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Thou art good, and doest good: teach me thy statutes.—Ver. 68.
THE Psalmist in the first verse of this portion had expressed himself in a way of thankfulness to God for his goodness, ver. 65; then interrupteth his thanksgiving a little, and beggeth the continuance of the same goodness, ver. 66; and after that returneth again to show how this good came by means of affliction, ver. 67; and therefore once more praiseth God for his goodness, and reneweth his suit. God is ever good to his people, but most sensibly they have proof of it in their afflictions, when to appearance he seemeth to deal hardly with them; yet all that while he doth them good. Sanctification of afflictions is a greater mercy than deliverance out of them. We may learn our duty by the discipline of a smart rod: ‘Thou dealest well with thy servant;’ for, ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray; but now I have kept thy word.’ And then he falleth into thanksgiving and prayer again, ‘Thou art good, and doest good: teach me thy statutes.’ Here is—
1. A compilation and confession of God’s goodness, both in his nature and actions.
2. A petition for grace, teach me thy statutes.
First, The compellation used to God, ‘Thou art good, and doest good.’ Divers have been the glosses of interpreters upon these words. Aben Ezra, Bonus es non petenti, et benefacis petenti—thou art good to them that ask not, but surely dost good to them that ask. Others, thou art good in this world, dost good in the world to come. Others better, God is good of himself and doeth good to us. Goodness is communicative of itself; he is good, that noteth his nature and inclination; and he doeth good, that noteth his work, whereby he giveth proof of his goodness. Unumquodque operatur secundum suam formam—every thing acteth according to its nature. So doth God; as is his being, so is his operation; he is good, and doeth good; the work must needs be answerable to the workman. The point is:—
Doct. It becometh all those that have to do with God to have a deep sense of his goodness.
1. What is God’s goodness.236
2. How it is manifested to us.
3. Why those that come to God should have a deep sense of it. First, What is God’s goodness? There is a threefold goodness ascribed by divines to God:—
1. His natural goodness, which is the natural perfection of his being.
2. His moral goodness, which is the moral perfection of his being.
3. His beneficial communicative goodness, called otherwise his benignity, which is of chief regard in this place. Besides the perfection and excellency of his nature, there is his will and self-propension to diffuse his benefits; the perfection of his nature is his natural and moral goodness, the other his bounty. All must be spoken to distinctly.
1. God is naturally good. There is such an absolute perfection in, his nature and being, that nothing is wanting to it or defective in it, and nothing can be added to it to make it better. As Philo saith, Ὁ ὂντως ὢ τὸ πρῶτον ἀγαθὸν—the first being must needs be the first good. As soon as we conceive there is a God, we presently conceive that he is good. In this sense it is said, Mark x. 18, ‘Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, and that is God.’ He is good of himself, good in himself, yea, good itself. There is none good above him, or besides him, or beyond him; it is all from him and in him, if it be good. He is primitively and originally good, αὐτάγαθος, good of himself, which nothing .else is; for all creatures are good only by participation and communication from God. He is essentially good; not only good, but goodness itself: the creature’s good is a superadded quality; in him it is his essence. He is infinitely good; the creature’s goodness is but a drop, but in God there is an infinite ocean and sea, or gathering together of goodness. He cannot be better, he is summum bonum—the chiefest 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 i 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.
2. God is morally good, that is, the fountain and pattern of all that virtuous goodness which is in the creatures. So Ps. xxv. 8, ‘Good and upright is the Lord:’ and Exod. xxxiii. 19, ‘He said, I will make all my goodness go before thee, and proclaim my name.’ 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.
3. 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 ns. That is one notion we apprehend him by, that he is ‘God all-sufficient,’ Gen. xvii. 1, or that he hath all things at command, to do 237for us as our necessities shall require: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly:’ Gen. xv. 1, ‘Fear not, Abraham; I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.’ 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 might more happily be had if we could possess all things in God: Jer. ii. 13, ‘My people have committed two great evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.’ 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: 2 Cor. vi. 10, ‘As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.’
[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 dost 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: Ps. c. 4, 5, ‘Enter ye into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name; for the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting.’ 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: James i. 17, ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights:’ and Jer. ii. 13, he is called ‘the fountain of living waters.’ 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 given to him first, and it shall be recompensed to 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 beside himself to make us happy. Here we enjoy God, but not fully or immediately. We enjoy him in his creatures, but it is at the second or third hand; the creature interposeth between him and us: Hosea ii. 21, 22, ‘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.’ In ordinances it is but a little strength and comfort that we get, such 238as 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?
1. 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,’ ver. 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.
2. In our redemption; therein he commendeth his love and goodness in providing such a remedy for lost sinners. There is φιλανθρωπία—Titus iii. 4, ‘But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared.’ In creation he showed himself φιλάγγελος; in redemption, φιλάνθρωπος, God is brought nearer to us as subsisting in our nature: 1 Tim. iii. 16, ‘Great is the mystery godliness, God manifested in the flesh.’ 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.
3. In daily providence; so the goodness of God is twofold:—
[1.] Common and general to all creatures, especially to mankind: Ps. cxlv. 9, ‘The Lord is good to all, his tender mercy is over all his works.’ 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 are 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: Ps. cxlvii. 9, ‘He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry,’ ἐπιβάλλει τοὺς νεόττους ἡ κόραξ. So the wicked: Mat. v. 45, ‘He maketh his sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;’ Acts xiv. 17, ‘Nevertheless he left not him self without witness, in that he did good, ἀγαθοποιῶν, and gave us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.’ 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 Lam. iii. 25, ‘The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the 239soul that seeketh him.’ So Ps. lxxxvi. 5, ‘For thou, O Lord, art good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee.’ For this kind of goodness, a qualification 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 goodness yieldeth spiritual and saving blessings, such as pardoning of sins: Isa. lv. 7, ‘Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and lie will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon:’ 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: 2 Thes. i. 11, ‘Wherefore also we pray always for you, that God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.’ Once more, to the objects of his peculiar love common blessings are given in love, and with an aim at our good: Ps. lxxxiv. 11, ‘No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.’ So that the ordinary favours which others enjoy 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 arms of God, they shall be blessed for evermore.
Thirdly, Why ought those that come to God to have a deep sense of this?
1. 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: Heb. xi. 6, ‘He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.’ 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, Ps. cvii. 8, ‘Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!’ He repeateth the same, ver. 15, 21, 31, and concludeth all ver. 43, ‘Whoso is wise, and will observe those things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness 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 are none of us but have reasons enough and obligations enough lying upon us to make observations in 240this 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: Eph. iii. 18, 19, ‘To comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of God which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God.’ 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: 1 Peter ii. 3, ‘If so be that ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’ So Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good.’ 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.
2. 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 opportunity 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 communications of his goodness: nothing pleaseth him better than his word; the business of it is to represent him good. Mercy pleaseth him: Micah vii. 18, ‘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.’ ‘Mercy rejoiceth over judgment;’ Ps. cxviii. 1, ‘Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good; because his mercy endureth for ever.’ 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: Ps. xxxiii. 5, ‘The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord:’ 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 doth 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 Ps. xxxiv. 8, ‘Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.’ A report of a report signifieth little; what we have found ourselves we can confidently recommend 241to others. When we have felt his dealing with ourselves, we can entreat 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 such like, 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, and 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: ‘Job xxv. 5, 6, ‘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?’ And elsewhere, Job iv. 18, ‘Behold, he putteth no trust in his servants, and his angels he chargeth with folly’—mutability in the angelical nature. When Isaiah had seen God, and heard the angels cry out, ‘Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,’ Isa. vi. 5, ‘Then said I, Woe 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; and mine eyes have seen the king, the Lord of hosts.’ 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 darkness. When Job had seen God, he could not look upon himself with any patience: Job xlii. 5, 6, ‘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.’ That is a true sight of God that abaseth and lesseneth all things besides God, not only in opinion, but in affection and estimation. Alas! the best of us are scarce dark shadows of his goodness.
[4.] God’s goodness is the life of our faith and trust. So long as the goodness of God endureth for ever, we have no cause to be discouraged. If we want direction, in the text it is said, ‘Thou art good, and dost good; teach me thy statutes.’ If we want support and deliverance, Nahum i. 7, ‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him.’ In every strait the people of God find him to be a good God. When we feel the burden of sin, and fear God’s wrath, Ps. lxxxvi. 5, ‘The Lord is good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy to all them that call 242upon him.’ David, when his old sins troubled him, the sins of his youth, Ps. xxv. 7, ‘Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions: according to thy mercy remember thou me, for thy goodness’ sake, O Lord.’ When his enemies consulted his ruin, Ps. li. 1, ‘Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.’ They cannot take away the goodness of God from you, whatever they plot or purpose against you. Thus may faith triumph in all distresses upon the sense of the goodness of God. In the agonies of death, the goodness of God will be your support. Non sic vixi ut pudeat me inter vos vivere; nec mori timeo, quia bonum habeo Dominum. We have a good master, who will not see his servants unrewarded. The goodness of God, and his readiness to be gracious to every one that cometh to him, is the fountain of the saint’s hope, strength, and consolation.
[5.] The goodness of God is the great motive and invitation to repentance: Rom. ii. 4, ‘Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?’ How so? God is good, but not to those that continue in their sins: Ps. lxviii. 19-21, ‘Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation, Selah. He that is our God is the God of salvation, and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death: but God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.’ If goodness be despised, it will be turned into fury. How great soever the riches of the Lord’s bounty and grace offered in Christ are, yet an impenitent sinner will not escape unpunished. God is good; oh! come, try, and see how good he will be to you, if you will turn and submit to him. There is hope offered, and goodness hath waited to save you; so that now you may seek his favour with hope to speed. While he sits upon the throne of grace, and alloweth the plea of the new covenant, do not stand off against mercies. God hath laid out the riches of his gracious goodness upon a design to save lost sinners; and will you turn back upon him, and despise all his goodness provided for you in Christ? In point of gratitude, the least kindness done men melteth them as coals of fire. The borrower is servant to the lender. God hath not only lent us, but given us all that we have; therefore it should break our hearts with sorrow and remorse that we should offend a God so good, so bountiful, so merciful. The odiousness of sin doth most appear in the unkindness of it; that infinite goodness hath been abused, and infinite goodness despised, and that you are willing to lose your part in infinite goodness, rather than not satisfy some base lust, or look after some trifling vanity. Saul wept at the thoughts of David’s kindness, 1 Sam. xxiv. 16. Every man will condemn the wrongs done to one that hath done us no evil, but much good; and will you sin against God, who is so good in himself, so good to all his creatures, and so good to you, and waiteth to be better and more gracious; and return evil for all his good, and requite his love with nothing but unkindness and provocation? Oh, be ashamed of all these things! What heart is that that can offend, and so willingly offend, so good a God! Rom. xii. 1, ‘I beseech you by the mercies of God ‘(there is argument and endearment 243enough in that) ‘that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,’ that ye consecrate, dedicate yourselves to his glory, address yourselves cheer fully to his service. Let the soul be warmed into an earnest resolution to please him for the future, lest you make goodness your enemy, and justice take up the quarrel of abused grace.
[6.] The goodness of God is the great argument to move us to love God. If he be good, he is worthy to be loved, and that with a superlative love; for God is both the object and the measure of love. A less good should be loved less, and a greater good more. All that is not God is but a finite and limited good, and must be loved accordingly. God only is infinite and eternal, and therefore he is to be loved of all, and above all, with our chiefest and most worthy love, by preferring his glory above all things that are dear to us, and being content for his sake to part with all that we have in the world. But if any lower thing prevail with us, we prefer it before God, and so contemn his goodness in comparison of it. If the object of love be good, none so properly deserveth our love as God. For (1.) He is originally good, the fountain of all good; therefore if we leave God for the deceitful vanities of this present life, we leave ‘the fountain of living waters,’ for a ‘broken cistern,’ Jer. ii. 13. The creatures are but dry pits and broken cisterns. (2.) He is summum bonum, the chiefest good. Other things, what good they have, they have it from him; therefore it is infinitely better and greater in him than in them; all the good that is in the creature is but a spark of what is in God. If we find any good there, it is not to detain our affections, but to lead us to the greater good, not to hold us from him, but to lead us to him, as the streams lead to the fountain, and the steps of a ladder are not to stand still upon, but that we may ascend higher. There is goodness in the creature, but mixed with imperfection; the good is to draw to him, the imperfection to drive us off from the creature. (3.) He is in finitely good. Other things may busy us and vex us, but they cannot satisfy us; this alone sufficeth for health, wealth, peace, protection, grace, glory. Necessities that are not satisfied in God are but fancies, and the desires that are hurried out after them, apart from God, are not to be satisfied, but mortified. If we have not enough in God, it is not the default of our portion, but the distemper of our hearts. In choosing God for our portion, one hath not the less because another enjoyeth it with him: here is a sharing without division, and a par taking without the prejudice of copartners. We straiten others in worldly things so much as we are enlarged ourselves; finite things cannot be divided, but they must be lessened; they are not large enough to be parted; but every one possesseth all that is good in God who hath God for his portion; as the same speech may be heard of all, and yet no man heareth the less because others hear it with him, or as no man hath the less light because the sun shineth on more than himself: the Lord is all in all; the more we possess him the better. As in a choir of voices, every one is not only solaced with his own voice, but with the harmony of those that sing in concert with him. Many a fair stream is drawn dry by being dispersed into several channels, but that which is infinite will suffice all. (4.) He is 244eternally good: Ps. lxxiii. 26, ‘God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.’ The good things of this life are perishing and of a short continuance; we leave other good things when we come to take full possession of God. At death wicked men perceive their error, when the good they have chosen cometh to be taken from them; but a man that hath chosen God then entereth into the full possession of him; that which others shun, he longeth for, waiting for that time when the creature shall cease, and God shall be all in all. Oh! let all these things persuade us to love God, and so to love him that our hearts may be drawn off from other things. Let us love him because of the goodness and amiableness of his nature, because of his bounty in our creation, redemption, and daily providence, and because he will be our God for ever.
[7.] God’s goodness is our consolation and support in all afflictions. God is a gracious father, and all that he doth is acts of grace and goodness; even the sharpest of his administrations are absolutely the best for us: Ps. lxxiii. 1, ‘Truly God is good to Israel;’ all his work is good; as in the six days, so in constant providence, it is either good or it will turn to good: Rom. viii. 28, ‘All things shall work together for good to them that love God.’ God may change our condition, yet he doth not change his affection to us; he is all good, and doth that which we shall find good at length.
[8.] It is the ground of prayer; if we lack any good thing, he hath it, and is ready to communicate it. The goodness of God, as it doth stir up desire in us, so hope; as it stirreth a desire to communicate of his fulness, so a hope that surely the good God will hear us. He is not sparing of what he can do for us: James i. 5, ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask it of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.’ Our wants send us to the promises, and the promises to God.
Use 1. To press us to imitate our heavenly Father; you should be good and do good, as he is good and doth good; for every disposition in God should leave an answerable character and impression upon their souls that profess themselves to be made partakers of a divine nature; therefore it should be our great care and study to be as good and do as much good as we possibly can. He is one like God that is good and doth good; therefore still be doing good to all, especially to the household of faith: Gal. vi. 10, ‘As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith;’ with Mat. v. 44, 45, ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust;’ Luke vi. 35, ‘But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil;’ 2 Peter i. 7, ‘Add to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.’ Not doing good to our own party, or those of our friendship, but to all. So generally all good is to be done, as well as that of bounty and beneficence: 245Luke vi. 45, ‘A good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things;’ and it is said of Barnabas, Acts xi. 24, ‘He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.’ A good man is always seeking to make others good, as fire turneth all things about it into fire. The title signifies one not only of a mild disposition, but of a holy, heavenly heart, that maketh it his business to honour God. So Joseph of Arimathea is said to be ‘a good man, and a just;’ this is to be like God.
Use 2. Direction to you in the business of the Lord’s supper: God is good, and doeth good.
1. Here you come to remember his goodness to you in Christ. Now the goodness of God should never be thought on, or commemorated, but your hearts should be raised in the wonder and admiration of it: Ps. xxxi. 19, ‘Oh, how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee!’ and Ps. xxxvi. 7, ‘How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.’ This should be delightful work to you, and not gone about with dead and careless hearts. We cannot express ourselves many times; strong passions do not easily get a vent; little things may be greatened by us, but great things indeed strike us dumb. However, our hearts should be deeply affected and possessed with this; we should be full of such admiring thoughts.
2. We come for a more intimate and renewed taste. By taste, I mean spiritual sense, to have ‘the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us,’ Rom. v. 5. We come to the feast of the soul that our hungry consciences may taste of the fatness of God’s house, Ps. lxv. 4; that our thirsty souls may drink of the rivers of his pleasure, Ps. xvi. 11; to have some pledge of the joys of heaven, if not to ravishment and sensible reviving, yet such as may put us out of relish with carnal vanities; some gracious experiences that may make us long for more, and go away lauding God.
3. To stir up our love to God as the most lovely and suitable object to our souls; in him is nothing but good. God is goodness itself: he is one that has deserved your love, and will satisfy and reward your love. All the good we have in an ordinance it is from him, and to lead up our souls to him. Our business now is to ‘love God, who loved us first,’ 1 John iv. 19; to love him by devoting ourselves to him, and to consecrate our all to his service.
4. To desire more communion with him, and to long after the blessed fruition of him, when God shall be all in all, not only be chief, but all, when we shall perfectly enjoy the infinite God, when the chiefest good will give us the greatest blessings, and an infinite eternal God will give us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. The word, sacraments, and prayer convey but little to you in comparison of that, when God is object and means, and all things. The soul is then all for Christ, and Christ all for the soul. Your whole employment is to love him, live upon him. Here we give away some of our love, some of our thoughts and affections, on other things; Christ, is crowded, hath not room to lay forth the glory of his grace; but there is full scope to do it.246
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