Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. II. Sixteenth Century to the Restoration
The Knowledge of God
By Richard Baxter (16151691)
From The Divine Life
THE INFINITE goodness of God should increase repentance, and win the soul to a more resolute, cheerful service of the Lord. O what a heart is that which can offend, and wilfully offend, so good a God! This is the odiousness of sin, that it is an abuse of an Infinite Good. This is the most heinous, damning aggravation of it, that Infinite Goodness could not prevail with wretched souls against the empty, flattering world, but that they suffered a dream and shadow to weigh down Infinite Goodness in their esteem. And is it possible for worse than this to be found in man? He that had rather the sun were out of the firmament than a hair were taken off his head, were unworthy to see the light of the sun. And surely he that will turn away from God himself, to enjoy the pleasures of his flesh, is unworthy to enjoy the Lord.
It is bad enough that Augustine in one of his epistles saith of sottish worldly men, that they had rather there were two stars fewer in the firmament than one cow fewer in their pastures, or one tree fewer in their woods or grounds; but it is ten thousand times a greater evil that every wicked man is guilty of, that will rather forsake the living God, and lose his part in Infinite Goodness, than he will let go his filthy and unprofitable sins. O sinners, as you love your souls, despise not the riches of the goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of the Lord; but know that his goodness should lead you to repentance (Rom. ii. 4). Would you spit at the sun? Would you revile the stars? Would you curse the holy angels? If not, O do not ten thousandfold worse, by your wilful sinning against the Infinite Goodness itself.
But for you Christians, that have seen the amiableness of the Lord, and tasted of his perfect goodness, let this be enough to melt your hearts, that ever you have wilfully sinned against him: O what a good did you contemn in the days of your unregeneracy, and in the hour of your sin! Be not so ungrateful and disingenuous as to do so again. Remember, whenever a temptation comes, that it would entice you from the Infinite Good. Ask the tempter, man or devil, whether he hath more than an Infinite Good to offer you: and whether he can outbid the Lord for your affection?
And now for the time that is before you, how cheerfully should you address yourselves unto his service! and how delightfully should you follow it on from day to day! What manner of persons should the servants of this God be, that are called to nothing but what is good! How good a Master! how good a work! and how good company, encouragements and helps! and how good an end! All is good, because it is the infinite good, that we serve and seek. And shall we be loitering, unprofitable servants!