Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing (epiphany) of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;  Titus 2:13

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CHAPTER V.

 

THE SECONDARY GRACES OF GOD'S

CHARACTER.

 

DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN PRIMARY AND SECONDARY GRACES. MODESTY. INDUSTRIOUSNESS. LONGSUFFERING. FORBEARANCE. FORGIVENESS. COURAGE. CANDOR. LIBERALITY.

 

IN THE preceding three chapters we have been studying God's attributes. In the second we discussed fourteen of His attributes of being, and in the third and fourth chapters we treated on the elements and the primary attributes of God's character. We learned that a primary attribute of character is a quality expressed by the direct activity of an affection-organ, e.g., faith, a higher primary grace, is the quality exercised by the direct activity of the affection-organ called spirituality; and peace, a lower primary grace, is the quality exercised by the direct activity of the affection-organ called rest. Secondary graces do not have affection-organs which, by exercising themselves directly, express such graces. Rather, these act through the higher graces, laying hold on the lower affection-organs and suppressing their efforts to control us, e.g., if self-esteem is permitted to control us, we will be exercising pride, arrogance, self-exaltation, etc., which are disgraces, not graces; but if the higher primary graces—faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love and charity—lay hold of and suppress self-esteem's efforts to control us, the result will be the expression of the quality, humility, a secondary grace. This illustration shows: (1) that humility does not exercise itself through the direct activity of the affection-organ of self-esteem, nor through the direct activity of any other affection-organ, as the quality expression of that organ; but (2) that it results from certain graces suppressing the efforts of the lower

 

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affection-organ of self-esteem to control us; and (3) that the secondary graces sustain a negative relation to the lower affection-organs, arising as they do from higher primary graces suppressing the efforts of the lower affection-organs to control us. Thus the suppression of the affection-organ of love for rest from controlling us develops industriousness, of the affection-organ of combativeness from controlling us develops longsuffering, of the affection-organ of destructiveness from controlling us develops forbearance and forgiveness, and so with the other lower affection-organs. It is this suppressive feature connected with the expressions of the secondary graces that prompt some to speak of them, not as secondary, but as negative or passive graces.

 

Not only do the secondary graces have no affection-organs that are their direct agencies of expression, and not only are they derived, or dependent graces, but they are dependent graces from another standpoint. They cannot be permitted to control, but must act or not act as the higher primary graces dictate, if their action or non-action be proper; for if one should allow a secondary grace to control in what the higher primary grace demands that it should not act, wrong would result, e.g., the husband and father who longsufferingly permits his wife and children to disregard his headship in the family to the displacement of him as the family's head and to the consequent moral injury of the wife and children, allows longsuffering to act controllingly in a situation where the higher primary graces forbid such action. And such exercise of longsuffering is wrong—it has ceased to be a virtue, and has become a fault. What such a situation requires is the suppression of such longsuffering by the higher primary graces laying hold on combativeness or destructiveness and using it as a servant of righteousness in making the husband's and father's headship in the' family to be respected by the

 

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recalcitrant wife and children. But while so doing he must not permit combativeness or destructiveness to control, but by the higher primary graces must exercise such control over combativeness or destructiveness as will permit the longsuffering necessary to make certain allowances for the weaknesses of the wife and children, so that proper conditions may be re-established as gently and peaceably as can be done compatibly with its re-establishment. The same principle, whose activity we have just illustrated in the case of longsuffering, applies to all the other secondary graces— they are not masters, nor equals, but servants of the higher primary graces.

 

The Scriptures, ascribing to God the secondary graces, prove that He has them. Many of them are expressly by name ascribed to Him in the Bible, and the others are implied there, as being in Him. Thus the Bible teaches that God has humility, modesty, industriousness, longsuffering, forbearance, forgiveness, bravery, candor, liberality, temperance, (symbolic) chastity, impartiality, etc. We will not discuss all of these in this article; but will take up most of them for consideration. While describing self-esteem as one of God's lower primary graces, we sufficiently discussed God's humility for the purposes of this chapter, and will therefore now pass it by and take up another as the first secondary grace for our study, the grace of modesty.

 

By modesty we understand the quality whereby one exercises reticence, and instead of feeling over-sensitive at reproach and unpopularity, conducts himself unostentatiously and unabashedly before others. This definition shows the negative relation of modesty to approbativeness, and this proves the correctness of the definition; for proper modesty results from the higher primary graces suppressing the efforts of approbativeness to control. Approbativeness desires the good opinion of others, and when this

 

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can be exercised in harmony with the higher primary graces, it is proper, and is thus a lower primary grace. But if it were allowed to control these higher primary graces, instead of being controlled by them, it would feel oversensitive and too deeply hurt in feeling—touchy—when such good opinion is withheld, or when criticism and unpopularity arise; or to prevent such unpopularity or oversensitiveness it would compromise principle; as also, if it were allowed to control these graces instead of being controlled by them, it would, to win others' approval, seek to show off in more or less affectation, ostentatiousness and vanity. Thus its rulership to the setting aside of the rulership of the higher primary graces, results in the disgraces of touchiness, ostentatiousness and vanity. But the suppression of its efforts to control by the higher primary graces produces the secondary grace of modesty, which remains unabashed amid criticism and unpopularity, unspoiled and simple amid praise, and properly reticent before others at all times. God has this quality in perfection.

 

God has been much misrepresented and criticized and has been more or less unpopular. Those who represent Him as cruel, through the teaching of eternal torment, the consciousness of the dead and the absolute predestination of some angels and the human family to sin and death, the absolute reprobation of the non-elect to eternal torment and the damnation of infants, idiots and unenlightened heathen to eternal torment, certainly misrepresent Him and give Him a bad reputation among many of our race. Those who represent Him as non-existent, or as an impersonal force, as nature, or as weak, unwise, unjust and loveless, certainly misrepresent Him and give Him a bad name among those whom they can convince. Those who blame Him for their lot in life, their troubles and misfortunes, or who are full of murmuring and complaint, certainly criticize Him. And who will deny

 

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that such misrepresentations and criticisms have not made Him unpopular among many? In many cases they have led people to despise and dishonor Him and to bring Him into scorn, ridicule, mockery and execration. For over six thousand years He has been thus reproached, but amid such reproaches and unpopularity He has remained modest. He has not allowed Himself to feel over-sensitive about this evil treatment. Touchiness has not characterized Him amid such experiences. We do not say that He has not felt these criticisms, misrepresentations and infamies; for God certainly has the quality of approbativeness whereby He desires the good opinion of others; but His not having gotten it has not hurt His feelings overmuch. Never has He stooped to compromising His principles to gain the good opinion of His creatures. He has ever remained loyal to His principles and course, however unpopular they have been; and they certainly have been such among the heathen and among His nominal people. He has been content to be misunderstood and misrepresented and to suffer the consequent unpopularity, since the principles of wisdom, justice, love and power called upon Him to undergo these. So He has maintained modesty in its reticence and unabashedness.

 

Nor has He allowed the facts, that He desires the esteem of His creatures, and that He has received it from the better of these, to make Him put on affectation and ostentatiousness and feel vain. He knows that the good angels hold Him in the highest esteem. He also knows that the faithful among men regard Him highly. But to get this He has not put on affectation and ostentatiousness. Nor does the fact that He receives this make Him vain and pompous. He receives it, because He knows that it is in the best interests of those who give it, and He rejoices with them in the blessing they receive by giving it to Him. Thus He, from this standpoint, exercises a glorious

 

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modesty in unostentatiousness. Therefore, by remaining unabashed and uncorrupted amid misrepresentations, despisings and unpopularity, by remaining unaffected and unostentatious amid His desire to receive the approval of His creatures and by keeping free from vanity while getting the latter's approval, He shows a most noble exercise of the quality of modesty, which is kept active by the graces of wisdom, justice, love and power, perfectly controlling His desire for the approval of others. And in this He gives us an example most worthy of our appreciation and imitation.

 

Certainly, if God were over-sensitive, He would have been having an exceedingly disagreeable time from His experiences with misrepresentations, criticisms and unpopularity. And if there were anything of vanity and ostentatiousness in Him He would have elaborated systems of ceremonies and successions of spectacles revolving about Him as a center in such a way as to give ostentatiousness and vanity full play. Instead, we find Him to be modesty itself. Where is the elaborate ritual directing every motion, word, tone and look connected with an approach to Him? On the contrary, in modesty and simplicity He is pleased with those who worship Him in spirit and in truth, regardless of forms, ceremonies, rituals, rites, etc. God's modesty and simplicity enable Him to dispense with these and with elaborate temples where they are in vogue, and to dwell with the poor and contrite in spirit, full of reverence for His Person, Character, Plan and Work, and to make them, however despised by man, His temple, in which holy qualities offer the sacrifice and the incense.

 

The next of God's secondary graces that we would consider is His industriousness. This quality, being a secondary grace, must result from the higher primary grace suppressing the controlling activity of some lower affection-organ. The affection-organ here concerned in the suppression of its control is

 

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love for ease. This affection-organ properly exercised in its activities by Divine wisdom, justice, love and power, manifests itself in restfulness and peace in God. And the suppression of its controllership produces industriousness. The disgrace that we would develop, if we allowed the love of ease to control us, is laziness. There is no laziness in God; on the contrary, its opposite is in Him— industriousness, and that because His wisdom, justice, love and power, suppress the controllership of His love for ease. God is very active. Great was His industriousness in planning for, in assembling the materials, and in doing the work of creation, which includes every law, force, sun, planet, etc., of the universe, as well as the created beings therein. And this vast universe is the sphere of His providential work, whereby He preserves, supports and governs all things therein. Some of His activities have spent themselves in making the Divine Plan of the Ages. In the outworking of this plan, He performed the work of emptying the Logos of His prehuman nature, honor and work, and of making Him a perfect human being, whereby He might become God's agent in the work of redemption. In the carrying out of that work He recreated Him to another plane of being—the Divine—while sacrificing His human nature for mankind.

 

And God's activities have also embraced the Church. He has by Christ taught the Church, as due, the Truth that shines for them on the height, depth, length and breadth of the Divine person, character, plan and works. He likewise effected as one of His works the justification of believers, and working on them by His Word and providence He brought them to consecration and spirit-begettal in the time for that work. Further activities of His have enabled His past Faithful and are now enabling His present Faithful to lay down their humanity sacrificially for His Plan, while His industriousness has throughout the Gospel Age

 

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been recreating them as new creatures for the Divine nature. Similarly, He is working on the Great Company to prepare them for a change of nature; and He is working on the Youthful Worthies, in the same general manner as He wrought on the Ancient Worthies, to make them perfect human beings on earth for the Millennium. He will finish such creative work for these four elect classes in the beginning of the Millennium by bringing them to perfect existence on their three planes of being; and at the end of the Millennium, so far as the Ancient and Youthful Worthies are concerned, He will add the finishing touches of His creative work on them by raising them to spirit existence. Much and constant and varied work must be done on these four elect classes to fit them for their final planes of being, millennially and post-millennially.

 

But this is not all, so far as God's plan respecting man is concerned. There is a larger, though less exalted, feature of it as respects the non-elect. Creatively He is permitting evil to afflict them, so as to teach them by experience the terrible nature and fearful effects of sin. To bring this experience about, He timed man's creation so as to bring a sufficient number of humans into existence while the earth is in a condition unprepared to support perfect life, and this insures the experience with evil for the fallen race. But this is only a preparatory step to a greater one—the experience with righteousness, amid which man will undergo a regeneration unto perfection, for which experience with righteousness the earth will be prepared unto perfection. These two experiences are but the two features of a creative process as respects mankind, whereby a perfect race will be brought into existence, illustrating the reign of moral law forever; while those who will refuse to use such a creative process in harmony with this reign of moral law will be destroyed forever. A similar activity marks God as respects those of the angels who have fallen into

 

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sin. Thus we see that He has been active and will continue to a completion His activity as respects His plan for man and angels. The making and executing of this plan demonstrates God's industriousness.

The Scriptures indicate further fields of God's activities, so far as the creation and preservation of other beings not yet created are concerned. In telling us that in the Ages to come God will show forth the exceeding riches of His kindness in and by the Elect, in speaking of them as Heirs of God and Joint-heirs with Christ as respects the universe, and in speaking of their kingdom increasing without end, the Bible implies that in the Ages to come they will develop their inheritance. This implies not only the perfecting of the various worlds about us, but the bringing into existence of various orders of beings as their inhabitants and fitting them through their remaining in harmony with moral law for eternal existence. Thus a separate plan or feature of a plan will be for each distinct order of beings, and the making of such plans, as well as the carrying out of them, will be manifestations of God's industriousness. His love of rest will be suppressed from controllership, and as a result His industriousness will be active through the controllership of His love of ease by His higher graces.

 

The character of God's works is seen in the following passages: Gen. 1: 10, 18, 21, 25; Deut. 32: 4; Ps. 26: 7; 33: 4; 40: 5; 66: 3; 86: 8; 92: 4; 111: 2, 4, 6; Eccles. 3: 11, 14. His creative works are treated on in the following passages: Gen. 1: 1-31; 2: 1-4, 7; Neh. 9: 6; Job 9: 8, 9; 12: 7-9; 28: 23-26; 37: 16, 18; 38: 4-38; Ps. 104: 2, 3, 5, 6, 24, 30. His works of providence are described in the following passages: Gen. 1: 29, 30; 8: 22; 49: 24, 25; Lev. 25: 20-22; 26 4-6, 10; Deut. 7: 13-15; 32: 11-14; Job 5: 6-11; Matt. 5: 45; 6: 26, 30-33; Rom. 8: 28. The following passages show His redemptive work: John 3: 16, 17; Rom. 8: 32; 2 Cor. 5: 18; 1 Tim. 4: 10; 2 Tim. 1: 9;

 

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Tit. 2: 10; 1 John 4: 9, 10. The following passages set forth His teaching work: Is. 55: 13; Dan. 2: 20-22, 28; John 8: 26, 28; 12: 49, 50; 14: 10, 24; 15: 15; 17: 18, 26. The following passages treat of His justifying work: Rom. 3: 21-30; 4: 5-25; 8: 30-33; 1 Cor. 1: 30; 6: 11; Gal. 3: 8; Tit. 3: 7. The following passages treat of His sanctifying work: John 17: 17; Acts 26: 17; Rom. 6: 1-11; 15: 16; 1 Cor. 1: 2, 30; Eph. 1: 3, 4; Col. 2: 11, 12; 1 Thes. 4: 3, 4; 5: 23; 2 Thes. 2: 13; 2 Tim. 2: 11, 12, 21; Heb. 2: 11; 1 Pet. 1: 2; Jude 1. The following passages show that He delivers: Matt. 6: 13; 1 Cor. 1: 30; 2 Cor. 1: 10; 12: 8, 9; Gal. 1: 4; Col. 1: 13; 2 Tim. 3: 11; 4: 17, 18; 2 Pet. 2: 9. Thus we see that the Bible teaches that God is active—industrious.

 

Longsuffering is the third of God's secondary graces that we will study. The word is almost self-explanatory. If asked for a definition of it, we might suggest the following: Longsuffering is a calm and unresentful carriage of oneself amid naturally exasperating conditions. It characterizes both the internal feelings and the external acts. It exercises itself amid untoward and disagreeable conditions. These conditions naturally are oppositional or exasperating to their subjects. The average man amid them loses his temper and becomes angry, because they provoke his resentment. This fact shows that one's combativeness has been aroused by these oppositional or exasperating conditions to the resenting of them in anger and displeasure. Hence longsuffering bears a relation to combativeness. This relation is not that longsuffering is an expression of combativeness, for it is not. None of the secondary graces has an affection-organ for its expression. Longsuffering is, generally speaking, the opposite of combativeness; and it results, when properly exercised, from the higher primary graces suppressing the controllership of combativeness. When people say or do things that tend to

 

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arouse our opposition in combativeness, i.e., to arouse our anger and displeasure, and we by faith, hope, self-control, patience, piety, brotherly love or charity, suppress the efforts of such anger to control us, we exercise longsuffering. It is one of the most passive of graces; and in a strong character it is one of the hardest to exercise. Indeed in a strong character it implies the presence of large balance of character.

 

God has this quality in richest measure. God's position as the supreme and absolute Ruler and the presence of sin among men and some angels, furnish the conditions that contain very many elements tending to exasperation in God. The ingratitude of men and demons toward God is one of these conditions. The fact that they fell into sin, though created perfect and averse to sin, is another of these. The substitution of other beings and things in His place as the supreme thing in their affections is another of these. The blasphemies of which they have been guilty in ascribing to Him characteristics, plans and works that are foreign to Him, in denying Him such characteristics, plans and works as are His, in ascribing to others such characteristics, plans and works as are exclusively His, and in speaking irreverently of Him, furnish another set of conditions tending to exasperation. Another of these is the unbelief that denies His existence or personality, that limits the scope of His interests and activities, that rejects His revelation and plan, that distrusts His character, word and works, and that trusts persons or things other than Him in matters wherein they should trust Him. Another of these is the insubordination of subjects to higher powers in family, state, school, business, etc. Another of these is demoniacal and human unkindness to fellows, expressing itself in minor forms of unkindness, increasingly so in its worse forms and culminatingly so in the worst form—of taking life. Another of these is the violation of solemn vows made to God,

 

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or to man in general, or to husband and wife in particular. Still another of these is the violation of the property rights of others, increasingly from petty objects to empires. Another of these is the violation of veracity, with respect to self or others, gradually descending from "white lies" to the worst forms of misrepresentation and perjury. Another of these is the greediness that seeks, regardless of others' rights, to possess oneself of what is others' at the latters' loss. And what shall we say more? For sin's ramifications are almost limitless, and every one of them is an affront to God, being, as they are, acts of rebellion against His authority and law. Yet, amid these conditions, how longsuffering God has been!

 

Many are the Scriptures treating of His longsuffering. He allowed antediluvian wickedness a long time before He set the limit of it 120 years further on, by a flood (Gen. 6: 3). He restrained for hundreds of years His anger against the Amorites, letting them fill up their iniquity before manifesting it (Gen. 15: 16). To Moses the Lord declared Himself longsuffering as respects sinners (Ex. 34: 6; Num.

14: 18). The Psalmist in highest poetic flights praises God's longsuffering (Ps. 86: 15; 103: 8-10). Isaiah takes up the strain and carries it to a high pitch (Is. 30: 18; 48: 9, 11). How pathetically God's longsuffering with Israel is described by Jeremiah as: "rising up early and speaking, but ye heard [heeded] not," and as: sending them the prophets, "daily rising up early and sending them" (Jer. 7: 13, 23-25). Ezekiel tells the same story (Ezek. 20: 17). Joel extols it as a reason for Israel's repentance (Joel 2: 13). Habakkuk shows that God is longsuffering with those who oppress His people and servants (Hab. 1: 2-4). Jesus declares that it was due to God's longsuffering that God permitted more than one ground for divorce in the Old Testament (Matt. 19: 8). God's longsuffering is parabolically set forth in Matt. 21: 33-41. Most

 

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eloquently and pathetically is God's longsuffering with Jerusalem and Israel set forth in Matt. 23: 37, even to attempting to gather them as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings. Still in another parable, that of the barren fig tree, is the Lord's longsuffering set forth by Jesus (Luke 13: 6-9). St. Paul tells of God's Old Testament longsuffering with the nations (Acts 16: 16; 17: 30). Such longsuffering has shown itself even to those who have despised it and other noble qualities in God (Rom. 2: 4). It was exercised toward people in their past sins in view of the sacrifice of Christ (Rom. 3: 25). It also has characterized God in His dealings with those fitted for wrath and those fitted for mercy (Rom. 9: 22, 23). St. Peter calls special attention to it as it was exercised in the days of Noah before the flood (1 Pet. 3: 20). He also shows that its exercise is a reason for our hoping for salvation (2 Pet. 3: 9, 15). Even with the wicked papal church, as antitypical Jezebel (Rev. 2: 21), did God exercise longsuffering, giving her space to repent, as He has also done with Protestant sectarianism since the Reformation.

 

And does not history corroborate the teachings of these Scriptures as to God's longsuffering? The 6,000 years of the reign of evil mightily prove God's longsuffering. The iniquity of the antediluvians, of Sodom and the other cities of the plain attests it. Egypt's oppression of Israel and the gradual increase in the severity of the plagues testify to it. Israel's wilderness experience is replete with examples of it. The fearful and long-drawn-out iniquities of the seven nations of Canaan demonstrate it. The many and long oppressions of the Israelites by various nations in the period of the judges declare it. God's dealings with the Israelites desiring a king and the headiness of Saul, their first king, manifest it. How many occasions for its exercise were furnished by the wayward and checkered course of the Israelites under their

 

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kings! How great was the longsuffering of God toward the Gentile nations in their 2520 years of treading down Israel, as it has also been amid the great wrongs that the Gentile nations have wrought upon one another in "nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom" in disregard of right!

 

But the greatest sphere in the exercise of God's longsuffering has been evidenced in His quietly permitting the injustice done by the nominal people of God against the real people of God. It was one of the hardest tests of God's longsuffering for Him to stand still at the mistreatment that His Son Jesus received from Israel. But this was not all; for during nearly forty years longer He quietly allowed the mistreatment that His Jewish Harvest people had to undergo from Jews and Gentiles. Mark His great longsuffering with the Roman Empire during its nearly three centuries' cruel persecution of the early Church. Even greater was His longsuffering that unresentfully stood the many more centuries' pressure on, and oppression of His people by Antichrist—the papacy. For Him to hear their wrongs crying out for vindication and yet waiting until the last one of them was put on the altar for sacrificial death in 1914 before His vengeance began to strike their oppressors (Rev. 6: 9-11) is a most marvelous piece of longsuffering. Let us not forget that God loves His faithful people as His dearest treasure. This treasure He could have permitted seeing so grossly mistreated without striking down their injurers, only by the exercise of the greatest longsuffering. His over 6,000 years' quiet carrying of Himself amid the oppositions of Satan and His nearly 4,500 years' quiet carrying of Himself amid the other fallen angels' opposition, will forever stand as the supreme example of longsuffering, containing as it does all forms of exasperating circumstances.

 

And to each one of us individually is God's longsuffering a matter of great moment. As all of us

 

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look over our past life we note many a wrong, many a slip, many an omission, many a failure and many a lack, to remain quiet under which called upon God to exercise longsuffering with us. Some of us became His early in life, but have not profited as we should have done and have in some cases yielded almost no fruit. Some of us have perhaps spent the larger part of our life in the service of sin, error, selfishness and worldliness, and the little that we have had left to give Him, compared with the much that we have wasted, seems almost negligible. Yet He has been kind and longsuffering toward us, waiting long and lovingly for us to respond to His drawings. Our best efforts are but lame and halt when measured by the rule of perfection. And it certainly takes longsuffering to count them perfect as He does in the merit of our Lord and Savior. If He should give up being longsuffering with us, our case would be helpless and hopeless. But He never does, as long as our hearts remain right with Him. And it is this glorious quality manifesting itself so unweariedly toward us that St. Peter encourages us to account as salvation (2 Pet. 3: 9, 15), because through its exercise we can gradually be developed unto salvation by grace Divine. Let us therefore laud and magnify God in His longsuffering, and let us allow it to work mightily in us such a spirit of gratitude and appreciation as will impel us to be more faithful and energetic to honor Him and to yield Him more fruit.

 

God's longsuffering, being a secondary grace, cannot be permitted by Him to control Him; for only the higher primary graces have the office of such control. He therefore keeps His longsuffering in perfect control. Hence at times He keeps it in abeyance, suspending its activity. This He does whenever the considerations of wisdom, justice, love and power call for it. Hence we read in the Scriptures of His being angry on certain occasions. This does not mean

 

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that He loses self-control and surrenders Himself to the control of anger. Rather, it implies that He is displeased and in His displeasure in perfect self-possession He proceeds to enforce the requirements of wisdom, justice, love and power, through the exercise of His combativeness. We are not to think of God as being a putty-like character, who good-naturedly will accept every evil course with complacency. On the contrary, He exercises longsuffering only when it will work out some purpose of His wisdom, justice, love and power. But if such a purpose cannot be thereby effected and, on the contrary, if such a purpose would be negatived by longsuffering, He immediately suspends its activity and sets into exercise another quality that will effect such a purpose, because under such circumstances longsuffering ceases to be a virtue—it becomes the reverse. Therefore, we read in the Scriptures of God ceasing to deal longsufferingly and of His taking the aggressive in punishing those whom further longsuffering would injure and whom punishment would advantage or whose punishment would prevent disadvantage to others. Accordingly, whether God will exercise or abstain from exercising longsuffering depends on the demands of wisdom, justice, love and power in each given case. This is proper and shows that God is ruled by principle and not by passion. As such He is all the more adorable, appreciable and imitable.

 

Therefore we find in the Scriptures many examples of God's ceasing to exercise longsuffering. When the antediluvians fully rejected Noah's Divinely given warning, God caused the flood to overthrow the wicked. It was only after the culmination of the sins of Sodom in their ungodly attempt on the two angels that Divine longsuffering ceased and the cities of the plains were given over to destruction. It was only after the unholy sexual excesses of the inhabitants of Canaan threatened to make syphilitic the then known

 

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world that God commissioned Israel to extirpate them. It was due to Pharaoh's and Egypt's sins reaching their double climax that God inflicted death on the firstborn and on the Egyptian host. The same principle is seen as having operated in the history of Midian, Moab, Ammon, Philistia, Phoenicia, Syria, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Judea, Rome and in the ten-languaged nations into which Rome disintegrated. This principle was notably manifest in the World War as the first great feature of the great tribulation, through which, in its revolutionary and anarchistic phases, with accompanying famines and pestilences, not only will every nation as now constituted be destroyed, but also Satan's Empire will go down into irretrievable ruin. And in this supreme catastrophe of all history God's longsuffering with organized evil will have ended for ever, except for a little while after the Millennium it will be allowed a brief opportunity of asserting itself for a final test of the regenerated race. Thereafter iniquity will never be suffered again to open its mouth (Ps. 107: 42); and thereafter there shall be no more sin (1 Cor. 15: 24-26, 54-57); for God's longsuffering toward sin and sinners will forever have ceased, because wisdom, justice, love and power will have then decreed that longsuffering with them will no more be a virtue.

 

But doubtless God's longsuffering will thereafter find other spheres for its activities; yet in such spheres it will not be sin nor sinners that will call it forth; for they will be no more. Nor does the Bible reveal what these conditions will be, further than giving hints along lines of new creations, which, of course, without sin, will be at first immature and without crystallized character. And, mindful of the fact that the things not revealed do not belong to us, but to the Lord, we do well not to speculate on what and how those conditions will be, contenting ourselves with the knowledge that they will be sinless, even though

 

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temporarily immature, so far as the newly-created moral agents of those times are concerned. But what He has so graciously revealed to us of His longsuffering greatly enhances Him in our appreciation and veneration. Truly Jehovah is good and worthy of infinitely more than we are able to give Him; but let us out of devotion to, and appreciation of Him be wholly and always His for His praise, glory and honor.

 

God's forbearance is the next of God's secondary attributes of character that we will study. This attribute and longsuffering are to the average mind the same, but there are differences between them, which the Bible indicates by using them co-ordinately with one another and other qualities (Rom. 2: 4; Col. 2: 12, 13). In the first place they differ as to the affection-organs whose control— suppression by the higher primary graces—produces them. When the higher primary graces suppress the efforts of combativeness to control us, longsuffering results; but when these same graces suppress the efforts of destructiveness to control us, forbearance results. Longsuffering is the opposite of anger, while forbearance is the opposite of rage. Longsuffering excludes resentfulness; forbearance excludes vindictiveness. Longsuffering is exercised amid exasperating circumstances; forbearance amid enraging circumstances. Longsuffering makes one quiet; forbearance makes one mild. We are now by these contrasts prepared to see the difference between them in a definition of each, given one after the other: Longsuffering is a quiet and unresentful carriage of oneself amid naturally exasperating circumstances; forbearance is a mild and unvindictive carriage of oneself amid naturally enraging circumstances. In God this implies that He, by His wisdom, justice, love and power, amid naturally enraging, circumstances suppresses the controllership of destructiveness.

 

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Varied are the circumstances conducive to wrath or rage. Those that inflict real or supposed wrong on one naturally tend to arouse his wrath. Frequently oppositional tactics on the part of others have the same tendency. Then, the observation of these things exercised against persons, principles or things of more or less interest to us, naturally prompts to the exercise of the same quality. Wrongs are continually done to God. His person is wronged by practical and theoretical atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, materialism and polytheism, as well as by the ascription to others of things exclusively belonging to His person or of His exclusive qualities to others or by denying to Him qualities that are His. His character is wronged by refusal to ascribe to it the qualities that belong to it, by ascribing to it qualities that do not belong to it and by ascribing to others qualities that belong exclusively to it. God is further wronged when His Word is perverted by false translation, by misrepresenting its actual teachings and by ascribing to it teachings that it does not contain. Under this head come all the false teachings of infidelism, heathendom, Mohammedanism, Jewry and Christendom on faith, practice and organization. Chiefly this has been done by the doctrines that make God the cause of sin, the doctrines of man's immortality, of the consciousness of the dead, of eternal torment and of the consubstantiality, co-equality and co-eternity of any other being or thing with God. Sin in devils and humans has furnished innumerable circumstances greatly tending to wrath in God. Nevertheless, He has restrained His wrath until it became wrong longer to do so. And whenever He expresses His wrath at the demand of justice, it is always tempered by being controlled as a servant of His wisdom, justice, love and power. He never allows it to control Him. He always controls it, making it His servant and not His master. Thus He always uses it aright.

 

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When we consider the many wrath-tending circumstances amid which God has found Himself, we stand astounded at His forbearance. Never has any other being, not even our Lord, been so wronged in Himself or in the persons, principles and things in which he has been interested, as our Heavenly Father. When we consider the manifold benefits with which He has blessed His creatures and then realize how many of these have proven ungrateful, rebellious and malicious toward Him from whom they received nothing but good, we gain a slight idea of the many and varied circumstances of Jehovah's life naturally tending to arouse wrath. A few examples of these will show the matter in its true light. Satan's course is pre-eminently the example of wrath-tending circumstances. Created a cherub, one of the highest, most powerful and most favored of God's creatures, perhaps next in rank, power and favor to our prehuman Lord, he failed to remain grateful and appreciative toward his almighty Creator and Benefactor. Not only so, but ingratitude, envy and covetousness filled his heart against God. Plotting, he hatched a gigantic conspiracy that had as its object the establishment of himself as God's equal and rival and of a kingdom equal to and rivalrous of God's. This conspiracy did not only involve himself, but many of the angelic host and the whole human family. To maintain his ambition he has stooped to disobedience, rebellion, deception, murder, misrepresentation, counterfeit, blasphemy, self-exaltation, idolatry, unbelief, exploitation, theft, perjury, slander, degradation of self and others, persecution and every other kind of wrong. Particularly has he with evil intent and boundless stubbornness practiced these things in his efforts to blacken God's person, character, word and works and to thwart the execution of God's plan for the recovery of fallen men and angels. The over six thousand years since the start of Satan's rebellion have been

 

 

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