THE GOODNESS OF GOD IN WAITING FOR SINNERS
Consider first, how much sinners are indebted to the divine goodness, in patiently waiting for their conversion; and that very often for a long time, notwithstanding their continual abuse of all his mercy. Alas! may it not be truly said of you too, that every night when you went to rest, you did not know but that before the morning you should find yourself in hell; and that you, yourself are indebted solely to this infinite goodness, for your daily preservation? Perhaps fewer sins than you have committed have plunged millions into eternal flames. Bless, then, that wonderful mercy by which you have so long escaped.
Consider, secondly, how many ways God seeks to reclaim, sinners, and to call them to their duty. He visits them with frequent inward motions of his grace, and that remorse of conscience, which ceases not powerfully, though silently, to remind them of the state from whence they are fallen. He sets before them the terrors of his judgments, and the allurements of his mercies. He presses them continually by his word, by his preachers, by good books and good example, to forsake their evil ways and return to him. Ah! remember that the land which has been often watered with rain from heaven, and still brings forth nothing but thorns, is in danger of incurring a dreadful curse, and of being condemned to the fire.
Consider, thirdly, how tenderly God invites all sinners to return to him. “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of a sinner, but that he be converted from his ways and live. Why will you die, O house of Israel? Return to me, and live, Thou hast gone astray after many lovers; but return to me, and I will receive thee,” Reflect how the Son of God treated the penitent Magdalene, the thief upon the cross, and all other sinners who had recourse to his mercy and how he has declared, that “there is more joy in heaven over one penitent sinner, than over ninety-nine just persons.”
Conclude to arise without delay, and return, with the prodigal son, by the most sincere conversion, to so good and so loving a father.