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rebellion against God; and that “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord” is his just desert. Till a man has that view of himself, he will never be thoroughly broken and contrite; he will never lothe and abhor himself for his iniquities; he will never have that “
repentance which is unto life, that repentance which is not to be repented of.” We entreat you all then to judge of your repentance by these marks. Do not be satisfied with being humbled on account of sin; but inquire particularly, whether you are more humbled from a view of it as against man, or a view of it as against God. These ought to bear no proportion in your estimate of your own character. Your own nothingness and vileness can only be estimated aright when viewed in contrast with the majesty you have offended, and the mercy you have despised: and till you see that everlasting misery in hell is your deserved portion, you can never lie so low as you ought to lie.] 2. The true preparative for pardon
[Something we must bring with us to the Saviour: but what is that which we ought to bring? Must we get a certain portion of good works wherewith to purchase his salvation ? No: this is a price which he will utterly despise. That which we are to bring is precisely what a patient brings to a physician, a sense of his extreme need of the physician's aid. Christ came to save sinners: we then must feel ourselves sinners. He came to seek and save that which was lost: we then must feel ourselves lost. A just sense of our guilt and misery is all that he requires: if we come wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, he will give us that gold that has been tried in the fire, the raiment that shall cover our nakedness, and the eye-salve that shall restore our eyes to sight. If we come to him full, we shall be sent empty away: but if we come hungry and empty, we shall “ be filled out of his inexhaustible fulness," we shall “ be filled with all the fulness of our God.”] 3. The best preservative from sin
[When Joseph was tempted by Potiphar's wife, he answered her, “ How shall I do this great wickedness, and sin against God??" Thus we would recommend all, when tempted to commit iniquity, to consider, first, what God will think of it; and next, what they themselves will think of it in the last day? Now it may appear light and venial, especially if it be not such a heinous sin as adultery or murder: but when it comes to be seen in its true light, as against an infinitely good and gracious God; and when the judgments which he has denounced against it come to be felt; what shall we think of it then? Oh! ask yourselves, 'What will be my view of this matter in the last day?' Then even the sins that now seem of no account, will appear most heinous, and the price paid for a momentary indulgence, most prodigal. The selling of a birthright for a mess of pottage is but a very faint emblem of the folly of those, who for the whole world are induced to barter the salvation of their souls. View things in any measure now, as you will view them at the last day; and you will rather die a thousand deaths than sin against your God.]
a Gen. xxxix. 9,
Ps. li. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my
mother conceive me. ONE of the most essential marks of real penitence is, a disposition to see our sins as God sees them : not extenuating their guilt by vain and frivolous excuses, but marking every circumstance that tends to aggravate their enormity. During their impenitence, our first parents cast the blame of their transgression upon others; the man on his wife; and the woman on the serpent that had beguiled her: but, when true repentance was given them, they no doubt beheld their conduct in a very different view, and took to themselves all the shame which it so justly merited. The sin of David in the matter of Uriah was great, beyond all the powers of language
Yet there were points of view in which none but a real penitent would notice it, and in which its enormity was aggravated a hundred-fold. This is the light in which the Royal Penitent speaks of it, in the psalm before us. Having spoken of it as an offence, not merely against man, but primarily, and almost solely, against Jehovah himself, he proceeds to notice it, not as an insulated act or course of action, but as the proper fruit of his inherent, his natural, corruption. We are not to suppose, that he intended by this to cast any reflection on his mother, of whom he elsewhere speaks in most respectful terms; nor are we to imagine, that he adduces the nature which he had derived from her, as an excuse
for the wickedness he had committed : his intention is, to humble himself before God and man as a creature altogether corrupt, and to represent his wickedness as no other than a sample of that iniquity of which his heart was full, a stream issuing from an overflowing fountain. This, we doubt not, is the genuine import of the words which we have now proposed to consider; “ Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.”
In prosecuting this important subject, we shall endeavour to establish, I. The truth asserted
The doctrine of Original Sin is here distinctly affirmed. It is indeed by many denied, under the idea that it would be inconsistent with the goodness and mercy of God to send into the world immortal beings in any other state than one of perfect purity. But it is in vain for us to teach God what he ought to do : the question for us to consider is, What hath God done ? and what account has he himself given us of our state? And here, if the Scriptures be true, there is no room for doubt : we are the corrupt offspring of degenerate parents ; from whom we derive a polluted nature, which alone, since their fall, they could possibly transmit. This we shall proceed to prove, 1. From concurring testimonies
[Moses, in his account of the first man that was born into the world, expressly notices, that Adam begat him not in the likeness of God, in which he himself had been originally created, but “ in his own likeness," as a fallen and corrupt creaturea: and how different the one from the other, may be conjectured from the conduct of this first-born, who imbrued his hands in his brother's blood. In his account too, as well of the postdiluvian, as of the ante-diluvian world, he tells us, that “ every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart was only evil continually.” Job, not only affirms the same awful truth, but shews us that it is impossible in the nature of things to be otherwise : since from a thing that is radically and essentially unclean, nothing but what is unclean can proceed. The testimony of Isaiah and Jeremiah is altogether to the same effect d; as is that also of Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes. And, in the New Testament, our Lord himself teaches us to regard the heart as the proper womb, where every species of iniquity is generated, and from whence it proceeds': and St. Paul declares of himself, as well as all the rest of the human race, that they
a Gen. v. 3. b Gen. vi. 5. and viii. 21. c Job xiv. 4. and xv. 14–16. and xxv. 4.
are by nature children of wrath.” But how can we be in such a state by nature, if we are not corrupt?
Can God regard as objects of his wrath creatures that possess his perfect image? No: it is as fallen in Adam that he views us, and as inheriting a depraved nature that he abhors ush.] 2. From collateral evidence
[Whence was it that God appointed the painful and bloody rite of circumcision to be administered to infants of eight days old, but to shew that they brought into the world with them a corrupt nature, which it was the bounden duty of all who were in covenant with him to mortify and subdue? Whilst, on the one hand, it sealed to them the blessings of the covenant, it intimated to them, on the other hand, that they needed to have “their hearts circumcised, to love the Lord their God."
Again, how comes it that every child, from the first moment that he begins to act at all, manifests corrupt tempers and dispositions ? If only some, and those the children of wicked men, evinced such depravity, we might be led to account for it in some other way: but when, with the exception of one or two who were sanctified from the womb, this has been the state of every child that has been born into the world, we are constrained to acknowledge, that our very nature is corrupt, and that, as David tells us, "we are estranged from the womb, and go astray as soon as we are borni."
Further, How can we account for the sufferings and death of infants, but on the supposition, that they are partakers of Adam's guilt and corruption? Sufferings and death are the penalty of sin: and we cannot conceive that God would inflict that penalty on millions of infants, if they were not in some way or other obnoxious to his wrath. St. Paul notices this, as an irrefragable proof that all Adam's posterity fell in him, and through him are partakers of guilt and miseryk.
Once more; Whence is it that all need a Saviour ? If children are not, in the eye of God, transgressors of his law, they cannot need to be redeemed from its curse. But Christ is as much the Saviour of infants as of adults. We find no ci Isai. vi. 5. Jer. xvii. 9.
e Chap. ix. 3. f Mark vii. 21.
8 Eph. ii. 3. h The subject does not lead us to notice Adam as a federal head; and therefore we confine ourselves to what lies immediately before us i Ps. lviii. 3.
k Rom. v. 12, 14.
intimation in the Scriptures that any are saved without him : on the contrary, it is said, that, “as in Adam all died, so in Christ shall all be made alive.” In the temple shown to Ezekiel, there was one door for the prince: it was the door by which the Lord God had entered : and was to be for ever closed to all except the prince? So Christ alone enters into heaven by his own merits: to all besides him that door is closed: and Christ alone is the door by which we must enter in; he is the only way to the Father: nor, as long as the world shall stand, shall
any child of man come unto the Father but by himm. These things then, especially, as taken in connexion with the many express declarations before quoted, are decisive proofs, that David's account of himself was true, and that it is equally true of all the human race.]
This truth being established, we proceed to mark, II. The importance of adverting to it in estimating
our state before God Unless we bear in mind the total corruption of our nature, we can never estimate aright, 1. Our individual actions
[Even in common courts of judicature, the great object of inquiry is, not so much the act that has been done, as the mind of the agent: and, according as that appears to have been depraved or blameless, the sentence of condemnation or acquittal is passed upon him. Precisely thus must we judge ourselves in our conduct towards God. To elucidate this part of our subject, we will suppose two persons to have been guilty of the same act of treason towards an earthly sovereign, but to have differed widely from each other in respect of the mind with which they acted: one entered upon it unwittingly, and without any consciousness that he was doing wrong: the other knowingly, and aware that he was rebelling against his lawful sovereign. One did it reluctantly, through the influence of one whom he could not easily withstand; but the other willingly, as a volunteer in the service, and as following the impulse of his own mind. One went without premeditation, being taken hastily and off his guard: the other with a fixed purpose, after much plotting and deliberation. In one it was a solitary act, altogether contrary to the whole of his former life: in the other it was frequent, as often as the temptation arose, or the occasion offered. The one proceeded with moderation, not having his heart at all engaged in it: the other with a fiery zeal, abhorring in his soul the authority he opposed. The one had his mind open to conviction, and might easily be prevailed upon
1 Ezek. xliv. 2, 3.
m John X. 9. and xiv. 6.