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of unclean lips; and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips b.” But, not to lay an undue stress on figures like these, I will consider sin, 1. As a violation of God's holy Law
[The Law of God is said to be "holy, and just, and good.” It is holy, as being a perfect transcript of God's mind and will: it is just, as requiring nothing which does not necessarily arise out of our relation to him and to each other: and it is good, as tending, in every instance, to the happiness of the creature, and to the honour of our Creator. Now" sin is a transgression of this Lawd:” and that very circumstance it is which renders it “ so exceeding sinfule.” Were the Law itself less excellent, a departure from it would be less odious: but to rebel against it, is to prefer the mind of Satan to the mind of God, and the service of the devil to the service of our God. If we would see in what light God views it, let us go back to the time of Adam, on whose heart this Law was completely written, and see what one single transgression of it brought on him; and not on him only, but on the whole creation : and then we shall say indeed, that the evil of sin far exceeds all that language can express, or that any finite intelligence can conceive.] 2. As a contradiction to his blessed Gospel
[To obviate the effects of sin, God sent his only dear Son into the world; that he might “put away the guilt of it by the sacrifice of himself";" and that by the operations of his Holy Spirit he might repress its power, and "destroy the works of the devile.” But sin contravenes all his merciful intentions, and defeats all his gracious purposes. Now, let us suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ were now at this time to come into this assembly; and that, instead of receiving him with all that admiring and adoring gratitude that would become us, we were to rise up against him, and beat him down, and trample him under foot; and that, on his exhibiting the wounds once made for us on Calvary, and yet bleeding for us, we were to regard his blood as an accursed thing, and seize upon him, and nail him to a cross, and load him with our execrations till we saw him dead before our eyes: What would be thought of us? Yea, in a moment of reflection, what should we think of ourselves? Yet that is what sin does, and what all of us do whenever we commit sin: for so has the Apostle said, that " tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the Covenant an unholy thing, and do despite to the Spirit of his grace b;" yea, “ we crucify the Son of God afresh, and put him to b Isai. vi. 5.
c Rom. vii. 12. d 1 John iii. 4. e Rom. vii. 13. f Heb. ix. 26.
8 1 John iïi. 8. h Heb. x. 29,
an open shame'." No wonder, then, that God, when dissuading us from the commission of sin, addresses us in those pungent terms, “O, do not that abominable thing which I hatek.”]
But instead of our regarding it with the abhorrence it deserves, I am constrained to shew you, II. What sad indulgence it meets with at our handsView the generality of men,
[So far from abhorring sin, they love it, they delight in it, and, to use the strong expression of Scripture, “ they wallow in it, even as a sow wallows in the mire!" In fact, it is the very element in which men live. Look all around you: I speak not of those who “run into every excess of riot;" though they, alas! are very numerous, and, for the most part, “glory in their shame:" but I speak of the great mass of the community, the rich, the poor, the old, the young : Whom amongst them do you find regulating themselves according to God's holy Law? Who has not a standard of his own, such as use and fashion have prescribed ? and who is not satisfied with conforming to that, without ever once thinking of God's Law, or so much as desiring to approve himself to him? Verily, “ the whole world lieth in wickedness,” and under the dominion of the Wicked onem
em.] But, passing by these, behold the more decent part of the community
[Doubtless there are many who are more decorous in their conduct, and more observant of a form of godliness. But I ask, even in reference to them, How many of them do really view sin as God views it? That some enormous evils are abhorred, I readily acknowledge: but they are such only as, by a kind of common consent, are stamped with general reprobation. As for sin, as sin, and as a departure from God's holy Law, who hates it? Who lothes it? Who abhors it? Yea, I ask, Who does not hear it, without offence? and see it, without disgust? and harbour it, without remorse? Let these questions sink down into your ears: carry them home with you, as tests of your real state : put them home to your conscience, and give an answer to them as before God. You well know, that if any one loaded our parents with deep and unmerited disgrace, he would soon excite our indignation. You know, also, that the sight and smell of a putrid carcase would create in us a lothing which we could scarce endure. Nor need you be told, what feelings of remorse would follow the commission of murder. But sin, whether heard or seen or felt, begets in i Heb. vi. 6. k Jer. xliv. 4.
1 2 Pet. ü. 22. m 1 John v. 19. év tý rovnpq. Eph. ii. 2.
us no such painful emotions. To abhor it, and “ abhor ourselves" for the hidden workings of it in our souls, as holy Job did", we know not: to “ lothe ourselves” as hateful and abominable on account of it', so as to “ blush and be confounded before God," and scarcely to “ dare to lift up our eyes to heaven” on account of our conscious vileness', is a state of mind to which we are utter strangers, unless on account of some great iniquity, which, if known, would expose us to indelible disgrace. To abhor evil merely on account of its intrinsic hatefulness, and its offensiveness to God, is an attainment very rare, and even in the best of men very weak and imperfect. I think, then, that every one of us may consider himself as condemned in my text, and may take shame to himself as bearing that humiliating character, “ He abhorreth not evil."] See, then, 1. How little there is of true sanctity amongst us
[Of the saints of old it was said, " They could not bear those who were evil 9 :" whereas we can find pleasure in their society",” and, provided they wrap up their jests in elegant allusions and witty turns," can join with them in laughing at thoughts, which, if delivered in coarser language, we should condemn: we even “set ourselves in a way that is not good,” shewing no aversion to “have fellowship in the works of darkness, which we ought rather with decided boldness to reprovet.” How unlike are we to David, who says, “ Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because men keep not thy Lawu!” Indeed, Brethren, we should see and mourn over our great defects; and, instead of indulging self-complacent thoughts on account of our not being so bad as others, should rather smite on our breasts with conscious guilt, and humble ourselves before God the very
chief of sinners."] 2. How greatly we need the provisions of the Gospel
[I have before said, that, to remedy the evils which sin has brought into the world, God has sent his only dear Son to make atonement for us, and his Holy Spirit to renew us after the divine image. And now I ask you, Whether any thing less than this would have sufficed? What could you have done to expiate your own guilt? Or how could you ever, with such polluted hearts as yours, have attained a meetness for heaven? You might as easily have built a world, as have effected either of these things. Nor is there any difference between one man and another in these respects. One may
n Job xl. 4. and xlii. 6.
9 Rev. ii. 2.
Eph. v. 11.
o Ezek. xxxvi. 31.
differ from another in respect of outward sin: but in respect of alienation of heart from the holy Law of God, and an utter incapacity to restore ourselves to his favour, all are on a perfect level. I entreat you, then, all of you without exception, to “wash in the Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness?," and to cry mightily to God for the renewing influences of his Holy Spirit, that so you may have your past iniquities forgiven, and be “ created anew after the divine image in righteousness and true holiness.” Then will you be brought to that state which every true Christian must attain, “ abhorring that which is evil, and cleaving to that which is good?;" and then will God be glorified in you, both in this world and in the world to comea.] x Zech. xiii. 1. y Eph. iv. 24. z Rom. xii. 9. a 2 Thess. i. 10.
GOD'S WORD AND WORKS MYSTERIOUS.
Ps. xxxvi. 6. Thy judgments are a great deep. WE little think how highly privileged the meanest Christian is above all the sages of antiquity. The greatest philosophers of Greece and Rome were unable to account for the existence of moral evil upon earth, or to see through the disorder and confusion which it has produced throughout the world. But the servant of the Lord is instructed to trace every thing to an All-wise and Almighty Power, who brings light out of darkness and order from confusion, and overrules every thing for the glory of his own name. To this Divine Being, the child of God has recourse in all his difficulties, and in the contemplation of Him finds comfort under the sorest trials. David, , under the persecutions of Saul, was reduced to the greatest extremities: but, after complaining of the subtlety of his implacable enemy, “he encouraged himself in the Lord his God," who was able to accomplish his own gracious designs, not only in opposition to this powerful adversary, but by the very means which Saul was using to defeat them.
The word “ judgments” has, in Scripture, many different significations. As used in my text, we may consider it as comprehending both the word and the works of God. In illustration, therefore, of our text, we may observe that “God's judgments are a great deep,” 1. As displayed in his word —
The whole of Revelation is a mystery. But, that we may not be led over too wide a field, we will confine our attention to two points : 1. Our fall in Adam
[This is a fact to which the whole Scripture bears witness: “In Adam all died a;” and “ by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation b.” Now, that he should himself be drawn into sin, circumstanced as he was, perfect in his nature, and supplied with every thing which his soul could desire, is wonderful. But it is a fact, that he did commit sin, and brought upon himself God's righteous indignation. That in his sin all his posterity should be involved, is a yet deeper mystery; for which it would be impossible for us to account, if God had not plainly and unequivocally revealed it. That the whole world is full of sin, is obvious to the most superficial observer. That the very nature of man is corrupt, is also evident. No one who has ever marked the dispositions of an infant can entertain a doubt of it. But was man first created in such a state? Can we conceive of a holy Being forming, in the first instance, such unholy creatures? Human wisdom is altogether lost, and confounded, whilst occupied on this mysterious subject. But God has explained it to us in his word. He has told us, what, when revealed, is a self-evident truth, that“no man can bring a clean thing out of an uncleand.” He has told us, also, what we could never have imagined or conceived, that the very guilt of Adam is transmitted to us, because he was not a private and isolated individual, but the head and representative of all his descendants : so that we come into the world, not only corrupt creatures, but “ children of wrathe.” Now
say, whether this be not " a great deep.” Who can comprehend it? Who is not lost in wonder at the contemplation of it?] 2. Our recovery by Jesus Christ
[That there should be a possibility of restoring man to the divine favour, is what no finite intelligence could ever have conceived. Not one of the fallen angels ever was restored: nor could the restoration of man, it might be thought, have ever been compatible with the honour of our offended God.
c Ps. li. 5.
a 1 Cor. xv. 22. d Job xiv. 4.
b Rom. v. 17, 18.
Eph. ii. 3.