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John Flavel on Romans 2:4

September 4, 2007

“2. The Lord exercises this patience towards sinners, thereby to lead them to repentance; this is the direct intention of it. The Lord desires and delights to see ingenuous relentings and brokenness of  heart for sin; and there is nothing like his forbearance and patience in promoting such an evangelical repentance. All the terrors of the law will not break the heart of a sinner, as the patience and long- suffering of God will; therefore it is said that the goodness, forbearance, and long-suffering of God, lead men to repentance. Rom. 2:4. These are fitted to work upon all the principles of humanity which incline men to repentance; reason, conscience, gratitude, feel the influences of the goodness of God herein, and melt under it. Thus Saul´s heart relented: “Is this thy voice, my son David? and Saul lifted up his voice and wept. And he said to David, Thou art more righteous than I; for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have rewarded thee evil.” 1 Sam. 24:16, 17. Thus the goodness and forbearance of God doth, as it were, take a sinner by the hand, lead him into a corner, and say, “Come, let us talk together; thus and thus vile hast thou been, and thus and thus long-suffering and merciful has God been to thee; thy heart has been full of sin, the heart of thy God has been full of pity and mercy.” This dissolves the sinner into tears, and breaks his heart in pieces. If any thing will melt a hard heart, this will do it. How good has God been to me. How have I tried his patience to the uttermost, and still he waits to be gracious, and is exalted that he may have compassion. The sobs and tears, the ingenuous relentings of a sinner´s heart, under the apprehensions of the sparing mercy and goodness of God, are the music of heaven.”

John Flavel, Christ Knocking at the Door of Sinners´ Hearts; or, A Solemn Entreaty to Receive the Saviour and His Gospel in This the Day of Mercy (New York: American Tract Society, 1850), 81-82.

“Consider him BEFORE HIS INCARNATION, and you will find two things in that state which plainly speak his desire after union with us.” Ibid., p. 141.

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