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this time;" but be willing to consecrate your service this day, this moment, unto the Lord, for you know not what may be on the morrow.
“In death's uncertainty thy danger lies.
Is death uncertain ? therefore be thou fixed;
“Now see the man immortal; him I mean
Who lives as such; whose heart, full bent on heaven,
THE longsuffering of God has been marvellously extended towards mankind in all ages. This is a truth not only recorded in the Bible, and discovered in the history of all nations, but is also incorporated with our own experience.
The testimony of inspiration, the dictates of reason and experience combine to ratify this truth. It was manifest in the preservation of our first parents after their transgression. When Moses, in obedience to the Divine command, stood, early in the morning, on the top of Mount Sinai, with the tables of stone in his hand, the Lord descended in a cloud, and as he passed by before him, He proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin.” The apostle Peter evidently alludes to theexercise of the Divine forbearance anterior to the deluge, when he says, “Which sometime were
disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is eight souls, were saved by water.” The same apostle further states, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promises, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
It is manifest in sparing us, and in deferring the execution of his threatenings. Such exhibitions of goodness, mercy, and longsuffering, are powerful inducements to adoring gratitude for this part of the Divine conduct. But in many instances, the patience and compassion of God are inconsiderately abused, and made the occasion of rebellion against him. Because sentence against evil deeds is not executed speedily, the children of men become more daring in their opposition to God, and reckless of their salvation.
But we have to consider longsuffering in relation to the christian character. It is a fruit of the spirit, another essential link in the believer's golden chain, or interesting feature in the portrait of the christian. We will notice
I. WHAT IT IMPLIES.
According to the definitions of acknowledged authorities, longsuffering and patience are synonomous terms; the one implies the other, the one involves the other. It implies resignation and forbearance. Resignation to the will of God, and a disposition to bear insults, injuries, and provocations, without seeking revenge, or manifesting resentment. An individual who imbibes this spirit, and contributes to promote it in the minds of others, not only furnishes evidence of self-government, but exemplifies conduct worthy of general emulation. It is commended in scripture : "In your patience possess ye your souls.” It implies,
1. Submission and resignation to the Divine will. God
is a Sovereign, and requires universal obedience to his laws, and constant submission to his authority and government. His laws are holy, wise, and just; they prohibit nothing but what is injurious to our temporal and spiritual interests, and enjoin nothing but what is reasonable and advantageous. If a child be required to submit to his parent, a pupil to his teacher, a servant to his master, a soldier to his general, a subject to his sovereign, we must acknowledge the equity of the Divine claims upon us.
We are under his immediate and constant protection. He directs and controls all events for our good; and to his rightful and universal sovereignty we must submit.
When Nadab and Abihu were consumed for offering strange fire before the Lord, Aaron held his peace, and he, Eleazer, and Ithamar were forbidden to mourn for them. When Samuel informed Eli of the destruction of his house, however painful the intelligence, Eli exclaimed, “ It is the Lord : let him do what seemeth him good,” 1 Sam. iii. 18. This disposition produced acquiescence in the will of God in the case of the Shunamite, when deprived of her child. Elisha, seeing her afar off, sent his servant to meet her; and Gehazi said unto her, “Is it well with thee? Is it well with thy husband ? Is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well,” 2 Kings iv. 26.
There are many persons who imbibe a repining and murmuring spirit, especially if their purposes are frustrated, their hopes blighted, and their schemes prove ineffectual. But every real and intelligent christian sees the wisdom and propriety of submitting patiently to the unerring administrations of Him who “doeth whatever he will in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of men;" and who also “worketh all things according to the council of his own will."
Some are highly dissatisfied with the order and ar
rangements of Divine Providence in reference to their position and connexions in life. They observe others who, in regard to their worldly circumstances, and the circles in which they move, are considerably superior to themselves. This, to them, is a source of uneasiness, or an event at which they bitterly complain. They desire at least to be equal to them in point of influence, wealth, and respectability. They argue for equality, and not a few are aspirants for pre-eminence. It is to them a mortifying thought, that they are of low and undistinguished origin, and that their position in life is far from being affluent. They complain that some are high, and they are low; that some are rich, and they are poor; that some are illustrious, and they are obscure; that some are gentlemen, and they have to labour for a livelihood.
Others repine at the seasons; and have presumption enough to conclude, that if they had the reins of government in their own hands, they could regulate affairs and control events to better advantage. For them, days are either too long or too short—too hot or too cold—too wet or too dry. But the christian, in taking a view of the past, in relation to the Divine procedure, can bear his grateful testimony that the Lord “hath done all things well."
Many pious people cannot boast of high parentage, extensive possessions, or distinguished abilities; but higher objects attract their attention, and themes of richer interest occupy their thoughts. Their state of mind is similar to that of the apostle Paul, when he said, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” Phil. iv. 11. Whether it be a state of prosperity or adversity,-of sickness or health, they are confident that “all things shall work together for good to them that love God.” Christian patience does not arise from the abundance of wealth possessed, but from