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who were slain ; against his own army, who were hereby weakened and discouraged ; against the whole nation, whose interests were hereby endangered ; against the Church of God, who were hereby scandalized; and the ungodly world, who were hereby hardened in their iniquities. It was “a sin also against his whole body." We must therefore understand the expression rather as comparative; as if it had been said, “ Against thee, thee chiefly, have I sinned.” Nevertheless, as an offence against God, the enormity of the crime is so great, as almost to swallow up and annihilate every other consideration of it, as the meridian sun reduces to non-existence, as it were, the twinkling of a star. It is from this consideration of it that every sin derives its chief enormity. Dropping therefore any further reference to David's crime, we shall endeavour to shew in general, I. The malignity of sin as an offence against God
Men in general think little of sin, except as it affects the welfare of society: as an offence against God, it is scarcely ever deemed worthy of notice. But every sin, of whatever kind, necessarily strikes at God himself: it implies, 1. A forgetfulness of his presence
[He is omnipresent; nor is any thing hid from his allseeing eye —
But, when we commit sin, we lose all recollection that God's eye is upon us: we say in our hearts, “ The Lord shall not see; neither shall the God of Jacob regard ito:” “How shall God know? Is there knowledge with the Most High ?” “ Thick clouds are a covering to him, that he cannot seee.” This is no deduction of ours, but the declaration of God himself: and the truth of it is evident: for, if even the presence of a fellow-creature is sufficient to overawe men, so that they cannot perpetrate crimes to which they are most strongly tempted; so much more would the presence of Almighty God restrain us, if we were conscious that he was inspecting and witnessing all the secrets of our hearts.] 2. A contempt of his authority
[God, as the great Lawgiver, requires obedience to his laws, every one of which bears the impress of divine authority b 1 Cor. vi. 18.
c Ps. xciv. 7. d Ps. lxxiii. 11.
e Job xxii. 13, 14.
upon it. But in violating his commands, we trample on his authority, and
say in effect, “ I am at my own disposal: who is Lord over me? ?” “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord; neither will I obey his voice! :" “I will not have this man to reign over meh. We have a striking exemplification of this in the conduct of the Jews, who, contrary to God's command, would go down into Egypt: “ As for the word that thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord, (said they to Jeremiah,) we will not hearken unto thee; but we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth'.” Thus, as God himself says,
- We not only forget him, but cast him behind our backk.") 3. A disbelief of his truth
[God has spoken frequently respecting his determination to punish sin: he has said, that“ he will by no means clear the guilty;” and that, “ though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not pass unpunished.” Now, if we truly believed his word, we could not rush into sin: the apprehension of such tremendous consequences would deter us from it. But we are hardened by unbelief. Unbelief was the source of all the Israelites' rebellions in the wilderness'; and it is the fruitful spring of all our disobedience: “Ye shall not surely die,” is at the root of every evil we commitm. But “God is not a man, that he should lie, or the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good" ?” Let us bear this in mind, that in the commission of sin, and the expectation of impunity, we “make God himself a liaro."] 4. A denial of his justice
[God has represented himself as “a God of judgment, by whom actions are weighedP;" and has declared his purpose to “call every work into judgment,” and to "judge every man according to his works." But, in violating his laws, “ we say, in fact, God will not require it':” “ The Lord is altogether such an one as ourselves";" “ he will not do good, neither will he do evils.” What an indignity is this to offer to the Governor of the Universe, the Judge of quick and dead! He has spoken of the last day as “the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God:” but, if the issue of it were such as we expect, and heaven were awarded to wilful and impenitent transgressors, it would rather be a day wherein God's
h Luke xix. 14.
f Ps. xii. 4.
& Exod. v. 2. i Jer. xliv. 16, 17. k Ezek. xxii. 35. 1 Ps. cvi. 24. Heb. iii. 19. n Numb. xxiü. 19. 01 John v. 10. 9 Ps. X. 13.
r Ps. 1. 21.
m Gen. iii. 4.
want of justice and of holiness shall be displayed before the whole assembled universe.] 5. A defiance of his power
[Men who commit iniquity are represented as "stretching out their hands against God, and strengthening themselves against the Almighty; yea, as running upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklert:" and to what a fearful extent this is done, we may see by the testimony of God himself: “ They, the workers of iniquity, say, Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it: and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may
know tu." Does this appear an exaggerated account of men's impiety? See then how they are described by the Psalmist: “ The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above, out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he pufseth at them." What an astonishing height of impiety is this ; to puff at God's threatenings, as if we defied him to his face! Yet do we see that this is the very conduct of men, whenever we warn them to flee from the wrath to come: we seem to menace them with judgments which they have no cause to fear, and to set in array against them an enemy whom they are at liberty to despise.]
When once we view sin as an offence against God, we shall be prepared to acknowledge, II. The equity of his judgments which he has de
nounced against itThat God has denounced the heaviest judgments against it, is certain
[Against sin in general he has denounced eternal misery: “ The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people that forget Gody"
Against every individual that commits it, he has also denounced his judgments: “ The soul that sinneth, it shall diez" Against every particular sin, whatever be men's excuses for retaining it, the same awful sentence is proclaimed
Death, everlasting death, is the wages due to sin", and the wages that shall be paid to every sinner at the last day --In executing these he will be completely justified
[We are ready to account such denunciations of wrath severe, and to question the equity of them
t Job xv. 25, 26.
u Isai. v. 19.
x Ps. x. 4, 5. z Ezek. xviii. 20. 1 Pet. i. 17. b Rom. vi. 23. c Matt. xxv. 46.
penal evil of damnation will not appear in the least to exceed the moral evil of sin, if we duly consider against whom sin is committed.
Consider his greatness. “Great is the Lord,” says the Psalmist, “ yea, his greatness is unsearchable.” If we could conceive the meanest reptile, or the smallest insect, endued with such a measure of intelligence as to be able in some degree to appreciate the dignity of a mighty monarch; and then to exalt itself against him, and to pour all manner of contempt upon him; the atrocity of such presumption would justly excite our keenest indignation. But the whole universe together is not as the smallest insect in comparison of God; and yet we, we atom insects of an atom world, dare to set ourselves against his divine majesty, yea, to defy him to his face. Will God then be unjust if he execute his judgments on such impious worms? Are we at liberty to insult him; and is he not at liberty to avenge himself on us?----]
But consider also his goodness. Ohow unbounded has this been! How has he borne with us in all our rebellion! How has he sent his only-begotten Son, to expiate our sin, and to open a way for our reconciliation with him! How has he sought to glorify in our salvation those very perfections, which we have so impiously despised, and which he might well glorify in our everlasting condemnation! How has he sent his Holy Spirit, to instruct, renew, and comfort us! How has he sent his word and ministers, to invite, entreat, expostulate, yea, and, as it were, to "compel us” to accept of mercy! This he has done from our youth up: this he is doing yet daily and hourly: and, as if all his own happiness were bound up in ours, he says, “ How shall I give thee up?” “Wilt thou not be made clean? Oh! when shall it once be?” This is the God against whom we are sinning. This is the God whom we wish extinct d; and respecting whom we say, “ Make the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us." This is he, “ whose blessed Son we trample under foot, and to whose eternal Spirit we do despitee." yea, that very "goodness and long-suffering and forbearance which should lead us to repentance," are made by us an occasion of multiplying our offences against him. Say now whether he will “ be unrighteous in taking vengeance?” Were a fellowcreature to make such returns to us, and to render nothing but evil to us for all the good we did him, should we think that he had any claim on us? Should we account ourselves unjust, if we did not acknowledge him as one of our dearest friends, and place him on a footing with our own beloved children, and make him an heir of all that we possessed ? Should we not feel ourselves amply justified in rejecting such an absurd and
d Ps. xiv. 1. Omitting the words in Italics. e Heb. x. 29.
groundless claim as this? Know then, that we have no claim on God; and, when he shall exclude us from the inheritance of his saints," he will be justified” in the judgment that he shall denounce against us. Indeed, in assigning us this portion, he will only give effect to our own wishes, and answer us in the desire of our own hearts: we said to him, “ Depart from us; we desire not the knowledge of thee f;" and he will say to us, “Depart from me ; depart accursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels 8."]
The whole creation will unite in vindicating these judgments as just and good
[Doubtless, if it were possible, sinners would urge at the bar of judgment the objections which here they presume to bring against the justice of their God. But sin will then appear in all its deformity: it will then be seen what a God we sinned against, and what mercies we despised. Even in this world, when once persons are brought to view themselves aright, they justify God in all that he sees fit to inflict upon them h. Aaron', Elik, Hezekiah ?, David m, all confessed, that God had a right to deal with them in the way that he had done. Much more in the day of judgment, when every thing will be seen in its true light, will the whole universe approve the sentence which God shall pass on the world of the ungodly: they will make the very punishment of the wicked a subject of their songs; " saying, Allelujah! salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: for true and righteous are his judgments 1.". Indeed the miserable objects themselves, though they cannot join in the song, will be unable to condemn the sentence. The man who was excluded from the marriage-feast for not having on a wedding garment, might have urged, that he was brought in before he had time to procure one: but his plea would have been false and unavailing ; and therefore “he was speechless ";" a striking monument of conscious guilt, and an awful specimen of a condemned soul P.]
In this acknowledgment then of David we may SEE, 1. The grand constituents of repentance
[Many may be sorry that they have subjected themselves to punishment, just as a criminal may that he has forfeited his life to the laws of his country: but no man can truly repent, till he sees, that his whole life has been one continued state of
f Job xxi. 14. 8 Matt. xxv. 41.
h It is worthy of observation, that God's goodness to David is mentioned as the greatest aggravation of his offence. 2 Sam. xii. 749. i Lev. x. 3.
k 1 Sam. iii. 18. 1 Isai. xxxix. 8. m Ps. xxxix. 9. n Rev. xv. 3. and xix. 1, 2. • Matt. xxii. 12. p Rom. iii. 19.