Sermon 1492. The First Note of My Song
DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, AUGUST 31, 1879,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Who forgives all your iniquities." Psalm 103:3.
I am a firm believer, not only in the Inspiration of the Psalms, themselves, but also in the correctness of their order. Ibelieve that Paul was right when he called a certain Psalm, "the Second Psalm," and that those are wrong who so disarrangethe book as to make it the sixteenth. Anything to certain radicals in theology is better than the established order- theychange for change sake! Many attempts have been made to arrange the Psalms chronologically and critics have shifted them aboutat their pleasure, according to this theory or that. Their wisdom is utter folly! The Psalms as they stand have an order mostappropriate and instructive.
If time permitted I could illustrate this in many ways, but for this present it is more in the line of my discourse to observethat we could not have understood so well the 103rd Psalm if we had not first read the thirty-second. You remember how the32nd begins? "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputesnot iniquity." The pardoned man is blessed and then he blesses God. First the full, deep, effective blessing comes to himfreely from the Lord and then he reflects the blessing and exclaims in joyful gratitude, "Bless the Lord, O my Soul."
First, we are blessed with the pardon of sin and then we bless God for the pardon of sin. The Divine blessing enters our heartsloaded with good things. We gladly receive the heavenly messenger and then it begins to sing like a minstrel at a feast, nordoes it long sing alone for all that is within the house of our manhood arouses itself to join in the strain and never isbetter music made this side the heavenly places than when all that is in us is stirred up to magnify and bless God's holyname! Our text is one stanza of the never-ending "song of loves."
In the verse before us the most wonderful point, to my mind, is the attribute of God which David selects for special praise-"Allthat is within me bless His holy name." You might have expected to read, "gracious name," or, "merciful name," but you findit written "holy name." Indeed, this is the emphatic point of the wonder of forgiven sin, that a holy God should pass it by!If God could wink at iniquity; if there were something in His Nature which rendered sin tolerable to Him, it would be a slightthing that He should allow it to go unpunished. But because He is a holy God-righteous, just and pure-who cannot look uponiniquity, whose fury burns against evil, therefore it becomes wonderful even to amazement that He should forgive our iniquities!
To accomplish this wonder, the miracle of the Cross was worked by unspeakable love. O man, you have but to gain a true ideaof that holiness which is like a consuming fire, that holiness which even angels cannot gaze upon, but of which they sing,"Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts"-you have but to gain a glimpse of that unutterable perfection and you will abhor yourselfin dust and ashes-and then you will marvel to think that the Thrice Holy One should have spared your guilty soul! How abhorrentis your depravity in His sight and yet He does not smite you! What are you but a mass of pollution? And yet the InfinitelyPure has considered you in love! What are you but a sink of impurity? And yet the All-perfect One has looked upon you in compassion!
Do you believe in Him and accept His dear Son? Then Grace has looked upon you! Before the glance of Omnipotent Love, yoursin shall disappear and your iniquity shall forever vanish! O blessed deed of boundless mercy! If, indeed, the royal pardonhas been sent to us from the court of Heaven, we may right heartily say, "Bless the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is withinme bless His holy name, who forgives all your iniquities." In these latter days, among the other wonderful things which havebeen developed, we have been enriched by a school of thinkers who kick against the doctrine of Justification by Faith andrebel against the idea of the Atonement and the forgiveness of sin.
The meager gospel which they proclaim to us poor fallen wretches is this-If you do wrong, there is no help for it. You willhave to reap the consequences. If you do right you will, of course, bring your hearts into a healthier condition and you willbe happy in proportion. But if you do wrong there is no hope for you-there will certainly come upon you the result of eviland you will suffer till you work yourself right. "Do not flatter yourself," they say, "with any idea of Grace and mercy interposing-thereis either no God, or if there is one, He will take no notice of your prayers, but will let you develop in your own way. Thefictions of substitution, imputation and pardon are mere delusions, or pious subterfuges unworthy of rational men."
These "men of culture" and "modern thought" are intent upon robbing us of the essence of the Gospel! Under cover of enforcinga Truth of God which nobody denies, they undermine the special doctrine for which Revelation was given. It is true that uponman's character his true condition depends, but this by no means disproves the interposition of supreme love. Woe to us iftheir philosophy should be true-and woe to them, also-yes, woe to the whole world if their denial of our best hope shouldbe accepted for truth! As for us, this gracious forgiveness which they deny touches the chief spring of our soul and stirsus with a hope of better things! This very Grace which they deprecate as though it were immoral and could not work men towardsholiness, is the cause in our soul of hatred of sin and the source of our hearts' noblest aspirations after holiness!
Moved by gratitude, we long to honor our pardoning God, who, though He is glorious in holiness, is also glorious in Gracewhen He blots out sin! We would gladly prove, by our lives, that we have not received this gift of mercy in vain, by lettingall men see that we are now dead to sin and cannot live any longer therein. Evangelism does not flatter mere morality by makingit the rival of Christ, but it is the highest promoter of all that is honest, temperate and of good report, as our daily conversationshall prove. The grand Truth of God of forgiven sin is our subject at this time. I hope I cannot say anything which will benew to you upon this point, for if I could, it would look as if you did not already understand this early privilege of trueBelievers.
Many of you understand it and enjoy it and, therefore, I can only bring to your remembrance old facts. But these, like well-storedand ripe fruit, will be exceedingly sweet. I spread the table, not with foreign delicacies and novel dainties, but with theeveryday fare of the great Father's house. Our sermon will be simple, but I trust it will be most consoling. It will not displaythe ability of the speaker, but it will reveal the Grace of His Master and this is my heart's desire. "I believe in the forgivenessof sins," is one of the most blessed sentences of the creed. Dear Friends, we do most joyfully believe in it, and, what ismore, we enjoy the truth personally as a matter of fact in our own case! May we feel the joy of it at this good hour. O HolySpirit, bear witness with the water and the blood!
I. In speaking of the pardon of sin, I shall remark, first, that it is A PRIMARY BLESSING. Observe, it is put first in thecatalog given by the Psalmist. It is not written, "Who heals all your diseases, who forgives all your iniquities." No, butthe list commences thus, "Who forgives all your iniquities." Forgiveness leads the van and stands in the forefront of thehost of mercies. When the angels of God meet us, the first messenger of love that comforts our heart brings in his hand pardonfor our transgressions. As the olive leaf in the dove's mouth proved to Noah that all the waters were receded, so does a senseof forgiven sin assure us that our great griefs are ended and our liberty and joy has come. Pardon shines first of the starsof mercy.
A main reason for this is the fact that we never enjoy a mercy as a mercy from God till we receive the forgiveness of sins.A man lives while his sin is unforgiven. He eats, he drinks, he sleeps, he wakes and talks about enjoying life-but none ofthese things are received by him as gifts from God. If he thinks upon God at all, the Divine name is a terror to him. He doesnot eat his bread as though it were given by a Father's hand, nor does he put on his garments as though he were clothed byDivine love. That cannot be while he abides under Divine anger! The unpardoned sinner is barely able to see God as his Benefactor-ashis Father he knows Him not. God does bestow mercies upon unpardoned men and women, but they cannot receive them as such until,first of all, they come to know that their transgression is forgiven.
Brethren, there are many mercies which are not given at all and cannot be given until first of all the pardon of sin has beenbestowed. It would be out of place and inconsistent to give the blessings of the Covenant to unpardoned sinners. For instance,why should God heal the diseases of a man under condemnation for sin? It is but a scant mercy which would seek the healthof a man condemned to die-by all means relieve his pain, but his disease you may leave alone! We cannot
expect God to crown a man with loving kindness and tender mercies while he is still dead in sin and lives in daily dread ofa second death-an eternal death.
A coronation for a condemned criminal would be a superfluity of inconsistency. To crown a hardened convict who lies in thecell of Newgate awaiting his execution would be a wretched mockery! How could it be that God should wreathe a chaplet of favorsfor a man who has refused His mercy and willfully abides under His wrath on account of unconfessed and unpardoned sin? Howcould our spiritual youth be renewed like the eagle's, or our mouth be satisfied with good things while as yet we are doomedto die and are withering away in our wickedness? What are good things to a tortured conscience and what is renewed youth toa soul racked by remorse? No, pardoned sin must clear the road for the march of Divine Grace-this jungle of iniquity mustbe removed to make a highway for our God.
The application of the blood of sprinkling must be felt! The cleansing power of the Atonement must be known or the rest ofthe blessings of the Covenant will never reach us. And well may the Lord place this mercy first because when it comes, itensures all the rest! The forgiveness of sin is the dawn of the day which is always followed by the clearer light. God doesnot pardon us and then leave us to perish of our spiritual diseases-but when once He grants a plenary absolution, then HisSpirit exercises His healing art and recovers us of the leprosy of sin. When the Lord forgives all our iniquities, it is notlong before we perceive that our life is redeemed from destruction, crowned with loving kindness and satisfied with good thingsto the renewal of its youth!
Pardon never comes alone-troops of blessings attend it! The voice of the turtle dove, which speaks peace because of pardonedsin, also tells that the rain is over and gone and that the fruits of the Spirit will soon appear. He who gave His Son's bloodto wash us will withhold no good thing from us! He who has said to us, "Your sins are forgiven you," has given us a grantof all necessary good in that one sentence of His love! Like the comet nucleus, which bears a streaming train of light behindit, so does forgiveness draw along with it a far-reaching glory of boundless favor. Well may this blessing be set first sinceit carries all the rest in its loins-
"When dreadful guilt is done a way No other fears we know. That hand which scatters pardons down, Shall crowns of life bestow."
There is this, also, to be thought of, that the pardon of sin comes first that it may be seen to be an act of pure Grace.If any other blessing had preceded it, our legal spirits would have dreamed of merit and fitness-if any attainment had beenreached by us before the forgiveness of sins was given, we might have been tempted to glory in self-but now we perceive thatGod forgives our sins before He heals our moral diseases and, therefore, there is no room for pride to set her foot. Whilethe man is still white with the leprosy of sin, the Lord visits him in pity to show that He looks for nothing in man as themotive power of His love. While yet the sinner has his judgment perverted, his affections polluted and his desires depraved-evenwhile he is full of the plague of his own heart, God says to him-"I have forgiven you."
This, therefore, is pure Grace and is set in the foreground that its sovereignty and freeness may be written before our eyesas with a sunbeam. God pardons men as sinners just as He finds them, notwithstanding that they have nothing to recommend themto Him. Their disease is so foul that they might have been spurned for their loathsomeness if it were not for His boundlesslove! But seeing them plunged in evil and dead in sin, He magnifies His mercy by quickening them to new life and forgivingthem all their trespasses.
Brothers and Sisters, on this first head I want to be very practical and say to you-let us seek this forgiveness of sin asa primary blessing if we have not yet obtained it. If the Holy Spirit puts it first, let us seek it first. Be wise, O youwho feel your guilt, and do not go about, first of all, to make a reformation in yourselves and then to come to God for mercy.But come to Him, first, and then see after other things. When you come to Him, do not ask Him to first heal your soul's disease,but first to forgive your iniquities! Follow God's order and you cannot go amiss! There is infinite wisdom in all the Lord'sarrangements. Do not, I pray you, try to make that first which God makes second, nor that second which God makes first!
You are guilty, ask for pardon at the outset. Through Jesus Christ a free pardon is proclaimed, pardon for sins of the deepestdye! Pardon bought and sealed with His atoning blood! Come and receive it just as you are. Though there is nothing in youto commend you to the Divine regard, you are now in just such a state as best prepares you for His Sovereign Grace. Are youstartled at this statement? It is neither more nor less than the Truth of God! You are empty,
therefore there is room in you for the fullness of Divine mercy! You are polluted, therefore there is opportunity to showthe power of the blood in cleansing you! You are guilty and there is space for undeserved mercy. Plead your guiltiness andsay, "Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is great." Do not urge any extenuation, but as you are guilty, say, "Forgive me." Inyour confessed guiltiness there is space for the great King to do as He wills and put away your sin by a sovereign act ofmercy.
Let your first desire be pardoned sin! Do not wait till first you understand all mysteries, but get your sins forgiven! Donot first labor to attain a perfect life-get your sins forgiven! Do not first make a profession, join a Church and put onoutward religiousness. Get your sins forgiven! There David's Psalm begins and there yours must began if God, in love, acceptsit-"Bless the Lord, O my Soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name; who forgives all your iniquities." That is ourfirst head. Pardon is the primary blessing-seek it as such.
II. Forgiveness is A PRESENT BLESSING. This is very apparent in the text, which is in the present tense-"Who forgives allyour iniquities." Not, "who will, perhaps, forgive you on your death bed." Not, "Who did forgive you years ago and now condemnsyou." No, it is, "Who forgives"-is now forgiving daily, hourly, momentarily-is continually forgiving your iniquity. I wantto bring this fact of a present blessing before your minds briefly, but very clearly. This privilege the Believer has actuallyobtained-all his sins are forgiven at this moment of time. Blessed be the name of the Lord, we are even now washed from sin!
We shall grow in Grace, but we shall never be more completely pardoned than when we first believed! We shall one day standbefore the glorious Presence of God in His own sacred courts and see the Well-Beloved and wear His likeness, but we shallnot even then be more perfectly forgiven than we are at this present moment! Sin depresses our spirit-the consciousness ofit often makes us weep in secret and yet none of it is imputed to us-every grain of it is as far removed from us as the eastis from the west. Rejoice, Believer, that the Spirit bears this witness-"God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven you." As manyas have looked to Christ upon the Cross are now justified by faith and have peace with God. They are at this moment cleansedfrom all sin through the application of the precious blood of Christ. This is a matter of present fact, and not of mere hope.
According to the text this present mercy is perpetually bestowed-He still forgives our iniquity-there is perpetuity in it.At this very moment I may be mourning my sin, but God is forgiving it. Alas, I may be sinning, for even in the holiest deedswe do there is still sin-but even then God is still forgiving! If, indeed, you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, the Lord isat all times forgiving you! As constant as your sin, so constant is His forgiveness! Never fall into the notion of some thatthe one forgiveness which we received at the first has rendered it unnecessary for us to seek new forgiveness, and unnecessaryfor us to offer new confession. It is not so! The Lord is always forgiving and it is for us to still be seeking that blessing!
We ask each day for daily bread though the promise has made it sure, and so must we daily seek mercy, though it is alreadypromised. Our Lord said, "After this manner also pray you," and a part of that prayer is, "Forgive us our trespasses as weforgive them that trespass against us." I know that certain brethren say that the Lord's prayer is not for Believers-but theirdictum in such a case is not worth the breath they waste in delivering it! I am quite satisfied, for one, to pray as my Lordtaught me. If they prefer to pray as their whims teach them, it is at their own risk! Besides, I read that we are to confessour sins, one to another-and sins to another are certainly sins towards God! If, then, we are to confess to our fellow menthe wrongs which we have done to them, it will take a great deal of reasoning to convince me that we are not to confess thewrongs which we do towards our heavenly Father!
There should be daily confession, for even, "if we walk in the light as God is in the light"-and that is a very high condition-andif we have fellowship with God clearly and distinctly, yet even then we shall need to have the blood of Jesus Christ cleansingus from all sin. We still sin even when walking in the light and still need that Jesus should cleanse us by His blood. Hereinis our consolation, that Jesus is always cleansing us-"He forgives all your iniquities." You are often sinning, but He isalways forgiving you! You are often wandering, often erring, often grieving Him, but "He forgives all your iniquities."
I do not feel like preaching when I touch this text! I heartily wish I could sit down and have a happy cry over this blessedTruth-that my God is, at this moment, forgiving me! Oh, poor Heart, you have much to chide yourself for, but your Lord forgivesyou! You are a frail, foolish, unstable, selfish, wayward thing, but He forgives you! Whatever your
faults, known and unknown, He is forgiving you now! Even while you are lamenting your many transgressions, He is casting thembehind His back and hurling them into the depths of the sea! While I speak to you with my voice, my own heart is singing inwardly,"Bless the Lord, O my Soul, who forgives all your iniquities."
Beloved Brothers and Sisters, this mercy of pardon is knowingly received. We know that we are forgiven. "Presumption," saysone! Simply the Truth of God, say I! Do you think David would say, "Bless the Lord, O my Soul, who may or may not have forgivenme." Ah, no! He speaks of favors which he had consciously received! Nobody ever sings over uncertain blessings. I say again,nobody ever sings over an uncertain pardon! A doubt as to our forgiveness is fatal to all joy, for it lets in the dread fearof Divine wrath! Absolute certainty must be realized before a heart can make a song concerning the forgiveness of sin. Whenby faith we accept the Lord Jesus to be our All in All, we are as clear about God's having forgiven us our sins as we areabout our having committed them!
Upon our believing, we have as good evidence of being cleansed as we had of having been foul! Our sense of guilt arises fromour knowledge of the Law and that is clear. But our sense of forgiveness comes from our knowledge of the Gospel-and that isequally clear. I am not sure that I was condemned if there is a question about the Law. But there is no question and, as asinner, I am condemned. In the same way I am not assuredly absolved if there is a question about the Gospel-but as there isno question about the Gospel, I am assuredly absolved because I believe in Jesus. Resting in Christ and trusting alone inHim, you and I may have a present conscious sense of pardon-we may know our forgiveness and be beyond doubt concerning it.May God bring us to that happy condition!
Then, Brothers and Sisters, this present blessing is immediately efficient, for it secures us a present right to all thatis involved in being pardoned. If a man is forgiven his offenses, he has peace towards God. He has boldness to enjoy accessto God and reason to expect that his petitions will be answered. The stone which was lying at the door blocking his acceptanceis now rolled way. He is a justified man and he is accepted in the Beloved. God treats him as just and rewards him as such.The man is free from guilt, for God has absolved him. He is worthy in the sight of the great Judge of all the earth. "Beingjustified by faith" we have-ah, my Brethren-we have not only what the Apostle tells us, but we have untold blessings! We havetime and eternity, life and death, earth and Heaven, Christ and God! These are ours now! We have a present portion in allthe Covenant promises and provisions.
The practical point is this-if this forgiveness of sin is a present blessing, seek for it today! Seek it at once! Do not besatisfied unless you are forgiven now! Do not be satisfied unless you are forgiven every day and all the day! Do not put offyour soul with a bare hope, but labor for certainty! Do not foolishly postpone it in the mere chance that at the last pinch,when you come to die, you may be forgiven, but cry for it now! Why, man alive, if I knew I could gain pardon when I came todie I should not like to spend the interval without it. It is such a privilege to be forgiven that I want it at once and cannotendure delay. Oh, the sense of pardoned sin! What sweetness! What rest! I know its rapture in my own heart-it is my supportand my delight-making my heart to be all music and dancing!
We, at this present hour, joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ by whom we have received the Atonement. I charge you, donot postpone this matter-why should you put off joy? O repenting Sinner, believe that you can have forgiveness through ChristJesus and you shall have it! Going to God through Jesus Christ with a humble confession of your sin, you shall TODAY enjoythe Father's kiss of reconciliation and your conscience shall be thoroughly purged from the least taint of sin. May the HolySpirit work this present sense of forgiveness in you all.
III. Thirdly, this is a PERSONAL BLESSING. I cannot resist the tendency, in reading, to lay the stress upon the word, "your.""Who forgives all your iniquities." Our Lord is a blessed God to forgive anybody, but that He should forgive me is the greatestfeat of His mercy! A good Brother wrote me the other day, "Mercy had reached its zenith when it saved me." He thought so ofhimself and we may each one think the same of his own case-
"'Tis Grace, 'tis glorious Grace indeed, Grace without parallel! Great! But how great? Does far exceed The power of speechto tell."
You can all rejoice that God forgives iniquity, but your rejoicing will never reach so high as when you know that He forgivesall your iniquity. Honey is not sweet except to him that tastes it. "But may we know this personally?" asks one. I answer,"Yes." Some of us know that God has forgiven us, because we have the character which He describes as being forgiven.
He forgives those who confess their sin-"If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanseus from all unrighteousness." We have made confession before His face and we believe His Word and are, therefore, sure thatHe has cleansed us. He has promised mercy to those who forsake their sins. Having forsaken our sins, we look to be forgivenfor Christ's sake. Forgiveness is also freely promised to those who look to Jesus for it. We are looking to Him and we areforgiven. Are you not Believers? Then there is no hope for you-but if you are trusting alone in Jesus Christ, your iniquityis blotted out. He that believes is justified from all things from which he could not be justified by the Law of Moses. Inrepentance, in confession of sin, in forsaking sin and in faith in our Lord Jesus, we have the marks of pardoned sinners andthese marks are apparent in our souls.
Moreover, Brothers and Sisters, if you have any doubt about whether the Lord forgives you, now, it will be well for you tomake sure that you accept His way of salvation. It is by faith in His dear Son. Do you need any other way? He forgives becauseJesus stood in the sinner's place and He puts the sinner into Christ's place. Are you satisfied with that great plan of salvationby Substitution, by Atonement, by Sacrifice? "Oh," I hear you say, "Satisfied with it! I am delighted with it! It is all mysalvation and all my desire." Then, if you have accepted what God sets before you, it is not possible that He should refuseyou the blessing which He has promised. What says the Scripture? "Through His name whoever believes in Him shall receive remissionof sins."
As sure as you have received Christ, your sin is removed from you! It cannot be that a man has Christ and has his sin, too,for his iniquity must be covered to whom Christ is All in All. Yes, we have this pardon personally and pleasantly, for webelieve in Jesus. Do you not believe in the Divine Word and testimony concerning the pardon of sin? Have you not heard theLord God declare that His Son has forever put away sin by the Sacrifice of Himself? What better evidence do you need thanthe Infallible Word? Do you look for feelings, signs, tokens, or other things to corroborate the witness of your God? Is Hean unreliable witness? Is not His Word enough-alone, and by itself? It is so to those that have believed and it ought to beso to all men! For my own part, I had rather venture my soul upon one Word of God in the sacred Scriptures than upon all thewhispers of angels that men have ever heard, all the visions that men have ever seen and all the ecstasies of delight thatsaints have ever felt! All the world, all the Church and all Heaven put together cannot make up the weight of one sentenceof God's Word!
One Truth of God I would like to mention. It is this-we know that we are, at this moment, forgiven, because we at this momentgive to the Lord Jesus Christ that look which brings forgiveness. I will put aside all the past. I will put aside all ourexperience, all the change of heart which we hope we have undergone and I will put the matter altogether apart from the past.If I never did look to You, Immanuel, crucified for me, I look to You now! If I have never rested in You before, I will restin You now-
"A guilty, weak, and helpless worm, On Your kind arms I fall! Be You my strength and righteousness, My Jesus, and my All!"
Oh, then, we are forgiven! We must be forgiven! Never a soul did give that look without finding forgiveness of sin as surelyas the Israelite found healing when he looked to the bronze serpent!
So, Beloved, if that is the case, I want you to view this blessing as a personal possession and seek it as such. I would toGod that all of you that hear me would seek personal forgiveness at this moment! Do not think of the preacher, or the heavystyle in which he sets forth this Truth of God, but think of yourself and your personal need of cleansing! Think nothing,just now, of those that sit at your side, but seek for mercy at the hand of God, each man, each woman, each child for himself,or herself! Pardon is to be had-rest not till you have it! It will not do you any good if all the rest of the congregationshould be pardoned if sin should remain upon you!
Breathe, then, the personal prayer to a personal Savior-"God be merciful to me, a sinner." Trust in Christ for yourself andyou shall sing, today, "Who forgives all my iniquities." Blessed be His name!
IV. I have now a fourth point to call your attention to, and that is, this is A PERFECT BLESSING. "Who forgives all your iniquities."For, remember, the forgiveness spoken of in the text is a Divine one. It is God that forgives all our iniquities! A man'sforgiveness, when we have wronged him, is to be sought. And when we get it, we shall find, in many instances, that it is apoor, half-hearted affair. Men often say they forgive, "but"-now that very hesitation in their speech shows it is not a fulland free forgiveness! But when God does anything, He does it thoroughly.
Now, listen, just this minute. When God charges sin upon a man He does it after a very high standard, for every idle wordthat man shall speak he shall be brought into judgment. When God condemns man, He does it after an equally elevated standardand when God punishes man, He does it after a solemn and awful manner. The new gods that have lately come up have a littleHell because they are little gods-but my God, the God of the whole earth-has a great Hell and a fearful doom, for what Hedoes is done by rule of strict justice.
Believe me, He pardons to the same scale! All His acts are of a sublime character. The standard of punishment is the standardof forgiveness. You know how He judges, how He condemns, how He punishes-after that same thorough, Godlike manner He forgives!He makes a clean sweep of sin, according to that blessed Word, "The day comes, says the Lord, when the sin of Jacob shallbe sought for and it shall not be found: yes, it shall not be, says the Lord." "I will subdue all their iniquities, and casttheir transgressions into the depths of the sea." "I have blotted out your iniquities as a thick cloud, and as a cloud yoursins." "They shall not be mentioned against you any more, forever!"
Oh, it is a perfect blessing, for it is a Divine pardon and, you see, its completeness is expressed in that word, "all." "Whoforgives all your iniquities." He does not remove the great ones and leave the little ones to rankle. Nor doe He leave thelittle ones and leave one great black one to devour us, but, "ALL" of them He covers and annihilates with the effectual Atonementmade by His dear Son. And then notice the word which in our text expresses sin-"iniquities." Pull it to pieces-it is in-equities-thematters in which we are not, according to equity. Sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we go beyond. Sometimes we do not actin equity towards our friends, our relatives, or strangers. We constantly fail to act in strict equity towards God.
Now, He says, all our in-equities-everything in which we fall short of the perfect rule of equity, or go beyond that rule-allthese He forgives! What a blessed, comprehensive word this is. I was reading the other day in a very delightful little book,entitled, "Never Say 'Die,'" which is admirably calculated to comfort a seeking soul, these few words which struck me forcibly.The writer says, "All our righteousness are as filthy rags. If you will bring your good living and your precious righteousnessto Christ, you must make sin of the whole lot-there is nothing else you can do with it-and ask to have it all forgiven. Theman who will be saved by his own righteousness says hopelessly, 'die,' to his own soul. You must cast all this splendid rubbishof yours on the heap along with the oaths and the lies, the drinking and Sabbath-breakings, the foul living-and let the ever-flowingstream that keeps eddying round wash it all away."
As I read it, I thought-That is what I will do with mine! I will put my sermons, my prayers, my almsgiving- everything onthe same heap as my sins and let them go together! Lord, be pleased to forgive all my in-equities, my good works and my badworks. I might have tried to sort them a little, but one is so much like the other that I fling them all overboard and swimto glory on the Cross. We have no hope but in our Lord Jesus-we need pardoning mercy for all we have ever done-for sin hasbeen mixed with it all! I advise you, my Hearer, to put the whole life you have lived into one lump, and say, "Lord, forgiveme the whole of it! I cannot acknowledge every sin, for I do not know them all! Sin is such a subtle thing that it has penetratedinto my most holy thoughts and desires. But, Lord, cleanse me from all sin through the atoning blood." "Who forgives all youriniquities."
What a blessed thing is this! For when God once forgives, He forgives forever! He never plays fast and loose and He neverbrings to mind, again, that of which He has said, "I will remember it no more." O my Brothers and Sisters, if you are pardonedonce, you are forgiven once and for all! Irreversible acquittals God bestows, "for the gifts and calling of God are withoutrepentance." Immutability is stamped upon the patent of our pardon! Until God can change or lie, He never will bring to mind,again, the sin of that man whom He has pardoned. "Your sins are forgiven you-go in peace."
Now, I want you, practically, to use this head by seeking to obtain this pardon as a complete thing. Hosts of professing Christiansnever reach to this. Many of you do not believe that you are or can be completely pardoned. But such pardon is possible. Donot rest till you have it! You will never know true peace of mind until it is yours. The Roman Catholic cannot believe thatGod pardons him altogether and he never knows that he is safe. It is a very poor thing you gain by being a Roman Catholic.If you get the best you can, you go to "purgatory" when you die! It is great cry and very little wool! But in the faith ofJesus Christ you get present and eternal pardon!
However great our cry is, it is never equal to the wool, for what a great blessing it is to receive immediate, absolute, eternalsalvation on the spot so that if you live as long as Methuselah the transgressions of all those years are covered! And ifyou die at once, all your offenses are put away through the precious blood of Jesus Christ! Seek for this heavenly
gift! Do not rest till you are as sure of perfect forgiveness as of your own existence-and when you have this glorious giftof Grace say, "Bless the Lord, O my Soul, who forgives all your iniquities."
V. In the fifth place, this is a PRICELESS BLESSING. It is a blessing which could not be purchased by a life of holiness.If we have once committed sin and should, from now on, be absolutely spotless, yet our previous sin would absolutely condemnus-
"Could my zeal no respite kno w, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone, You must save and You alone."
Put on a hair shirt and an iron girdle. Fast day and night. Cover yourself with the bruises of your scourging. Starve as amendicant or shut yourself up in a hermitage-the sin of the past will remain the same. Weep tears of blood, but their crimsonwill not wash out the crimson of your sin! That spot, that blood-red spot upon the soul defies removal! Wash it with yourheart's blood and it would still be there.
Though you could bleed as every wave that breaks upon our island's shores and fill the Atlantic with a crimson flood. Thoughyou should gather all the seas that ever flowed together and wash and wash with niter and much soap till you had pollutedall the ocean with your filth-it would still remain. In vain you cry, "Out, damning spot." The spot abides and will abideunless Almighty love shall take it out forever. Only God Himself can forgive and by Him no price can be accepted in the formof future obedience, for all that you can promise is already due and the promise, itself, will be broken.
What is more, this forgiveness could not be purchased by an eternity of suffering in Hell. There they lie in anguish, whichGod grant we may never know, but they are as far off from the expiation of their sin as when they first came there. When theworld grows gray and sun and moon die out and time has spun its utmost thread, the last will be as far off from the expiationof their sin as ever! There is no getting rid of sin by suffering! Still must the lost suffer, for still their sin remains."These shall go away into everlasting punishment," as surely as the righteous go away into eternal life. But though it couldnot be purchased by a life of holiness nor by an eternity of woe, forgiveness has been procured! This pardon which is freelypreached today to all who believe in Jesus has been purchased and there is He that procured it, sitting at the right handof God the Father-a Man like unto ourselves-but yet equal with the Ever-Blessed One!
If you ask me how He procured forgiveness, I answer that He shows His hands-the scars are there. He shows His feet. He showsHis side-the scars of His wounds are there. He shows His heart that was broken for our guilt. He shows His blessed Personwhich underwent the baptism of Divine wrath that He might deliver us from being plunged into those tremendous deeps! O Sonof God, You have redeemed us, but what a price have You paid in the bloody sweat of Your face and the sorrowful breaking ofYour heart! And now, today, we accept freely, gladly, what You have so dearly earned!
What else do we say? Why, that if we are pardoned through such an Atonement, then are we Christ's forever! We ought to showdeep gratitude and the least we can do is to confess, "We are not our own!" We ought to go out singing with all our heart,"He has put away my transgressions and covered my iniquities." The Lord grant it may be so, for Jesus' sake. Amen.