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Vol.VIL

SERMON VIII

.

The Long-suffering of God.

ECCLES. VIII. ir.

Because fentence against an evil work is

not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

N

Oching is more evident, than

that the world lies in wicked-
nes, and that iniquity

, every where abounds ; and yet nothing is more certain; than that God will not acquit the guilty, and let sin go unpunilhed. All Men, excepting thofe who have offer'd notorious violence to the light of their own Minds, and have put the candle of the Lord, which is in them, under a busbel, do believe, that there is a God in the World, to

whole

eyes are

whose holy Nature and Will sin is Vol . Vil. perfe&tly contrary, who loves righteoul

neß and hates iniquity, that his
upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his
goings, that there is no darkneß nor sha:
dow of death where the workers of iniquity
may hide themselves. All Men, except
those whose Consciences are seared, as
it were with a hot Iron, are convinc'd
of the difference of good and evil, and
that it is not all one whether men serve
God or serve him not, do well, or live
wickedly. Every Man from his in-
ward Sense and Experience is satisfie
ed of his own Liberty, and that God
lays upon Men no necessity of finning,
but that when ever we do amiss, it is
our own act, and we chuse to do so;
and so far is he from giving the least
countenance to sin, that he hath gi-
ven all imaginable discouragement to
it, by the most severe and terrible
threatnings, such as one would think
fufficient to deter Men for ever from
it, and to drive it out of the World;
and to make his Threatnings the more
awful and effectual, his Providence
hath not been wanting to give re-
markable Instances of his Justice and
Severity upon notorious Offenders, e.

ven

ven in this life ; and yet for all this, Vol. vu. Men do and will fin; nay, they are zealously set and bent upon it.

Now here is the wonder; what it is that gives finners such heart, and makes them so resolute and undaunted in so dangerous a course. Solomon gives us this account of it, because the Punishments and Judgments of God follow the fins of Men so slowly, and are long before they overtake the finner, Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the hearts of the fons of men are fully set in them to do evil.

The scope of the wife Man's discourse is this, That by reason of God's forbearance and long-suffering toward sinners in this life, 'tis not so easie to discern the difference between them and other Men ; this life is the day of God's Patience, but the next will be a day of retribution and recompence. Now because God doch defer and moderate the punishment of finners in this world, and reserve the weight of his Judgments to the next, because through the long-suffering of God many great sinners live and dye without any remarkable te02

ftimony

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myftimony of God's wrath and displeaVol VII. sure against them, therefore the hearts

of the children of men are fully set in them to do evil.

If we render the Text word for word from the Original, it runs thus, Because nothing is done as a recompense to an evil work, therefore the hearts of the fons of men are full in them to do evil; that is, because Men are not opposed and contradicted in their evil ways, because Divine Justice doth not prefently check and controul finners, becaufe sentence is not immediately paft upon them, and judgment executed, therefore the heart of the sons of men is full in them to do evil, that is, therefore Men grow bold and presumptuous in fin; for the Hebrew word which we render, is fully set in them, we find Esth. 7. 5. where Ahahuerus says concerning Haman, Who is be ? and where is he, that durst presume in his heart to do To? W'hose heart was full to do so, Fervet in iis cor filiorum hominum ; fo some render it, the hearts of men boil with wickednes, are so full of it, that it works over. Men are refolute in an evil course, their hearts are strengthened and hardened in them to do evil, fo o

thers

thers translate the words. The Tranf.

Vol. VII. lation of the LXX is very emphatical, énergopron xoepdia, the heart of the fons of men is fully perswaded and afsured to do evil. All these Translations agree in the main scope and fense, viz. That sinners are very ape to presume upon the long-suffering of God, and to abuse it, to the hardning and encouraging of themselves in their evil ways. In the handling of this, I shall

First, Briefly shew that it is fo.

Secondly, Whence this comes to pass, and upon what pretences and colours of reason, Men encourage

themselves in sin, from the Patience of God.

Thirdly, I shall endeavour to answer an Objection about this matter.

First, That Men are very apt to an buse the long-suffering of God, to the encouraging and hardning of themfelves in anevil côurse, the experience of the World in all Ages does give abundant teftimony. Thus it was with the old World, when the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while he was preparing an Ark, for the space of

hundred and twenty years, 1 Pet. 3. 20. For the wickedness of Man, which

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