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not save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear." Isa. 59: 1.
(2.) You have reason to wait, as it is probable you yourselves have put stumbling-blocks in the way of their souls to Christ, and hindered the answers to your own prayers for the conversion of your relatives. O Christians, there is more due to them than your prayers--prayers must be accompanied with example ; had they not only heard your cries to God for them, but seen your suitable encouraging example set before them also, you and they might have rejoiced together long ago. But,
(3.) Consider that God many times makes the fruit of such prayers to spring up after those that sowed them are dead and gone. The Lord may give life to your prayers when you are dead : certainly your prayers die not with you. It is the opinion of some that Paul's conversion was the return of Stephen's prayer, “ Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Acts 7:60. Stephen died, but his prayers lived, and were answered upon one that stood by and consented to his death. But however it be, wait still upon God; if your prayers come not into their bosoms, they will certainly return into your own. Here is duty discharged, and love to Christ and their souls manifested, which will be your comfort, however God dispose the event.
But further, the doctrine of Christ's patience puts a great and serious EXHORTATION into my mouth, to press one of the greatest duties. And could I deliver this exhortation to you upon my knees, with tears of blood mingled with my words, might that prevail, I would surely do it.
8. My exhortation is to all that are in an unregenerate state, that they presume not to try the patience of Christ any longer. If you have any regard to your eternal happiness, exercise not his patience another hour. O that this hour might put an end to Christ's waiting and your danger! Hitherto you have wearied men, but will you weary God also ? Christ has called, but you have refused; he has stretched out his hands, but you have not regarded. Prov. 1:24. Your thoughts have been wandering after vanity while the voice of the gospel. has been sounding in your ears : some of you have been sottish, and incapable of apprehending spiritual truths; others of you sensual, given up to the pleasures of the world, and abandoning all serious thoughts about the world to come. Some of you have been buried alive in the cares of the world, and others settled upon a dead formality in religion; and to this day Christ hath called upon you in vain. Now that which I exhort you to is, that you venture not to try the patience of Christ one day longer; if you have any regard to the everlasting happiness of your souls, come not under the guilt and danger of one denial or delay more. If you ask me, Why may we not venture a little longer ? Christ has borne with us all this while, and will he not bear a little longer ? May we not take a little more pleasure in sin? May we not hazard one sermon or Sabbath more? I answer, No. If your souls are precious in your eyes, let there be no more denials, nor delays to Christ's suit. For,
(1.) How patient and long-suffering soever Christ has been, yet there will be an end of the day of his patiencea time when he will wait no longer, when his Spirit shall strive no more with you. There will be a knock of Christ at the heart, which will be the last knock that ever he will give-a time when the master of the house will rise up, and the door be shut. Matt. 25: 10. You have had to do with a meek and patient Saviour; but believe it, sinners, there is a day of “the wrath of the Lamb," and that day will be dreadful. Then will sinners cry“ to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." Rev. 6:16. O if this wrath be once kindled, though but a little! Blessed are they that trust in him, that have finished their agreement with him. The day of Christ's patience towards Jerusalem was a long day, but it had an end, and it ended in their desolation, Matt. 23:37; therefore try the patience of Christ no further : you know not the limits of it; it may end with your next refusal, and then where are you?
(2.) The longer Christ has exercised his patience already towards you, the more terribly will he avenge the abuse of it upon you in hell. It is past doubt with me, that there are different degrees of torment in hell: the Scriptures are plain and clear on this point. Now, among all the aggravations of the torments of hell, none can be greater than the reflections of damned souls upon the abused patience and grace of Christ. Those who had the best means, the loudest calls, and the longest day under the gospel, will certainly have the hottest place in hell, if the goodness and longsuffering of Christ do not now lead them to repentance. The cries of such souls will be heard above the cries of all other miserable wretches who are cast away. It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for Capernaum. Matt. 11:23. O friends, you little know the reflections of conscience in hell upon such hours as you now enjoysuch wooing, charming voices and allurements to Christ as you now hear. There are many thousands of souls in hell from the dark, heathenish parts of the world, where they never heard of Christ; but your misery will be far beyond theirs, your reflections more sharp and bitter : therefore delay no longer, lest you perish with peculiar aggravation of misery.
(3.) Try the patience of Christ no further, I beseech you, forasmuch as you see every day the patience of Christ ending towards others-patience retiring, and justice arising to triumph over the abusers of mercy. You not only read in Scripture the ending of God's patience with men, but you may see it every day. If you look into scripture, you may find the patience of God ended towards multitudes of sinners, who possibly had the same presumptions and vain hopes for the continuance of it that you now have. If you look into 1 Peter, 3 : 19, 20, you there find that Christ "went and preached unto the spirits in prison ; which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah.” The meaning of which is, that in the days before the flood, Christ by his Spirit strove with the disobedient and rebellious sinners in the ministry of Noah, who then were living men and women as we are, but now are "spirits in prison,” that is, damned souls in hell, for their disobedience : and truly, brethren, you may frequently behold the glass of patience run down, the very last sand in it spent upon others. Whenever you see a wicked, Christless man or woman die, you see the end of God's patience with that man or woman; and all this for a warning to you, that you venture not to trifle and dally with it as they did.
(4.) Do not try God's patience any longer, if you love your souls, for this reason: because when men grow bold, and encourage themselves in sin on account of God's forbearance and long-suffering towards them, there cannot be a more certain sign that his patience is very near its end towards them. It is time for God to put an end to his patience, when it is made an encouragement to sin. He cannot suffer so vile an abuse of his patience, nor endure to see it turned into wantonness. This quickly brings up sin to its finishing act, and then patience is just finishing also. That patience is thus abused, appears from Eccl. 8:11: “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” When divine patience is thus abused, look for a sudden change. O therefore beware of provoking God, for now the day of patience is certainly near, its
end with sinners. “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded : but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh : when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind.” Prov. 1:24-27. Ah, when sinners scoff and mock at the threatenings of God, and bear themselves up on his patience, as that which will never break under them, then look out for a whirlwind, a sudden tempest of wrath, which will hurry such souls into hell. Then misery comes like a storm blowing furiously from all quarters. The heavens are yet clear over you, but a storm is nigh, and may certainly be presaged from such vile abuses of the glorious patience of Christ towards you. This is the first exhortation, try not the patience of Christ by any further delays.
9. Again, admire Christ's patience and forbearance until now, that he has not cut you off in sin, but brought about your salvation by his long-suffering towards you. Here now I must change my voice, and turn it to those whose hearts the Lord hath opened. Stand amazed at the riches of his grace towards you, and see that you account this long-suffering of God to be your salvation ; for in plain truth it is so : your salvation was bound up in Christ's forbearance. If Christ had not borne with you as he did, you had not been where you are. I could heartily wish, that all the time you can redeem from the necessary employments you have in the world, may be spent in a humble, thankful admiration of this wonderful grace and patience of Christ, and in duties answerable to the intentions and ends thereof. To this end I shall subjoin divers weighty considerations, which, methinks, should melt every heart wherein the least degree of saving grace is found.
(1.) Bethink yourselves of the great and manifold provocations you have given the Lord to put an end to all