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Hugh Binning (1627–1653) on 2 Peter 3:9 and the Long-Suffering of God

March 11, 2009

Binning:

1) Nay, but saith the convinced soul, I know not if he will he merciful to me, for  what am I? There is nothing in me to be regarded. I have nothing to conciliate favour, and all that may procure hatred. But, saith the Lord, I am ‘gracious,’ and dispense mercy freely, without respect to condition or qualification. Say not, if I had such a measure of humiliation as such a one,–if I loved him so much,–if I bad so much godly sorrow and repentance,–then, I think he would be merciful to me. Say not so, for behold he is gracious. He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; and there is no other cause, no motive to procure it; it comes from within his own breast. It is not thy repentance will make him love thee, nor thy hardness of heart will make him hate thee or obstruct the vent of his grace towards thee. No! if it be grace, it is no more of works,-not works in that way that thou imagines. It is not of repentance, not of faith in that sense thou conceives; but it is freely, without the hire, without the price of repentance or faith, because all those are but the free gifts of grace. Thou would have these graces to procure his favor, and to make them the ground of thy believing in his promises but grace is without money. It immediately contracts with discovered misery, so that if thou do discover in thyself misery and sin, though thou find nothing else, yet do not cast away confidence, but so much the more address thyself to mercy and grace, which do not seek repentance in thee, but bring repentance and faith with them unto thee. Yet there is something in the awakened conscience. I have gone on long in sin; I have been a presumptuous sinner; can he endure me longer? Well hear what the Lord saith, I am ‘long-suffering’ and patient. And if he had not been so, we had been damned ere now. Patience hath a long term, and we cannot outrun it, outweary it.–Why do we not wonder that he presently and instantly executed his wrath on angels, and gave them not: one hour’s space for repentance, but cast them down headlong into destruction, as in a moment; and yet his majesty hath so long delayed the execution of our sentence, and calls us unto repentance and forgiveness, that we may escape the condemnation of angels? His patience is not slackness and negligence, as men count it, 2 Pet. iii. 9. He sits not in heaven as an idol, and idle spectator of what men are doing; but he observes all wrongs, and is sensible of them also. And if we were mindful and sensible of them also, he would forget them. He is long-suffering. This is extended and stretched-out patience beyond all expectation, beyond all deserving, yea contrary to it.. Therefore, as long as he forbears, if thou apprehend thy misery and sin, and continuance in it; do not conclude that it is desperate. ‘Why should a living man complain?‘ As long as patience lengthens thy life, if thou desire to come to him, believe he will accept thee. Hugh Binning, “The Common Principles of the Christian Religion,” in The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 51 [Some spelling modernized, underlining mine.]

2) Now, as the spider sucks poison out of the sweetest flower, so the most part of souls suck nothing but delusion and presumption and hardening out of the gospel. Many souls reason for more liberty to sin, from mercy. But behold, how the Lord backs it with a dreadful word, ‘who will. by no means clear the guilty.’ As many as do not condemn themselves before the tribunal of justice, there is no rescinding of the condemnatory sentence, but it stands above their heads, , he that believes not is condemned already.’ Justice hath condemned all by a sentence. He that doth not, in the sense of this, flee unto Jesus Christ from sin and wrath, is already condemned. His sentence is standing. There needs no new one. Since he flees not to mercy for absolution, the. sentence of condemnation stands unrepealed. You guilty souls who clear yourselves, God will not clear you. And, alas! how many of you do clear yourselves! Do you not extenuate and mince your sins? How hard is it to extort any confession of guilt out of you, but in the general! If we condescend to particulars, many of you will plead innocency almost in every thing, though you have, like children, learned to speak these words that ye are sinners. I beseech you consider it; it is no light matter, for’ God will by no means clear the guilty;’ by no means, by no entreaties, no flatteries. ‘What! Will he not pardon sin? Yes indeed: his name tells you he will pardon all kind of sins, and absolve all manner of guilty persons: but yet such as do condemn themselves, such as are guilty in their own conscience, and their mouths stopped before God,–you who do not enter into the serious examination of your ways, and do not arraign yourselves before God’s tribunal daily, till you find yourselves loathsome and desperate, and no refuge for you,–you who do flatter yourselves always in the hope of heaven, and put the fear of hell always from you,–I say, God will by no means, no prayers, no entreaties, clear or pardon you, because you come not to Jesus Christ, in whom is preached forgiveness and remission of sins. You who take liberty to sin, because God is gracious, and delay repentance till the end, because God is Long-suffering,-know God God will not clear you; he is holy and just. as he is merciful. If his mercy make thee not fear and tremble before him, and do not separate thee from thy sins,–if remission of sins be not the strongest persuasion to thy soul of the removing of sin,–certainly thou dost in vain presume upon his mercy.  Hugh Binning, “The Common Principles of the Christian Religion,” in The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), 52-53. [Some spelling modernized, underlining mine.]

3) I know there will be some secret whisperings in your hearts upon the hearing of this. Oh! it is true; it is a most comfortable thing for them whose advocate he is. There is no fear of the miscarrying of their cause above; but as for me, I know not if he be an advocate for me, whether I may come into that sentence, ‘We have an advocate,’ &c. I confess it is true, he is not an advocate for everyone, for while he was here, he prayed not for the world, but them that were given him out of the world, (John xvii.); much more will he not plead for the world, when he is above. He is rather witnessing against the unbelieving world. But yet, I believe his advocation is not restrained only to those who actually believe, as neither his supplication was, John xvii. But as he prayed for those who should hereafter believe, so he still pleads for all the elect, not only to procure remission to the penitent, but repentance to the impenitent. There is one notable effect of the advocation and intercession of Christ, which indeed is common to the world, but particularly intended for the elect, that is, the present suspension of the execution of the curse of the law, by virtue whereof there is liberty to offer the gospel, and call sinners to repentance. No question, the sparing of the world, the forbearance and long-suffering of God towards sinners, is the result and fruit of our Lord’s intercession and advocation in heaven; and so, even the elect have the benefit of it before they believe; but it is so provided, that they shall never sensibly know this, nor have any special comfort from it, till they believe, and so Christ doth not plead for pardon to their sins til they repent. Be pleads even before we repent, but we cannot know it; yet he pleads not that pardon be bestowed before they repent, and so the saving efficacy of his advocation is peculiar and proper in the application to believing souls. Hugh Binning, “Fellowship with God,”in The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), Sermon 26, 349. [Some spelling modernized, underlining mine.]

4) The words are very comprehensive. Ye shall find in them the different manifestations of God in his word, reduced to two heads. The Lord either mourns to us to make us mourn, or joys to us to make us dance. A similitude and likeness is the end of all the manifestations of himself, that we be one with him. Therefore when he would move our affections in us, he puts on the like, and clothes himself, in his word and dispensation, with such a habit as is suitable. So ye have both law and gospel. He laments in the one, he pipes in the other. Both sad and glad dispensations of his providence may be subordinate to these; the one, I mean his judgments, representing that to our eyes which his law did to our ears, making that visible of his justice, which we heard; the other, I mean mercies, represents that to our eyes, which the gospel did to our ears, making his good-will, his forbearance, and long-suffering, and compassion visible, that men might say, ‘As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of our God.’ Now these should stir up suitable affections in men. This is their intendment and purpose, to stir up joy and grief, sorrow for sin, on the one hand, and joy in the Lord’s salvation on the other hand; hatred of sin by the one, and the love of Christ by the other. Hugh Binning, “Several Sermons Upon the Most Important Subjects of Practical Religion,” Practical Sermons in The Works of the Rev. Hugh Binning (Ligonier, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1992), Sermon 10, 594-595. [Some spelling modernized, underlining mine.]

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