For I will declare my iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
I. There are various ways, and there are many ways, in which men try to hide them. selves from themselves; to escape their own detection; wilfully to evade their own nominal search.
(1) One of these is the sorcery of words. Men call sins, which they see others commit, by their true names; they call their own sins by false and glozing names. What is pride in others is in themselves proper spirit; what is slander in others is in themselves moral indignation; what is cheating in others is in themselves legitimate profit; what is in others an immoral acquiescence is in themselves a practical common sense; what is in others licence is in themselves Christian liberty.
(2) Men will hardly ever look at their own actual deeds in connection with their own true motives. They live two lives. One is their common, habitual round of conduct, which is often base, and mean, and unworthy. The other is their traditional and imaginative homage to righteousness, which is upright and respectable. Their lives are a stately temple front; its frieze is sculptured with heroic imagery; its entablature, like that of our Royal Exchange, is enriched with a pious inscription. Alas! alas I Enter beyond the vestibule, and in some inmost shrine, noiseless and far away, approached, it may be, only by secret stairs and half-hidden entrances — there, in little, mean, dark closets, so completely behind their ostensible lives and their expressed opinions, that they almost succeed in hiding it from themselves, all the bad, the impure, the dishonourable work of their lives is done!
(3) They freely condemn every other sin but the one to which they are themselves addicted.
(4) They find the sweet, soft pleadings of egotism and of self-love so irresistible, that anything seems to be at least excusable which results from yielding to such temptations. Religion appeals to the reason and to the spirit; it nerves and braces; it puts iron into our resolutions; it infuses the soul with manliness, and the will with strength. And, on the other hand, sins — the sins of the world, the flesh and the devil — degrade us into the animal: they unnerve, they effeminate, they debase, they paralyze; they bid us listen to the base pleadings of a "miserable, hungry, shivering self," which is, like a crawling serpent, ever rustling amid the dead leaves of our weakened purposes, and ever hissing in our own ears: "Only this once." "There is no harm in it." "Thou shalt not surely die." This is the explanation, and the only possible one, of the insane infatuation which so often marks either the whole lives or the sudden actions of many men.
2. What should be our protection against these specious thoughts of our own heart and our own counsel? God has not left you unshielded. He has assigned the soul of man to the special, immediate guardianship of two pure and strong holy spirits. The name of one of those great archangels of our being is Duty — Duty, that angel so stern and yet so beautiful! And the name of the other great archangel is Conscience — Conscience, "that aboriginal vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas," with a voice now like the blast of a trumpet, now thrilling, and still, and small.
Parallel VersesKJV: For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.
WEB: For I will declare my iniquity. I will be sorry for my sin.