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gage us to leave our fins, not to encourage us to continue in them.

Take heed then of abusing the mercy of God: cannot provoke the justice of God more, than by presuming upon his mercy. This is the time of God's mercy; use this opportunity: if thou neglecteft it, a day of justice and vengeance is coming; Rom. ii. 4. 5. Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads to repentance? And treasureft up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God? Now is the manifestation of God's mercy; but there is a time a-coming, when the righteous judgment of God will be revealed against those who abuse his mercy, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth to repentance. To think that the goodness of God was intended for any other end than to take us off from sin, is a gross and affected ignorance that will ruin us; and they wlio draw any conclufion from the mercy of God, which

may

harden them in their fins, they are such as the prophet speaks of, Ifa. xxvii. 11. A people of no understanding; therefore he that made them, will not have mercy on them; and he that formed them, will shew them no favour. Mercy itself will rejoice in the ruin of those that abuse it, and it will aggravate their condemnation. There is no person towards whom God will be more feverely just, than towards such. The justice of God, exasperated and set on by his injured and abufed mercy, like a razor set in oil, will have the keener edge, and be the sharper for its smoothness. Those that have made the mercy of God their enemy, must expect the worst his justice can do unto them.

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S E R M ON

CXLVIII.

The patience of God.

2 PET. iij. 9. The Lord is not flack concerning his promise, as fome men

count hackness) but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perib, but that all pould come to repentance.

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'N the beginning of this chapter the Apostle puts the

Christians, to whom he writes, in mind of the pre

dictions of the antient Prophets, and of the ApoAtles of our Lord and Saviour, concerning the general judgment of the world, which, by many, and, perhaps, by the Apostles themselves, had been thought to be very near, and that it would presently follow the destruction of Jerusalem; but he tells them, that, before that, there would arise a certain feet, or fort of men, that would deride the expectation of a future judgment, designing, probably, the Carpocratians (a branch of that large fedt of the Gnosticks) of whom St. Austin exprefly says, " That they denied the resurrection, and, consequently,

a future judgment." These St. Peter calls scoffers, ver. 3. 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days fcoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming ? The word is

Tay lexic, which signifies a declaration in general, whether it be by way of promise or threatening. What is become of that declaration of Christ, so frequently repeated in the gospel, concerning his coming to judgment? for, since the fathers fell asleep, or, saving that the Fathers are fallen alleep, except only that men die, and one generation succeeds another, all things contiQue as they were from the creation of the world; that is, the world continues still as it was from the beginsing, and there is no sign of any such change and alteration as is foretold. To this, he answers two things :

1. That these scoffers, though they took themselves to be wits, did betray great ignorance, both of the condition of the world, and of the nature of God: they talked very ignorantly concerning the world, when they said, all things continued as they were from the creation of it, when lo remarkable a change had already happened, as the destruction of it by water; and therefore the prediction concerning the destruction of it by fire, before the great and terrible day of judgment, was no ways incredible. And they the wed themselves likewise very ignorant of the perfection of the divine nature; to whích, being eternally the same, a thousand years, and one day, are all one: and if God make good his word fome thousands of years hence, it will make no sensible difference concerning his eternal duration ; it being no matter when a duration begins, which is never to have an end ; ver. 8. Be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thoufand years, and a thousand years as oite day. This, it seems, was a common saying among the Jews, to fignify, that to the eternity of God, no finite duration bears any proportion; and therefore, with regard to eternity, it is all one whether it be a thousand years, or one day. The Psalmist hath an expression much to the fame purpose, Pfal. xc. 4. For a thousand years in thy fight are but as yesterday, when it is past, and as a watch in the night. And the fon of Sirach likewise, Ecclus. xviii. 10. As a drop of water to the sea, and as @grain of sand to the sea-shore, so are a thousand years to the days of eternity.

The like expression we meet with in Heathen writers. To the Gods no time is long, faith Pythagoras : and Plutarch, the whole space of man's life, to the Gods, is as nothing. And, in his excellent discourse of the nowness of the divine vengeance, (the very argument St. Peter is here upon) he hath this passage, “That a thou. “ sand, or ten thousand years, are but as an individual “ point to an infinite duration.” And therefore, when the judgment is to be eternal, the delay of it, though it were for a thousand years, is an objection of no force, a

gainst gainst either the certainty, or the terror of it; for, to eternity, all time is equally short ; and it matters not when the punishment of linners begins, if it shall never have an end.

2. But, because the distance between the declaration of a future judgment, and the coming of it, though it be nothing to God, yet it seemed long to them; there, fore he gives such an account of it, as doth not in the least impeach the truth and faithfulness of God, but is a clear argument and demonstration of his goodness. Ads mitting what they said to be true, that God delays judgment for a great while, yet this gives no ground to conclude that judgment will never be; but it News the great goodnels of God to finners, that he gives them so long a space of repentance, that so they may prevent the terror of that day, whenever it comes, and escape that dreadful ruin, which will certainly overtake, soon. er or later, all impenitent finners: The Lord is not fack concerning his promise ; that is, as to the declaration which he hath made of a future judgment, es fome men count packness; that is, as if the delay of judgment were an argument it would never come. This is a false in ference from the delay of punishment, and an ill interpretation of the goodness of God to finners, who bears long with them, and delays judgment, on purpose to give men time to repent, and, by repentance, to prevent their own eternal ruin: God is not pack concerning his promise, as some men count Nackness; but is long-sufering, to us-ward, not willing that any shoald perish, but that all should come to repentance. In the handling of these words, I shall do these three things :

Fird, I shall consider the patience and long-suffering of God, as it is an attribute and perfection of the divine nature; God is long-suffering to us-ward.

Secondly, I fall thew, that the patience of God, and the delay of judgment; is no just ground why sinners hould hope for impunity, as the fcoffers, here foretold by the Apostle, argued, that because our Lord delayeth his coming to judgment so long, therefore he would never come; God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count facknefi.

Thirdly, Thirdly, I will consider the true reason of God's patience and long-suffering towards mankind, which the Apoftle here gives; He is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

First, I will consider the patience and long-suffering of God towards mankind, as it is an attribute and perfection of the divine nature, God is long-suffering to usward. In the handling of this, I shall do these three things :

1. I Mall shew what is meant by the patience and long-suffering of God.

2. That this is a perfection of the divine nature.

3. I shall give some proof and demonstration of the great patience and long-luffering of God to mankind.

1. What is meant by the patience and long-suffering of God.

The Hebrew word fignifies one that keeps his anger long, or that is long before he is angry. In the New Teltament it is sometimes expressed by the word u moueri, which signifies God's forbearance, and patient waiting for our repentance; sometimes by the word dvoxń, which fignifies God's holding in his wrath, and restraining him. self from punishing; and sometimes by petreceduría, which fignifies the extent of his patience, his long-suffering; and forbearing for a long time the punishment due to finners.

So that the patience of God is his goodness to sinners, in deferring or moderating the punishment due to them for their sins; the deferring of deserved punishment in whole, or in part, which, if it be extended to a long time, it is properly his long-suffering; and the moderating, as well as the deferring of the punishment due to fin, is an instance likewise of God's patience; and not only the deferring and moderating of temporal punishment, but the adjourning of the eternal misery of linners, is a principal instance of God's patience; so that the patience of God takes in all that space of repentance which God affords to finners in this lifc; nay, all temporal judg. ments and affictions which befal finners in this life, and are short of cutting them off, and turning them into hell, are comprehended in the patience of God. Whenever

God

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