Jeremiah 31:34
No longer will each man teach his neighbor or his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity and will remember their sins no more."
God's Forgetfulness of SinNewman Smyth, D. D.Jeremiah 31:34
God's Non-Remembrance of SinJeremiah 31:34
Good Things to ComeArchbishop Summer.Jeremiah 31:34
Knowing the Lord Through Pardoned SinJeremiah 31:34
Missions Put an End toA.F. Muir Jeremiah 31:34
The Church's Duty to the WorldT. Raffles, D. D.Jeremiah 31:34
The Duty of Extending Religious KnowledgeD. King.Jeremiah 31:34
The New CovenantA.F. Muir Jeremiah 31:31-34
The New CovenantS. Conway Jeremiah 31:31-34
The New Covenant Add the OldD. Young Jeremiah 31:31-34
A New CovenantG. Brooks.Jeremiah 31:31-37
Jeremiah's Prophecy of the New CovenantA. B. Bruce, D. D.Jeremiah 31:31-37
The New CovenantExpository OutlinesJeremiah 31:31-37
The New CovenantCanon Liddon.Jeremiah 31:31-37
The New CovenantG. F. Pentecost, D. D.Jeremiah 31:31-37

Many persons, at the outset of modern missionary enterprise, strongly objected to it upon various pleas, but chiefly as an interference with providential arrangements and an opposition to the will of God. Even now there are some who regard it as a quixotic and presumptuous folly. It may console such persons to know that even the Bible looks forward to the abolition of missions. But in a very different way from theirs!


1. What it is. Communication of the knowledge of God. Not by one act or word, but in a sustained and continuous way. By careful and intelligent explanation of God's character, laws, and purpose; even more by realizing in one's own life and behaviour the love and grace of God. Every life ought to be a revelation of God.

2. Where it is to be applied. The important thing to observe here is the point of departure. Our eyes are not to be in the ends of the earth. The persons upon whom our first efforts are to be put forth are close beside us - our "brother" and our "neighbour." This describes an immediate and direct responsibility. How many have fulfilled it? Some such work as this was done when the Jews returned from the Exile, without teachers numerous or learned enough for the instruction of the people in the Law. The scribes of the great synagogue gave themselves to the work, making itinerant journeys throughout Israel and Judah at stated intervals. But this was not sufficient, and so it had to be supplemented by popular and domestic efforts. Happily the people were enthusiastic and earnest, and, literally, every man taught his brother and his neighbour. This was but a prelude to the work which the Church of Christ has to take up. The missionaries and ministers of the cross are to "go everywhere" preaching the Word. But that will not suffice. Multitudes are hungering for the truth as it is in Christ - multitudes whom we personally may never hope to reach. What, then, can we do? We can tell our brother and our neighbour - in that way the tidings of salvation will spread; and others more at liberty and more enterprising may be encouraged by our zeal and liberality to go forth to heathen nations. In any case the first quarter to which the Church should look for increase is within itself. The language is explicit, and no man need waste his time in inquiring, "Who is my neighbour?" The parable of the good Samaritan has settled that matter for all time.


1. Universal knowledge of God. The gospel is intended for all men. Every man has a personal interest in its message. To keep back the truth from any one who has come within our reach is a sin; especially is this the case with regard to those who are our daily companions and closest friends. The words are not satirical, but a gracious promise. It is an end towards which we should hopefully and constantly aim. Some day it will be realized; "for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). So long as one soul is ignorant of God, we are bound to continue the work.

2. Universal experience of the blessings of salvation. It is no speculative abstraction we have to communicate, but a "word" which has in it the power to awaken, convert, and reconcile eternally to God. This knowledge of him is therefore experimental and practical. It will not leave men as it finds them. It will purify and redeem, and introduce them to the blessedness of a complete and enduring salvation. God will seal the labours of his servants by "signs following" - by righteous and holy fruits, and by the assurance that the sins of them that believe through their teaching will be forgiven forever. - M.

They shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.
A blessed season is here spoken of, very unlike what the world has hitherto seen. Such acquaintance with God is meant, as brings the power, the justice, the mercy, the holiness of God before the mind, and applies them so closely to the heart, that it may be ruled and actuated by that knowledge. And if it is this, and nothing less than this, then may we justly say, The time is not come, of which the prophet speaks, when "all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest, saith the Lord." And it were a vain speculation to inquire when it shall be. These are among "the times and the seasons, which God hath reserved in His own power." But it is not a vain speculation, and by God's blessing it may prove "good to the use of edifying," if we inquire how it might be — how this blessed consummation may be obtained, and the promise brought to its fulfilment. Looking, then, at the fulfilment of the prophecy, I first observe, that we have no ground for expecting that "all will know the Lord," because mankind will bring another nature into the world — a nature which of its own accord shall turn towards God and righteousness. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh," and the time will never cease, when they who are taught of God to understand themselves will be forced to confess, "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh, my original nature) dwelleth no good thing." Neither have we any right to expect that they shall know Him by any fresh or more general revelation This was not needed even by the Jews, to whom the promise was addressed. Our Lord declared that the knowledge of God was sufficiently Within their reach, if their hearts had not been closed against it. "They had Moses and the prophets — let them hear them"; they would teach them to "know the Lord." How much more, then, is it true of those on whom the Sun of Righteousness has risen — "the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image if His person," in whom dwelleth "all the fulness of the Godhead bodily"! The agency, therefore, to which we are to look for the accomplishment of the prophecy, is no other than that from which whatever is good in man has been derived from the beginning. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the God and Father of lights." If the patriarchs served God "in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation" — if Enoch and Abraham were governed by His laws — it was because His Spirit wrote them in their hearts; if they possessed the knowledge of God, it was because that knowledge was implanted in them by His Spirit. And so, when "all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest," it will be the same Spirit which worketh all in all. But "there are diversities of gifts, though the same Spirit; and there are differences of administrations, though the same Lord"; and there are differences of results, even in the same administration. The means producing the abundant harvest will be no new means; the Spirit will "take of the things of God," and write them in the heart by the instrumentality already in operation; the difference will be, that the instrumentality will be, first, universal, and secondly, more successful. It will be more universal. "All shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest"; from the youngest to the eldest, from the richest to the poorest. All, therefore, shall know Him from their youth; all shall be "brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." "They shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord"; this shall be no longer needful. And why is it needful now? Partly, and for a first reason, because too many grow up without that knowledge; and they who from their years and experience in earthly things ought to be teachers in spiritual wisdom, are often children in real understanding. How few are accustomed to hear the knowledge of God treated as if it were "the one thing needful" to be acquired, and "the one thing needful" to be retained! How few parents use this language to their children — "Seek knowledge, acquire learning; but first learn to know the Lord!" — "the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and the knowledge of Him, that is understanding." No wonder, then, that the impression made upon their tender minds, in regard to the God in whom they have their being, is like the footprint in the sand, washed away by the first wave of temptation, and quickly obliterated by the daily inroads of the world. But there are other classes, of which the larger part of human society must ever be composed. Shall we, then, leave the rich — reverse the prophet's course, and now betake ourselves to the poor? Do they "know the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God"! Alas! they have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bands. Multitudes spring up from youth to manhood, with no more knowledge of the Lord than they might have possessed if the Lord had not revealed Himself to the world. If they hear His name, it is to hear it blasphemed; if they learn that the Lord has spoken to men, it is to learn that His message is despised. Whenever, then, the destined time shall arrive, when "all shall know the Lord, from the least to the greatest," all "from the least to the greatest" will be nurtured in the faith and fear of God. Christian instruction will be universal. Now it is rare — now it is partial — now it is imperfect, and marred by inconsistency; then it Will be general and complete. But further, Christian instruction, as it will be universal, so also it will be efficient and successful. I say not that it is unsuccessful now; I believe that it is greatly honoured of God, and that they bring a false report of the land of promise who reproach it as vain and unprofitable; but its effect is now impeded by so many hindrances. Its rarity is a hindrance. Those who have been taught to "know the Lord," are encompassed on every side by those who know Him not. Take the most favoured case; the child who has hitherto "sat beside the still waters," and drank of the pure fountain of piety and holiness, must soon be launched on the wide ocean of the world — must take his course among those who have gone with the stream of the multitude, and are guided by no scriptural direction; the parent who has sown good seed in his son's heart, and prays for its growth and fruitfulness, looks round after a while, and sees (we trust he sees) the wheat appearing — but he cannot help seeing that it is surrounded by tares, and how must he fear lest the tares should prevail and overspread it! In proportion, therefore, as education in Divine knowledge will become general, we may believe that it will become effective and permanently influential, If each one in his own household, and each one in his own neighbourhood, made this their chief and earnest care, that those in whom they are interested and by whom they are surrounded should know the Lord from their youth, the prophet's words might be fulfilled, and the whole community become one well-ordered family, "walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost"; "all, from the least to the greatest," might be taught of God, blessing the pious endeavours of His people, and giving effect to the means which, in dependence on His grace, they would employ; all might "walk with God," as Enoch — might trust in Him, as Abraham — might fear Him, as Joseph — might submit to Him, as Eli — might set Him before their eyes, as David — so that, "living and dying, they might be the Lord's."

(Archbishop Summer.)

I. THE EXISTING IGNORANCE SUPPOSED. The impression that there is a God is seldom obliterated from the human mind. But this persuasion subsisting alone, or in connection with the grossest error, comes far short of making wise unto salvation. Oh! how lost is the immortal mind to all true apprehensions of Deity, when it can stoop to the worship of stocks and stones, the works of men's hands. Yet the heathen are not alone ignorant of God. It would be some relief if the eye, after surveying pagan lands, and compassionating these dark places of the earth filled with the habitations of horrid cruelty, could retreat securely to the nations of Christendom, and there soothingly repose on pervading spiritual intelligence. But, alas! there are multitudes in these favoured countries whose religious tuition has yet to be commenced, who have all the ignorance of heathens, wanting only its palliations. Nor does this remark apply only to the illiterate. A vast proportion of the learned themselves have still to acquire the veriest rudiments of this heavenly science. The list of the ignorant is not yet completed. To attain its completion, we must go to Christian sanctuaries. Yes, even of those who attend in the house of God, numbers seem as little instructed by their attendance as if they were frequenting heathen or Mohammedan temples. Their ears are inured to the sound of the Gospel, and this familiarity with its accents they are apt to mistake for acquaintance with its import. Thus wide are the realms of ignorance, and I need not tell you that its sway is most destructive. Without knowledge there can be no faith, for how can we believe what we do not know? And without faith, we are Divinely assured, it is impossible to please God.

II. AS INCUMBENT ON US WHILE IGNORANCE LASTS, THE DUTY OF TEACHING EVERY MAN HIS NEIGHBOUR, AND EVERY MAN HIS BROTHER, SAYING, KNOW THE LORD. You will readily admit the propriety of teaching every man his brother. You will own at once that Andrew, finding his brother Simon, did right in bringing him to Jesus, and that all Christian members of families would do well to imitate this commendable example. But, alas! the interval is often wide between a verbal acknowledgment of duty and its vigorous performance. And is it not so here? Are not Christians themselves too sparing in expostulation with careless, unawakened relatives? You would stand between them and temporal destruction, and the more they were bent on such ruin, the more you would remonstrate. And will ye give place to them, then, and facilitate their progress when they are madly encountering eternal destruction, and hastening to the gates of the second death? You observe, however, that you are required, moreover, to teach every man his neighbour. Here many will at once understand us to speak of missionary agents, not deeming themselves at all qualified for personally instructing a benighted neighbourhood. But this conclusion we cannot reach so hastily. It is often adopted as self-evident when it has no evidence, when it is on the contrary most erroneous and criminal. There are now Tract Societies and Christian Instruction Societies, which employ many members of our Churches in diffusing through the streets and lanes of our city the knowledge of the only true God. Why may not others join their number? Change of labour is sometimes rest; and if the maxim ever apply, it must surely hold good, when we pass from anxious wasting tasks to those scenes and subjects which prove all affliction to be light and momentary, and elevate the soul to a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. One hour a week, where more cannot be conceded, may be space enough for great usefulness. Yea, it were presumptuous to limit the happy effect of a single visit, for a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. It must be allowed, however, that all have not equal facilities for the personal prosecution of such works and labours of love; and even though they had, it would still be their duty to engage others in this service as well as themselves. Some are willing to devote their lives to the extension of Christ's kingdom, if you will devote a portion of substance to their support. The proposal is most reasonable surely, and assigns you the easier department of the treaty. By adopting it, and reducing it to energetic practice, you may teach your neighbour and brother in the largest and noblest acceptation of the terms.

III. THE ULTIMATE PREVALENCE OF KNOWLEDGE BY WHICH SUCH OBLIGATIONS SHALL BE SUPERSEDED. The phrase, "from the least of them unto the greatest of them," may be differently understood, but in every view it is delightfully significant. Does it refer to age? How beautiful on the one hand to see little children entering the kingdom, to see God, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, perfecting praise; and to witness on the other hand maturity of years and grace identified, to see the grey hairs a crown of glory being found in the way of righteousness How affecting to see these extremes of life united in devotion, the infant and the ancient joining the tender and the wrinkled hand to approach in fellowship the Father of mercies! Again, does the language refer to station? How attractive to see the degraded rising in character, and comfort, and piety, and the exalted humbly stooping from their loftiness to acknowledge and embrace the lowliest followers of the Lamb! to see all envy on the one hand, and all disdain on the other utterly lost and swallowed up in fraternal endearment. And these shall not be verdant spots in the desert as infrequent as lovely; the whole earth shall be such a paradise, for righteousness and peace shall spring forth before all the nations. And how shall this consummation be attained? Doubtless by God fulfilling His promise of putting His law in men's inward parts, and writing it on their hearts. But will He do so directly and independently of His revealed Word? No; we as the instruments in His hand must disseminate that Word, and then He will open men's understanding to understand the Scriptures. How honouring to be employed by such an Agent in such a work and for such ends!

(D. King.)


1. The knowledge of God is essential to the well-being and happiness of man for time and for eternity — in other words, that it is essential to his salvation. It matters not in what region they may dwell, it matters not under what other circumstances favourable to their advancement in civilisation or commerce or the arts they may or may not be placed; such must be the lamentable result in every case where men live and die without the knowledge of God, while the guilt of such ignorance and the misery which it entails are only heightened and aggravated by the circumstance, when the ease occurs in a Christian land where the fight of the Gospel is wisely diffused.

2. A destitution of this knowledge is the natural condition of mankind.

3. The knowledge of God is that kind of knowledge which above all others we should be anxious to diffuse.

4. The way in which this knowledge is to be communicated is suggested in the text and adopted by this institution. We are to "teach." We must exhort men to the attainment of this knowledge, as to an imperative duty. We must admonish them of the melancholy consequence of remaining in ignorance. We must warn them of their danger, whilst they continue thus ignorant of God and alienated from Him. We must reason with them, and remonstrate with all possible earnestness and affection, "if peradventure God may grant them repentance to the belief of the truth."

II. THE GLORIOUS PROSPECT UNFOLDED TO THE CHURCH IN CONNECTION WITH THIS DUTY, AS A REWARD FOR ITS PERFORMANCE — AND WHICH, WHEN FULLY REALISED, WILL RENDER THE PERFORMANCE OF THIS DUTY NO LONGER NECESSARY; for then "they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord," for there shall be no more necessity, the work shall have been done, and "they shall know the Lord" each and every one, "from the least of them" through all the grades of society "unto the greatest of them," from the meanest to the most exalted.

1. The nature of the blessing which is thus assured. It is the possession and enjoyment of the knowledge of God.

2. The extent to which this blessing shall be diffused. It shall be universal. Riot and disorder, debauchery and drunkenness, robbery and fraud, assassination and murder, shall no more be known; for all those vile lusts and furious passions in the human breast, whence these enormities proceed, shall be eradicated and subdued, and men shall be bound together in one common bond of brotherhood and love. Then uprightness and integrity shall be the prevailing principles of commerce and of trade. Then the office of the judge shall become a sinecure, and the prison a solitude, and the criminal and the felon a name and a character belonging to a former state of things. Then "Holiness to the Lord shall be written upon the bells of the horses"; and men shall learn to combine diligence in business and honourable industry in their lawful callings, with the fervour of an ardent piety and supreme devotedness to God, while none shall undermine or overreach, none shall tyrannise or oppress, none shall slander or traduce, "none shall hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain."

(T. Raffles, D. D.)

If we regard this passage as instructive in its order, the knowledge of God follows close upon the application of the law to the heart. The work of grace usually begins, so far as we can perceive it, by the Holy Spirit's bringing the law into contact with the inner man. The law outside of a man is forgotten; he may profess a reverence for it, but it does not affect his desires and thoughts. But when the Holy Spirit begins to put the law into the inward parts, the immediate result is the discovery of our shortcomings and transgressions. law-work is grace-work in its darker dress. It is the axe which rough hews the timber which grace goes on to fashion and smooth. By the operation of the law upon the conscience, convincing the man of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, the Holy Spirit works towards the transforming of the heart. He takes away the stone out of it, and makes it to be a fleshy, tender, sensitive thing. Then with His own finger He writes the Divine law upon the mind and the affections, so that the Divine commands become the centre of the man's life, and the governing force of his action. The man now loves that law which before he, at his very best, only feared: it becomes his will to do the will of God.

I. THE ONE ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE. "This is life eternal, to know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." To know God is to live in the light. This knowledge brings with it trust, peace, love, holiness, and acceptance.

1. This knowledge is emphatically the knowledge of God. "They shall all know Me." They may not know everything about God. Who could? Only the infinite can comprehend the infinite. The regenerate, however, know the Lord, though they do not, and cannot, understand His incomprehensible glories. "They shall all know Me, saith Jehovah." Believers can say, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father"; can you say that? Were you ever conscious of the presence of God? Has He ever manifested Himself to you in any special way! One said to a Christian lady that he did not believe in the Scriptures, and she replied that she believed, in them, and delighted to read them. When asked her reason, she replied, "Perhaps it is because I know the Author." Personal acquaintance with God turns faith into assurance. The knowledge of God is the basis of a faith of the surest and sweetest kind: we know and have believed the love which God hath towards us. Knowing God, we believe in the truth of His words, the justice of His sentences, the goodness of His acts, the wisdom of His purposes, yea, and the love of His chastisements.

2. Note, next, that it is a personal knowledge. Each renewed person knows the Lord for himself. You cannot see God with another man's eyes; you cannot know God through another man's knowledge. Ye must yourselves be born again! Ye must yourselves be made pure in heart, or you cannot see God.

3. Next, this knowledge is one which is wrought in us by the Spirit of the Lord. It is the duty of every Christian man to say to his neighbour, and to his brother, "Know the Lord." God uses this effort as His instrumentality for saving men. But the man who really knows the Lord, does not know Him solely by such instruction. All Zion's children are taught of the Lord. They know God by His revealing Himself to them.

4. Note, carefully, that this knowledge of God becomes manifest knowledge. It is so manifest that the most earnest workers who desire the conversion of their fellow-men no longer say to such a man, "Know the Lord," for they perceive most clearly that he already possesses that knowledge, so as to be beyond the need of instruction upon that point.

5. Next, this knowledge of God is universal among the regenerate. The regenerate man with one talent knows the Lord; the man with ten talents boasts not of them, but rejoices that he knows the Lord.

6. This is the distinguishing mark of the regenerate, that they know the Lord. The knowledge of God lies at the bottom of every virtue and grace. The Lord is no more to us a stranger of whom we have heard — of whom a report has come to us through many hands. No; the Lord God is our friend.

II. THE ONE GRAND MEANS OF OBTAINING THIS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."

1. Without the pardon of sin it is not possible for us to know the Lord. The thought of God is distasteful to every guilty man. It would be good news to him if he could be informed, on sure authority, that there was no God at all Darkness covers the mind, because sin has blinded the soul to all that is best and holiest. While sin lieth at the door, there is a difficulty on God's part, too. How can He admit into an intimate knowledge of Himself the guilty man, as long as he is enamoured of evil? Beyond this, an awful dread comes over the guilty mind, even when it begins to be awakened. Conscience testifies that God must punish sin.

2. In the pardon of sin there is made to the pardoned man s clear and unmistakable revelation of God to his own soul The knowledge of God received by a distinct sense of pardoned sin is more certain than knowledge derived by the use of the senses in things pertaining to this life.

3. This personal manifestation has about it a singular glory of overwhelming self-evidence. How a man sees God when he comes to know in his own soul the fulness of pardon intended by this matchless word, "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more"! Can this be so? Does the Lord make a clean sweep of all my sins? Can it be that the Lord has cast them all behind His back? Has He blotted out the record which accused me? Has He cast my sin into the depths of the sea? Hallelujah! He is a God indeed. This is a Godlike act. O Jehovah! who is like unto Thee? Mark, also, how freely, out of His mere love, the Lord forgives, and herein displays His Godhead! No payment on our part, of suffering or service, is required. The Lord pardons for His own name's sake.

4. When the soul comes to think of the method of mercy, it has a further knowledge of God. In the extraordinary plan of salvation by grace through Christ Jesus, all the Divine attributes are set in a glorious light, and God is made known as never before. Oh, the splendour of redeeming love!

5. The immutability of Divine pardon is one of the most brilliant facets of the diamond. Some think that God forgives, but afterwards punishes; that you may be justified to-day, but condemned to-morrow. Such is not the teaching of our text. "Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more." Our debts are so fully paid by our Lord Jesus that there is not an account upon the file of omniscience against any pardoned one.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
One of the appalling obstacles between sinful men now, and their eternal blessedness hereafter, is the indestructible fact of the memory of sin. The poet Dante, as he wandered through the forest of the terrestrial paradise, came to a stream which on the one side was called Lethe, and on the other Eunoe, for it possessed the double virtue to take away remembrance of offence, and to bring remembrance back of every good deed done. Immersed in Lethe's wave he forgets his fault, and from Eunoe's stream he returned


E'en as new plants renew'd with foliage new,

Pure and made apt for mounting to the stars."Where flows, then, the stream of happy forgetfulness? A poet's dream may not beguile us; — what are the facts, the stem, unchangeable facts of memory? Is memory an unalterable record of life? Shall the shadow of this earth always lie before us upon our path? The facts of memory are these. The mind of man is a chamber of memories — a hall of echoes — a gallery of endless whispers — a house haunted by shades of the past. The mind is one labyrinth of memories — like a catacomb of the dead. Recollection is as the torch in the traveller's hand through this endless labyrinth of memory; but memory itself is the receptacle of all our past. There is a place in it for all the deeds done in the body. All that the mind has been used for remains a memory wrought into its own structure and form. No ingenuity of human art has ever invented to watch the watchman a self-registering machine so accurate, so constant, so unalterably true, as is the human brain — God's register of the deeds done in the body. Carry now this truth one step further. If in the present physical basis of life there m provision made for memory; if matter so gross as the brain can become the register of the mind; much more may memory be continuous and comprehensive in the spiritual embodiment of the soul; much more shall it be made perfect in the resurrection. The form shall be broken up, and they shall be distributed, dust to dust, and earth to earth; but the soul shall have taken, before this bodily form is broken up, the copy of this mortal life and its deeds, and hence shall continue with the impression of it stamped upon it for ever. But this is not all. Not only do we have in our own organisation a memory of ourselves which we cannot tear from us, but also the universe has a memory of us. The memory of men's lives is a part of the universe. The record of our life is a line written in the book of things. It belongs to nature. We cannot blot it out. And if we carry this truth of memory still further and higher, we rise to the conception of the unalterable memory of the Eternal. Can God forget? Can God put our sin out of His eternal remembrance? This is not simply a question of power over will. It is not simply a question as to what an Almighty God can do; but what God as an infinitely perfect moral Being will do. There are those who tell us that God out of His mere benevolence van forgive sin, and open the heaven of His holy presence to the sinner who would return. Yes, so might a kind human friend say to one who had done him wrong, "I do not care; you may come back at any time and sit at my table if you please; I will not speak of the offence; I am willing to let it pass"; but still, although unmentioned, the wrong also would be there, sitting at the same table with the two who sit down together again. The wrong once done shall be always as a shadow between them, until something be done to put it away; until something be done to enable both to forget it, something that shall cost some sacrifice, some suffering, some reparation for the wrong, some humiliation, and some manifestation of the evil really inflicted and the pain really felt on account of the sin which is to be forgiven. Something must be said and done once for all of the nature of an atonement for the sin which separates those two, in order that each may experience the joy of a restored friendship, and that full reconciliation in which the wrong done is to be henceforth morally forgotten as well as forgiven. Surely, then, it is not good theology to imagine God to be reconciled to this world at a less effort and at a less cost of sacrifice and suffering than is required for the perfect binding up of a broken human friendship. Reconciliation does cost humiliation, suffering, self-vindication, at least through sorrow and pain for the sin committed, on the part of the person who would forgive, and then the recognition also of this effort and cost of forgiveness on the part of him who is to be forgiven. Otherwise the forgiveness does not reach to the bottom of the wrong, and the healing is only on the surface of life. And shall the infinitely perfect One be less human in His forgiveness than we? How can the Holy One forgive and forget our sin? Heaven's answer is the Cross of Christ! Through His work of atonement for sin is opened the Divine way of forgetfulness of the sin of the world. God remembers man henceforth as he stands before Him in the nature and grace of Christ. Hence He can forget man as he was without Christ. Justification is God's covering the knowledge of what we once were in our sins by the blessed and all-transfiguring thought of what His own love in the suffering Redeemer has done and always is for us. And this is no mere act of power or violence over memory. It is no arbitrary act of forgetfulness. It contradicts no ethical principle of memory, human or Divine. It is a moral hiding from the Divine remembrance of the sin of the world, which has been already and once for all condemned in the same suffering for it by which the Divine willingness to forgive was made manifest. Our sin, which God always would forgive, can be sin forgiven and forgotten, because it has been at last perfectly confessed before God, and God's necessary pain over it has been realised and revealed in the sufferings in it, and for it, of the Son of His love, and its condemnation, once for all, has been visited upon it in the death of Him who prays in God's pure will that His enemies may be forgiven. If, then, God has made such a morally sufficient atonement for sin that He can forgive it, as He would forgive it, and can forget it without denying Himself, it follows also that we ourselves shall be able to put hereafter our own sin of this life out of mind, and all other pure beings shall be able to let it pass as a dream of the night.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

(with Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17): — These texts are all alike in their declaration that the Lord will not remember His people's sins. "In the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established." Here, then, you have Isaiah and Jeremiah, two Old Testament saints affirming the same thing: is not this enough? Added to these you have the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and these three agree in one. Their united testimony is that Jehovah, the Lord God, will forgive the sins of His people, and do it in so complete a way that He will remember their iniquities no more. Does any unto. generate person believe in the forgiveness of sin? I trow not. No man in sincerity believes it until God the Holy Ghost has taught him its truth, and has written it upon his heart. When a man's sins are set before him in the light of God's countenance, his first instinct is to fear that they are altogether unpardonable. He looks to the law of God, and while he looks in that direction he will certainly conclude that there is no pardon, for the law knows nothing of forgiveness. It is, "This do, and thou shalt live; disobey, and thou shalt die." What the law asserts, the understanding also supports; for within the awakened man there is the memory of his past offences, and on account of these his conscience passes judgment upon his soul, and condemns it even as the law doth. Meanwhile, many natural impressions and instincts assist and increase the clamours of conscience; for the man knows within himself, as the result of observation and experience, that sin must bring its own punishment; he perceives that it is a knife which cuts the hand of him that handles it, a sword that kills the man who fights therewith. Meanwhile the devil comes in with all the horrors of the infernal pit, and threatens speedy destruction. Thus, for once, the devil craftily co-operates with the law of God and with conscience; these would drive men to self-despair, but Satan would go further, and compel them to despair as touching the Lord Himself, so as to believe that pardon for transgression is quite impossible. With the desponding I shall try to deal at this time, and may the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, help me to console them.

I. THERE IS FORGIVENESS. Our four texts all teach us that doctrine with great distinctness.

1. This appears, first, in the treatment of sinners by God, inasmuch as He spares their forfeited lives. Assuredly the Lord meant pardon when He tarried to inquire, "Adam, where art thou?" In the morning of human history the Lord's long-suffering displayed itself and gave promise of larger grace. The like is true of you and of me. If God had no pardons would He not long ago have cut us down as cumberers of the ground?

2. Why did God institute the ceremonial law if there were no ways of pardoning transgression? Why the bullocks and the lambs offered in sacrifice? Why the burnt-offerings in which God accepted man's gift, if man could not be accepted? Assuredly he could not be accepted if regarded as guilty. Why the peace-offering in which God feasted with the offerer, and the two united in feeding upon the one sacrifice? How could this be unless God intended to forgive and enter into fellowship with men?

3. Further than this, if there were no forgiveness of sin why has the Lord given to sinful men exhortations to repent?

4. If you will think of it you will see that there must be pardons in the hand of God, or why the institution of religious worship among us to this day? Why are we allowed to pray in secret if we cannot be forgiven? What is the value of prayer at all if that first and most vital favour of forgiven sin is utterly beyond our reach? Why are we allowed to sing the praises of God? God cannot accept the praises of unforgiven men; worshippers must be clean ere they can draw near to His altar with their incense; if, then, I am taught to sing and give thanks to God it must be because "His mercy endureth for ever."

5. What assurance of pardon lies in the ordaining, sealing, and ratifying of the covenant of grace? The first covenant left us under condemnation, but one main design of the new covenant is to bring us into justification. Why a new covenant at all if our unrighteousness can never be removed?

6. Furthermore, why did Christ institute the Christian ministry, and send forth His servants to proclaim His Gospel? For what is the Gospel but a declaration that Christ is exalted on high to give repentance unto Israel and remission of sins!

7. Why are we taught in that blessed model of prayer which our Saviour has left us, to say, "Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," or, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us"? A star of hope shines upon the sinner in the Lord's Prayer in that particular petition; for it seems to say, "There is a real, true, and hearty forgiveness of God toward you, even as there is in your heart a real, true, and hearty forgiveness of those who offend against you."

8. The best of all arguments is this: God has actually forgiven multitudes of sinners.


1. You know what we do when we exercise memory. To speak popularly, a man lays up a thing in his mind: but when sin is forgiven it is not laid up in God's mind. Of course the Lord remembers their evil doings, in the sense that He cannot forget anything; but judicially as a judge, He forgets the transgressions of the pardoned ones. They are not before Him in court, and come not under His official ken.

2. In remembering, men also consider and meditate on things; but the Lord will not think over the sins of His people. The great Father's heart is not brooding over the injuries we have done: His infinite mind is not revolving within itself the tale of our iniquities.

3. Sometimes you have almost forgotten a thing, and it is quite gone out of your mind: but an event happens which recalls it so vividly that it seems as if it were perpetrated but yesterday. God will not recall the sin of the pardoned. The transgressions of His people are dead and buried with Christ, and they shall never have a resurrection. "I will not remember their sins."

4. Furthermore, this not remembering, means that God will never seek any further atonement. The apostle saith, "Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin." The one sacrifice of Jesus has made an end of sin. The Lord will never demand another victim, nor seek another expiatory offering.

5. Again, when it is said that God forgets our sins it signifies that He will never punish us for them. How can He when He has forgotten them?

6. Next, that He will never upbraid us with them. "He giveth liberally and upbraideth not." How can He upbraid us with what He has forgotten?

7. Once more, when the Lord says, "I will not remember their sins," what does it mean but this — that He will not treat us any the less generously on account of our having been great sinners!


1. Why does God forget our sin! Is it not on this wise? He looks upon His Son Jesus bearing that sin.

2. Next remember that this forgetfulness of God is caused by overflowing mercy. God is love: "His mercy endureth for ever"; and He desired vent for His love.

3. How does God forget sin? Well, it is through His everlasting love. He loved His people before they fell; and He loved His people when they fell. "I have loved thee," saith He, "with an everlasting love"; and when that great love of His had led Him to give His Son Jesus for His people's ransom, it made Him also forget His people's sins.

4. Again, God forgets His people's sins because of the complacency He has in them as renewed and sanctified creatures.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

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