By reason of failures in our character and faults in our life, we are not capable of understanding all the separate beauties, and the united perfection of the character of Christ, or of God, his Father.
Men will misunderstand him, because they are imperfect themselves, and are not capable of admiring the character of God.
Now, this is especially true with regard to certain lights and shadows in the character of God, which he has so marvellously blended in the perfection of his nature: that although we cannot see the exact point of meeting, yet (if we have been at all enlightened by the Spirit) we are struck with wonder at the sacred harmony.
The absence of any one of these things from the character of God would have rendered it imperfect; the presence of them both, though we may not see how they can be congruous with each other, stamps the character of God with a perfection elsewhere unknown.
Let us begin with the first characteristic of God. He is said to be “SLOW TO ANGER.” Let me declare the attribute, and then trace it to its source.
First, I will prove that he is “slow to anger,” because he never smites without first threatening. Men who are passionate and swift in anger give a word and a blow, sometimes the blow first and the word afterwards.
But again God is also very slow to threaten. Although he will threaten before, he condemns, yet he is slow even in his threatening.
But, best of all, when God threatens, how slow he is to sentence the criminal! When he has told them that he will punish unless they repent, how long a space he gives them, in which to turn unto himself!
Yes, the Lord was slow to anger, slow to write the sentence, even though the command had been broken, and the threatening was therefore of necessity brought into force.
He is slow to anger, again, because he is great. Little things are always swift in anger, great things are not so.
The Lord is slow to anger, and he is slow to anger, because he is great in power.
God is great in power, and therefore doth he keep in his anger. A man who has a strong mind can bear to be insulted, can bear offenses, because he is strong.
We bless God that the greatness of his power is just our protection, he is slow to anger because he is great in power.
The last attribute, and the most terrible one, is, “HE WILL NOT AT ALL ACQUIT THE WICKED.” Let me unfold this, first of all, and then let me, after that, endeavor to trace it also to its source, as I did the first attribute. God “will not acquit the wicked;” how prove I this? I prove it thus. Never once has he pardoned an unpunished sin; not in all the years of the Most High, not in all the days of his right hand, has he once blotted out sin without punishment. What! say you, were not those in heaven pardoned? Are there not many transgressors pardoned, and do they not escape without punishment? Has be not said, “I have blotted out thy transgressions like a cloud, and like a thick cloud thine iniquities?” Yes, true, most true, and yet my assertion is true also not one of all those sins that have been pardoned were pardoned without punishment.
Sin is still punished, though the sinner is delivered.
And now we trace this terrible attribute to its source. Why is this? We reply, God will not acquit the wicked, because he is good. What! doth goodness demand that sinners shall be punished? It doth.
God is infinitely just, and his justice demands that men should be punished, unless they turn to him with full purpose of heart. Need I pass through all the attributes of God to prove it? Methinks I need not. We must all of us believe that the God who is slow to anger and great in power is also sure not to acquit the wicked.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible