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2 Peter 3:15 - Homilies By J.r. Thomson

Divine long-suffering.

When the religion of Christ was first promulgated, there was on the part of many who embraced it an impatience with the state of things in the world, and an expectation of the end of the age and of the speedy return of the Saviour, for the deliverance of his people and the destruction of his foes. Both Paul and Peter found it necessary to restrain the impatience and to check the enthusiastic anticipations of their converts, and to impress upon them the marvelous forbearance of God. They aimed at showing that it was benevolence which chiefly prompted the manifestation of Divine long-suffering.

I. THE NATURE OF DIVINE LONG - SUFFERING . We know something of human patience and forbearance, and we have all been again and again indebted to these qualities for our opportunities of happiness and usefulness, But Divine long-suffering transcends all that has been displayed by men.

1 . Long-suffering is different from mere goodness and bounty, i.e. the disposition to bestow benefits upon the needy and dependent.

2 . And from pity or compassion, which is a sentiment of commiseration towards the wretched and helpless.

3 . And at the same time it is, on the other hand, different from indifference to the evil conduct which is observed in men.

4 . It is a kind of mercy. It involves a holy Superior and an offending subject. It is an emotion of the heart which prompts to the restraint of indignation; a principle of action which averts and withholds wrath and penalty, although these be abundantly deserved. God, in the exercise of long-suffering, beat's with the sinners whom he might justly doom, gives further opportunity for repentance, and waits for its signs.


1 . The sins of mankind have given occasion for the exercise of this grace upon the vastest scale. Scripture history abounds with instances of God's forbearance; e.g., in the time of Noah; when Israel rebelled in the wilderness; and when Israel afterwards so largely apostatized, etc. So has it been in the history of every nation, and in the history of the human race.

2 . The sins of individual unbelievers and transgressors call for the forbearance of a gracious God. The young who live viciously and irreligiously, those in afterlife who forget God and give themselves to the pursuit of worldly aims, continue to live and to enjoy privileges only through the forbearance of Heaven.

3 . The unfaithfulness of Christians is only tolerated by a long-suffering Lord. How otherwise could the frailties and infirmities which disfigure the religious life of multitudes be endured? If our God had not again and again borne with our imperfections, should we be still in the possession of opportunities and advantages so many and valuable?


1 . God refrains from judgment and condemnation.

2 . God addresses faithful warnings, and summons to repentance as the clouds gather before the thunderstorm breaks. Expostulations are repeated: "How shall I give thee up?"

3 . Promises and invitations are renewed.

4 . Probation is extended, in order that further opportunity may be given for repentance. The mandate goes forth concerning the barren tree, "Let it alone this year also!"

IV. THE GRACIOUS INTENTION OF DIVINE LONG - SUFFERING . When the apostle writes, "is salvation," he means, "is intended to work salvation." God does not prolong our proving with a view to the increase of our guilt and chastisement, but for a purpose exactly opposed to this—in order, that is, that hardness may be melted down, that rebellion may cease and be followed by loyalty, that neglect and disregard of religion may give place to interest and to prayer, that the sinner may repent, the wanderer return, the careless be revived. The gift of Christ to man is the most glorious evidence of Divine long-suffering. This is a dispensation of mercy. To forbearance we owe our privileges, and to forbearance we shall be indebted for our final and everlasting salvation.

Great, indeed, is the guilt of those who despise and abuse the long-suffering of the Lord. Such there have ever been. "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." But it is better that delay in judgment should be used as the opportunity of repentance, rather than that it should be abused as an excuse and an inducement for perseverance in sin - J.R.T.

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