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Jesus before the world began.” He is “ a God of salvation,” as making the redemption of the world his great concern; yea, as altogether occupied in it; so as, if I may so speak, to be swallowed up in it, and to be “ a God of it." We read of him as “a God of patience and consolation,” yea," a God of all grace:" but the title given in my text meets most fully the necessities of mankind, and opens a door of hope to every sinner under heaven.]
Nor is there a sin which, if truly repented of, shall not be forgiven
[We read, indeed, of the sin against the Holy Ghost, as excepted from the tremendous catalogue of pardonable sins. But it is not excepted because of its enormity, as though it were too great to be forgiven; but only because that sin implies a wilful and deliberate rejection of the only means of salvation : it destroys, not because it exceeds the efficacy of the Redeemer's blood, but because it tramples on that blood which alone can expiate even the smallest sin. A man who determinately rejects all food, needs not to do any thing else to ensure his own destruction : he rejects the necessary means of life, and therefore must inevitably perish. But we may say without exception, that “the blood of Jesus Christ both can and will cleanse from all sin,” if only we sprinkle it upon conscience, and trust in it for salvation. It is worthy of observation, that the Psalmist expresses no doubt as to the possibility of his acceptance with God. He does not say, “ If such guilt can be forgiven, deliver thou me;" but simply, “ Deliver me." Nay, in a preceding part of this psalm he says, “ Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean ; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snowa.” Whatever guilt, therefore, may lie upon the conscience of the vilest sinner under heaven, let him go to God, and cry with humble confidence, “ Deliver me, O God of my salvation !”]
From this example of David, we may further learn, II. The duty of all who have obtained mercy of the
Lord The world are ready to complain, “Why do you not keep your religion to yourself? But no pardoned sinner ought to do so: he is bound to render thanks for the mercies vouchsafed unto him. 1. He owes it to God
[Surely God is to be honoured, as a God of providence and a God of grace.
Are we distinguished above the brute
a ver. 7.
creation? We should bless God for the faculties bestowed upon us.
Are we elevated above any of our fellows by the communication of spiritual blessings to our souls? We are bound to praise God for such "an unspeakable gift.” If we forbore to speak His praises, methinks" the very stones would cry out against us."]
2. He owes it to the world
[How are the world to be instructed in the knowledge of God, if those to whom that knowledge is, imparted are silent respecting him? We owe a debt to them.
6 What our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, and our hands have handled of the Word of Life," we are bound to declare to them. We are not at liberty to put our light under a bushel; but must “make it to shine before men, that they also may glorify our Father who is in heaven." “When we are converted,” we are bound in every possible way to “strengthen our brethren."] 3. He owes it to himself
[Suppose a man to “ have been forgiven much, will he not love much?” and will not love vent itself in the praise of the object beloved ? Especially if a man have been made a partaker of God's righteousness, will he not sing aloud of that righteousness? No doubt he will : and, if the angelic hosts would account it a painful sacrifice if silence were imposed upon them, and they were forbidden to shew forth the praises of their God, so would it be with the believing soul, in proportion to the measure of grace that had been conferred upon him.] To all, then, I SAY,
1. Be particular in your applications to God for mercy
[Do not rest in mere general confessions or general petitions; but search out the hidden iniquities of your hearts, and spread them distinctly before God in prayer. We have not all committed the sins of David: but are we not all sinners ? And if we would search the records of our conscience, might we not find some evils which call for more than ordinary humiliation? Or, if in acts we have been free from any remarkable transgression, have we not felt such motions of sin within us, as might, if God had given us up to temptation, have issued in the foulest transgressions? We need only recollect what our Lord tells us, that an impure and angry thought is constructive adultery and murder; and we shall see little reason to cast a stone at others, and abundant reason for humiliation before God. I say, then, search out, every one of you, your besetting sins, and implore of God the forgiveness of them.]
2. Have respect to God under his proper character
(View God not merely as your Creator, your Governor, and your Judge, but as your Covenant God and Saviour. See how David addresses him: “ O God, thou God of my salvation!” Thus it will be well for every sinner of mankind to do. See your own interest in him: see what provision he has made for you; what invitations he has given to you ; what promises he has held forth to you. This will encourage penitence: this will strike the rock for penitential sorrows to flow out. In a word, view God as he is in Christ Jesus, a God reconciling the world unto himself; and you will never indulge despair, nor ever doubt but He will shew mercy to all who call upon him in spirit and in truth.]
3. Determine, through grace, to improve for God the blessings you receive
[It was a suitable determination of David, that, if his requests should be granted, “his tongue should sing aloud of God's righteousness." A similar resolution becomes us. Are we interested in a salvation which displays " the righteousness of God,” and makes every perfection of his to concur in the promotion of our welfare? Let us not be silent: let us not be ashamed to confess him before men: though the whole world should endeavour to silence us, let us not regard them for one instant: but let us say with David, “I will praise thee with the psaltery, even thy truth, O my God: unto thee will I sing with the harp, O thou Holy One of Israel: My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed. My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long b."]
b Ps. lxxi. 22-24.
A BROKEN HEART THE BEST SACRIFICE.
Ps. li. 16, 17. Thou desirest not sacrifice ; else would I gire
it : thou delightest not in burnt-offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
“WHEREWITHAL shall I come before the Lord ?” is the first inquiry that will be made by an awakened sinner. No sooner were the murderers of our Lord “pricked to the heart” with a conviction of their guilt, than they cried out, (the whole assembly of them together), “Men and brethren, what
shall we do?” In answer to this, man proposes many costly offerings; and for the obtaining of peace would present unto God any thing that he should require. Had God required sacrifices to be offered for David's sins, he would gladly have offered them, however numerous or costly they had been : “ Thou desirest not sacrifice : else would I give it thee.” But there is only one thing required, and that universally, of all people under heaven: and what that is, we are informed in the words before us: “The sacrifices of God," &c.
Here are two points to be inquired into;
The term “sacrifice” is metaphorically applied to many things : to praise and thanksgivings); to almsdeeds"; to a surrender of the soul to Godd. But in our text it does not so much refer to any offerings whereby a pardoned sinner may honour God, as to that disposition of mind whereby an unpardoned sinner may facilitate his acceptance with God. As to any external services, David informs us that these would not answer the desired end : for though many offerings under the law were appointed and approved of God as typical of the great sacrifice, yet were they in themselves of no value®, especially when compared with obediencef; and, when substituted for obedience, they were hateful and abominable in the sight of God. For such sins as David's there was actually no sacrifice appointed: no penalty less than death could be awarded to the person that was found guilty either of adultery or murder". But there is a sacrifice which will forward the acceptance even of such an atrocious sinner as David: it is called in our text, “ A broken and contrite heart.” To ascertain what is meant by this, let us consider,
1. The term
a Mic. vi. 6, 7. b Heb. xiii. 15. c Heb. xiii. 16. d Rom. xi. 1. e Ps. l. 8-14. f1 Sam. xv. 22. Hos. vi. 6. 8 Isai. i. 11-15. and lxvi. 3. and Amos v. 21-23. h Numb. xxxv. 31 Deut. xxii. 22.
[We all have some idea of what is meant by a broken heart," when applied to worldly sorrow. It signifies a person overwhelmed with sorrow to such a degree, that he is always bowed down under its weight, and incapable of receiving consolation from any thing but the actual removal of his burthens. Thus far it may serve to illustrate the meaning of our text, and to shew what is meant by a heart broken with a sense of sin But in other respects there is an exceeding great difference between the two: for a heart broken with worldly troubles, argues an ignorance of our own demerit—a want of resignation to God-a want of affiance in him—and a low esteem of those benefits which sanctified affliction is calculated to produce In these respects therefore it forms a contrast, rather than a resemblance, to true contrition.
Let us then drop the term, and consider the thing.] 2. The thing
[“ A broken and a contrite heart” consists in a deep sense of our guilt and misery—a self-lothing and abhorrence on account of the peculiar aggravations of our sin, (as committed against a gracious God and a merciful Redeemer,)—a readiness to justify God in his dealings with us, whatever they be,-and such an insatiable desire after mercy, as swallows up every other sensation, whether of joy or sorrow
View all these things distinctly and separately—compare them with the workings of David's mind as set forth in this
view them as illustrated by other portions of Holy Writk
and the more they are considered, the more will they discover to us the precise nature of that sacrifice which is described in the text.]
Let us now proceed to inquire, II. Why God honours it with his peculiar favourThat God does signally honour it, is certain
[When it is said that “ a broken and contrite heart God will not despise,” more is meant than is expressed: it means, that God will honour it with tokens of his peculiar approbation. . Whoever he be that offers to him this sacrifice, God will notice him, even though there were only one in the universe, and he the meanest and vilest of mankind. Not all the angels in heaven should so occupy his attention as to prevent him from searching out that person, and keeping his eye continually
ver. 3, 4, 7-9. k 2 Chron. xxxiv. 27. Job xl. 4. and xlii. 6. with Zech, xii. 10. Luke xv. 18, 19. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13. or all together. 2 Cor. vii. 11. or as exemplified in other of David's Psalms, Ps. xxxviii. 4-10. and xl. 12. Perhaps it will be best to confine the illustrations to Ps. li. and xxxviii. for fear of swelling this part of the subject too much.