XII. Why this judgment is deferred.

The Lord defers his coming:

1. That he may exercise the godly in faith, hope, patience, and prayer.

2. That all the elect may be gathered into the church; for it is on their account, and not on account of the wicked, that the world is permitted to stand. The lower orders of creation were made for the children of God. The wicked use them as thieves and robbers. But when the whole number of God’s people shall once have been gathered into the church, then will the end be. God, too, will have his people brought in by ordinary means; he will have them hear his word, and through this be converted and born again, the accomplishment of which will require time.

3. That he may afford all time for repentence, as in the days of Noah, and that this his delay may render the wicked and disobedient without excuse. “God endured with much long suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction.” “Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance.” (Rom. 9:22; 2:4.)