May 18, 2008

Arrowsmith on 2 Peter 3:9 and Romans 2:4

5. A third branch of divine goodness is long-suffering; whereby God hath been pleased to put a notable difference between angels that fell, and the fallen sons of Adam. Of them Peter saith, "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement." This was quick and speedy work. But the Lord (saith the same apostle,) "is long-suffering to us-ward." He exerciseth much patience, very much, even towards all, though vessels of wrath. For so Paul, "What if God willing to shew his wrath and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering, the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction?" How profane was the old world? How wicked a place was Jericho? yet was he one hundred and twenty years in warning those of that age, before he brought the deluge upon them: and he that made the world in six, was seven days in destroying that one city. The great doctor of the Gentiles was not much more than thirty years old, when God converted him; yet we find him looking at this as infinite patience, as all long-suffering, that he was borne with so long. "I obtained mercy (saith he) that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering." How sensible then ought they to be of this attribute, with whom God hath born forty, fifty, sixty years, and still continueth to cry unto, as it is in Habakkuk, "Woe unto him that increaseth that which is not his: How long?" as in Jeremiah, "O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved: How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" And again, "Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem, wilt thou not be made clean? When shall it once be." All which places declare sufficiently that the long-suffering God doth in a manner long to see our conversion to him.

6. And that indeed is the most proper use we can make hereof according to Paul's expostulation, "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Verily, we cannot meet on this side of hell, with a worse temper of spirit than that which inclines a sinner to despise the forbearance of God, and to kick against the bowels of his goodness..."

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