Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be like minded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:…
(text and Nahum 1:3): —
I. THE NATURE OF THIS PATIENCE, OR SLOWNESS TO ANGER.
1. It is a modification of the Divine goodness. While goodness respects all creatures, patience has as its object only the sinner.
2. This patience is not the result of ignorance. Every transgression is in full view of Him who is one Eternal Now. And yet the Lord delays His thunders!
3. This perfection does not result from impotence (chap. Romans 9:22; Numbers 14:17).
4. Neither does it result from a connivance at sin, or a resolution to suffer it with impunity.
5. It is grounded on the everlasting covenant, and the blood of Jesus. Why was not patience exercised to the fallen angels? Because Jesus had not engaged to atone for them, as He had engaged to become the surety of man.
II. SOME OF THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MANIFESTATIONS OF IT.
1. When our first parents sinned, patience held them in being, gave them an opportunity of securing a better Eden, and pointed them to that Messiah who should repair the ruins of the fall.
2. When the old world had corrupted its way before God, for 120 years He bore with its enormities, sent His Spirit to strive with them, and His messengers to warn them.
3. When the Canaanites indulged in every abomination, He delayed for four hundred years to inflict on them the punishments they deserved.
4. When the Gentile nations, instead of adoring the God of heaven, had placed the vilest passions and the grossest vices in the seat of the Divinity, the Lord "left not Himself without witness" (Acts 14:17).
5. When the Israelites, notwithstanding His numberless miracles and amazing mercies, rebelled against Him, did He not bear with them? But why do I mention particular examples? There is not a spot on our globe, there is not an instant that has elapsed, there is not a human being that has existed, that does not prove the forbearance of our God. Consider the number, the greatness, and the continuance of the provocations against Him by His creatures whom He hath surrounded with blessings, for whose redemption He gave His Son.
6. Consider the conduct of God towards those whom He is compelled ultimately to punish. Before the judgment He solemnly and affectionately warns them. If they are still obstinate, He delays, gives new mercies, that their souls at last may be touched. If He must punish, He does it by degrees (Psalm 78:38). If at last He must pour out His vengeance upon the incorrigible sinner, He does it with reluctance. "Why wilt thou die?" "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?"
III. THE REASONS WHY HE EXERCISES SUCH LONG-SUFFERING. Lovely as is this attribute, its exercise has often appeared mysterious to the pious, and has been abused by the sinner. Yet a little reflection would have convinced them that in this, as in all the other proceedings of His providence, the manifold wisdom of God is shown. He is patient —
1. From His nature (Lamentations 3:33).
2. That this perfection may be glorified. There can be no exercise of it in heaven, since there will be nothing to require it; none in hell, since there will be nothing but wrath (Isaiah 48:9).
3. In consequence of the prayers of pious ancestors, and of the promises made to them and their offspring after them. Ah! careless children of pious parents, you know not how much you are indebted to them.
4. From the mixture of the wicked with the pious, and the near relations subsisting between them. From love to His dear children, He spares His enemies (2 Kings 22:18, 20).
5. Because the number of His elect is not yet completed, and because many of the descendants of these wicked men shall be trophies of His grace. Had a wicked Ahaz been cut off at once, a pious Hezekiah would never have lived and pleaded the cause of God.
6. Because the measure of their sins is not yet filled up (Zechariah 5:6, etc.).
7. That sinners may be brought to repentance (2 Peter 3:15).
8. That sinners who continue impenitent may at last be without excuse.
9. That God's power may be displayed; the greatness of His protection and providence be manifested in preserving the Church in the midst of her enemies.
10. That He may exercise the trust of His servants in Him, and the "patience of His saints"; that He may call forth the graces of the righteous, and try their sincerity.
IV. INFERENCES. Is God infinitely patient?
1. With what love to Him should the consideration of this attribute inspire us?
2. What a motive to the deepest repentance (Romans 2:4).
3. Let us imitate Him in this perfection of His nature.
4. What a source of comfort is this to believers.
5. Then how patient should we be in all the afflictions with which He visits us?
6. Who, then, will not grieve at the reproaches and insults that are cast upon him?
(H. Kollock, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: