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not be better; he is summum bonum, the chieftest good : other things are good in subordination to him, and according to that use and proportion they bear to him. He is not good as the means, but as the end : things good as the means are only good in order, proportion, measure, and respect; but God is absolutely good. Beyond God, there is nothing to be sought or aimed at: if we enjoy him, we enjoy all good to make us completely happy. He is eternally and immutably good; for he cannot be less good than he is: as there can be no addition made to him, so no subtraction, or aught taken from him.
2ndly, God is morally good ; that is, the fountain and pattern of all that virtuous goodness which is in the creatures. So, “Good and upright is the Lord” (Psalm xxv. 8); and, “He said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee” (Exod. xxxiii. 19). As the creature hath a natural goodness of beauty, power, dominion, wisdom, so it hath a moral goodness of purity and holiness. Accordingly, we must conceive in God his holiness, purity, veracity, justice, as his moral perfection and goodness, as his will is the supreme pattern and fountain of all these things in the creature.
3rdly, God is communicatively and beneficially good. That implieth his bounty and beneficence, or his will and self-propension to diffuse his benefits. It may be explained by these considerations :
1. That God hath in him whatsoever is useful and comfortable to us. That is one notion we apprehend him by, that he is God all-sufficient (Gen. xvi. 1), or that he hath all things at command, to do for us as our necessities shall require : “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm lxxxiv. 11); “Fear not, Abram : I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. xv. 1). The privative and positive part is expressed in both these places : whether we need life or comfort, or would be protected from all dangers bodily or spiritual, why should we seek good out of God: Riches, pleasures, honours, they might more happily be had, if we could possess all things in God: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water" (Jer. ii. 13). God is the fountain of all those things which are necessary to give us all good, and defend us from all evil. Possidet possidentem omnia ; “As having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Cor. vi. 10).
2. That he hath a strong inclination to let out his fulness, and is ready to do good upon all occasions : “ Thou art good and doest good.” Bonum est primum et potissimum nomen Dei, saith Damascene; the chiefest name by which we conceive of God is his goodness. By that we know him, for that we love him, and make our addresses to him: we admire him for his other titles and attributes; but this doth first insinuate with us, and invite our respects to him. The first means by which the Devil sought to loosen man from God, was by weakening the conceit of his goodness; and the great ground of all our commerce with him is, that God is a good God: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name ; for the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting” (Psalm c. 4, 5.) He presently inviteth the world to come to him, because he is good. As God is all-sufficient in himself, so he is communicative of his riches unto his creatures, and most of
all to his own people. Goodness is communicative, it diffuseth itself, as the sun doth light, or as the fountain poureth out waters.
3. He is the fountain of all that good we have or are. We have nothing but what we have from God: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights” (James i. 17); and He is called “the fountain of living waters” (Jer. ii. 13). As rivers are supplied by the sea, so the gathering together of all goodness is in God. All candles are lighted at his torch; there is nothing in the creature but what is derived from him : “ Who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again” (Rom. xi. 35); as the sun oweth nothing to the beam, but the beam oweth all to the sun; and the sea oweth nothing to the river, but the river oweth all to the sea.
4. There will a time come when he will be “ all in all" (1 Cor. xv. 28); when God will immediately and in a fuller latitude communicate himself to his creatures, and there will need nothing besides himself to make us happy. Here we enjoy God, but not fully, nor immediately. We enjoy him in his creatures ; but it is at the second or third hand: the creature interposeth between him and us: “ And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil ; and they shall hear Jezreel” (Hos. ii. 21, 22). In ordinances, it is but a little strength and comfort that we get, such as is consistent with pain and sorrow : it is not full, because it is not immediate. A pipe cannot convey the whole fountain, nor the ordinances the full of God in Christ; only a little supply, either as we need or are able to receive; but then, God will be all in all, he will do his work by himself. The narrowness of the means shall not straiten him, nor the weakness of the vessel hinder him to express the full of his goodness in full perfection.
Secondly, How is his goodness manifested to us ?
Ist, In our creation ; in that he did raise us up out of nothing to be what we are, and form us after his own image. God made us, not that he might be happy, but liberal; that there might be creatures to whom to communicate himself: our beings, and faculties, and powers, were the fruits of his mere goodness. When God made the world, then was it verified, He is good, and doeth good (Gen. i.); for, as the goodness of his nature inclined him to make it, so his work was good : after every day's work, there cometh in his approbation, 'Behold, it was good ;' and, when he had made man, and set him in a well-furnished world, and compared all his works together, then they were very good (verse 31). That he still fashioneth us in the womb, and raiseth us into that comely shape in which we afterwards appear, it is all the effect of his goodness.
2ndly, In our redemption; therein he commendeth his love and goodness in providing such a remedy for lost sinners. There is pav@pwnia, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Titus iii. 4). In creation he showed himself pidáyyellos, in redemption, didávdownos. God is brought nearer to us as subsisting in our nature : “Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. iii. 16). And so God had greater advantages to communicate himself to us in a more glorious way by the Redeemer, that we might for ever live in the admiration of his love.
3rdly, in daily providence; so the goodness of God is twofold :1. Common and general, to all creatures, especially to mankind : “ The
Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works (Psalm cxlv. 9). Upon all things and all persons, he bestoweth many common blessings, as natural life, being, health, wealth, beauty, strength, and supplies necessary for them. There is none of God's creatures but taste of his bounty, and have sufficient proof that a good God made them and preserveth them : the young ravens, “ He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry” (Psalm cxlvii. 9); & ißallet Tóc veótag ý kópaš. So the wicked: “He maketh the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust"' (Matt. v. 45); “ Nevertheless, he left not himself without witness, á yažotov, in that he did good, and gave us rain from Heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts xiv. 17). These common mercies argue a good God that giveth them, though not always a good people that receiveth them. This goodness of God showeth itself daily and bountifully.
2. Special: God is good to all, but not to all alike. So he is good to his people, whom he blesseth with spiritual and saving benefits. So, "" The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him” (Lam. iii. 25). So, “ For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee” (Psalm Txxxvi. 5). For this kind of goodness, a qualitication is necessary in the receiver. Satan will tell you God is a good God; but he leaveth out this, to those that love and fear him, and wait upon him. This peculiar good. ness yieldeth spiritual and saving blessings, such as pardoning of sins : “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa. lv. 7). Instruction in the ways of God in the text: “ Thou art good, and doest good ; teach me thy statutes.” And, in short, all the means and helps that are necessary unto everlasting glory : “ Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power" (2 Thes. i. 11). Once more, to the objects of his peculiar love common blessings are given in love, and with an aim at our good : “No good thing will he with hold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm lxxxiv. 11); so that the ordinary favours which others enjoy, they are sanctified to them. They are from love, and in bonum, for good. God is ready to help them onwards to their everlasting hopes, and that estate which they expect in the world to come, where, in the armıs of God, they shall be blessed for evermore
Thirdly, Why ought those that come to God to have a deep sense of this?
Ist, What is this deep sense?
1. It must be the fruit of faith, believing God's being and bounty, or else it will have no force and authority upon us : “ Ile that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. xi. 6). If we have but cold notions or dead opinions of the goodness of God, they will have little power on us. It is faith sets all things awork: there must be a sound belief of these things, if we would practically improve them.
2. It must be the fruit of constant observation of the effects of his goodness vouchsafed to us, so that we may give our thanks and praise for all that good we do enjoy. Careless spirits are not sensible of the hand of Providence, never take notice of good or evil; therefore the Psalmist saith, “Oh! that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men !” (Psalm cvii. 8.) He repeateth the same verse 15, and verses 21, 31, and concludeth all verse 43, “ Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the Lord." We are more backward to the observation of the goodness of God, than we are to any duty ; therefore doth the Psalmist stir up all sorts of persons to note the invisible hand of Providence that reacheth out supplies to them ; whether they have business by sea, or by land; whether in sickness, or in health ; in all the varieties of the present life, he is still stirring them up to mind their mercies; and inviteth them by God's late favours to the praise and acknowledgment of his goodness; his communicating his goodness so freely to undeserving and ill-deserving persons, and following them with more and more mercies. There is none of us but have reasons enough and obligations enough lying upon us to make observations in this kind : every experience and new proof should put us upon this acknowledgment. Certainly, they are the wisest sort of men who do observe God's providence.
3, It is the fruit of deep and ponderous meditation. Glances never warm the heart, it is our serious and deliberate thoughts which affect us ; therefore the children of God should be thinking of his goodness displayed in all his works, especially in redemption by Christ : “ To comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph. iii. 18, 19). To be ravished with love, affected with love, always thinking of love, speaking of love, expressing their sense of love, that is a work behoving saints. We should often meditate upon and set our minds awork upon this goodness, by frequent and serious thoughts of it, for the strengthening of our faith and quickening of our love to God.
4. It is the fruit of inward and spiritual taste: “ If so be ye bave tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Peter i. 3). So, “Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm xxxiv. 8). Do not be content with hearsay, but get a taste; that is, an inward and experimental knowledge of the goodness of God in Christ; that we may know it, not only by guess and imagination, but by sense and feeling: the one half of it cannot be told you. Optima demonstratio est a sensibus.
2ndly, Why we need to labour so much after a deep sense of this.
1. To check our natural legalism, and the dark and distrustful prejudices of our own hearts: there is a secret guiltiness in us, that breedeth misgiving thoughts of God. We have many suspicious thoughts of him, being guilty creatures, because we only represent him to ourselves as a consuming fire, or as clothed with justice and vengeance, watching an onportunity of doing us harm, and shut out all thoughts of goodness and mercy; yet, when he proclaimeth his name, he telleth Moses he would make his goodness pass before him. God is wonderfully good in his nature, and he delighteth in the communication of his goodness : nothing pleaseth him better than his word, the business of it is to represent him good. Mercy pleaseth him : “ Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage ? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy" (Mic.
vii. 18). Mercy rejoiceth orer judgment: “Oh! give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good : because his mercy endureth for ever” (Psalm cxviii. 1). His works speak him good; there is no part of the world that we can set our eyes upon, but it offereth matter of praise to God for his bounty to his creatures, especially to man: “ The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm xxxiii. 5); the whole earth is full of his goodness; and will you draw an ill picture of him in your minds, as if he were harsh and severe, and his service were intolerable ? No; the Lord “ is good, and doeth good."
2. That we may justify God against the prejudices of the unbelieving world, and invite them, from our own experience, to make trial of God. So, “ Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good : blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm xxxiv. 8). A report of a report signifieth little : what we have found ourselves, we can confidently recommend to others. When we have felt his dealing with ourselves, we can intreat them to see what waiting upon God will come to. Let any man make the experiment, keep close to God in obedience and reliance; and he shall find him to be a gracious Master: others that have dark thoughts of God, like the spies, they bring an ill report upon his ways.
3. To humble the creature: we have not a right sight of God, unless all created perfections vanish before him. The creatures are but some shadows, pictures, resemblances, or equivocal shapes of God. Whatever name they have of good, wise, strong, beautiful, true, or suchlike, it is but a borrowed speech from God, whose image they have ; and, if the creature usurpeth its being as originally belonging to themselves, it is as if the picture should call itself a true and living man. “I am, and there is none beside me," holdeth true of God's being, and all his perfections, natural or moral. The creatures may be good, or better, or best, compared among themselves; but we are frail and nothing, if compared with God. “There is none good but one; that is, God.” That goodness which we have in participation from him, will appear no goodness in comparison of him. The heavens themselves are not clean in his sight : “ Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man, that is a worm; and the son of man, which is a worm" (Job xxv. 5, 6). And elsewhere, “Behold, he put no trust in his servants, and his angels he charged with folly” (Job iv. 18); mutability in the angelical nature. When Isaiah had seen God, and heard the angels cry out, “ Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts," " Then said I, Wo is me! for I am undone ; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa. vi. 5). The consideration of his goodness obscureth all the glory and praise of the creature ; as, when the sun is up, the lustre of the stars is no more seen. When we compare ourselves with one another, one may be called bad, another good; but with God no man is good. He is good, but we are evil; he is Heaven, but we are Hell; he is all perfection, we are all weakness. In respect of his goodness, nothing in us deserveth that name; as lesser light, in the view of a greater, is a darkness. When Job had seen God, he could not look upon himself with any patience : “ I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job xlii. 5, 6). That is a true sight of God, that abaseth and lesseneth all things besides God ; not only in opi