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surances of pardon and salvation ;—“ O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.”-And he has authorized it to be added as the one impressive answer of the Gospel to all inquirers, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,"
Again ; In the Lord Jesus Christ there is help for the sinner, because he is competent to remove the remaining barrier from the path of salvation. I mean the corruption of the heart. As none but an omnipotent Power could at first create man after the divine image, so none but an omnipotent Being can re-instamp that image on the soul. But this is the prerogative of Christ ; for he is not only made unto us righteousness and salvation, but wisdom and sanctification. He is not only “exalted a Prince and a Saviour ;” but one grand object of his exaltation is to grant
repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.” 6 Unto you,” says St. Peter, “God hath raised up his Son Jesus, and sent him to bless you in turning every one of you froin your iniquities.” In him every penitent sinner, however aggravated his guilt, may find peace with God, and the hope of glory everlasting. In him he may have wisdom, strength, and righteousness. If he but feel his condition as a sinner, and taste and see how gracious the Lord is; if he but humbly seek to experience the efficacy of atoning blood, and the renovating influences of the Spirit; the ruined sinner, like the prodigal, though dead, is made alive again—though lost he is found. “O) Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.”
Here then is ample refuge for the guilty. But 0, of what avail is it, as it respects many, that these affecting truths are sounded in their ears ? In a greater or less degree they form the substance of every discourse which is based upon the gospel of Jesus Christ. But where is the evidence of their appropriate effect? While the note of alarm is ringing on the ear, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself ;"'--and while it is perhaps acknowledged to be the voice of God,—do we observe sinners roused, as it were, from the chill of death ? And as the mild and winning proffer of help for the wretched succeeds the rougher voice of denunciation, like the soft whisper of evening after the desolating tempest, do we behold them at once casting themselves at the foot of the cross, and availing themselves of the almighty remedy? Oh no: the multitude slumber on, heedless alike of the tenderest entreaties of love, and the most terrific proclamations of wrath. Here and there one only is arrested in his career of worldliness and sin, is convinced of guilt and danger, and is brought to seek refuge, where only it can be found, in “ Jesus Christ and him crucified.” But we are pained and humbled to reflect, that the multitude still slumber on, just as though no Angel of redeeming mercy had ever been revealed.
Our subject, my brethren, should deeply affect us with a sense of the evil of sin. In every point of view, it must appear an evil thing and bitter to sin against the Lord. We might contemplate the enormity of this evil as seen in the bloody cross-or as seen in the desolations which sin is causing on the earth : But we would now view it only as it appears in the ruin of the immortal soul. O sinner, “ thou hast destroyed thyself.”—The evil of sin here stands out in the impressive aspect of an eternity of happiness lost, and an eternity of misery incurred. It is sin which surrounds the judgment-seat with all its terrors. And it is sin which draws down upon such beings as we are the awful sentence, Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared
for the devil and his angels. Under the holy government of God, the least transgression carries with it .a condemning power, that, without timely application of the remedy provided in the Gospel, must for ever destroy the soul. For the soul that sinneth, it shall die.” What then must be the enormity of the sins of a whole life combined ; and especially of the sin of rejecting the salvation offered through the blood of the Son of God!
But if the subject has thus called for a concluding remark on the evil of sin ; it equally calls for another on the compassionate love of God.
In me is thy help.” Here is the most abundant encouragement to all those, (if any such there be,) who are convinced of the awful condition in which they stand as sinners. To them the text affords an all-sufficient antidote. How earnestly then should they seek, and with what overwhelming gratitude should they accept the salvation which is in Christ Jesus. Behold, God is thy salvation; trust in him and be not afraid the Lord Jehovah is thy strength, and he shall become thine everlasting glory.
Finally, my hearers, let all of us form just ideas of sin, and just ideas of God's reconciling mercy, and just ideas of what God now requireth
An all-sufficient remedy is provided ; but to you it can be of no avail, without humble and hearty repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These terms are reasonable—they are infinitely benevolent. God himself could offer none more favourable, without disgrace to his holy throne. He places before you your ruined condition ; and he solemnly declares, “ Thou hast destroyed thyself.” He places before you the strong hold to which the self-ruined sinner may resort_“In me is thy help.” But if the terrors of the Lord be despised—if the love of God be rejected, 0 how shall you stand in that day, when judgment shall be laid to the line, and righteousness to the plummet? “When God riseth up, what will you say?” and “ when he visiteth, what will you answer ??? O, there will be mourning—if not now- —there will be mourning at the judgment-seat. And if on that day one sinner who now hears me, should be driven from the presence of the LAMB, not one sound will ring more awfully in his ear, than that which now reaches him,“ Thou hast destroyed thyself.” Not one source of agony will be more poignant than the everlasting recollection of the once offered mercy of God." In me is thy help," ** Now then, consider this, ye that forget God, lest I tear
you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.” Consider this, “lest thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof!"
Dearly beloved, I beseech you, in view of this subject examine yourself faithfully, and see to it, that the guilt of self-murder be not fastened on your soul! I beseech you, as in Christ's stead, think on these things, ere yet it be too late. While yet you are in the land of the living-while in rich mercy your day of probation is lengthened out-1), think on these things. Self-ruined as you are by transgression, and justly deserving of everlasting wo, there is yet one way of
escape. A voice from the excellent glory now cries—“ In me is thy help. Yes, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in þim should not perish, but have everlasting life." But reject this Saviour,—sin away this day of merciful visitation and that arm now so kindly extended for your relief, must come down with accumulated wrath on your head. For, if he that despised Moses' law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing?
Psals LI. 4.- Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in
This passage of Scripture presents a case of no small importance, and involving a principle of universal application. It presents the Psalmist deploring a particular sin, and in language dictated by the unerring Spirit.
What then is the principle on which is based the declaration-Against THEE, THEE ONLY, have Į sinned? In what sense was it against God ONLY ? Was it merely a sin of the heart, followed by no act of injury to man ? a swelling of pride ?-a thought of blasphemy ?mor a purpose of murder, that was timely abandoned? A recurrence to the bloody and polluted record of facts in the affair of Uriah, decides this point. The facts as recorded in 2 Samuel ii. present a complication and atrocity of crime,
rarely equaled ;-deception, adultery, and murder united. Will it then be said, that David was here pleading before God an extenuation of his crime, from the consideration that it was committed against him only, without harm to society? No; he had injured the wife of Uriah—he had murdered Uriah himself-he had thrown away the lives of those who were slain in the same forlorn hope-he had injured his whole kingdom with the loss of its brave defenders—and he had injured Joab, by making him an accomplice in foul guilt. He could not then mean that he had not sinned against man.
Will it be said, that he had not specifically in view the sin as committed against man, at the time of uttering this confession ? This supposition is equally impossible ; for in this very Psalm, and almost in the same breath, he exclaims, " Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation." He knew and felt at the moment, the gross injury he had done to fellow-beings. The picture of his guilt, as exhibited by the prophet Nathan, overwhelmed him with a sense of his wanton cruelty.
Since, then, his crimes were of that class which are most directly against society, and since he appears at the time to have regarded them in that very relation, the question again recurs on the import of the phrase" against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”
The following is the only possible solution. Notwithstanding his deep sense of his crime, as viewed in its social relation, he had such an overwhelming sense of its enormity as committed against God, that it threw into comparative obscurity the injury to man. And this deep sense of additional guilt, resulting from a violation of divine law, he could best express by the language, "against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” Stronger language could not be selected. The comparative degree of guilt is therefore the greatest that could be expressed.
Now, if this can be said of such sins as David was lamenting, it can be said of all sin. If murder and adultery are committed against God only, then surely sins less directly injurious to society, must be regarded in the same light. This language, therefore, dictated by the Divine Spirit, must afford ample authority for the following doctrine :
The evil of sin consists chiefly in its being committed against God.
This doctrine does not, in the least degree, invalidate the obligations of mortals to each other ; nor diminish the guilt of crimes, viewed merely in their social relation. Theft, murder, and every other act of aggression, is just as much to be reprobated as a violation of human rights, as if this further and chief consideration did not exist. And the man who considers the chief evil of sin to consist in a violation of divine obligations, has stili as strong a view of social obligations, as he who overlooks all duty to God, and makes human injury, the only criterion of guilt. As a proof of this.
I observe, that the class of men who firmly believe in the righteous retributions of eternity on the guilty, are still as prompt as the universalist, or even the atheist, in according their amen to the penalty of human laws. This we should not expect, if their sense of human obligations was diminished by this view of the evil of sin against God.
That sin is an evil, so far as it infringes on the rights and happiness of fellow-mortals, is admitted by all. But the word of God compels us to believe, that the same aggressions are an immensely greater evil considered as offences against God It is also to be considered, that his law pronounces many things sinful which do not appear to be violations of the mere rights of humanity at all. Such are profaneness, and a variety of other sins, in which transgressors are so ready to plead that they injure none but themselves.
We may see therefore at once, that a man will be likely to estimate his own guilt as every thing, or as nothing, just in proportion as he admits or rejects the doctrine before us. It is a doctrine of fundamental importance in religion. Indeed, next to the very existence of a God, and of a future state, I know not that a single point can be named from which there must necessarily radiate so powerful an influence through every part of a man's creed ; or one which is so likely, in a radical manner, to affect his heart and life. Even the knowledge of a Saviour is of little use, if we are not made to feel our need of him, by feeling first the enormity of guilt ; and it is perhaps wholly owing to the rejection of this doctrine, that any reject the true doctrine of Christ's character and work.
This vital importance of the doctrine itself, is my apology for the space I have occupied in its statement and explanation. I now proceed to corroborate the position, by adding the grounds of our paramount obligations to reverence and obey God. Should any one ask, “ Why is it a thousand fold worse for me to murder my neighbour than if God had not forbidden it ?" I answer,
1. Because God is your Maker Here is the highest obligation of which we can form a conception. “ Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus ?” With equal absurdity would he say to his Creator, why dost thou command me thus ? We who are parents claim the right to command our children ; and when they disobey, we place the main point of their offending in simple disobedience. our prohibitions upon them in things which they already know to be wrong ; and when they transgress, the burden of our indignation rests on their disregard of our mandate. But what is our boasted right to command them, compared with God's right to command us? And what is the aggravation of violating a parent's authority, compared with that of rebellion against the Eternal Father of our spirits ! 2. God sustains us.
In his hand our breath is, and his are all our ways. Having obtained help of God, we continue unto this time. Froin