Page images



But their folly and unreasonableness is not fo great, but their perverfenefs and difingenuity is greater. To fin, because God is long-fuffering, is to be evil, because he is good, and to provoke him, because he fpares us; it is to strive with GOD, and to contend with his goodness, as if we were refolved to try the utmost length of his patience; and because God is loth to punish, therefore to urge and importune him to that which is fo contrary to his inclination.

II. This may ferve to convince men of the great evil and danger of thus abufing the long-fuffering of GOD. It is a provocation of the highest nature, because it is to trample upon his dearest attributes, thofe which he most delights and glories in, his goodness and mercy; for the long-fuffering of GoD is his goodness to the guilty, and his mercy to those who deferve to be miferable.

Nothing makes our ruin more certain, more speedy, and more intolerable, than the abuse of GOD'S goodness and patience. After God had born long with that rebellious people, the children of Ifrael, and notwithstanding all their murmurings, all their infidelity and impenitency, had fpared them ten times, at last he fets his feal to their ruin, Heb. iii.

8, 9.
"Harden not your hearts, as in the provo-
"cation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

when your fathers proved me, and faw my works, "forty years." This was a high provocation indeed to harden their hearts under the patience and long-fuffering of GOD, after forty years trial and experience of it; v. 10. "Wherefore I was grieved

with that generation, and faid, They are a people "that do err in their hearts, for they have not known "my ways." And what was the iffue of all this? Upon this GOD takes up a fixed refolution to bear no longer with them, but to cut them off from the blef


fings he had promised to bestow upon them; "He SERM. "fware in his wrath, that they should not enter in"to his reft. To whom fware he, that they should "not enter into his reft, but to them that believed "not?" Or, as the word may be rendered, "to "them that were difobedient?" that is, to them who went on in their rebellion against him, after he had fuffered their manners forty years.

And as the abuse of God's patience renders our deftruction more certain, fo more speedy and more intolerable. We think that because God fuffers long, he will fuffer always; and becaufe punishment is delayed, therefore it will never come; but it will come the fooner for this: fo our LORD tells us, Luke xii. When" the fervant faid, His LORD delayed his

coming; the LORD of that fervant fhall come "in a day that he looks not for him, and at an hour "when he is not aware, and shall cut him in funder, " and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites." None fo like to be surprised by the judgment of GOD, as those who trefpafs fo boldly upon his patience.

III. To perfuade us to make a right use of the patience and long-fuffering of GoD, and to comply with the merciful end and defign of GOD therein.

1. It is the defign of GoD's long-fuffering, to give us a space of repentance. Were it not that GOD had this defign and reasonable expectation from us, he would not reprieve a finner for one moment, but would execute his judgments upon him so soon as ever he had offended: this our SAVIOUR declares to us by the parable of the fig tree, Luke xiii. 6. Were it not that God expects from us the fruit of repentance, he would "cut us down", and not fuffer us "to cumber the ground": after he had "waited "three years, feeking fruit and finding none, he spares "it one year more, to fee if it would bear fruit."

2. The



SERM. 2. The long-fuffering of GOD is a great encou ragement to repentance. We fee by his patience that he is not ready to take advantage against us; that he spares us when we offend, is a very good fign that he will forgive us if we repent. Thus natural light would reason, and fo the king of Nineveh, a heathen, reasons, "Who can tell if God will turn and "repent?" But we are fully affured of this by the gracious declarations of the gospel, and the way of pardon and forgiveness which is therein established through faith in the blood of JESUS CHRIST, who was made a propitiation for the fins of the whole world." Therefore the long-fuffering of GOD fhould be a powerful argument to us " to break off our fins by repentance :" for this is the end of God's patience; "He is long-fuffering to us-ward, not willing "that any fhould perish, but that all should come "to repentance. He hath no pleasure in the death "of the wicked, but that the wicked fhould turn "from his way and live." GOD every where expreffeth a vehement defire and earnest expectation of our repentance and converfion; Jer. iv. 14. "O "Jerufalem! wash thy heart from wickedness, that "thou mayeft be faved." And chap. xiii. 27. "Wo unto thee, Jerufalem! wilt thou be made "clean? when fhall it once be?" He who is fo pai tient as to the punishment of our fins, is almoft impatient of our repentance for them; "Wilt thou

[ocr errors]

be made clean? when fhall it once be?" And can we stand out againft his earnest defire of our happiness, whom we have fo often and fo long provoked to make us miferable?

Let us then return into ourselves, and think feriously what our cafe and condition is; how we have lived, and how long the patience of God hath fuffered our manners, and waited for our repentance,


and how inevitable and intolerable the mifery of those SERM,

ནས must be who live and die in the contempt and abuse of it; let us heartily repent of our wicked lives, and fay, "What have we done?" How carelefs have we been of our own happiness, and what pains have we taken to undo ourselves?

Let us speedily fet about this work, because we do not know how long the patience of God may last, and the opportunities of our falvation be continued to us. This day of God's grace and patience will have an end; therefore, as the prophet exhorts, Ifa. lv. 6. "Seek the LORD while he may be found, and call

upon him while he is near." Now GOD graciously invites finners to come to him, and is ready to receive them; nay, if they do but move towards him, he is ready to go forth and meet them half way; but the time will come, when he will bid them depart from him; when they fhall cry, "LORD, "LORD, open unto us," and the door of mercy fhall be fhut against them.

All the while thou delayeft this neceffary work, thou venturest thy immortal foul, and putteft thy eternal falvation upon a defperate hazard; and should GOD fnatch thee fuddenly away in an impenitent ftate, what would become of thee? Thou art yet in the way, and God is yet reconcileable, but death is not far off, and perhaps much nearer to thee than thou art aware; at the best thy life is uncertain, and death will infallibly put a period to this day of God's grace and patience.

Repentance is a work fo neceffary, that methinks no man fhould lofe fo much time as to deliberate, whether he should fet about it or not; de neceffariis nulla eft deliberatio; "no man deliberates about what "he muft do, or be undone if he do it not." It is a work of fo great confequence and concernment, and




SER M. the delay of it fo infinitely dangerous, that one would think no wife man could entertain a thought of deferring it. What greater folly and ftupidity can there be, than for men to venture their immortal fouls, and to run an apparent hazard in matters of everlafting confequence?


This day of God's patience is the great opportunity of our falvation, and if we let it flip, it is never to be recovered: if we mif-improve this time of our life, we shall not be permitted to live it over again to improve it better. Our state of trial ends with this life; after that God will prove us no more; then we shall wish, "O that I had known in that my day, "the things which belonged to my peace! but now "they are hid from mine eyes; therefore to day, "whilft it is called to day, harden not your hearts, "make no tarrying to turn to the LORD, and put "not off from day to day; for fuddenly fhall the "wrath of the LORD break forth, and in thy fe

curity thou shalt be deftroyed; exercise repent❝ance in the time of health, and defer not till death "to be justified."


The power of God.

PSA L. LXII. 11.


GOD bath spoken once; twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto GOD.


N treating of the attributes of GOD, I have confidered those which relate to the divine understanding, to which I referred his knowledge and wif

« PreviousContinue »