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stowed on you“ repentance unto life ;” and pray always that you may repent more, and believe more, and bring forth more and more the genuine fruits of repentance and faith.
It may, however, be asked, what he is to do who once thought he repented, but amidst the business and bustle of the world, has lost his convictions and seriousness; and knows not to which
he belongs, the penitent or the impenitent? I would answer, that in such a case no stress whatever should be laid on past experience; all must be begun anew; and such a person must come as a sinner to Christ for repentance and remission of sins, and all the blessings of salvation, even as if he had now for the first time heard of his name.
In like manner, so far as doubts prevail in any one, on whatever ground it may be, whether he have repented or not, he should earnestly beg of God to grant him true repentance ; and to give him to know that his repentance is sincere. Whatever tends to benumb the conscience, to veil eternal things from his view, to lessen his sense of the evil of sin, or to restore him to impenitent selfcomplacency; he ought by all means carefully to avoid. Let such a man shun the bustle of company; let him retire into his closet, redeem time for reflection, search the scriptures, pour out his heart in prayer : and, waiting on the Lord in this manner, he will not wait in vain.
Permit me to add a parting word to some whom, perhaps, I may never more address; who hear the word of God, and probably profess to believe it, yet nevertheless are conscious that they live without
repentance, or fruits meet for repentance. Let me then once more solemnly testify that, if you live and die without repentance, even without this repentance which I have described ; without submission to God, humiliation before him, renouncing and hating sin, cordially welcoming salvation by Christ, and walking in newness of life ; you will most certainly perish, and that for ever. May God then, of his abundant mercy, grant unto you also, and to all present, repentance unto life eternal !
ON THE EVIL OF SIN, AS COMMITTED AGAINST GOD.
PSALM LI. 4.
Against thee, thee only, have I sinned !
The occasion on which this Psalm was composed is well known. The awful fall of David, and the most aggravated crimes which he committed, have attracted very general notice. But many remember his sins, who do not appear properly to consider his humiliation and deep repentance. Numbers, on this ground, suppose themselves superior characters, because they are exempt from such flagrant criminality ; though there are no evidences that they possess any positive excellence. And not a few who disgrace the religious opinions which they avow, by evident and habitual misconduct, yet satisfy their own consciences, and expect others to entertain a favourable opinion of them; as 'the
best,' say they, ' have their faults, and even David “ committed adultery and murder !' But, if they would have us form the same judgment of their case as Nathan did of David's, they must shew the same spirit of deep repentance that he did. A renowned monarch, having given public scandal by his crimes, composes and publishes this Psalm, and, before his own subjects and the whole world, gives honour to God by proclaiming his own shame!
The Psalm is throughout the language of the deepest contrition ; and has been not improperly called, “The portrait of a penitent.' The royal Psalmist's crimes had been of such a nature, that they were both deeply injurious to mankind, and also most scandalous in the eyes of the world : yet. his views of the obligations he lay under to God, and of his most aggravated violation of them, seem to have swallowed up every other consideration. All else in this comparison appeared trivial in his eyes : and the address of Nathan to him shews that, in this respect, his judgment accorded with that of God himself. “ 'Thou art the man! Thus “ saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee
king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the “ hand of Saul ; and I gave thee thy master's “ house, and thy master's wives into thy bosom; “ and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah : “ and, if that had been too little, I would more“over have given thee such and such things. “ Wherefore then hast thou despised the command
ment of the Lord to do evil in his sight? Thou “ hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, “and hast taken his wife to be thy wife. There “fore the sword shall never depart from thine “house ; because thou hast despised me.”ı
Observe, my friends, the prophet does not rest the weight of the charge, brought against David, on the injury done to men; but on the ungrateful contempt shewn to God and to his law and authority.
I 2 Sam. xii. 7--10.
The prophet adds, “ Howbeit, because by this “ deed thou hast caused the enemies of the Lord “ to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto “ thee shall surely die.”] Here again the crime of David is aggravated by the dishonour it had brought on the name of God, through the blasphemies of his enemies.
These considerations may throw light on the words of our text, “ Against thee, thee only, have “ I sinned !” The wrong done to man by our offences is not to be overlooked, or thought slightly of : but our attention must not be so confined to the evil of them in this respect, as to interfere with a sense of those higher obligations to God which we have violated. In what I have further to offer on the subject, I shall,
I. Make some introductory remarks:
II. Illustrate the emphatical words here used; “ Against thee, thee only, have I sinned :"
III. Consider the evil of sin, as committed against God, and as violating all our obligations to him: And,
IV. Adduce several instances in which this doctrine brings those in deeply guilty, who otherwise would scarcely appear guilty at all; and thus shew how it cuts up by the very roots a selfjustifying spirit.
I. I proceed to make some introductory remarks.
In general, the text clearly proves, that the believing penitent's view of the evil of his sins is proportioned to the degree in which he considers the extent of his obligations to God.
2 Sam. xii. 14.