« ForrigeFortsæt »
and marked attention ; while he sees all, some he observes with peculiar pleasure, as well as with the nicest inspection; for “though the Lord be high, yet bath he respect unto the lowly ;" his name is holy, and he dwells on high, yet to that man he looks, and with him he also dwells, that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at his word.” For among all the tribes of men that pass before him, it is not the rich man, it is not the mighty man, it is not the self-righteous man, that attracts his notice; but he that confesses his sins with a “humble, lowly, penitent and obedient heart." He, sees, and he loves to see; he hears, and he loves to hear, the man who says, “ I have sinned, and
perverted that which was right, and it profited me not.”
Having attempted to illustrate the text, on the Divine inspection, let us now behold how it,
II, Unfolds the language of unfeigned repent
For here God fixes his eyes upon one who says, “ I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not." The man who makes a confession like this, is far better in the sight of God, than he who says he has no sin, and thus deceives himself. The humbled publican shall go down to his house justified, rather than the vaunting pharisee. This is a confession which deserves attention ; it is one that will suit us all. It is a confession, an acknowledgment, Ist of having committed enormous crimes, “ I have sinned ;" 2011, of having abused the best of blessings, “I have perverted that which was right;" 3rd, of having experienced disappointment from sinful pursuits, and it profited me not.” This is, I say,
1. A confession of having by sin offended against God. He says, “I have sinned." Like Job, a
penitent appears to say, “Behold, I am vile." "I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O thou Preserver of men ?" Like David to Nathan, he says, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Like the prodigal, he cries, saying, “ Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. I am" verily guilty concerning this thing." Wherever the Spirit of God has begun to work upon the soul, there will be this sense of unworthiness; this conviction of sin ; this inward consciousness that all has not been right between God and the soul. “ God be merciful unto me a sinner,” is a cry which the great God knows well would suit us all. “I have sinned.” Born in sin and shapen in iniquity, as I grew up to manhood, I gave awful proofs of the depravity of my nature. I neglected God and prayer; I secretly loved and cherished sin; I walked in the broad road that leadeth to destruction. There must be a measure of shame and confusion of face upon every one of us, when we approach a holy God; and the true penitent, feeling that it is of no use to attempt to conceal sin, because God looketh upon men, and knows it all; I say, being conscious of this, he confesses and forsakes his sin. He sees his guilt and shame, and casts himnself upon the pure, free mercy of God in Christ.
2. This is a confession of having abused the best of blessings; "I have perverted that which was right.” That is, thy holy providence gave me many peculiar and rich favors, which I employed to a bad purpose, or entirely neglected. A true penitent confesses that the goodness of God had not, till lately, led him to repentance. There are various right things, excellent blessings, which, in
the state of nature, we have perverted. Divine forbearance is a great good ; for, “it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed ;' and yet, perhaps I am addressing some, who, " because sentence against an evil work has not been executed speedily, have their hearts fully set in them to do evil.”
This was perverting that which was right. The time of youth is a season of peculiar importance, and gives special advantages; but how many a penitent has had to regret that he perverted it, wasted its precious hours, and his own strength, in the ways of folly and sin ; did not remember bis Creator in the days of his youth, but passed them in carelessness, or perhaps in open depravity! Health is a great blessing, but how little have we estimated it, how much have we perverted and abused it. Forgetting to be thankful for the favors we have received, we have not glorified the God “ in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways.” Time is a great blessing, but how have we squandered it, idled it away in unnecessary visits, perhaps in unlawful amusements, or tried to kill time, while, in fact, time has been gradually killing us ! Providential supplies are great blessings; but we have perverted them by luxury, by profaneness. The tables of the luxurious man cry out against him; you may fancy that they groan under the weight of the abused creatures of God. The glutton, the wine-bibber, the man that is prodigal in any thing, perverts that which is in itself right. Money, property, possessions, are all right in themselves, but foolish man perverts them all.
But O, a true penitent most of all regrets that he has abused the Bible, and the publication of the gospel. “The law of the Lord
is right, the commandment of the Lord is perfect and pure ;" yet, O, may a penitent say, how I abused it! how I neglected its calls, its invitations, its promises ! How I refused to behold Christ crucified, to look unto the Saviour of sinners! I perverted that which was right; despising the book, the day, the people of God: so have I abused the best of blessings.
3. This is a confession of having experienced disappointment in the ways of sin. I have done all this, " and it profited me not."
Some men foolishly and wickedly say, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself in God; but every penitent can truly testify, that "the way of transgressors is hard," and that it ensures disappointment and dissatisfaction, -"it profiteth me not.” Now can I testify that it is all vanity and vexation of spirit. We may try the pursuit of gold, of fame, or of lawless pleasure; but, “ What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?" · For when ye were the servants of sin, what fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?” The sincere penitent confesses, that he was quite mistaken in the hope of happiness from the world ; that as yet he has not obtained it; that all has been delusion and deceit; that he has grasped at shadows, and thus proved his own folly and misery. profiteth me not.” O, sinner, if you never made this confession before, I am sure you will make it on a dying bed; you will then see that the things which now please and amuse you, profit you not. O that you would now go and tell this to God before that solemn hour arrives! Hombled for sin, confess the cheat the world has played on you ; it' has profited you nothing.
III. My text discovers the triumph of reigning grace. “ For if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." “ I have surely" says God," heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus : Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed
the yoke; turn thou me, and I shall be turned : for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son ? Is he a pleasant child ? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for bim; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord.” " Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” This humble penitent, who sincerely makes the confession I have mentioned, and looks to the Redeemer, obtains grace in his sight; for the Lord, 1. Prevents his soul from enduring eternal perdition ; 2. Raises him to the everlasting enjoyment of Divine illumination.
1. The Lord prevents his soul from enduring eternal perdition. “ He will deliver his soul from going into the pit :" evidently implying, that to a pit of misery he was rapidly tending, and of falling into it was afraid. Perhaps he was saying, not the water-floods overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.”
Then God says,
" Deliver him from going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom." Jesus is a sufficient Saviour, I will accept him for his righteousness' sake. It may be, that there is here a reference to the grave, in allusion