Branch 13. See the patience of God towards men. They persist in sinning—yet God bore with them and, many times, deferred judgment. Psalm 78:38, "Many a time He turned His anger away." How long did God bear with the old world? He strives with men by His Word and Spirit. He comes to them in a still small voice. He would win them with His love. "He waits to be gracious," Isaiah 30:18. God is not like a hasty creditor who requires the payment of the debt, and will give no time for the payment. Revelation 2:21, "I gave her space to repent." The Lord blows the trumpet a long time, before His vengeance is meted out. The wicked sin still—and God is patient still. 2 Peter 3:9, "He is long-suffering to us, not willing that any should perish.Thomas Watson, The Mischief of Sin (Pittsburgh, PA.: Soli Deo Gloria, 1994), 64–65.
God's Justice says, "Cut them down!"
God's Patience says, "Spare them a year longer!"
When God is going to strike, He waits so long, that He is weary of repenting, as the Prophet speaks, Jeremiah 15:6. We of this nation spin out our sins and God is yet patient. But He will not always be so. If we go on impatiently, the lease of patience will at last be run out. And the longer God is saving His blow, the heavier it will be.
God's patience has bounds set to it. There is a time when God will say, "My Spirit shall no longer strive," Revelation 14:7. The angel cried, "The hour of God's judgment has come," Ezekiel 30:3. Sodom was the wonder of God's patience—but now has been made a monument of His anger. The Lord may keep off the stroke for a long time—but if men are unreclaimable and persist in sinning, let them know that vengeance is not dead—but sleeping. Sins against God's patience, exceed the sins of the fallen angels. Therefore, the fiery furnace will be heated seven times hotter!
Branch 16. See the sordid ingratitude of sinners. "They kept on sinning!" Notwithstanding the fact that they had such eminent and signal favors from God—the pillar of fire to lead them, the rock split to give them water—yet mercy could not, with all its oratory, prevail with them to leave their iniquities. "They kept on sinning!"Ibid., 66–67.
A father bribes his son to obedience by giving him money—yet he still goes on in dissolute courses. So God would draw men from sin by His mercies—yet they will indulge their lusts. Oh, how ungrateful! It is an ill nature—which will not be won with love. Beasts are wrought upon with kindness, Isaiah 1:3—but sinners are not. The wicked are worse for God's mercies. They, like vultures—draw sickness from these perfumes!
The wicked deal with God as we do with the Thames River. The Thames brings us in our riches—our gold, silks and spices—and we throw all our filth into the Thames. Just so do the wicked deal with God. He gives them all their mercies—and they commit their filthy sins against Him. "They kept on sinning!" Ingratitude is, as Bernard said, the enemy of salvation. If mercy is not a magnet to draw us nearer to God—it will be a millstone to sink us deeper into hell. Nothing so cold as lead—yet nothing more scalding when it is melted. Nothing is so sweet as God's mercy—yet nothing is so dreadful, when it is abused! Sinners never escape when mercy draws up their indictment.