« AnteriorContinuar »
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 stillamongst us:-- Itis not slackness,-itis notindifference,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 only not 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 astonished, 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 design, 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.
thousand influences are constantly at work for thy welfare, without any trouble or anxiety, or even scarcely a wish of thine. The earth on which thou treadest is thy storehouse filled with good things, and constantly yielding thee nourishment from its bosom. The sun is thy companion to light thee to thy work, till thou art tired, and then he leads thee to rest, by bringing on the darkness of night, which is most favorably adapted to thy repose. To say the least, there are a thousand things adapted only to the gratification of man. Every season pours forth its peculiar treasures, and furnishes an agreeable variety, without which life would be tasteless and wearisome. And then, thou comest into the world full of disaffection to thy God; with a heart full of sin, and thou deservedest to die the moment thou didst enter the world ; yet He spared thee-lengthened the days of thy life and brought thee up to man's estate; and though a thousand lessons have been furnished thee, and the tenderest care has watched over thy footsteps, whilst thou hast abused the goodness and forbearance of thy Maker by the most presumptuous crimes, and He might justly have stept forth in the midst of His vengeance while a thousand voices have cried out again and again, Cut him down! Cut him down! Cut him down !-Yet He has spared thee, and has stood before thee with a shield, to guard off the fiery darts of Satan, and the stinging accusations of conscience, and the horrid recollections of guilt, and the direful anticipations of His wrath ! How kind has he been to thee in keeping thee from gnawing cares and distressing solicitude, about a world which would otherwise have made thy life miserable ; and He has given thee cheerfulness and filled thy heart with gladness above measure; and when thou was laid upon a bed of sickness, He has visited thee and restored thee to health again, and has given thee friends to cheer thee; and He has given thee talents—and talents and learning are His gifts; for great men are not always wise, neither do the aged understand Judgment.
Understanding does not come from labor and experience; but there is a spirit in man, and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth him understanding. All thy taste and thy mental acquirements came from Him; and this is what he has done to the meanest and poorest of you! Yes, you have lived upon the riches of His hand! He has likewise bestowed upon many of you the superfluities of life and riches,-or industry and skill to acquire them. O, may these things impress thy heart! Though thou art a traitor, and guilty of the foulest and blackest treason, He has spared thee, and loaded thee with favors, for this purpose, that they. might all lead thee to repentance; and that thou mightest escape thy condenination, and enjoy the unknown joys of the heavenly world.
Now then-gird up thy loins, and answer me like a man,-tell me,-tell me—what has been thy behaviour to this God? - what
and three se none; and still you will give Him the of perfe
will give Jim
Ou_ Is He not all besides ve them that
return hast thou made Him for all this goodness and forbearance, and long suffering,? I must go a little into this matter for thee -hast thon not converted thy body into an instrument for sinning against Him ?-thy tongue,-the glory of thy frame,-has it not been used to insult His goodness, if not to blaspheme His name? -and thy money ;-has it not been to feed thy lust and the food ;-I say, has it not made thee capable of sinning against Him in a more vigorous manner? long, long has He waited for thy repentance, and often hast thou promised Him repentance; but there has been nothing but broken resolutions on thy part, and frustrated expectations on His !-Now may He indeed says judge now betwixt me and my vineyard; what could have been done more to my vineyard than I have done in it? Wherefore when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes.”—Not only for three years, but for thirty, for forty, for fifty, and three score years, and ten, has He come to you, seeking fruit and finding none; and still you console yourself with the idea, that you will repent at last, and will give Him the dregs and the sediments of your life !—When you come to a state of perfect inanity, or, when you become a burthen to others,—then you will give yourself to God! Is that the way you think of recompensing Him? Oh, foolish people and unwise! Do you thus requite the Lord ?-Is He not your father and your friend? Surely you have sunk lower than all besides in nature !—There is in all things something of gratitude! We love them that love us! But why do we not then love God ?-Why not serve Him ?-What makes us rebel against Him ?-Is it His continued goodness to us ?-As-Christ said to the Jews “many good works have I done, for which of these do ye stone me?"_So may I say to you, “innumerable are the benefits which you have received from your heavenly maker;—for which of these do ye make so ungrateful a return? Do not think that God has been indifferent and regardless of your sins !—No, they have pained Him to the very heart! He has often been displeased and sore vexed with you and grieved over you, when He has met you going to the scene of dissipation and debauchery! He has often been pained when He has met you in the way to the tavern and other resorts of sin, and His wrath has been roused, and His hand has been put forward to destroy you, but mercy has restrained Him and He has preserved you to the present hour! Do not, I say, think that God has been indifferent to your sins. No, but He has been long suffering, not willing that you should perish, but that you should come to repentance. He has devised means however if you do not repent to be fully avenged upon you. The apostle says in this verse, that every crime you have committed will treasure up wrath against you in the day of wrath ; and why is it called the treasury of wrath? Simply because it is hidden—it is concealed—you know nothing of it-you have no idea at all of what is coming upon you if you