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which the Apostle alludes, Rom. v. 7. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man fome 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 communicate the good and happiness which we enjoy, and to be willing others should partake of it.
This is the notion of goodness among men ; and it: is 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; which is the meaning of our Saviour, Luke xviii
. 19. when he says, There is none good fave one, that is, God. But though the degrees of goodness in God, and the creatures, be infinitely unequal, and, that goodness which is in us be so finall and inconsidere, able, 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 scrie. pture speaks of the goodness of God, we could not know 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 so, and we never the better for it, if we do not know what goodness in God is, and consequently when he is fo, and when not.
Besides that, the goodness of God is very frequently in scripture propounded to our imitation ; but it is inpossible for us to imitate that, which we do not understand what it is: From whence it is certain, that the goodness which we are to endeavour after, 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 crcatures, 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 disposition in the divine nature, to communicate being and happiness to bis 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.
1. From the acknowledgment of natural light.
2. From the testimony of scripture, and divine revelation. And,
3. From the perfection of the divine nature.
1. From the acknowledgments of natural light. The generality of the Heathens agree in it, and there is hardly any perfection of God more universally acknowledged by them. I always except the sect of the Epicure. ans, 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 exprefly 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 immortal and 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; fo 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.
But, setting aside this atheistical feet, the rest of the Heathens did unanimoully affirm and believe the goodness of God; and this was the great foundation of their religion ; and all their prayers to God, and praises of him, did necessarily suppose a persuasion of the divine goodness. Whosoever prays to God, must have a perfuasion or good hopes of his readiness to do him good; and to praise God, is to acknowledge that he hath received good from him. Seneca hath an excellent paffage to this purpose; “ He, says he, that denies the
goodness of God, does not, surely, consider the infi“ nite number of prayers that, with hands lifted up to “ heaven, are put up to God, both in private and pu“ blick ; which certainly would not be, nor is it credible, " that all mankind should conspire in this madness of “ putting up their supplications to deaf and impotent “ deities, if they did not believe that the gods were fo
good as to confer benefits upon those who prayed to 66 them.”
But we need not infer their belief of God's goodness from the acts of their devotion, nothing being more common among them than exprelly to attribute this perfection of goodness to him; and among the divine titles, this always had the pre-eminence, both among the Greeks and Romans ; čís 7 uéras TS, Deus optimus maximus, was their constant stile; and in our language, the name of God seems to have been given him from his goodness. I might produce innumerable passages out of the Heathen authors to this purpose, but I shall only mention that remarkable one out of Seneca ;: Primus deorum cultus est deos credere; deinde reddere illis majestatem suam, reddere bonitatem, fine qua nulla majestas :: “ The first act of worship is, to believe the being of God; 6 and the next, to ascribe majesty or greatness to him ; " and, to ascribe goodness, without which there can be
II. From the testimony of scripture, and divine revelation. I shall mention but a few of those many texts of scripture, which declare to us the goodness of God. Exod. xxxiv, 6. where God makes his name known to Moses; The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Pfal. lxxxvi. 5. Thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive. Psal. cxix. 68. Thou art good, and doft good. And that which is fo often repeated in the book of Psalms; O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever. Our blessed Saviour attri.. butes this perfection to God, in so peculiar and tranfcendent a manner, as if it were incommunicable: Luke X. 19. There is none good, save one, that is, God. The meaning is, that no creature is capable of it, in that excellent and transcendent degree, in which the divine na. ture is possessed of it..
To the fame purpose are those innumerable testimonies of scripture, which declare God to be gracious and merciful, and long-suffering; for these are but several branches of his goodness. His grace is the freoness of his goodness to those who have not deserved it :: His mercy is his goodness to those who are in misery : His
patience is his goodness to those who are guilty, in deferring the punishment due to them.
II. The goodness of God may likewise be argued from the perfection of the divine nature, these two ways:
1. Goodness is the chief of all perfections, and therefore it belongs to God.
2. There are some footsteps of it in the creatures, and therefore it is much more eminently in God.
ist, Goodness is the highest perfection, and therefore it must needs belong to God, who is the most perfect of beings. Knowledge and power are great perfections ; but, feparated from goodness, they would be great imperfections, nothing but craft and violence. An angel may have knowledge and power in a great degree; but yet,
for all that, be a devil. Goodness is so great and neceffary a perfection, that, without it, there can be no other; it gives perfection to all other excellencies. Take away this, and the greatest excellencies in any other kind, would be but the greatest imperfections : And therefore our Saviour speaks of the goodness and mercy of God, as the sum of his perfections; what one Evangelist hath, Be ye merciful, as your Father which is in heaven is merciful, is rendered in another, Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Goodness is so essential to a perfect being, that if we once (trip God of this property, we rob him of the glory of all his other perfections; and therefore, when Moses desired to see God's glory, he said, He would make all his goodness pafs before him, Exod. xxxiii. 19. This is the most amiable perfection, and, as were, the beauty of the divine nature: Zech. ix. 17. How great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Sine bonitate, nulla majestas, without goodness, there can be no majesty. Other excellencies may cause fear and amazement in us; but nothing but goodness can command sincere love and veneration.
2dly, There are fome footsteps of this perfection in the creatures, and therefore it must be much more en minently in God. There is in every creature some representation of some divine perfection or other ; but God doth not own any creature to be after bis image,
that is destitute of goodness. The creatures that want reason and understanding are incapable of this moral goodness we are speaking of; man is the first in the rank of creatures that is endowed with it, and he is faid to be made after the image of God, and to have dominion given him over the creatures below him ; to fignify to us, that if man had not been made after God's image, in respect of goodness, he had been unfit to rule over other creatures : because, without goodness, dominion would be tyranny and oppression; and the more any creature partakes of this perfection of goodness, the more it resembles God; as the blessed angels, who behold the face of God contimially, and are thereby transformed into his image, from glory to glory, their whole business and employment is, to do good, and the devil, though he refembles God in other perfections of knowledge and power, yet because he is evil, and envious, and mischievous, and so contrary to God in this perfection, he is the most opposite and hateful to him of all creatures whatsoever.
And if this perfection be in some degree in the creature, it is much more in God; if it be derived from him, he is much more eminently possessed of it him. felf. 'All that goodnefs which is in the best-natured of the sons of men, or in the most glorious angels of heaven, is but an imperfect and weak representation of the divine goodness.
The third thing I proposed to consider, was, the effects of the divine goodness, together with the large extent of it, in respect of the objects of it: The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works; thou art good, and doft good, says David, Plal. cxix. 68. The great evidence and demonstration of God's goodness, is from the effects of it. To the same purpose St. Paul speaks, Acts xiv. 7. He hath not left himself without witness, in that he doth good, and sends us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons.
I fall consider the effects of the divine goodness, under these two heads :
1. The universal extent of God's goodness to all his