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searching, very deep and probing,-remembering, that “Whoso confesseth and forsaketh his sins, shall find mercy.” And when your spirit has “made diligent search,” and you can remember a multitude of transgressions, take them to “The Fountain opened in Zion for sin and for all uncleanness.” Take them in this way–have them “printed upon your remembrance;" and while they are thus prominently under review, read or have read to you very slowly, and with frequent pauses, the Psalm you have just heard. And may God Almighty pardon and comfort you !
Discover if there are any living against whom you bear an enmity. It is useless to go into this search at all without first ascertaining this. For though you should solemnly purpose henceforth, while you are spared, to give your heart to God, remember that God has directed, “First be reconciled to thy
, brother; and then come and offer thy gift.” So does He imply that He will not receive any gift before this. And again, He has promised, conditionally, “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” And St. John the Divine says very forcibly, “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen ?" 1 St. John iv. 20.
And then, after having satisfied yourself about this
matter, and having taken all measures to bring about a reconciliation between you, do not fear to front your sins one by one-sins of thought, and purpose, and word, and deed. They will look very black and terrible: they will very likely threaten to be, with the evil one, your accusers before the judgment-seat of Christ: they may take great hold upon you, and your heart may be ready to fail, and give up all for lost; but if you only clothe yourself in that Christian armour the apostle provides for you in Ephesians vi., they will but roar about you like chained lions. There is one sin alone that can keep you back from mercy: "I do not say you should pray for it”—the sin against the Holy Ghost—the sin of doubting God's existence and love—the sin of going wilfully contrary to God's light within you—the sin of questioning the truth of the Gospel in the very face of the mighty evidences arrayed in its defence. Be cheered then and comforted by your Saviour's faithful promise, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no
“ wise cast out.” God's forgiving mercy is magnified the more : Christ's precious blood shews its efficacy the better, when the sins to be forgiven, and blotted out, are very large.
Come and let us reason together, saith the Lord”: (what wonderful, gracious condescension !) “ though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Oh holy and blessed Lord God, who in the beginning of his days on earth, didst breathe into this Thy servant’s nostrils the breath of life, and didst cause that he should become a living soul, and who hast revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ Thy tender and compassionate love and care for all the souls whom Thou hast made; look mercifully, we pray Thee, upon this Thy servant in his present season of deep trouble. Now that the waters are high above his head, be with him, and support him, so that he fall not away from Thine omnipotent hand. Though his sins take such hold upon him that he may not be able to look up, and though his heart may fail him, yet we pray Thee, let not the enemy approach to hurt him. Cause him before Thou callest him hence, to feel in all godly faith and quiet assurance, “My flesh and my heart faileth : but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever!” Thou knowest, oh Lord God, the apparent hopelessness in the sight of his earthly physician of this his malady; but as Thou bringest down to the grave and raisest up; as Thou art omnipotent to save when all earthly skill is unavailing; so we beseech Thee now, if it please Thee, to restore again this Thy servant to his sorrowing friends. Thou alone knowest, oh Lord God, whether it be better for
him to depart or to stay. Pardon, we pray Thee, his many offences, quicken the decaying powers of his memory, that he may call back his sins to remembrance. Help him, by Thy Holy Spirit, to flee at once, in faith and assurance of safety, to the Cross of Thy dear Son Whom Thou didst tenderly submit to the temporary power of death, that such as he might have eternal life. “Oh Lord, we beseech Thee, mercifully hear his prayers, and spare him when he confesseth his sins unto Thee; that he whose conscience by sin is accused, by Thy merciful pardon may be absolved.” “Oh most mighty God and merciful Father, who hast compassion upon all men, and hatest nothing that Thou hast made; who wouldest not the death of a sinner, but that he should rather turn from his sin and be saved : mercifully forgive Thy servant his trespasses; receive and comfort him who is grieved and wearied with the burden of his sins. Thy property is always to have mercy; to Thee only it appertaineth to forgive sins. Spare him therefore, good Lord; spare Thy servant whom Thou hast redeemed; enter not into judgment with him who is vile earth and a miserable sinner; but so turn Thine anger from him; lead him so meekly to acknowledge his vileness, and truly to repent him of his faults, and so make haste to help him in this world, that he may ever live with Thee in the world to come; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."
LONGING AFTER AND TRUST IN GOD THROUGH ALL
I HAVE read to you a thrillingly-beautiful Psalm : beautiful not so much for its words as for its spirit: full of “The beauty of holiness.” Oh that God may give you His Holy Spirit, so that you may be able to make its utterances your own! Nothing could then be attended with so great happiness to you on earth, as to feel that God is your God: that your soul thirsts, your flesh longs, for Him. This world, with all its bright and flowery spots, (and God has pleased in His mercy that your feet should rest in time past on many of these) is yet a wilderness“a dry and thirsty land where no water is”-in comparison with heaven. Now that you are sick, you must necessarily feel that this earth can afford you no waters of consolation. The streams of comfort are too shallow : they are met with only here and there : they leave many places dry. Your very