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Then the nations that have never heard of his fame shall be made to experience his grace, and shall send up common praises with those who have long known his salvation ; and then the ambition of power, and the grasping of gain, and the struggling for distinction, shall all be swallowed up in love to the only and all-wise God our Saviour.
The Lord hasten it in his time. Amen.
“ Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord Though
your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow ; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”—Isaiah, i. 18.
THERE are certain representations of the divine nature which are apt to overawe and overwhelm our minds. We cannot steadily contemplate, or vividly realise, what are termed the incommunicable attributes of Jehovah, without feeling on our spirits an inexpressible solemnity. When we hear that, go where we will, from his Spirit we cannot go, from his pre
cannot flee; that in all places of his dominion, in earth, and air, and sea, above us and beneath, in heaven, and in hell, He ever exists the universal Lord: when we know that, while we are creatures of clay, and but of yesterday, He is the Great Spirit, from eternity to everlasting, God; when we remember that we are all marked by imperfection, and stained with sin, but that He is the perfect one of Israel; when we contrast our meanness with his majesty, our pollution with his purity, our weakness with his power,--we may well prostrate ourselves in the dust, and exclaim, “ Who is like unto thee, O Jehovah ? Who is like unto thee? glorious in holiness, venerable
in praises-wonder-working !” And when we walk abroad into the fair field of nature, and survey the blooming earth, the verdant forest, the lofty mountains, the spacious sea, the outspread firmament, with the sun in his strength, the moon in her beauty, the stars in their brightness, we cannot fail to be impressed with a deep sense at once of the greatness and goodness of him who made and upholds them. And yet you are aware, brethren, that, with the Bible in our hands, we can refer to attributes and perfections of the Deity which excel even these in glorious manifestation. If your minds are subdued by the exhibitions which are given of Him as the great and only potentate, King of kings, and Lord of lords, you may also behold Him coming forth, this morning, in all the melting majesty of grace, and scattering around Him the richest tokens of redeeming mercy; and, methinks, there is in this manifestation of the Godhead to man something that is fitted to excite our fear, as well as call forth our love. When we see the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, stooping so low to seek and save the lost ; when we see the
very God against whom we had sinned,—to whom we owe every thing, but who owes us nothing, and who needs us not,—so loving us as to send His only begotten Son to die for our redemption; when we see Him, instead of making us feel the power of his anger, and glorifying Himself in our destruction, subjecting his well-beloved to agonies inconceivable, that we might escape punishment, we can then understand what the Psalmist means, when he says, “ There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared”. “ we then fear the Lord and his goodness in these latter days; we serve Him with fear, and rejoice before him
with trembling." It is that perfection of the Deity,
mercy in Jesus Christ, that we are now called to contemplate; and if there are those present whose consciences are awakened, who feel alarmed at the view of their past transgressions, and at the prospect of the deserved and dreaded punishment, then, though every other promise were erased from the Bible, here is that which is well suited to meet their case, to fill their hearts with strong consolation, with joy unutterable, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
In this gracious and condescending address of God to sinners, there are three points embraced :
I. There is assumed the existence of aggravated guilt.
II. There is expressed the promise of pardoning mercy
III. There is required the exercise of wise consideration.
I. There is here assumed the existence of aggravated guilt. The sins of those addressed are supposed to be red as scarlet, or as crimson. With us there is a distinction between these two things; the one denoting a bright red, and the other, a red darkened with blue. But it is needless to suppose that distinction here, for it is believed that only one and the same colour is intended by the two words employed in the original. They designate the worm-colour, or worm-dye, which is also the meaning of our word vermilion, because it
was obtained from a worm or insect found in the excresence which grows on a species of evergreen oak. The radical meaning of the expression scarlet, conveys the idea of shining brightness; and, according to some, it implies also the being double-dyed; and the term rendered crimson, is just the name of the worm itself, from which the tincture was extracted, repeated with the view of imparting variety and intensity to the expression ; “ Though your sins be red as the bright double-dyed worm-colour, yea, though they be as red as the worm itself.”
It is important to mark the fact, that this colour was a fast or fixed colour. Neither rain, nor washing, nor long use could remove it, and hence it fitly represents the inherent, inwrought, immovable, and permanent indwelling of sin in the soul of fallen man. No human means can wash it out; no effort of man or angel, no outward rites, no prayers, no sacrifices, no tears are sufficient to efface from the heart one of the red stains of sin. It is deep-seated there, as was scarlet in the wool and cloth. To discharge the strong colour is beyond the skill and power of man,-a skill and power divine can alone effect it. Now the Jews, to whom the words of the text were first addressed, were, as a people, characterised by sins of the deepest dye; and the whole of the previous part of this chapter is taken up, as we request you specially to observe, with a dreadful yet most melancholy representation of their deep depravity and heinous crimes. If we take a view of all these enormities (more especially in connexion with the high and abundant privileges with which they were favoured,) we shall perceive something of the awful guilt under which they lay, and