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salvation are for a time in some measure embarrassed by the same mistake ; and find it very difficult to judge of their conduct according to the rules of Scripture, and with respect to their relations and obligations to the Almighty; and still more so, to be affected with a humbling sense of guilt on this account, answera. ble to the views and feelings which they hear described by those who preach the Gospel to them.
Indeed, it is probable, that conviction of sin, at first, commonly arises from a consciousness of having acted in certain instances contrary to our views of moral obligation; rather than from an accurate comparison of our whole conduct and the state of our hearts, with the law of God and our obligations to him. But afterwards, deeper reflection and further enquiry produce a sense of guilt, in those thoughts, words, and actions, which once were considered as entirely innocent.
The intention of these remarks, my brethren, is to impress your minds with the immense importance of the subject before us; for, the want of duly under. standing or adverting to it, often keeps serious per. sons long in a state of hesitation as to the doctrines of the Gospel, and exposes them to great danger from the artifices of those who continually are starting ob. jections against the truth
Indeed, even true and established Christians are seldom so deeply affected with a sense of guilt, when betrayed into such sinful inclinations, or actions, as appear insulated from all connexion with men, and never likely to injure any one, or to be known except to the omniscient God alone; as they do for those
evils, which fall under human observation, interfere with the comfort or interest of others, and incur their censure.
But in proportion to the degree in which this erro. neous judgment influences us, it must unquestionably militate against the exercise of genuine repentance, humility, and simple faith in the mercy of God, and the merits of CHRIST: it must prevent that admiring, adoring love of the divine Redeemer, who shed bis blood on the cross as an atonement for our sins; and that glowing ardour of affection for him, which was the grand peculiarity of the primitive Christians, and their all powerful motive to selfdenying labours and sufferings for his sake. This, we every where meet with in their writings; alas, how different from the frigid zone of modern Chris. tianity!
II. I would illustrate the emphasis of the Psalmist's words, “ Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”
David perhaps might mean, that, as a king, he was accountable to none but God: but he also, no doubt, intended to confess, that in entire distinction from the enquiry, how far man had been offended or injured by his conduct; he had greatly displeased the Sovereign of the universe, “ the King of kings and “Lord of lords.” Perhaps some persons at that time might be secretly rejoiced, that such a man as David had thus kept them in countenance. Joab, who had committed murder, for instance, might inwardly exult on so lamentable an occasion. But, however that might be, He who is, “ no respecter of persons,” and with whom is no difference between the mightiest
monarch and the meanest subject, was deeply of. fended.
The language of the text, “ Against thee, thee “only,” implies far more than I can express, of the majesty, excellency, and authority of the glorious God; our relations to him, as the Creator, Governor, and Judge of all; our obligations to him, in general and particular; and the return which we ought to "render for all his benefits.”
It is worthy of remark, that no records of antiquity, however admired, (the Scriptures alone ex. cepted,) use language concerning the infinite GOD, which is in any measure worthy of his incomprehensible majesty and greatness; nay, which is not exceed. ingly degrading to his character: and if moderns have, at all succeeded better on this subject, it is because they have derived their most adequate ideas from the Bible, though many are unwilling to acknowledge the obligation. Yet, after all, the sublimity of the sacred oracles on this subject is unparalleled." Great is the LORD, and greatly to be “ praised ;. His greatness is unsearchable. I will “ speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of “thy wondrous works; and men shall speak of the “ might of thy terrible acts, and I will declare thy “ greatness."* " Who hath measured the waters “ in the hollow of his hand, and meted out the hea. “ vens with a span, and comprehended the dust of “ the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains " in scales, and the hills in a balance ?"_" The na"tions are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as "the small dust of the balance. Behold, he taketh up " the isles as a very little thing! And Lebảnon is not " sufficient to burn; nor the beasts thereof for a burnt "offering !-All nations before him are as nothing :
* Ps. cxlv. 3-6.
and they are counted unto him less than nothing " and vanity! To whom will ye liken God?»* Against this Being, of glorious power, and majesty unspeakable, a poor worm dares to rise in rebellion ! , " Against thee have I sinned!”
When Job, in the heat of controversy, had spoken irreverently concerning God; his friends accused him of hypocrisy; and crimes of which he was con. sciously innocent; and even Elihu bore too hard upon him: so that he was not convinced or humbled on that account. But when “ Jehovah spoke to "him from the whirlwind;" though he did not deign to argue on the justice of his dispensation, but merely cxhibited before him some displays and illustrations of his greatness, power, and majesty; he soon brought Job to submít, to plead guilty, and to say, "I am vile," " I abhor myself, I repent in dust and " ashes.”
St. Paul also seems to have taken up this subject in the same manner, when he answers an irreverent caviller against the dealings of God with his crea. tures; « Nay but, О man, who art thou that repliest " against God?” Consider what a frail, short *sighted, and erring creature thou art, even in com'mon things ; and darest thou presume to dispute
Is. xl. 12-18.
against God, on such deep subjects as are evidently • beyond thy comprehension, or even thy investiga• tion?' “ Canst thou by searching find out God? “ Canst thou find out the Almighty to perfection? “ It is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? It “ is deeper than hell, what canst thou know?” “ Oh " the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and “ knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his “ judgments, and his ways past finding out !"
Many objections often raised, not without a great mixture of presumption, against the doctrines of Revelation ; especially such as respect the first origin of sin and misery, the criminality of our conduct as fallen creatures, and the justice of God in the judg. ments denounced against transgressors, should, in general be silenced in this manner; and not by entering into detailed arguments on each particular, as if God was “ even such a one as ourselves.” “ Shall “ not the Judge of all the earth do right ?»
It may, however, be observed, that many of these objections press equally upon every religious system, and not on any one in particular. It is evident that sin and misery do exist and abound. It is undeniable, that the Almighty could have prevented the existence of these evils, or limited their progress. To argue then, against what he hath done or permitted, be. cause we, blind and ignorant sinners, fancy he might, have done better, is nothing less than blasphemy ; and carried to its consequences, directly militates against every kind of religion.
Again, it is evident in fact that man is depraved : and we need only to judge the conduct of the world,