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true penitent, and exhibits the sentiments of a contrite heart. Against thee, thee only, have I 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-guiltiness, O God! And it is supposed, be 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 made them so exceeding heinous, was, that they were committed against God. Against thee, thee only, (thee chiefly and principally,) have I 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 so 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, his sin appeared so great to him, that he was ready to justify God, in the dreadful sentence which God denounced against him, by Nathan the prophet: that his wives should be defiled in the sight of the sun, the sword never depart from his house, and that his child should die. 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 commandment of the Lord, and given occa
2 Sam. xii.
c Psalm li. 4.
sion to the enemies of God to blaspheme. 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 himself. 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 committed 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 against 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.
Which heads being gone through, I shall offer some remarks, and then apply the whole to our own use.
I am to show,
I. How, and in what respect, sin is against Gov.
1. Sin is contrary to the nature of God. A sinful 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 DEIf Jer. xliv. 4.
e Rom. viii. 7.
TY should be loved and honoured in the world which he has made; and how his creatures and subjects should live together in mutual love and benevolence, and not an unjust or cruel act be ever done throughout all his dominions. And as God sees what is right, and fit, and beautiful, and what is contrary; so he is accordingly affected towards things. He loves righteousness, and hates iniquity. Let God be esteemed, reverenced, honoured, and obeyed: let love and good-will prevail, and be established among his subjects. Let every thing of a contrary savour be eternally banished his dominions; and God will be well pleased: but if any dishonour is done to the DEITY, or injury to our fellow-subjects, nothing can displease him more: for there is nothing he hates like. sin it is the abominable thing which his soul hates. Sin is more odious and detestable to him, than the most abominable thing on earth is to us. His aversion to it is vehement beyond the conception of any finite mind. His aversion to it is absolutely infinite. In this respect, therefore, sin is against God. It is a going directly contrary to his nature; and that in the most tender point; in a thing which comes nearest his heart. Nothing is so cross to him, nothing can disoblige him so much, or displease him, or grieve his heart, like this. As when a man's wife departs from him, and commits whoredom with another man, and breaks his heart by her ill carriage; so, says God, I am broken with their whorish heart. And therefore, says he to his beloved people, If ye will not for all this hearken unto me, but wALK CONTRARY unto me : then, such a conduct would be so intolerably provoking, I will not, I cannot bear it, but I will WALK CONTRARY unto you also in FURY. But a sinful conduct is called a walking
g Psalm xiv. 7.
h Ezek. vi. 9. I am broken with their whorish heart. From the covenantrelation between God and his people Israel, they are said to be married unto him, Jer. iii. 14. and hence, their going from God to idols is called whoredom. And to prefer an idol before the true God was a very provoking thing: therefore he says, I am broken with their whorish heart. But to prefer a vile lust before God seems to be in like manner provoking: it is a kind of spiritual idolatry. And yet this is done in every act of sin. No sin can be committed, but God is grieved. Eph. iv. 30.
i Lev. xxvi. 27, 28.
contrary to God, in Scripture, not only because it is thus in direct contrariety to the divine nature: but also because,
2. Sin is against the law, authority, and government of almighty GoD; for, as God hates sin with an infinite hatred; so he has with the utmost engagedness forbidden it: saying, Cursed is every one that continues not in ALL things written in the book of the law, to do them. As Governor of the world, he sets up himself against sin; forbidding it with all his authority, and standing ready to punish it with all his power: and it is even one main end of his universal government, to discountenance and suppress it, throughout all his dominions.
No doubt, almighty God has right to govern the world: for originally he is absolute LORD of it; and by NATURE he is GOD MOST HIGH: and his GODHEAD, and his LORDSHIP, give him an undoubted right of government. And accordingly he has taken the throne, set himself up at the head of the universe, and undertaken the government of all things, and especially of the whole system of intelligences. -And,
No doubt, his government is wORTHY to be universally submitted unto: for it is all perfect and glorious. His laws and his dispensations are perfect in wisdom, rectitude, and goodness and even as he himself is infinitely worthy of all love and veneration, so that his very Being affords infinite ground of joy among his creatures; even so his government is just like himself, and exhibits his very image, and is worTHY universally to be rejoiced in. As it is written, the Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice'.
Wherefore it is the fittest, and happiest thing in the world, to be, and do, just what he requires: and in his favour, and under the protection of his almighty arm, there must be the most absolute safety and security. So that it might reasonably have been expected, that all his subjects, throughout all his dominions, would join to say, LET GOD REIGN FOR EVER; and that they would all, with one heart, have exulted at the thought of being in subjection to such a KING.
But the sinner comes in, and dissents from his whole constitution, and that both in heart and life. "As for his law,"