Micah 7:20
You will show loyalty to Jacob and loving devotion to Abraham, as You swore to our fathers from days of old.
Sermons
What God Would Do with Our SinsJ. A. Kerr Bain, M. A.


He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. The reference is here, perhaps, to the destruction of Pharaoh and his host. "He will destroy their sins as he destroyed them, and buried them in the depths of the sea" (Exodus 15:4, 10).

I. THE ENTIRE SUBJUGATION OF ALL SINS. "Sin," says Henderson, "must ever be regarded as hostile to man. It is not only contrary to his interests, but it powerfully opposes and combats the moral principles of his nature and the higher principles implanted by grace; and, but for the counteracting energy of Divine influence, must prove victorious. Without the subjugation of evil propensities, pardon would not be a blessing. If the idolatrous and rebellious disposition of the Jews had not been subdued during their stay in Babylon, they would not have been restored." Sin is the enemy of all enemies. If it is in us, it sets the holy, happy heavens against us. Take it from us, and hell becomes our minister for good. This God subdues. In truth, Divine forgiveness is the destruction of sin in us, nothing else. It is not something outside; it is all within.

II. THE ENTIRE SUBMISSION OF ALL SIN. "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea? Forgiveness is deliverance from sin. How strong is the imagery employed in the Bible to represent the completeness of this deliverance! It is as the blotting out of a thick cloud." See that dark mass of cloud up yonder; how it hides the sun and chills the air! A breeze has sprung up, and it is gone - the sky is azure, the scene is bright, and the flowing air warm with life. That cloud can never come again; no more may thy sins. It is as the throwing of them behind God. "Thou hast cast all my sine behind thy back." Who knows where the beck of God is? I see his face in nature. His smiles are the beauty of the world. I see his face in Jesus, "the Brightness of his glory." But where is his back? It is the fathomless abyss of nothingness. It is a separation as far as the east is from the west. Tell me the distance from the east to the west, and I will tell you the distance which the pardoned. sinner is from sin. It is a casting them into the "depths of the sea." Not on the shore, to be washed back by the incoming waves, but into the "depths." Into the abysses of some mighty Atlantic, where no storms shall stir them up, no trump shall wake them from their graves. "In those days, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and shall not be found." But where are they buried? In the forgetfulness of infinite love. "I will remember their sin no more." Can Infinite Intelligence forget? Yes, and his forgetfulness is one of the radiant attributes of his character. Does not all true forgiveness involve forgetfulness? Those who say they forgive and cannot forget, lack the faculty of forgiveness; as yet, Heaven has not endowed them with the power of granting absolution. It is of the very nature of love to hide injuries. Charity covereth sins. God has the power of forgetting injuries, because he is Love. I see the power of love in hiding injuries working everywhere in nature. The sea hastes to cover up the wounds which ruthless ships have ploughed into its noble besom. The tree, bleeding with the sores which the woodman has inflicted, loses no time in its efforts to conceal the marks of violence it has received. Day by day goes on, until the year comes round, when, amidst its luxurious foliage you look in vain foe the old scars. And thus, as the waves of the sea and the flowing sap, love ever works. It hastes to cover up from the eye of memory the injuries it has received. How soon the love of a wife buries in forgetfulness any injuries she has received from the man she loves too well! The countless pains which the thoughtlessness and waywardness of children in their early days inflict upon the parental heart are soon buried in the sea of parental love. Love digs in the heart of parents a grave for the wrongs, and builds a museum for the virtues of their children. All this is of God, God-like. Infinite love "passeth by the transgression." He leaves it behind him as he proceeds, in the majesty of his goodness, to diffuse wider and wider forever the blessedness of his own being. - D.T.







The good man is perished out of the earth
Homilist.
He bemoans —

I. THE DEPARTURE OF EXCELLENCE FROM HIS COUNTRY. "The good man is perished out of the earth." Probably they had emigrated to distant lands, perhaps they had gone into eternity. Goodmen are the "lights of the world." Their influence penetrates the mass as salt, counteracts its tendency to corruption, removes its moral insipidity, gives it a new spirit — a spirit pungent and savoury.

II. THE RAMPANCY OF AVARICE IN THIS COUNTRY.

1. The working amongst the general community. To get wealth for themselves was with them such a furious passion that the rights and lives of others were disregarded.

2. Its working amongst the higher classes. "That they may do evil with broth hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; and the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: so they wrap it up." The idea seems to be this: that the "great man," the "prince," for some corrupt motive, seeks the condemnation of some innocent person; and the "judge," for a bribe, gratifies his wish. A judge from avarice will pronounce an innocent man guilty. All this is done very industriously, "with two hands." Possible, lest some event should start up to thwart them; and when it is done "they wrap it up." "So they wrap it up." Avarice, like all sinful passions, seeks to wrap up its crimes.

III. THE MISCHIEVOUSNESS OF THE BEST IN HIS COUNTRY. "The best of them is as a briar; the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge." There is a gradation of wickedness of the men in the country, but the best of them is like a prickly thorn, and worse than a thorn hedge. The prophet is so struck with this, that the thought of retribution takes hold of him, and he says, "The day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh: now shall be their visitation." Another thing which the patriot here bemoans is —

IV. THE LACK OF TRUTHFULNESS IN THE COUNTRY. "Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide," etc. "Place no faith in a companion; trust not a familiar friend; from her that lieth in thy bosom guard the doors of thy mouth. For the son despiseth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies are the members of his own family." — Henderson. All social faith was gone; a man had lost all confidence in his brother. Social scepticism and suspicion prevailed in all circles. No faith was to be put in a friend.

(Homilist.)

These words are the cause of the prophet's sorrow. So deep a concern it was, that the words of verse 1 may signify not only mourning but howling. It arises from the scarcity of men truly good. Such a passion as this for the want of good men became the prophet in all capacities, as a man, as a subject, and as a prophet. As a man, he could not but be concerned to see a nation of men so changed and degenerated by vice and luxury. As a subject, he could but consider what misery would suddenly betide the nation, for want of goodness and religion. As a prophet, he could but note how they slighted his errand, and were sturdy and resolute in their vices.

I. WHEREIN THE GOODNESS OF THIS GOOD MAN, THE PROPHET MENTIONS, DID EXPRESS ITSELF. The Christian Church, as well as the prophet, may justly bewail her barren Christians, and the scarcity of men truly good. We call ourselves saints and elect, but where is the patience, the temper, and the spirit of them? Let our religion be never so primitive and apostolical, except it makes us really good it is but wrangling hypocrisy and noise.

1. True goodness doth express itself in plainness and sincerity in all our respective dealings with men.

2. Goodness expresses itself in the exercise of good nature, and charitable allowances for the errors of others.

3. The good man is of a spirit truly public, whose care and attention looks abroad.

4. The good man takes up religion only to serve a spiritual purpose. Religion without this good purpose is only fashion or faction, hypocrisy and formality, superstition or interest.

II. WHAT GREW UP AND PREVAILED IN THE PROPHET'S TIME IN THE PLACE OF TRUE RELIGION OR GOODNESS.

1. Superstition and false religion, which naturally produce trouble and disquiet in all governments.

2. Wicked lives in the professors of the true religion, which will surely cause misery and ruin in a nation.

3. Atheistical persuasions prevailed, or there was no religion at all.

III. WHAT PARTICULAR REASONS MAY MOVE US TO BEWAIL THE WANT OF REAL GOODNESS.

1. The want of it is the principal cause of our distractions about religion.

2. Real goodness is the best way to unite us among ourselves. Real goodness purges our judgment, removes our prejudices.

(Gregory Hascard, D. D.)

When we ourselves are down it is hard to believe that anybody else is up; when our prayer is choked in our throat it is easy to believe that God hears no prayer at all, nor cares for petitioning and supplicating men. We interpret all things by ourselves. There is a curious self-projection of the soul upon the disc of history, and we read according to the shadow which we throw upon that disc. This is what we call pessimism. We are always inventing strange words, and imagining that thereby we are making some kind of progress. Man has a fatal gift of giving names to things, and once give a name and it will be almost impossible to obliterate it. We call this pessimism, — that is, seeing all the wickedness, and none of the goodness; seeing all the darkness, and none of the light; seeing the utter desolation of all things, and not seeing in all the wilderness one green blade, one tiny flower, or hearing in the grim silence one trill of lark or soft note of thrush or nightingale. There are persons gifted with the genius of darkness. It may do us good to visit them occasionally; but on the whole it is better to live in the sunshine, and to hear the music, and to come under the influence of intelligent vivacity and cheerfulness. If people will shut themselves up in their own little houses — for the biggest house is little, the palace is a mere hut — and never keep any company but their own, they will go down. It is so ecclesiastically. There are persons who never see the universe except through their own church window, and as no window is as big as the horizon, there steals insidiously upon the mind a disposition to deny the existence of the horizon itself. It is so with reading. There are those who read only a certain set of books. They go down; there is no mental range, no scope, no variety, no mystery of colour, no hopefulness, no imagination. The very earth needs to have its crops changed. If you will go on growing the same crops you will cease to have any crop that is worth gathering. There is, on the other hand, what is termed optimism. That is the exact contrary of pessimism. Optimism sees the best of everything. There is a danger along that line also; the danger is that we may not be stern enough, real enough, penetrating enough, going into the heart and inmost fibre of things to find out reality and truth, how bad or good soever the case may be.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

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