Who can withstand His indignation? Who can endure His burning anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; even rocks are shattered before Him.
I. HIS PATIENCE ALWAYS IMPLIES GREAT POWER. "The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power." This is a remarkable expression. It seems as if the prophet meant, God is "slow to anger" because he is "great in power;" if he had leas power he would be less patient. A man may be "slow to anger," slow to deal out vengeance, because he lacks power to do so. But God is "slow to anger" because he has abundance of power. In order to see the power revealed in his forbearance towards sinners in this world, think of four things. I. His exquisite sensibility. There are some men "slow to anger" because they have not the susceptibility of feeling an insult or offence; their patience, such as it is, is nothing but a natural stoicism. Many men are lauded for their calmness under insults, who are rather to be pitied for their natural insensibility, or denounced for their moral callousness. But the great God is ineffably sensitive. He is sensibility itself. He is love. He feels everything. Every immoral act vibrates, so to speak, on his heart chord; and yet he is "slow to anger."
2. His abhorrence of sin. It is the "abominable thing" which he emphatically hates. His whole nature revolts from it. He feels that it is antagonism to his will and to the order and well being of the universe.
3. His provocation by the world. Multiply the sins of each man in one day by the countless millions of men that populate the globe; then you will have some conception of the provocation that this God of exquisite sensibility, of an ineffable hatred to sin, receives every day from this planet. One insult often sets man's blood ablaze. Surely, if all the patience of all the angels in heaven were to be embodied in one personality, and that personality were entrusted with the government of this world for one day, before the clock struck the hour of midnight he would set the globe in flames.
4. His right to do whatever he pleases He could show his anger if he pleased, at any time, anywhere, or anyhow. He is absolutely irresponsible. He has no one to fear. When men feel anger there are many reasons to prevent them from showing it; but he has no such reason. How great, then, must be his "power" in holding back his anger! His power of self-control is infinite. "He is Slow... to anger, and of great power." "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).
II. HIS PATIENCE PRECLUDES NOT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE IMPENITENT. "And will not at all acquit the wicked." That is, the impenitent wicked. However wicked a man is, if he repents he will be acquitted. "Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts," etc. (Isaiah 55:7).
1. To "acquit" the impenitent would be an infraction of his law. He has bound suffering to sin by a law as strong and as inviolable as that which binds the planets to the sun. "The wages of sin is death;" "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Sin leads to ruin: this is a law.
2. To "acquit" the impenitent would be a violation of his word. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the nations that forget God;" "Unless ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish;" "I will laugh at your calamities, and mock when your fear cometh."
3. To "acquit" the impenitent would be to break the harmony of his universe. If inveterate rebels and incorrigible sinners were acquitted, what an impulse there would be given in God's moral empire to anarchy and rebellion!
CONCLUSION. Abuse not the patience of God; nay, avail yourselves of it. While he forbears, and because he forbears, repent! "Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" (Romans 2:4). - D.T.
Who can stand before His indignation?
I. WHAT MISAPPREHENSION MAY THERE BE IN REFERENCE TO THE USE OF FEAR? Noah, in preparing the ark, is said to have been "moved with fear." It was dread of impending wrath. Fears may rightly move us to genuine and acceptable repentance. We are so constituted as to be just as accessible through fear as through hope. We feel that with the great mass of men we can make no way without appealing to their fears. Men must commonly be wrought upon by fear through what they are incurring rather than through what they are losing. We must come down upon them with tidings of disaster. Let a man continue his struggles and his endeavours even though he feel actuated only by fear, and in due time other motives shall gain sway in his breast.
II. THE LEGITIMATE USE OF SUCH AWFUL DENUNCIATIONS AS THESE IN THE TEXT. Or the way in which threatenings ought to be employed by the preacher. St. Paul says, "Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men." Neither should the engine of terror be otherwise used by the present ministers of Christ. Threatenings are to be employed as inducements to the laying hold on the succour provided by Christ,
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
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