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David here thanks God a second time for that forgiveness. And so vast and wonderful does it appear to him, that he feels lost in the contemplation. In the third verse he blessed the Lord for the forgiveness of all his iniquities : and now in this twelfth verse he praises Him for the fulness and the perfection of that forgiveness. Marvellous truth--ALL MY INIQUITIES COMPLETELY PARDONED ! The Psalmist knows not how to express the overpowering thought. His laboring mind seizes upon a most appropriate metaphor, and makes two most opposite points in nature unite to illustrate the wondrous theme. Nothing in creation presents a more complete idea of distance to the mind, than the rising, compared with the setting, of the sun. That glorious luminary was seen in one direction in the morning ; it is seen in the very opposite direction in the evening. How vast is the space which it seems to have traversed. No power can bring it back to its former apparent position, or make the two opposite points to meet! Such is the illustration. Now turn to the East, and travel in thought to the remotest point. Were God of His mercy to take away your sins and place them there, how great would be the distance between your sins and you! Yet this is but half of the declaration of the Psalmist. Turn now to the West, and extend your thoughts again before you to the remotest point; then imagine your soul to be carried to that point in the arms of a sin-pardoning God, and that all your transgressions are left in the far East, how vast, how amazing, how incalculable, would now be the distance between your soul and them! Such is the declaration of the Psalmist regarding the freeness, the fulness, and the completeness, of God's forgiveness.
My sins," as if he had said, “ were lying upon me as a weighty burden ;--they pressed upon my guilty conscience as utterly unpardonable: but God hath pardoned them. He hath taken them completely away. No power can bring them back against me, or make my sins and me to meet together again for condemnation. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name, for as far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed my transgressions from me.”
Forgiveness, on the part of God, is neither partial nor temporary, like that of man. God pardons with a full heart. Man is ever ready to cast up afresh the old transgression. He forgives, but he does not forget. There is a painedness in his mind, and a peculiarity in his look and manner, even while he declares that he forgives, which impress us with a conviction that he does not admit us to the same place in his regard which we enjoyed before. The act of forgiveness necessarily places him in a superior, and ourselves in an inferior position, in reference to each other ; and the consciousness of this inferiority produces a painedness also in our minds, and a peculiarity in our look and manner, which, even while we acknowledge our offence, repels him from advancing further to thorough reconciliation. So imperfect are all the best virtues in men, and so prone are we to misunderstand, and to misinterpret, the good we witness in each other. There is also, sometimes, an extraordinary movement in the human breast, of dislike arising toward those whom we have offended. Why? Because we fancy that they must dislike us! This feeling, wherever it obtains, must tend to still further estrangement. And thus, while forgiveness may have been pronounced and accepted, with sincerity on both sides, there is still a little poison left in the wound, so that it cannot become perfectly healed.
Forgiveness and entire reconciliation do not, therefore, always accompany each other between man and man. They invariably, however, accompany each other between God and man. They both originate in, and are consummated by, the rich and sovereign grace of God in Christ Jesus.
Pardon is vested in the hands of the God-Man, to be dispensed as He pleases. Matt. ix. 6. And a question here rises, On whom does Christ bestow this blessing? We reply, On those who draw near to Him as their only Surety and Sacrifice. Christ says,
66 Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John vi. 37. The poor sinner receives a full and free remission, whenever, under the drawings of the Divine Spirit, he comes to Jesus confessing his transgressions. Every sin, also, that he subsequently commits, he must confess, in like manner, over that sacrifice, and Christ will pardon it. This was typified under the Law. There was no pardon without confession-and no confession but over the blood of a sacrificial victim : and every time that an Israelite, who had sinned, brought his trespass-offering, and confessed over it his iniquity, he was to return from the altar with peace of conscience, and with thankfulness of heart, believing that he was a pardoned man.
In like manner, the Christian is to come to Christ every time that he has sinned, and is to confess his transgression over Him, as
his only trespass-offering; and he is to return from the throne of grace with peace of conscience, and with thankfulness of heart, believing that he is a pardoned man. None but those who believe in Jesus, and who turn from all their sins to His sacrifice, have any part or lot in this forgiveness. All others live in their sins, and die in their sins. Awful condition ! involving this more awful conclusion, that they shall rise again in their sins, and stand before His judgment seat in their iniquities.
All those, however, who turn from sin to Jesus, are warranted, nay, commanded, to believe that they receive in Him, and from Him, an immediate, cordial, and complete forgiveness : as says the Apostle, “By Him all that believe are justified from ALL THINGS, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” Acts xiii. 39. The language of Scripture is most explicit on this point. Its declarations are as comprehensive and varied, as they are truly consolatory and delightful. Simile after simile is employed to denote the fulness of the Divine forgiveness. Statements, arguments, assurances, promises, are multiplied to put our doubts to shame, and to banish all weakness and wavering from our faith.
When, for instance, the Lord Jehovah revealed His name and character to Moses, He proclaimed Himself to be “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin.” Exod. xxxvi. 6,7. Three terms are here employed, as it were to show that every possible form of guilt comes within the compass of the Lord's forgiveness :-and, that there is also no degree of it beyond the reach of pardon, He thus graciously assures us, “ 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.” Isa. i. 18. And yet, again, to prove that even multiplied offences shall not cut off the true penitent from the enjoyment of this blessing, the Lord thus instructs His Prophet to declare : “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (margin, multiply to pardon). “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Isa. lv. 7, 8.
Thus we learn the truth of our blessed Saviour's declaration, that “all manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” Even a word spoken against Himself shall be forgiven. The one only sin which He declares to be unpardonable, is the speaking evil of, or against, the Holy Ghost. Matt. xii. 31, 32.
What words, therefore, shall express the unlimited efficacy of the blood of Jesus, that blood which was expressly shed 6 for the remission of sins” ? Matt. xxvi. 28. 6 Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." John i. 29. “It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Luke xxiv. 46, 47. Therefore the Apostles went everywhere preaching the glad tidings,