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are assured, that though blind and helpless in ourselves, there is an infinite wisdom to guide us, and irresistible
to defend us. We may then sing, “ The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice.”
Friend of Jesus! God is thy friend. Attending to all his works, he yet exercises towards thee a special providence. “ The eye of the Lord” is “ peculiarly upon
them that fear him; upon them that hope in his mercy.” “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his ways.” Fear not then, the pressure of afflictions; not one shall befall thee, but by the providence of thy Father. Tremble not at the fury of thy enemies; the God whom thou servest, and who encompasses thee with his loving kindness, is omnipotent. Indulge no unbelieving apprehensions concerning thy future lot in life; but cast thy cares upon thy Heavenly Friend, assured that though “ the young lions do lack and suffer hunger, they that fear the Lord shall not want any good thing.” If called to separate from those friends who formed the charm of your lives, pour forth those tears which nature requires, over their tombs; (thy God permits this sorrow;) but at the same time, bow submissively to the disposals of thy Father, acknowledge his wisdom and love; and cry, “ Not my will, but thine be done.” Let thy bereavements drive thee for consolation to thy God, and cause thee more anxiously to long, and more carefully to prepare for that world, where a heavenly light shall be shed upon all the providences of God, which here may appear dark and mysterious to thee; where, reviewing all his conduct to thee, thou shalt shout, “ He has led me by a right way to the city whose builder is God; he hath done all things well."
PATIENCE OF GOD.
Rom. xv. 5. The God of patience. NAHUM i. 3. The
Lord is slow to anger.
With what astonishment must an angel who has beheld the displays of divine power and holiness, regard worms of the dust contending with Omnipotence, and provoking the infinite justice and purity of God! But with greater wonder, with deeper indignation, must they contemplate ungrateful man, persevering in iniquity, because of the patience and forbearance of God. Yet, alas ! this is not an uncommon spectacle to them. Man basely employs the kindness of God as an encouragement to sin. If the Lord were a rigid and inflexible tyrant, causing his fury to flame against transgressors for their first offence, we should tremble before him, and be filled with apprehension at the thought of sinning against him ; but because he is “slow to anger, gracious and long-suffering,” we sport with his laws, and trạmple on his authority.
But though the patience of God is thus abused, it is an attribute dear to the believer, and a serious
meditation on it is calculated to promote our holi
Let us, then, in the ensuing discourse, consider,
I. The nature of this patience, or slowness to anger.
II. Some of the most illustrious manifestations of it.
III. The reasons why God exercises it. And,
IV. The effects that the belief and knowledge of it should produce upon our hearts and our lives.
I. The patience of God is that exercise of divine goodness and mercy to the guilty, whereby the Lord defers immediately to inflict the punishment due for their sins, abstains from instantly avenging the insults and outrages offered him by rebels, renews to them the offer of pardon and felicity, and encompasses them with undeserved blessings, to lead them to repentance. This attribute bears different names in the holy scriptures : sometimes it is termed longsuffering, from the period of its continuance; sometimes slowness to anger, from the many provocations which it endures before the divine indignation flames against the guilty; sometimes keeping silence ; (Ps. 1. 21.) because the Lord does not, on their first offences, summon the rebels to his bar, accuse, and condemn them.
In every part of the sacred volume, this attribute is presented in terms the most impressive and interesting. It is exhibited as a foundation of hope for the penitent, as an incitement to holiness for the sinner, as a theme of triumph and gratitude for the believer. When the Lord declares his name and shows his glory to Moses, this is one of the perfections which endears Jehovah to him : " long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Exod. xxxiv. 6.)
When David calls upon his soul to bless the Lord, he regards him as “ slow to anger,” as well as plenteous in mercy.” (Ps. ciii. 8.) When Isaiah describes the proceedings of Providence, he cries, - Therefore will the Lord wait, that he
gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you.” (Is. xxx. 18.) When Nahum paints in awful colours the majesty and terrors of Jehovah, the picture is relieved by this cheering attribute : “ Though the Lord hath his way in the whirlwind and the storm, though he reserveth wrath for his enemies, and will not at all acquit the wicked, yet he is slow to anger.” (Nahum i. 2, 3.) When Joel would urge the Israelites to deep humiliation for their sins, he expresses, by one of the strongest figures, the reluctance of the Most Merciful to punish them: “ He is slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” (Joel ji. 13.) When Paul warns sinners against the abuse of divine patience, he energetically speaks of “ the riches of the goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God.” (Rom. ij. 4.) When Peter would vindicate the truth of God in his promises and denunciations against the objections of the profane, he declares, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering to us-ward; not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Pet. iii. 9.) When our blessed Saviour would lead us to the imitation of our Father in heaven, he is exhibited as bearing with the wicked, and sending the blessings of his providence on the evil and the unjust. (Mat. v. 45.)
But it would be endless to mention all those passages which speak of this perfection as an incentive
to duty, as a motive to adoration, and as a source of comfort. Let us rather make a few remarks illustrating its nature.
1. It is a modification of the divine goodness. But while goodness respects all creatures, patience has as its object only the sinner. Had sin never entered into the world, goodness still would have reigned over all the works of God, but patience never could have been exercised. It is goodness which sustains the irrational creation, which“ hears the young ravens when they cry,” which crowns the angels : but it is patience which bears with the offences of the rebellious.
2. This patience is not the result of ignorance. God does not spare us, because he is unacquainted with our guilt. Every transgression we have committed, from the first exercise of our reason to the moment that is just flying from us, is in full view of him who is one Eternal Now. Every irregular thought, every unholy desire, every improper motive, every criminal word, every forbidden act, every neglected duty, is beheld by him with all its aggravating circumstances. Every sin, from the first faint thought of it, through all the steps of its progress to its final completion, is "naked and open to him with whom we have to do." He cannot be deceived by false pretences, nor mocked by mere outward observances, for he reads the heart. He clearly beholds too the desert of this sin: the ingratitude it displays, the obligations it violates, the love it contemns, the value of the blood which it disregards, the hell which it has kindled. And yet, О riches of the forbearance and long-suffering of my God, the Lord delays his thunders!