"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will become like wool.
I. THE TRIAL OF THE CASE.
1. God is reason, otherwise he could not be God of justice. And if the nature can defend itself, clear itself from guilt, its plea will be allowed. Just so in Isaiah 43:19, the imagery of a court of justice is presented: "Let them bring forth their witnesses that they may be justified, and let them hear, and say, It is true." The question is - Can the nation clear itself from the charges alleged against it? If so, the deep fixed stain that now seems to rest upon them shall be taken away, and they shall be white as driven snow or as undyed wool.
2. God appeals to fixed principles of right. These have long been known, are written in the conscience of the people. A willing spirit of obedience to Divine law is assured of blessing; rebellion brings about hostility, invasion, and all those calamities from which the people are now suffering. Have these curses come "causeless" upon the people? Or are they the just consequences of disobedience? Let them answer. A long pause and silence convey the admission of guilt. They have no argument to urge, no cause to show why judgment should be stayed.
II. THE PROPHET'S LAMENTATION. He, as daysman, or go-between, mourns over the city thus convicted, unable to stand in judgment against Jehovah. He is compelled in this cause to turn witness against his own people. Once loyal and pledged as in the covenant of marriage to Jehovah, the city has become like her who "forsakes the guide of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God." Where once the splendid seat of justice and purity stood, there is now lawless bloodshed. The pure metal of her virtue has been debased; and "as water unto wine" is her moral feebleness now as contrasted with her moral strength then. They who, as rulers, were set for an example of obedience to God, integrity among men, are rebels and thieves' comrades. Instead of withholding their hands from bribes, they greedily clutch after them. Pity and mercy are extinct; the orphan and the widow are thrust aside. The guilt of guilt lies in the use of power without love. Christ, as the impersonation of humanity and of love, points out that the condemnation of evil conduct lies in this, that love is wanting, The splendid temple ritual was naught, because there was no love in it, as their conduct out of the temple so clearly showed. We may never miss a Sunday service or a celebration of the communion, yet for all that be undone. And many who have never been "professed" Christians will be, on other grounds, professed by Christ. - J.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.
I. THE DEMAND HERE MADE.
1. The nature of the demand. It is for reformation of practice. "Wash you, make you clean," etc. This is the one Divine call to fallen man. In it everything is summed up. Made in sundry times and in divers manners, it ever remains substantially the same. The essence of moral beauty is goodness. Now goodness is not a quality deposited in the heart and there shut up; nor yet a something to put on as a garment at will. Rather it is the fruit of well-doing — the outgrowth of a righteous life. This is what God requires. This is to be the outcome of His redeeming love. But it cannot be accomplished without the cooperating activity of the human will. While the hands are besmeared with blood — the token of an immoral life — all natural refinements are of very little value in His sight. God is uncompromising here. Our greatest happiness is to do good. By doing good we shall find the highest good. This then is the great lesson of life — "Cease to do evil; learn to do well."
2. The word "learn" suggests a further thought, namely, the ground of this demand for reform. Man is evil and does evil. Even those who take the most sanguine view of human nature admit that there is something wrong in man's moral constitution.
3. To estimate rightly, however, this cause, we must consider the justice of the demand. It is God who makes it. But He could not have made it unless it were just to do so; nor would He have made it unless it were possible for man to meet it.
II. HOW TO MEET GOD'S DEMAND. Where is the power to come from? Two answers only are possible: either it is inherent in man — this is the answer of nature or it is supplied from without — this is the answer of grace.
1. The answer of nature. The belief in the ability of man to reform himself is founded either on ignorance of the real nature of his moral condition, as was the case in the pagan world, or on a deliberate refusal to recognise the truth when it is presented concerning that condition, as was the case in Judaism, and is the case at the present day with those who persuade themselves to a belief in the infinite intrinsic capability of human nature. Such is the pride of man, that he is ever slow to admit his own weakness. No, says the modern enthusiast: I regret the new light, for the demands it makes upon me are far too humiliating; I see no reason why a man, given the necessary favourable environments, should not, by a little effort, become perfectly good. Neither the religion of the pagan world, nor the philosophy of the Greeks, nor the power and civilisation of the Romans afford much ground for this belief in human nature. Wisdom then, under the most favourable circumstances, has failed to supply the necessary power to reform the World. Neither the enactments of a Roman senate, nor the Acts of a modern Parliament, nor any power of law, can make man good or even moral. Justice by itself, no more than wisdom, can remove the evil. But nowhere is the inadequacy of wisdom and of law to draw forth the power there is in man to reform his own character, better illustrated than in the case of the chosen people of Israel. They could boast of a wisdom more divine than that of the Greeks, a system of law superior to that of the Romans; while in virtue of their peculiar privileges as a nation they were in an incomparably more advantageous position than any other people, to succeed in their own strength, since they had a will to it. The very possession of their superior privileges, when they abused them, brought upon them a severer punishment.
2. The answer of grace. A power from without is absolutely necessary to enable man to meet the demand for reform. This power is God's forgiveness. "Come now, let us reason together," or better, "let us end the dispute": "though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." Although the demand precedes the offer of forgiveness, we are not to suppose that the work of reforming is to precede the enjoyment of the Divine gift. That indeed were impossible. As every duty of man is summed up in the command to reform, so all the riches of grace are summed up in the gift of pardon. But what peculiar virtue or power does pardon possess for producing a change of life?(1) It is an inducement to repentance, which is the first step in the reformation of character. It induces the resolution to referrer then becomes a power in the penitent man to help him to carry out his resolution. Pardon thus bridges the chasm which exists between a knowledge of duty and the doing of it..(2) Another function of pardon, and, perhaps, the most important of all in the reformation of character, is that it removes, or rather is itself, as its name implies, the removal of sin. Pardon will convert the criminal into a saint. The pagan world knew nothing of this. It is "the power of God unto salvation."
(R. E. Morris, B. A.)
1. But I dare say they were ready with their objections: they would plead that it was really of no service to decry and exhort them in one and the same breath. "Of what use," they seem to say, "is it for us to make any effort, unable as we confessedly are to keep the law of God? And even were we able to obey for the future, is there not past disobedience for which we have yet to be reckoned with?" It is much in this way that men still receive exhortations to repentance and amendment; for such exhortations belong to the Gospel as much as to the law. And what do men say in reply? The minister, teaching as he does the doctrine of human corruption and helplessness, it is absurd that he should tell men to repent. Is he not contradicting himself?" It was, we may believe, in the face of such arguments as these, that God challenged me Jews to controversy in the words of our text. "Is this the way," the Almighty seems to exclaim. "in which you treat My urgent admonitions to amendment! Come now, let us reason together!" But with what sort of reasoning are the objectors met? Perhaps you look for some subtle and ingenious argument. Yet you have no argument at all; you have only the promise — a most free and gracious one, but still only a promise — "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." But how does the promise do away with the objection? Only thus, — God states this to be His appointed way; He designs to save men in this manner, and therefore is this manner prescribed. The parties to whom He will impart additional grace are those who, in obedience to His call, are straining every nerve to forsake evil ways. It is not that they are able of themselves to work out a moral amendment; but it is that God intends to bestow on them the ability whilst they are making the effort.
2. And, perhaps, the Jews raised more general objections. They may have. murmured at God's dealings, without selecting this or that particular instance, just as men are now disposed to arraign the appointments of Heaven as severe or unjust. The chapter in which our text occurs is full of indignant rebuke, and vehement threatenings, and it may not be imagined that a haughty people would fail to resent being so sternly addressed, and deny the equity of the judgments which the prophet foretold. If this be supposed, then God invites men to reason with Him on the goodness of His dealings. Come, let us clear the scene for the controversy. Come, all of you who think you are in any way hardly dealt with by God — that His dispensations are not such as might have been looked for — "Come, let us reason together." You need not, therefore, hesitate to utter plainly what you think, and to make statement of your grievances. Well, what have you to say? You urge, it may be, that your lot is one of poverty, that troubles are multiplied beyond your power of endurance, and temptations beyond your power of resistance. Some of you, perhaps, plead that, born as you are with corrupt tendencies, and placed where there is everything to incite and strengthen them, you have really no chance of keeping out of vice; that you are summoned to duties which are manifestly too arduous, and threatened, if you fail, with punishments which are manifestly excessive. You expect that God will take your complaints one by one, and either show them to be groundless, or, if He admit certain evils, show them more than counterpoised by blessings. Or, again, you expect that, as far as you have dwelt on trials peculiar to yourselves, God win patiently weigh them, prove them not excessive, or trace out beneficial results which they are calculated to produce. Well, this is very natural; I think it is just what would be, if the debate were with a mere human reasoner. But you will hearken in vain if you expect from God this careful exposure of the fallacy or falseness of your statements. There is heard nothing but the beautiful promise: "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
1. If you hear some objections to Christianity which you are not able to answer, do not on that account conclude that they cannot be answered, — have the modesty to believe that others may be able to explain what is too hard for you. There is one evidence which I can promise you: if you read the Bible carefully and prayerfully the Bible will speak for itself.
2. And, besides the evidences of Christianity, reason has a great part to perform in regard to the doctrines. It would be as great a fallacy as could be alleged against the Gospel were it to be said that it does not commend itself to man as exactly what he needs, so that when he receives it it must be on the strength of external testimony and not at all in the consciousness of its meeting his necessities. I do not say that reason can trace in every point the connection between the death of Christ and the pardon of sin; but, at all events, reason can clearly make out that, because God's honour is provided for by the sacrifice of Calvary, and that this sacrifice must have been of so stupendous a value as to render possible the salvation of every human being, — there is, therefore, nothing to shrink from in the challenge of our text. I am jealous for reason; I will not, indeed, bum an idolatrous incense before reason; as though I held it sufficient for man's guidance, wanderer as he is in a darkened world; but let reason keep her right province, and in place of jostling with revelation, she will put revelation on a throne, and then reverently and submissively prostrate herself before it. For it is quite wretched to think how many a man loses his soul because he will not humble his reason. The directions are very plain; do not puzzle yourselves with any difficulties; the directions are — "Cease to do evil, learn to do well." Make a beginning. Many a man loses his soul by neglecting to act at once on some truth which has been brought home to his conscience.
(H. Melvill, B. D.)I. Take that basal truth which lies at the bottom of all reasonable religion — THE BEING OF GOD. The doctrine of the existence of God is reasonable. To believe that there is no self-conscious power behind the world to account for it, is irrational. It argues nothing that all minds do not see God behind nature; all minds do not see the beauty of art; all ears are not ravished with music.
II. Again, we are living under A MORAL GOVERNMENT that is reasonable, one that can be defended and rested in. A moral government is here, which brings evil to its doom, and makes right safe and successful in the long run. It is rational, and can be defended, as it can be understood. All sin is irrational and utterly indefensible.
III. Take again some of the FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS OF SUPERNATURAL RELIGION.
1. The doctrine of the incarnation is reasonable. Whether the incarnation is or is not reasonable depends upon your conception of God. If He is like men generally, a sort of incarnate selfishness, out of sympathy with suffering, indifferent to the miseries of the world, then the incarnation is unreasonable. But if God is love, and loves His children as we love ours, then the incarnation is reasonable, it is inevitable.
2. Then again His life in the flesh is rational The Gospels narrate just what we might expect God to do if He came here.
3. Then it was reasonable that He should die. The principle was in the heart of God from an eternity. The Lamb was slain from the foundation of the world. Sacrifice was not foreign to the nature of God and suddenly invoked for a specific occasion or emergency; it was eternal with Him. The atonement is the most rational of all rational truths. The principle at its heart is at the heart of nature; it is at the heart of humanity. It is the condition on which rests the world's best life.
4. And the same can be claimed for the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ is a rational doctrine. It is the fitting climax to the life behind it, to the mission upon which He came. It was not fitting in the nature of things that death should hold in its grip such a life. It was due to the majesty of truth and virtue that such vindication should be appealed to.
IV. Turn now to some of the PRACTICES REQUIREMENTS of the Biblical religion.
1. Take that initial requirement of faith. Faith is reasonable. The best things are out of sight. We rise toward our highest possibilities only as we live by the unseen.
2. Repentance is a reasonable demand.
3. Closely connected with faith and repentance is confession. Confession of sin is rational, but so is the confession of Jesus Christ.
4. The duties of Christianity are reasonable. Prayer is a rational exercise of the soul. If we have a Father in heaven it is reasonable that we should come into touch with Him. And so of the means of grace in their entirety. The use of the means of grace is reasonable and right. Effects come through well-defined causes always and everywhere. The use of the Church to the utmost of its power to serve us is a rational procedure. We have no great saints among those who ignore the Church of Jesus Christ. There is one conclusion: a set of opinions and beliefs that will not bear the test of reason had better be abandoned. A life that you cannot defend and justify had better be given up. We had better put our life on a basis that can be justified at every point.
(S. H. Howe.)versus Israel, but it is a typical one repeated from age to age. It is equally the Case of God versus man, God versus the sinner. It is a case in which we are not spectators, we are ourselves the defendants. God is here in argument with us, in argument against us, and He sums up the whole by the gracious declaration, "Admit the force of My reasoning, yield yourselves to it, confess yourselves convicted and condemned, and My mercy shall have its free and triumphant exercise upon you."
1. That He is too great to reason with man; that He never gives any reason for anything He commands or does.
2. That God Himself is not a reasonable Being at all. It is a falsehood not openly declared in so many words, but a practice adopted in the lives of men. Men act as though they believe they could impose upon God. Let us try to follow God's reasoning in this chapter. There is a threefold basis of reasoning laid down.
I. God reasons with man ON THE BASIS OF MAN'S WHOLE LIFE. God said to man, "Come, let us reason together." "Very well," says man, "let this be the ground of our reasoning. Look at my life as it lies within the circle of its religious action and exercises, the sacrifices I bring to you, the incense I offer, the fasts I make. Let us reason on that basis, let us take our stand there." And as you will see in this chapter, God utterly rejects reasoning like this, and says, "No, no; I must deal with you on the basis of your whole life, not any limited and selected part of it which you choose to present and urge." Now there is great significance in this connection in the opening words of this chapter. God cries out to earth and heaven, and says, "These are the only limits of man's life I can recognise — the earth on which he walks, on the surface of which everything is done, the heavens over his head, which look down upon every transaction of his life; that is the basis of My reasoning, and that alone." It is well for us to remember this, for today men are trying continually to reason with God on some narrow chosen ground of their own.
II. God reasons with men or THE BASIS OF HIS OWN FATHERHOOD. You will see how in this chapter He reminds all men of it, gives men proofs of it, tells men He has fulfilled it in relation to them. "Admit," He says, "My Fatherhood, and what does your life look like in the light of it? How unnatural and base it becomes. You sink below the brute." This is God's reasoning, and who of us can stand against it?
III. God reasons with man or THE BASIS OF SIN'S RESULTS. He says, "You have rebelled against Me. Has it justified itself in its success?" And God gives the answer in searching and terrible words "Why should ye be stricken any more?" etc. (vers. 5-8). He points them to the terrible and pitiful results which have come to pass for the Individual and the nation through their disobedience towards God; and He challenges them, and says, "Now, look at it as I have reasoned it out with you." This is God's argument still. If we would listen, we might hear His voice in His Word, and in our consciences, saying, "Tell me, O men and women who are living without Me and in sin, what good has your sin ever done you!" There is no answer. And so we are led to the crisis of my text. We seem to be in the presence of a great dilemma. Either God must abate His claims, lower rebellion, or else logic must rule, justice must have its way. The first of these we know God cannot do. It would wreck His universe if God declined from the absolute right, it would bring ruin and shame wherever created and finite beings are found. If that be impossible, what remains? Oh, there seems to be an awful moment between that first clause of the text and what follows. "Come now, let us bring our reasoning to an end. There is nothing more to be said. The case has gone against you; all your arguments have fallen to the ground." What remains? We wait to hear, and instead of the dread sentence of wrath and judgment come the words of mercy: "Though your sins be as scarlet," etc. Right in between the eternal and infinite righteousness and the sinner's doom mercy breaks in, pardon perfect and complete. So great the change that when a man feels the pardon in his heart, he can turn his face and address himself hopefully to that great ideal of life which the law of God presents. "Wash you, make you clean," etc. And then, the soul within us rises up and asks, "Why is this, if God be infinitely reasonable, if He reasons with such force and conclusion, why does He not follow out His reasoning to its logical conclusion? Why does He spare and pardon the sinner taken red-handed in his sin?" Why, simply because there is something more scarlet than the scarlet of a sinner's sin, that covers the sinner's sin, and makes God's pardon a just and rightful thing. "There is a fountain filled with blood," etc.
(W. Perkins.)1. God is a moral agent. That He has moral character is sufficiently manifest from the revealed fact that man is made in His image.
2. God is also a good Being — not only moral, but holy and wise. He always acts upon good and sufficient reasons, and never irrationally and without reasons for His conduct.
3. God is always influenced by good reasons. Good reasons are more sure to have their due and full weight on His mind than on the mind of any other being in the universe.
I. WHAT IS THAT TO WHICH THIS TEXT INVITES US? "Come now, and let us reason together." But what are we to "reason" about? The passage proceeds to say, "Though your sins be as scarlet," etc. In the previous context God makes grievous charges against men Now, He comes down to look into their case and see if there be any hope of repentance, and proceeds to make a proposals "Come," etc. Produce your strong reasons why your God should forgive your great sin.
II. The invitation, coupled with the promises annexed, implies that THERE ARE GOOD AND SUFFICIENT REASONS WHY GOD SHOULD FORGIVE THE PENITENT. Sinners may so present their reasons before God as to ensure success.
III. The nature of the case shows that WE ARE TO ADDRESS OUR REASONS AND MAKE OUR APPEAL, NOT TO JUSTICE BUT TO MERCY. We are to present reasons which will sanction the exercise of mercy.
( C. G. Finney.)I. THE REASONS WHICH MAY BE OFFERED WHY GOD SHOULD PARDON OUR SIN.
1. You may plead that you entirely justify God in all His course. You must certainly take this position, for He cannot forgive you so long as you persist in self-justification. You know beyond all question that all the wrong is on your side and all the right on God's side. You might and should know also that you must confess this, You need not expect God to forgive you till you do.
2. You may come to God and acknowledge that you have no apology whatever to make for your sin.
3. You must also be ready to renounce all sin, and be able in all honesty to say this before God.
4. You must unconditionally submit to His discretion. Nothing lees than this is the fitting moral position for a sinner towards God.
5. You may plead the life and death of Jesus Christ as sufficient to honour the law and justify God in showing mercy. Pardon must not put in peril the holiness or justice of Jehovah. The utmost expression He could make, or needs to make. of His holiness and justice, as touching the sins of man, is already made in the death of Christ, "whom God did Himself set forth to be a propitiation," etc.
6. You may also urge His professed love for sinners.
7. He has also invited you to come and reason with Him. Therefore He has fully opened the way for the freest and fullest communion on this point. You may also plead His honour; that, seeing He is under oath, and stands committed before the universe, you may ask Him what He will do for His great name if He refuse to forgive a repentant and believing sinner. You may plead all the relations and work of Christ. You may say to Him, Lord, will it not induce other sinners to come to Thee? Will it not encourage Thy Church to labour and pray more for salvation? Will not Thy mercy shown to me prove a blessing to thousands! You may urge the influence of refusing to do so. You may suggest that His refusal is liable to be greatly misapprehended; that it may be a scandal to many; and that the wicked will be emboldened to say that God has made no such exceeding great and precious promises. You may urge that there is joy in heaven, and on earth also, over every sinner pardoned and saved. You may urge, that, since God loves to make saints happy in this world, He surely will not be averse to giving you His Spirit and putting away your sins — it will cause such joy in the hearts of His dear people. You may also plead the great abhorrence you have of living in sin, as you surely will unless He forgives you. Tell Him, moreover, how wretched you are, and must be in your sins, if you cannot find salvation, and what mischief you will be likely to do everywhere, on earth and in hell, if you are not forgiven and renewed in holiness.
II. THE REASONS WHICH MAY BE URGED BY THE PARDONED SINNER WHO PLEADS FOR ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION.
1. You may plead your present justification.
2. You may plead your relation to Him, to the Church, and to the world — that, having now been justified and adopted into His family, you are known as a Christian and a child of God, and it therefore becomes of the utmost consequence that you should have grace to live so as to adorn your profession, and honour the name by which you are called. You may also plead your great responsibilities, and the weight of those interests that are depending upon your spiritual progress. Plead the desire you feel to be completely delivered from sin. Ask Him if He has not given you this very desire Himself, and inquire if He intends to sharpen your thirst and yet withhold the waters of life. Plead also His expressed will. Appeal to His great love' to you, as manifested in what Christ has done, etc. Tell Him how you have stumbled many by your falls into sin, and have given great occasion of reproach to the cause you love; tell Him you cannot live so. Tell Him of your willingness to make any sacrifice; that you are willing to forego your good name, and to lay your reputation wholly upon His altar. Be sure to remind Him that you intend to be wholly disinterested and unselfish in this matter; you ask these things not for your own present selfish interest; you are aware that a really holy life may subject you to much persecution. You want to represent Him truly. Then tell Him of your great weakness, and how you entirely distrust yourself. Tell Him you shall go away greatly disappointed if you do not receive the grace you ask and need. Remarks —
1. Whenever we have considered the reasons for God's actions till they have really moved and persuaded us, they will surely move Him. God is not slow — never slower than we, to see the reasons for showing mercy and for leading us to holiness.
2. Many fail in coming to God because they do not treat Him as a rational being.
3. Many do not present these reasons, because in honesty they cannot.
4. When we want anything of God, we should always consider whether we can present good reasons why it should be granted.
5. All who are in any want are invited to come and bring forward their strong reasons.
6. Of all beings, God is most easily influenced to save. He is by His very nature disposed to save the lost.
( C. G. Finney.)
(J. Stalker, D. D.)I. THE WORK OF THE REASON.
1. The reason is the faculty by which, from things already known, we advance to conclusions which these imply, but which, till the act of reason is performed, are unknown; so the work of the reason is a kind of creative work, and do you not think there is an inkling of that in the kind of exultation with which we complete any difficult act of reasoning, or even hear a speaker completing it? I think every schoolboy feels a touch of this exultation when he sees a sum at which he is working coming right, and every housewife feels it when she sees that the two sides of her accounts are about to balance exactly. In a court of law, at the conclusion of the evidence the facts often appear to the Jury a confused mass, pointing in no particular direction; but when a skilful advocate rises, and taking hold of the evidence, separating one thing from another, and laying this beside that, shows that from the confused mass there emerges a necessary, irresistible conclusion, how delightful it is to listen to that. The whole science of mathematics is deduced from a few simple axioms. To these an ordinary mind might give assent, without observing that anything might be implied; but the practised intellect deducts from them, step by step, a magnificent system of truth. Thus, the reason, bringing its forces to bear on the raw materials of knowledge supplied by the lower faculties, infers from them a more advanced and lofty knowledge of its own.
2. But now, I would like to give a clearer and simpler explanation of what its work is. The reason may be called the faculty of comparison, or the faculty by which we perceive the connections or relations of things. These relations between things with which the reason has to deal are of different kinds, but of whatever kind they are, the reason has to deal with them.(1) One of them is that of means and ends. Something requires to be done, but how? It is the work of the reason to find that out.(2) Another relation between things which is still more important for the reason, is that of cause and effect. The word "why" is a great word of the reason, and its sister word is "because." Wherever "why" and "because" are coming into speech, there reason is at work.(3) But this process can be turned the other way. Instead of looking at phenomena, and asking how they come there, we can say, "Given certain things, what will be the consequence! Suppose there are certain conditions, what will follow from them?" If fire and gunpowder are brought into contact, we know what will follow. If people live in a polluted atmosphere, we know what the result will be to their bodies. But we cannot deal much with such relations without this question arising, How do these relations come to subsist between things?(4) One of the greatest triumphs of the reason is to find out the laws of nature, e.g., the law of gravitation. Newton discovered that law, and applied it first to some trivial things; then he and others applied it to more distant and sublime things, until we now know it to be a law prevailing in the whole system of things, and among the bodies that roll in space; but how comes it that all the bodies in earth and heaven are directed by this law? As the mind thus moves through nature it finds that it cannot go arbitrarily. The divisions which it makes are in nature before it finds them. In short, nature is intelligent — aye, and it is moral, because nature is seen to be so arranged as to encourage certain lines of action, and to discourage certain other lines of action. The stars in their courses, so to speak, fight against evil and on the side of righteousness. And does not that look as if behind nature there were some One who is intelligent, and who, because He orders nature so as to make for righteousness, is good?
II. THE CULTIVATION OF THE REASON. This faculty is bestowed on different individuals in very different degrees. To those intended by the Creator to be leaders of their fellows, it is given in liberal measure. There are multitudes of others whose ideas are habitually vague and feeble. Reason may be given in different forms, some of which are more conscious, and some more unconscious. Reason in the unconscious form, we call by such names as tact, or common sense. The science of logic has for its aim the making visible to the eye the process through which the mind passes in reasoning, whether it is conscious of this process or not, and at the same time it makes visible, so as to show their absurdity, the different kinds of fallacious reasoning; and there can be no doubt that the study of that science is one of the best means of cultivating the mind.
III. THE RELIGIOUS USE OF REASON. The marks of God are on all things that He has made, and by collecting these from all places where they can be seen, the reason apprehends His eternal power and Godhead, and never in the reason of man so nobly employed as when thus it is collecting the indications of God, so as to convert them into a correct and impressive conception of what He is, or when it is vindicating His existence and His character against the attacks of unbelief. Our text says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord," and one of the commonest complaints of the Bible is that people will not reason. "Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider." That is the complaint all through the prophets. It is always taken for granted that if people only would think, they would love and obey God. One of the commonest names in the Bible for sin is folly. At the present time we have need of a reasoned Christianity, because Christianity is tending far too much to sentimentalism and sensationalism. Christian work is becoming so absorbing that men have not leisure to think, and if Christians do not think, Christianity will before long suffer the consequences, and they will be hard to bear.
(J. Stalker, D. D.)
1. A marked feature of the portraiture, here drawn, is that they are sinners under the light of Jehovah's special revelations and appointed ordinances.
2. These sinners are such in face of every obligation of love and gratitude to Jehovah, arising out of peculiar blessings and privileges.
3. Yet in the midst of all these mercies, sin everywhere abounds. The public men and the people alike are corrupt.
4. All this wickedness clothes itself in the garb of religion. Having considered to whom he speaks, let us consider what it is the prophet says to all such. It embraces three points chiefly.
I. A PROPOSITION TO STOP AND REASON THE MATTER WITH JEHOVAH. The proposition is very suggestive; both of the cause why men continue to live in sin; and of the means and process whereby Jehovah would bring them back to Himself. The grand cause of the continuance in sin is that men will not reason of the matter. It is not that they do not know enough; but they do not reason concerning what they do know.
II. THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE PARLEY — sin and its consequences.
III. THE REMEDY FOR SIN — its effectiveness, certainty, and readiness.
(S. Robinson, D. D.)
1. When committed against special light and knowledge.
2. When committed against special obligations of gratitude.
3. From the social position of those who sin, or their relative position towards others, or their peculiar gifts and endowments which give them influence over others.
4. As committed against special covenants and vows.
(S. Robinson, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
1. God having made this proposition proceeds upon the assumption that He knows Himself to be right in this case. The man who knows himself to be in the right is always the first to make the noblest propositions, and to offer as many concessions as are possible without impairing the law of absolute right, truth, and propriety. If amongst ourselves we do so, it is in an infinitely higher degree true in the case of Almighty God. He makes the proposition to His rebel. This proposition is not only the proof of the grace of God; but that grace itself is the vindication of His righteousness. He knows He is right in the court of reason; that if the case be fully stated the criminal will convict himself, he will burn with shame, and cry out for the judgment that is just. We are not wrong partially, not wrong here and there, with little spots of light and blue, between the errors, but we are wrong altogether, — shamefully, infamously wrong!
2. Yet God knowing this, asks us to reason the case with Him. Showing us, in the next place, that God proceeds upon the assumption that man ought to be prepared to vindicate his conduct by reasons. God says, "Why do you do this! Let Me know your reasons for having done so. Will you state your case to Me! I give you the opportunity of stating your own casein your own terms." Observe how wonderfully influential, when rightly accepted, is a proposition of this kind. If men would think more they would sin less. Logic is against you as well as theology. Common sense is against you as well as spiritual revelation. This is the strength and the majesty of the Christian faith, that it challenges men by the first principles of reasoning to defend themselves, as sinners, before the Almighty.
3. But there is something to be remembered at this point. If God could trifle with righteousness in making a case up with us, His own throne would be insecure, His own heaven would not be worth having. In taking care of righteousness He is taking care of us. Herein do men greatly err. Talking upon religious questions, they say, "Why does not God come down and forgive us all!" That is precisely what God Himself wants to do. Only even God cannot forgive, until we ourselves want to be forgiven.
4. With all this before me I am driven to this conclusion, that now the sinner is left absolutely without excuse.
(J. Parker, D. D.)I. THE PARTIES INVITED. Who are these? They are those of whom it is said, "their sins are as scarlet, and red like crimson" — terms which clearly convey the idea that there are no sins so heinous that they may not be forgiven, and no men so wicked that they may not be saved. These terms designate bright, glowing, easily-seen colours, teaching most explicitly, in their present connection, that sin, though so large as to fill the public eye, nevertheless may be pardoned. Indeed, I cannot help thinking that the language of the prophet here has also a symbolical meaning, and that as crimson is the colour of the blood, there is set before us the thought that not merely the flagrant transgressor, but the atrocious criminal — the man whose hands have been imbued in the blood of his fellow man — is declared to be within the reach of the Divine mercy. And I am fortified in this persuasion by the words of the Master, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
II. THE INVITATION GIVEN THEM. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." What forcibly impresses us in this statement is not only the all-embracing sweep of the Divine mercy, but the singular way in which this mercy is offered. The usual manner in which a superior makes known his will to an inferior is by a command. The master gives his orders to his servant. The parent commands his child, and the language of royal personages is never the language of solicitation. But we have here the King of kings, and Lord of lords, very unlike man, not employing force, authority, command, but condescending to reason with His creatures, and trying, as it were, by argument and persuasion, to induce them to accept His grace.
III. THE AUTHORITY ON WHICH THE INVITATION RESTS. When good news is brought to us we sometimes hesitate about receiving it. And why? Because we think it too good to be true, and are not satisfied of the entire truthfulness and fidelity to fact of the person who brings it. when it was told Jacob that Joseph, his beloved son, whom he had long mourned as dead, was alive and well, and governor of Egypt, his heart fainted, "for he believed them not." But here, the authority is as unassailable as the invitation is cordial, and it is issued on the authority of God Himself.
IV. THE PERIOD WHEN THE INVITATION IS GIVEN. All privileges urged upon your acceptance in the Bible are strictly applicable and limited to the very time when they are offered to you. That mental and moral inaction, so fatal to our spiritual prospects, gets no countenance from the Word of God. On the contrary, it is always denounced as fraught with the greatest dangers to our souls.
(J. Imrie, M. A.)
Homilist.From this passage we infer —
I. THAT MAN, THOUGH DEPRAVED, HAS STILL A FACULTY TO REASON WITH GOD.
1. This power exists as an unquestionable fact. It is a fact —(1) Involved in the existence of a revelation. Would Infinite Reason appeal to us unless we had the power of appreciation?(2) Implied in the considerations addressed to our reason. The Bible abounds in considerations addressed to us as to the wisdom and the folly, the right and the wrong, of our conduct.(3) Attested by the universal consciousness of humanity.
2. This power exists as the chief glory of human nature. What is the chief glory of human nature in itself considered? Not its faculties of contrivance and logical investigation, as you see them developed in the arts and sciences. But man's power to reason with the Infinite — to take the thoughts of God and to feel their power.
3. This power exists, notwithstanding the devastations of depravity.
II. THAT MAN, THOUGH DEPRAVED, HAS NOW AN OPPORTUNITY OF REASONING WITH GOD. Whilst all sinners forever will have the power of moral reasoning, only now on earth are they invited to a merciful conference with God. This invitation implies —
1. The existence of an extraordinary principle in the Divine government of God. Antecedent reasoning would lead us to conclude that whenever a creature rebelled against the righteous government of his Creator, banishment from His holy presence would be the result. "The angels that kept not their first estate," etc. God governs humanity through the mediation of Christ.
2. It denotes the astonishing condescension of God.
III. THAT MAN, THOUGH DEPRAVED, BY RIGHTLY AVAILING HIMSELF OF THIS OPPORTUNITY, MAY BE ENTIRELY CLEANSED OF HIS SINS. "Though your sins be as scarlet," etc. Notice —
1. That sin has taken a very fast hold on human nature. How closely and firmly attached to human nature is sin! It has coloured not only the complexion, but the vital current, of man's life. Every thought, feeling, and expression, is tinged with the stain of sin.
2. That though it has taken this fast hold, it can be separated. The scarlet is not a part of the texture. So of sin. Though closely identified with human nature, it is not of it. Human nature can exist without it, has existed without it, will exist without it. There is a moral chemistry that can take the scarlet and the crimson from the texture of human nature.
3. That right attention to God's reasoning will certainly and effectively remove the stain of sin.
(Homilist.)I. I have to PUBLISH THE LORD'S INVITATION TO DESPERATE CHARACTERS. The invitation is to those whose sins are double-dyed scarlet and crimson in colour.
1. You have had pious parents.
2. You were once a member of a Christian congregation or Church.
3. I have to give the invitation to those whose sins have made them worse than beasts.
4. And to those who are "laden with iniquity."
5. And to those who are "corrupters" of others.
6. This all-embracing invitation is to those who have "forsaken the Lord."
II. I am to give REASONS WHY DESPERATE CHARACTERS SHOULD ACCEPT THE INVITATION.
1. You say, "It is impossible for me to accept of it because my heart is perfectly hardened." Impossible! If your heart is hard, come and accept the invitation, because God has promised to take away the stony heart and to give you one of flesh.
2. Again, you say, "I cannot accept it, because I am so wicked." If you feel wicked it is God's Spirit showing His light in your soul in order that you may be led to the Cross of Jesus and have your sins washed as white as snow.
3. Then somebody else answers, "Well, I would accept it, but I have always failed." Though you have failed, yet come again, for our heavenly Father is noted for receiving sinners.
4. But another says, "Before I came tonight I said I would not be converted." Two men were bidden to do their lord's will. One of them said, "I will do it"; but he went away, and did it not. And the other was angry and exclaimed, "I will not do thy will," but after he had gone away he repented and went and did it. Copy the example of the latter.
5. Perhaps, somebody still answers, "You have not put your hand on me, for I am sunk in sin." The Bible tells me that no man can be sunk lower than the reach of the everlasting arms of God. Though you have lost your character, your honour, and your self-control, yet God invites you to be saved.
III. AN EARNEST ENTREATY FOR YOU TO COME AT ONCE.
I. AS ADDRESSED TO THOSE WHO ARE LIVING IN SIN. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord." Sinner, bring forth thy strong reasons; then hear the reasons of God. What plea will you make for not turning to God?
1. You say, perhaps, "This world is all I desire. I am well content with what it gives. Its gains and pleasures suit me well. I wish for nothing beyond. Why not leave me to follow my own way?" What says God in reply? "The world passeth away, and the lust thereof."
2. Or, wilt thou reason thus: "I have years yet before me. At a more convenient season I will seek God"? What does God answer? "Thou fool, this night, it may be, thy soul shall be required of thee"
3. Or, dost thou say in thine heart — "I hate the knowledge of God's ways Religion is a weariness to me. I will go on as I am, and take the consequences"? Dost thou know the end of the terrors of the Lord?
4. Or, is it in thy thought to say to God, "Wherein have I sinned so much against Thee?" Behold, He answers thee: "I made thee, O man, and every power thou hast should be devoted to Me — thy life, thy health and strength, thy body and soul. Have these been devoted to Me? Has thy body been kept in soberness, temperance, and chastity? Hast thou always been led by My Spirit?"
II. But the text is addressed, in its latter part more particularly, TO THOSE WHO KNOW THAT THEY HAVE DEEPLY SINNED AGAINST GOD, AND WOULD WILLINGLY, IF THEY DARED, RETURN TO HIM. What is the feeling of such? It may be, you are tempted to say, "There is no hope. My sin is too great to be forgiven." God's answer is, "Come now, and let us reason together," etc. Is it not well suited to your case?
III. THE TEXT IS NOT WITHOUT ADMONITION AND COMFORT TO THE BELIEVING CHRISTIAN.
(E. Blencowe, M. A.)
The Evangelist.I. THE GRACIOUS CONDESCENSION AND BOUNDLESS LOVE OF GOD, IN ADDRESSING THIS INVITATION TO SINNERS. Even among friends, the offended party does not first display a disposition to be reconciled. He usually deems that the first overture should proceed from the offender. But behold the infinite condescension and compassion of the most high God toward sinful man. He does not wait till men come to a sense of their delinquencies.
II. THE IMPORT OF THE INVITATION. What is this to which God calls you? He says, "Let us reason together." It seems to be an expression borrowed from courts of justice, and is tantamount to saying, "Let us hear the cause of the defendants."
1. The sinner must listen to the charge — to the grand indictment, that he may know both the extent of his guilt and feel the hopelessness of his case. This charge is indeed heavy, but it must be heard. The law is holy. Let it operate on you as it did on Saul of Tarsus.
2. Observe, God is willing to hear your defence, if you can make one honestly and truly; but if not He will hear your confession. Which shall it be?
III. GOD MAY BE CONSIDERED AS ADDRESSING THOSE WHO, WITH A CONVINCED AND BROKEN HEART, ARE AFRAID TO VENTURE BEFORE HIM, and who have the sentence of condemnation and death in themselves.
IV. Let us complete the whole of this glorious theme of salvation, by calling upon you to observe, and admire, the great principle established by this text, that, WHATEVER THE MAGNITUDE OF OUR SINS MAY BE, THEY DO NOT EXCLUDE US FROM THE BENEFITS OF THE DIVINE MERCY.
I. The first thing in the text is A CHARGE IMPLIED, and more particularly expressed, in the former verses of this chapter. The charge is sin — sin the most aggravated. Scarlet and crimson are colours far remote from white, which is the emblem of innocence, or righteousness. (Revelation 19:8.) But here sinners are represented as in garments stained with blood. The bloody, murderous, destructive nature of sin may be intended. Sin has slain its millions. (Romans 5:12.) Some understand by the word "scarlet," double-dyed; as deeply tinctured by sin as possible; as when any garment has been twice dyed, first in the wool, and again in the thread or piece. So great sinners are twice dyed, first in their corrupt nature, and then again in the long confirmed habits of actual transgression. It is absolutely necessary that each of us should personally know that this is his own case.
II. THE INVITATION. True religion is the most reasonable thing in the world.
1. Is not self. preservation highly reasonable? We account it the first law of nature, and should blame the man who neglects it. Is a house on fire? Let the inhabitant escape for his life.
2. Is it not reasonable for a man to do well for himself? Yes; "Men will praise thee when thou doest well for thyself." We commend the honest, ingenious, industrious tradesman. Is it reasonable for a man to mind his own business? Well, "one thing is needful"; the care of thy soul is the business of life (Luke 10:42). Is it reasonable to improve opportunities for business, as fairs and markets? Redeem then the time, and catch the golden opportunities of gain to thy soul. Is it reasonable to make a good bargain? The Christian makes the best in the world. Is it reasonable to cultivate friendship with the wise, the good, and the great? Oh, how wise to make Christ our Friend.
3. Is it not reasonable to believe the God of truth? The Word of God has every confirmation we could wish.
4. Is not love to God and man perfectly reasonable? This is the whole of our religion. Is it reasonable or not to love the Best of beings better than all other beings?
III. THE GRACIOUS PROMISE. "Though your sins," etc. The pardon of sin is the first thing in religion. It was the great business of Christ upon earth to procure it. The pardon of sin originates in the free mercy and sovereign grace of God, without respect to anything good in the creature. But we are not to expect pardon from an absolute God. Pardon is an act of justice as well as of mercy. Mercy on God's part, but justice on account of Christ. Another thing is, that it is by faith alone we are made partakers of pardoning mercy. Notice, too, the perfection of pardon, which is expressed by making scarlet as snow, and crimson like wool. We are to understand this of the sinner, not of his sins. Pardon does not alter the nature, or lessen the evil of sin.
(G. Burder, D. D.)I. THE OFFERS OF THE GOSPEL. The Almighty here proposes completely to take away the guilt of sin, and consequently to remit the punishment due to it. There are various kinds and degrees of sin; sins of different colours and complexions, more or less aggravated, more or less strengthened by habit and indulgence. But the offer of pardon extends to all alike. Is not this a blessing peculiarly adapted to our need? Nothing but a gratuitous remission of sin can suit our case. God deals with us in the most reasonable manner, and leaves us without excuse, if we attend not to His offer.
II. THE TERMS OF THE GOSPEL.
1. With respect to faith. Is not this a perfectly reasonable requisition? Since God has provided a salvation for you, has He not a right to stipulate the means by which you shall apply to yourself the benefit of that salvation? And what easier, simpler way could He have devised?
2. As to repentance. Is there anything unreasonable in this requisition? Can it be considered as a hard condition that we should relinquish those practices which cost the Son of God His life; and which, if He had not died for them, would have cost us our souls? If religion be in itself so reasonable a service, how can you act so unreasonably as not to choose and follow it?
(E. Cooper.)I. THE DUTY OF EXAMINING OUR MORAL CHARACTER AND CONDUCT ALONG WITH GOD. There are always two beings who are concerned with sin — the being who commits it, and the Being against whom it is committed. Such a joint examination as this produces a very keen sense of the evil and guilt of sin. When the soul is shut up with the Holy One of Israel there are great searchings of heart. Another effect is to render our views discriminating. Objects are seen in their true proportions and meanings.
II. THERE IS FORGIVENESS WITH GOD. We deduce the following practical directions.
1. In all states of religious anxiety, we should betake ourselves instantly and directly to God.
2. We should make a full and plain statement of everything to god.
(W. G. T. Shedd, D. D.)
I. THERE IS ASSUMED THE EXISTENCE OF ENORMOUS GUILT. The aggravations of sin are to be found in their highest form where there are instituted powerful means to deter from its perpetration, and where yet it is committed in spite of restraints eminently calculated to direct the soul to goodness. We turn at once to the country in which we dwell, to find the sins which are as the "scarlet" or the "crimson" dye. Ours is a country, signally favoured with means the best adapted to lead from transgression, and excite to obedience.
II. THERE IS PROMISED THE BESTOWMENT OF PARDONING MERCY.
1. It might indeed have been imagined, that, after such repeated accusations of iniquity, there would succeed only a threatening of doom. Is God not just? Is He not jealous of His glory?
2. Such a promise as this is made in perfect consistency with the immutable justice and holiness of the Divine nature.
3. It will be proper to observe the manner in which the promised blessing is bestowed. God communicates forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of His Son.
4. In order to secure the personal application of the sacrifice of Christ, there must be, in yourselves, the production of certain emotions and principles, by the operation of the Spirit of God.
5. Let us further observe, the sufficiency by which this promised blessing of forgiveness is characterised.
III. THERE IS DESIRED THE EXERCISE OF WISE CONSIDERATION.
(James Parsons.)I. THE CHARACTERS WHO ARE HERE ADDRESSED. We see the Jews charged —
1. With a gross departure from God.
2. With carrying their abominations into the religious services of the sanctuary.
II. THE CHARACTER IN WHICH GOD IS HERE REPRESENTED BY THE PROPHET — that, namely, of the most amazing condescension. Various are the methods in which God may be said to reason with us.
1. By family afflictions.
2. By personal inflictions.
3. By awful providences.
4. Through the ministry of His Word.For what does God condescend to reason with us? For the bestowment of pardon. Your reason, in its highest powers, is challenged.
(J. Gaskin, M. A.)I. Our text is addressed to SINNERS OF THE DEEPEST DYE.
1. In the second verse you will perceive that the text was addressed to senseless sinners — so senseless that God Himself would not address them in expostulation, but called upon the heavens and the earth to hear His complaints.
2. The text is given to ungrateful sinners. "I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me." Oh, how many of us come under this description!
3. By reading in the third verse, you will perceive again that the text is addressed to men who are worse than beasts. None of us would keep a horse for twenty years, if it never worked but only sought to injure us; and yet there are men whom God has kept these forty and fifty years, put the breath into their nostrils, the bread into their mouths, and the clothes upon their backs, and they have done nothing but curse at Him, speak ill of His service, and do despite to His laws.
4. They were a people "laden with iniquity."
5. They were not only loaded with sin themselves, but they were teachers in transgressions. "Children that are corrupters."
6. The blessed text we have on hand is addressed to men upon whom all manner of afflictions had been lost and thrown away. It is a great aggravation of our sin when we sin under the rod.
7. The invitation is sent to men who appeared to have been totally depraved from the sole of the foot even to the head.
II. The text presents us with REASONING OF THE MOST PREVALENT POWER.
III. The words of this text contain a PROMISE OF PARDON OF THE FULLEST FORCE. "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." These colours are selected because of their exceeding brilliancy. Now some sins are striking, glaring sins; you cannot help seeing them; and the sinner himself is compelled to confess them. But the Hebrew word conveys the idea of doubly dyed — what we call ingrained colours — when the wool has lain so long in the dye that it cannot be got out; though you wash or wear it as long as you please, you must destroy the fabric before you can destroy the colour. Yet here is the promise of full pardon for glaring and for ingrained lusts. And note how the pardon is put — "they shall be as snow" — pure white virgin snow. But snow soon loses its whiteness, and therefore it is compared to the whiteness of the wool washed and prepared by the busy housewife for her fair white linen. You shall be so cleansed, that not the shadow of a spot, nor the sign of a sin, shall be left upon you. When a man believes in Christ, he is in that moment, in God's sight, as though he had never sinned in all his life.
IV. THE TIME mentioned in the text, which is of the MOST SOLEMN SIGNIFICANCE. "Now."
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. IT IS A REASONABLE THING THAT SIN SHOULD BE RENOUNCED.
1. Because it is most inconsistent to suppose that pardon can be given while we continue in sin. How could the Judge of all the earth thus wink at iniquity? Only fancy what the effect would be upon our country if a proclamation were issued, that henceforth all manner of offences against the law would be immediately forgiven, and men might continue still to perpetrate them. And what would be the effect Upon the sinner himself if such could be the case? Say to a man — you are not to be punished for your sin, and yet you may live in it still, and what worse turn could you do him? Here is a bleeding wound in my arm; the surgeon says he will allow it still to bleed, but he will remove my sense of faintness and pain. I would decline to have it so. It is unreasonable that you should expect that God will allow you to remain impenitent, and yet give you the kiss of forgiving love. It would be neither honourable to God, nor good to your fellow men, nor really beneficial to yourself.
2. Is it not reasonable, too, that we should part with sin, because sin is so grievous to God?
3. Should it not be given up because of the mischief it has already done to man!
4. Remember, also, that unless sin is repented of and forsaken no act of yours, nor ceremony of religion, nor hearing, nor praying can possibly save you.
II. Let me now go further, and declare that IT IS MOST REASONABLE THAT MAN SHOULD SEEK PURITY OF HEART. You ask for forgiveness, and in return God says to you, "Wash you, make you clean; put sway the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment; relieve the oppressed; judge the fatherless; plead for the widow." Is there not reason in this command! You practically say, "Lord, enter into amity and peace with me." The Lord replies, "There is no peace to the wicked: only as you become renewed in nature can there be any peace between us." Do you dam to ask God to commune with you while you are a lover of sin?
III. IF THE SINNER REMAIN IMPENITENT IT IS MOST UNREASONABLE FOR HIM TO LAY THE BLAME OF HIS NOT BEING FORGIVEN UPON THE CHARACTER OF GOD, FOR GOD IS READY TO FORGIVE.
IV. IT IS A REASONABLE THING THAT GOD SHOULD DEMAND WITH THIS PARDON OBEDIENCE TO HIS COMMAND. And what is that command? It is, "If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel the sword shall devour you." Obedient to what? Obedient to all Gospel precepts.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. First, I will suppose that I have before me someone who says, "MY SINS ARE AS GLARING AS SCARLET." How can I ever be the friend of God as my sins are so prominent? Some people's sins are of a drab colour, you might not notice them; other people's sins are a sort of whitey-brown, you would scarcely perceive them; but my sins are scarlet, that is a colour that is at once observed. What sort of sins may be called scarlet?
1. The filthier vices.
2. The universally condemned sins, those sins which are offences against the State, and against the well being and social order of the community, such as dishonesty, theft, peculation in all its forms, knavery, cheating, lying.
3. The louder defiances of God. Some men dare to contradict Scripture, to express their disbelief in it, nay, to contradict God Himself even to express their disbelief in His existence; and, disbelieving in God, they dare to cavil at His providence, to judge His words, and to utter criticisms and sarcasms about the acts of the Most High.
4. Scarlet sins may consist, again, in long-continued dissipations.
5. In repeated transgressions.
6. In any act of sin which is distinctly deliberate. Do you want to know how this can be done? It is through the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
II. But there is a second difficulty. The man of whom I first spoke also says, "MY TENDENCY TO SIN IS DEEPLY INGRAINED." He says, "If all my scarlet sins were forgiven, yet I am afraid I should not be all right even then." Why not? "Because I feel impulses within me towards evil which, I think, are stronger than in anybody else. Well, I will take you on your own ground; I do believe that there are some persons who have a greater hereditary tendency to some sins than others have. Still, though your sins be red like crimson, they shall be as wool God knows how to effect this transformation by the working of the Holy Spirit. "Oh!" says another, "I should not mind about hereditary tendencies; but my difficulty is that I have been habitually committing sin." The Holy Spirit will help you to break off every sinful habit at once. You know that scarlet and crimson are colours very hard to get out of any fabric. Neither the dew, nor the rain, nor any ordinary processes of bleaching, will get out the scarlet. But God knows how, without destroying the fabric, to take out a fifty years' crimson habit, and not leave a stain behind. I heard a third person say, "The trouble with me is that I have such feeble mental resistance to evil, I am so weak, such a poor fool. Well, you are not much of a fool if you know you are; the biggest fools are those who never know that they are fools. Still, there are people of this kind. Now, if you will come and reason with God, and yield yourself to the power of the Holy Spirit, He will put a backbone into you. Still, perhaps, I have not quite hit the nail on the head with all of you. Some are entangled by their circumstances. But God's grace can deliver you. There is nothing like making up your mind that you are coming right straight out from everything that is wrong, let it cost whatever it may. "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" The ship is going down, and if your little boat is tied to it, you will go down too. Up with the axe, and cut the rope! I think I hear another say, "But I am a man of such strong passions." They must be got rid of; and I do not know of any surgical operation that can do it; you will have to be born again, that is the only real cure.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(R. W. Evans, B. D.)
(Life of Saith.)Now!"
(M. Guy Pearse.)
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