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vering it felf, in his patience and longVol. VII suffering to Sinners, and in his merci
ful care and provision for their recove-, rý out of that miferable state. And this may fuffice for answer to the firft Objection, if God be so good, whence then comes evil?
The Second Objection against the Goodness of God, is from the Doctrine of absolute reprobation ; by which I mean the decreeing the greatest part of Mankind to eternal misery and torment, without any consideration or respect to their sin and fault. This seems not only notoriously to contradict the Notion of infinite Goodness, but to be utterly inconsistent with the least meafure and degree of Goodness. Indeed, if by reprobation were only meant, that God in his own infinite Knows ledge foresees the fins and wickedness of Men, and hath from all eternity determined in himself, what in his Word he hath so plainly declared, that he will punish impenitent Sinners with everlasting destruction ; or if by reprobation be meant, that God hath not elected all Mankind, that is, absolutely decreed to bring them infallibly to Salvation ; neither of
inconsistent with the goodness of God. 69 these Notions of reprobation, is any volun. ways inconsistent with the goodness Vol. VII. of God; for he may foresee the wickedness of Men, and determine to punish it, without any impeachment of his goodness: He may be very good to all, and yet not equally and in the fame degree'; if God please to bring any infallibly to Salvation, this is transcendent goodness; but if he put all others into a capacity of it, and use all necessary and fitting means to make them happy, and after all this, any fall short of happiness, through their own wilful fạult and obstinacy, these Men are evil and cruel to themselves, but God hath been very good and merciful to them.
Buc if by reprobation be meant, either. that God hath decreed, without re. spect to the fins of Men, their abfalute ruin and misery ; or that he hath decreed that they shall inevitably sin and perish; it cannot be denied, but that such a reprobation as this doth clearly overthrow all possible Notion of goodness. I have told you, that the true and only Notion of goodness in God, is this, that it is a propension and disposition of the Divine Naturé, to communicate
My Being and Happiness to his Creatures : But
contrary to a disposition to make them
But it is said, reprobation is an act
Now if the Doctrine of absolute reprobation, and the goodness of God can.
inconsistent with the goodness of God. not possibly stand together, the Que me stion is, Which of them ought to give
Vol. VII, way to the other? What St. Paul determines in another case, concerning the truth and fidelity of God, will equally hold concerning his goodness; Let God be good, and every Man a lyar, The Doctrine of absolute reprobation is no part
of the Doctrine of the Holy Scriptures,that ever I could find; and there's the Rule of our Faith. If some great Divines have held this Doctrine, not in opposition to the goodness of God, but hoping they might be reconciled together, let them do it if they can; but if they cannot, rather let the Schools of the greatest Divines be call'd in question, than the goodness of God, which next to his Being, is the greatest and clearest truth in the world.
Thirdly, It is farther objected, that the eternal punishment of Men for temporal Faults seems hard to be reconciled with that excess of Goodness, which we suppose to be in God.
This Objection I have fully answer'd,in a Discourse upon S.Matth.25. 46. and therefore shall proceed to the
Fourth and last Obječtion, against the goodness of God, from sundry Inftances of God's severity to Mankind,
in those great Calamities which by Vol.VII
. the Providence of God have in feveral Ages either befaln Mankind in general, or particular Nations.
And here I shall confine my self to Scripture Instances, as beirig most known, and most certain and remarkable, or at least equally remarkable with any that are to be met with in any other History; such are the early and univerfal degeneracy of all Mankind, by the fin and transgression of our firft Parents; the destruction of the World by a general deluge; the sudden and terrible destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the Cities about them, by Fire and Brimstone from Heaven; the cruel extirpation of the Canaanites by the express command of God; and lastly, the great Calamities which befel the Jewish Nation, especially the final ruin and dispersion of them ať the destruction of Jerusalem. These and the like instances of God's feverity, seem to call in question his goodness.
Against these severe and dreadful Instances of God's severity, it might be a fufficient vindication of his goodness, to say in general, that'they were