Abbildungen der Seite

sense of the great evil of sin, which immediately affects the heart with sorrow, and humbles and abases the soul before the Lord. My sin is ever before me ; against thee have I sinned; thou art just, when thou speakest; have mercy upon me, O God. So also St. Paul; the law is spiritual; I am carnal, sold under sin; Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall delicer me !


The evil of sin arises from our obligations to do otherwise. And the more strongly we are obliged to do our duty, the more wicked is it in us to neglect it, or go contrary to it; and the more are we to blame; and the greater cause have we to be sorry and penitent.

We may be under various kinds of obligations to the practice of virtue. The honour and authority of God may oblige us; the welfare of our fellow-creatures may oblige us; and our own present and future happiness, may oblige us too : and therefore, we may be to blame, and have cause of repentance, on several accounts; and that, for the evil contained inone particular action, viewed in various respects, as it is; against God; our fellow-men; or our own interest, for this world and the next. And as is our sense of these things, so shall we be affected; i. e. we shall be sorry, and blame ourselves accordingly.

For let our obligations be ever so great ; yet, if they are not seen, we shall not feel ourselves obliged, or look upon ourselves to blame, when we do wrong. And if ever we do blame ourselves at all, it will be only as we hare gone contrary to such obligations as we are sensible of. Although we may be to blame, in other respects; yet we shall not blame ourselves. If we be to blame, for instance, for going contrary to the honour and authority of God; yet we shall not be disposed to blame ourselves on that account, unless we are sensible how that the honour and authority of God did oblige us. If we are sorry for what we have done, at any time, it will be only on such accounts, on which we see we have done wrong; and for such reasons, for which we see we ought to have done otherwise. Thus, if we see our great obligations to all holiness and righteousness, arising from the nature of God, and the reasonableness of his government, sin will accordingly appear as an infinite evil. But if we see ourselves under no obligations to God, but merely in way of gratitude for the kindnesses we have received, we shall feel to blame for our sins, only as they are instances of ingratitude. And in a word, in what respects soever we see ourselves obliged to do right, in those respects we shall feel ourselves to blame when we do wrong; and that in exact proportion to the weight with which a sense of our obligations lies on our spirits.

a Rom. v. 11. 2i.


Persons of an epicurean, and atheistical temper, who see themselves under no obligations to virtue, but merely from present self-interest, as a virtuous conduct tends to their preseut ease, profit, and honour; if they neglect their duty, and do wrong, they will blame themselves and be sorry, only because they have hurt themselves, and gone contrary to their own interest for this world. But if persons have some belief of a future state, and of the rewards and punishments of an

a other life; they may be sorry for their sins, because by them they have forfeited heaven, and exposed themselves to hell. Or if they are under the influence of a compassionate temper, or of natural affection, and have injured a neighbour, a friend, or near relative; nature may prompt them, on that account, to be sorry. Or, if they firmly believe that God loves them, that Christ died for them, and that they are made heirs of eternal glory; and see that by their sins, they have been guilty of great ingratitude towards their alınighty benefactor ; they may, merely from natural gratitude, be sorry on that account. But if the great evil of sin, as it is AGAINST A GOD OF INFINITE GLORY, be not seen ; they will not mourn for sin on that account. And yet if that which constitutes the great evil of sin is not seen; and sin is not hated and mourned for, upon the account of that which is its chief and principal malignity, our repentance is not genuine. It is of importance, therefore, that we know wherein the great evil of sin does really consist. For which purpose, let us attend to the words of oor text, which contains the confession of a true penitent, and exbibits the sentiments of a contrite heart. Against thee, thee only, have 1 sinned.

Where, observe, 1. The particular sins referred to in these words, viz. murder and adultery. For this Psalm was composed after that Nathan the Prophet came to David, and reproved him, and denounced the judgments of God against him for those sins. And in this Psalm he expressly refers to the sin of murder, which he had been guilty of, v. 14. Deliver me from blood-g`iltiness, O God! And it is supposed, he has reference to his other sin, in those words, v. 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God! Now it is commonly and justly observed, that some sins are immediately committed against God, such as blasphemy, idolatry, &c. while other sins immediately respect our neighbour, and are injurious to him, as was David's murder and adultery. And yet, it seems, if we injure our neighbour, God is sinned against, and we are to blame principally on that account.

For, observe, 2. The great evil of David's sins, as set forth in his confession, and that which inade them so exceeding heinous, was, that they were committed against God. Against thee, thee only, (thee chiefly and principally,) have ( sinned. He had injured Uriah, and done wrong on that account: he had exposed himself to reproach among his subjects, and to anguish in his own heart, and was to blame for bringing s. great a calamity on himself. But the greatness of his sin consisted in its being against God. And this seems to 'swallow up all his heart, and to overwhelm him with sorrow. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. And on this account, bis sin appeared so great to him, that he was ready to justify God, in the dreadful sentence which God denvunced against him, by Nathan the prophet : that his wives should be defiled in the sight of the sun, the sword neder depart from his house, and that his child should die b. Thou art just when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest. God had sent Nathan to charge home his sin and guilt upon him, and to tell him, that by what he had done he had despised the Lord, and despised the commundment of the Lord, and given occa

[ocr errors][merged small]

sion to the enemies of God to blasphemed. He had despised the LORD, and despised the commandment of the Lord; for God had said, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery; for I am the LORD. But David had practically said, “ I will commit adultery with Bathsheba, and gratify my lust, for all that God says : and I will murder her innocent husband Uriah, that I may hide my sin and shame by this wicked means, notwithstanding the divine prohibition. I do not care for God nor his law, or authority, so much, but that I will go through with my designs, and that, let come what will; for I value my lust more than God, and my reputation more than his honour; and therefore neither God, nor his law, authority, or honour, will I regard." This was the language

of David's conduct! And this is the language of every sin! And thus he despised the commandment of God, and despised God bimself. And this was, with good reason, charged home upon him, as the great evil of his sin ; and for which God would severely punish him. And in a sense of this, with a broken heart, he cries out, “ Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: wherefore thou art just when thou speakest, and clear when thou judgest.” And thus we see wherein the great evil of David's sins did consist, both in the sight of God, and to his own sense and apprehension after he was become a sincere penitent. And because every sin is as really committed against God as those were ; and so what was true, in this case, will hold true in all other cases : therefore from the words we may make this doctrinal observation, viz.


The great evil of every sin consists in this, that it is com

mitted against God.

Of every sin ; not only of those which immediately respect God; as blasphemy, idolatry, sabbath-breaking, and the like; but also of those which immediately respect and injure ourselves or neighbours ; as in this case of David.

d 2 Sam. xii. 9, 10. 14.

Their great evil; their great aggravation, that which above all things renders us to blame, and deserving of punishment for our sins, is, that they are against God. They may be against our own interest and honour in this world; and we may be to blame on that account. They may be against our welfare in the world to come, and we may be to blame on that account. They may be against our neighbour's good, for time, or for eternity, or both ; and we may be to blame in that respect. But this is the great evil of sin, that it is agaiost God.

Some assert, that our great obligation to virtue arises from its tendency to our own particular happiness : and that therefore the great evil of sin consists in its tendency to our own particular misery. Others maintain, that our great obligation to virtue arises from its tendency to promote the public good : and consequently the great evil of sin must consist in its tendency to injure the public. But the Scripture-scheme is different from both : for according to that, it seems, our great obligations to virtue must arise from God; because it is plain, in Scripture-account, the great evil of sin consists in its being against God. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.

Here I will attempt to show,
I. How, and in what respect, sin is against God.
II. How great an evil it is on that account.
III. That this is the great evil of sin.

Which heads being gone through, I shall offer some remarks, and then apply the whole to our own use.

I am to show,
I. Hore, and in what respect, sin is against God.
And here,

1. Sin is contrary to the nature of God. A sioful nature and a holy nature are in direct opposition; they are a perfect contrariety to each other, The carnal mind is enmity against God. And sin is that abominable thing which God's soul abhorst. The holy One of Israel, is a Being of infinite understanding, and of perfect rectitude ; and has a complete and comprehensive view of all things; and in all cases sees what is right, and fit, and beautiful to be done; how the dei

f Jer. xliv. 4.

Rom. vii. 7.

« ZurückWeiter »