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postor or enthusiast to refer messengers who came to him, to miraculous works
performed before their eyes; to things done upon the spot; to the testimony of their own senses.
6 Shew John those things which ye do see and hear.” Would, could
.” any other than a prophet come from God do this? In like manner, was it for any other than a divine messenger to bid his very disciples not believe in him, if he did not these works; or to tell unbelievers, that if he had not done among them works which none other man did, their unbelief might have been excusable ? In all this we discern conviction and sincerity, fairness, truth, and evidence.
ON INSENSIBILITY TO OFFENCES.
PSALM xix. 12, 13.
Who can tell how oft he offendeth ? 0
cleanse thou me from my secret faults. Keep thy servant also from presumptuous
sins, lest they get the dominion over me. THESE words express a rational and
a fecting prayer, according to the sense which they carry with them at first sight, and without entering into any interpretation of them whatsoever. Who is there, that will not join heartily in this prayer ? for who is there that has not occasion to pray against his sins ? We are laden with the weight of our sins.
“ The remembrance of them is grievous to us; the burden of them is intolerable.” But beyond this, these same words, when they come to be fully understood, have a still stronger meaning, and still more applicable to the state and condition of our souls ; which I will endeavour to set before you.
You will observe the expression, my secret faults: “O cleanse thou me from my secret faults.' Now the question is, to whom are these faults a secret ? to myself, or to others ? whether the prayer relates to faults which are concealed from mankind, and are in that sense secret ? or to faults which are concealed from the offender himself, and are therefore secret, in the most full and strict sense of which the term is capable ? Now, I say, that the context, or whole passage taken together, obliges us to understand the word secret in this latter sense. For observe two particulars. The first verse of the text runs thus : “ Who can tell how oft he offendeth ? O cleanse thou me from my secret faults.”
" Now, to give a connection to the two parts of this verse, it is necessary to suppose, that one reason, for which it was so difficult for any man to know how oft he offendeth was, that many of his faults were secret ;
but in what way and to whom secret ? to himself undoubtedly: otherwise the secrecy could have been no reason or cause of that difficulty. The merely being concealed from others would be nothing to the present purpose : because the most concealed sins, in that sense, are as well known to the sinner himself, as those which are detected or most open ; and therefore such concealment would not account for the sinner's difficulty in understanding the state of his soul and of his conscience. To me it appears very plain, that the train of the Psalmist's thoughts went thus:-- He is led to cast back his recollection upon the sins of his life; he finds himself, as many of us must do, lost and bewildered in their number and frequency; because, beside all other reasons. of confusion, there were many which were unnoticed, unreckoned, and unobserved. Against this class of sins, which, for this reason, he calls his secret faults, he raises up his voice to God in prayer. This is evidently, as I think, the train and connection of thought; and this requires, that the secret faults here spoken of be explained of such faults
as were secret to the person himself. It makes no connection, it carries with it no consistent meaning, to interpret them of those faults which were concealed from others. This is one argument for the exposition contended for; another is the following. You will obserye in the text that two kinds of sins are distinctly spoken of under the name of secret faults, and presumptuous sins.
The words are, cleanse thou me from my secret faults : keep thy servant also from presumptuous sins.” Now it will not do to consider these secret faults as merely concealed faults; because they are not necessarily distinguished from, nor can be placed in opposition to, presumptuous sins. The Psalmist is here addressing God ; he is deeply affected with the state of his soul, and with his sins, considered in relation to God. Now, with respect to God, there may be, and there often is, as much
presumption, as much daring in committing a concealed sin, as in committing a sin which is open to the world. The circumstance of concealment, or detection, makes no difference at all in this respect;