Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

*** * * :- - - - - -, -,----- *-*-************ ~~~~~~~~mer

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,
it plainly appear, he is not delighted withiwickedness, nay, in
scripture phrase, Psal. v. 5, hates it... Should he therefore, in
the same manner, torment the pious, he would testify by this.
that he did not delight in piety, but rather hated it. Whiche
none without blasphemy can conceive of God. And what else."

[ocr errors]

--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

78 THE PROMISES OF THE [Book 1.

are pains of hell? Are they not a privation of divine love?
A sense of divine hatred 2 The worm of conscience? Despair
of recovering God's favour? But how is it possible, without
a manifest contradiction, to conceive this ever to be the case of
an innocent creature? And I own, I was struck with horror,
when I observed the most subtle Twiss, in order to defend
this paradox, choose rather to maintain, it were better to be
eternally miserable, and endure the torments of hell, than not
to exist at all: and when he objected to himself the authority of
our Saviour, plainly affirming of Judas; “it had been for
that man, if he had not been born,” Matth. xxvi. 24. that he
did not blush to answer, “that many things are said in scrip-
ture in a figurative and hyperbolical manner, nay, a great deal
accommodated to the sense of the vulgar, and even to human
judgment, though erroneous;” all which he applies to this
sentence of our Saviour, de Elect, P. 2. l. 1. §4. p. 178, 179.
To what length is not even the most prudent hurried, when
he gives too much way to his own speculations? I, for my
part, think Sophocles formed a sounder judgment than the
very acute Twiss, when he said, “better not be, than to live
miserable;" and Oeschylus, in Ixion, “I think it had been
better for that man who suffers great pains never to have been
born, than to have existed.” Bernard speaks excellently to
the same pu , ad Eugen. de Consider, lib. 5. “It is not
to be jo. it will be much worse with those who will
be in such a state [of misery] than with those who will have
no existence. For, as he says in his sermon, 35, on Solomon's
Sodg, “the soul, placed in that state, loses its happiness with-
out losing its being: whereby it is always constrained to
suffer death without dying, failure without failing, and an end
without a period.”

XV. 2.É. Nor can God on account of this his goodness,
refuse to communicate himself to, or give the enjoyment of
himself to, an innocent, an holy creature, or to love and fa-
vour it, in the most tender manner, while it has a being, and
continues pure according to its condition. For, a holy crea-
ture is God's very image. But God loves himself in the
most ardent manner, as being the chief good: which he would
not be, unless he loved himself above all. It therefore fol-
lows, he must also love his own image, in which he has ex-
pressed, to the life, himself, and what is most amiable in him,
his own holiness. With what shew of decency could he
command the other creatures to love such as are holy, did he
himself not judge them amiable f Or, if he judged them so,
how is it possible, he should not love them himself?

i

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

-* ------

[ocr errors]

80 - THE PROMISES OF THE [Boor 1.

longs, hungers, and thirsts, after him: the more intense the
hunger and thirst, the more intolerable the pain, unless he

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. - . . . .
XX. Butlet it be again observed here, (of which we gave

a hint, $ VIII) that this communion of God, of which we
are o

ing, which the goodness of the supreme Being re-
quires to be granted to a holy creature, is not all the promise
of the covenant here; which is at length to be given, upon
fulfilling the condition. For it is not to be reckoned among
the promises of the covenant, what God gives his creature
now, before he has confirmed the conditions of the covenant.
Another and a far greater thing is promised, after the con-
stancy of his obedience is tried, to which the creature acquires
some right, not simply because it is holy, (for 'such it came
out of the hands of its Creator) but because it has now added
constancy to holiness, being sufficiently tried to the satisfac-
tion of its Lord. The promises therefore of the covenant
contain greater things than this communion and fruition of
God, of whatsoever kind it be, which Adam already enjoyed
whilst still in the state of trial. A farther degree of happi-
ness, consisting in the full and immediate enjoyment of God,
and in a more-spiritual state, to last for ever, was prop.
to him, which the scripture usually sets forth under the title
of eternal life. - o
XXI. And this is the proper question; whether the pro-
mise of eternal life, to be entered upon by all aster a complete
course of obedience, flows from the natural goodness of God,
or, whether it is of free and liberal good pleasure? Indeed, I
know not, whether the safest course be not to suspend the
decision of this, till coming to see God face to face, we shall
attain to a fuller knowledge of all his perfections, and more
clearly discern what is worthy of them. For, on the one
hand, it appears to me hard to affirm, and somewhat too bold,
for any one obstinately to insist, that it would have been un-
becoming God and his perfections, to enter into covenant with
man in this manner: namely, if thou keepest my commands,
thou shalt certainly have my favour and most endearing love,
I will not only save thee from all uneasiness, but also load

[ocr errors]
[graphic]

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 , . . . .

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »