Edward Payson Archive

Selected Thoughts

Reason of God's Forbearance With Sinners

How wonderful is the long-suffering and forbearance of God! Here are sinners who have been, for twenty, forty, sixty years, abusing his patience, and not improving all his benefits. Yet, instead of cutting them down, he adds another year, perhaps many years, to their long since forfeited lives. There are sinners who have wasted and profaned a thousand Sabbaths, yet he allows them another Sabbath, another opportunity of hearing the offers of salvation. There are sinners who have repeatedly been urged in vain to be reconciled to God; yet he condescends still to require reconciliation. There are sinners at whose hearts Christ has knocked, a thousand and a thousand times; but, though they refuse to admit him, he still knocks again. O, why are such treasures of goodness lavished on such insensible creatures? Why is such an inestimable prize put into the hands of those who have no heart to improve it? Why, indeed, but to show what God can do, and how infinitely his patience and forbearance exceed ours.

One reason why God bestows on sinners the day and the means of grace, is, that they may have an opportunity of clearly displaying their own characters, and thus proving the truth of the charges which he has brought against them. He does as it were say to the world, I have accused these creatures of being enemies to me and to all goodness, and of cherishing in their hearts an obstinate attachment to vice. They deny the charge. I am therefore about to bring them to the test; to try an experiment which will clearly show whether my charges are well-founded or not. I shall send them my word, and the gospel of my Son, clearly revealing to them the way of salvation. I shall send messengers to explain and press upon them the truths there revealed. I shall allow them one day in seven to attend on their instructions, and I shall offer them the assistance of my Spirit, to render them holy: these privileges they shall enjoy for years together. If they improve them aright, if they believe my word, receive and love my Son, and renounce their sins, I will acknowledge that I have accused them falsely, that they are not as much depraved as I have represented them. But, should they, on the contrary, neglect my word, disbelieve the gospel, and refuse to receive and submit to my Son; should they profane the Sabbath, not improve the day of grace, refuse to reĀ­pent of their sins, and be reconciled to me, then it will be evident to all, that I have not accused them falsely; that they are just such depraved, obstinate, irreconcilable enemies to me and to goodness, as I have represented them to be in my word.

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