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here the deepest project of infinite wisdom, and the richest gift of free-grace, wherein God commends his love to men, arc vilely undervalued as small things : and thus have you done days without number; and yet his hand is not stretched out, to cut thee off in thy rebellion : Who is a God like unto thee! What patience like the patience of Christ !
4. The length of time the patience of Christ hath endured thee, speaks the perfection and riches of patience towards thee.
Coplider finaer, what age thou art of, how many years thou canst number, and that all this hath been a time of patience, for thou walt a transgressor from the womb, Isa. xlviii. 8, 9. yet for his name fake hath he deferred his anger, and hath not cut thee off. How soon did the wrath of God break forth up, on the angels when they fioned in heaven! And how long hath it borde with thee, whilst thou hast been provoking him on earth? Was there ever patience like the patienee of God! Ma. py thousands have been sept away to hell fince thy day, but thou art yet fpared; O that the long-suffering of God might be falvation to thee !
5. It is a great evidence of the power of divine patience that may be drawn from the grievvufness of our fios to God, during the whole time of his forbearance : it is true, there is no proper pallion in the divinc bature, no real perturbation, his anger is a mild and holy Aame ; get the contrariety of fin to the holiness of his nature is what makes his patience miraculous in the eyes of men. The fcripture speaking ia a condescending language to the understanding of the creature, represents God as wound. ed to the heart by the fios of men; so in Ezek. vi. 9. “ I am “ broken with their whorith heart, which hath departed from
me;" and Amos ii. 13." Behold I am pre:sed under you, as " a cart is prefled that is full of sheaves,” when the axle-tree is ready to crack uoder the load: and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. it is faid, “ The wrath of the Lord arose agaiost his people til! * there was no remedy ;" his patience would bear no longer, and therefore when he executes his wrath upon provokiog liapers, that execution is represented in the nature of an ease or relief to his burdened patience and justice, lla. i. 24. " Ah, faith " he, I will ease me of my enemies, and avenge me of my ado “ versaries.” Yet, observe, it comes in with an (ab) with a kiod of regret and reluctancy; so in Ffa. X. 25. Yet a very " little while and the indignation shall cease, and my aoger is “ in their destruction.” God could have given ease and rest this way to his anger long ago, but he chuses rather Nill to bear with thee, than on these terms to ease himself of thee.
Evidence 6. The vast expences of his riches and booty spor us, daring the whole time of his forbearance and petiese to wards us, speak him uncooceirable and infinite in tis loog-offering towards us, Rom. q. 4, 5.“ Defpifelt thoa tbe riches of “ his goodoels, and torbearance, and long-fuffering, sot kaos. “ ing that the goodoefs of God leaderb thee to repentance ** 9.d. Vile foder, canft thon compute the trealares of bogety and goodaess, thou hast been riotovily spending and wasting ] this while? Dolt thou know what raft fums Cbrift hath ipert upon thee to preserve thee fo tong out of hell? There be tipo treasures spending upon foders all the time of God's focbearance of them ; tbere is the precious treafure of thy time salied, and the invaluable streams of gospel-grace running all this while at the walle spout : thy time is precious; the whole of thy time, which is betwixt thee and eternity, is bot little, and the most thereof has been walted io lio, and cast away opon vaaity: but that is not all, the treasores of gospel-grace have been walting all this while upon thee, la Zech. iv. 12. it is compared to goldeo oil, maintaining the lamps of ordinances; so it is lat forth to us in that frately emblem. Who would maintain a lamp with golden oil for waptop children to play by? Yet this hath God done while thy soul hath dallied and trified with him. The witnesses and ministers of Christ, in Rev. xi. 3, 4. are compared to those olive-trees that drop their precious oil, their gifts, graces, yea, and their natural spirits with them, into this lamp, to keep it burdiog; all this wbile the blood of Christ hath been running in vain, the ministers of Christ preaching and beseeching in vain, the Spirit of Christ striving with you in vaio. You burn away golden oil, and get your lamp is got gone out. O marvellous patience ! O the riches of God's forbearance !
7. Lastly, The riches of divide patience towards you, are greatly heightened and aggravated by the quick dispatch the Lord hath made of other fingers, whilst he hath spared and past over you. This comparative consideration calls upon you in the apostle's language, Rom. xi. 22.“ Behold the goodness and “ severity of God; vn them which fell, severity ; but towards “ thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodaess, otherwise " thou shalt be cut off.” Some sippers have been cut off in the begioning of their days, many in the very acts of fin, and those not greater than thy sios; they are gone to their own place, and thou still left for a mosument of the patience and forbearance of God, The sia of Achan was not a greater fin ! than thy covetousness, and the earthliness of thy heart is ;-thic
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fia of Nadab and Abihù, in offering up strange fire, than thy superstition, and offering up uncommanded services to God : yet the hand of God fell upon them, and (mote them dead in the place ; in the day and place wherein they fioned, they pe. rished; they were taken away in their iniquities, but thou referved. O that it might be for an ioltance and example of the riches of divine patience, which may at last lead thee to repeataace!
Thus I have given you seven evidences of the wonderful pa. tience of Christ, who hath food, and still doth stand at the door aod knock. Next we will enquire into the grounds and reasons of this marvellous patience of Christ, this astonishing long-suffering of God towards Ganers; and there are divers obvious reasons of the long-sufferiog of God towards men. · Realon. 1. The exercise of his patience is a standing testimony of his reconcileable and merciful nature towards sinful man. This he thewed forth in his patience toward Paul, a great example of his merciful nature, for a patters to them that should hereafter believe on him, i Tim. i. 16. The long-suffering of God is a special part of his manifestative glory; and therefore wheo Moies desired a sight of his glory, Exod. xxxiv. 6. he proclaims his name, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and “ gracious, loog-suffering, and abundant ia goodness and truth." He would have poor singers look towards him as an atonable Deity, a God willing to be reconciled, a God that retaineth pot his anger for ever; but if poor finners will take hold of his Itrength, and make peace with him, they may have peace, Ila. xxvii. 4. This long-suffering is an attribute very expressive of the divine nature; he is willing sinoers should know, whatever their provocations have been, there is room for pardon and peace, if they will get come in to accept the terms. This pa. tience is a diadem belonging to the imperial crown of heaveo ; the Lord glories in it, as what is peculiar to himself, Hof. xi. 9. “I will not execute the fierceness of my anger; for I am “ God and not man ;" 9. d. Had I been as man, the holiest, meekest, and morrifiedl man upon earth, I had consumed them long ago; but I am God, and not man, my patience is above all created patience; po husband can bear with his wife, no parent with his child, as God hath borne with you. That is one season of Christ's waiting upon trilling lioners, to give proof of his gracious, merciful, and reconcileable oature towards the worst of finners. · Reason 2. The Lord exercises this admirable patience towards ; VOL. IV.
finners, with design thereby to lead them to repentance; that is the direct aim and intention of it. The Lord defires, and delights to see, ingenuous relentings and brokenness of heart for fia; and there is nothing like bis forbearance, and patience, for promotiog luch an evangelical repeo tance. All the terrors of the law will not break the heart of a singer, as the patience and long-suffering of God will do; therefore it is faid, Rom. ii. 4. " That the goodness, forbearance and long-suffering of God " lead men to repentance:" these are fitted to work upon all t'hole priociples of humanity, which ioclipe men to repentance; reasou, copícience, gratitude, feel the influences of the good. pels of God herein, and melt under it; Saul's heart relented in this cale, 1 Sam. xxiv. 17. “ Is this thy voice, my fon David ? " and Saul lift up his voice, and wept : and he said to David, " Thou art more rightcous than I, for thou hast rewarded me " good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” Thus the good. ness and forbearance of God doth, as it were, take a linder by the hand, leads him into a corner, and faith, come, let thou aad I talk together ; thus and thus vile haft thou been, and thus and thus long-suffering and merciful have I been to thee; thy heart hath been full of fin, the heart of thy God hath becn fult of pity and mercy: This puts the finner into tears, breaks bis heart in pieces; if any thing in the world will melt a hard heart, this will do it. O how good hath God been to me! How bave I tried his patience to the uttermost, and fill he waiteth to be · gracious, and is exalted that he may have compassion ; the fobs apd tears, the ingenuous thaws and releoriogs of a fiober's heart, under the apprehensions of the sparing mercy and goodness of God, is the music of heaven. · Reafon 3. The Lord exercises this long-suffering towards finDers, to clear his justice in the damnation of all the obstinale retusers of Chrifi and mercy. Chrift wails at our doors now, that he may be clear in his sentence against us hereafter. - This patience of Christ takes away all apologies and pleas out of the mouths of impevíteot finders; the more Christ's patieace hath been, the less defence or plea they will have for themtelves.
Think with thyself, finoer, what wilt thou answer in the great day, when Christ Thall fay, Did not I stand at thy door from day to day, from Sabbath tó Sabbath, from year to year, calling, wooing, persuading thee to be reconciled, and accept pardon and mercy in the proper" season of them, and, thou wouldt not ? Rev. ii. 21. “I gave her space to repent, aod the 4. repented not.” Well, the Lord gives you time now, a space of reptatance, such a space as millions of souls, gone out of
time into a miserable eternity, never had. With whomsoever Christ hath been quick and levere, to be sure he hath not been so with you. This time of Christ's patience will be: evidence enough to clear Christ and condemo you; met agd angels shall applaud the sentence as dreadful as it is, and say, righteous art thou, O Lord, in judging thus. .
Reafon 4. The Lord draws forth and exercises his admirable patience towards siapers for the continuation and propagation of the church. The church mult be continued and propagated from age to age; and if God Mould be quick in cutting off sinDers as soon as ever they provoke him, Whence should the elect of God rise in this world! There are thousands of God's elect in the loins of God's enemies. Many that will heartily embrace Christ, must rise from such as reject him. ''
Now if God fhould cut off thefe in the beginning of their pro
vocations, How should the church be continued ? Where had - good Abijal and Hezekiah been, if wicked Jeroboam and Ahaz
had been cut off in their first transgressions? The Lord fuffers many a wicked parent to stand for a time under his patience ; because children are to spring from them who will obey and embrace that Christ whom their wicked parents rejected: yea, the wicked do not only propagate the church, but are usefui to preserve aod defend it: as the useless chaff is a defence to the wheat. Rev. xii, 16. “ The earth fall help the woman." • Reason 5. To conclude, The Lord exerciseth this long-suffering towards finners, in a gracious condescension to the prayers of his people. "Were it not that the Lord had left a small “ rempant, we had been as Sodom, we had been like uato “ Gomorrah,” Ifa. i. 9. · The prayers and interceflions of the saints are a fkreca betwixt wicked men and the wrath of God for a time, Job xxii.
the prayers of the faints; what multitudes of rebellious, Christdefpifiog pioners swarm this day in every part of this nation? Such as declare, by their open practice, they will not have Christ to reign over-them, who contemn his offers, delspise his mésfengers; but blessed be God, yea, and let them bless him too, that there are others mourning to the Lord for them, be.. seeching his forbearance towards them. Little do the wicked know how much they are beholden to the prayers of the faiots. These and fuch like realons prevail with the Lord Jesus to stand fa a wairing, patient posture, at the doors of finners. Ah, how