« PreviousContinue »
deepest repentance. “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Rom. ii. 4.) Surely we must be filled with shame and confusion of face, when we meditate on the amazing forbearance of our God; often have we broken his laws, often we have forfeited our engagements, and yet were not bound with the chains of darkness. At such a time, may we say in the retrospect of our past lives, 'I provoked the Almighty by my sin, yet I felt not his sword; at such a time I blasphemed him, I scoffed at his word, or profaned his name; yet his thunder did not close my lips in death. For so long a time I remained in rebellion against him; yet he has not overwhelmed me with swift destruction.' Oh! look back upon the whole course of thy life; in every step of it dost thou not see proofs of thy guilt, and of the forbearance of the Eternal ? In the midst of thy transgressions, He stood over thee, who, while he bore with thee, poor sinner, had an infinite hatred to thy sin; He whom thou insultedst, and who by one breath could have turned heaven and earth and all the inhabitants of both into nothing; He has been thus patient with thee
year: the condemned criminal hails a reprieve for a week or a month; how much longer hast thou been reprieved from that prison of eternal despair, to which the broken law condemns thee? In the writings of Paul you must often have been struck with the warm gratitude with which he speaks of the divine forbearance towards him. Paul was about thirty years of age at his conversion; are there none before me who have for a still longer season experienced the patience of God, and who still have never exercised holy thankfulness for it? Oh! at
last repent! the day of divine forbearance is rapidly wasting away; neglect to improve it a little longer, and the shades of everlasting night will soon overtake you! Hell is full of those who enjoyed once the patience of God, and who through eternity will be filled with agony at their remembrance of their abuse of it. Perhaps among these unhappy spirits are some of thy former associates; the destroying angel hath hewn them down, and passed by theo the patience which still spares thee has ceased for them. Oh! no longer abuse it, and improve the season of thy visitation.
3. Is God infinitely patient? Christians, let us imitate him in this perfection of his nature. Ah! how little does he resemble God, who anxiously seeks revenge for every affront and indignity! How unlike the Most Perfect is the self-styled man of honour, who writes his revenge in wounds and death! His honour descends not from heaven, but bears the impress of hell. Since God has so long borne with us, we may surely bear with our fellow-men; they cannot insult and outrage us as much as we have outraged the Lord: as he is patient to us, so let us be to our enemies.
4. Is God infinitely patient? What a source of comfort is this to believers. If he has so much
patience for his enemies, what treasures of mercy must he possess for his friends? If he is so slow to anger when his precepts are slighted, how ready must he be to give what he has promised, when his promise is believed? If he bear with the open sins of his foes, will he not bear with the lamented infirmities of his people in worship? Will he not bind up the bruised reed? Will he ever quench the smoking Aax?
5. Is God infinitely patient? Then how patient should we be in all the afflictions with which he visits us? Even in the strokes of his rod we see his slowness to anger, and his forbearance; and in our greatest sorrows may find more occasion of thankfulness than repining. He sends us only temporal sorrows where eternal are due; and we may always say, “ Thou hast punished us less than our iniquities do deserve.” Our murmurs must be criminal against him who is so long-suffering.
6. Is God infinitely patient? Who then will not grieve at the reproaches and insults that are cast upon him? Among men, a patient sufferer, even though he is a deserved sufferer, excites our sympathy and pity. And wilt thou then, believer, have no concern for thy God, who patiently bears so many outrages ? Arise then, Christian, range thyself openly on his side, who is thus basely treated by the works of his hands. Mourn for the sins of others; mourn for thine own sins against Him, who is so slow
THE COVENANT OF GRACE, A SUPPORT UNDER SORROW.
2 SAMUEL xxiii. 5.
house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure ; for this is all my salvation and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
It is animating and useful to stand by the dyingbeds of believers, and listen to the expressions of hope and triumph, with which they terminate their lives. The text then deserves our attention, since it forms part of the last words of David.", Standing on the borders of the eternal world, he looks back to his humble original, and blesses that goodness which God had displayed to him, in elevating him to eminence both in the church and the state. He had been raised up on high, anointed of God, and made the sweet “Psalmist of Israel.” But that object on which he most earnestly fixes his view, is the glorious and gracious Redeemer, of whose advent he speaks in the verses immediately preceding the text, declaring the equity of his government and the blessed influence of his reign, which should be cheering as the sun, when it dispels the darkness, and enlivens all nature; and refreshing as the show
ers, which, after long drought, renovate the face of the earth. 66 The Ruler over mankind,” thus the words may literally be translated, “ shall be the Just One, ruling in the fear of the Lord. As the morning, shall this Sun arise, a morning unclouded in brightness; as rain that waters the tender herbs of the earth."*
When he looked at his family, David saw much cause of grief. He had suffered from the sins of his children; he had followed some of them to the grave; and probably, by the prophetic spirit which inspired him, he foresaw the distress which his posterity would endure. Yet, even in these circumstances, he could rejoice in the grace of the Redeemer, and in the complete and inviolable covenant of his God, which was the foundation of his trust, and the object of his attachment. “ Although my house be not so with God, yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure; this is all my salvation, and all my desire.” In looking at himself, he was humbled at his sins, and at the slow progress he had made in the divine life. Yet, “ although he make it not to grow,” that is, although the grace of the covenant had not been in so vigorous a state within him as it should have been, he still trusted in the covenant faithfulness and love of his God.
To these declarations concerning the Redeemer, the covenant, and himself, he adds a description of the character and the end of the wicked; whom he represents as “ sons of Belial,” useless as thorns, fit only to be burned, reserved for the fire of God's wrath.
* See Bishops Chandler and Hales.