CONFESSION OF SIN

Unimpeachable justice

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“Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.” Psalm 51:4

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Samuel 15:1-31

We have heard of men who have confessed their guilt, and afterwards tried to extenuate their crime, and show some reasons why they were not so guilty as apparently they would seem to be; but when the Christian confesses his guilt, you never hear a word of extenuation or apology from him. He says, “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight:” and in saying this, he makes God just when he condemns him, and clear when he sentences him for ever. Have you ever made such a confession? Have you ever thus bowed yourselves before God? Or have you tried to palliate your guilt, and call your sins by little names, and speak of your crimes as if they were but light offences? If you have, then you have not felt the sentence of death in yourselves, and you are still waiting till the solemn death-knell shall toll the hour of your doom, and you shall be dragged out, amidst the universal hiss of the execration of the world, to be condemned for ever to flames which shall never know abatement. Again: after the Christian confesses his sin, he offers no promise that he will of himself behave better. Some, when they make confessions to God, say, “Lord, if thou forgive me I will not sin again;” but God’s penitents never say that. When they come before him they say, “Lord, once I promised, once I made resolves, but I dare not make them now, for they would be so soon broken, that they would increase my guilt; and my promises would be so soon violated, that they would sink my soul deeper in hell. I can only say, if thou wilt create in me a clean heart, I will be thankful for it, and will sing to thy praise for ever; but I cannot promise that I will live without sin, or work out a righteousness of my own. I dare not promise, my Father, that I shall never go astray again.”

For meditation: Does your confession of sin to God include the excuses of a King Saul or the acquiescence of a King David, the man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14)?

Sermon no. 86    16 June (Preached 15 June 1856)

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Climbing the mountain

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‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?’ Psalm 24:3

Suggested Further Reading: Hebrews 12:18–24

From lofty mountains you can look on that side and see the lakes and the rivers; and on this side the green and laughing valleys, and far away, the wild black forest. The view is wide, but what a view is that which we shall have in heaven! There ‘shall I know even as also I am known.’ Here ‘we see through a glass, darkly;’ but there ‘face to face.’ And chief and foremost, best of all, my eyes shall see the King in his beauty. We shall behold his face; we shall look into his eyes; we shall drink love from the fountain of his heart, and hear the music of his love from the sweet organ of his lips; we shall be entranced in his society, emparadised on his bosom. Up, Christian, up, Christ waits for thee! Come, man, tread the thorny way and climb, for Christ stands on the summit stretching out his hands, and saying, ‘Come up hither;’ ‘to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.’ And there is this sweet reflection—all that we shall see upon the top of the hill of God shall be ours. We look from earthly mountains and we see, but we do not possess. That mansion yonder is not ours; that crystal stream belongs not to us; those widespread lawns are beautiful, but they are not in our possession. But on the hill-tops of heaven, all that we see we shall possess. We shall possess the streets of gold, the harps of harmony, the palms of victory, the shouts of angels, the songs of cherubim, the joy of the divine Trinity, and the song of God as he rests in his love, and rejoices over us with singing, and God the Eternal One himself shall be ours, and ours for ever and for ever.

For meditation: Since the Lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9–11), the Christian should set his affection on things above where Christ sits (Colossians 3:1–2). The best thing about ascending to heaven is that the Lord is there (Psalm 139:8) in all his love and beauty (Revelation 21:22–23; 22:3); the worst thing about descending to hell is that the Lord is there (Psalm 139:8) in his just wrath and judgment.

Sermon no. 396          16 June (1861)

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THE LORD-THE LIBERATOR

King James Version

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And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

Read at Bible Gateway    Read all of Luke 1

The Lord—the Liberator

‘The Lord looseth the prisoners.’ Psalm 146:7

Suggested Further Reading: Psalm 107:10–16

When preaching last Tuesday in Dover, the mayor of the town very courteously lent the ancient town hall for the service, and in passing along to reach a private entrance, I noticed a large number of grated windows upon a lower level than the great hall. These belonged to the prison cells where persons committed for offences within the jurisdiction of the borough were confined. It at once struck me as a singular combination, that we should be preaching the gospel of liberty in the upper chamber, while there were prisoners of the law beneath us. Perhaps when we sang praises to God, the prisoners, like those who were in the same jail with Paul and Silas, heard us; but the free word above did not give them liberty, nor did the voice of song loose their bonds. Alas! what a picture is this of many in our congregations. We preach liberty to the captives; we proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord; but how many remain year after year in the bondage of Satan, slaves to sin. We send up our notes of praise right joyously to our Father who is in heaven, but our praises cannot give them joy, for alas! their hearts are unused to gratitude. Some of them are mourning on account of unpardoned sin, and others are deploring their blighted hopes, for they have looked for comfort where it is never to be found. Let us breathe a prayer this morning, ‘Lord, break the fetters, and set free the captives. Glorify thyself this morning by proving thyself to be Jehovah, who ‘looseth the prisoners’.’

For meditation: Dover Old Town Gaol is now a prison museum. Spurgeon’s allegorical guided tour of Victorian and earlier prisons included the common prison (sin), the solitary cell (penitence), the silent cell (prayerlessness), the cell of ignorance (unbelief), the ball and chain (habit), the hard labour room (self-righteousness), the low dungeon (despondency), the inner prison (despair), the torture chamber (Satanic temptation) and the condemned cell (self-condemnation). Are you in spiritual prison? Christ was sent to set the prisoners free (Isaiah 42:7; 61:1;Luke 4:18; John 8:36), but nothing can be done for those who choose to stay in prison.

Sermon no. 484   14 December (1862)

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