ways. Vol.VII!

1. Goodness is the chief of all Perfections, and therefore it belongs to God.

2. There are some Footsteps of it in the Creatures, and therefore it is much more eminently in God.

1. Goodness is the highest Perfection, and therefore it must needs belong to God, who is the most perfect of Beings. Knowledge and Power are grear Perfections, but separated from Goodness

, they would be great Imperfections, nothing bút craft and violence. An Angel may have Knowledge and Power in a great degree, but

yet for all that be a Dévil. Goodness is so great and necessary a Perfection, that without it there can be no other, it gives Perfection to all other excellencies; take away this and the greatest excellencies in any other kind, would be but the greatest imperfections. And therefore our Saviour speaks of the goodness and mercy of God, as the sum of his Perfections; what one Evangelift hath, be ye merciful, as your Father which is in Heaven is merciful, is rendred in another, be ge therefore. per. feet, as your Father which is in Heaven

win is perfect. Goodness is so essential to a VOL VII. perfect Being, that if we once strip

God of this property, we rob him of the Glory of all his other Perfections ; and therefore when Mofes desired to see God's Glory, he said, he would make all his goodness to pass before him. Exod. 33. 19. This is the most amiable Perfection, and as it were the Beauty of the Divine - Nature, Zach. 9. 17. how great is thy goodness, how great is thy beauty? fine bonitate nulla majestas, without goodness there can be no majesty, Other excellencies may cause fear and amazement in us: but nothing but Goodness, can command sincere love and veneration.

2. there are some footsteps of this Perfection in the Creatures, and therefore it must be much more eminently in God.' There is in every Creature some representation of some divine Perfection or other, but God doth not own any Creature to be after his image, that is deftitute of Goodness. The Creatures, that want Reason and Underitanding, are incapable of this Moral Goodness we are speaking of; Man is the first in the rank of Creatures, that is endowed with it, and he is

« PreviousContinue »