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L I thall per ut days of threatened vrath are lorg delaved.
1. Becauíe the Lord ill give funers space to reIeri, 2 Pet in. 9. Tbe L:13 is 1.5i hack concerning tiis promiji, as jome son stunt sctres; but is longutjering 19 us-ward, ist siling itat any sbould pe. rib, but that all frozli come is reyentance. The 5 barren fig tree, after the order to cut it down, gers another ycar's digging and dunging, Luke xiii. 8. 9. Who knows what a little space mar do to some, and what brands may be plucked out of the fire, while the Lord delays to strike? The are lay at the root of the tree of the Jewish church, from the death of Christ, forty years, ere it was cut down: and in that time inany were converted, that would hare been cut off in their sin, had it come sconer. It bas been about
18 long since the revolution, and many have been brought to Christ during that perioda
2. Some fuch as will never be bettered, are fpared for the sake of elect ones in their loins. The generation that came out of Egypt were a generation of wrath; but God made not a full end of them, till there was a generation come of them that might postuls the promised land. So the wrath may be delayed for the sake of a generation yet unborn, as a woman with child is reprieved on account of the fruit of her womb, Matth. xxiv. 22.
3. Because the Lord may have fome of his own to take out of harm's way before the stroke comes, Il. Ivii. 1. The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none confidering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. The angel that came to destroy Sodom, could do nothing till Lot was in Zoar, Gen. xix. 22. Good Josiah behoved to be out of the way before the ! Babylonilh captivity; and Methuselah before the de. luge.
4. The Lord even grants something to the prayers of his people in this case, Luke xiii. 8.9. in the case
of the barren fig-tree. Desolating strokes use not to come on, till there is a restraint of the Spirit of prayer, with the Lord's people, for averting the stroke.
5. Lastly, For the Lord's name's sake, Il. xlviii. 9. For my name's sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut the not
off. He will have his proceeding against a sinful ge! neration clear and unexceptionable: and the delay
proclaims God's patience and long-suffering, and leaves them inexcusable. The longer it is a coming, God's patience appears the more.
JI. We will consider these days of threatened wratir coming near at length to breaking out on an impenitent people. This implies, 1. 1. That wrath delayed is not therefore laid aside. A generation continuing impenitent, keeps in the fire of wrath, that it goes not out, howbeit it is for a while kept back from consuming them. Sins national and personal are a debt that will not die out through time. Wrath hangs still in the threatening, as in a cloud that will break at length, if repentance prevent not.
2. Even while it is deferred, it is making speed forward, 2 Pet. ii. 3. Their jurlgement now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not, The Lord fees impenitent finners. day coming; though they will not see it, Pfal. xxxvii. 13. There is a time fet for it as the due time, and no time is lost, whatever are the delays, but it makes haste, Deut. xxxii. 35. Their foot ball fide in due time : for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that Mball come up on them make haste." .. 3. The longer they are delayed, they are the nearer hand ; so that when the impenitent generation has most lost sight of them, they are hard at their heels, i Theff. v. 3. For when they fall say, Peace and safety; then sudden defirullion concih upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not esiape. So in the text, The days are at hand, and the
effect of every vision. For sinners turn fecure upon che delay; but in the mean time the longer they have been borne with, they have the less reason to be fecure. For,
it, Such a case is a very desperate case, God's forbearance leading men to a secure contempt of him, instead of repentance, Rom. ij. 3. 4. Desperate is the case when the remedy used ferves but to increase the disease. That calls for cutting off.
2dly, Abused patience turns always to fury at length, Ezek. xxiv. 13. In thy filthiness is lewdness : because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthinefs any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. It is dangerous to play with the patience of God; for fury will take its turn when men are not aware, and patience must end sooner or later with them. .
Lastly, It is necessary for the honour of God. The world would turn downright Atheists, if God did not some time baffle their vain hopes of impunity, and shew that he has not forgot their misdemeanors, Pfal. 1. 21. Those things haft thou done, and I kept silence ; i hou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thyself : but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes. Pfal. lviii. ult. Verily there is a reward for the righteous ; verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth.
Use. As we have been long threatened with days of wrath that are still delayed, while in the mean time the generation is going on impenitently in their course, we have ground to reckon that these days are come
near at length to breaking out on us. There are four - things that deserve our serious confideration here. I
1. That it is long since there was a flaming contro. versy with this land laid, which in the ordinary me. thod of providence cannot miss to be pursued with fignal judgements. That was in the days of our fathers, when solemn national covenants for reforma
tion being entered into, with uplifted hands unto God, and reformation was accordingly advanced to a very considerable degree; they began at first to be false and fickle in God's covenant, and at length all of a sudden, as if ftruck with a frenzy from hell, they openly and avowedly broke and burnt their covenant with God, pulled down and razed their reformation, and for about twenty-eight years raged in oppression, persecution, blood, and death against those who adhered thereto, and would not join them in their apostasy. Reflecting on this we may say, Shall not the Lord visit for these things ? Ball not his foul be avenged on such a nation as this? Jer. ix. 9. That controversy has swept away the race of the name of our kings that did it, off the throne; it has turned our parliament that joined them with their authority, out of their house and honour, so that we have no more a Scots parliament either to do good or evil ; and it is to be feared, it will soak our land and people in blood next in their turn.
2. I can say from personal knowledge, that, for more than forty years, the Lord has put it in the hearts and mouths of his minifters, that that controversy would be visited on this land with fearful strokes. And for all that is yet come and gone, the effect of these visions seems not to be come yet. I own that what I heard many years ago of this nature; when minifters had more of the Spirit with them than now, being brought out of a hot furnace of trial, has weight with me. . 3. Often during that time, especially within these twenty years, has the black cloud hovering over the head of this land, been at the point of breaking, and showering down upon us; and yet has been either quite dispelled without any scathe at all, or only with fome drops falling, as in the case of the rebellion in 1715. By all which God has testified that he did not forget the controverfy, though time after time he has delayed the thorough pleading of it.
; upon upon us, ymptoms
· 4. And now we have several shrewd symptoms that the days are near to break out upon us, to avenge the quarrel of his covenant, upon a generation that have entered themselves heirs to the iniquity of their fathers by a course of continued apoftafy.
It is childish and unscriptural to say, that those who · entered into and fo avowedly broke that covenant, are mostly away now; what way can the controversy affect us ? For no generation can go back from purity and reformation attained by their fathers, but upon their peril; and so far as they insist in the steps of their backsliding fathers, they justify them in their backslidings, and so enter themselves heirs to their sin, and consequently to their judgements. The covenant made with the Gibeonites in Joshua's time, was binding in the days of Saul, and the slaughter. made of them in the days of Saul contrary to that covenant, the land suffered for it many years after that in the latter end of David's reign, 2 Sam, xxi. The blood of Abel came on the generation that crucified Christ, Matth. xxiii. 35. ; and to the Jews in Jeremiah's days the Lord faith, They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them : the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers, Jer. xi. 10.
Sympt. 1. From fearful lengths of apoftafy in practice, the very principles of religion have got a rootstroke in our day. Profaneness and immoralities have hugely increased to the filling of the land with oppreffion and fraud, so that common honesty is rare to be met with ; with luxury, fenfuality, swearing, perjuries, till the fense of oaths is like to wear out; with fornications, whoredoms, and adulteries, so that I doubt if marriage was ever fo contemptuously treated in this land; with contempt of religion and seriousness, so that it is become fashionable to despise it. Reformation is out of fight, head, and heart, and many a