Page images


"The punishment which overtook him at laft, S ERM. "did not quiet thofe tumultuous thoughts, and ab"folved the gods from all blame." When men look but a little way, and confider only the present state of things, they are ready to quarrel at the justice of them; but if they would look at the end of things, and have patience to stay till the last, to see the conclufion and winding up of things, they would then acquit God in their thoughts from all these imputations of injuftice which, from the inequality of prefent difpenfations, rash and inconfiderate men are apt to charge him withal.

II. Objection, from the tranflation of punishments, the punishing of one man's fin upon another, as of "the fathers upon the children," which God threatens in the second commandment, and did, in fome fort, fulfil in Ahab, in "bringing the evil he had "threatned him withal, in his fon's days," 1 Kings xxi. 19. The punishing the fin of one perfon upon a people, as that of Achan upon the whole congre gation, Josh. xxii. 20. "Did not Achan the fon of "Zerah commit a trefpafs in the accursed thing, "and wrath fell on all the congregation of Ifrael? "and that man perished not alone in his iniquity." And the fin of David upon the people, 2 Sam. xxiv. When seventy thousand died of the plague, for David's fin in numbering the people. Now how is this agreeable to juftice? Is it not a known rule, Noxa caput fequitur?" mifchief pursues the finner?" What can be more reasonable, Quam ut peccata fuos teneant, authores? "Than that mens faults fhould be charg"ed upon the authors," and punishment fall upon the guilty?

For answer to this,

1. It is not unreasonable that one man should bear

[blocks in formation]


SER M. the punishment of another's fault, if he be willing and content to bear it, volenti non fit injuria;," There " is no wrong done to thofe that are willing to un"dergo it," though they be innocent; which was the cafe of our bleffed SAVIOUR fuffering for us," the juft for the unjuft," as the fcripture expref

feth it.

2. Where the perfon, upon whom the punishment is transferred, is likewife a finner, and obnoxious to GOD, there can be no injuftice; because he hath deferved it upon his own account, and God may take what occafion he pleaseth to punish them that deferve to be punished.

3. In punishing" the iniquity of the father upon "the children," the guilty perfon, that is, the father, is punished in the calamity of his children; for a man's children are himself multiplied; and therefore it is very remarkable, that in the fecond commandment, GoD promifeth "to fhew mercy to "thoufands of generations of them that love him;

but he vifits the iniquities of the fathers upon the "children, but to the third and fourth generation," that is, so far as man may live to fee them punished and fuffer in their punishment.

4. As to the punishment of the people for the fins of their princes and governors, and one part of a community for another, fuppofing all of them to be finners, which is the true cafe, GOD may lay the punishment where he pleafeth; and there is no more injuftice than when a man is whipt on the back for the theft which his hand committed, a community being one body: befides, the prince is punished in the lofs of his people, the glory of a king confifting in the multitude of his fubjects.

The objection with refpect to the other world,


the punishment of temporal evils with eternal, is SER M. elsewhere answered.


The ufe we should make of this whole discourse

First, If God be juft and righteous, let us acknowledge it in all his difpenfations, even in those, the reafon whereof is moft hidden and obfcure: Neh. ix. 33. fpeaking of the great afflictions that had befallen God's own people, yet this he lays down as a firm principle, "howbeit, thou art just in all that "is brought upon us."

Secondly, this is matter of terror to wicked men. GOD doth now exercife his milder attributes towards finners, his mercy, and patience, and goodness: but if we defpife thefe, that terrible attribute of his juftice will difplay itself, and this the fcripture describes in a fevere manner; "the LORD revengeth, and is "jealous; the LORD will take vengeance on his "adverfaries, and referveth wrath for his enemies."

Thirdly, this is matter of comfort to good men, that the righteous GoD governs the world, and will judge it: "the LORD reigneth, let the earth re


joice," Pfal. xcvii. 1. And he gives the reafon of it in the next verfe; righteoufnefs and judgment


are the habitation of his throne." Though he be omnipotent, we need not fear; for his power is always under the conduct of eternal righteousness.


Fourthly, let us imitate this righteousness; let us endeavour to be righteous as he is righteous;" let us give to Gon the love, reverence, and obedience which are due to him; and in all our dealings, what is juft and due to men. This duty hath an immutable reafon, founded in the nature of God.

[blocks in formation]



The truth of GOD.

DEUT. xxxii. 4.
A GOD of truth,

IN fpeaking to this attribute, I shall

I. Shew you what we are to understand by the truth of GOD.

II. Endeavour to prove that this perfection belongs to God, that he is "a GoD of truth."

III. Answer fome objections that may be made against it; and then make fome use of it.

Į. What we are to understand by the truth of God. I fhall take it as the fcripture ufeth it in a large sense, fo as to include not only the veracity of God, but his faithfulness. Hence it is that, in scripture, truth and faithfulness are fo often put together, and frequently put one for another: Ifa. xxv. I. "Thy "counfels of old are faithfulness and truth." Rev. xxi. 1. "These words are true and faithful." And the faithfulness of GOD, in performing his promises, is frequently called his truth. And because the scripture useth them promiscuously, we need not be very folicitous to find out diftinct notions of them but if you will, they may be diftinguished thus: the truth or veracity of God hath place in every declaration of his mind; the faithfulness of GOD, only in his promifes.


For the first, the veracity or truth of GOD; this hath place in every declaration of his mind; and fignifies an exact correfpondence and conformity be



tween his word and his mind, and confequently be- SERM. tween his word and the truth and reality of things. The correfpondence of his word with his mind, depends upon the rectitude of his will; the conformity of his word with the reality of things, not only upon the rectitude of his will, but the perfection of his knowledge, and the infallibility of his understanding: fo that when we fay GoD is true, or speaks truth, we mean thus, that his words are a plain declaration of his mind, and the true reprefentation of things, in oppofition to falfhood, which is fpeaking otherwise than the thing is; and hypocrify, that is, fpeaking otherwise than we think. For inftance, when God declares any thing to be fo, or not to be fo, to have been thus, or not to have been thus; the thing really is fo, and he thinks fo; when he expreffeth his defire of any thing, he does really defire it; when he commands any thing, or forbids us any thing, it is really his mind and will that we should do what he commands, and avoid what he forbids; when he declares and foretels any thing future, it really shall come to pafs, and he really intended it fhould; if the declaration be to be understood abfolutely, it shall abfolutely come to pafs; if the declaration be to be understood conditionally, it shall come to pass, and he intends it shall, if the condition be performed. Secondly, the faithfulness of GOD. This only hath place in his promises, in which there is an obligation of juftice fuperadded to his word; for GOD, by his promife, doth not only declare what he intends, and what fhall be; but confers a right upon them to whom the promise is made, so as that the breach of his promife would not only caft an imputation upon his truth, but upon his justice.

II. That this perfection belongs to God. And this I fhall endeavour to prove,

« PreviousContinue »