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SERM. and mercy. It should cause us greatly to detest our LXIX.
sins, which lie under so heinous an aggravation ; to be deeply displeased with ourselves, who have so unworthily committed them.
5. It should therefore render us wary and vigilant against the commission of any sin; that is, of incurring the guilt of so enormous ingratitude and baseness ; making us cautious of doing like those, of whom it is confessed in Nehemiah; They did eat, and were filled, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness : nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy laws behind their back.
6. It should also breed and nourish in us faith and hope in God. For what reason can we have to distrust of so great goodness; that he will refuse to help us in our need; that he will fail in accomplishment of his promises; that he will withhold what is
convenient for us? It should preserve us from deVid. Chrys. spair. What temptation can we have to despair of ii . tom. 6. mercy, if we heartily repent of our misdoings, and me et fuse sincerely endeavour to please him ?
7. It should upon the same account excite us to a free and constant exercise of all devotions. For why should we be shy or fearful of entering into so friendly and favourable a presence ? why should we be backward from having (upon any occasion or need) a recourse to him, who is so willing, so desirous, so ready to do us good ? what should hinder us from delighting in oblations of blessing and praise unto him?
8. It ought to render us submissive, patient, and contented under God's hand, of correction or trial, as knowing that it cannot be without very just cause
Matt. vii. 11.
that such goodness seemeth displeased with us; that SERM. we are the chief causes of our suffering or our want;
LXIX. so that we can have no good cause to repine or complain: for, Wherefore doth the living man complain? Lam. iii.39. since a man (suffers) for the punishment of his sins; since it is our sins that withhold good things from Jer. V. 25. us; since also we considering this attribute may be assured, that all God's dispensations do aim and tend to our good.
9. It should also, in gratitude toward God, and imitation of him, engage us to be good, kind, and bountiful, placable, and apt to forgive; meek and gentle, pitiful, and affectionate toward our brethren; to be good and merciful, as our heavenly Father is Luke vi. merciful and benign even toward the wicked and 'John iii. ungrateful; to be kind unto one another, full of Coir bowels, forgiving one another, as God for Christ's ;
Eph. iv. 32. sake hath forgiven us.
10. Lastly, we ought to have an especial care of perverting this excellent truth by mistakes and vain presumptions; that we do not turn the grace of God Jude 4. into wantonness, or occasion of licentious practice. Because God is very good and merciful, we must not conceive him to be fond, or slack, or careless; that he is apt to indulge us in sin, or to connive at our presumptuous transgression of his laws. No; ETAL το αγαθώ, ή αγαθόν, η μισοπονηρία, (the hatred ofwickedness is consequent upon goodness even as such, as Clemens Alexandrinus saith,) God, even as he is good, cannot but detest that which is opposite and prejudicial to goodness; he cannot but maintain the honour and interest thereof; he cannot, he will not endure us to dishonour him, to wrong our neighbour, to spoil ourselves. As he is a sure friend to us as
SERM. his creatures, so he is an implacable enemy to us as LXIX. impenitent rebels and apostates from our duty. The Psal. xi. 5. wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth. Hab. i. 13. As he is infinitely benign, so he is also perfectly holy, Psal. v. 4,5. and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. He is
not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with him. The foolish shall not
stand in his sight; he hateth all workers of iniPsal. xxxiv.quity. His face is against them that do evil.
Finally, as God is gracious to all such as are capable of his love, and qualified for his mercy; so he is an impartial and upright Judge, who will deal with men according to their deserts, according to the tenor of his laws and ordinances ; according to his immutable decree and word : so that as we have great reason to trust and hope in him, so we have no true ground to presume upon him, vainly to trifle, or insolently to dally with him.
But I leave this point to be further improved by your meditations.
Grant we beseech thee, Almighty God, that the words which we have heard this day with our outward ears, may through thy grace be so grafted inwardly in our hearts, that they may bring forth in us the fruit of good living, to the honour and praise of thy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
SERMON LXX. .
NO RESPECT OF PERSONS WITH GOD.
Rom. ii. 11. For there is no respect of persons with God. It is an ordinary conceit, grounded on a superficial SERM. view of things, that Almighty God dispenseth his LXX. gifts with great inequality, and dealeth very partially with men; being lavish in his bounty to some, but · sparing therein to others; slack and indulgent in calling some to account, but rigorous and severe in judgment toward others.
Which imagination often hath influence upon the affections and the actions of men ; so that hence some men do highly presume, others are much discouraged : some are apt to boast themselves special Ps. lxxiii. 6. darlings and favourites of Heaven; others are tempted to complain of their being quite deserted, or neglected thereby.
But whoever more carefully will observe things, and weigh them with good consideration, shall find this to be a great mistake; and that in truth God distributeth his favours with very equal measures : he poiseth the scales of justice with a most even hand; so that reasonably no man should be exalted, Job xxxi. 6. no man should be dejected in mind, upon account of
SERM. any considerable difference in God's regard towards LXX.
him and other persons; the which is clearly discovered by God, or merely dependeth on his will and providence.
The advantages which one man hath above another, being estimated morally, in reference to solid felicity and content, are indeed none; or are not absolutely made by God, but framed by men unto themselves. For
God is indifferently affected toward persons as such, nakedly and privately considered; or as divested of moral conditions, qualifications, and actions: he in his dealing, whether as benefactor or judge, purely considereth the reason and exigency of things, the intrinsic worth of persons, the real merits of each cause; he maketh no arbitrary or groundless discriminations; he neither loveth and favoureth, nor loatheth and discountenanceth any person unaccountably: he doth utterly disclaim partiality, or respect of persons, as a calumnious aspersion on him, and a scandal to his providence.
Such in holy scriptures he representeth himself, upon various occasions; declaring his perfect impartiality, and that nothing beside the right and reason of cases doth sway with him; all other considerations being impertinent and insignificant to him.
For instance, (Rom. x. It is declared, that he hath no partial respect to 12. iii. 29.)
nations; for the piety of Job, an Edomite; of Melchisedeck, a Canaanite; of Jethro, a Midianite; were very pleasing to him: he favourably did hear
the prayers and accept the alms of Cornelius, a Acts x. 34, Roman soldier; whereupon St. Peter made this ge
neral reflection: Of a truth I perceive that God is