But there is forgiveness with you, that you may be feared.
1. The text is true to human nature because, in all strong characters, whether high or low, despair that is blank and absolute does not excite fear, but stuns and paralyzes it. In Scott's tale, the desperado dies believing nothing, hoping nothing, and also fearing nothing. Religious despair is reckless. "There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared;" for while man utterly hopeless can attain to a gigantic and almost sublime defiance, yet brave men who set their teeth to die, and would have perished with indomitable valour, have wept like children when the unhoped-for deliverance came. So that fear is, after all, the dusky shadow of hope, lengthening, no doubt, like other shadows, as the sun withdraws, but vanishing, like them, when the darkness is complete.
2. The text has also much to tell us about the nature of the forgiveness of God. So far is the forgiveness of God from any carelessness about the moral law, that He once proclaimed Himself, in the same sentence, as forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and yet by no means clearing the guilty. And again, "Thou, Lord, art merciful, for Thou rewardest every man according to his work." For, indeed, no act was ever done which left the doer exactly as it found him. Just as the Church can never in this life return to Eden and its fruit-groves, though her pilgrimage in the desert may lead her to the splendours of the New Jerusalem; so it is with each individual soul. The mercy of God may bring us to a better place than that which we relinquish, but to the place we forfeit we never may return again. And yet, O unhappy man, it is because there is forgiveness with God, and because He does not cease to care for your sinful soul, that He thus disquiets you. Go down upon your knees, and thank Him that He lets no soul shrivel and dry up without strong pains; thank Him for this noble misery, which forbids you to grow base tamely, which makes it the true penalty of being knavish, not that other men suspect you to be a knave, but that, deep within, the clear, strong voice of your own conscience calls you so. "Thou, Lord, art merciful, for Thou rewardest every man according to his work." For now observe that the corrosive pains of remorse are capable of being transformed into the humbling, but sweet and infinitely wholesome sorrows of penitence and restoration.
(C. A. Chadwick, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.