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thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.' Let us first consider in a general way, THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE, AND LONG SUFFERING OF GOD!-goodness is not meant here an inherent perfection, consisting of holiness, purity and excellence; in which sense the term is used in reference to Barnabus, in which it was said "he was a good man,” that is, an excellent, a holy man. But goodness here is put in reference to to the kindness and benevolence of the Deity towards us, in the same sense in which the term is used by the apostle in that passage where he says "scarcely for a righteous man (if rectitude and excellence) would one die, yet peradventure for a good man (a kind and benevolent character) some would even dare to die.”So that you are not to understand by the goodness of God in this passage, the holiness of His nature, but His kindness of character, His goodness. There are several things essential to the idea of bounty: the favors that we receive from Him are given from His own storehouse :-it is not bounty to give away what is another's, but God gives away His own. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,"-they are all the productions of His skill, power, and constant care; they are all His, and He has a right to withhold them if He pleases, for not one of them is ours; there is not one, of which we can dare to say this is not God's!-it is He gives us all we have, so He gives us from His own storehouse. The bounty of the greatest monarch is but like the clouds, which pour nothing down, but what they have first gathered up ;-but what God gives us, comes from Himself, the sole Lord and proprietor of them all. Nor is it only so, but He gives largely-exuberance enters into the very idea of benevolence, and the goodness of God is exuberant-you have heard in the language of the psalmist this morning how good, how bountiful, how exuberant in His bounty, how admirable God is :"All creatures wait upon thee, my God, and thou givest them their meat in due season: that thou givest them, they gather thou openest thine hand and satisfiest the wants of every living thing." Ó, think of the wants of His creation, and of the supply of those wants, dealt out with a most liberal hand! The greatest feast that was ever made upon earth, was that which was made by Ahasuerus, King of Persia, as you will see in the first chap. of the book of Esther:-"When the King Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which was in Shushan the palace, in the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, being before him; when he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honor of his excellent majesty, many days, even an hundred and four-score days.”—And yet you see this feast was but to the chiefs and nobles of his kingdom, and lasted only half a year; but the feast that God makes, is for
ALL his creatures and lasts PERPETUALLY ;-"Thou crownest the year with thy goodness, thou dost encircle it with a diadem of goodness all the year." And we are to consider in this bounty, its disinterestedness.-What He gives us, is neither the recompense of any thing we have done, nor to be recompensed to Him, by any thing we can do. What can we do to profit Him? He is just the same as ever He was; just as holy, just as happy, just as glorious, whether you serve Him in return for His favors, or whether, acting with the deepest and most base ingratitude, you do not. If He could be greatened or lessened by any thing we could do, He would not be the infinite God! Čanst thou, 0, man, be profitable unto God? Oh Lord, thou mayst say, thy goodness extendeth not unto thee; and when you have done all you must say "we are unprofitable servants"-therefore the goodness of God is in the noblest sense disinterested ;-He cannot receive any advantage in return, and therefore He does not look for any, He does not expect any thing. If he requires you to be obedient to His laws, it is because obedience is for your good: you will see this in the book of Deuteronomy, 10th chap. and 12th verse, "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command thee this day, for THY GOOD?"— Not for any advantage that accrues to God, but for our own good! "If ye do good (says Christ) to those who have done good to you (or, that pay you again) what thanks have ye?"-But rather do good to those that cannot pay you again, for then will you be the companions of the most high God, who is above all blessed for ever more. The favors of God are bestowed upon us cheerfully. A willing mind, we are told by the apostle, is preferred by the Almighty to the very act of liberality itself! and God, who loveth a cheerful giver, is Himself abundantly willing in His gifts. He rejoices over all His works; he takes pleasure in conferring His bounties upon creation; He delights to see all His creatures feeding at His table and He gives to all, "liberally and upbraideth not," He gives from His own stores,-He gives largely, -disinterestedly, and cheerfully.
Next to GOODNESS, the apostle adds FORBEARANCE :— "despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance," His is more than goodness, which regards only the deep:-it is more than mercy, which regards only the needy and miserable; but forbearance regards the guilty! God not only grants us His favors, but grants them though we have rebelled against Him and provoked Him to wrath and and fierce displeasure by our manifold sins. Forbearance consists in restraining deserved fury and wrath. It must be, my brethren, by a necessity of nature, that, as the God of holiness and order, our transgressions, our sins and iniquities
must provoke Him, that they kindle a flame of pure and just and righteous wrath in Him; that they have drawn Him on to punish us, but He has forborne, He has held back, and has dispensed His favors still amongst us:-It is not slackness, it is not indifference,it is not ignorance as to what is done on earth, as was the case with the idol gods of the heathens-nor is it sinking into apathy or an unwillingness to punish-No! His red right arm of vengeance is ready to be stretched out at the commission of every sin, and thousands and tens of thousands, and myriads of His messengers stand ready in His presence and wait only for His permission to execute His commands of vengeance and yet He forbears-He checks himself-He draws back His hand of fury, and puts forth the golden sceptre of mercy! In addition, therefore, to all the favors you have received from God, remember His forbearance.
But THIRDLY; to FORBEARANCE the apostle adds LONG SUFFERING.-Forbearance was only for a time-it has limitsoften has it seemed ready to give us up-but it has still continuedand so on, again and again, and again-till it became long suffering! God has forborne to punish us, and has caused His favors to fall upon us, not for the space of three years, as was the case with the barren tree, but for thirty and forty years, aye with some of us for three score and ten!-So that we are many of us monuments of His long suffering, all of us proofs of His forbearance and objects of His goodness.
Let us deal no longer with the general representation, but let us consider it under that epithet with which the apostle invests it in the text, namely, that of RICHES-"Despisest thou the RICHES of His Goodness, forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" I think a few things, at least, are included in this phrase, "the riches of His goodness, forbearance and long suffering."-The first is their universality-His goodness, and long suffering are most extensive! Look at a single transgressor, see him, going on his sin day after day, and year after year, multiplying his crimes and braving, as it were, the vengeance of the Most High! You wonder He does not punish-you expect every day that His judgment will fall upon the sinner and you are lost in astonishment that it does not!— Ah! God has borne with us all ;-not with one individual onlynot with a thousand-not with a million-but with hundreds of millions of human beings, who have all their share in His goodness and forbearance and long suffering-Their is not an individual, on being converted by divine grace, and brought to see the goodness of God and the holiness of His character, there is not one such, but is astonished that God has spared him so long, amidst so many and repeated provocations; he wonders why, in the commission of such and such sins, he was not cut down-he looks back to the periods when he was brought to the brink of the grave, to the very embrace of death, and he is astonished and justly asto
nished, that mercy drew him back from the borders of the pit; Ah! my friends, you are astonished that God spared you so long before He brought you into His family; and mercy has spared its thousands, who are yet to be brought into His family!-Consider, therefore, the universality and extent of His goodness and forbearance and long suffering, and you will at once perceive their riches.
The phrase implies also their continuance. This goodness, forbearance and long-suffering of God, have been continued for a long, long period; myriads upon myriads of those who were the subjects of them, have long since passed off the stage of life and slumber in quiet forgetfulness ;-nevertheless, we must summons them in our imagination at least as proofs of the goodness, and forbearance and long-suffering of our God. Men live in succession; one generation passeth away, and another cometh, and each of these generations is a world, and God has manifested the riches of His goodness, forbearance and long-suffering, to as many worlds in succession, from the period of the transgression in the garden till the present moment, but they are not at all diminished-and then every successive race, every successive generation, every successive world has abused His mercy and (if I may be allowed the expression) rendered it fruitless !-But still the present generation of mankind finds the mercy of God flowing upon it, as freely as though it were the first race of mankind! The apostle Paul, who had lived between thirty and forty years in rebellion against his God, was no sooner converted and brought to a sense of his condition, than he exclaimed, "I am the chief of sinners. but it has pleased God to shew forth in me a pattern of all long-suffering!"—If he then for 30 years of sin accounted himself a pattern of God's long forbearance, Oh! what must the world be for so many generations! It was an excellent observation of an old divine, that if one little bark was so richly freighted with the longsuffering of God, what must the whole world be, that passed over such a mighty gulp of continued goodness!"-We carry our contemplation back to the first generation of human beings, and from them to the present time, from now till the judgment day, through all successive generations of human beings, as the proof, the long the boundless proof of His continued goodness, forbearance and, long-suffering, almost surpassing even the imagination of man!
THIRDLY; This phrase, "the riches of His goodness," seems to intimate to us, ADVANTAGEOUS DESIGN. A thing of trivial value in itself may become exceedingly valuable from the extent of it, and the use to which it may be applied-A written parchment, for instance is a trifle in itself; yet if it was signed with the good will of another in my favor, it might be the instrument of putting me into the possession of an immense estate, and so a thing may be rendered inestimable by the mere intention of it and the use to which it may be put: And by the same observation, the goodness of God, valuable as it is in itself, is infinitely more so from its de
sign, and the use to which it may be converted-it is to lead us to repentance!—He has capacitated us to be acted upon by goodness, and He expects it should have that influence; he waits for it"His goodness leadeth thee to repentance"-He has a thousand ways to bring thee back to the source from which thou hast wandered-He is represented in the scriptures as expecting and desiring our repentance-it is said by one of the prophets, "Oh Jerusalem! wilt thou be made clean ?" His grace and goodness draw us to Himself, and bring us to the enjoyment of His favor, and to the possession of His glory! Despisest thou then, the goodness, forbearance and long-suffering of God, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"
We have proceeded sufficiently far, in the abstract representation of this subject. Let us in the third place, apply it to our INDIVIDUAL SELVES. Let us consider, how the goodness of God to each of us has been adapted, in every stage, to bring us to repentance, and how, that same goodness aggravates every measure of our guilt!" Despisest THOU" (you see the subject is personal) "Despisest THOU the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; But after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up to thyself, wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God." Go with me then in imagination back to that period, when you had no existence :-Was it not the election of God that determined that thou shouldest have a capacity to share His benefits and be for ever with Him?—But for His good-will towards thee, thou wouldest now have slumbered in the womb of forgetfulness, and nothingness! Was it nothing that He placed thee in an order of being the noblest in His creation! Thou art a worm ;-the very elements of nature were ransacked for thee, and the world made over again in minature, in thy mortal frame!—and that to serve only as the case and covering of an immortal soul. A spark of the divine flame! the breath of Deity! The resemblance and image of thy God! and this though a part of thy being, is more value than all the world. "For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" And though thou art mixed up with guilt by the transgression of thy first parents, and though the stones out of the earth might have called for judgment upon thee to the very uttermost; yet thou art not made imperfect! In God's book all thy members were written! Hads't thou wanted a limb, what a helpless creature thou wouldest have been! Hadst thou been destitute of sight, what would this world have been to thee, but a prison! Hadst thou wanted an ear, of what an exquisite pleasure wouldest thou have been deprived, in listening to the voices of thy fellow creatures! Hadst thou wanted a tongue, the glory of thy frame, what wouldest thou have been in society, but a brute! And what a world did God bring thee into,-a world where a