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Chapter XXXII.

Showing How The Loving Soul Knows God As The Highest Righteousness And Holiness.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep.Ps. 36:6.

All who love God acknowledge him to be the highest and most holy righteousness, which pervades all, and is over all. This in God is his most holy will; in angels holy obedience; in man, the testimony of his conscience; in all creatures, it is the order of nature, whereby God has ordered all things in number, weight, and measure. All that is done against this order, is contrary to God and nature.

2. All sins, therefore, in the world, are committed against God's righteousness, and the sinner thereby offends all creatures, even all the angels in heaven, and his own conscience, and sets them in hostility against himself. For when God is offended and provoked to anger, all creatures are also offended and made angry; so, too, when God is reconciled, all creatures are reconciled also, and rejoice over such a man. Hence St. Paul says, 265 that all things are reconciled by Christ, whether they be “things in earth or things in heaven” (Col. 1:20): and this, because God is reconciled through him. Therefore the Lord says, “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Luke 15:10. The angels rejoice for man's own sake.

3. But if God be not reconciled to man, all creatures, angels, and nature itself, execute vengeance upon him. Hence come the dreadful judgments of God: and it is impossible to avert such vengeance and judgments. “Thou art to be feared, O God; and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still.” Ps. 76:7, 8. Thus may we see in the plagues of Egypt how all creatures executed vengeance upon the wicked.

4. From the most holy righteousness of God, when offended, proceeds also the curse; as Moses, the man of God, witnesses, when he speaks of the transgression of the divine law. Deut. 27:15, etc.

5. It is a curse when the justice of God executes such vengeance, that the cursed cannot enjoy any good, either from God or the creature, but is made an “abhorring unto all flesh.” Isa. 66:24. “A curse is a liableness and condemnation unto eternal misery.” Therefore a curse is terrible and dreadful unto all creatures, so that they cannot endure it. And this is the highest vengeance of the justice of God.

6. From the most holy righteousness of God proceed also those wonderful, unsearchable, secret, dreadful judgments, whereof David says, “Thy judgments are a great deep” (Ps. 36:7); and St. Paul, “How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” Rom. 11:33.

7. When, therefore, we consider them, we see therein the righteousness of God, of which the man of God, Moses, says, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense,” saith the Lord. “If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people! for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land and to his people.” Deut. 32:35, 41, 43.

8. In these words, Moses declares the vengeance of God upon all the wicked, who resist the righteousness of God. Against them God will whet his glittering sword; that is, his dreadful sentence and judgment, at which the earth feareth, and is still. Ps. 76:8. And him, upon whom God executes his vengeance and judgment, all the world cannot save; according to the words of the Psalm: “O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself. Lift up thyself, thou Judge of the earth; render a reward to the proud.” Ps. 94:1, 2. Here we read that although the Lord God is a gracious, loving, kind, merciful, long-suffering God, to all them that fear him, he is nevertheless a just judge, according to his righteousness, of all the wicked that transgress against his righteousness.

9. He, therefore, sets before us in his word, not only instances of his grace and mercy, but also of his justice and vengeance; such as those of the deluge, Sodom and Gomorrah, Pharaoh in Egypt, and in the Red Sea; Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; 266 Saul, Ahithophel, Ahab, Jezebel, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Sennacherib; and in the New Testament, Herod, and many more; in every one of whom, we may see the wonderful judgment and vengeance of God. Therefore he is called, a God of vengeance, “unto whom vengeance belongeth,” because he is the most holy, and the most righteous God; nay, righteousness itself. Therefore, the saints (Rev. 6:10) appeal to the justice of God with a loud voice, saying: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”

10. Such judgments of God are executed daily, but are rightly understood only by believing and holy souls, according to the words of the Psalm: “With thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” Ps. 91:8. This saying is not to be understood according to carnal passions and affections, but it is to be considered spiritually; for it imports that we are to give unto the Lord our God, the praise of his righteousness; and to say, “Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments” (Ps. 119:137); and “The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.” Ps. 145:17. Thus holy and believing souls delight to see the wonderful judgments of God; yet not according to the flesh, so as to rejoice over the destruction and perdition of the wicked (which would proceed from self-revenge); but, according to the spirit, they take delight, that is, they acknowledge and praise the righteousness of God, who fulfilleth his word, and is a righteous God. And at the same time, they lament and weep over the perdition of the wicked, even as our Saviour wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41); and as David wept over Absalom. 2 Sam. 18:33.

11. So, then, we are here to have a twofold respect, namely, to God and to men. If we look upon the destruction of men, we are justly to be sorrowful; but if we look upon God, we are to praise his justice, for he doeth wrong unto none. Ps. 92:15.

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