I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear: but now my eye sees you.…
Human sin is the prime fact with which the Gospel deals, and to which all its provisions of grace are adapted. Whatever estimate we form of it must, therefore, necessarily extend throughout the whole of our religion, both doctrinal and practical. Enlarge your estimate of sin, or depreciate it, and you either raise or lower in the same degree your estimate of the Gospel, alike as regards the work of atonement accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ in His life and death, and as regards the work of conversion and sanctification by the Holy Spirit of God. The general estimate of human sin falls much below the positive language of the Church. The objection to the Church doctrine of sin appears to be three fold. The doctrine of the utter corruption of human nature offends self-respect, and is thought not only to lower, but even to degrade the man, of whose faith it forms a part. Extending this feeling of the individual to mankind at large, it is supposed to affront the conscious dignity of human nature and the nobility of the soul of man. And further extending the thought from ourselves to the scheme of God's saving love towards us, it is thought to deprive the Gospel of its genial beauty, and to make it harsh, distasteful, and unloving. The estimate of sin implied in these difficulties is a profound mistake. A true doctrine of sin elevates the man, not degrades him; the sense of sin is a sign of strength and knowledge, not of weakness and ignorance, exalting human nature, and making it greater, alike in the memories of the past, the magnificent hopes of the future, and the condition of the present. It gives loveliness and glory to the whole Gospel scheme, and invests it with a captivating power over the human heart otherwise unknown.
I. LOOK AT THE SENSE OF SIN IN THE INDIVIDUAL. Place in as sharp a contrast as our personal experience may enable us to do, the two states of the man, converted and unconverted. What is the difference that has been made between them? The man has lost nothing except his pride. He has not deteriorated one whit since the change. He has gained a new ideal, a higher conception of moral goodness, a loftier standard by which to measure himself. A man grows into his aims, and rises or sinks with them. The man satisfied with his own work can never be great. It is the same with the conscience that it is with the intellect. The same laws pervade all our nature. The man who has acquired a sense of sin has simply grown. How has this conception been gained? The text gives the answer. The soul of Job was filled with deepest humiliation. Now there had flashed upon his soul an actual vision of God. The words "now mine eye seeth Thee" express inward sight, not outward. It is remarkable that Job saw God mainly in His immensity and sovereignty, for to these, rather than His moral attributes, the words of God refer. In that sight Job saw the infinite distance between God and himself.
II. WHEN WE LOOK TO THE AGGREGATE OF MANKIND THE SENSE OF SIN SUGGESTS THE GRANDEUR OF HUMAN NATURE. The human nature is a fallen thing, sadly different to what it was when it came first from the Creator's hand, the finite reflection of His own infinite perfections, if human nature be not fallen, then all its sins and sorrows are an essential part of itself, and never can be otherwise. The man was made thus. What hope can there ever be of change?
III. THE DOCTRINE OF SIN GIVES SUCH A HEIGHT AND DEPTHS OF GLORY TO THE GOSPEL AS IT CAN POSSESS IN NO OTHER WAY. From this alone we understand the occasion of the Gospel, and see the necessity for it. The greatness and value of a remedy can only be commensurate with the evil that it cures. I do not say that sin is a good or noble thing. The sense of sin is a prelude to the song of triumph.
(E. Garbett, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.