October 29, 2014

Thomas Larkham (1602–1669) on God's Patience and Fair Offers

There is not such a patience in God (as the word properly signifies) which is versed in griefs or calamities, but in injuries and wrongs. As a King is said to be patient which moderately beareth abuses, and contains himself from revenge which he might easily take if he would. O this is a glorious virtue in man; But in God it is a most glorious beam, to wit, then he acteth this way, to suffer sinners, and not to take vengeance upon them. This infinitely excelleth the patience of the most patient men in the world: because the absuses which are offered to God, are infinitely greater than those which are offered to men; and because he doth most distinctly see them all, and doth most sharply resent them, and hath in readiness ways to take vengeance, and yet he withholds. He knows all he hath done for us, and on the other side our ingratitude. He sees all the abominations committed in the world; which did the most patient man in the world see but one hour, he would certainly burn the world the next (saith a late Writer). And although God be not capable of grief and sorrow, yet he very bitterly takes his dishonor, and is provoked to revenge. He perceives the unworthiness of sin; and that his own Majesty, & his unspeakable goodness showed to the creature is vilepended. He is armeed with a thousand Plagues, and yet forbears: yea, continues his former benefits; expecting, and stirring up to Repentance, and to come to his sons Marriage. Admirable patience! So with the old World did God deal, Gen. 6:3. 1 Pet. 3:20. with others Gen. 18:24. Jerem. 31. cap. 5. ver. 1. Luke 13:34.

And the reason is rendered 2 Pet. 3:9. Because he is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to Repentance. Ezek. 18:32. For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God; wherefore turn your selves and live ye; and so cap. 33:11. Hos. 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? &c. and cap. 11. 8. How should I give thee up Ephriam? How shall I deliver thee Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.

So then this shall be the Doctrine, That God in the offer of grace, (notwithstanding shameful repulses) is wonderful patient.

He sends again, and again. Again he sent forth other servants, &c.

Then certainly we have no cause to complain of God's impatiency.

And they that reject grace, are without excuse. They cannot say it was not offered to them. Indeed God's patience occasions perverseness through the wickedness of people's hearts. Psal. 78. verses 17. to the 22. and 37, 38, 39. and 56, 59, 60. verses. In those places the marvelous untowardness of the Israelites is showed: but yet God tempteth no man, but woes, and argues, and allures. And they that do abuse his patience, will know one day that they had a fair offer. O think upon it.
Thomas Larkham, The Wedding-Supper (London: Printed, and are to be sold by Giles Calvert, at his shop at the black spread Eagle, neer the West end of Pauls, 1652), 75–77.
The Lord is not only patient in the offer of Grace: but very diligent in providing means and instruments to draw men. That shall be the next Doctrine. You see God doth not presently upon their refusal give over, but sends other servants.

And the Reason is (as before it hath been said) He would have no man to perish, but that all should come to repentance. Understand by his Will, his word, his approbation and liking of it; but what he willeth from everlasting, that he worketh and bringeth to pass: and so saith David, Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, in earth, in the Sea, and in all places. But to the matter: The Lord (I say) is not only patient to wait, but diligent in providing means; here is another glorious beam of the Deity shining forth; His Spirit strives with men, to do them good. He giveth gifts to men for the sake of mankind: He exposeth his Ordinances to contempt, and his servants to injurious abuses, that men may not perish, but have life everlasting.
Ibid., 79–80.


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