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ous persons, he would not have destroy. vol. VII. ed them for the ten's sake. Yea, when his truth seemed to have been pawn’d, (at least in the apprehension of his Prophet) yet even then repentance took him off
, as in the case of Nineveh. Nay, how glad is he to be thus prevented! with what joy does he tell the Prophet the news of, Ahab's humiliation ! Seeft thou how Ahab humbleth himself? Because he hambleth himself, I will not bring the evil in his days.
(5.) When he punishech, he does it very feldom rigorously, and to extremity, not so much as we deserve ; Psal. 103. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our fins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Nor so much as he can; he doth not let loose the fierceness of his anger, nor pour forth all his wrath ; Psal. 78. 38. - Being full of compassion, he forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not ; yea many a time turned he his anger away, and did not stir up all bis wrath,
(6.) After he bath begun to punish, and is ingaged in the work, he is not 'hard to be taken off. There is a famous instance of this, 2. Sam. 24. when God had sent three days Pestilence upon
Israel for David's sin in numbring the Vol. VII.
People, and at the end of the third day,the Angel of the Lord had stretched forth bis hand over Jerusalem to destroy it, upon the Prayer of David, it is said, that the Lord repented of the evil, and said to the Angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. Nay, so ready is God to be taken off from this work, that he sets a high value upon those who stand in the gap to turn away his wrath ; Numb.
25. 11, 12, 13. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, hath turned
ту wrath away from the children of Israel, that I consumed them not in my jealousie'; wherefore behold I give unto bim my covenant of peace, and to his feed after him, because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the chil. dren of Israel. That which God values in this action of Phinehas, next to his zeal for him, is, that he turned a way his wrath, and made an atonement for the Children of Israel.
5. and Lastly, The patience of God will yet appear with further advantage, if we consider fome eminent and remarkable Instances of it; which are' so much the more considerable, beá cause they are instances, not only of
God's patience extended to a long time, but to a great many persons VOLVII
. The long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah upon the whole world, as is probably conjectured, for the space of an hundred and twenty years. God bore with the People of Israel in the Wilderness, after they had tempted him ten times, for the space of forty Years; Ats 13. 18. And about the space of forty years suffered he their manners in the Wilderness. And this instance of God's patience will be the more remarkable, if we compare it with the great impatience of that People ; if they did but want Flesh or Water, they were out of patience with God; when Mofes was in the Mount with God but forty days, they presently fall to make new Gods; they had not the patience of forty days, and yet God bore their manners forty years. God had spared Niniveh for some Ages, and when his patience was even expired, and he seems to have past a final Sentence upon it, yet he grants a Reprieve for forty. days, that they might sue out their Párdon in that time, and they did so; they turned from their evil ways, and God turned
from the evil be said he would do to them, Vol. VII. and he did it not.
But the most remarkable instance of God's long-suffering is to the Jews, if we consider it with all the circumstances of it; after they had rejected the Son of God, notwithstanding the purity of his Doctrine, and the power of his Miracles; after they had unjustly condemned, and cruelly murdered the Lord of life, yet the patience of God respited the ruin of that people forty Years.
Besides all these, there are many instances of God's patience to particular Persons; but it were endless to enumerate these ; every one of us may be an instance to our selves of God's longsuffering.
I shall only add, as a further advantage to set off the patience of God to Sinners, that his forbearance is so great, that he hath been complained of for it by his own Servants. Fob, who was so patient a Man himself, thought much at it; Job 21. 7, 8. Wherefore doth the wicked live, yea, be come old? Their seed is establisht in their fight, and their posterity before their eyes. Jonah challengeth God for it, Ch. 4. 2.
Was not this that which I said when I was no yet in my own country? and therefore 1 Vol.VII. fled before unto Tarsbisk, because I knew thou art a gracious God, and merciful, love to anger, &c. Jonah had observed God to be so prone to this, that he was loth to be sent upon his Mefsage, leaft God should discredit his Prophet, in not being so good (shall I fay) fo severe as his word.
I have done with the first thing I proposed to speak to, viz. The great patience and long-suffering of God to Mankind.