David Black.

Sermons on important subjects online

. (page 4 of 23)
Online LibraryDavid BlackSermons on important subjects → online text (page 4 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the eye of his spotless purity. In many in-
stances he hath revealed from heaven his
wrath against all ungodliness and unrig^ite-
ousness of men. He destroyed the old
world for the wickedness of its inhabitants.
He consumed the cities of the plain with
fire from heaven, on account of their crying
abominations. He hath denounced indig-
nation and wrath, tribulation and anguish,
against every soul of man that doth evil.

And what is most wonderful of all, in the
^ ery means which his infinite wisdom hath



devised for the pardon and recovei'y of the
smner, he hath given the strongest possible
proof of his invariable abhorrence of sin. For
when man had become a transgressor of the
divine law, and was exposed to all the dread-
ful effects of God's righteous displeasure, in
the unsearchable riches of his condescension
and grace, He was pleased to entertain
thoughts of mercy towards our fallen race.
But this mercy could not be extended to
guilty creatures, in a consistency with the o-
ther glorious attributes of the divine nature,
without such an adequate atonement or satis-
faction, as would maintain the honour of
his perfections and government, and dis-
play to all intelligent creatures his infinite
and invariable hatred of sin. Such an a-
tonement the offended Majesty of heaven
himself provided in the person of his own
Son, one of the same nature and perfections
with himself, who took upon him the like-
ness of sinful flesh, and became obedient
unto death, even the death of the cross.
Here the evil of sin is displayed in its most
awful and striking colours, and God's hatred
of it is declared in a more forcible manner


than if all the creatures on earth, or even all
the angels in heaven, had been doomed to
everlasting punishment. How great must
that evil be which required such a costly
sacrifice to atone for it ! How deep the stain
which nothing but blood of such inconceiv-
able value could wash away ! Surely the in-
finitely great God must perceive an infinite
evil in sin, when, to testify his displeasure
against it, he spared not his own Son, when
standing in the room and stead of guilty
men ; when He, who was the Father's equal,
and the Father's delight, was exposed on
account of it to such inconceivable suffer-
ings. O the unknown malignity and vile-
ness of that accursed thino: which crucified
the Lord of glory ! If these things were done
in the green tree, what shall be done in the
dry ? If the beloved Son of God endured ail
this when he bore the load of human guilt,
where shall the ungodly and the sinner ap-
pear, at that day when the Almighty ariseth
to plead his own cause, and to vindicate the
rights of his injured hohuess and abused

44 THE EVIL or SIX. SER. 2,

upon the whole, then, are thej not just-
ly said to befools uho make a mock at sin,
whether we consider its nature as contrast-
ed witii the holy nature and perfect law of
God ; or observe its effects on fallen angels
and fallen men, both in this world, and in a
future and eternal state ; or lastly, attend
to the views which persons in different situ-
ations entertain of it, and to the awful proofs
which the great God hath given of his infi-
nite and invariable displeasure against it.

I shall now conclude this discourse with
a few^ practical reflections from what has
been said.

1. Let us adore the patience of God in
bearing so long with a world of such sinfijl
rebellious creatures.

OM'hat contempt is daily poured on the au-
thority of God, by multitudes of careless un-
thinking men ! How is his sacred name
blasphemed, and his holy law violated ! Hov/
are his ordinances profaned, and even liij
goodness and grace grossly abused ! all tliis^

SfeR. 2. THE EVIL OF SIN. 45

the great and adorable Majesty of heaven
and earth witnesses, ybr his eyes are upon
the zi'cn/s of mail, and he seeth all his go-
ings. And yet, though sin, as we have
shewn, is the object of his infinite hatred
and aversion, he bears Avith sinners. This
is the day of their merciful visitation. He is
long suffering to us-ward, not willing that
any should perish, hut that all should come
to repentance. He waits to be gracious,
and therefore he endures with much lone:-
suffering a world of sinful rebellious crea-
tures, till the purposes of his grace, in the
salvation of all his chosen and redeemed ones
be fuialiy accomplished.

My brethren, this is not a subject of mere
speculation. We are all personally and
deeply interested in it ; for we have all cor-
rupted our ways, we have all gone a.sidc,
there is none righteous, no not one. So that
we have all good reason to adore the pa-
tience of God, in bearing so long with us.
To contemplate the evil of sin in general, will
do us little service, unless we bring the matter
home to ourselves, and are duly e^ffected witl^


a sense of our own peculiar sinfulness. This
is the proper work of a day of solemn fast-
ing and humiliation, and the use that should
be made of all that we have been hearing.
Let us therefore, brethren, look into our
own hearts and lives. Let us search and
try our ways, and endeavour to recollect
those particular instances in which we have
♦sinned against God. Let us impartially re-
view our past conduct, and consider our
numberless offences, with all their aggrava-
tions. Let us think of our pride and impa-
tience, our impurity and worldly minded-
ness, our unfruitfulness under the means of
grace, and neglect of the glorious gospel,
our coldness and formality in the exercises of
devotion, and our omission, or careless per-
formance of social and relative duties. From
these, and such like instances of actual trans-
gression, let us rise to the fountain of origi-
nal corruption that dwells within, and then
let us reflect what an evil and bitter thing
sin is ; how hateful in itself, and how dread-
ful in its consequences. Such an exercise
as this, cannot fail, by the divine blessing, to
give us very humbling views of ourselves,


as well as admiring thoughts of the patience
and forbearance of God. Overwhelmed
with the sight of such a load of guilt, we
must be disposed, with somewhat of like
feelings, to breathe out the Publican's
prayer, God be merciful to me a sinner.

2. How thankfully ought we to receive
the blessed remedy that God hath provided
for the cure of our sinful souls.

Great beyond all conception is the evil of
sin, and awful are the effects which it pro-
duces. But, blessed be God, it is not an e-
vil without remedy : for there is balm in Gi-
lead, and a physician there. For this pur-
pose was the Soji of God manifested, that
he might destroy the reworks of the devil.
He came to finish transgression, to make an
end of sin, to make reconciliation for iniqui-
ty, and to bring in everlasting righteousness :
And, if we apply to this matchless Physi-
cian, for the cure of our diseased souls, we
shall certainly experience his healing power.
He is called Jesus, because he saves his
people from their sins. He saves them from


the guilt of sin, by the merit of his atoning
blood ; he saves them from the power of Sin,
by the grace of his Holy Spirit ; and none
who put their trust in him, ever had cause
to be ashamed of their confidence. O then,
lot us be persuaded, under a deep con\ic-
tion of the evil and danger of sin, and of our
own peculiar sinfulness, to fly for refuge to
this all-sufficient Saviour. However worth-
less and wretched in ourselves, we are per-
mitted, invited, and commanded to plead
the worthiness of the Lamb that was slain.
In him God is reconciled. He liveth to make
intercession for all who come to the Father
by him, and the more a ile and unworthy
we feel ourselves to be, the more will the
Redeemer's power and grace be magnified
in our salvation. Nothino; is too hard for
omnipotence to accomplish. Where sin hath
abounded, grace hath much more abound-
ed : That as sin hath i-eigued unto death,
even so might graee reign through righte-
ousfiess unto eternal lifey In/ Jesus Christ
mir Lord.


3. Let us long for that blessed world,
where sin and all its effects shall be com-
pletely destroyed.

While the saints remain on earth, sin, in
^ greater or less degree, still cleaves to them.
They indeed truly hate and forsake it ; but
the flesh lusteth against the spirit, so that
they cannot always do the things that they
would. Besides, they live in a defiling sin-
ful world, where they are exposed to many
temptations, which too often prevail against
them, and disturb their inward peace. But
in a litde vvliile, this painful conflict will
cease. The very being of sin shall be de-
stroyed. Into the heavenl}' Jerusalem no-
thing that is impure shall enter. There
shall he no more death, neither sorrozi) not
crying, neither shall there he any more
pain : for the former things are passed a-
way. O blessed world ! where sin and all
its baneful effects shall be known no more,
or known only like evils and dangers that
are past, to accent the songs of the redeem-
ed, to furnish continual matter for their and wonder through eternity, while.

50 THE EVIL or SIN. HER. 3.

with enraptured hearts, they join in the
highest ascriptions of glory and dominion,,
to him that hath loved them, and washed
them from their sins in his OMn blood, and
hath made them kings and priests unto God
and his Father.

Who that has the joyful hope of this in-
conceivable blessedness. Mould wish to live
one mom.ent longer in this world than infi-
nite wisdom sees meet — in this world, where
every thing is stamped with the melancholy
marks of sin — where God is so much dis-
honoured, the Saviour so much neglected,
his ordinances so little regarded, and his
people so often reviled and persecuted —
where pain and wretchedness, disease and
death, are seen and felt wherever we turn
our eyes — and where our own wicked hearts
create for us such constant trouble and un-

Blessed be God, who hath given us the
hope of a better life beyond the grave.
Here we have no continuing city, but we
"seek one to come. Let us pass the time

Sfell. 2. THE EVIL OF SIN; 51

of our sojourning here in fear, and pa-
tiently wait the appointed hour of complete
deliverance. Amen,




' Numbers xxxii. 23.

Be sure your siji will find you out,

1 HE history to which these words refer^
and which is contained in the preceding part
of this chapter may be thus shortly related.
The children of Israel had arrived at the
borders of the land of Canaan, and were
about to pass over the river Jordan, to take
possession of the country that had been pro-
mised them for an inheritance, when the
Reubenites and Gadites, two of the twelve
tribes, beholding the land of Jazer and of
Gilead, and judging it to be peculiarly suit-
ed to their habits and manner of life, propo-


sed to remain on this side of the river. With
this proposal Moses was displeased, chiefly
because it might deprive the other tribes of
tl;ieir assistance in warring with those na-
tions of Canaan which remained to be sub-
dued. But when the Reubenites and Gad-
ites, in order to remove this objection, de-
clared their determination to continue with
their brethren, till the land was conquered,
Moses consented ; only warning them not
to deal deceitfully in this matter, for that
God was witness to the whole transaction,
ver. 30 — 23.

The words of the text contain a p-eneral
truth of great importance ; a truth which
cannot be too often, or too seriously consi-
dered : Be sure your si?i willjind you out..

Most men are anxious to hide their sin,
to conceal or to palliate its guilt, and to flat-
ter themselves with the hope of peace,
thou2:h they walk after the imaoination of
their own corrupt hearts. For this purpose
various expedients are tried, and tried, alas !
with too fatal success. Some, in order to


avoid the stings of conscience, have recourse
to infidel principles, or, if that appear too
wide a step at once^ to false and erroneous
sentiments in religion, which steel the mind
against conviction, and render it compara-
tively easy in the commission of sin. Others
banish as much as possible all reflection on
these subjects. They plunge into company,
business, or amusement, for the express pur-
pose of driving aw^ay care ; and think them-'
selves peculiarly fortunate if they are able
to succeed. A third class, not so hardened
as the two former in impiety or vice, unable
to divest themselves entirely of the fears of
an hereafter, stifle their convictions by una-
vailing purposes of future amendment. In
these, and many other ways, do sinners woe-
fully decei\e themselves to their everlasting
ruin. If they can only succeed in conceal-
ing their guilt from themselves, or from
public view, if they act with such prudence
and caution as to maintain a fair and re-
spectable character in the sight of their fel-
low-creatures, they are pleased and satisfied ;
Tie^ er considering in what light they appear
before Him who seeth not as man seeth,


and to whom the secrets of all hearts are
ever manifest.

But verily there, is a God that judgeth
in the earth, and though hand join in hand,
the workers of iniqiiifi/ shall not go iinpu-
nished. Sin is not that harmless trivial
thinp; which multitudes flatter themselves it
is. As certainly as there is a God who go-
verns the v/orid ; as certainly as power, \vis-
dom, faithfulness, justice, and holiness be-
long to his character, so certainly, my breth-
ren, sin will fmd the smner out. If the word
of God be true, it must, it will do so, soon-
er or later. Though wickedness he sweet
in the mouthy and the sinner hide it under
his tongue, though he spare it, and forsake
it not, but keep it still within his mouth,
yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it shall
prove as the gall of asps within him. Every
sin which we commit, whether it be great
or small, has in it the seeds of inconceiva-
ble misery, and will assured!}^ produce, ei-
ther bitter repentance in the present life,
or endless unavailing remorse in the world
to come. Such is the doctrine of the text,


and of every part of Scripture ; and to this
solemn awakening truth, I propose at this
time to call your attention. And O that
it may reach the conscience of every one
present! tliat all of us, under the eifeC'
tual teaching of the Holy Spirit, may he
brought to confess our guilt, to humble our-
selves before God, and to apply without de-
lay to the blessed and only remedy provid-
ed m the gospel I

I do not intend to occupy your time by
proving, in an abstract manner, the truth of
the proposition in the text ; but shall en-
deavour to bring the subject home at once
to your cases and to your consciences, by
mentioning some of those particular seasons
when sin will find the sinner out. I shall
begin wdth those which are more especial
and peculiar, and then proceed to such as
are more certain and universal.

I. Sin is frequently brought to remem-
brance under the powerful and searching
luinistry of the gospel.


The word of God is quick and powerful^
sharper than any tzco-edged sicord, piercing
even to the dividing asunder of soul and
spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and
is a discerner of the thoughts and intents
of the heart. When skilfully opened, and
faithfully applied, it seldom fails to make
some impression upon the minds of the hear-
ers ; and though these impressions in many
cases prove transient and inefiectual, yet,
blessed be God, many are the instances in
which the gospel becomes the power of God
unto salvation. In particular, convictions
of sin are frequently produced under the
ministrj^ of the word. The preacher drawls
his bow at a venture ; he knows not the par-
ticular state or character of many of the in-
dividuals whom he addresses ; but the Spirit
of God directs the arrow to the heart of this
or the other hearer, just as he pleases ; so
that he is judged of all, and convinced of
all ; and thus the. secrets of his heart being
made manifest, he falls dozi:n on his face
and worships God, and acknozdedges that
God is among us of a truth. Perhaps some
particular sin is ])rought to the sinner's re-


membrance ; a sin M'hich he may have long
ago committed, and which he may have Uke-
wise long ago forgotten. Or, the history of
his past life in general may be brought un-
der revieAv, and the guilt of numberless
transgressions, which now appear with all
their horrid aggravations, may stare him in
the face. Probably he wonders how the
preacher knows so much of the workings of
his heart, or of the transactions of his life.
Every word seems particularly addressed ta
himself, as if there were no other person
present ; and he almost suspects that the
speaker has been informed of circumstance*
relative to his character, hitherto unknown
to the world. So powerful is the operation
of the word of God, when applied to the
conscience. Even the most hardened and
secure are sometimes made to feel it. Thus
when Paul reasoned of righteoumess, tem-
perance, and j udgment to cqme, Feliv trem^
bled. And such was the effect of John the
Baptist's faithful preaching, on the mind of
Herod, that we are told he feared John^
and did many things, and heard him glad-
hj. In these two cases, indeed, as in many


others, the effects were merely temporary,
and unproductive of any good fruit. The
love of sin proved too powerful, and trium-
phed over their feeble resolutions of amend-
ment. But still, the cases prove the truth
of our assertion, that under the powerful
and searching ministry of the word, sin will
find the sinner out. O happy case ! when
the arro\^s of conviction take such fast hold
of the conscience, that nothing but the
peace-speaking blood of Christ can heal the
wound ! May this be the case with every
unconverted sinner who hears me this day !
May the Lord open your hearts as he open-
ed the heart of Lydia, to attend unto the
things which are spoken ; and if your sin has
never found you out before, may it now be
discovered to you, in all its malignity and
vileness, that seeing your danger, you may,
like the manslayer pursued by the avenger
of blood, speedily flee to the city of refuge.
But still tile complaint of the prophet may
be made, J} ho hath believed Qiir report^
and to xvhom is the arm of the Lord re-
vealed 9 The preacher's words are to many
like a lovely song of one that hath a plea-


sant voice and can play well on an instru-
7nenf,for they hear liis words ^ but they do
them not.

But the Lord has many ways of awaken-
ino' the consciences of men, besides the mi-
nistry of the word, or, at least, in subservi-
ency to it. And therefore I mention, as
another season ^hen sin finds the sinner

11. The season of sickness.

This is frequently a time of serious re-
flection. Separated from the busy crowd,
and rendered incapable of attending to his
ordinary cares and employments, the man
who is visited with sickness has time and
opportunity for considering his ways. Things
then are generally not beheld in the same
light, in which they are viewed in the time
of health, when the animal spirits are brisk
and lively, and every thing around wears a
fair and smiling appearance. And, in par-
ticular, sin then assumes quite a different
aspect from what it had in the moments of


gaiety and thoughtless dissipation. In some
cases, disease is the proper and natural ef-
fect of particular sins. In every case it is
the fruit of our original apostacy from God.
And how often has God been pleased to a-
waken in the sinner's conscience a sense of
sin, by means of some sharp or threatenmg
illness, so that he has been forced to ex-
claim, There is no soundness in mi/Jlesh be-r
cause of thine anger ^ neither is there any
rest in mij hones because of my sin. For
mine iniquities are gone over mine head ;
as an heavy burden they are too heavy for
me. Psal. xxxviii. 3, 4. Yes, I do remem-
ber my faults this day : this and the other
sin that I have done lies heavy on my con-
science. It gave me little uneasiness at the
time I committed it, for my heart, my fool-
ish and depraved heart was hardened
through the deceitfulness of sin. But now
the veil is removed ; the false glare in which
passion and fancy represented objects to my
mind has disappeared, and I now see the
guilt and the folly of my past conduct. Ma-
ny faithful sermons, long ago heard, [email protected]
which I paid little attention at the time, are


now fresh in my remembrance. Many kind
and salutary admonitions, which I once
treated with neglect and scorn, are now for-
ced on my recollection. Alas ! how have I
hated instruction and my heart despised
reproof ! and I have not obeyed the voice
of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to
them that instructed me I Thou writest bit-
ter things against me, and ?nakest me to
possess the iniquities of my youth.

My Brethren, these are not imaginary
scenes. Those who are accustomed to visit
sick beds have occasion to know, that in
fact they are often realized. Many, indeed,
are awfully hardened under God's afflicting
hand, and continue as insensible as ever to
the evil and demerit of sin, even while their
hones are chastened with pain, arid the
multitude of their bones with strong pain ;
exhibiting a striking proof of the total inef-
ficacy of means, without the concurring in-
iiuence of divine grace. Yet, on the other
hand, there are comfortable instances of per-
#ons who have resisted every mean of con-
viction, being savingly awakened in the time


of sickness. More instances, however, it is
to be feared, occur, of persons being parti-
ally awakened, and considerably softened in
time of trouble, who, upon the return of
health, have relapsed into their former se-
curity and carelessness about their souls.
Be sure, however, that sooner or later your
sin will find you out. It may be in the time
of sickness, in the hour of calm and sober
reflection ; and happy w ill it be, if the dis-
covery be made while time and opportuni-
ty are given for repentance ; before the door
of mercy be shut, and the awful sentence be
past. He that is unjust, let lihn he unjust
still ; and he that isjilthi/, let Jiini he fil-
thy stilL

III. The truth declared in the text is fre-
quently exemplified in those various adverse
changes which occur in human life.

We are born to trouble as the sparks fly
upward. Besides bodily sickness, the differ-
ent conditions and relations in which we are
placed in the world, prove, in the course of
pi-ovidcnce, the occasion of sufferino; to the


children of men. In situations of this kind,
iniquity is often brought to the remembrancej
and impressed on the conscience of the sin-
ner. We have a striking instance of this in
the history of Joseph's brethren, recorded
Avith such inimitable simplicity and beauty
in the sacred page. Long after they had
sold their brother into Egypt, ^vhen the me-
mory of it Mas almost obliterated from their
minds, a seemingly adverse dispensation of
pro^'idence awakens their recollection, and
brings their treachery and unkindness to Jo-
seph, full in their view. A?id they said one
to another, IVe are verihj guilty concerning
our brother, in that zee .sy/zii' the anguish of
his soul zchen he I)csought us; and zee ziould
not hear : therefore is this distress come up-
on us. And again. If liat shall zee say unto
my Lord — what shall zcx speak — or hozo
shall zee clear ourselves? God hath found
out the iniquity of thy servants.

The histor}^ of David furnishes another
striking instance of the same instructive
truth. After his lamentable fall, David con-
tinued for a long time in a state of av ful in-


sensibility. While his outward circumstan-
ces prospered, he seems to have had no idea
of the greatness of his sin. Living in af-
fluence and ease, he went on frowardly in
the way of his heart, and perhaps secretly
congratulated himself on having escaped de-
tection. But when the prophet Nathan
was sent to rouse his conscience to a sense
of guilt, after assuring him that the Lord

1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryDavid BlackSermons on important subjects → online text (page 4 of 23)