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SERMON XV.

Of the PATIENCE of GOD,

ECCLES. viii. II.

19

Because fentence against an evil work is not executed fpeedily, therefore the Heart of the Sons of Men, is fully fet in them to do

Evil.

ONCERNING the Goodness of SER M.

God in general, I have dif
courfed already upon another
occafion : Concerning that
particular Branch of Good-

nefs, which confifts in deferring the Pu-
nifhment of evil-doers, and is properly
diftinguished by the Name of Patience or
Long-fuffering, I intend at this time to

treat

XV.

SER M. treat, from the words now read unto you. XV. In which, it is obvious to obferve; ift, The Character, or Defcription given, of the divine Patience and Long-fuffering; It confifts in This, that Sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily. 2dly, The ill Use that wicked and profane Men are too apt to make of the divine forbearance; Their Heart is thereby fully fet in them to do evil. 3dly, The Folly and Abfurdity of thus abufing the Patience of God; forafmuch as Sentence against every evil work, though it be not speedily executed, yet is certainly paffed; and, if the Sinner amends not, will alfo certainly be executed; and That, the more feverely too, because not speedily.

I. HERE is a Character or Defcription given of the divine Patience and Longfuffering; It confifts in This, that Sentence against an evil work is not executed Speedily. The Design and The Defign and Reafon of which Delay is declared to us by St Paul, Rom. ii. 4. The Riches of the Goodness and Forbearance and Long-fuffering of God, which leadeth thee to Repentance; And St Peter, 2 Pet. iii. 9, 15. The Lord is not flack concerning his Promife,

as

-ac

XV.

as fome men count flackness, but is long-fuf-SER M. fering to us-ward, not willing that Any fhould perish, but that All should come to Repentance; wherefore, beloved, count that the Long-fuffering of our Lord, is Salvation. The Reafon of God's delaying Punishment, is to bring Men to Repentance; and to vindicate his Justice and Goodness in their deftruction, if, after all his forbearance, they continue finally impenitent; Rom. ix. 22, He endureth with much long-fuffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to deftruction; fitted to deftruction, by their own wickednefs; and making that deftruction neceffary and inevitable, by their defpifing the Patience and Longfuffering of God. The incomprehenfible Majefty of God ftands in need of none of our Services, nor receives any Advantage from our Amendment and Return to him: yet he bears with us much more, than frail and paffionate Men are willing to bear with men like themselves, tho' their well-being entirely depends on the Services which they do each other. There is no obligation upon God in ftrictness to fpare Sinners at all; but if he pleased, he might with justice cut them off immediately;

SER M. diately; and could with ease even out of the XV. Stones of the Street raise up children untó

Abraham; that is, create new and better creatures, who should obey him in bringing forth the Fruits of Righteoufnefs: Yet, in great compaffion, he chufes rather to invite Sinners to Repentance; and with much unwillingness inflicts at laft Thất Punishment, which their incorrigibleness makes neceffary even for Goodness itself, in the Administration of the Supreme Góvernment of the Univerfe, to inflict. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? how fhall I deliver thee, O Ifrael? how Shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I fet thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together, Hof. xi. 8. And Jer. ix. 7, I will melt them and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? Thefe are very eloquent and affectionate defcriptions of what the Pfalmift declares in a direct and lefs figurative manner, Pf. ciii. 8, The Lord is full of Compaffion, and Mercy, Long-fuffering, and of great Goodness; He hath not dealt with us after our Sins, nor rewarded us according to our Wickednefes; Like as a Father pitieth

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