IX. HEROD AN EXAMPLE OF AN
ALLEGED NECESSITY OF SINNING
"And the king was sorry; nevertheless for the oaths sake, and them which sat with him at meat, he commanded it to be given her." MATT. xiv. 9."And the king was exceeding sorry; yet for his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her." MARK vi. 26.
THERE is a world of sad meaning in the little word that
qualifies the intimation of Herod's grief."The king was exceeding sorry; yet."
He "was sorry; nevertheless." The full half of all the sins of men on earth are
committed in this very way, with a feeling of sorrow and an excuse of
necessity. One half of the sinners of mankind are in the very predicament of
this poor king. They have a great deal of religion, but somehow they are always
compelled to compromise it. They cannot help it; they are"exceeding sorry;" but
Alas for this treacherous"But yet!" How many good resolutions and good feelings does it arrest! How many admirable designs does it interrupt! How many plans for good, how many plans against evil does it stay or stop! How many excellent premises does it bring to a"lame and impotent conclusion?"
"But yet, Madam!
I do not like But yet'. It doth allay
The good precedent! Fie upon But yet'!
But yet' is as a jailer to bring forth
Some monstrous malefactor."
So the poet complains. And not less indignantly may the Christian moralize over this poor equivocator,"But yet;" this shuffler between a frank affirmative, Yes, and a bold outspoken negative, No; this halting, envious busy-body, that is ever coming between a man and his wishes; paving the way to hell with good intentions, and blasting with the mildew of his hesitancy many a holy and heavenward aspiration. Nevertheless even this same trimming waverer "But yet" may demand a hearing.
He has his reasons. The historian gives Herod all the benefit of them:"For his oath's sake, and for their sakes which sat with him, he would not reject her." These are surely strong enough reasons; an oath in heaven and a pledge on earth. Is there not here the entanglement of a double obligation, on which God and man may equally insist? Are the reasons valid? Such a question we need scarcely ask or answer. But are they alleged honestly, and in good faith? That is a more interesting inquiry. And, in dealing with it, we must distinguish between excuses of weakness and apologies for wilfulness.
I. Is it a case of weakness? Do you really find yourselves committed unawares? Is it in all sincerity that you pitifully urge the plea - you have gone too far to draw back? You would fain do so; but yet.
Certainly you are entitled to sympathy; and none like-minded with the Saviour will treat your sad embarrassment with contempt. Far be it from a Christian counsellor to make light of the delicacies and difficulties of your position. It may be proper, however, to ask you, in all tenderness, two questions deeply affecting your responsibility. In the first place, how came you into such a position? In the second place, what hinders your escape from it?
Thus, in the first place, How came you into your present position, delicate and difficult as confessedly it may be? Your oath, you say, binds you, and your companions expect you, to sacrifice your godly principles and scruples, at least in this one instance, and to this precise extent. It is painful, and you are "exceeding sorry;" but you are doubly pledged to it, before God and men.
You are pledged before God; there is your oath. Now, this may mean that you really have involved yourselves so deeply that a question of conscience or a scruple of religion is fairly and inevitably raised when you attempt to draw back. In that case the alternative before you is distressing indeed; and in the choice you have to make you are greatly to be pitied. The vow of Jephthah, how ever we may interpret it whether as dooming his daughter to a sacrificial death, or as devoting her to a perpetual and sacred virginity stands out in holy Scripture, written for our learning, as a solemn and awful beacon against all rash tampering with the name of God, or with the sanctity of a covenant with God. It is possible that you may have fallen into a similar snare, at least in your own honest opinion of your case. But the far more probable supposition is, that what you mistake for a sacred pledging of yourselves in the sight of God, is really nothing more than your being committed in your own opinion. You have formed a resolution, more or less deliberately; and it is a mortification of your self-esteem to find that you must alter your course.
And then you are pledged, not only in your own mind, but in the judgment or opinion of men. The pledge may be either express or virtual; but taking it at its lowest value, and in its loosest form, we must admit that the entanglement is sufficiently serious. Have you experimentally arrived at the discovery, that wickedness makes a tool of weakness? Have you found that novices are always at the mercy of professed and practised proficients in crime? Have you learned that tutors in sin invariably become tyrants, and that they will not let you alone until they have constrained you to do their bidding? For, thereafter, they may cast you aside as exhausted instruments, or worthless remnants, of their pleasure. Truly you are to be pitied. But the question must be pressed upon you How came you into a position so embarrassing? And it. is not for the mere purpose of vexing you that we press this question, but for reasons of obvious practical importance.
The first of these reasons is, that you may apprehend and feel your guilt. For you may rely on it that your case will never be adequately treated so long as you consider yourselves, or are considered by others, to be the objects of pity merely, and not of blame. Certainly pity is not to be withheld; and, in any judgment which your fellow men pronounce upon your conduct, the circumstances in which you may have been placed are to be taken into account. But there is a risk of your being fondled in the cradle of a spurious, sentimental sympathy, when it would be far better for you to be startled, were it even as by the alarum of judgment and the trump of doom.
This, indeed, is one of the peculiar dangers of these times in which we live. It may arise partly out of the influence of a false, infidel philosophy, which would make mind the mere development of matter, and moral character the mere result and product jointly of physical organization and of physical laws. Or, it may be partly owing to a reaction from the sanguinary severity of the old penal code, which assuredly dealt with offenders pitilessly enough. And partly also it may spring from a sort of conscientious feeling of self-condemnation, and the impression that, having done so little to prevent evil, society has but a doubtful right to punish it. One or other of these causes, or all of them combined, may account for the tendency to which we refer. Certain it is, however, that it is fast growing into a mischievous and fatal infatuation in the department of public morals and social order. Criminals are regarded as entitled to sympathy. And so they are; no class of the community are more so. But practically, is it not coming to this, that to a large extent they are regarded simply as entitled to sympathy, and not as deserving also of blame? And a sickly, sentimental, feminine sensibility, very far removed from the manly and Christian philanthropy that first groped its way into our jails and bridewells, would treat the violator of all laws, human and divine, as a victim rather than a villain, to be pitied rather than to be punished.
The contagion of this false feeling is but too likely to reach the private walks of life, and even the inner region of spiritual experience. There, also, the idea is apt to prevail, that conformity to the world is the consequence of circumstances such as make it almost unavoidable. Under this impression, you may be mourning over your declension from your first love and complaining of it to others on whose friendship and fellow-feeling you think you have a claim. You spread out your difficulties, and open up the hidden distresses of your souls. Your want of comfortable assurance and living joy, in your fellow-ship with God; the constant intrusion of the world and the world's cares; the unfixedness of your thoughts in devotion, and the secularity of your hearts; the little hold you have of the unseen and eternal state, and the little hold it has of you; the immersion of your minds in the drudgery of daily toil, or in the necessary calls of social courtesy and kindness; and, as the effect of all this, the feebleness of your faith and the languor of your love; such evils in your spiritual condition you pour into the ear of pious friendship, with broken voice and bitter tears, looking, all the while, for the earnest and intelligent sympathy of brotherly love.
And God forbid that you should want this sympathy: tenderly must your case be treated. But let it be treated truthfully too. Come, we say to you, rouse yourselves, and quit you like men. Get rid of the imbecility of a mere appeal to pity. Look boldly at the actual state of the case. Consider how you have come to be so involved and committed as you now are. Realize your full responsibility. Believe that you are not the sport of chance and victims of fate. No. You are not passively moulded into a character that is indelible; nor are you brought by any irresistible necessity into a condition that is irremediable. It is your sin, as well as your sorrow, that you have come into this state; and the first step towards your being relieved is, that "your sin must find you out."
The other reason, accordingly, for insisting on this inquiry is, that being convinced of guilt, you may not despair of recovery. For there is, perhaps, no more dangerous influence abroad, so far as personal effort is concerned, than that of a sort of covert and incipient fatalism. The listless impression of utter helplessness that creeps into the soul, when folly or excess has contrived to cast its lethargic spell over you, is like the stupor that steals upon the senses of the benumbed traveller, as, weary and way-worn amid the northern ice, he yields to the seduction of an insidious slumber. It is real kindness to break, however painfully, that sleep of death.
Hence our urgency in pressing home the question, How came you into a predicament so painful? Arouse yourselves to a firm and strong grasp of the entanglements that beset you. To bewail them as misfortunes merely, is to indulge the mere fretfulness of a child. Take a manlier view of them. Deal with them as sins; and deal with yourselves as sinners. And look well into the source of your sin, into its very fountain-head and spring. It is idle to throw the blame on circumstances or companions. You are yourselves the guilty parties. And the very first thing you have to do, is not only to criminate and condemn yourselves, but to investigate, to its utmost depth, both the cause of your criminality and the ground of your condemnation.
This was what David did, when, abandoning all refuges of lies and all expedients of self-justification, he "acknowledged his sin unto the Lord," feeling both its offensiveness in the sight of God and its just liability to wrath; and then, tracing it up to its bitter source, cried out in his godly sorrow, "I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me" (Psalm li. 5-10).
But, in the second place, besides asking how came you into your present embarrassment, we must ask also, what really hinders your escape from it? Your vow, you say, and the right which your companions have over you: "For his oath's sake and for their sakes which sat with him." Assuming still that yours is a case of weakness rather than of wilfulness, we ask you to consider the real value and force of these excuses. To what do they amount? Your vow, your oath, what is that but a feeling of false pride? The opinion or expectation of your fellow-men, what is that but a feeling of false shame? False pride! False shame! Are these, after all, the giant forms and fantasies that stand forth to oppose you when you would retrace your steps, and recover yourselves? And what strength is there in them, when it is a prophet's head that you are required to sacrifice? To what a height must the infatuation of self-deception have come, if a conviction like this can be seriously entertained!
And after all, even at the last hour, might not Herod have frankly owned a fault in himself, and fearlessly disowned the fellowship of those "who sat at meat with him?" Had he summoned up courage enough to be abased under the judgment of God, and to defy the judgment of men, to abandon his false pride in the presence of God, and to overcome his false shame in the presence of men; to say to his God, "I have sinned against thee, thee only;" and to say to his fellow-men,"What have I to do with you?" the night, so dark and bloody, might have become to him ere it closed the dawn of a bright and blessed day. John, out of his prison, would have preached repentance to the humbled monarch as freely and fully as ever he preached it to the multitudes in the wilderness. Herod might have heard of the Lamb of God that taketh away sin; and before the morning broke, had he preferred the living voice to the lifeless head of his injured friend, there might have been joy over him in heaven among the angels of God, as over one more sinner repenting; and on earth, in his own heart, there would have been peace with God and goodwill towards men.
Was there no apprehension of such an alternative in the mind of Herod that night? Did it never once occur to him that he was a man, not to say a king; and that he had but to speak the word and John was free? Was there not a critical instant, when he had almost ventured on such a step, when the spell was all but broken, and he was on the very point of asserting his liberty of choice? And is there not always some faint and passing glimpse of a freer and better choice darting across the gloomy helplessness of soul with which you abandon yourself to a supposed necessity of evil? Are you not conscious, that in every step you have been taking there has been a moment when, by one vigorous effort, you might have broken the vile enchantment under which you were spellbound? Nay, are you not conscious that there has been a moment when you found yourself on the very point of breaking it? At such a moment the truth has flashed upon you, and you have felt that the cords which bound you were become as flaxen threads. The mercy of God in Christ is within your grasp; the Spirit is moving in your soul. One stroke, and you are free; one leap, and you are safe; free to close with Christ, in spite of all evil surmises and misgivings, safe in the embrace of Christ, whatever storms may rise and rage around.
You know that there has been such a crisis as this; and the remembrance of it is apt to enhance the bitterness of your despondency. But it need not, and it should not do so. Rather let it open your eyes to the utter worthlessness of such pleas as the adversary may be urging for keeping you ensnared in his wiles. Take courage for one prompt and peremptory exertion, with fear and trembling, of your own power to will and to do, in the humble confidence that God worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. There are really no obstacles in your way, if only your false pride and shame will give place to that fear of God which knows neither fear of man nor favour of man; and if only you will believe assuredly that, with reference to the matter on hand, the practical question to be determined,"now is the accepted time, and now is the day of salvation."
II. Thus far we have considered Herod's plea as urged rather in weakness than in wilfulness; and this is doubtless the most common case among professing Christians; and it is, practically, the most interesting. But the partition between weakness and wilfulness is very slight and slender; and as "secret faults" rapidly and imperceptibly pass into "presumptuous sins," so what may be at first the honest and really distressing complaint of occasional infirmity, is apt to become, ere long, the contented acquiescence of a confirmed and customary" walking after the course of this world." The growth of this wilful spirit may be traced, first, in your more deliberate justifying of yourself; and, secondly, in your more daring defiance of God. The first symptom is the increasing deliberation, and perverse, systematic ingenuity, with which you justify yourself. With increasing ease you evade duty, with increasing boldness you palliate sin.
Is a call of duty addressed to you, whether from without, through the word and providence of God, or from within, through the stings or stirrings of your own conscience? Is the Spirit of the Lord dealing with you on the score of any neglected obligation, whether of piety and prayer, or of liberality and love? Are you urged to give more earnest heed than hitherto to the exercises of private retirement and social worship, the closet, the study, the prayer meeting, the Sabbath, and the sanctuary? Are you pressed and straitened in your own mind, as to a more frequent and devout perusal of the word of God, and a more punctual observance of all the hallowed and hereditary order of a Scottish Christian home? Or is it some opportunity of greater usefulness and more active zeal in the Lord's cause that is presented to you? And are you conscious of something very like a call from heaven, to part with more of your substance for heavenly ends, or to give more of your time and thoughts to such works as may awaken joy among the heavenly hosts? And are you hesitating and hanging back? It is not that you either doubt or deny the general reasonableness of what is asked. Gladly would you aim at the very highest standard of Christian perfection, as some whom you can name may easily do, and as you yourself hope one day to be able to do. At present, however, with every desire on your part to aspire to the most elevated style of Christianity, you do not see how it can be practicable. You are"exceeding sorry;" but your indispensable engagements, and the demands of the society in which you move, form an obstacle, in the meantime, insurmountable.
So far, your reasoning has the aspect of a graceful and sorrowful declinature. But a question or two may be permitted. Do you find, for instance, we may ask, that this process of apologetic pleading is becoming easier to yourself that you can satisfy yourself now with reasons such as, at one time, would have availed you little, that appeals to your conscience, and misgivings in your conscience, are disposed of more promptly than they once were? Or again, we may ask, are you beginning to calculate more confidently than you could once venture to do, on the acquiescence of others? Formerly, even when your own judgment, as you persuaded yourself, was convinced, and your own conscience was consequently at ease, you had doubts as to your being able to carry other judgments along with you; and you would have shrunk, with a somewhat nervous sensitiveness, from the idea of submitting your case unreservedly to the opinion of your most intimate Christian friend, not to speak of the verdict of the general Christian world. Have you grown bolder now? Above all, we may ask finally, are you secretly conscious that, when your apology is sustained, whether by yourself or by others around you, there is not really, in spite of all your expressions of regret, and all your attempts to be"exceeding sorry," a latent feeling of relief, rather than a sense of disappointment, as if it were not a labour of love which you were reluctantly hindered from undertaking, but a task and irksome drudgery, from which you had contrived to make your escape?
Beware in such circumstances of the hardening of your hearts through the deceitfulness of sin. If questions like these cause you ever so little to wince and feel sore, it is high time for you to awake out of sleep. It is no longer in mere weakness alone, but partly, at least, in wilfulness also, that you are availing yourselves of the convenient services of a "But yet;" and although you may still, from time to time, experience enough of poignant and sharp remorse to make you "exceeding sorry" it is now fast becoming a settled thing with you, that such sorrow is simply a calamity and vexation, with which you must lay your account, and of which, however troublesome it may be as a drawback on your liberty, it is scarcely reasonable to expect that you should ever be able altogether to get rid.
The same sad course might be traced in the palliation of sin, as well as in the evasion of duty. And here the rapid progress which may be made in the art of self-justification conspicuously appears. For the vague and indefinite character of the line that marks off the forbidden ground, enhances at once the force of temptation and the facility of finding excuses for compliance. There are so many difficult questions that may be raised as to particular instances of worldly conformity, and the considerations for and against them are so complicated, that the path of duty comes to be enveloped in a cloud ; and you are at a loss whether to go or to stay, whether to resist or to yield. Thus you venture upon your first liberties with doubtful steps, being really unable to determine what is best. But the misfortune is that you soon become unwilling too. The sort of haze, which at first was so distracting and distressing, gradually becomes rather welcome than otherwise. The difficulty which you feel in determining the right course ceases to be so vexatious as once it was, and you are rather inclined to take refuge in it. Naturally, in such a state of mind, you exaggerate the difficulty. In fact, you have no objection to see the whole subject of the Church's separation from the world involved in an inextricable maze of minute sophistry and special pleading. And you glory in the doubtful interpretation and seeming elasticity of gospel principles and gospel precepts the very feature about them over which you professed, at first, most painfully to lament.
Alas! how soon and how certainly does this mode of thought, in regard to gospel principles and gospel precepts as a whole, lead to a confirmed habit of tampering with these principles and precepts in detail! And then, with what ease do you contrive to give yourself indulgence as you practise the tricks of trade with which your professional calling may be beset, and join in the lighter levities, or in the graver follies, of your rank and station in the world. You may be still sorry,"exceeding sorry;" but it is the sorrow of one bemoaning a fatality, not bewailing a fault. And, accordingly, it scarcely at all disturbs the equanimity of your complacent acquiescence in many things which once might have greatly shocked you, but which now you have learned to view in their right light, as inevitable incidents of your place and standing, to be regretted, perhaps, but scarcely to be remedied or redressed.
Thus your skill in the art of justifying yourself is rapidly improved by practice; and you may rely on it, that your bold defiance of God will keep pace with it. This is the other mark, or symptom, of weakness passing into wilfulness, to which we referred; and a very few words may suffice to expose its insidious and deadly nature. It is always a dangerous thing to tempt the Lord; and never is it more so than when you tempt him with a sincere expression of sorrow, and under a plausible plea of necessity. It may be the very turning-point of your spiritual history. It is, indeed, a critical moment when at any time you find yourself beginning to reckon beforehand on the forbearance of God. Deeply, daily, must you be indebted to that forbearance; and the more you know of the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of your own heart, and the more you grapple in close conflict with the world, the devil, and the flesh, the more must you feel your ever-increasing debt of obligation. But there is the utmost possible difference between your owning the forbearance of God, as it is with unwearied pity and patience exercised towards you in your actual walk before him, and your anticipating that forbearance, and laying your account with it in the previous planning of your walk. The two states of mind are "wide as the poles asunder." There is a great gulf between them, though, alas, it is a gulf over which the deceitfulness of sin can but too easily and imperceptibly effect a passage.
And if you once begin to venture on such a liberty with God, where are you to stop? It is in itself essentially the height of presumption thus to treat the High and Holy One. In fact, it is so daring and profane an instance of impiety, that at first you shrink from explicitly avowing it, even to your own mind. But mark the beginning of evil. Is there ever a course of conduct to which you reconcile yourself, perhaps with some difficulty, by the reflection, that if it be not altogether right, God, in his long-suffering patience, and in consideration of your difficulty, may pass it by? What is this but the germ of the very spirit that prompts the language of the wicked, "The Lord seeth not, the Lord regardeth not;" "Where is the rod of judgment?" the spirit which the Lord so signally rebukes, "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes?" (Psalm l:21)
You may not, indeed, adopt the very words of the ungodly; you may even repudiate the thoughts and imaginations of their hearts. But what is it that your conduct really implies? Let it be ever so trifling and unimportant a step that you are called to take; let it be a step, moreover, about which ever so much may be said in the way of specious advocacy and extenuation; and let it be taken with ever so many compunctious visitings of regret, and under ever so strong a pressure of necessity; still, is it a step for which, as you take it, you have a shrewd idea that you will have to draw more or less upon the forbearance of God? Then, be sure, there is nothing whatever of a difference in principle between that step, so taken, and the bravado of the scoffers in the last days "Where is the promise of his coming?" And further, be sure that, having once passed the line of a holy and scrupulous conscientiousness, there is nothing whatever likely to arrest your progress before you reach the stage of hardened insensibility, when you can sin with a high and careless hand, as if you might brave and defy the Holy One to judge you.
Surely this is a consideration well fitted to warn and alarm. God is not mocked. It is no light matter to trifle with him. His forbearance towards sin is not so cheaply purchased as that you may make a convenience of it at your pleasure; nor does his way of dealing with you, in reconciling you to himself, warrant your presumptuous dealing with him as if he were to accommodate himself to you. The Cross of Christ, the just and necessary price of God's long-suffering patience and your perfect peace, makes all such compromise impossible; and the full and free forgiveness of the glorious gospel cries shame on the very thought of it. It is the sure sign of the bondage of guilty fear, to be ever and anon stealing abroad on some sly errand of doubtful gain or pleasure, in the hope of escaping notice or evading punishment.
The liberty of conscious acceptance and acquittal the love and joy of adoption and conscious sonship demand a franker and more guileless walk. To give way to circumstances which you think you cannot control, being all the while "exceeding sorry," but yet preparing beforehand the plausible excuses that are to justify your doubtful choice, is to enter on a course of double dealing with God, such as can scarcely fail to land you, perhaps before you are well aware of it, in the sin of lying against the Holy Ghost, and turning the grace of God into licentiousness, the sin, in short, of crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame.
We have thus sought to trace the progress of that helpless frame of mind of which we have an example in the miserable imbecility of Herod. We have followed out to its legitimate issue this poor habit of self-justification, which leads you to shelter yourself, as if you were the passive victim of an irresistible fatalism, under pleas of strong necessity and constraint; pleas compelling you, as you allege, in a manner, to give in. We close with two brief remarks: How unsatisfying, at the best, are these pleas! And how unsubstantial!
In the first place, whom do they really satisfy? Not yourself; for you are not happy and at your ease, so long as you have so many scruples about yielding, and so long as in yielding you are so "exceeding sorry." Nor are your tempters satisfied. They hail your concession, no doubt, so far as it goes, and are glad to have you taken in their wiles; but your remaining reluctance is a vexation to them; and they will not rest until you go with them freely and joyfully, instead of being so "exceeding sorry." Far less will your God be satisfied. If your own heart condemn you in urging your excuses, and convict you of secret guile, God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things. You are labouring in vain, and spending your strength for nought. Come, try a more excellent way; especially since, in the second place, these pleas of necessity that embarrass you are as unsubstantial as they are unsatisfying.
They have no real force in themselves, nor is there anywhere, in any quarter, any right or power to enforce them. On the contrary, there is One not far off, but "standing at the door and knocking;" and if only you will "open to Him" He will put an end at once to this miserable strife, He "will come in unto you, and sup with you, and you with Him." Call John out of his prison; let him be your friend once more. Call on Him of whom John bore witness; or rather hear Him when he calls on you. Jesus will speedily cut the knot of all your worldly entanglements, and take you to be altogether his own; "ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." There is no halting or hesitating with him; no drawback, no reserve, no "But yet" in the whole history of his dealings with poor sinners among men. No such word is upon his gracious lips; nor is the thing it signifies in his large and loving heart. When was he ever found qualifying, or guarding, or hedging the boundless liberality of his calls and offers in the gospel, by such a poor afterthought and cautious reservation as this "But yet"? "Come unto me!" "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come unto the waters!" "Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life freely!" "Whosoever cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out!" Is there ever any "But yet" appended to any of these gracious invitations? No! You are complete in Christ. Believing, you have all things in Christ, unconditionally, unreservedly, assuredly, and for ever, without "if," or "but," or any such thing. Then believe, and have done with this "But yet" at once, and once for all. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Receive him as he is freely offered to you in the gospel.
"I do - I try - I would," you answer; "But yet." What! O sinner, perishing as thou art, wilt thou still harp on this poor evasion! When it is thy Saviour, thy God, who is speaking to thee, giving thee eternal life, holding forth to thee, as thine for the taking, all that thou canst need for the forgiveness of all thine iniquities and the healing of all thy diseases, is it for thee to cavil and question any further, thwarting the full and free grace of his proposal with this subterfuge of thine, this equivocating "But yet"? You would fain believe, and have peace in believing, and be all that Jesus would have you to be; "But yet." Nay, whatever you are going to add, whether you are about to complain of coldness, or deadness, or unworthiness, or unbelief, whatever is to follow this "But yet" of yours stop, pause, be ashamed and confounded. Whatever it may be that you are on the point of pleading, can it be anything else than an insult to your Saviour and an offence to your God, to put in any plea whatever in bar of the mercy and the grace which he so freely gives? Come, rather close with him now, unconditionally, unreservedly. Let "ifs" and "buts" have place no longer in your surrender of yourself to him, as they have no place in his giving of himself for you, or in his giving of himself to you. Then,"with enlargement of heart, you will run in the way of his precepts: you will walk at liberty when you have respect unto all his commandments."
Go To Scripture Characters No. 10
SCRIPTURE CHARACTERS BY ROBERT S. CANDLISH, D.D., FREE ST. GEORGE'S, EDINBURGH. LONDON: T. NELSON AND SONS, PATERNOSTER ROW EDINBURGH; AND NEW YORK.
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