An Exposition of the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism
by John Flavel
Of God’s Goodness
Q. 1. What is the goodness of God?
A. It is an Essential Property of his Nature, whereby he is absolutely and perfectly good in himself, and the Fountain of all communicated goodness to the creature. Psalm 119:68. Thou art good, and dost good, teach my thy statutes.
Q. 2. How doth the goodness of God differ from the mercy of God?
A. It differs in its objects; for the Misery is the Object of Mercy; but goodness extends to the Creatures that are happy, as well as miserable: as the Angels. Psalm 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 3. What is the first Property of God’s goodness?
A. That all his other Attributes flow out of it as their Fountain: The other acts of God are but the Effluxes of his goodness. Exodus 33:19. And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy unto whom I will show mercy. Exodus 34:6. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.
Q. 4. What is the second Property of the Divine goodness?
A. That it is supreme, and perfect in itself. So as the goodness of no Creature is, or can be. Luke 18:19. None is good save one, and that is God: And consequently above all additions from the Creature. Psalm 16:2. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord… my goodness extendeth not unto thee.
Q. 5. What is the third property of God’s goodness?
A. That it is communicative with Pleasure and delight to the Creature: No Mother draws out her Breast to an hungry Child with more pleasure than God doth his goodness to the Saints. Psalm 145:9. The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.
Q. 6. In what acts hath God first manifested his goodness?
A. He hath manifested it in the Creation and Government of the World. Psalm 104:24. O Lord how manifold are thy works? in wisdom hast thou made them all.
Q. 7. What was the principal work in which God hath manifested his goodness to men?
A. The principal manifestation of God’s goodness, was in the Work of Redemption by Christ. Romans 5:8. God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 4:8-9. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten son into the world, that we might live through him.
Q. 8. But are not the judgements of God on the wicked, and his Afflictions on the Saints, impeachments of his goodness?
A. No, It is the property of goodness to hate and punish Evil in the impenitent. Exodus 34:7. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty, etc. And the afflictions of the Saints flow from his goodness, and end in their true and eternal good. Hebrews 12:6. For whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Psalm 119:71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes.
Q. 9. What may we infer from the goodness of God?
A. The first thing is, that Sin hath made our Natures base, and disingenuous, in that we take no notice of his goodness. Isaiah 1:3. The Ox knoweth his owner, and the Ass his masters crib; but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider; And answer not the design of it. Romans 2:4. Now knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.
Q. 10. What is the second Inference from the goodness of God?A. That therefore God is the fittest Object of our delight and love, and of our trust and Confidence. 1. Of our Delight and Love. Psalm 116:1. I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice, and my supplication. 2. Of our trust and confidence. Psalm 34:8. O taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Q. 11. What is the third Inference from God’s goodness?
A. That Christians have great encouragement to go to God for pardon in case of sin. Psalm 130:4. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared; and for refuge of dangers. Nahum 1:7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; he knoweth them that trust in him.