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CHAP. Iv.] COVENANT OF-WoRKS. 77
XII. I approve on this subject of Durandus reasoning, which Bellarmine was unable to refute. “What we are, and what we have, whether good acts, or good habits, or practices, are all from the divine bounty, who hath given freely and preserves them. And because none, after having given freely, is obliged to give more, but rather the receiver is the more obliged to the giver; therefore, from good habits, and good acts or practices, given us by God, God is not bound by any debt of justice, to give anything more;. so as not giving, to be come unjust, but rather we are bound to God.” **
XIII. Whatever then is promised to the creature by God, ought all to be ascribed to the immense goodness of the Deity. Finely, to this purpose speaks Augustine, serm. xvi. on the words of the apostle, “God became our debtor, not by receiving anything, but by promising what he pleased. For, it was of his own bounty, that he vouchsafed to make himself a debtor.” But as this goodness is natural to God, no less than holiness and justice; and o becoming God to act, agreeably to his goodness, with a holy and innocent creature; so, from this consideration of the divine goodness, Iimagine the following things may be o plainly inferred. * * *
XIV. 1st. That it is unbecoming, the goodness, I had almost ventured to add, and the justice of God, to adjudge an innocent creature to hell torments. ... A paradox which not only some scholastic divines, but, which I am very, sorry to say, a great divine of our own, with a few followers, scrupled not to maintain. Be it far from us, to presume to circumscribe the extensive power of God lover his creatures, by the limits of a right prescribed to us, or by the fallacious, reasoning of a narrow understanding... But be it also far from. us, to ascribe anything to him which is unbecoming his immense goodness and unspotted justice... Elihu, with great propriety joins these together, Job xxxvii. 22,23. “With God is . terrible majesty. Touching the Almighty, we cannot, find him; out: he is excellent o and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not asilict.” For, if God could thus afflict ano innocent creature, he would shew he was not pleased with the holiness of his creature; since he would not only deprive, him,
of communion with himself, but also give him to the cruel
will of his enemies. When she destroys the wicked, he makes,
78 THE PROMISES OF THE [Book 1.
are pains of hell? Are they not a privation of divine love?
XV. 2.É. Nor can God on account of this his goodness,
cHAP. Iv.] COVENANT OF WORKS. 79
XVI. Further, God does not love in vain. It is the character of a lover, to wish well to, and to do all the in his power to the object of his love. But in the will of
God, consists both the soul's life and welfare. And as nothing can hinder his actually doing well by those whom he wishes well to: it follows, that a holy creature, which he necessarily loves from the goodness of his nature, must also enjoy the fruits and effects of that divine love. - * * XVII. Besides, it is the nature of love to seek union and communion with the beloved. He does not love in reality, who desires not to communicate himself to the object of his affection. But, every one communicates himself such as he is. God, therefore, being undoubtedly happy, makes the creature, whom he loves and honours with the communion of himself, a partaker of his happiness. I say, he makes the creature happy, in proportion to the state in which he would have it to be. All these things follow from that love which we have shewn God does in consequence of his infinite goodmess, necessarily bear to the creature who is innocent and , holv. Kvin. The same thing may be demonstrated in another manner, and if I mistake not, incontestably as follows: The sum of the divine commands is thus; %. me above all things: that is, look upon me as thy only chief good: hunger and thirst after me: place the whole of thy happiness in me alone: seek me above all: and nothing besides me, but so far as it has a relation to me. But how is it conceivable, that God should thus speak to the soul, and the soul should religiously attend to, and diligently perform this, and yet never enjoy God? Is it becoming the most holy and excellent Being, to say to his pure unspotted creature, (such as we now suppose it) look upon me as thy chief good; but know, I neither am nor ever shall be such to thee. Long after me, but on condition, never of obtaining thy desire "... and thirst after me; but only to be for ever disappointed, and never satisfied: seek me above all things; but seek me in vain, who am never to be found. He ão, not know God, who can imagine that such things are worthy of him. * .. XIX. After all, if it cannot be inferred from the very nature of the divine goodness, that God gives himself to be enjoyed by a holy creature, proportionable to its state; it is sible, notwithstanding the goodness of God, that the more oly a creature is, the more miserable. Which I prove thus: , , , the more holy any one is, he loves God with the greater intenseness of all his powers: the more he loves, the more he
80 - THE PROMISES OF THE [Boor 1.
longs, hungers, and thirsts, after him: the more intense the
finds, wherewith to be "satisfied.” If therefore, this thirst be
t to the highest degree, the want of what is so ardent 5. an incredible pain. Whence I infer, § God cannot, consistent with his goodness, refuse to grant to his holy creature the communion of himself. Unless we yield this, it will follow, that, notwithstanding the goodness of God,
it is possible for the highest degree of holiness to become the
highest pitch of misery. - . . . .
a hint, $ VIII) that this communion of God, of which we
ing, which the goodness of the supreme Being re-
CHAP. Iv.] covexans ar wears. *
thee with every benefit, and even bless thee with the commu
nion of myself; still having performed thy past, and being
amply enough rewarded, Hshal; :... Now returns to . s
that nothing out of which thes wastic abdomy will is that this my last command be no less che td. than the others, lest thou shouldst forfeit by this last act of disko obedience, all the praise of thy former obedience.ohas, the creature any cause to complain of such a stipulation#Nay, rather, may it not give hini joy, since it is so better to have existed for a few ages in a state of holiness and happiness, than never to have existed at all. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .” XXII. On the other hand, I can scarce satisfy myself in my attempts to remove some difficulties. For since (as we, before proved) God does, by virtue of his natural goodness, most ardently love a holy creature, as the lively, image of himself, how can this his goodness destroy that image, and undo his own work? Is it good onto that that them shouldst despise the wark gs thine hands without deserving such treatment? Job x. 3. . If it was good, and for the glory of * , God, to have made a creature to glorify himself; will it be good, and for the glory of God, to annihilate that creature, who thus glorifies him? And thus in fact to say, thou shalt not glorify me for ever? Besides, as God himself has greated the most intense desire of etermity in the soul, and at the same time, has commanded it to be carried out towards himself, as its eternal good; is it becoming God to frustrate such a do sire, commanded and excited by himself? Further, we, have said, it was a contradiction, to su God addressing himself to a holy soul in the manner wing: hunger after me, but thou shalt, not enjoy me...Yet in the moment; we con- . ceive the holy creature just sinking into annihilation, it would on in c. uence of, that divine command hunger and thirst after, go without any hope of ever jo.o.Unless we would choose to affirm, that God at length should say to that soul, Cease longing for me any mere, acquiesce in , this instance of my supreme dominion, by which I order thes to return to nothing. But I own its himy comprehension, how it is possible a haly creature should not be bound to consider God as its supreme good, and consequently pant after, the enjoyment of him. to ..o.o.o. " " . . . . . . . . . XXIII. O Lord Jehovah, how little do we poor miserable . mortals know, of thy. Supreme Deity, and incomprehensible perfections? how far short do our thoughts come about thee, who art infinite or immense in thy being, thy attributesothy,” sovereignty over, the :*:::::stal can take upon , . . . .