Archive for the ‘God is Longsuffering’ Category


John Yates (fl. 1612–1660) on the Longsuffering of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Q. What is his patience?
A. Whereby he bears the reproaches of sinners, and defers their punishment: He does not present step forth, as a mighty enemy to be revenged of such as provoke him. Psal. 50:21. God is silent when he is patient, Acts 17:30, and dissembles the time, when he forgets not the sin, Rom. 3:25. A forbearance, till the appearance of justice, Rom. 9:22. Leniency to prevent all extremity of just anger.

Q. What is his long sufferance?
A. Whereby in bearing he expects a long time for repentance, Isa. 55:7, Lam. 3:22, Eccl. 8:11, Joel 2:12, 13, 2 Peter 3:9, 15. God does wait, and put out the hand to receive sinners: yet let us beware, for he that does always give pardon to repenters, will not ever give repentance to the sinner. At what time soever a sinner repents, he shall find mercy; Ere vengeance begin, repentance is seasonable; but if judgement be once gone out, there is no hope of pardon. While the gospel solicits us, the doors of the Ark are open. If we neglect the time of grace, in vain shall we seek it with tears. God holds it no mercy to pity the obstinate. He gave an hundred and twenty years respite before the deluge, and if the old world had not been willful, it should never have been so wasted with waves and water. How loath is he to strike, that he threatens to long? Surely, he that gives so long warnings, desires to be prevented. Swine for seeing a storm, run home crying for shelter. Lions, tigers, and bears, by an instinct from God, come to see the Ark: only men refuse to be saved; thus reason once debauched, is worse than brutishness, 1 Pet. 3:20.

Q. What is God’s bountifulness?
A. Wherein by being rich in mercy pours forth his good gifts upon sinful creatures, notwithstanding they offend him, Math. 5:45. Adam after he was fallen, had diverse hours to bethink himself of his misery, for God came late unto him, Gen. 3:8. God gave him life, time to repent, yet he sought not for grace, till God came to call him. It may be probably be conjectured, that Eve was created in the after-noon of the sixth day, all the fore-noon being employed, in the creation of beasts, and man himself, the placing of him in paradise, the bringing of the creatures unto him as their lord, the appellation of them, and the not finding of a companion for Adam amongst them all. Adam therefore having been thus busied as was Abraham, Gen. 15:10,11, 12, even at the height of the sun, as he at the fall, fell into a dead and deep sleep, and after his awakening had the woman brought unto him, and she was given unto him for his wife. And it was the cool of the day when God came again to them both, which in Hebrews interpret of the even-tide, and the Greek version follows it, and S. Ambrose gives the reason, for that man came late to his repentance, God as before, so now trying him, whether he would come to a sight of his sin, which he should have prevented. It is also probably, that when God ended his works, and left man some preparation for the sabbath, he sent his angels to be their companions, and to try them both together in the sanctification of his name, for all his works and benefits now bestowed upon them. They being met together, are so far from hallowing the name of God, that presently they fall into the profanation of it, and before the day of confirmation was come, had lost all; yea, and were so destitute of all understanding, as they had not so much grace left them, as to call to God for mercy. O the bounty of our creator, that would come himself, after he had waited a time, and call them to an account, and enter with man into a further covenant of grace and mercy.

John Yates, A Model of Divinity, Catechistically Composed. Wherein is Delivered the Matter and Method of Religion. According to the Creed, Tenne Commandements, Lords Prayer, and the Sacraments (Printed by John Legatt, for Faulke Clifton and are to be sold on New-fish streete Hill, Under St. Margrets Church, 1623), 190-191. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; and italics original.]


Now what is God’s patience? Though his soul abhor sin infinitely, though he cannot go out of hearing, and shut his eyes, as we may, but must see and hear all, though his name, Law and Children be more to him than all the world, though heaven and earth sweat under these provocations, and God’s own (struck down at his foot) cry for help, yet God bears and bears long, nay does them positive good, treats with them, fees them to be quiet, and his own to be patient, and when he must needs smite, gives them space,1 takes time himself, is long in bending his bow, and drawing forth his weapons. And after all this, if then an Ahab will submit, he is ready to reprieve, but this is a fathomless depth. Were I in another place, I should hold it needful to say something by way of explication. But here it is sufficient to mind, that God’s patience is in no way passive, nay his longest-suffering is his greatest acting, or enjoying of himself, in all serenity, and perfection, and is only grounded upon his most perfect nature.

1. God is Power itself, and therefore can bear long.

2. God is Wisdom itself, and therefore forbearing.

3. Goodness itself, and therefore so longsuffering.

And the longer he suffers, the more he exercises and evidences these his perfections. This is the main ground of the point, whereto you may add, if please, these ensuring particulars:

1. The Wicked, God’s adversaries are some way his own, and that ownership2 works Patience. The Lord is a piece of a Father to them also: For he is

A Common-Father, by office to all.

A Special Father, by Adoption to Saints.

A Singular Father, by nature to Christ.

A Prince, besides his particular relation to his children, is Pater-Patrie, Pater-familias, and is Good to All, though with a difference. So here.

2. Though Christ has purchased a peculiar people to himself to the purpose of salvation, yet other’s taste of this his goodness: The world, you know, was lost in merit, an ipso facto, forfeited, with all its comforts, and appurtenances. The Lord Christ has restored it, and does keep it standing, and in the interim, the worst enjoy it in a common with the best, and so far, bare the better for Christ.

3. God in his most wise dispensation, sees use of patience towards such, so, he works out his own praise and design upon is Church.

In short, at present there may be some use of them, and so he reprieves them, as we do some notorious felon, and hereafter there may be some fruit come from them, and the ill mother is a while forborne for her fruit, and venter sake.

This is all I can stay to speak the point.3

Robert Harris, A Sermon Preached to the Honorable House of Commons assembled in Parliament at a Pub1ike Fast, May 25. 1642,”4 in The Works of Robert Harris, once of Hanwell, Now President of Trinity College in Oxon and Doctor of Divinity (London: Printed by James Flesher, for John Bartlet the elder, and John Bartles the younger, and are to be sold at the Gilt Cup, on the South Side of Pauls neer Austins Gate in the new Buildings, 1645), 2.144-145. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; italics original; footnote values and content mine; and underlining mine.]


1Harris uses a common term of this period: a person was ‘given space to repent.’

2Original has “ownenesse.”

3Harris, in classic Puritans style proceeds to discus the application of this doctrine.

4The text of the sermon is Luke 18:6-8.


Louis Berkhof (1873-1957) on the Longsuffering of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


e. The longsuffering of God. The longsuffering of God is still another aspect of His great goodness or love. The Hebrew uses the expression ’erek ’aph, which means literally “long of face,” and then also “slow to anger,” while the Greek expresses the same idea by the word makrothumia. It is that aspect of the goodness or love of God in virtue of which He bears with the froward and evil in spite of their long continued disobedience. In the exercise of this attribute the sinner is contemplated as continuing in sin, notwithstanding the admonitions and warnings that come to him. It reveals itself in the postponement of the merited judgment. Scripture speaks of it in Ex. 34:6; Ps. 86:15; Rom. 2:4; 9:22; I Pet. 3:20; II Pet. 3:15. A synonymous term of a slightly different connotation is the word “forbearance.”

Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1969), 72-73. [Underlining mine.]


Robert J. Breckinridge (1800-1871) on the Longsuffering of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


V.–1. The last of the Perfections of God, which fall under the special aspect which I am now considering, is his Long-suffering. It is, as was before observed, that exercise of his Goodness, which leads him to delay the execution of his just judgments upon the guilty. Amongst the fruits of it are the Patience of God with sinners: the Forbearance of God towards the impenitent: and his slowness to anger.

2. The Scriptures abound with statements of the existence of this perfection in God: and with representations as to the manner and extent of its exercise, towards every fallen creature. He who cannot look upon sin with the least allowance–is so far from wishing sinners to perish in their sinsthat he has done all that was consistent with his divine perfections, in order to save them; and then delayed the destruction upon which the impenitent rush, to the very uttermost. There is no human being of whom, as we survey their life and contemplate their nature, it is not certain, that if God had sought occasion against them, or been strict to mark iniquity–they must, already, have been consigned to remediless destruction: and every soul of man is obliged to render this verdict of itself. The extent to which the Forbearance of God is manifested personally to every human creature–could be justly estimated, only after we know the number and turpitude of their transgressions; and could rightly estimate the holiness, the majesty, and the goodness of him, against whom they offended; and could fully appreciate the extent of that necessity produced alike by the exigencies of the universe itself, and by the immediate claims of divine justice, that every disobedience of the creature should receive a just recompense of reward.

3. This immeasurable Forbearance, which is exercised toward each individual in this boundless wayextends also to every class of persons, and to the entire race of men. The children of God were its objects, while they lived in open sin; and they are still its objects as they strive, with an imperfect obedience, to obey God. The openly profane are its objects, while their day of grace may be supposed to continue; if possible, still more so–that they are not cast into hell at once, when that day of grace is done. The very damned await till the day of endless doom, for the second death to fall upon them, with all its horrors. And the redeemed throughout every successive generation, find the Long-suffering of God to be Salvation1–not only because his goodness leads them to repentance; but also because but for the riches of his Long-suffering and Forbearance, he would have made a short work, in righteousness, long ago, of a race that having rejected him, crucified his Son; and the very existence, much less the salvation of all succeeding generations would have been impossible.

4. And now if, notwithstanding such Long-suffering, the guilty will still rush upon destruction; and notwithstanding such mercy, the miserable will continue to choose suffering instead of repentance; and notwithstanding such grace sin must still abound: what idea of the depravity and perdition of ungodly men can equal the reality? When the Grace, Mercy, and Longsuffering of God, will have been finally exhausted–and the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels–in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; who can exaggerate either the terror or the justice of that divine wrath, in which they shall be punished with everlasting destruction, from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.2

Robert J. Breckinridge, The Knowledge of God, (New York: Robert Carter & Brothers, 1859), 1:303-304.  [Footnote values modified and underlining mine.]


1Rom., ii 4; 2 Pet, iii. 15.

22 Thes., i. 7-9.


Elnathan Parr (1577-1622) on the Longsuffering of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


Vers. 22. Indured with long-suffering the Vessels of wrath.

In these words is contained the Act we speak of, first is enduring; amplified two ways: First by the manner, which long-suffering. Second, by the object, The Vessels of Wrath.

Long-suffering is a dilation of revenge, though we be provoked. Though the Greek word be here translated long-suffering, yet properly God cannot suffer; for all things are active in God’ and whatsoever suffers or is patient, fails either in the essence, faculty or Energy. The word here used, is hard to be translated into our Tongue, we borrow from the Latins to express it in one word, by Longanimity. Between the Longanimity and Patience, Chrysostom observes this : difference: Longanimity is toward them of whom we can; Patience toward them of whom we cannot be revenged [Chrys. hom. 2 in Epist. ad Colos.]. So also Augustine, Patience is said of God, not that he suffers any evil, but because he expects sinners to conversion [Aug. l. de pars].

God is patient towards sinners, even Reprobates Joel 2:13, Roms 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9. He endured Cain a long time, suffered him to live to build cities, to beget children. So he suffered Saul, Judas, &c.

Use 1.
Be thou patient after the example of thy Heavenly Father; whose child how art thou, if thou suffers not, but repays injuries? Socrates an Heathen Philosopher, would willingly neither suffer, nor do any wrong; but if he must choose one, he would rather choose to suffer than to do But what speak we of Heathen, when we have God himself patient toward the Reprobates?

Say not, I will recompense evil. God himself yet bears with a number of hell-hounds, Reprobates. Christ is not yet revenged, nor the blood of the Satins. Will thou be moved at a cross word, and thirst after Revenge? It may be sweet to the flesh, but it is hateful to God. If thou has put up wrong once or twice, thou thinks thyself worthy to be chronicled, as a rare example of Patience. How many thousand times has thou provoked God, and yet he forebears thee? Do thou likewise reward thy neighbor. Remember the Parable of the merciless debtor [Matt. 18.]. Give the pardon thou asks; Forgive, that thou may be forgiven. When thou cannot so bridle thy affections, that being provoked, and in thy power to revenge; and yet for conscience toward God thou forebears think thou has profited; that argues true Nobleness [Posse &c nolle nobile.]

Use 2.
For God to bear with his children which provoke him, is much; but to suffer his enemies, who seek not his favor, and are the worse because they are forborne, to suffer a drunkard, whoremonger, &c., to live long, and have a great means, and to hold his hands, must argue an infinite perfection.

Alas, what had become of the best of us if there were not such longanimity [Makrothumia]in God? We had not lived to read of these tings. God might have taken us away in our sins; if he had called us out of this world some ten or twenty years ago, before we had repented, how should we have done? If he had used Martial Law to Manasses, Paul, Mary Magdalen, they had not shined now to the comfort of sinners: He suffered the ill-manners (the word is significant [etropophoresen. Acts 13:18]) of the Israelites in the Wilderness. Consider thou which reads, how long he suffered thee: let it move thee to repentance, and to praise his patience.

Use 3.
Here is comfort to poor sinners: God is patient toward Reprobates, much more will he be toward the Elect. He which long forbears Tyrants, Drunkards, Enemies, will he be hasty and inexorable towards his children? If he spare them which never grieve for their sins, never regard his Word; will he not much more spare them which repent that they have offended him, which tremble at his word, and seek his favor? If the Reprobate fare so well, much more will he abound to us, in all riches of grace and consolation.

Elnathan Parr, The Works of that faithfull and painful Preacher, Mr Elnathan Parr (London: Printed by Ed Griffin and Wil. Hunt, 1651), 109-110.