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of old " for the errors of the peopleb:” and in the atonement of Christ must we seek refuge from all which have been, however inadvertently, committed by us. This is strongly intimated by the offerings which were appointed for all without exception, when they erred; but which differed according to the degree of criminality which might justly attach to persons, by reason of their advantages for knowing better, and the injury that was likely to accrue from their example. But none were excused: the very moment that their error was pointed out to them, they were to bring their offering: and through that alone could they obtain absolution from their sina. We should therefore, all, without exception, pray with David, “ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean ; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Yea, we should also pray with him, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me!” For “God requireth truth in our inward parts:” and, if we are not thus “ renewed in the spirit of our minds,” we cannot hope for admission into that city “ where no unclean thing can entere."]
Yet, after all, our guilt from these is light in comparison of that which ariseth from our, II. Sins of presumption
These differ widely from the former; being committed, not from mere inadvertence or infirmity, but with the concurrence of the will in opposition to the dictates of an enlightened conscience. Yet in speaking of these we shall not confine ourselves to those grosser sins, from which more moral and decent persons are exempt; but shall turn your attention rather to that state and habit of life which conscience must condemn, as well as the more flagrant transgressions. Consider what “presumptuous sins” are
[They are any sins whatever that are committed against light and knowledge, or on a presumption that God will not punish them in the eternal world.
Now it is perfectly well known to all of us, that we ought to have “ the fear of God before our eyes :" we ought to stand in awe of God's judgments; we ought to search out and execute his commands. We ought not to live unto ourselves, but unto him: and to make his word the unvaried rule of our conduct. We know that we have duties also towards our adorable Redeemer : and that, as we should live altogether by faith in him, so we should live altogether to his glory. Now, if we are habitually neglecting these duties, and living to ourselves and to the world, what is our life but one continued course of presumptuous sin?--- I wish that the more moral, decent, and conscientious part of my audience would attend to this, that they may see how great their deficiencies are, and how awful their guilt.) To these we are ever prone
b Heb. ix. 7.
c Lev. iv. 1-35.
[Every man by nature rushes into them, even as a horse into the battle : nor can any but God "keep us back” from them. How daring we are in the commission of them, is plain from numberless passages of Scripture, where the language of the carnal heart is depicted; “ Tush! God shall not see; neither will the Almighty regard it.” We have a general notion about God's mercy: and from the very hope that he will forbear to execute the award of justice, we are encouraged to proceed in our career of sin; thus " turning the very grace of God into licentiousness," and “ continuing in sin with the hope that grace will abound.” And what an ascendant these sins will gain over us may be daily seen, not only in the impieties of those who never knew any thing of God, but in the degeneracy of many, who once gave promises of better things. The gradations of such persons' departure from God are strongly marked by the Psalmist: they first “walk (transiently) in the counsel of the ungodly, (who, from their want of real piety, are dangerous advisers;) they then learn to stand (deliberately) in the way (and habits) of the wicked; and then come to sit (habitually and at their ease) in the seat of the scornfull.” And this is no other than what every presumptuous sinner has reason to expect: for God is indignant against him, in proportion as his transgressions partake of this horrid aggravation. Of the heathen it is said, “ They liked not to retain God in their knowledge; therefore God gave them over to a reprobate mind8:” and even of his own people Israel themselves, God says, “ Israel would none of me: gave
them uph." What wonder, then, if he should say of us also, “ They are joined to idols: let them alone i?" If instead of crying mightily to God to “ keep us back” from presumptuous sins, we yield ourselves willingly to the commission of them, we can expect nothing, but that they should “have the entire dominion over us,” and constrain God to swear in his wrath, that we shall never enter into his rest.” This, I say, we may well expect : for God has declared, that]
f Ps. i. 1.
8 Rom. i. 8.
If not delivered from them in time, we shall suffer the punishment of them to all eternity
[How heinous they are in the sight of God may be known from hence; that, though sacrifices were appointed for sins of infirmity, none were prescribed for any presumptuous sin whatever: the offender was to be cut off without
from the people of the Lordk The servant that knew not his lord's will, and did things contrary to it, was yet accounted worthy of some punishment: but he who knowingly violated his lord's commands, was “beaten with many stripes'.” And Capernaum's doom, we are told, shall be more severe than that of Sodom and Gomorrha, because of the deeper malignity which her superior advantages infused into all her sins m.
Let me then entreat you to adopt the prayer in our text: beg of God that he would enable you to " understand your errors;” (for who, without divine instruction, can understand them?) and that he would "cleanse you" from them; and that he would " keep you back” from every presumptuous sin: for though every presumptuous sin is not the unpardonable transgression, yet, I must say, that presumptuous sin, continued in after warnings and exhortations to depart from it, hardens the heart, and sears the conscience, and endangers the being given up by God to final impenitence.] APPLICATION
Be prevailed upon, Brethren,
[Such indeed it is, whether ye will believe it or not. You may be ready to think that suffering is the greatest: but suffering may tend to good: it may, like the furnace, purify us from our dross, and prepare us, under God's gracious care, as vessels of honour for our Master's use. But sin defiles, debases, and destroys the soul. “ Fools may make a mock at it;” but at last it will “ sting like a serpent, and bite like an adder:" it may be sweet in the mouth, but it will be gall in the stomach. See, Brethren, from what a mass of guilt and corruption you need to be delivered! See also what judgments are hanging over your devoted heads! O that I could see you in earnest in fleeing from the wrath to come, and in laying hold on eternal life! Be ye not like that perverse and daring people, who, when remonstrated with by the prophet, replied, “As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee: but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth n.” Neither deceive yourselves by endeavouring to vindicate yourselves before God: for, whatever you may say to extenuate your guilt, your sins even of infirmity need forgiveness; and your sins of presumption, if not repented of and forgiven, will plunge you into remediless and endless ruin.]
k Numb. xv. 27-31. in Matt. xi. 23, 24.
1 Luke xii. 47, 48. n Jer. xliv. 16, 17.
2. To improve the present moment in order to obtain deliverance from it
[Now you can offer the prayer of David: but how long that privilege will be continued to you, you know not. This however you know, that your views of sin will soon be changed, either in this world or in the world to come. Conceive of a presumptuous sinner, dying in his iniquity, and first having his eyes opened in the eternal world. What does he then think of all his past excuses, on which he once placed such confident reliance? What, if he were permitted to address you from his abode of misery, would be the scope of his admonitions? Can you doubt? And, if not, will you still go on in those ways, which your own consciences condemn? But, as the Rich Man was not suffered to return from hell to warn his surviving brethren, who were walking in his steps, so neither will any be sent from the dead, to instruct you.
You have Moses and the prophets; and those you must both hear and obey: and, if you will not believe them, nothing awaits you but to "eat the fruit of your own doings, and to be filled immediately with your own devices.” Now, however, you are warned: now, I trust, your consciences attest the truth and importance of all that ye have heard : and now I conclude with that solemn admonition of St. James, "To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sino.”]
o Jam. iv. 17.
DXXIII. TRUST IN GOD, THE MEANS OF SUCCESS. Ps. xx. 7. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses : but we
will remember the name of the Lord our God. ASTONISHING is the success of united prayer: nor are any so situated as not to need the intercessions of others. David, though so great and powerful, stood in need of them: and he here records the benefit he received from them The Psalmist here records,
a See, and quote the whole preceding context.
I. The different grounds of men's confidence
The generality make the creature their confidence
[This prevailed universally among the heathen And it too generally pervaded the Jewish nation also We too, in all our straits and difficulties, are prone to it; leaning to our understanding resting on our own resolutions and undertaking every thing in a dependence on self
- -] The only proper ground of confidence is God[He alone is all-sufficient With him every thing
- David abhorred the idea of resting on any otherb Hence he adopted the resolution in the text.] II. The correspondent issues of their confidence
Those who depend on the creature are disappointed
[This has frequently been the case --- And it is only what may be expected — Creature-confidence arms God against use -and entails his curse on all who indulge it - --] But those who depend on God succeed[So did Asa 8 So did Jehoshaphath
So did Hezekiah So did Davidk
And so shall all, even to the end of the world'—. - ] INFER,
1. What obligations do we owe to God for the mercies we have now received m!
2. What shall not they receive who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ ?-
b Ps. cxxi. 1, 2. and xi. 1—4. Mark the spirit of these passages. c 1 Kings xx. 23. d Ps. xxxiii. 17. e Fsai. xxxi. 1, 3. f Jer. xvii. 5, 6. 8 2 Chron. xiv. 11, 12. h 2 Chron. xx. 12, 15, 20.
i 2 Chron. xxxii. 7, 21. k ver. 8.
i Ps. xxxiv. 22. and cxxv. 1, 2. m Here bring forward the particular circumstances for which the Thanksgiving is appointed.
DXXIV. THE KINGDOM OF DAVID AND OF CHRIST. Ps. xxi. 1-7. The king shall joy in thy strength, O Lord;
and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the