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Andrew Willet on Romans 2:4

November 17, 2008

Willet:

Quest. 6. Of the reasons why the Lord uses patience and forbearance towards sinners.

1. The Apostle uses three words, chrestotes, goodness, bountifulness, which is seen in the general benefits, which God vouchsafes to the wicked, as in granting them the Sunshine and rain, and such other temporal blessings: anoche, patience and forbearance, which is in bearing with the wicked, and not punishing them in their sins: makrothumia, longamanity, and long sufferance: when God still defers his punishments, though men heap sin to sin: the first and chief cause of this long sufferance, is the expectation of men’s repentance, that they should thereby come to amendment of life, as S. Peter says, 2. epist. c.3.9 “God is patient toward us, and would have no man to perish, but would have all men come to repentance.” 2. As God’s mercy and goodness herein appears so also the malice of men, in abusing the Lord’s patience, and their more just condemnation in the end is made manifest, as the old world was most justly destroyed, after they had been warned an 120. years by the preaching of Noah. 3. God takes occasion by the malice, impenitence, and hardness of heart in the wicked, to show his powerful and wonderful, as Pharaoh’s hardness of heart gave occasion to the Lord, to show his wondrous works in Egypt. 4. While the impenitent abusing God’s longamanity, are more hardened in their sins, others in the mean time make good use of the divine patience, and are converted unto repentance: as in Egypt, though Pharaoh became worse, yet many of the Egyptians were humbled by these plagues, and were turned unto God, and joined unto his people. 5. God uses patience toward some, for the example, encouragement, and confirmation of others, that they should not despair of the goodness of God: as S. Paul says, that “Jesus Christ might first show on me all long suffering, unto the example of them, that in time to come, shall believe in him to eternal life,” 1. Timoth. 1.16.

Quest. 7. Whether the leading of men to repentance by God’s long sufferance, argues that they are not reprobate.

It will be here objected, that seeing the long sufferance of God calls all unto repentance, and whom he would have repent, he would have saved: it seems then, that none are rejected or reprobate, whom the Lord so invites and calls unto repentance.

Answer. 1. Such as are effectually called unto repentance by God’s patience and long suffering, are indeed elected: for the elect only are effectually called to repentance, but such as abuse God’s patience, and are impenitent still, may not withstanding be in the state of reprobation: for though the same means be offered unto them to bring them to repentance, yet they have not the grace: the decree then concerning the rejecting of such impenitent persons, and the offer of such means, as might lead them unto repentance, may very well stand together: because it is of their own hardness of heart that the means offered are not effectual. 2. And thus also another objection may be answered, that if it be God’s will, that such should come to repentance, whether the malice of man therein can resist the will of God: for, if it were God’s absolute will and good pleasure, that such should come unto repentance, no man could resist it: God is able to change and turn the most impenitent and hard heart, if it pleased him: But here we must distinguish between effectual calling, which always takes place and none can hinder it, and calling not effectual, yet sufficient if men did not put in a bar by their own hardness of heart: God’s absolute will then is not resisted, when men come not to repentance: for his will is to leave such to themselves by his just judgment: and not to give them of his effectual grace, Faius. Now hereof no hereof no other reason can be given, why God does not give his effectual grace to all, but his good pleasure, as our Blessed Savior says, Matth. 11.26. “It is so Father, because thy good pleasure is such.

Source: Andrew Willet, Hexapla: That is, A Six-fold Commentarie upon the most Diuine Epistle of the holy Apostle. S. Pavl to the Romanes (Printed by Cantrell Legge, Printer to the the Vniversitie of Cambridge, 1611), 104-105.

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