EARNEST EXPOSTULATION

"Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and 
longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to re- 
pentance." — Romans ii. 4.. 

The apostle is intensely personal in his address. This 
verse is not spoken to us all in the mass, but to some 
one in particular. The apostle fixes his eyes upon a 
single person, and speaks to him as "Thee" and "Thou." 
" Despisest thou the riches of" his goodness and forbear- 
ance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness 
of God leadeth thee to repentance ? " It should ever be 
the intent of the preacher to convey his message to each 
hearer in his own separate individuality. It is always a 
very happy sign when a man begins to think of himself 
as an individual, and when the expostulations and invi- 
tations of the Gospel are seen by him to be directed to 
himself personally. I will give nothing for that indi- 
rect, essay-like preaching which is as the sheet lightning 
of summer, dazzling for the moment, and flaming over 
a broad expanse, but altogether harmless, since no bolt 
is launched from it, and its ineffectual fires leave no trace 
behind. I will give nothing for that kind of hearing 
which consists in the word being heard by everybody in 
general and by no one in particular. It is when the 
preacher can "Thee" and "Thou" his hearers that he is 
likely to do them good. When each man is made to 
say, "This is for me," then the power of God is present 
in the word. One personal, intentional touch of the hem 
of Christ's garment conveys more blessing than all the 
pressure of the crowd that thronged about the Master. 
The laying of his healing hand upon the individual who 
was suffering had more virtue in it than all those hea- 
venly addresses which fell from his lips upon minds that 
did not receive the truth for themselves. I do pray that 
we may come to personal dealings with the Lord each 
one for himself, and that the Spirit of God may convince 
each man and woman, according as the case may stand 
before the living God. my hearer, thou art now to be 
lovingly spoken with : I speak not to you as unto many, 
but unto thee, as one by thyself. 

Observe that the apostle singled out an individual 
who had condemned others for transgressions, in which 
he himself indulged. This man owned so much spiritual 
light that he knew right from wrong, and he diligently 
used his knowledge to judge others, condemning them 
for their transgressions. As for himself, he preferred 
the shade, where no fierce light might beat on his own 
conscience and disturb his unholy peace. His judgment 
was spared the pain of dealing with his home offenses 
by being set to work upon the faults of others. He had 
a candle, but he did not place it on the table to light his 
own room; he held it out at the front door to inspect 
therewith his neighbors who passed by. Ho ! my good 
friend, my sermon is for thee. Paul looks this man in 
the face and says, "Therefore thou art inexcusable, 
man, whoever thou art, that judgest: for wherein thou 
judgest another thou condemnest thyself; for thou that 
judgest doest the same things:" and then he pointedly 
says to him: "Thinkest thou this, man, that judgest 
them which do such things, and does! the same, that 
thou shalt escape the judgment o\' God?" Well did 
the apostle aim that piercing arrow; it hits the centre of 
the target and strikes a Folly common to mankind. The 
poet of the night-watches wrote, — 

" All men think all men mortal but themselves." 

As truly might 1 say, " All men think all men guilty but 
themselves." The punishment which is due to sin the 
guilty reckon to be surely impending upon others, but 
they scarce believe that ii can ever fall upon themselves. 
A persona] doom for themselves is an idea which they 
will not harbor : if the dread thought should light upon 
them they shake it off as men shake snow-flakes from 
their cloaks. The thought of' personal guilt, judgment, 
and condemnation is inconvenient; it breeds t^o much 
trouble within, and so they refuse it lodging. Vain men 
go maundering on their way, whispering of peace and 
safety; doting as if God had passed an act of amnesty 
and oblivion tor them, and had made for them an ex- 
ception to all the rules vi' justice, and all the manner of 
his courts. Ho men indeed believe that they alone shall 
go unpunished V No man will subscribe to that notion 
when it is written down in black and white, and yet the 
mass i)i' men live as it' this were true: I mean the mass 
of men who have sufficient light \i^ condemn sin in others. 
They start back from the fact of' their own guiltiness and 
condemnation, and go on in their ungodliness as if there 
were no great white throne for them, no last assize, no 
judge, no word of' condemnation, and no hell of' wrath. 
Alas, poor madmen, thus to dream! O Spirit of* Truth, 
save them from this fatal infatuation. 

Sin is always on the downward grade, so that when 
a man proceeds a certain length he inevitably goes be- 
yond it, The person addressed by the apostle first thought 
cape judgment, and then he came to think lightly of 
the goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering of God. He 
thinks he shall escape in the future, and because of that 
he despises the present goodness and longsuffering of 
the Most High. Of course he does, [f he does not be- 
in the terrors of the world to come for himself, he 
naturally reckons it to be a small thing to have been 
spared their Immediate experience. Barren tree as he is, 
he does not believe that he will ever be cut down, and 
therefore he feels no gratitude to the dresser of the vine- 
yard for pleading, t: Lei it alone yet another year, till I 
dig about it, and dung it." I wish, as God shall help me, 
to drive hard at the consciences of men upon this matter. 
I would be to you, my careless friend, what Jonah was 
to Nineveh: I would warn you, and bestir you to repent-* 
ance. oh that the Holy Ghost would make this sermon 
effectual for the arousing of every unsaved soul that shall 
hear or read it. ! 

I. First, let me speak this morning to thee, o unre- 
generate, impenitent man, concerning the goodness of
God WHICH THOU HAST EXPERIENCED. Thou hast known the 
goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering of God. 
According to the text, "riches" of these have been spent, 
up*. ii unconverted, ungodly men, and upon thee as one 
of them. Let me speak with thee first, O man, and 
remind thee how favored thou hast been of God by be- 
ing made a partaker of "the richness of his goodness." 
In ninny cases this is true of temporal things. Men 
may ho without the fear of God, and yet, for all that, 
God may l><- pleased f <> prosper their endeavors in busi- 
ness. They sn<-'''-(-d almost beyond their expectation— 
I mean some of them ; probably the description applies 
to thee. They rise from the lowest position $ and accu- 
mulate about them the comforts and luxuries of life. 
Though they have no religion, they have wit, and pru- 
dence, and thrift, and so they compete with others, and 
God permits them to be winners in the race for wealth. 
Moreover, he allows them to enjoy good health, vigor 
of mind, and strength of constitution: they are happy 
in the wife of their youth, and their children are about 
them. Theirs is an envied lot. Death seems for awhile 
forbidden to knock at their door, even though he has 
been ravaging the neighborhood; even sickness does 
not molest their household. They are not in trouble as 
other men, neither are they plagued like other men. 
Abraham had to prepare a Machpelah, and David 
mourned over his sons; but these have had to make 
scant provision for family sepulcher: a hedge has in 
rery deed been set about them and all that they have. 
f know that it is thus with many who do not love God, 
and have never yielded to the entreaties of his grace. 
They love not the hand which enriches them, they praise 
not the Lord who daily loadeth them with benefits. 
How is it that men can receive such kindness, and yield 
no return ? sirs, you are to-day blessed with all that 
need requires; but I pray you remember that you might 
have been in the depths of poverty. An illness would 
have lost you your situation; or a slight turn in trade 
would have left you bankrupt. You are well to-day; 
but you might have been tossing to and fro upon a 
bed of sickness, you might have been in a hospital, 
about to lose a limb. Shall not God be praised for 
health and freedom from pain? You might have been 
shut up in yonder asylum, in the agonies of madness. 
A thousand ills have been kept from you; you have 
been exceedingly favored by the goodness of the Most 
High. Is it not so ? And truly it is a wonderful thing 
that God should give his bread to those that lift up 
their heel against him, that he should cause his light 
to shine upon those who never perceive his goodness 
therein, that he should multiply his mercies upon un- 
godly men who only multiply their rebellions against 
him, and turn the gifts of his love into instruments of 
transgression. 

Furthermore, this goodness of God has not only come 
to you in a temporal form, impenitent man, but it has 
also visited you in a spiritual manner. Myriads of our 
fellowmen have never had an opportunity of knowing 
Christ. The missionary's foot has never trodden the 
cities wherein they dwell, and so they die in the dark. 
Multitudes are going downward, downward; but they 
do not know the upward road: their minds have never 
been enlightened by the teachings of God's word, and 
hence they sin with less grievousness of fault. You are 
placed in the very focus of Christian light, and yet you 
follow evil! Will yon not think of this? Time was 
when a man would have to work for years to earn 
enough money to buy a Bible. There were times when 
he could not have earned one even with that toil: now 
the word of God lies upon your table, you have a copy 
of it in almost every room of your house; is not this a 
boon from God? This is the land of the open Bible. 
and the land of the preached word of God: in this you 
prove the richness of God's goodness. Do you despise 
this wealth of mercy? Possibly you have enjoyed the 
further privilege of sitting under a ministry which has 
been particularly plain and earnest: you have not had 
sermons preached before you, they have been preached 
at you: the minister has seized upon you and tugged 
at your conscience, as though he would force you to 
the Saviour, With cries and entreaties yon have been 
invited to your heavenly Father, and yet you have not 
come. Is this a small thing? 

What is more, you have been favored with a tender 
conscience. When you do wrong you know it, and 
smart for it. What mean those wakeful nights after 
you have yielded to a temptation ? What means that 
miserable feeling of shame ? that fever of unrest ? You 
find it hard to stifle the inward monitor, and difficult to 
resist the Spirit of God. Your road to perdition is made 
peculiarly hard; do you mean to follow it at all costs, 
and go over hedge and ditch to hell? 

You have not only been aroused by conscience, but 
the good Spirit has striven with you, and you have been 
almost persuaded to be a Christian. Such has been the 
blessed work of the Spirit upon your heart that you have 
at times been melted down, and ready to be moulded 
by grace. A strange softness has come over you, and 
if you had not gathered up all your evil strength, and 
if the devil had not helped you to resist, you had by 
this time dropped into the Saviour's arms. Oh, the 
riches of the goodness of God to have thus wooed you, 
and pressed his love upon you ! You have scarcely had 
a stripe, or a frown, or an ill word from God; his ways 
have been all kindness, and gentleness, and longsuffer- 
ing from the first day of your memory even until now. 
" Despisest thou the riches of his goodness?" man, 
answer this, I implore thee. 

The apostle then dwells upon the riches of "forbear- 
ance." Forbearance comes in when men having of- 
fended, God withholds the punishment that is due 
to them; when men, having been invited to mercy, 
have refused it, and yet God continues to stretch out 
his hands, and invite them to come to him. Patient 
endurance of offenses and insults has been manifested 
by God to many of you, who now hear these words of 
warning. The Lord knows to whom I speak and may 
he make you, also, know that I am speaking to you, 
even to you. Some men have gone back to the very 
sin of which for awhile they repented: they have suf- 
fered for their folly, but have turned again to it with 
suicidal determination. They are desperately set on 
their own ruin, and nothing can save them. The burnt 
child has run to the fire again; the singed moth has 
plunged again into the flame of the candle: who can 
pity such self-inflicted miseries ? They are given over 
to perdition, for they will not be warned. They have 
returned to the haunt of vice, though they seemed to 
have been snatched from the deep ditch of its filthiness. 
They have wantonly and willfully returned to their cups, 
though the poison of former draughts is yet burning in 
their veins. Yet, despite this folly, God shows forbear- 
ance towards them, They have grievously provoked 
him when they have done despite to his word, and have 
even turned to laughter the solemnities of his worship, 
against their own consciences, and to their own confu- 
sion : yet when his hand has been lifted up he has 
withdrawn it in mercy. See how God has always tem- 
pered his providence with kindness to them. He laid 
them low so that they were sore sick, but at the voice 
of their moaning he restored them. They trembled on 
the brink of death, yet he permitted them to recover 
strength; and now, despite their vows of amendment, 
here they are, callous and careless, unmindful of the 
mercy which gave them a reprieve. 

Did you ever think what is included in the riches 
of forbearance. There are quick tempered individuals 
who only need to be a little provoked, and hard words 
and blows come quick and furious: but, oh, the forbear- 
ance of God when he is provoked to his face by ung idly 
men ! By men, I mean, who hear his word, and yet 
refuse it! They slight his love, and yet he perseveres 
in it. Justice lays its hand on the. sword, but mercy 
holds it back in its scabbard. Well might each spared 
one say, — 

"O unexhausted Grace, 

Love unspeakable ! 

I am not gone to my own place; 

1 am not yet in hell ! 
Earth doth not open yet, 

My soul to swallow up. 
And, hanging o'er the burning pit, 
I still am forced to hope." 

Our apostle adds to goodness and forbearance the 
riches of long-suffering.  We draw a distinction be- 
tween forbearance and longsuffering. Forbearance has 
to do with the magnitude of sin; longsuffering with the 
multiplicity of it: forbearance has to do with present 
provocation; longsuffering relates to that provocation 
repeated, and continued for a length of time. Oh. how 
long doth God suffer the ill manners of men ! Forty 
years long was he grieved with that generation whose 
carcases fell in the wilderness. Has it come to forty 
years yet with you, dear hearer? Possibly it may have 
passed even that time, and a half-century of provocation 
may have gone into eternity to bear witness against 
you. What if I should even have to say that sixty and 
seventy years have continued to heap up the loads of 
their transgressions, until the Lord saith, " I am pressed 
down under your sins; as a cart that is full of sheaves 
I am pressed down under you." Yet for all that, 
here you are on praying ground and pleading terms 
with God; here you are where yet the Saviour reigns 
upon the throne of grace; here you are where mercy is 
to be had for the asking, where free grace and dying 
love ring out their charming bells of invitation to joy 
and peace ! Oh, the riches of his goodness, and for- 
bearance, and longsuffering. Threefold is the claim : 
will you not regard it? Can you continue to despise it! 
I should like to set all this in a striking light if I 
could, and therefore I would remind you of who and 
w T hat that God is who has exhibited this goodness, for- 
bearance, and longsuffering to men. Remember how 
great he is. When men insult a great prince the of- 
fence is thought to be highly heinous. If any one 
should openly insult our own beloved Queen, and 
continue to do so, all the nation would be clamor- 
ous to have the impertinence ended speedily. We can- 
not bear that a beloved ruler should be publicly insulted. 
And what think you of the sin which provokes God ? 
which to his face defies him ? and in his very courts re- 
sists him? Shall this always be forborne with? Is 
there not a limit to longsuffering? Goodness also adds 
another item to the provocation; for we naturally say, 
11 Why should one so good be treated so cruelly ? " If 
God were a tyrant, if he were unrighteous or unkind, it 
were not so much amiss that men stood out against 
him; but when his very name is love, and when he 
manifests the bowels of a Father towards his wandering 
children it is shameful that he should be so wantonly 
provoked. Those words of Jesus were extremely touch- 
ing when he pointed to his miracles, and asked, "For 
which of these things do you stone me ?" When I think 
of God I may well say — for which of his deeds do you 
provoke him? Every morning he draws the curtain and 
glads the earth with light, and gives you eyes to see it; 
he sends his rain upon the ground to bring forth bread 
for man, and he gives you life to eat thereof — is this a 
ground for revolting from him ? Every single minute of 
our life is cheered with the tender kindness of God, and 
every spot is gladdened with his love. I wonder that 
the Lord does not sweep away the moral nuisance of a 
guilty race from off the face of earth. Man's sin must 
have been terribly offensive to God from day to day, 
and yet still he shows kindness, love, forbearance. This 
adds an excessive venom to man's disobedience. How 
can he grieve such goodness? How can divine good- 
ness fail to resent such base ingratitude? 

Think also of God's Vnoideiltje; for he knows all the 
transgressions of men. "What the eye does not see the 
heart does not rue," is a truthful proverb; but every trans- 
gression is committed in the very presence of God. so that 
penitent David cried, " Against thee, thee only have I 
sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." Transgression 
is committed in the sight of God, from whose eyes noth- 
ing is hidden. Rem ember also, that the Lord never can 
forget; before his eyes all things stand out in clear light 
not only the things of to-day, but all the transgressions 
of a life. Yet for all this he doth forbear. With evil 
reeking before his face, he is slow to anger, and waiteth 
that he may be gracious. 

All this while, remember, the Lord is great in power. 
Some are patient because they are powerless; they bear 
and forbear because they cannot well help themselves; 
but it is not so with God. Had he but willed it, you had 
been swept into hell ; only a word from him and the impeni- 
tent had fallen in the wilderness, and their spirits would 
have passed into the realms of endless woe. In a moment 
the Lord could have eased him of his adversary ; he could 
have stopped that flippant tongue, and closed that lust- 
ful eye in an instant. That wicked heart would have 
failed to beat if God had withdrawn his power, and that 
rebellious breath would have ceased also. Had it not 
been for long-suffering you unbelievers would long since 
have known what it is to fall into the hands of an angry 
God. Will you continue to grieve the God who so pa- 
tiently bears with you. 

Be it never forgotten that sin is to God much more 
intolerable than it is to us. He is of purer eyes than to 
behold iniquity. Things which we call little sins are 
great and grievous evils to him: they do, as it were, 
touch the apple of his eye. "Oh, do not," he says, "do 
not this abominable thing that I hate!" His Spirit is 
grieved and vexed with every idle word and every sen- 
sual thought; and hence it is a wonder of wonders that 
a God so sensitive of sin, a God so able to avenge him- 
self of his adversaries, a God who knows the abundance 
of human evil, and marks it all, should nevertheless ex- 
hibit riches of goodness and forbearance and longsuffer- 
ing: yet this is what you, my ungodly hearer, have been 
experiencing many a long year. Here let us pause; and 
oh that each one who is still unsaved would sing most 
sincerely the words of Watts, 

" Lord, we have long abused thy love, 
Too long indulged our sin, 
Our aching hearts even bleed to see 
What rebels we have been. 

" No more, ye lusts, shall ye command, 
No more will we obey ; 
Stretch out, O God, thy conq'ring hand, 
And drive thy foes away." 

IT. Come with me, friend, and let me speak to thee 
Of THE SIX OF WHICH THOU ART SUSPECTED. Hear me, Uncon- 
verted sinner: the sin of which thou art suspected is 
this,— " Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and 
forbearance and longsuffering ? " The Lord's goodness 
ought to be admired and to be adored, and dost thou 
despise it? His goodness ought to be wondered at and 
told as a marvel in the ears of others, and dost thou de- 
spise it ! That I might rake thy conscience a little, lend 
me thine ear. 

Some despise God's goodness, forbearance, and long- 
suffering, because they never even gave a thought to it. 
God has given you life to keep you in being, and he has 
indulged yon with his kindness, but it has not yet oc- 
curred to you that this patience is at all remarkable or 
worthy of the smallest thanks. You have been a drunk- 
ard, have you ? a swearer ? a Sabbath breaker ? a lover 
of sinful pleasure? Perhaps not quite so; but still you 
have forgotten God altogether, and yet he has abounded 
in goodness to you: is not this a great wrong? The 
Lord saith, "Hear, heavens, and give ear, earth: I 
have nourished and brought up children, and they have 
rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and 
the ass his master's crib: but these my creatures do not 
know, my favored ones do not consider.'' Why, you 
have no such forbearance with others as God has had 
with you. You would not keep a dog if it never fol- 
lowed at your heel, but snarled at you: you would not 
even keep a potter's vessel if it held no water, and was 
of no service to you; you would break it in pieces, and 
throw it on the dunghill. As for yourself, you are fear- 
fully and wonderfully made, both as to your body and 
as to your soul, and yet you have been of no service to 
your Maker, nor even thought of being of service to him. 
Still, he has spared you all these years, and it has never 
occurred to you that there has been any wonderful for- 
bearance in it. Assuredly, man, thou despisest the 
long-suffering of thy God. 

Others have, perhaps, thought of it, but have never se- 
riously meditated thereon. When we offend a man, if we 
are right-minded, we not only note the fact with regret, 
but we sit down and weigh the matter, and seek to rec- 
tify it; for we would not be unjust to any person, and 
if we felt that we had been acting unfairly it would press 
upon our minds until we could make amends. But are 
there not some of you who have never given half an 
hour's consideration to your relation to your God ? He 
has spared you all this while, and yet it has never oc- 
curred to you to enter into your chamber and sit down 
and consider your conduct towards him. It would seem 
to be too much trouble even to think of your Creator. 
His longsuffering leads you to repentance, but you have 
not repented : in fact, you have not thought it worth your 
while to consider the question at all: you have thought 
it far more important to enquire, " What shall I eat and 
what shall I drink?" Bread and broadcloth have shut 
out the thought of God. Ah me, you will stand at his 
judgment bar before long — and then ? Perhaps ere this 
week is finished you may have to answer, not to me, but 
unto him that sits upon the throne; therefore I do im- 
plore you now, for the first time give this matter thought. 
Despise no longer the goodness and longsuffering of 
God. 

This longsuffering is despised, further, by those who 
have imagined that God does not take any great account of 
ivhat they do. So long as they do not go into gross and 
open sin, and offend the laws of their country, they do 
not believe that it is of any consequence whether they 
love God or not, whether they do righteousness or not, 
whether they are sober and temperate, or drunken and 
wanton: whether they are clean in heart by God's Spirit, 
or defiled in soul and life. Thou thinkest that God is 
altogether such an one as thyself, and that he will wink 
at thy transgression and cover up thy sin; but thou shalt 
not find it so. That base thought proves that thou de- 
spisest his longsuffering. 

Some even get to think that the warnings of love are 
so much wind, and that the threatenings of God will never 
be fulfilled. They have gone on for many years without 
being punished, and instead of drawing the conclusion 
that the longer the blow is in falling the heavier it will 
be when it does come, they imagine that because it is 
long delayed the judgment will never come at all; and 
so they sport and trifle between the jaws of death and 
hell. They hear warnings as if they were all moon- 
shine, and fancy that this holy Book, with its threaten- 
ings, is but a bugbear to keep fools quiet. If thou 
thinkest so, sir, then indeed thou hast despised the 
goodness and forbearance and longsuffering of God. 
Do you imagine that this forbearance will last for ever ? 
Do you dream that at least it will continue with you for 
many years ? I know your secret thoughts : you see other 
men die suddenly, but your secret thought is that you 
will have long space and ample time: you hear of one 
struck down with paralysis, and another carried off by 
apoplexy, but you flatter yourselves that you will have 
plenty of leisure to think about these things. Oh, how 
can you be so secure? How can you thus tempt the 
Lord ? False prophets in these evil days play into men's 
hands and hold out the hope that you may go into the 
next world wrong, and yet be set right in the end. This 
is a vile flattery of your wicked hearts; but yet remem- 
ber that even according to their maunderings centuries 
may elapse before this fancied restoration may occur. A 
sensible man would not like to run the risk of even a 
year of agony Half-an-hour of acute pain is dreaded by 
most people. Can it be that the very men who start 
back from the dentist's door, afraid of the pinch which 
extricates an aching tooth, will run the risk of years of 
misery ? Take the future of the impenitent even on this 
footing, it is a tiling to be dreaded, and by every means 
avoided. I say, these flattering prophets themselves, if 
rightly understood, give yon little enough of hope; but 
what will come to you if the old doctrine proves to be 
true and you go away into everlasting fire in hell, as 
the Scripture puts it ? Will you live an hour in jeopardy 
of such a doom ? Will you so despise the longsuffering 
and forbearance of the Lord ? 

I will not enlarge and use many words, for I am myself 
weary of words: I want to persuade you even with tears. 
My whole soul would attract you to your God, your Fa- 
ther. I would come to close quarters with you, and say, 
Do you not think that, even though you fall into no doc- 
trinal error, and indulge no hazy hope as to either resti- 
tution 01 annihilation, yet still it is a dreadful despising 
of God's mercy when you keep on playing with God, and 
saying to his grace, "Go thy way for this time; when I 
have a more convenient season I will send for thee"? 
The more gentle God is the more you procrastinate, and 
the more in tenderness he speaks of pardon the more you 
transgress. Is this generous? Is it right? Is it wise? 
Can it be a fit and proper thing to do? Oh, my dear 
hearer, why will you act thus shamefully? Some of you 
delight to come and hear me preach, and drink in all I 
have to say, and you will even commend me for being 
earnest with your souls; and yet, after all, you will not 
decide for God, for Christ, for heaven. You are between 
good and evil, neither cold nor hot. I would ye were 
either cold or hot ; I could even wish that ye either thought 
this word of mine to be false, or else that, believing it to 
be true, you at once acted upon it. How can you incur 
the double guilt of offending God and of knowing that 
it is an evil thing to do so? You reject Christ, and yet 
admit that he ought to be received by you! You speak 
well of a gospel which you will not accept for yourselves- ! 
You believe great things of a Saviour whom you will not 
have to be your Saviour! Jesus himself says, "If I tell 
you the truth, why do you not believe me ? " 

" Despisest thou the Ion -suffering of God ? " Dare you 
do it? I tremble as I think of a man despising God's 
goodness. Is not this practical blasphemy? Darest thou 
do it? Oh, if thou hast done it hitherto, do it no more. 
Ere yon sun goes down again, say within thy heart, " I 
will be a despiser of God's goodness no longer; I will 
arise and go unto my Father, and I will say unto him, — 
Father, I have sinned. I will not rest until in the pre- 
cious blood he has washed my sins away." 

III. In closing this sermon I desire to remind thee, 
ungodly man, of the knowledge of which thou art forget- 
ful. Read my text: — " Despisest thou the riches of his 
goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not haow- 
ing that the goodness of God hadetJi thee to repentance?" 
Now there are many here who know as a matter of doc- 
trine that the goodness of God leads them to repent- 
ance, and yet they do not know it as a practical truth 
affecting their lives: indeed, they so act that it is not 
true to them at all. Yet, if they do not know this they 
are willfully ignorant; not willing to retain in their minds 
a fact so disagreeable to them. None are so blind as 
those who will not see: but he who does not see, and yet 
hath eyes, has a criminality about his blindness which 
is not found in that of those who have no sight. Dear 
hearer, whether you know this truth or not, I would re- 
mind you that God's patience with you is meant to lead 
you to repentance. "How?" say you. Why, first by 
giving you an opportunity to repent. These years, which 
are now coming to a considerable number with you, have 
been given you in order that you might turn to God. By 
the time you were twenty-one you had sinned quite 
enough; perhaps you had even then begun to mislead 
other youths, and to instruct in evil those under your 
influence. Why did not God take you away at once? 
It might have been for the benefit of the world if he had 
done so; but yet you were spared till you were thirty. 
Did not each year of your lengthened life prove that the 
Lord was saying, "I will spare him, for perhaps he will 
yet amend and think upon his God. I will give him 
more light, and increase his comforts; I will give him 
better teaching, better preaching; peradventure he will 
repent." Yet you have not done so. Have you lived to 
be forty, and are you where you were when you were 
twenty? Are you still out of Christ? Then you are 
worse than you were; for you have sinned more deeply 
and you have provoked the Lord more terribly. You 
have now had space enough. What more do you need? 
When the child has offended, you say, "Child, unless you 
beg pardon at once, I must punish you ": would you give 
a boy so many minutes to repent in as God has given him 
years? I think not. If a servant is continually robbing 
you; if he is careless, slothful, disobedient, you say to 
him, "I have passed over your faults several times, but 
one of these days I shall discharge you. I cannot al- 
ways put up with this slovenliness, this blundering, this 
idleness: one of these times you will have to go." Have 
you not so spoken to your female servant, and thought 
it kind on your part to give her another chance? The 
Lord has said the same to you; yet here you are, a liv- 
ing but impenitent man; spared, but spared only to mul- 
tiply your transgressions. This know, that his forbear- 
ance gives you an opportunity to repent; do not turn it 
into an occasion for hardening your heart. 

But next, the Lord in this is pleased to give a sug- 
gestion to yon to repent. It seems to me that every morn- 
ing when a man wakes up still impenitent, and finds 
himself out of hell, the sunlight seems to say, " I shine 
on thee yet another day, as that in this day thou mayst 
repent," When your bed receives you at night I think 
it seems to say, u I will give you another night's rest, 
that you may live to turn from your sins and trust in 
Jesus." Every mouthful of bread that comes to the 
table says, " I have to support your body that still you 
may have space for repentance." Every time you open 
the Bible the pages say, " We speak with you that you 
may repent." Every time you hear a sermon, if it be 
such a sermon as God would have us preach, it pleads 
with you to turn unto the Lord and live. Surely the 
time past of your life may suffice you to have wrought 
the will of the Gentiles. "The times of your ignorance 
God winked at, but now commandeth men everywhere 
to repent." Do not life and death, and heaven and hell, 
call upon you so to do ? Thus you have in God's good- 
ness space for repentance, and a suggestion to repent, 

But something more is here; for I want you to notice 
that the text does not say, "The goodness of God calleth 
thee to repentance," but " leadeth thee." This is a much 
stronger word. God calls to repentance by the gospel; 
God leads to repentance by his goodness. It is as though he 
plucked at your sleeve and said, " Come this way." His 
goodness lays its gentle hand on you, drawing you with 
cords of love and bands of a man. God's forbearance cries, 
" Why wilt thou hate me ? What wrong have I done 
thee? I have spared thee; I have spared thy wife and 
children to thee; I have raised thee up from the bed of 
sickness; I have loaded thy board; I have filled thy 
wardrobe; 1 have done thee a thousand good turns; 
wherefore dost thou disobey ? Turn unto thy God and 
Father, and live in Christ Jesus." 

If, on the other hand, you have not received rich 
temporal favors, yet the Lord still leads you to repentance 
by a rougher hand; as when the prodigal fain would 
have filled his belly with husks, but could not, and the 
pangs of hunger came upon him; those pains were a 
powerful message from the Father to lead him to the 
home where there was bread enough and to spare. " The 
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance." Oh, that 
thou wouldest yield to its sweet leadings, and follow as 
a child follows the guidance of a nurse. Let thy crosses 
lead thee to the cross; let thy joys lead thee to find joy 
in Christ. 

Do you not think that all this should encourage yon to 
repent, since God himself leads you that way? If God 
leads you to repentance he does not mean to cast you 
away. If he bids you repent, then he is willing to ac- 
cept your repentance, and to be reconciled to you. If 
he bids you change your mind, it is because his own 
mind is love. Repentance implies a radical change in 
your view of things, and in your estimate of matters; it 
is a change in your purposes, a change in your thoughts 
and in your conduct, If the Lord leads you that way 
he will help you in it. Follow his gracious leading till 
his divine Spirit shall lead you with still greater power 
and still greater efficacy, till at last you find that he has 
wrought in you both repentance and faith, and you are 
saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. If 
" the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance," then 
be sure of this, that the goodness of God will receive 
thee when thou dost repent, and thou shalt live in his 
sight as his well-beloved and forgiven child. 

I close now, but I am sorry so to do, for I have not 
pleaded one-half as I could have wished. Yet what 
more can 1 say ? I will put it to yourselves. If yon 
were in God's stead, could you bear to be treated as von 
have treated him ? If you were all goodness and tender- 
ness, and had borne with a creature now for thirty or 
forty years, how would you bear to see that creature 
still stand out, and even draw an inference from your 
gentleness to encourage him in his rebellion ? Would 
you not say, u Well, if my longsuffering makes him 
think little of sin, I will change my hand. If tender- 
ness cannot win him, I must leave him ; if even my love 
does not affect him, I will let him alone. He is given 
unto his evil ways — I will cease from him, and see what 
his end will be"? Lord, say not so, say not so unto 
any one in this house, but of thy great mercy make this 
day to be as the beginning of life to many. that hearts 
may be touched with pity for their slighted Saviour, that 
they may seek his face ! Here is the way of salvation: 
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be 
saved." You know how the Master bade us put it, 
" Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to 
every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall 
be saved." First, we are to preach faith, whereby we 
lay hold on Christ; then baptism, whereby we confess 
that faith, and own that we are dead and buried with 
Christ that we may live with him in newness of life. 
Those are the two points he bids us set before you, and 
I do set them before you. Weary, but not quite wearied 
out, impenitent man, I plead with thee! Though 
thou hast so often been pleaded with in vain, once more 
I speak with thee in Christ's stead, and say — Repent of 
thy sin, look to thy Saviour, and confess thy faith in his 
own appointed way. I verily believe that if I had been 
pleading with some of you to save the life of a dog I 
should have prevailed with you a great while ago. And 
will you not care about the saving of your own souls ? 
Oh, strange infatuation — that men will not consent to 
be themselves saved; but foolishly, madly, hold out 
against the mercy of God which leads them to repent- 
ance. God bless you, beloved, and may none of you de- 
spise his goodness, and forbearance, and longsuffering. 

C. H. SPURGEON