Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright…
Remember that precedent distinction of actual dominion, which comprehended a particular prevalency over the soul for particular acts of sinning: and of habitual dominion which intimated the full resignation of the heart to the commands of corruption. In both respects there may be great reasons why any man should pray against the dominion of sin.
I. AGAINST ACTUAL DOMINION.
1. Because though actual dominion doth not infallibly testify the person to be bad: yet it is ever a breaking forth of what is very bad; forasmuch as the action in this case is but sin acted. Now consider —
(1) That every sin (as acted) is therefore the worse: you know that sin, though it be a vile thing, yet it tends towards a perfection (in its kind); lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, etc. (James 1:15).
(2) That the acting of the greater sin is always a greater kind of sinning: I mean, if things be equally set together. A high sin, a presumptuous sin in temptation, is not so guilty as the same presumptuous sin in dominion; for all sin in service is ever worse than any sin in conflict: though sin may trouble a man more when it inclines and tempts, yet it wounds a man more when it prevails and overcomes.
2. Actual dominion, though it doth not always conclude the absence of grace, yet it always impairs and weakens the strength of grace.
3. Because actual dominion though it doth not always cut off the union, yet it may and doth disperse and check the comforts. It is an eclipse, though it be not a night.
4. Because actual dominion (especially of great sins, and over a David) is accompanied with great prejudice to Divine glory: the better the man is, the more dishonourably foul his offendings are.
II. HABITUAL DOMINION.
1. Habitual dominion decides the estate: the question of a man's soul is, whose servant he is, whether he belong to God and Christ, or to sin and Satan. Now, particular failings do not determine this, but the dominion of sin doth, his servants we are whom we obey.
2. There is no dominion in all the world so vile: whether you consider it —
1. In the commands of sin; or
2. In the service of the sinner. The commands of sin are the vilest commands.For —
1. They are illegal.
2. They are purely sinful: all its edicts and desires are but rebellions.
3. They are extremely unreasonable.
1. The service of sin: it is the most disloyal service in respect of God renouncing Him, denying Him His due, and conferring it on His only enemy.
2. It is the most injurious service to our souls.
3. It is the basest service.
4. It is the drudgingest service. A man who is a servant to sin, he is at the command of every lust.
5. It is a most unprofitable service. Though in some service there may be but an uncertain gain, yet in the service of sin there is a most certain and great loss; what profit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed (Romans 6:21).
6. It is a most uncomfortable service. How oft is the servant of sin in the depths of fear and in the heights of trouble; his very sinnings are more his torments than his joys.
(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.