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The Patience of God.
2 PET. II. 9.
The Lord is not hack cancerning his Pro
mise, as some Men count slackness;
the Apostle puts the Christians, fo
whom he writes, in mind of the Predictions of the ancient Prophets, and of the Apostles of our Lord and Saviour, concerning the general Judga ment of the World, which by many (and perhaps by the Apostles themselves) had been thought to be very near, and that it would presently follow the destruction of Jerusalem ; but
m he tells them, that before that, there Vol. VII would arise a certain Sect, or fort of
Men, that would deride the expectation of a future Judgment, designing probably the Carpocratians (a branch of that large Sect of the Gnosticks) of whom St. Auftin expressly says, “That they denied the Resurrection,
and consequently a future Judgment. These St. Peter calls Scoffers, v. 3, 4. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lufts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming ? The word is επαγγελία, which ignites a Declaration in general, whether it be by way of Promise or Threatning. What is become of that Declaration of Christ so frequently repeated in the Gospel, concerning his coming to Judgment ? For since the Fathers fell asleep;or, saving that the Fathers are fallen asleep, except only that Men die, and one Generation fucceeds another, all things continue as they were from the creation of the world; that is, the World continues still as it was from the beginning, and there is no sign of any such change and alteration as is foretold. To this he answers two things.
1. That these Scoffers, tho’ they M took themselves to be Wits, did bé. Vol. VII. tray great Ignorance, both of the condition of the World, and of the na ture of God. They talk'd very ignorantly concerning the World, when they said, All things continued as they were from the Creation of it, when lo remarkable a change had already hapned, as the destruction of it by Water ; and therefore the Prediction concerning the destruction of it by Fire, before the great and terrible day of Judgment was no ways incredible. And they shewed themselves likewise very ignorant of the Perfection of the Divine Nature, to which, being ė. ternally the same, a thousand years and one day are all one ; and if God make good his word some thousand of Years hence, it will make no-sensible differ fence, considering his eternal duration, it being no matter when a duration begins, which is never to have an end ; w. 8. Be not ignorant of this öne thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand jears as one day. This, it seems, was a common saying among the Jews, to fignifie, that to the Eternity of God, no finite duration bears any proportion ;
and therefore with regard to Eternity, Vol. VII.
it is all one wheelier it be a thousand Years or one Day. The Pfalmift hath an Expression much to the fame
purpose, Psal. 9o. 4. For a thousand years in thy fight are but as yesterday when it is paft ; and as a watch in the night. And the Son of Sirach likewise, Ecclus. 18. 10. As a drop of water to the sea, and as a grain of sand to the sea shore, so are a thousand years to the days of eternity. The like Expression we meet with in Heathen Writers; To the Gods no time is long, faith Pythagoras : And Plutarch, The whole space of a Man's life to the Gods is as nothing. And in his excellent Discourse of the slowness of the Divine Vengeance, (the very Argument St. Peter is here upon) he hath this Pasfage, That a thousand, or ten thousand
years, are but as an indivisible point to I an infinite duration. And therefore
when the Judgment is to be eternal, the delay of it, though it were for a thousand Years, is an Objection of no force, against either che certainty, .or the terror of it ; for to Eternity,all time is equally short; and it matters not when the punishment of Sinners be. gins,if it shall never have an end.
2. But because the distance be. tween the Declaration of a future
Vol.VII. Judgment, and the coming of it, tho' it be nothing to God, yet it seemed long to them; therefore he gives such an account of it, as doth not in the least impeach the truth and faithfulness of God, but is a clear argument and demonstration of his goodness. Admitting what they said to be true, that God delays Judgment for a great while, yet this gives no ground to conclude that Judgment will never be'; but it shews the great goodness of God to finners, that he gives them so long a space of repentace, that so they may prevent the terror of that day whenever it comes, and escape that dreadful ruin which will certain. ly overtake, sooner or later, all impenitent finners; The Lord is not slack concerning his promise ; that is, as to the Declaration which he hath made of a future Judgment, as some Men account slackness ; That is, as if the delay of Judgment were an argument it would never come. This is a false inference from the delay of punishment, and an ill interpretation of the goodness of God to finners, who bears long with them, and delays Judgment, on pur