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Is it courage, and not rather madness to provoke, to resist, to challenge, to cope with the Almighty is it courage to throw one's self down a precipice, to leap into the infernal lake 2 is it gallantry to dare transgress all reason and sobriety is it brave to be wild and senseless, &c. 7 It is true courage to resist and repel sin assaulting a man with whatever advantages; to dare to do well, although vain men deride, and spiteful men hate us for it. It is a kind of martyrdom to be ill used by the world for adhering to his duty; and he hath a share in that, “Blessed are they, who suffer for righteousness.’ In fine, it is a vain prudence to be thus politic with God; whereby we shall lose the whole, or that part which is invaluable, out of presumption to save a small inconsiderable part. If this be prudence, “then,” as St. Paul saith, “is the offence of the cross ceased.’ Then our Lord prescribed a foolish condition. Then were the Apostles very imprudent, who deserted all, and suffered so much for their conscience; being content to secure their spiritual interest, and to obtain the eternal rewards of piety; ‘choosing the better part, which could not be taken from them.” What the true wisdom is in such cases St. James hath told us: “Who is a wise man, and endued with knowlege among you ? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.’
THE goodness of God may seem to many persons a trite and vulgar theme; but we can neither speak too much on this most excellent subject, nor ought we ever to be weary in hearing about it; for if we are, it is a sign that the palate of our mind is distempered. Reasons given why this subject can scarcely be too much inculcated. Its encouragement of goodness and piety in our hearts; the precedent of the holy psalmist; the practice of the heavenly inhabitants.
That God, the Lord and Maker of all things, is superlatively good, the universal frame of nature, the course of providence, and the express testimonies of Holy Scripture do fully declare. There is no argument from natural effects discernible by us, which proves God's existence, without persuading us also that he is very kind and benign, careful to impart to us all befitting good, that is suitable to our natural capacity and condition, and unwilling that any considerable harm, any extreme want or pain should befalus: this topic dilated on.
The like conclusion may be inferred from the observation of divine Providence ; from the general preservation of things in their natural constitution and order; the constant vicissitudes of seasons for the supply of our needs; the maintenance of such a course of things in the world, that notwithstanding the irregularity and violence of the passions in many persons, men ordinarily contrive to live in the enjoyment of competent accommodations for life; the aids and consolations arising from society; the supports and encouragements of virtue, as well as the restraints and chastisements of vice frequently administered, &c. : this topic enlarged on. As for Scripture, there is nothing either in way of positive assertion more frequently inculcated, or by illustrious examples more set forth, than this attribute of God: this fully displayed. Even in the most terrible and amazing instances of divine justice, we may observe particulars, more than savoring of great mercy and goodness. 1. That (in most of these cases, in all according to some account) God was not moved to the displeasure productive of those effects but on very great considerations. 2. That he did not on the first glimpses of provocation proceed to the execution of his wrath, but did with wonderful patience expect a change in the offenders, waiting to be gracious. 3. That the inflictions themselves, how grievous soever in appearance, were not really extreme in measure, nor so terrible as might have been inflicted. 4. That (consequently on some of these premises) the inflictions were in a sort rather necessary than voluntary in respect of him; rather a natural fruit of men's dispositions and dealings, than a free result of his will. 5. That farther, the chastisements inflicted were wholesome and profitable, both in their nature, and according to his design. 6. That during their sufferance, God bore compassion towards them who underwent it: he remembered they were but dust, &c. 7. That God in his wrath remembered mercy, mixing gracious intentions of future refreshment and reparation with the present executions of justice. 8. Lastly, that he always signified a readiness to turn from his anger, to forgive them, and on very equal and easy terms to be fully reconciled to them.
These particulars, if we attentively consider the most dreadful examples of divine severity, may be observed, most of them in all, all of them in some, either plainly expressed, or sufficiently insinuated by the circumstances of the historical narration. Conclusion.
The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
The goodness of God is a frequented theme; to many perhaps it may seem vulgar and trite; so that discourse thereon, like a story often told, may be nauseous to their ears: but in truth neither can we speak too much on this most excellent subject, nor ought we ever to be weary in hearing about it; for it is a sign that the palate of our minds is distempered, if we do not with delight and affection relish any mention of divine goodness. Yea, the observation of men's common practice would induce us to think that either this point is not so well known, or but little believed, or at least not well considered and applied. For how could we be so void of love to God, of gratitude toward him, of faith and hope in him, were we thoroughly persuaded, did we seriously consider, that he is so exceedingly good toward us 2 How can we be so insensible of the benefits we enjoy, so distrustful of finding succors and supplies in our need, so dissatisfied and discontented with what befals us, if we conceive and weigh that all things do proceed from, are guided and governed by immense goodness How also, if men have such an opinion of God impressed on their minds, comes it to pass that they are so little careful to resemble and imitate him in kindness, bounty, and mercy to one another How is it, in fine, that the most powerful argument to