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First, Consider what is the proper Notion of Goodness, as it is attributed Vol.VII to God.
Secondly, Shew that this perfection belongs to God.
Thirdly, Consider the Effects and the Extent of it.
Fourthly, Answer some Objection:s, which may seem to contradict and bring in question the Goodness of God.
First, What is the proper Notion of Goodness, as it is attributed to God.
There is a dry Metaphysical Notion of Goodness, which only fignifies the Being and essential properties of a thing; but this is a good word ill bestowed, for in this sense, every thing that hath Being, even the Devil himself,is good.
And there is a Moral Notion of Goodness; and that is twofold.
1. More general, in opposition to all Moral evil and imperfection, which we call sin and vice; and so the Justice, and Trath, and Holiness of God, are in this sense his Goodness. But there is,
2. Another Notion of Moral Good. ness, which is more particular and re-> strained;*and then it denotes a particu.. lar Virtue in opposition to a particular Vice; and this is the proper and u
usual acceptation of the word Goodness; Vol.VII.and the best description I can give of
it is this; that it is a certain propenfion and disposition of mind, whereby a person is enclined to desire and procure the happiness of otbers; and it is best understood by its contrary, which is an envious disposition, a contracted and narrow Spirit, which would confine happiness to it self, and grudgeth that others should partake of it, or share in it; or. a malicious and mischievous temper, which delights in. the harms of others, and to procure trouble and mischief to them. To communicate and lay out our selves for the good of others, is Goodness; and and fo the Apostle explains doing good, by communicating to others, who are in misery, or want, Heb. 13. 16. but to do good and to communicate forget not. The Jews made a distinction between a righteous and a good man; to which the Apostle alludes, Rom. 5. 7. fcarcely for a righteous man, will one die ; yet* peradventure for a good man, one would even dare to die. The righteous man was he, that did no wrong to others; and the good man he, who was not only not injurious to others, but kind and
beneficial to them. So that Goodness is a readiness and disposition to commu
Vol. VII. dicate the good and happiness which va enjoy, and to be willing others luvuld partake of it.
This is the Notion of Goodness among men; and 'tis the same in God, only with this difference, that God is originally and transcendently good; but the Creatures are,the best of them, but.imperfectly good, and by derivation from God, who is the fountain and original of goodness; whicli is the meaning of our Saviour, Luke 18.
19. when he says, there is none good Save one, that is God. But tho' the degrees of Goodness in God, and the Creaturės, be infinitely unequal, and that Goodness which is in us, be so small and inconsiderable, that compared with the Goodness of God, it does not deserve that name; yet the essential Notion of Goodness in both, must be the same; else when the Scripture speaks of the Goodness of God, we could not knoy the meaning of it, and if we do not at all understand what it is for God to be good, it is all one to us (for ought we know) whether he be good or not ; for he may be fo, and
we never the better for it, if we do Vol. VII.
not know what Goodness in God is, and consequently when he is so, ard when not.
pon Besides that the Goodness of Godfors very frequently in Scripture propounded to our imitation ; but it is impossible for us to imitate that, which we do not understand what it is ; from whence it is certain, that the goodness which we
to endeavour. af. ter, is the same that is in God, because in this we are commanded to imitate the Perfection of God, that is, to be good and merciful as he is, according to the rate and condition of Creatures, and so far as, we, whose Natures are imperfect, are capable of resembling the Divine Goodness.
Thus much for the Notion of goodness in God, it is a propension and dispofition in the Divine Nature, 'to communicate being and happiness to his Creatures.
Secondly, I shall endeavour to shew, in the next place, that this Perfection of Goodness belongs to God; and that from these three heads. · I. From the Acknowledgments of Natural Light.
II.From the Testimony of Seriptute, and Divine Revelation. And, VI. VEL
III. From the Perfection of the Divine Nature.
I. From the Acknowledgments of Natural Light. The.generality of the Heathen agree in it, and there is hardly any Perfection of God more universally acknowledged by them. always except the Sect of the Epicureans, who attribute nothing but Eternity and Happiness to the Divine Nature; and yet if they would have considered it,
Happiness without Goodness is impossible. I do not find that they do expres ly deny 'this Perfection to God, or that they ascribe to him the contrary; but they clearly take away all the Evidence and Arguments of the Divine Goodness; for they supposed God to be an immortaland happy Being, that enjoyed himself, and had no regard to any thing without himself, that neither gave Being to other things, nor concerned himself in the happiness or misery of any of them; so that their Notion of a Deity, was in truth the proper Notion of an idle Being, that is called God, and neither does good nor evil.