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My was great upon the Earth, a general Vol.VII. deluge was threatned, but God was

patient, and delayed his Judgment a great while; hereupon they grew se. cure in their impenitency, and went on in their course, as if they had no apprehension of danger, no fear of the Judgment threatned. So our Saviour tells us, Matth. 24. 38, 39. As in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah en. tred into the Ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all

And so it was with Sodom, Luke 17. 28. And likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built. And so our Saviour tells us it will be in the end of the World; Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. So likewise the Apostle St. Paul, Rom. 2. 4, 5: Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodnes of God leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardnes and impenitent heart, treasurest up to thy self wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. The goodness and long-suffering of God, which



Vol. VII. ought in all reason to lead Men to repentance, is to many an occasion of greater hardness and impenitency. So also St. Peter foretels, 2 Pet. 3. 3. that in the last days there should come scoffers, who should walk after their own hearts lusts, saying, Where is the promise of his coming? And we see in daily ex. perience, that the greatest part of finners grow more obstinate and confirmed in their wicked ways, upon account of God's Patience, and because he delays the punishment due to them for their fins. Let us consider in the

Second place, whence this comes to país, and upon what pretence and colour of Reason, Men encourage themselves in fin, from the long-Tuffering of God. And there is no doubt but this proceeds from our ignorance and inconfiderateness, and from an evil heart of unbelief, from the temptation and suggestion of the Devil, one of whose great arts it is, to make Men question the threatnings of God, and to infinuate, as he did to our first Parents, either that he hath not denounced such threatnings, or that he will



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not execute them so severely. All Vol. VI. these Causes do concur to the produ

cing this monstrous Effect; but that which I defign to enquire into, is, from what pretence of Reason,grounded upon the long-sufferiug of God, linners argue themselves into this confi- , dence and presumption. For when the wise Man faith, that because sentence againft an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the fons of men is fully set in them to do evil, he does not intend to insinuate, that God's long-suffering fills the hearts of Men with wicked designs and resolutions, and does by a proper and direct efficacy, harden finners in their course; but that wicked Men upon some account or other, do take occafion from the long-suffering of God, to harden themselves in fin; they draw false conclufions from it to impose upon themselves, as if it were really a ground of encouragement'; they think they see something in the forbearance of God and his delay of punishment which makes them hope for impunity in an evil course, notwithstandįng the threatnings of God.


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And therefore I shall endeavour to M {hew, what those false conclufions Vol. VIH are, which wicked Men draw from the delay of punishment, and to dis. cover the sophistry and fallacy of them; and I shall rank them under two Heads; those which are more gross and atheistical, and those which are not so gross, but yet more common and frequent.

1. Those conclusions which are more gross and atheistical, which bad Men draw to the hardening and encourageing of themselves in sin, from the delay of punishment (which we who believe a God, call the patience or long-suffering of God) are thesc three ; either that there is no God;'or if there be, that there is no Provi. dence; or that there is no difference between Good and Evil.

I shall speak more briefly of these, because I hope there are but few in the World of such irregular and befotted understandings, as to make such Infe. rences as these from the delay of punishment.

ift. From hence some would fain conclude, that there is no God. That fome are so absurd as to reason in this


manner, the Scripture tells us, Pfal. VOLVII.

14. 1. The fool bath said in his heart,
There is no Ġod: they are corrupt, aná
have done abominable works. Now the
Argument that these Men frame to
themselves, is this ; God doth not
take a speedy course with sinners, and
revenge himself immediately upon the
workers of Iniquity, therefore there
is no God; for if there were, he
would shew himself, and not bear
the affronts of sinners, when it is so
easie for him to vindicate himself by a
swift and speedy Vengeance. Thus
the Poet represents the Atheist argu-
ing, Nullos esse deos, inane cælum, affir-
mat Selius, probatque , quod se factum,
dum negat hoc, videt beatum. Selius
“affirms there are no Gods, and that
“Heaven is an empty place, and

proves it, because whilst he denys "God, he sees himself in a very happy “and prosperous condition.

And here it is worthy our notice, at what a contradictious rate these Men reason. First they would have no God, lest he should be just and punish them as they deserve; and then in another mood, they would have him to be nothing but Justice and


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