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.

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