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Elanathan Parr (1577-1622) on the Longsuffering of God

April 9, 2009

Parr:

Vers. 22. Indured with long-suffering the Vessels of wrath.

In these words is contained the Act we speak of, first is enduring; amplified two ways: First by the manner, which long-suffering. Second, by the object, The Vessels of Wrath.

Long-suffering is a dilation of revenge, though we be provoked. Though the Greek word be here translated long-suffering, yet properly God cannot suffer; for all things are active in God’ and whatsoever suffers or is patient, fails either in the essence, faculty or Energy. The word here used, is hard to be translated into our Tongue, we borrow from the Latins to express it in one word, by Longanimity. Between the Longanimity and Patience, Chrysostom observes this : difference: Longanimity is toward them of whom we can; Patience toward them of whom we cannot be revenged [Chrys. hom. 2 in Epist. ad Colos.]. So also Augustine, Patience is said of God, not that he suffers any evil, but because he expects sinners to conversion [Aug. l. de pars].

Doct.
God is patient towards sinners, even Reprobates Joel 2:13, Roms 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9. He endured Cain a long time, suffered him to live to build cities, to beget children. So he suffered Saul, Judas, &c.

Use 1.
Be thou patient after the example of thy Heavenly Father; whose child how art thou, if thou suffers not, but repays injuries? Socrates an Heathen Philosopher, would willingly neither suffer, nor do any wrong; but if he must choose one, he would rather choose to suffer than to do But what speak we of Heathen, when we have God himself patient toward the Reprobates?

Say not, I will recompense evil. God himself yet bears with a number of hell-hounds, Reprobates. Christ is not yet revenged, nor the blood of the Satins. Will thou be moved at a cross word, and thirst after Revenge? It may be sweet to the flesh, but it is hateful to God. If thou has put up wrong once or twice, thou thinks thyself worthy to be chronicled, as a rare example of Patience. How many thousand times has thou provoked God, and yet he forebears thee? Do thou likewise reward thy neighbor. Remember the Parable of the merciless debtor [Matt. 18.]. Give the pardon thou asks; Forgive, that thou may be forgiven. When thou cannot so bridle thy affections, that being provoked, and in thy power to revenge; and yet for conscience toward God thou forebears think thou has profited; that argues true Nobleness [Posse &c nolle nobile.]

Use 2.
For God to bear with his children which provoke him, is much; but to suffer his enemies, who seek not his favor, and are the worse because they are forborne, to suffer a drunkard, whoremonger, &c., to live long, and have a great means, and to hold his hands, must argue an infinite perfection.

Alas, what had become of the best of us if there were not such longanimity [Makrothumia]in God? We had not lived to read of these tings. God might have taken us away in our sins; if he had called us out of this world some ten or twenty years ago, before we had repented, how should we have done? If he had used Martial Law to Manasses, Paul, Mary Magdalen, they had not shined now to the comfort of sinners: He suffered the ill-manners (the word is significant [etropophoresen. Acts 13:18]) of the Israelites in the Wilderness. Consider thou which reads, how long he suffered thee: let it move thee to repentance, and to praise his patience.

Use 3.
Here is comfort to poor sinners: God is patient toward Reprobates, much more will he be toward the Elect. He which long forbears Tyrants, Drunkards, Enemies, will he be hasty and inexorable towards his children? If he spare them which never grieve for their sins, never regard his Word; will he not much more spare them which repent that they have offended him, which tremble at his word, and seek his favor? If the Reprobate fare so well, much more will he abound to us, in all riches of grace and consolation.

Elnathan Parr, The Works of that faithfull and painful Preacher, Mr Elnathan Parr (London: Printed by Ed Griffin and Wil. Hunt, 1651), 109-110.

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