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XII. I approve on this subject of Durandus' reasoning, which Bellarmine was unable to refute. What we are, and what we have, whether good acts, origood habits, or practices, are all from the divine bounty, who hath given freely and pre serves them. And because none, after having given freely, is obliged to give more, but rather the receiver
is the more obliged to the giver; therefore, from good habits, and good acts or practices, given us by God, God is not bound by, any debt of justice, to give any, ihing more;, so as not giving, to: bew come unjust, but rather we are bound to God.". XIII. Whatever then is promised to the
creature by God, ought all to be ascribed to the immense goodness of the Deity. Finely to this purpose speaks Augustine, serm. xvi. on the words of the apostle, “God became our debtor, not by receiving any, thing, but by promising what he pleased. For, it was of his own bounty that he vouchsafed to make himself a debtor." But as this goodness is natural to God, no less than holiness and justice; and equally becoming God.to act, agreeably to bisi goodness, with a holy and innocent creature: 80, from this consideration of the divine goodness, I imagine the following things may be very plainly inferred.
XIV. Ist. That it is unbecoming the goodness, I had almost ventured to add, and the justice of God, to adjudge an innocent creature to hell torments, A paradox which not only some scholastic divines, but, which I am very sorry to say, a great divine of our own, with a few followers, scrupled not to maintain. Be it far from us, to presume to circumscribe the extensive power of God lover his creatores, by the limits of a right prescribed to us, or by the fallacious reasoning of a narrow understanding. But be it also far from us, to ascribe any thing to him which is unbecoming his immense goodness and unspotted justice. - Elihu, with great propriety joins these together, Job xxxvii. 22; 23. " With God is' terrible majesty. Touching the Almighty we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power and in judgmepty, and in plenty of justice :' he will not atilict.”. For, if God could thus afilict an innucent creature, he would shew he was not pleased with the holiness of his creature; since he would not only deprive, himy of communion with himself, but also give him to the cruelt: will of his enemies. When he destroys the wickedy be makes it plainly appear, he is not delighted with wickedness, i nay, in scripture phrase, Psal. v. 5. hates it.. Should be therefore, in the same manner, torment the pious, he would testify by this. that he did not delight in piety, but rather hated it. Which none without blasphemy can conceive of God. And what else +
are pains of hell ? Are they not a privation of divine, love? A sense of divine hatred ? The worm of conscience ? Despair of recovering God's favour? But how is it possible, without a manifest contradiction, to conceive this ever to be the an innocent creature? And I own, I was struck with horror, when I observed the most subtle Twiss, in order to defend this paradox, choose rather to maintain, it were better to be eternally miserable, and endure the torinents of hell, than not to exist at all: ard when he objected to himself the authority of our Saviour, plainly affirming of Judas; "it had been good for that man, if he had not been born," Mattb. xxvi. 24. that he did not blush to answer, “that many things are said in scripture in a figurative and hyperbolical manner, nay, a great deal accommodated to the sense of the vulgar, and even to human judgment, though erroneous;" all which he applies to this sentence of our Saviour, de Elect. P. 2. 1. 1. $ 4. p. 178, 179. To what length is not even the most prudent hurried, when he gives too much way to his own speculations ? I, for my
? part, think Sophocles formed a sounder judgment than the very acute Twiss, when he said, “better not be, than to live miserable ;" and Oeschylus, in Ixion, “ I think it had been better for that man who suffers great pains never to have been born, than to have existed." Bernard speaks excellently to the same purpose, ad Eugen. de Consider. lib. 5. “ It is not to be doubted, but it will be much worse with those who will be in such a state (of misery] than with those who will have no existence. For, as he says in his sermon, 35, on Solomon's Song, “ the soul, placed in that state, loses its happiness without losing its being: whereby it is always constrained to suffer death without dying, failure without failing, and an end without a period."
XV. Adly. Nor can God on account of this his goodness, refuse to communicate himself to, or give the enjoyment of himself to, an innocent, an holy creature, or to love and favour it, in the most tender manner, while it has a being, and continues pure according to its condition. For, a holy creature is God's very image.
But God loves himself in the most ardent manner, as being the chief good: which he would not be, unless he loved himself above all. It therefore follows, he must also love his own image, in which he has expressed, to the life, himself, and what is most amiable in him, his own holiness. With what shew of decency could he command the other creatures to love such as are holy, did he himself not judge them amiable ? Or, if he judged them so, how is it possible, he should not love them himself?
XVI. Further, God does not love in vain. It is the character of a lover, to wish well to, and to do all the good in his power to the object of his love. But in the good will of God, consists both the soul's life and welfare. And as nothing can hinder his actually doing well by those whom he wishes well to: it follows, that a holy creature, which he necessarily loves from the goodness of his nature, must also enjoy the fruits and effects of that divine love.
XVII. Besides, it is the nature of love to seek union and communion with the beloved. He does not love in reality, who desires not to communicate himself to the object of his affection. But, every one communicates himself such as he is. God, therefore, being undoubtedly happy, makes the creature, whom he loves and honours with the communion of himself, a partaker of his happiness. I say, he makes the creature happy, in proportion to the state in which he wonld have it to be. All these things follow from that love which we have shewn God does in consequence of his infinite goodness, necessarily bear to the creature who is innocent and holy.
XVIII. The same thing may be demonstrated in another manner, and if I mistake pot, incontestably as follows: The sum of the divine commands is thus; love me above all things: that is, look upon me as thy only chief good: hunger and thirst after me: place the whole of thy happiness in me alone: seek me above all : and nothing besides me, but so far as it has a relation to me. But how is it conceivable, that God should thus speak to the soul, and the soul should religiously attend to, and diligently perform this, and yet never enjoy God? Is it becoming the most holy and excellent Being, to say to his pure unspotted creature, (such as we now suppose it) look upon me as thy chief good; but know, I neither am nor ever shall be such to thee. Long after me, but on condition, never of obtaining thy desire : bunger and thirst after me; but only to be for ever disappointed, and never satisfied : seek me above all things; but seek me in vain, who am never to be found. He does not know God, who can imagine that such things are worthy of him.
XIX. After all, if it cannot be inferred from the very nature of the divine goodness, that God gives himself to be enjoyed by a holy creature, proportionable to its state; it is possible, notwithstanding the goodness of God, that the more holy a creature is, the more miserable. Which I prove thus : the more holy any one is, he loves God with the greater intenseness of all his powers: the more he loves, the more he
longs, hungers, and thirsts, after him: the more intense the hunger and thirst, the more intolerable the pain, unless he finds wherewith to be satisfied. If therefore, this thirst ble great to the highest degree, the wanit of what is so ardently desired, will cause an incredible pain. Whence I infer, that God cannot, consistent with his goodness, refuse to grant to his holy creature the communion of himself. Unless we yield this, it will follow, that, notwithstanding the goodness of God, it is possible for the highest degree of holiness to become the highest pitch of misery.
XX. But let it be again observed here, (of which we gave a hint, & VIII.) that this communion of God, of which we are speaking, which the goodness of the supreme Being requires to be granted to a holy creature, is not all the promise of the covenant here'; which is at length to be given, upon fulfilling the condition. For it is not to be reckoned among the promises of the covenant, what God gives his creature now, before he has confirmed the conditions of the covenant. Another and a far greater thing is promised, after the constancy of his obedience is tried, to which the creature acquires some right, 'not simply because it is holy, (for 'such it came out of the hands of its Creator) but because it has now added constancy to holiness, being sufficiently tried to the satisfaction of its Lord. The promises therefore of the covenant contain greater things than this communion" and fruition of God, of whatsoever kind it be, which Adam already enjoyed whilst still in the state of trial. A farther degree of happiness, consisting in the full and immediate enjoyment of God, and in a more - spiritual state, to last for ever, was proposed to him, which the scripture usually sets forth under the title of eternal life.
XXI. And this is the proper question; whether the promise of eternal life, to be entered upon by all after a complete course of obedience, flows from the natural goodness of God, or, whether it is of free and liberal good pleasure ? Indeed, I know not, whiether the safest course be not to suspend the decision of this, till coming to see God face to face, we shall attain to a fuller kvowledge of all his perfections, and more clearly discern what is worthy of them. For, on the one hand, it appears to me hard to affirm, and somewhat too bold, for any one obstinately to insist, that it would have been unbecoming God and his perfections, to enter into covenant with man in this manner: namely, if thou keepest my commands, thou shalt certainly have my favour and most endearing love, I will not only save thee from all uneasiness, but also load
thee with every benefit, and even bless thee with the comme nion of myselt: till having performed thy past, and being amply enough tewarded, I shal) at bength say, Nou return to that nothing out of which thow wast created, and my will iss that this my last command be na less eherfully oboyed than the others, lest thou shouldst forfeit by this last acts of dish obedience, all the praise of thy former obedienet. Has the creature any cause to complain of such a stiprobation Nay, rather, may it not give him joy, since it is far better to have existed for a few ages in a state of holiness and happiness than never to have existed at all.
XXII. On the other hand, I can scarce satisfy myself in my attempts to remove some dificulties. For since (as we before proved) God does, by virtue of his natural goodness, most ardently love a holy creature, as the lively. image of himself, how can this his goodpess destroy that image, and undo his own work? Ia x good into than that thion shouldet despise the marks of thine hands vithout deserving such treatment? Jab x. 8. If it was good, and for the glory of God, to have made a creature to glorify himself; wild it be good, and for the glory of God, to annihilate that creature, who thus glorifies him? And thus in fact to say, thou sbalt not glorify me for ever? Besides, as God himself has created the most intense desire of eternity in the soul, and at the same time, has commanded it to be carried out towards himself, as its eternal good; is it becoming God to frustrate such a de sire, commanded and excited by himself. Further, we have said, it was a contradictim, to suppose God addressing bigan self to a holy soul in the manner following: bumger after me, but thou shalt not enjoy me. Yet in the moment we com ceive the holy creature just sinking into annihilation, it would in cninsequence of that divine command hunger and thirst after God, without any hope of ever enjoying him again. Unless we would choose to affirm, that God at length should say to that soul, Cease longing for me any more acquiesce in this instance of my supreme daminion, by which I order thee to return to nothing. But I own it surpasses, my comprehen. sion, how it is possible a holy creature should not be bound to consider God as its supreme good, and consequently pant after i the enjoyment of him...
XXIII. O Lord Jehovah, bom little da we poor miserable mortals know of thy Supreme Deity, and incomprehensible perfections ! how far short do our thoughts come about these who art infinite or immense in the being, thy attribntes they sovereignty over the creatures ! what oan take uport