תמונות בעמוד

4. It must be such a good as none can deprive us of, and take away from us.

5. It must be eternal.

6. It must be able to support and comfort us in every condition, and under all the accidents and adversities of human life.

7. Lastly, It must be such a good as can give perfect rest and tranquillity to our minds.

Nothing that is short of all this can make us happy : and no creature, no not the whole creation, can pretend to be all this to us. All these properties meet only in God, who is the perfect and supreme good; as I shall endeavour in the following discourse more particularly to thew; and consequently, that God is the only happinefs

of man.

I. God is an all-fufficient good. And this does import two things; wisdom 10 contrive our happiness, and power to effect it; for neither of these without the other is fufficient, and both these in the highest and most eminent degree are in God.

He is infinitely wise to design and contriye our happiness ; because he knows what happiness is, and how to frame us so as to be capable of the happiness he designs for us; and how to order and dispose all other things so as that they shall be no hinderance and impediment to it.

He perfectly understands all the possibilities of things, and how to fit means to any end. He knows all our wants, and how to supply them; all our hopes and defires, and how to satisfy them: he foresees all the dangers and evils which threaten us, and knows how to prevent or divert them, if he thinks fit;'or if he permit them to come, how to support us under them, or to de liver us out of them, or to turn them to our greater benefit and advantage in the last issue and result of things.

His wisdom cannot be surprised by any accident which he did not foresee, and which he is not sufficiently provided against. The wisdom of men is but short and imperfect, and liable to infinite errors and mistakes : in many cafes men know not what is safest and best for them, nor whether this or that will conduce most to their happiness : nay, it often happens, that those very means which the wiselt men chuse for their security, do prove


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the occasions of their ruin ; and they are thrown down by those very ways whereby they thought to raise and establish themselves.

Especially if God breathe upon the counsels of men, how are their designs blasted ? how are they infatuated and foiled in their deepest contrivances, and fnared in the work of their own hands? When it is of the Lord, the wisdom of the greatest politicians is turned into foolishness : for there is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counfel against the Lord.

But the divine wisdom, being founded upon infinite knowledge, is thereby secured against all possibility of error and mistake. God perfectly knows the natures and the powers of all his creatures, and therefore can never be mistaken in the use and application of them to any of his purposes : so that none of his designs of love and mercy to the sons of men can miscarry for want of good contriyance, or wise conduct.

And as he is perfectly wise to contrive our happiness, so is he infinitely powerful to effect it, and to remove out of the way all the obstacles and impediments of it. We may understand many times what would conduce to our happiness, but may not be able to compass it; but nothing is out of the reach of omnipotency: many things are difficult to us, but nothing is too hard for God: many things are impossible with us, but with God all things are possible. For he is the fountain and original of all power, from whom it is derived, and upon whom it depends, and to whom it is perfectly subject and subordinate : he can do all things at once, and in an initant, and with the greatest ease; and no created power can put any difficulty in his way, much less make any effectual resistance; because omnipotency can check, and countermand, and bear down before it all other powers.

So that if God be on our fide, who can be against us? We may fafely commit our fouls into his hana's ; for be is able to keep that which is committed io him. He can give us all good things, and deliver us from all evil, for his is the kingdom and the glorious power. Though all creatures should fail us, we may rely upon God, and live upon his all-fufficiency for our fupply; and may fay with the Prophet, Though the fig-tree should not blofon, neither fruit be in the vine ; though the labour of the olive Jhould fail, and the fields should yield no meat ; though the frock should be cut off from the fold, and there should be na herd in tbe falls : yet would I rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of my salvation.

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II. As God is an all-fufficient good, so he is perfect goodness. He is willing to communicate happiness to us, and to employ his power and wisdom for our good. He made us that he might make us happy; and nothing can hinder us from being so but ourselves. Such is his goodness, that he would have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth ; and when we have provoked him by our sins, he is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance : for he delighteth not in the death of a finner, but rather that he would turn from his wickedness, and live. So that, if any of us be miserable, it is our own choice; if we perilh, our destruction is of ourselves : for, as the wife man, in one of the apocryphal books, says excellently, God made not death : neither hath he pleasure in the destruction of the living. But men seek death in the error of their life; and pull destruction upon themselves, with the works of their own hands.

So great is the goodness of God to mankind, that he hath omitted nothing that is necessary to our happiness. He designed it for us at first; and to that end he hath endued us with powers and faculties, whereby we are capable of knowing, and loving, and obeying, and enjoying him the chief good. And when we had forfeited all this by the wilful transgression and disobedience of the first parents of mankind, and were miserably bruised and maimed by their fall, God of his infinite mercy was pleased to restore us to a new capacity of happiness, by sending his only Son to suffer in our nature, and in our stead; and thereby to become a propitiation for the fins of the whole world, and the author of eternal falvation to them that bclieve and obey him ; and he hath likewise promised to give us his Holy Spirit, to enable us to that faith and obedience which the gospel requires of us as the necessary conditions of our eternal salvation.

III. God is also a firm and unchangeable good. Notwithstanding his infinite wisdom, and power, and good


ness, we might be miserable, if God were mutable. For that cannot be a happiness which depends upon uncertainties; and perhaps one of the greatest aggravations of misery is, to fall from happiness; to have been once happy, and afterwards to cease to be so: and that would unavoidably happen to us, if the cause of our happiness could change, and the foundation of it be removed. If God could be otherwise than powerful, and wise, and good, all our hopes of happiness would be shaken, and would fall to the ground. But the divine nature is not fubject to any change : as he is the father of lights, and the author of every good and perfect gift; so with him is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. All the things of this world are mutable; and for that reason, had they no other imperfection belonging them, cannot make us happy.

IV. God is such a good as none can deprive us of, and take away from us. If the things of this world were unchangeable in their nature, and not liable to any decay, yet they cannot make us happy ; because we may be cheated of them by fraud, or robbed of them by violence. But God cannot be taken from us. Nothing but our lins can part God and us : Who shall separate us faith the Apostle, Rom. viii. 35.) from the love of God? Jhall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? We may be stripped of all our worldly coinforts and enjoyments, by the violence of men ; but none of all these can separate us from God: I am peryuaded, (as the Apostle goes on with great triumph,

38.39.), that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor things present, nor things to come, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Chrift Jefus our Lord. Nor


other creature: Here is a sufficient induction of particulars; and nothing left out of this catalogue but one, and that is fin, which of God's creatures, but our own. This indeed deliberately consented to, and wilfully continued in, will finaldy part God and us, and for ever hinder us from being happy.

But if we be careful to avoid this, which only can separate between God and us, nothing can deprive us of


him : the aids and influences of his grace none can intercept or hinder : the joys and comforts of his Holy Spirit none can take from us. All other things may leave us, and forsake us; we may be debarred of our best friends, and banished from all our acquaintance : but men can send us no whither from the presence of God. Our communication with heaven cannot be prevented or interrupted. Our prayers and our souls will always find the way thither from the uttermost parts of the earth.

V. God is an eternal good; and nothing but what is so can make us happy. Man having an immortal spirit, and being designed for an endless duration, must have a happiness proportionable : for which reason nothing in this world can make us happy, because we shall abide and remain after it. When a very few years are paft and gone, and much sooner for any thing we know, all the things of this world will leave us, or else we shall be taken away from them : but God is from everlasting to everlasting : he is the same, and his years fail not : Therefore well might David fix his happiness upon God alone, and say, Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thec. When my heart faileth, and my strength faileth, God is the ftrength of my heart, and my portion for ever.

Vi. God is able to support and comfort us, in every condition, and under all the accidents and adversities of human life. 'Outward afflictions may hurt our body, but they cannot reach our soul; and, so long as that remains unwounded, the spirit of man.can bear his infirmities. God is intimate to our souls, and hath secret ways whereby to convey the joys and comforts of his Holy Spirit into our hearts, under the bittereft afflictions and sharpest sufferings. He can enable us, by his grace, to pollefs our fouls in patience, when all other things are taken from us. Where there is nothing but trouble about us, he can give us peace and joy in believing ; when we are perfecuted, affiched, and tormented, he can give us that ravishing fight of the glories of another world, that stedfast assurance of a future blessedness, as fhall quite extinguish all fenfe of present fufferings. How did many of the primitive Christian martyrs, in the

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