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sins for which men mourn. The more pleasure any man takes in sin, the greater is the sin in its aggravation. We read of some in whose mouths wickedness is sweet, and they hide it under their tongue. Job 20:12. That is, they draw a great deal of contemplative delight before and after the commission of sin, as well as in the commission of it. It is bad enough to sin and sigh, to sin and weep; but to sin and boast, to sin and make a mock of sin, what prodigious sinning is this! O sinner, what a heart hast thou, that can sport with that which grieves God and crucified Christ, and which, without deep repentance, will damn thine own soul.
13. The more bonds of restraint any man breaks asunder to commit sin, the greater that sin is in the sight of God. There are some persons upon whom God has laid more restraints to keep them back from iniquity, than he has upon others. The more mercies he has bestowed upon you, the more restraints you have from sin. So many mercies, so many ties, Jer. 2:5, 6; especially spiritual mercies, as light in your minds, pardons sealed to your consciences, love manifested to your souls. Such also are your own vows and resolutions: “Thou saidst, I will not transgress.” Jer. 2:20. Didst not thou promise me, saith God, more care and circumspection for time to come? And such are all the examples and warnings God has given us by his judgments upon others. 1 Cor. 10:11. These things make sin out of measure sinful. The design of all this is to show you the indispensable need of repentance and faith to carry you to Christ.
OBJECTION. But I am the person upon whom these aggravated sins are found. You speak to me of going to Christ; alas, there is no hope of mercy for such a wretch as I am.
ANSWER. Give me leave to tell you, that you have a text before you which clears the way of your duty and salvation at once : “If any man,” be he what he may, and be his sins never so great, “ will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him," saith Christ. There is mercy in Jesus Christ for thee, who art guilty of crying sins; for thee, who hast sinned against light; for thee, who “hast added drunkenness to thirst ;" for thee, who hast contrived sin with deliberation ; for thee, who hast induced others to sin by counsel or example; for thee, who hast taken pleasure in iniquity, and made a sport of sin ; yea, and for thee, who hast broken asunder the bonds of mercies, vows, and warnings, provided thou wilt now hear the voice of Christ, and thy will open to him with a hearty consent. Isa. 55 : 4. You are great sinners; but I show this day a great and almighty Saviour, one who is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him. Heb. 7:25. There is a sacrifice appointed for these sins. Bless God for that; they are nowhere excepted from the possibility of forgiveness. Nothing but the impenitence of thy heart, and the obstinacy of thy will, can hinder thee from a full pardon. Look round about thee to the uttermost horizon of thy guilt, and Christ can save to the uttermost point the eye of thy conscience can discern, yea, and beyond it too; but then thou must come unto him. You speak of the greatness of sin, and you have indeed cause to have sad thoughts about it; but you consider not that your unbelief, by which you stand off from Christ your only remedy, is the greatest sin that ever you were guilty of against the Lord. This is the sin that binds the guilt of all your other sins upon you. Let me therefore address myself,
(1.) To you whose consciences are alarmed with the hideous aggravations of your sins, by reason whereof your own misgiving hearts, assisted by the policy of Satan, discourage you from all attempts to gain Christ and pardon through repentance and faith. Let me hint three or four considerations to you, by way of encouragement.
The sparing goodness of God gives encouragement that God may have a reserve of mercy for so great a sinner as thou art. O what a mercy is it, that thy life has been spared hitherto. Many of thy companions in sin are beyond hope, while thou art left. This is no sure sign of God's gracious intention to thee, unless his goodness and forbearance lead thee to repentance. Then the gracious intention of God in prolonging thy life would appear. But it is itself a great mercy, because without it no spiritual mercy could be expected.
It is matter of encouragement, that though your disease be dreadful, it is not incurable. The text brings it within the compass of mercy; O bless God for those words, “ If any man."
As great sinners as you have been have found mercy, 1 Tim. 1:16, and God would have it recorded for your encouragement. If the Lord shall make thy heart break and thy will bow, whatever thy sins have been they shall not bar thee from forgiveness. But if thou resolve to go on in sin, or sit down discouraged, and wilt not come at the invitation of Christ, then thy wound is incurable indeed, and thy sentence has already passed upon thee for hell. “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Cor. 6:9. God forbid that this should be the issue of Christ's gracious invitations to thee, and forbearance of thee. Seeing mercy is tendered to any man that will accept it on Christ's terms, exclude not thyself.
(2.) I will now address this exhortation to persons who are not of the notorious rank of profane sinners, but whose lives have been drawn more smoothly through a course of morality. These have as great need to be pressed to repentance and faith as the most notorious sinners in the world. They are a generation that bless themselves in their own eyes, and thank God with the Pharisee that they are “not as other men.” Luke 18:11. They acknowledge conversion to be the duty of the profane, and that such sinners stand in need of it. But as for themselves, they scarcely know where to find matter for repentance, nor do they feel any need of Christ. Now, I would lay three considerations before such persons, to convince them that their case is as sad and hazardous, yea, in some respects, more hazardous than the state of the most notorious sinners; and that a change must also pass upon them, or else it had been good for them that they had never been born.
CONSIDERATION 1. Let the moral part of the world lay this thought to their hearts, that though their sins are not so gross to appearance as other men's are, yet, continued in, they will prove as destructive as the greater abominations of other men. No sin, absolutely considered, is small. Every sin is damning without Christ. “The wages of sin is death.” Rom. 6:23. It is no great difference, if a man be killed, whether it be by a sword or a penknife. The least sin violates the whole law. He that offendeth in one point, is guilty of all. James 2:10. The least transgression of the law pulls down its curse upon the sinner's head. And this is your misery, that you are out of Christ and stand under the terms of the first covenant. Moreover, the law of God is violated not only externally, but internally. Thus, every unchaste thought is adultery, and the inward burning of malice and anger in the heart is murder. Now, if the Lord shall bring the spiritual sense of the law home to your consciences as he did to Paul's, Rom. 7:9, you will certainly give up the plea, that you have not so much need of conversion as other sinners have. There are sins of greater infamy, and sins of deeper guilt. There may be more guilt in sins that are stifled in thy heart, and never defamed thee, than in some others that are seen by the world.
CONSIDERATION 2. You are guilty of one sin more heinous than any outward act, that is, your trusting to your
own righteousness as. the Pharisees did. “He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.” Luke 18:9. Here is an idol set up in the room of Christ. It is true, this sin makes not so loud a noise as the sins of profane persons do; but it is as abominable in the eyes of God, as the sins that are most offensive among men. Moral persons, thus trusting to their own morality, and neglecting Jesus Christ, will be found ultimately among those who have “a portion with unbelievers.” Luke 12:46.
CONSIDERATION 3. It has been always found a more difficult thing to convince and bring to Christ the moral part of the world, than to convince the profane part of it. “Publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” Matt. 21:31. Publicans were reckoned the vilest of men, and harlots the worst of women; yet either of these were more readily brought to Christ than self-righteous Pharisees. Away then with your idle pretensions that you are safer and better than others. By what has been said, it appears that you stand in as much need of Christ as the most infamous sinners in the world do. .
This doctrine presents great ENCOURAGEMENT to every obedient soul whom the Lord shall persuade to comply with the call of the gospel, whatever his former rebellions have been. There are some whose hearts the Lord has touched with a sense of their sin and misery, and of the all-sufficient remedy in Christ, but the sense of former rebellions appalls them; they cannot hope for acceptance with him. Here is good news for such souls ; Christ is at the door, and former rebellions are no bar to him, provided there is now a hearty compliance with his invitation, “I will come in to him." A glorious promise, comprising five inestimable benefits.
(1.) This is the most glorious work of God that can be