GE UI E PE ITE CE A D GOD'S GRACE Rev.

THOMAS SPE CER,

JOB XXXIII. ^7, ^S. " HE LOOKETH UPO MEK, A D IP A Y SAY I HATE SI ED, A D PERVERTED THAT WHICH WAS RIGHT, A D IT FROPITED ME OT; HE WILL DELIVER HIS SOUL PROM GOI O I TO THE PIT, A D HIS LIFE SHALL SEE THE light/'

How desirable a thing is genuine penitence; it appears eminently so from the attention God pays to it ; from the salutary and holy feelings it calls into exercise ; from the blessed effects which arise from it to the penitent individual, for " They that sow in tears shall reap in joy ;" from the pleasure it occasions in heaven, for " There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth." All this you may see in the testimony of God, and in the experience of every true penitent. O that you may see it in your own ! We will endeavour now to gain instruction upon this subject, from the passage I have read to you, a passage replete with consolation, and fraught

291 with the richest truths. O that while we meditate upon it, its goodness and suitableness to our case, its kind report of the mercy of the Lord Jehovah, may dissolve our hearts in thankfiilness, and melt our eyes to tears ! " He looketh upon men, and if

any say I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not, he will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." Observe here, how this text — I. Presents to us the extent of the divine inspection, " He looketh upon men." II. Unfolds the language of genuine repentance, " I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not." III. Discovers the triumphs of reigning grace, *^ He shall deliver his soul fi:om going into the pit, and his life shall see the light." And all these things are closely, connected together ; for the truth of my text is, that God, in svirveying the different ranks of men, beholds a peni^ tent individual, hears his earnest cry, and forgives him the iniquity of his sin. We say, then, that our text, — I. Presents to us the extent of the divine inspection. "Jehovah looketh upon .men." God's ^omniscience ought to make us adore and tremble j for He confines not his observation to the heavens, in which he more particularly dwells^ but h^

292 also looketh upon men. Though he surveys the bright armies of saints and angels, who are ever before him, hearkening to the voice of his word, yet he also looketh upon men. Mortals are beheld by him. The inhabitants of the earth are looked

on as grasshoppers, yet not one escapes his notice. He watches over their actions, and there is no darkness, or shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves from his eye. The text teaches us that he looketh upon men universally, and at once. I say, he surveys men universally. He looks upon all the tribes and conditions of men, from the helpless babe to the hoary sage ; he sees them all. Every one of the human race must exclaim, " Thou God seest me !'* For ** the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect before him." " The Lord is in his holy temple ; the Lord's throne is in heaven ; his eyes behold, his eyelids try the children of men." ** O Lord, thou hast searched me and known me: thou knowest my down-sitting and mine up-rising, thou understandest my thoughts afar off; thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways ; for there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether : thou hast beset me behind and before, ai|4 l&id thine hand upon me." Thus he does from his throne behold all the dwellers upon earth ; and here the wise and the illiterate, the righteous und the wicked, the just and the unjust, meet

293 together ;* the Lord fa the observer of them all!; So he surveys them at once. He looketh upon men, he sees them all at one glance, in one view ; his eyes behold all that is done upon the face of the earth, and the darkness and the light are both alike to him. At once the Lord looketh from heaven upon the children of men, for " the ways of man are always before the eyes of the Lord, and be pondereth all his goings." The eyes of the

Lord are at one moment in every place, beholding the evil and the good. " Can any hide himself in: secret places,' that I should not see him, saith th^« Lord? Do not I fill heaven and the earth, saith the Lord?" ** All things, then, are naked and opea before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.". Yet are there, amongst the numerous objects which engage his notice, some particular ones that attract, ^is special and marked attention; while he sees, all, some he observes with peculiar pleasure, as well as with the nicest inspection; for "Though the. Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly ;"* bis name is holy and he dwells on high, yet to. that man he looks, and with him he also dwells, that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at his word. For among all the tribes of men that pass before him, it is not the rich man, it is not the mighty man, it is not the self-righteous man, that attracts his notice ; but he that confesses his sins with " a humble, lowly, penitent, and obe-. dientlieart." He sees and he loves to see, he hears; and he loves to hear, the man who says, " I have

394 sinned and perrerted that which was rights and it profited me not" Having attempted to illustrate the text, on the divine inspection, let ns now behold how it— II. Unfolds the language of unfeigned repents ance. For here -God fixes his eyes upon one who says^ '^ I have sinned, and perverted that which was rights and it profited me not" The man who makes a confession like this, is fax better in the si^t of God, than he who says he has no sin^and

thus deceives himself. The humbled publican shall go down to his house justified, rather than the vaunting pharisee. This is a confession which de<serves attention ; it is one that will suit us all« It is a confession, an acknowledgment, 1st, of lunring committed enormous crimes, '^ I have sinned;" Sd, of having abused the beirt of blessings^ '* I have perverted that which was right ; " 3d, of having experienced disappointment fi^om sin&l pursuits, " and it profited me not." This is, I say, — 1. A confession of having by sin offended against God. He says^ ^'I have sinned*" Like Job, a penitent appears to say, *^ Behold J am vile." *' I have sinned, what shall I do unto thee, O.thoK Preserver of men ? " Like David to athan, he says, ** I have sinned against the Lord." Like the prodigal, he cries, saying, *^ Father, I have sinned against Heaven, and in thy sight, and am no mote.

^9S worthy to be called thy son." I am " verily guilty concerning this thing.'* Wherever the Spirit of God has begun to work upon the soul, there will be this sense of unworthiness ; this conviction of sin ; this inward consciousness that all has not been right between God and the soul. " God be merciful to me a sinner/' is a cry which the great God knows well would suit us all, " I have sinned." Born in sin aod shapen in iniquity, as I grew up to manhood I gave awfid proo6 of the depravity of my nature. I neglected God and prayer; I secretly loved and cherished sin ; I walked in the broad road that leadeth to destruction. There must be a measure of shame and confusion of face upon every one of us, when we approach a holy God; and the true penitent^ feeling that it is of

no use to attempt to conceal sin, because God looketh upon men, and knows it all; I say, being conscious of this, he confesses and forsakes his sin. He sees his guilt and shame, and casts himself iq>on the pure, free mercy of Godin Christ. 2. This is a confession of having abused the best of blessings^ " I have perverted that which was right" That is, thy holy ]»rovidence gave me many peculiar and rich favours, which I employed to a bad purpose, or entirely neglected : a true penitent confesses that the goodness of God had not, till lately, led him to repentance. There are various right things, excellent blessings, which, in the state of nature, we have perverted. Divine for*' beiurance is a great good; for, " It is of the Lord's

396 mercies that we are not consumed;" and yet, per«* haps I am addressing some^ who, because sentence against an evil work has not been executed speetfily, have their hearts fiilly set in them to do evil. This was perverting that which was^ right. The. time of youth is a season of peculiar importance, and gives speciial advantages; but how many a penitent has had to regret that he perverted it,< wasted its precious hours, and his own strength, in the ways of folly and sin ; did not remember his Creator in- the days of his youth, but passed them in carelessness, or perhaps in open depravity t Health is a great blessing, but how little have we esti-* mated it, how much have we perverted and abused. it! forgetting to be thankful for the &vours we luure received, we have not glorified the God '^in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways.'' Time is a great blessing, but how have we squan-

dered it, idled it away in unnecessary visits^ per-haps in unlawful amusements^ or tried to kill time, while, in &ct, time has been gradually killing us ! Providential supplies are great blessings ; but we have perverted them by luxury, by pro&neness* The tables of the luxurious man cry out against him; you may &ncy that they groan under the weight of the abused creatures of God# The glutton, the wine-bibber, the man that is prodigal in any thing, perverts that which is in itself right. Money, property, possessions, are all right in then^ selves, but foolish man perverts them alL But oh, a true penitent most of all regrets that he has

297 abused Ihe Bible> and the publication of the gospel. ^^ The law of the Lord is right, the commandment of the Lord is perfect and pure;" yet, Oh, may a pe-, nitent say. How I abused it, how I neglected its calls, its invitations, its promises ! How I refused to behold Christ crucified, to look unto the Saviour of sinners ! I perverted that which was right ; despising the book, the day, the people of God : so have i abused the best of blessings. 3. This is a confession of having experienced disappointment in the ways of sin. I have done all this, "and it profited me not." Some men foolishly and wickedly say. It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself in God ; but every penitent can truly testify, that the way of transgressors is hard, and that it ensures disappointment and dissatisfaction, — "it profiteth me not." ow can I testify that it is all vanity and vexation of spirit. We may try the pursuit of gold, of fame, . or of lawless pleasure; but, " What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose

his own soul ? " " For when ye were the servants of sin, what fi*uit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? " The sincere penitent con? fesses, that he was quite mistaken in the hope of happiness from the world ; that as yet he has not obtfiined it ; that all has been delusion and deceit ; that he has grasped at shadows, and thus proved his own folly and misery. " It profiteth me not." Oh, sinner, if you never made this confession before, I am sure you will make it on a dying bed; o5

S98 you will then see that the things which now please and amuse you^ profit you not. O that you would now go and tell this to God before that solemn bocff arrives. Humbled for sin, confess the cheat the world has played on you ; it has profited you no* thing. III. My text discovers the triumph of reignii^ grace. '^ For if we confess our sins, God is faithftd and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." " I have, surely," sa^^ God, '^ heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus J Thou hast chastised me, and I wa^ chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke; turn thou me^ and I shall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God. Surely, after that I was turned, i repented ; and afler that I was instructed, I smotQ upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. Is Ephraim my dear son ? Is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still : therefore my bowels axe troubled for him; I will siwely have mercy

upon him, saith the Lord." " Whoso donfessetfa and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy." This humble penitent, who sincerely makes the confession I have mentioned, and Ipoks to the Redeemer, obtains grace in his sight; for the Lord — 1st, prevents his soul from enduring eternal perdition^ — Sd, raises him to the everlasting enjoyment of vine illtunination.

L The Lord prevents his soul from enduring eternal perdition. '< He will deliver his soul from going into the pit:** evidently implying, that to a pin of misery he was rapidly tending, and of falling into it was afraid; perhaps he was saying, '^ Let not the water-floods overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth' upon me." Then God says, " Deliver him fit)m going down to the pit, for I have found a ransom." Jesus is a sufficient Saviour, I will accept him for his righteousness* sake. It may be, that there is here a reference to the grave, in allusion to whichi it is said in scripture, ^' They shall go down to the bars of the pit, where our rest together is in the dust" But does it not rather refer to that awful pit of destruction, mentioned in the 20th chapter of the Revelation, where Satan is bound, where sinners are lost? ^^ Behold," says a penitent, "for peace I had great bitterness, but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption ; for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back." Jesus, the Red^mer, then, delivers us from the wrath to come, saves from the power of death and hell; he prevents our souls frt>m going into the pit, from whence there is no redemption. On us the second death hath no power.

2. The Almighty raises him to the perpetual enjo3anent of divine illumination. " And his life shall see the light." This implies the dispersion of his melancholy, the introduction of happiness and

300 peace to his soul : for^ through the grace of the great ransom, Jesus, " the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light ; they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.** But fiirther, this expression carries our thoughts to the period when we shall behold the light of heaven: for God intends to bring every believing penitent to that city of which it is written, that God and the Lamb are the light thereof. We, ** who truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel,** shall possess the inherit* ance of the saints in light, shall be for ever illuminated and encircled by the rays of the Sun of righteousness, and so shall we be ever with the Lord. The Lord shall be our light, our God shall be our glory, and the days of our .mourning shall be ended. . Learn from the subject, — The richness of God's pardoning mercy, extending even to sins of perverseness. The madness of impenitent sinners : they must be banished to the pit, never to see the light. The importance of imploring daily a penitential spirit : we sin daily, therefore beg always fi>r mercy. Believe in the testimony of God, '^ I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

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