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Romans 2:4 From the Matthew Henry Commentaries

November 11, 2008

Romans 2:4:

III. He draws up a charge against them (v. 4, 5) consisting of two branches:—

1. (v. 4), the riches of his goodness. This is especially applicable to the Jews, who had singular tokens of the divine favour. Means are mercies, and the more light we sin against the more love we sin against. Low and mean thoughts of the divine goodness are at the bottom of a great deal of sin. There is in every wilful sin an interpretative contempt of the goodness of God; it is spurning at his bowels, particularly the goodness of his patience, his forbearance and long-suffering, taking occasion thence to be so much the more bold in sin, Eccl. viii. 11. Not knowing, that is, not considering, not knowing practically and with application, that the goodness of God leadeth thee, the design of it is to lead thee, to repentance. It is not enough for us to know that God’s goodness leads to repentance, but we must know that it leads us—thee in particular. See here what method God takes to bring sinners to repentance. He leads them, not drives them like beasts, but leads them like rational creatures, allures them (Hos. ii. 14); and it is goodness that leads, bands of love, Hos. xi. 4. Compare Jer. xxxi. 3. The consideration of the goodness of God, his common goodness to all (the goodness of his providence, of his patience, and of his offers), should be effectual to bring us all to repentance; and the reason why so many continue in impenitency is because they do not know and consider this.

2. Provoking the wrath of God, v. 5. The rise of this provocation is a hard and impenitent heart; and the ruin of sinners is their walking after such a heart, being led by it. To sin is to walk in the way of the heart; and when that is a hard and impenitent heart (contracted hardness by long custom, besides that which is natural), how desperate must the course needs be! The provocation is expressed by treasuring up wrath. Those that go on in a course of sin are treasuring up unto themselves wrath. A treasure denotes abundance. It is a treasure that will be spending to eternity, and yet never exhausted; and yet sinners are still adding to it as to a treasure. Every wilful sin adds to the score, and will inflame the reckoning; it brings a branch to their wrath, as some read that (Ezek. viii. 17), they put the branch to their nose. A treasure denotes secrecy. The treasury or magazine of wrath is the heart of God himself, in which it lies hid, as treasures in some secret place sealed up; see Deut. xxxii. 34; Job xiv. 17. But withal it denotes reservation to some further occasion; as the treasures of the hail are reserved against the day of battle and war, Job xxxviii. 22, 23. These treasures will be broken open like the fountains of the great deep, Gen. vii. 11. They are treasured up against the day of wrath, when they will be dispensed by the wholesale, poured out by full vials. Though the present day be a day of patience and forbearance towards sinners, yet there is a day of wrath coming—wrath, and nothing but wrath. Indeed, every day is to sinners a day of wrath, for God is angry with the wicked every day (Ps. vii. 11), but there is the great day of wrath coming, Rev. vi. 17. And that day of wrath will be the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God. The wrath of God is not like our wrath, a heat and passion; no, fury is not in him (Isa. xxvii. 4): but it is a righteous judgment, his will to punish sin, because he hates it as contrary to his nature. This righteous judgment of God is now many times concealed in the prosperity and success of sinners, but shortly it will be manifested before all the world, these seeming disorders set to rights, and the heavens shall declare his righteousness, Ps. l. 6. Therefore judge nothing before the time.  Romans 2:4

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