IF the object of our desire is the true, the sublimest, and the highest good, why should not my heart love Thee above all things, since Thou art supremely good, and beneficence itself?  It is impossible for man to love anything if it be not either really good, or at least presented under the colour and pretence of good. When he loves what is evil, he does not desire it in so far as it is evil, but because the evil comes to him concealed under cover of some good, by which the will, being excited, is carried away by mistake to wish for the evil, which would never be loved by our will if it came to us undisguised. The world presents to our choice things apparently good, such as its pleasures, honours, temporal advantages and other like things. But beneath such transitory and defective good comes death, together with the abominations of various vices and sins. Thou submittest to these deceits, my soul, when — devoting thyself to these outward vanities — thou purchasest eternal and lasting torments at the price of losing thy freedom. Canst thou not see that it is falsehood and wickedness to forsake thy God, Who is supremely good, and a pure act of beneficence, for a goodness so superficial as that which displays itself in the creature?

The goodness of the creature is only a tiny drop which flows from that boundless ocean and profound inimitable abyss of the ineffable goodness of the Creator. Why then dost thou abandon the reality for a mere appearance, and that which is truly good for a mere shadow of goodness? Beneath this trivial goodness which thou seest in creatures, and which they have received as a gift from the exceeding goodness of the Creator, are hidden many imperfections; but the goodness of the Lord is His own proper attribute, without the admixture of any imperfection.

What wickedness then is it on thy part to forsake that which is substantially and essentially good and so worthy of being loved for the sake of a little transient good which covers many defects and faults that are only deserving of abhorrence! "None is good, save God only," saith the Scripture; for He alone is substantially good, and His goodness is natural to Him and a property of His essence; but the goodness of the creature is acquired, communicated, borrowed and very superficial, and is not good in itself, except by participating in the goodness which it received from God.

My God, Who art the source and spring from whence proceeds all the goodness that I love on earth, let my heart love Thee above all things, since according to its natural instinct it cannot be lifted up except by that which is good, nor taken captive except by excellence real or apparent. O Lord, Who art the supreme excellence and the true good, I ought to love Thee, for Thou art altogether good, and the chief object of my heart; Thou art the end of my desires, the repose of my mind, and the fulfilment of my wishes. Thou art essentially good, and all other goodness is something merely subsidiary, and unworthy of having my love occupied with it.

Thou didst command Thy servant Moses[Exodus XXV. 17, 18.] to make "a mercy-seat" or "propitiatory" (for the sacred ark), which was a large and lofty altar of pure and massive gold without any sculptured device, which was set above the ark of the covenant between the Cherubim who looked into it, and from whence Thou gavest Thy responses. If, as Thy holy apostle saith, all the ceremonies of that law were figures of the law of grace, what did that altar of pure and solid gold represent but Thy pure, solid, substantial and true goodness? In us goodness is like tinsel, which is fitted on our persons over many weaknesses and defects: but in Thee it is all fine gold, because Thou art essentially altogether good.

A pictured device is a thing entirely accidental and external, and for this reason Thou didst command that the altar should not be sculptured; for in Thee there is nothing accidental, nor is that goodness a mere casual quality, which belongs to Thee by reason of Thine own Nature. The altar was large and wide, for Thy great goodness extends to those that are without, even to the unbelieving and enemies. The sun arises upon the good and bad; and Thou rainest upon the just and the unjust.[Matthew v. 45.] Thou didst not reject the thief who cried unto Thee upon the cross;[Luke xxiii. 42, 43.] Thou didst not despise the sinful woman who sought Thee in the house of the Pharisee;[Luke vii. 47.] nor didst Thou hide Thyself from the adulteress whom they set before Thee in the Temple;[John viii. 11.] and Thou didst not disdain to receive sinners and to eat with them, notwithstanding the murmuring of the Pharisees.[Luke xv. 2.] Thou wast not an accepter of persons; nor did any sinner, however great, come to Thee without finding those bowels of love opened for his relief.

O how ample and widely extended is Thy beneficence, most merciful Lord, for Thou embracest the poor and the slave, the vile and wretched serf, and the miserable sinner, as well as the great, powerful and rich, equally with him who is very high in Thy service! The Cherubim remained gazing upon and contemplating the mercy-seat; for it is an understood truth that only the angelic and human natures can know Thee, and only angels and men take notice of Thy infinite goodness. They held their wings outstretched, because in the consideration and contemplation of Thy goodness our desires are enkindled, and the soul stretches out its affections, ascending with its holy devotions and fervent sighs, loving above all things the will of Him Whom the understanding knows to be worthy of being loved above them all.

Everything that men love is loved for the sake of some good which it possesses; wherefore the good itself is more worthy of being loved. O Lord, since Thou art goodness itself by reason of Thy beneficence. Thou art deserving of being supremely loved. "I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength; the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer."[Psalms xvii. 2, 3.] Thou art greater in Thyself than in all that Thou hast done for us, and so it is right that my heart should love Thee for Thy infinite goodness, even more than for what Thou hast done for me.

Thou oughtest, then, my soul, to bathe thyself in this boundless ocean of the goodness of thy God, and to enter into the profound abyss of the supreme excellence of thy Creator. Let my heart burn in this flaming furnace of Thy boundless love, my God, and let my bowels be inflamed with the love of Thy eternal and sovereign goodness. I will love Thee, my God, Thou infinite good. Thou ineffable blessedness, Who art love without measure or limit, with all my power, and above all things: for Thou art the supreme Good, and the fountain from whence flow forth the benefits which all other things contain.