Romans 2:4
Or do you disregard the riches of His kindness, tolerance, and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you to repentance?
Sermons
Despising the Riches of God's GoodnessA. Roberts, M. A.Romans 2:4
Divine LoveJ. B. Walker, M. D.Romans 2:4
Earnest ExpostulationC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 2:4
God's ForbearanceT. Fuller, D. D.Romans 2:4
God's GoodnessJ. J. S. Bird, B. A.Romans 2:4
God's GoodnessBp. Taylor.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness and RepentanceJ. J S. Bird, B. A.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness DespisedT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness in Relation to Man, and Man's Relation to ItD. Thomas, D. D.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness Leading to RepentanceT. Kidd.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness Means SalvationH. W. Beecher.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness to be ReverencedC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness, Etc., not to be DespisedJoseph Brown.Romans 2:4
God's Goodness: its Abuse and its DesignC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 2:4
God's Long Suffering a Demonstration of His Almighty PowerH. Melvill, B. D.Romans 2:4
God's RichesT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 2:4
God's RichesBp. Villiers.Romans 2:4
Goodness Leading to RepentanceN. W. Taylor, D. D.Romans 2:4
The Divine Goodness a Motive to RepentanceJ. Foster.Romans 2:4
The Exuberance of God's GoodnessN. Culverwell.Romans 2:4
The Goodness of God a Persuasive to RepentanceJ. Hawes, D. D.Romans 2:4
The Goodness of God an Inducement to RepentanceW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Romans 2:4
The Goodness of God Designed to ReclaimN. W. Taylor, D. D.Romans 2:4
The Heinousness of Despising God's GoodnessC. H. Spurgeon.Romans 2:4
The Patience of GodRomans 2:4
The Riches of God's GoodnessS. Charnock, B. D.Romans 2:4
The Riches of God's GoodnessT. Chalmers, D. D.Romans 2:4
The Goodness of GodC.h Irwin Romans 2:1-4
Without ExcuseT.F. Lockyer Romans 2:1-11
CensoriousnessJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
Jews as Bad as PagansJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
Judging OthersT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
Judging OthersJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
Judgment -- Human and DivineU. R. Thomas.Romans 2:1-16
Man's InexcusablenessT. Robinson, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
The Final Judgment ForeshadowedW. Tyson.Romans 2:1-16
The Judges JudgedC. Simeon, M. A.Romans 2:1-16
The Judgment of GodT. G. Horton.Romans 2:1-16
The Leading Principles Regulating the General JudgmentR.M. Edgar Romans 2:1-16
The Self-Righteous and the Hypocrite Tried and Condemned ByJ. Lyth, D. D.Romans 2:1-16
Unconscious HypocrisyProf. Jowett.Romans 2:1-16
Long-Suffering AbusedS.R. Aldridge Romans 2:4, 5
How prone we are to censure others for what we ourselves are guilty of without remorse! Men delude themselves, either hoping somehow to escape condemnation, though others shall be judged, or else making light of judgment because it has not fallen on them as yet. The apostle wonders at the prevalence of this strange alternative. "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."

I. THE KINDNESS OF GOD TO SINNERS. Its abundance. The apostle uses his favourite word to exhibit the munificence of God; his "riches" of every sort, and enough for the whole creation, are ceaselessly, profusely bestowed. His temporal bounties enrich their lives. The children are so engrossed with the enjoyment of the gifts as to forget to uplift thankful smiles to the parental Giver. His spiritual mercies should be remembered. The Gentiles have the warning voice, the guiding light of conscience, to preserve from error and ruin; yet is this token of Divine care frequently slighted and even hated, as Zechariah was slain by Joash. It was no slight favour that blessed the Jews with the "lively oracles;" and Christians may well prize the unsearchable riches of gospel truth. 'Tis when we are anxiously seeking the fight way we are most sensible of our helplessness, and welcome the aid of the Word and Spirit. God's kindness is especially visible in the length of the day of grace vouchsafed. The apostle puts it negatively and positively - God's" forbearance" in restraining his thunderbolts of wrath, and his "long-suffering" in the painful endurance of sin in his dominions. We have tried his patience. He bears long with an evil generation, suffers their manners to go unpunished all these years. Even the souls under the altar echo the complaint of earth, "How long, O Lord, holy and true?"

II. THE INTENT OF THIS KINDNESS. None of God's gifts is without meaning. To use them rightly, to improve them, is the recompense he seeks. His forbearance is designed to change men's lives. Reflection begets repentance, the grieving over past follies, the resolution to forsake them, and the actual turning to a godly life. He gives men time to alter. He is "long-suffering, not willing that any should perish." See this in years while the ark was a-preparing, in the period of prophecy before the Captivity, and in the interval between the Day of Pentecost and the day of judgment. Men have prayed God to spare their lives in the hour of peril, and the moments after rescue have blotted out the memory of his mercy and their vow. He employs agencies adapted to this end. His revelation and the admonitions of the Spirit, preachers, and providences, have been directed towards arousing the lethargic, rebuking the careless, forcing them to trace a connection between sin and destruction. He woos them to a better life by his goodness. He is drawing them as with a magnet, so that if they repent not it is because they resist his "leading."

III. THE TREATMENT THIS KINDNESS TOO OFTEN RECEIVES. Contempt. Men scoff at the idea of retribution awaiting them, arguing final impunity from the arrival of present donations that speak of the Creator and Preserver's benevolence. They mistake his slowness to strike for incapacity. His unwillingness to destroy is imputed to inability. Contempt is a sign of ignorance. "Not knowing that," etc. It is the foolish who display brazen hardihood; the wise man makes light of no threatening storm. Such ignorance is blamable. The source of it is the "hardness and impenitence of the heart." "Their eyes have they closed, and their ears are dull of hearing, because the heart of this people is waxed gross." The Scriptures would drive us from every refuge of lies, would make us ashamed of our behaviour that we may mourn and amend. There is no hope of reformation as long as the pachyderm of self-complacency is not pierced with the compunction of responsibility.

IV. THE AWFUL CONSEQUENCE TO THE IMPENITENT. They aggravate their punishment. The pent-up storm bursts with the greater fury. The more the advantages, the weightier the account demanded; the longer the time granted for amendment, the severer the castigation for wasted opportunities. Men "treasure up" wrath for themselves. Character indurates, like the writing on clay tablets hardened in the sun. No possible excuse can be found where the day of grace has passed unused. A dreadful contrast, to accumulate a store of wrath instead of profiting by the riches of God's goodness. The money of heaven was placed at men's disposal; but, throwing this away as rubbish, they made their own counterfeit coins, and are punished for their treason against the King's government. Trifle not with sin when thou seest its present disastrous results, but calculate thence the "wrath of the Lamb," when gentleness has been spurned and maltreated, and goodness must give place to severity. The smoothly gliding river of God's long-suffering, if barred out of thy heart by closed gates, will swell to a mighty torrent, sweeping thy frail obstructions away to ruin. - S.R.A.







Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness.
I will give nothing for that preaching that is like the sheet lightning, flaming over a broad expanse, but altogether harmless. The apostle fixes his eye on a single person who had condemned others for transgressions in which he himself indulged; one who did not place his candle on his table to light his own room, but held it out at the door, to inspect therewith his neighbours who passed by. He thinks he shall escape in the future, and so despises the present goodness and long suffering of the Most High. Let me speak to thee, unregenerate man, of —

I. THE GOODNESS OF GOD WHICH THOU HAST EXPERIENCED.

1. In temporal things. You have, perhaps, been prospered above your fellows. God has granted you wealth and health. You are happy in your wife and children. A thousand evils have been kept from you.

2. In spiritual things. You are in the very focus of Christian light. The Word of God is on your table; you hear the earnest preaching of the gospel. A tender conscience makes your road to perdition peculiarly hard. The Spirit has so striven with you that you were at times almost ready to drop into the Saviour's arms.

3. He has been forbearing and long suffering for your sins. Forbearance has to do with the magnitude of sin; long suffering with the multiplicity of it. Many have been snatched from vice only to return to its deep ditch of filthiness. They have trembled on the brink of death, yet God has permitted them to recover strength. They slight His love, yet He perseveres in it. How many years you have been heaping up the loads of transgression! Yet here you are still, on praying ground and pleading terms with God. Think, also, who and what God is, who displays this long suffering. Think of His goodness: why should you provoke Him? Think of His omniscience: every transgression is committed in His very presence. Think of how powerful He is: your wicked heart would cease to beat if He should withdraw His power. Think of His purity: sin is much more intolerable to Him than to us.

II. THE SIN OF WHICH THOU ART SUSPECTED. Some despise God's goodness, forbearance, and long suffering, because —

1. They never even gave a thought to it. God has given you life, and indulged you with kindness; yet it has never occurred to you that this patience is worthy of the smallest thanks. You have been of no service to your Maker, nor even thought of being of service to Him. Others have, perhaps, thought of it, but never meditated thereon.

2. Because they imagine God does not take any great account of what they do. So long as they avoid gross and open sin, they think it of light consequence not to love God.

3. They think the threatenings of God will never be fulfilled. They think, because the blow is long delayed, it never will come.

III. THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHICH THOU ART FORGETFUL. The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance —

1. By giving opportunity to repent. All these years have been given you, that you might turn to God: yet you are spared only to multiply your transgressions.

2. By suggestions to repent. Life and death, heaven and hell, call upon you so to do. Every page of the Bible, every sermon, calls you to repent. Nature is full of voices warning you.

3. By leading to repentance. His mercies lead you. If they fail, He turns you by admonition. He leads you; hence He will help you, and will accept your repentance.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The principal thoughts of these words are the wonderful things which meet our observation — the wonderful conduct of God.

I. THE WONDERFUL CONDUCT OF GOD. How grand is the expression! It is not merely the "goodness," etc., but the "riches" of them all.

1. God is rich. We lay up a few thousands, or purchase a few acres and call ourselves rich; but God is the owner of all. Our world is but a speck of sand in His possessions. How stupendous, then, that He should accept the halfpence which some of you give to His cause! Then think of His spiritual wealth — the souls He owns — how much more astounding this than His material!

2. We are here directed to His wealth of goodness. Here is an ocean unfathomable. We know so little of what goodness really consists in that we can only stand and gaze on the surface. The riches of Divine goodness are more wonderful than those of Divine possession.

3. This goodness is manifested in "long suffering and forbearance." God need not be long suffering. Why not end the long, sad, tale of rebellion and sin? Why not crush the blasphemous atoms? He could create another race. Surely, there is no theme for the contemplation of angels or men like the wonderful conduct of God.

II. THE WONDERFUL CONDUCT OF MEN. These words contain —

1. A charge. It is unnatural among men to manifest ingratitude and indifference in return for favour. To injure one who saves our life is inhuman. But men think little of the treat. merit they show to God. Sin is weak in some things, and man is powerless, but in this thing they both have strength. They can do what angels dare not do. Man can break down barriers which it cost the life of the Son of God to erect. He can withstand the love of God. Oh fatal power! Some have attempted to dare the power of God, but they have been crushed as a moth before the advance of a world. But they are more successful in resisting His love.

2. An appeal. It is as if it said, "Can you despise such riches?" etc. It is an appeal to our highest attributes of humanity. It is an appeal to our gratitude. Thanklessness is the lowest stage of inhumanity. It is an appeal to our own hearts. How should we like such a return to our beneficence? Despised! Are we not thrilled with the unnaturalness of the act? We despise that which is evil and contemptible; but the apostle speaks of despising that which is good. It is wonderful that God acts as He does; it is far more wonderful that man should treat that action with contumely and scorn. What madness for the shipwrecked sailor to despise the rope thrown to him! What folly for the inhabitants of a burning house to scorn the fire escape! But to spurn the tenderness of God is incomprehensible in the intensity of its madness.

III. THY WONDERFUL LOSS — "That leadeth thee to repentance." He who despises the riches of Divine forbearance despises that which ought to lead to his eternal salvation. Earthly friendships are precious, how much more the friendship of God! Yet this is despised, and so lost, and with it happiness, peace, glory, eternal life. But the loss consists not only in what we lose, but in what we gain. It is easy to lose by a gain. A man had a splendid coat given him which had been worn by a fever patient. He gained the coat, but he lost his life. In despising God we not only lose heaven, but we involve ourselves in eternal condemnation.

(J. J. S. Bird, B. A.)

As the sun sends forth a benign and gentle influence on the seed of plants, that it may invite forth the active and plastic power from its recess and secrecy, that, by rising into the tallness and dimensions of a tree, it may still receive a greater and more refreshing influence from its foster father, the prince of all the bodies of light; and, in all these emanations, the sun itself receives no advantage but the honour of doing benefits: so doth the Almighty Father of all the creatures. He at first sends forth His blessings upon us, that we, by using them aright, should make ourselves capable of greater; while giving glory to God and doing homage to Him are nothing to His advantage but only to ours; our duties towards Him being vapours ascending from the earth, not at all to refresh the regions of the clouds, but to return back in a fruitful and refreshing shower; and God created us, not that we can increase His felicity, but that He might have a subject receptive of felicity from Him.

(Bp. Taylor.)

A favourite word of Paul's, implying abundance, preciousness. It is applied to —

1. God's wisdom and knowledge (Romans 11:33).

2. His glory (Romans 9:23).

3. His grace (Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:7).

4. The glory of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:18).

5. The glory of this mystery (Colossians 1:27).

6. The full assurance of understanding (Colossians 2:2).

7. The unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8).

8. The liberality of the poor (2 Corinthians 8:2). Here the riches —

(1)Of goodness is goodness overflowing, multiplied, long-continued.

(2)Of forbearance is patience all but unwearied.

(3)Of long suffering is delay in punishing beyond all expectation. Corresponding aggravation of the sinner's impenitence.

(T. Robinson, D. D.)

I. IN WHAT THEY CONSIST.

1. By the "goodness" of God! understand those providential mercies which surround us, and ought to lead us to acknowledge Him, and those which are manifested in His calling sinners "out of darkness into His marvellous light:" We are to bear in mind that there was no one single thing in man which could attract or merit God's goodness, but that all sprang from God's sovereign grace.

2. The "forbearance" of God is His withholding the judgments which are due to His enemies (Romans 3:24, etc.).

3. The "long suffering" of God is manifested —(1) By the plenteousness of redemption. We can understand that plenteousness —

(a)By looking at the will of God. He does not desire "that any should" perish, but that all should come to repentance.

(b)By the infinite price that has been paid.

(c)By the extent to which that redemption reaches.

II. THE RIGHT USE OF THESE RICHES.

1. The awakening of our better affections. There is a sorrow for sin which "worketh death," and a sorrow which "needs not to be repented of." When we realise the greatness of God's goodness there will be a greatness of love toward God — e.g., take the history of the woman spoken of in Luke 7. When we truly understand the extent of sin which has been pardoned, the depths of misery from which we have been extricated, the heights of glory to which we are to be admitted, then, and not till then, will our hearts burn with love towards God.

2. To teach us the exceeding sinfulness of sin — that we are sinning not only against One whose eyes are too pure "to look upon iniquity," but against One who is good, and to lead us therefore to repentance.

III. THEIR ABUSE. How common is it that men live and die despising the riches of God's love! Take the case of temporal mercies. How many speak of their good fortune, their success, never considering that these things came from God! And if we turn to the subject of our gracious mercies, how many are there who presume upon the continuance of those mercies, and determine to indulge in sin, as if there were no reckoning time for them (Ecclesiastes 8). There are many who misrepresent God's forbearance as though He were overlooking sin. Many are there who, when they learn the exceeding riches of His grace, suppose that sin can therefore be of no consequence (Jeremiah 7:9, 10).

(Bp. Villiers.)

God only is originally good. All created goodness is a rivulet from this fountain, but Divine goodness has no spring. God has it in and of Himself. All the goodness that is in His creatures is but the flowing of His goodness upon them, and vast is the number towards whom it flows — angels, glorified spirits, men, etc. — there is still less manifested than is left. All possible creatures are not capable of exhausting its riches. And God only is perfectly good, because infinitely good. He is good without indigence, because He has the whole nature of goodness, not only some beams that may admit of increase of degree. As nothing has an absolutely perfect being but God, so nothing has an absolutely perfect goodness but God; as the sun has a perfection of heat in it, but what is warmed by the sun is imperfectly hot, and equals not the sun in that perfection of heat wherewith it is naturally endued And then God only is immutably good. Other things may be good by supernatural power, but not in their own nature; i.e., they are not so good but they may be bad; God is so good that He cannot be bad.

(S. Charnock, B. D.)

There is not so much sin in man as there is goodness in God. There is a vaster disproportion between sin and grace than between a spark and an ocean. Who would doubt whether a spark could be quenched in an ocean? Thy thoughts of disobedience towards God have been within the compass of time; but His goodness hath been bubbling up towards thee from all eternity.

(N. Culverwell.)

Goodness to the innocent, or goodness to the deserving, merely displays this attribute in a state of simplicity; but the goodness which remains unequalled and unexhausted after it has been sinned against — the goodness which persists in multiplying upon the transgressor the chances of his recovery, and that in the midst of affront and opposition — the goodness which, loathe to inflict the retaliating blow, still holds out a little longer and a little longer; and, with all the means in its power of avenging the insults of disobedience, still ekes out the season for its return, and plies it with all the encouragements of a free pardon and an offered reconciliation. This is the exuberance of goodness, this is the richness of forbearance and long suffering; and it is the very display which God is now making in reference to our world. And by every year which rolls over our heads — by every morning in which we find that we have awoke to the light of a new day, instead of awaking in torment — by every hour and every minute through which she stroke of death is suspended, and you still continue a breathing man in the land of gospel calls and gospel invitations — is God now justifying His goodness towards you. And earnest as He is for your return, and heedless as you are of all this earnestness, does it call as time moves onwards for a higher and a higher exertion of forbearance on the part of the Divinity, to restrain His past and accumulating wrath from being discharged on the head of those among whom though God entreats yet no man will turn, and though He stretch out His hand yet no man regardeth.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

I. WHAT ARE THE RICHES OF GOD'S GOODNESS? etc. The greatness, the abundance of His kindness and patience towards sinful men.

1. To understand this you must consider the greatness of the provocation that is given Him. Look around you — look within you! Can you help seeing how unspeakable the outrage that is offered to Him day by day! Think of —(1) The amount of it. There is not a moment in which ten thousand times ten thousand lips are not uttering corrupt communications; not a moment in which as many guilty hearts are not thinking wicked thoughts; not a moment in which as many hands and feet are not hastening to acts of sin. And God's all-seeing eye perceives at every instant, and in every quarter, one widespread scene of sin and vileness.(2) The heinousness of it. It is the Creator, the Preserver, the Redeemer of mankind who is thus sinned against. Nor do men sin through ignorance of His requirements. He hath written His law in the consciences of men; and to a vast multitude He hath revealed it plainly in His Scriptures. Yet they only listen to His precepts that they may tread them under foot. They know that He hath sent His Son into the world to die for them; and yet they do outrage to His very mercies — neglecting such a great salvation.

2. And now behold "the riches of God's goodness," etc. How doth He act? Doth He crush every sinner? No; He sits patiently seeing and hearing all the outrage that is done to Him; yet holding back His judgments, and giving breath to all these sinners, and providing food convenient for them. True, God doth in some cases break forth and vindicate the injured honour of His name by sending instant death on the transgressor. But such instances are comparatively rare. Where is the sinner who hath not cause to say that the Lord is slow to punish.

3. But why is this?(1) Is it because He looks upon sin with indifference and unconcern? Is it excusable — is it a trifle in His eyes? No; sin is an abomination in His holy eyes beyond what we can possibly imagine.(2) Is it, then, a want of ability to punish them? Were God only to pronounce the word, how instantly would death be at our side! Nay, were He only to take from you His preserving hand, where would you now be?(3) Why, then, if sin be so "exceedingly sinful," why does He prolong the life of the transgressor? (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 33:1).

II. WHAT FRAME OF MIND THEY OUGHT TO LEAD US TO. Who can meditate on the goodness of God and not feel that it calls him to repentance?

1. It does so, were it only for this reason, that it gives the sinner time and opportunity to turn to God.

2. While there is a time there is a call. So long as God's forbearance gives you opportunity, His grace gives you invitation. The sinner may be sure that, whilst the long suffering of God waiteth, he is welcome to a Saviour, and cannot seek in vain (Job 33:27, 28).

3. But God's long suffering makes, on another ground, a strong appeal to guilty man. Suppose it were a fellow creature we had wronged, and he should return our injuries with kindness and forbearance, should we not be moved and melted by it? Then how much more ought we to be melted down by the forbearance of our God! As often as you have sinned against Him, so often hath He pitied you and spared you. How different His dealings towards you from your dealings towards Him! Ought not this amazing kindness of the Lord to make you feel the vileness of your sins?

III. WHAT IS IT TO DESPISE THEM? In order to reply there is only need to describe the way in which men do avail themselves of God's forbearance.

1. Multitudes draw courage from it to live on in sin (Ecclesiastes 8:11; Psalm 7:21). Let not, then, a man venture after reading the text to bolster himself up in sin by making God's long suffering his pillow. If God prolong a wicked man's life it is not because God hath a liking for that man, or because He views his conduct with indifference; it is to give him time and reason for repentance; but if the man be not led unto repentance by God's goodness to him, that goodness will only aggravate his final ruin (Psalm 92).

2. They also despise it who consider not "that the goodness of God leadeth them to repentance." Alas! how vain for countless multitudes of sinners is the time in which God waits for them! "The three-score years and ten" are all consumed in vanity, and end as they began.

(A. Roberts, M. A.)

I. THE OBJECT OF GOD'S GOODNESS is —

1. To exhibit His perfections and to receive His creatures' praise.

2. To attach this to Himself in gratitude and love.

3. To lead them to obedience and a holy life.

II. GOD'S GOODNESS IS DESPISED.

1. When not duly noticed.

2. When not followed by grateful acknowledgment.

3. When the end aimed at in it is disregarded.

(T. Robinson, D. D.)

To sin against law is daring, but to sin against love is dastardly. To rebel against justice is inexcusable, but to fight against mercy is abominable. He who can sting the hand which nourishes him is nothing less than a viper. When a dog bites its own master, and bites him when he is feeding him and fondling him, no one will wonder if his owner becomes his executioner.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE GOODNESS, FORBEARANCE, AND LONG SUFFERING OF GOD.

1. As God is good, infinitely good in Himself, so —(1) His goodness was the cause of the universe, and is still the source of all His dispensations. It is true, all His other attributes also were concerned in creating, and are still concerned in governing the world; but it seems they are all but modifications of His goodness. What is His wisdom but goodness planning and directing? His power but goodness executing? His justice but goodness governing, etc.(2) And if His goodness gave origin to the universe in general, so did it to man in particular, as he was first formed, that masterpiece of Divine workmanship. Although by the Fall we forfeited every blessing our Creator had bestowed upon us, His goodness continues to us (Acts 14:17).(3) His goodness is more particularly manifested in our redemption, in which especially "the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared" (Titus 3:4; John 3:16; 1 John 4:9). The unspeakable extent of His goodness is seen in the dignity of the Person given, and the humiliation and sufferings to which He was given (Philippians 2:6-8); the unworthiness of those for whom He undertook; the great misery from which we are rescued; the happiness to which we are, or may be, advanced. It is manifested in the blessings consequent on our redemption; as in the information afforded by the gospel, and means of grace (Luke 1:78); the influences of the Holy Spirit; the sincere and free offer of salvation, both present and eternal.(4) As to the influence this goodness of God ought to have upon us; ought it not to humble us, as a much less display of goodness did one of old? (Genesis 32:10) to fill us with gratitude and love?

2. His forbearance —(1) Exercised of old towards the heathen world (Acts 14:15, 16; Acts 17:24-31). What an awful picture in chap. Romans 1, and what a proof of God's forbearance that He should endure those depicted! Towards the Jews (ver. 1, 17-24), whose perverse and sinful manners He suffered for ages. (Acts 13:18; Isaiah 1:5). Towards sinners still; those wilfully ignorant, neglecting the means of instruction; those living in open or secret sin, and though knowing their Master's will (Isaiah 65:2; Isaiah 1:10), such as rest contented without Christian experience and practice, such as leave their first love and backslide (Hosea 11:7-9; Jeremiah 3:12); unfruitful and slothful Christians, compared to the "earth drinking in the rain which cometh oft upon it" (Hebrews 6:7, 8). He bears with them year after year.(2) What is the end for which He bears with them? That a reformation may be wrought, and a change take place in all the instances mentioned. If there be no alteration, still God is —

3. Long suffering, i.e., slow to punish (Numbers 14:18; Joel 2:12). Many instances of this are noticed in Scripture, as towards the old world in the days of Noah (1 Peter 3:20; cf. Genesis 6:3-7; Genesis 7:4). Towards the world now (2 Peter 3:7-9). Towards particular nations, as Egypt, in the days of Pharaoh (Genesis 15:13, 14; Romans 9:22); the Canaanites (Genesis 15:16); the Israelites in all ages (Isaiah 5:1), especially in the time of Christ (Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 13:6-9). Towards particular cities, as Sodom (Genesis 18:20); Nineveh (Jonah 1:2; Jonah 3:10; Jonah 4:11); Babylon, Tyre. Towards Churches that have left their first love (Revelation 2:1-6); that are lukewarm (Revelation 3:15); that are formal and dead and barren (Revelation 3:1). Towards families, as that of Ahab (1 Kings 21:29); the house of Stuart, in England, and of Bourbon, in France. Towards individuals innumerable of all characters, whom God is slow to punish, and even to chastise (Luke 13:7).

II. HOW THESE ATTRIBUTES, INCLUDED UNDER THE NAME OF THE GOODNESS OF GOD, LEAD, OR SHOULD LEAD, MEN TO REPENTANCE.

1. Repentance is —(1) After thought or reflection; the looking back upon our former ways, and considering them with a just conviction of our guilt, attended with humiliation, sorrow, and hatred of all our sins.(2) A change of mind of all our powers.(3) Evidenced by the production of the proper fruits.

2. How does the goodness of God lead men to repentance? His long suffering leaves room for it (Revelation 2:21), which there would not be if punishment followed immediately on the heels of transgression. His forbearance, when considered, strongly invites, persuades, and must move an ingenuous mind. His goodness and bounty also afford every needful and useful help, as the mediation and intercession of Christ; the ministry of the Word; the chastisements and blessings of Providence; the strivings and influences of the Holy Spirit.

III. THE REASONS WHY THE GOODNESS OF GOD DOES NOT PRODUCE THAT EFFECT. These are —

1. Ignorance.Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. Ignorance of their fallen state and exposure to Divine wrath; of the worth and necessity of holiness; of the true character of God, that He is as holy and just as He is merciful and gracious; of the dignity of the Redeemer, and of His great love and sufferings: of the end of man's creation, preservation, and redemption; of the infinite importance of this short span of human life, and how much depends on our rightly improving it, as a state of trial, for eternity.

2. Hardness, or callousness, contracted by sinning against light, and the formation of evil habits (Ephesians 4:18, 19).

3. An impenitent heart, i.e., an inconsiderate, unreflecting, and therefore unrelenting heart.

(Joseph Brown.)

1. It is an instance of Divine condescension that the Lord reasons with men, and asks this question, and others like it (Isaiah 1:5; Isaiah 55:2; Jeremiah 3:4; Ezekiel 33:11).

2. God not only acts kindly to sinners, but when they misuse His kindness He labours to set them right (Isaiah 1:18; Hosea 11:8).

3. It is a sad thing that any who have seen God's judgments on others, and have escaped themselves, should draw from this special mercy a reason for adding sin to sin (Jeremiah 3:8). From the Lord's earnest question let us learn wisdom.

I. LET US HONOUR THE LORD'S GOODNESS AND FORBEARANCE. A reverent sense of it will be a sure safeguard against despising it. It is manifested to us —

1. In a three-fold form.(1) Goodness which has borne with past sin (Psalm 78:38).(2) Forbearance which bears with us in the present (Psalm 103:10).(3) Long suffering which, in the future as in the past and the present, is prepared to bear with the guilty (Luke 13:7-9).

2. In great abundance — "riches of His goodness."(1) Riches of mercies bestowed, temporal and spiritual (Psalm 68:19).(2) Riches of kindness seen in gracious deliverance, measured by evils averted which might have befallen us, such as sickness, poverty, insanity, death, and hell (Psalm 86:13).(3) Riches of grace promised and provided for all needs.

3. In its excellence by four considerations.(1) The person who shows it. It is "the goodness of God" who is omniscient to see sin, just to hate it, powerful to punish it, yet patient towards the sinner (Psalm 145:8).(2) The being who receives it. It is dealt out to man, a guilty, insignificant, base, provoking, ungrateful being (Genesis 6:6).(3) The conduct to which it is a reply. It is love's response to sin. Often God forbears, though sins are many, wanton, aggravated, daring, repeated, etc. (Malachi 3:6).(4) The boons which it brings. Life, daily bread, health, gospel, Holy Spirit, new birth, hope of heaven, etc. (Psalm 68:19).

4. It has been in a measure manifested to you. "Despisest thou?"

II. LET US CONSIDER HOW IT MAY BE DESPISED.

1. By allowing it to remain unnoticed — ungratefully passing it over.

2. By claiming it as our due, and talking as if God were bound to bear with us.

3. By opposing its design, and refusing to repent (Proverbs 1:24, 25).

4. By perverting it into a reason for hardness of heart, presumption, infidelity, and further sin (Zephaniah 1:12; Ecclesiastes 8:11).

5. By urging it as an apology for procrastination (2 Peter 3:3, 4).

III. LET US FEEL THE FORCE OF ITS LEADINGS. The forbearance of God should lead us to repentance. For we should argue thus

1. He is not hard and unloving, or He would not have spared us.

2. His great patience deserves recognition at our hands. We are bound to respond to it in a generous spirit.

3. To go on to offend would be cruel to Him, and disgraceful to ourselves. Nothing can be baser than to make forbearance a reason for provocation.

4. It is evident from His forbearance that He will rejoice to accept us if we will turn to Him. He spares that He may save.

5. He has dealt with each one personally, and by this means He is able to put it, as in the text, "God leadeth thee to repentance." He calls us individually to Himself. Let each one personally remember his own experience of sparing mercies.

6. The means are so gentle, let us yield to them cheerfully. Those who might refuse to be driven should consent to be drawn.Conclusion —

1. Each gift of goodness draws thee to Jesus!

2. Forbearance would fain weep thee to Jesus!

3. Long suffering waits and woos thee to Jesus! Wilt thou not turn from sin and return unto thy God, or "despisest thou the riches of His goodness?"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

And forbearance
The Roman magistrates, when they gave sentence of scourging, a bundle of rods tied hard with many knots was laid before them. The reason was this: that whilst the flagellifer was untying the knots, which he was to do in a certain order, and not hastily, the magistrate might see the deportment of the delinquent, whether he was sorry for his fault, and showed hope of amendment, that he might recall his sentence or mitigate the punishment; otherwise he was to be corrected the more severely. Thus God in the punishment of sinners, how patient is He! how loath to strike! how slow to anger if there be but hopes of recovery! How many knots doth He untie! How many knots doth He make in His way to justice! He doth not try us by martial law, but pleads the ease with us, "Why will ye die?" And all this to see whether the poor sinner will throw himself down at His feet, make his peace and be saved.

(T. Fuller, D. D.)

I. ITS NATURE. It is one of those attributes which the sins of His creatures first called into exercise. We are not to suppose that it proceeds from any ignorance in God, for "He has set all our misdeeds before Him." Nor is it the fruit of indifference. On the contrary, it implies that "God is angry with the wicked every day." Neither must we ascribe it to a want of power to punish. We sometimes bear with provocations because we are unable to avenge them; but the Omnipotent has at all times the means of vengeance.

II. ITS SOURCE. Solely God's goodness. These attributes are mentioned together, and the one must be regarded as the origin of the other. Goodness, when exercised in withholding vengeance is patience; and when continued under repeated provocations, is long suffering. There is, however, a distinction to be made between the goodness and the patience of God. Man, as needy, is the partaker of the one, whilst man, as guilty, is the object of the other. Goodness supplies our wants, patience bears with our sins. The one will endure forever, and is inseparable from the Divine nature; the other is adapted only to the present scene of things, and may end tomorrow.

III. ITS GREATNESS, or its "riches." Every blessing Christ has purchased in abundance. The mercy He has obtained is "great" and "tender," the grace "manifold and exceeding," the redemption "plenteous," the joy "unspeakable," the glory "an exceeding great and eternal weight." In regard to God's patience consider —

1. How long it has been exercised.

2. How many sins every man commits.

3. How aggravated and daring many of our provocations have been.

4. How many sinners there are.

IV. ITS DESIGNED EFFECT. "Repentance." The forbearance of the Almighty —

1. Gives us time for repentance.

2. Shows that the penitent may obtain forgiveness.

3. Has a tendency to produce repentance in our hearts.Experience proves that man's stubborn heart is much less likely to be subdued by the contemplation of vengeance, than by the influence of mercy.

V. THE HANGER OF DESPISING IT. We are undoubtedly guilty of this sin —

1. When we are unmindful of the patience which bears with us, when we either think nothing at all about it, or think of it lightly.

2. When we draw encouragement from it to continue in sin.

And long suffering.
Long suffering is the greatest exhibition of power on this side the day of judgment. It is our evidence that God now possesses all that God shall then exercise.

1. When I am told that God is long suffering, and no limitations are placed on the attribute, you bring before me a picture as overwhelming in outline as stupendous in detail. I see at once that God can punish sin. Then vice may seem to carry it over virtue, and I may search in vain through all that is passing over a disordered creation for tokens that a moral government is still upheld; and the infidel may tauntingly refer to the triumph of evil, and infer that God has been compelled to abandon one world at least to the dominion of His foes; but fastening on the long suffering of the Creator, I am proof against all doubts as to His power. He could not be long suffering unless He could punish; He could not punish unless He were supreme.

2. To each of us He has been long suffering. Each of us has provoked His wrath, and yet upon none of us has that wrath come down to its fury. So that if the great demonstration of God's power be His long suffering, then each of us may find in himself that demonstration in all its completeness. And thus it may be possible that after summoning suns and seas and mountains to give in their tribute to His night, that angels may be looking down upon myself as the crowning proof; and not because I am marvellous as the compound of matter and spirit, of mortal and immortal: and not because I inherit a nature that has been taken into union with the Divine; but because I have sinned and yet breathe; because I have defied the living God and not been consumed; because I have been long offending and God has been long suffering — therefore may they regard me as the most perfect demonstration that the power of their Lord is great; and assign me because spared in mine offences, a place amongst the witnesses to the almightiness of their Maker, which they give not to the marching of planets, nor to the gorgeousness of light, nor to their own beauty as ethereal beings, and rapid and masterful.

3. We have all heard of the infidel challenging God to prove His existence by smiting him, His denier. Now you can hardly picture to yourselves a being exercising over himself so perfect a command that, with all the apparatus of fiery reply at his disposal, he should not answer the challenge by levelling him who utters it to the ground. Can you measure to me the effort which it would be to a creature to keep the thunder silent, and to chain up the lightning? Yet the atheist is allowed to depart unscathed; and the proof of God's existence, which would have seemed preeminently calculated to overspread a neighbourhood with terrible conviction is mysteriously withheld. But the believer learns God's might a hundredfold more from the unbroken silence of the firmament than he would from the hoarse tones of vengeance rushing down to the destruction of the rebel. The atheist overthrown — this is as nothing to the atheist spared. It would have been as nothing that God should have launched the bolt — the prodigy whose height I cannot scale, whose depth I cannot fathom is that God should have withheld the bolt. I should have learnt God powerful over the elements had I seen the blasphemer a blackened corpse at my feet: I learn God powerful over Himself when the questioner of His deity passes on uninjured.

4. When I think on the difference between God's creating a world and God's pardoning a sin — the one done without effort, the other demanding an instrumentality terribly sublime; the one effected by a word, the other wrought out in agony and blood on a quaking earth and beneath a darkened heaven — the one is as nothing beside the other. That God can pardon is at the very summit of what is wonderful; and therefore then, O Lord, do I most know Thee as the Omnipotent when I behold in Thee the long suffering.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.
A distinguished minister on a journey was once stopped by a highwayman, and called on to deliver his purse, with the weapon of death presented at his breast. "Wait," said the man of God, "for one moment"; and instantly fell on his knees and offered a fervent prayer for the unhappy man before him. The murderer stood silent, and listened. When the holy man had finished his supplication, he said to him for whom he had prayed: "Do you not wish for some better employment than this; some other means of a livelihood?" The answer was in the affirmative. "Come, then," said the minister, to such a place, naming his own residence, "and without ever divulging this act of yours while you live, such a provision shall be made for you." He confided in the assurance of one so intent on his welfare; became a member of his own family — an humble disciple of Christ: and, after a life of exemplary piety, died at the age of sixty, when, in his funeral sermon, the minister related these facts.

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

Let us —

I. EXPOUND THE TEXT.

1. "Repentance" denotes a change of mind, inclination, and habits.

2. "Leadeth" describes the method in which the Lord deals with rational creatures. There is a sort of spurious repentance, to which men are sometimes driven. Thus Ahab was driven by Divine threatenings, Pharaoh by supernatural judgments, Felix by the dread of a future reckoning, and Judas by the terror of his own conscience; but to genuine repentance a man is led; allured by the discovery of hope, and the attraction of love.

3. "Thee." It matters not so much what others are: the question is, What are we? The charge of the prophet is pointed: "No man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done?"

4. Observe what it is that conducts to this result. "The goodness of God," Not that this is always the case. It frequently emboldens men in transgression, and hardens them in impenitence. The text, however, expresses its natural and proper tendency.

II. ILLUSTRATE THE SENTIMENT WHICH IT CONTAINS. The goodness of God —

1. Gives time for repentance. This is implied in the "forbearance and long suffering." It is said of one, "I gave her space to repent and she repented not." Here was the perversion of Divine goodness. Of others it is affirmed, "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." Here is depravity in its most hateful form. Let us "account that the long suffering of our Lord is salvation."

2. Provides the means.(1) The law, by which "is the knowledge of sin."(2) Affliction, Which, while it gives leisure for reflection, disposes to the duty.(3) The gospel. A man may be convinced of sin; but his repentance is not unto salvation, except so far as he is persuaded of mercy, and discovers "a door of hope."

3. Furnishes motives. Note —(1) The common mercies you enjoy. Are they not all forfeited by sin? And yet do they not freely, richly, and constantly descend?(2) Every special interposition of God in your favour. From how many dangers and sicknesses has He delivered you?(3) Trials. Are not trials wisely appointed; mitigated by abounding comforts, and mingled with innumerable benefits?(4) The authority which enjoins it. "God hath commanded all men everywhere to repent."(5) The love which recommends it. How tender the expostulations, how precious the promises of the gospel on this subject! "Return, ye backsliding children." "Let the wicked forsake his way," etc.(6) The grace which accepts it. For repentance is accepted, not in consideration of its desert, but in virtue of the mediation of the Saviour.(7) The examples which illustrate it. The Prodigal, Zaccheus, Peter, etc.Conclusion:

1. Does not this subject remind you of the hardness of the human heart? The design of Divine goodness is apparent; its true tendency is most beneficial; but how is it perverted and abused!

2. Forget not the necessity of the Holy Spirit to produce this change. He it is who works repentance by impressing the heart with a sense of Divine goodness; and of the evil of sin, and to feel the attractions of heavenly love, as displayed in the gospel.

(T. Kidd.)

1. There is much in the very nature of Divine goodness that is fitted to lead men to repentance. It lays them and all intelligent beings in the universe under everlasting obligations to love and serve God, the great Author of their being and of their mercies. It shows also, in a very affecting light, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, as committed against the greatest and best of beings. It appeals to our reason; and the verdict is that to sin against such a Being as God is a most guilty perversion of, the noble faculties with which He has endowed us. It appeals to our sense of duty; and the verdict is that no obligation is so strong as that which binds us to the love and service of Jehovah. It appeals to our gratitude, to our hopes and fears; and the verdict is that no good can be secured so great as that which flows from repentance toward God, and no evil incurred so tremendous as that which must result from continued impenitence. There is, too, a peculiarity in the mode in which Divine goodness flows to guilty man which adds inexpressibly to its tender, persuasive power. It is not goodness flowing to innocent beings through the unobstructed channels of benevolence; but goodness flowing to lost sinners through the mediation and suffering of the Son of God. Here is goodness such as was never manifested in any world but ours, nor towards any other beings but the lost children of men.

2. The goodness of God is suited to lead men to repentance, as it secures for them a respite from punishment and gives a space for repentance.

3. The goodness of God leads to repentance, as it has opened a way in which repentance is available to secure pardon and life for even the chief of sinners.

4. The goodness of God is fitted to lead to repentance, as it furnishes the best possible means of repentance, and the most powerful motives to this duty. Consider the impressive instruction poured around you from the Word, the providence, and the works of God. All these conspire to impress on your mind the same lessons of eternal wisdom and love. Notice next the invitations of Divine goodness; they must avail to subdue every heart that is not a heart of stone.Turn next to the promises which Divine goodness has made to those that repent — promises of pardon, grace, and eternal glory. Such, then, being the tendency of the goodness of God, let us inquire what are its actual effects.

1. All who truly love God feel the constraining power of His goodness, and by it are made penitent, believing, thankful, and obedient.

2. There is another class of persons whom the goodness of God appears to leave wholly unaffected and unmoved. Is not this to despise the riches of God's goodness, and with singular rapidity to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath?

3. There is another class who go still farther, and take encouragement from the goodness of God to sin against Him with an increased freedom and boldness. This is eminently to despise the riches of the goodness of God, and forbearance, and longsuffering.

(J. Hawes, D. D.)

There is no need to insist on the necessity of repentance; for nothing would appear more impious than for anyone to say, "I need no repentance." But there is a consideration of very grave importance, viz., that all men will certainly come to repentance. In this view it is a very solemn thing to look at the thoughtless, impious, hardened, self-righteous, and think, "You will certainly repent! your repentance may be in vain — too late, but it will certainly come!" But we would speak of reasons that should enforce it now; and surely this should be a powerful one. If ultimate repentance is inevitable, under an irresistible power, how desirable it should not be left to be caused so; but be effected under the persuasive influence of more gracious causes! And of these the chief "is the goodness of God," manifested, acknowledged, and felt. Contemplate, then, that "goodness."

I. AS BEHELD IN THE SAME VIEW WITH THE DESERTS OF MAN.

1. What is it in man that is adequately correspondent to that goodness? Is it a humble, constant sense of dependence? an affectionate admiration of His beneficence? a mighty attraction towards Him? a solicitude to be conformed to Him an aversion to all that He disapproves?

2. Look at any of the particulars of His goodness — His constant provision, His watchful protection, His compassionate care of weakness. What corresponds to these? His rays of instructive wisdom falling on man — what corresponds? Love of truth? anxiety to be taught? His shining forth on them, a sovereign pattern of sanctity, and in an economy of redemption — what does this very thing imply that there is in man to answer to it?

II. IN THE SAME VIEW WITH THE MANIFESTATIONS OF GOD'S MIND AGAINST SIN. How many they are, how decisive, solemn, just! And yet the world is not made an unmingled scene of vindictive execution. His just denunciations are sent conjoined with mercies exceeding the number of the expressions that He is offended, as if He would not send His rebukes or threatenings but by the hands of friends. "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed."

III. AS BEING CONTEMPORARY WITH EACH SIN IN OUR LONG SUCCESSION OF OFFENCES. Advert to any sin in its time, there was goodness experiencing then: advert to the next, and the next; at that time there was still "the goodness of God," and in various ways at once.

IV. BY SUPPOSING IT WITHDRAWN. Deprivation is sometimes the most effectual way of verifying what and how much a thing was. So God might cause His bounty to recede on every side of the sphere of our interests. On one side a diminution just enough to be felt at first; but speedily more, and still more; the same operation on another side: something still departing day after day! — things we had scarcely thought of as mercies, leaving incurable pain, or want, behind; our condition becoming more and more miserable, till we sunk in a death without consolation or hope! Or, instead of this gradual process, a sudden general deprivation.

V. IN ITS CHARACTER OF PATIENCE AND LONG SUFFERING. All His lengthened indulgence, His train of favours — what for? What, but that there might be increasing gratitude and devotedness? And when has there been such a degree of these, that it was anything but mere goodness in God to continue His favours?

(J. Foster.)

Adversity has its place in the salutary economy of probation, but God's voice may be discerned in prosperity at least as much as in adversity, and much more frequently. The latter is His common way of addressing us; to the other mode He only resorts when for some reason it is necessary or expedient.

I. HOW MAY WE ABUSE THE GOODNESS OF GOD? We do so —

1. When we accept His gifts but ignore Him. How common a thing it is for men to enjoy the good things of this life, without thinking for one moment that they come from God! How many of us take our portion without a thought of thankfulness, as though it came from that office keeper, Nature, instead of from our Father's hands! How does it cut us to the heart when our gifts elicit no grateful recognition! And where is there a man that would go on from year to year repeating his kindnesses where no sort of notice was taken of him? And what do men gain by this? nay, what do they not lose? Should we enjoy His gifts any the less if we took them as coming from the Giver, and found in each an occasion for fresh manifestation of grateful love? Where we receive the gifts of God, but disown the Giver, the gift loses the most precious part of its value. It ceases to be a gift at all to our higher nature.

2. When we accept His gifts, and find in them a substitute for Himself, and so many reasons why we should ignore Him. He gives us many good things, that we think we can dispense with Him, the Giver; so much gratification, that we have no need to seek a truer and deeper gratification in His love. But when His gifts thus become substitutes for Himself, and you turn away from Him because you enjoy them, surely you are making it necessary for Him to take them away. Rather than let you lose all, in your folly and blindness He may see fit to take away some of the many good things that you enjoy. Why not hear His voice in all that He gives you, and let the goodness of God lead you to repentance?

3. By counting upon the continuance of His goodness, in order that we may go on sinning against Him. This is the very worst abuse, and it is to this that St. Paul here specially refers — the abuse of God's forbearance, who, though provoked, in the magnanimity of His nature goes on forbearing to smite when smaller natures must inevitably have lost patience long since. He waits because He loves; and yet this is the very characteristic that men count upon in order to sin against Him, as they hope, with impunity. Were it clearly understood by any that God's long suffering would reach its term this very night, where is there one who would dare to defy the Majesty of heaven? Surely there cannot be any meanness so repulsive. Common manhood should lead us to say, "I can't be at one and the same moment the pensioner of God's bounty and the enemy of His authority." But what are the facts of the case? What is more common than to meet with utterly godless people, who have the fullest intention of turning to God some day or other, most probably in a dying hour! But if we can't be put out of conceit with this, by considering its meanness and unmanliness, it may be well to remember that God's goodness is not weakness, that even His forbearance must have its term. "Because I have called, and ye refused," etc. (Proverbs 1:24-28). He who attempts to mock God finds in the end that he is only mocked himself. It is not that you evade or escape the penalty of your base ingratitude and perfidy, but it is that you treasure it up (ver. 5). Just think of the possibility of laying up treasure in hell!

II. ITS USE. The history of sin dates from the first suspicious thought of God. This thought Satan delights in cherishing, until those who yield to his influence get to think of God as if He were a pitiless tyrant, ever ready to diminish our happiness. On the other hand, a real repentance begins with the repudiation of all such false views of God, and to such a repentance the goodness of God, revealed in all His dealings with us, is intended to lead; and surely it will if we will only let it speak to our heart. How can God be stern and unsympathetic when He gives us so much to enjoy?

1. If He provides for the gratification of every sense with which He endows us, multiplying the fair sights and sweet sounds of nature, and sometimes stirring all our being with the vision of the beautiful or the sublime, how can He be the enemy of our happiness?

2. Or, if He enriches you with all that social wealth accumulated through the ages, so constituting society that man may become a source of untold gratification to his fellow man, surely His goodness in all this must needs show that He is the Friend and not the enemy of human happiness. Is it not to Him that we owe music, art, literature, science, and philosophy? and how much of enjoyment do all these add to life?

3. It is from Him that we derive both our faculties of loving and all those tender relations of home and friendship which call forth our love and which contribute so much to increase the joy of life; surely, then, we wrong Him when we shrink from Him as though He were the enemy of our happiness.

4. But is there not one supreme manifestation of His goodness which should move us more than all the rest and bring us to repentance? "God so loved the world," etc. He let His own Son suffer to spare you suffering! Let His goodness carry the day triumphantly.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

I. THE ACTION SPECIFIED — "Repentance."

1. Its nature.

2. Its necessity. Why is it necessary? Not because it earns the favour of God or claims the pity, but because —

(1)It shows a true desire to be His disciple.

(2)It manifests a breaking with the world and the evil that is therein.

(3)It brings the soul into harmony with the Divine purposes and plan.

II. THE MOTIVE WHICH PROMPTS — "The goodness of God."

1. God never drives when He can lead. The grand principle of all His dealings is to lead His people, even as He led the children of Israel, by a cloud.

2. What it is to lead us to repentance. It is goodness, and the point of this goodness is that it is —

(1)Undeserved. It is shown to rebels, enemies, and persecutors.

(2)Continuous. Good is not one thing today and another tomorrow.

(3)Unassuming. God, unlike some human patrons, does not make a mighty show of His goodness to sinners; He treats them with tenderness and gentleness.

III. THE CONDUCT ENJOINED. The apostle indirectly urges upon us all the duty of repentance. Not only the notoriously evil need repentance. The most humble Christian is constantly transgressing. And every act of benevolence we receive should awaken in us the sense of our deficiency and our sorrow therefore. For repentance is not a slavish, legal act. It is not degrading humiliation or desponding misery. It is a consciousness indeed of self-failure, but an expression of loved affection towards our heavenly Father.

(J. J S. Bird, B. A.)

It has this tendency —

I. AS IT ENFORCES THE COMMANDMENTS OF GOD. These are not merely the commands of one who governs by virtue of His power and supremacy, nor merely of one whom it is our interest or obligation to obey; they are the commands of our Benefactor. The God who, having made us of nothing, still keeps us; the God whose care and presence are ever surrounding us, who gives us friends, health, raiment, food; who provides salvation and offers heaven — it is this God who commands us to repent. Has such a God no claim on us by His mercies?

II. AS IT APPEALS TO THE TENDEREST AND STRONGEST SENSIBILITIES OF OUR NATURE. There is no principle of human nature, fallen and degraded as it is, that is more obvious than that which leads us to requite kindness with kindness. Precisely on this principle does God assail the hearts of sinners. He does not rely merely on His authority over us, nor resort merely to His terrors to alarm us. He who searcheth the heart well knows that, amid all its darkness and corruptions, there is yet another and a surer spring that can be touched. God reveals Himself. God in Christ unfolds Himself in the attractive aspect of the God of mercy in order to touch sympathy, gratitude, and the secret place of tenderness and tears.

III. AS IT DISCOVERS TO US THE TRUE CHARACTER OF GOD. God is love, and all the expressions of His kindness to us are only a manifestation, bringing that character before us. We may contemplate and admire moral excellence in another, who may never have been called to show kindness to us. But let us become the objects of that kindness, and we find a new and stronger emotion rising in our hearts, and fixing our strongest affection on Him. And if we have to such a friend been unfaithful, how will the tears of repentance flow when we come again, under a sense of his kindness! It is thus the goodness of God leadeth to repentance — it unvails in brightest manifestation the perfection of His character, directing all its cares, its solicitude, its tenderness to us.

IV. AS IS SHOWN BY ITS EXPRESSIONS. —

1. In their number. Would we count them? As the sands of the sea, they are without number. And for what are they bestowed? Is it that we deserve them? No. Is it that He cannot strip us of every good thing, and leave us naked before the storm of His wrath? No; it is that He may prove to us how able, how content He is to bless.

2. In their nature. Not one, nor all of them, can become a satisfying portion, but they are exactly fitted to the great end for which they are given — our probation. Every blessing comes with this inscription, "Take not this for your portion, but receive it with thanksgiving, and use it with reference to your eternal well-being. Take all these gifts as the pledge of the love of the Creator to His own creature — the proof that He longs for thy love in return, and to flow forth on thee in a pure and abundant stream of good forever."

V. As is DEMONSTRATED BY FACTS. What illustrations of this have we while the Saviour was on the earth! In how many hearts did He plant the dominion of His love by acts of kindness! And what multitudes, from Saul of Tarsus downwards, have been actually led by it to repentance!

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

The full force of the text cannot be made to appear except by reading the catalogue of crimes in chap.

1. The apostle goes on to say, substantially, that it made no difference whether these things were committed by the Jew or the Gentile. Wrong is wrong without regard to nationality or anything else. Wrong is the violation of great laws, universal, perpetual, which defend themselves by penalties. If a man drugs himself, the drug vindicates its nature; if a man is selfish, the moral law carries a penalty of selfishness. If a man is good, the law brings forth the fruit of goodness to him. The only question is a question of how shall a man be restrained from the violation of the law of the moral economy; how shall he be developed so that he shall love the good rather than the evil? The apostle here declares that the presentation of the goodness of God is that which constitutionally tends to restrain men from evil, and to develop in them all goodness. Goodness is the working force of God's nature, and is to be made the working force of all government; but if God's goodness does not help men, His natural law goes right on to penalties without trial or sentence; the laws execute themselves in the moral kingdom. From this general exposition of this passage I remark —

I. GOD'S GOODNESS IS THE GRAND PRESENTATION OF HIM FROM WHICH THE MOST INFLUENCE AND BENEFIT IS TO BE EXPECTED. It has been a current idea that God's mercies are alternative, but that His justice is primary; that fear is the primary, mercy the secondary, instrument by which men are to work. But this is in fiat contradiction of the whole tenor of Scripture. First, middle, and last, the Scripture teaches God's goodness as first to be preached, and if that does not avail, then the alternative comes, namely, the sure penalty of transgression. For example, let us go back to that memorable passage where Moses was about to legislate. He wanted to know (Exodus 33:13-15) what view of God's nature he was to employ, and wished to be filled to overflowing with that view. Then God said to him, "I will make all My goodness pass before thee," etc. Then comes the declaration in grand dramatic form, as recorded in Exodus 34:6, 7. There is the staple view of the character of God. But if men will not see that, and go on still in their transgressions, let them understand that this goodness does not mean the abolition of distinctions between right and wrong. The great law of the universe will go on with its penalties, yea, by heredity for generations to come. The guilty cannot be cleared except upon their repentance and reformation. It is not a goodness that will clear a man and let him do just what he pleases, treating him as if he had been righteous and just. And so Paul at Lystra (Acts 14:17). It was the goodness of God that had to be preached to them first. And our text is the same thing. Coming in through the darkness of that terrific record of vices, Paul says that it was the goodness of God that should have led men to repentance. This is the doctrine not only of Scripture, but of good reason or philosophy; for —

II. GOODNESS AND FEAR TOUCH HUMAN NATURE ON DIFFERENT AND OPPOSITE SIDES. The double being, man, the animal and spiritual, is approached on the upper and on the under side of his nature. Goodness develops what is of its own nature, touches the spiritual side of man. The presentation of goodness to the affections of a man's upper life helps them. When you present beauty to a man, you tend to develop the same quality in him. But the animal man cannot see anything in beauty. Such a man has to be touched and influenced by fear. You cannot teach duty to a horse or an ass, and so you put a bit and bridle in the mouth, and spurs in their sides, or make them afraid. The training of wild animals goes on wholly on the principle of fear. Therefore fear has in it a power of restraint, but not of development. All the conversions of men that have been the result of fear are hardly worth the letters that spell the story. Whenever the character of God is presented to us as goodness, it waters, stimulates, and develops that side of human nature which is most like God. But when men do net respond to that but range in their lower instincts, then you have got to bring in a restraint, and that restraint comes from fear; but it is secondary, it is alternative. Convicts who are in insurrection, are rushing out for their liberty, rush upon serried ranks of bayonets. "One step further and you are dead men, every one of you." They draw back, but they do not become law keepers on that account. They are simply restrained. So, in the great moral government of God, men may be restrained from going further into transgression, but no man is converted by abject fear. If, therefore, human nature is to be developed in the direction of spiritual excellence, you must develop it by the presentation of those excellencies in their supreme forms in God. No view, then, of God, no view of the gospel, no view of the atonement as an element in the gospel, is a right one which does not present the hopeful side, the winning and the cheerful side. God loving and saving is the doctrine of the Bible.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. DIVINE GOODNESS, IN ITS RELATION TO MAN, IS VERY EXTRAORDINARY —

1. In its plentitude. "The riches of His goodness." See this —(1) In his constitution. The extent of God's goodness to a being may be determined by the capacities which He has given for happiness, and the provision He has made to supply them. How great, then, His goodness in the constitution of man! He has a capacity for sensational, intellectual, social, and religious pleasure. Beasts have a capacity for sensational pleasure, but not for intellectual; angels have a capacity for intellectual, but not for sensational; man has a capacity for both. He has powers to draw happiness from all the wells of enjoyment.(2) In His redemption. "God so loved the world," etc. "Herein is love," etc.

2. In its form. It is "long suffering" — forbearance. God's goodness to brutes or angels is not "long suffering." But His goodness to man is goodness holding back the arm of indignant justice.

3. In its design — to lead to "repentance"; to reform our souls.

II. MAN'S CONDUCT, IN RELATION TO DIVINE GOODNESS, IS VERY DEPRAVED. This is seen —

1. In his inconsideration. "Not knowing." Men pay no attention to the moral meaning and design of all this goodness.

2. In his insensibility of heart. "Thy hardness and impenitent heart." Pharaoh a type. His heart grew stony under the rich showers of Divine goodness.

3. In his self-destructiveness. "Treasurest up wrath." He is transmuting those very streams of goodness into poison. See the electric cloud on the summer's sky. It was as small as a man's hand half an hour since, but it has grown wondrously. What is it doing? "Treasuring up." Every fresh particle swells and blackens it. It will burst in flame and thunder soon. That cloud is an emblem of the sinner.

III. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WILL BE VERY AWFUL IN RELATION TO SUCH CONDUCT. There will come such a day. There is historic, moral, and Biblical evidence enough to satisfy us of this.

1. This judgment will be a righteous judgment. "The righteous judgment of God."

2. A universal judgment. "Who will render to every man according to his works." How will the abuser of Divine goodness stand in this judgment? He will have "tribulation and anguish."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

"God is love"; consciously to know this is life. "He that loveth is born of God." "Not knowing" it, the mind "despises" all the manifestations of God's goodness which are adapted to lead to repentance unto life. In what way, then, shall we get an influential conviction of the Divine love which tends to produce repentance? The love of God towards us, as spiritual beings, is manifested —

I. IN THE CHARACTER AND OFFICE OF CONSCIENCE. Conscience is not a guide infallible. It is empowered only by faith in God, and it is true only by belief of the truth. This fact is one of the strongest testimonies for the necessity of revelation. With revelation conscience is —

1. Moral admonition. When any sin is contemplated, it whispers, "Do not that wickedness and sin against God."

2. Moral impulse. It points to the path of duty and says, "That is the way, walk ye in it." "You have sinned, arise and go to your Father." Now the design of God is seen in conscience as clearly as the design of the maker in the regulator of a watch. The regulator was placed in the watch to govern its movements and keep the watch right. So was conscience in the soul. God in conscience shows His goodness by placing a power in the soul to deter us from known sin, and to lead us to repentance. Despise not His goodness! The best friend, though he follow the sinful many years, will turn back if his counsel be persistently rejected: so the voice of conscience will abate in the soul if we continue to resist its admonitions.

II. IN THE CHARACTER AND DESIGN OF DIVINE REVELATION. The true test of benevolence is its design. What, then, is Revelation designed to accomplish for man? The greatest —

1. Individual good. To love God and man is the soul's highest good here and hereafter.

2. Social good. Suppose a family obeyed the laws of God — "Husbands love your wives"; "Wives love and reverence your husbands"; "Children obey your parents in the Lord" — who will doubt but that such a family would experience the greatest good?

3. Universal good. If I loved others as myself, I should rejoice in their good as much as my own; and every blessing bestowed upon them would he bestowed upon me, and my blessings upon them.

III. IN THE MOTIVES HE PRESENTS TO INCLINE US TO REPENT AND OBEY. The character of any mind is known by the character of the motives that it presents to influence other minds. Now, in the New Testament, the evil of sin and its final curse are presented to our fears to arrest us in the highway to hell. The purity and glory of heaven are presented to our hopes to induce us to repentance and faith. The heart is appealed to by infinite love. From the Cross the suffering Saviour cries, "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?"

IV. IN THE SACRIFICE OF CHRIST. A revelation of law does not lead us to love the law that we have transgressed; but a revelation of love, which offers pardon, leads us to love the lawgiver, and thus to honour and obey the law. "What the law could not do," etc. God could not make a law which would allow a single sin. But we are all sinners, and in our evil and helpless state Christ offers Himself "a propitiation for the sins that are past," "that God might be just and the justifier of him that believeth on Jesus." "In this was manifested the love of God" (1 John 4:9).

V. TO LEAD US TO REPENTANCE BY THE MERCY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT'S OPERATION. He convicts "the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment," i.e., He shows them their sin, points to the true standard of righteousness, and admonishes them of judgment, in order thus to lead them to repentance. Then, in the heart of Christians, He "takes of the things of Christ and shows them" (John 16:14); and as the Christian sees, he repents, worships, and rejoices. In the conviction and indwelling of the Spirit are the love of God manifested to lead men to repentance.

(J. B. Walker, M. D.)

I remember well being taken one day to see a gorgeous palace at Venice, where every piece of furniture was made with most exquisite taste and of the richest material, where statues and pictures of enormous price abounded on all hands, and the floor of each room was paved with mosaics of marvellous art and extraordinary value. As I was shown from room to room, and allowed to roam amid the treasures by its courteous owner, I felt a considerable timidity, I was afraid to sit anywhere, nor did I hardly dare to put down my foot or rest my hand to lean. Everything seemed to be too good for ordinary mortals like myself; but when one is introduced into the gorgeous palace of infinite goodness, costlier and fairer far, one gazes wonderingly with reverential awe at the matchless vision. "How excellent is Thy loving kindness, O God!" "I am not worthy of the least of all Thy benefits. Oh! the depths of the love and goodness of the Lord."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

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