by Willilam Bates
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. - PSAL. 130:4
THE Psalmist, in the first and second verses, addresses God with earnest desires for his saving mercies: "Out of the depths have I cried to thee, O Lord: Lord hear my voice: let thine ear be attentive to my supplication." He humbly deprecates the severe inquiry of divine justice; ver. 3. "If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities: O Lord, who shall stand?" If God should with an exact eye observe our sins, and call us to an account, who can stand in judgment? who can endure that fiery trial? The best saints, though never so innocent and unblamable in the sight of men, though never so vigilant and watchful over their hearts and ways, are not exempted from the spots of human frailty, which according to the rigour of the law, would expose them to a condemning sentence. He relieves and supports himself under this fearful apprehension with the hopes of mercy: "but there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayst be feared." It is in thy power and thy will, to pardon repenting and returning sinners, "that thou mayest be feared." The fear of God in scripture signifies the humble holy reverence of him, as our heavenly Father and Sovereign, that makes us cautious lest we should offend him, and careful to please him. For this reason the fear of God is comprehensive of all religion, of "the whole duty of man," to which it is introductive, and is a principal ingredient in it. The clemency and compassionate mercy of God is the cause of an ingenuous filial fear, mixed with love and affiance in the breasts of men. Other attributes, his holiness that framed the law, justice that ordained the punishment of sin, power that inflicts it, render his majesty terrible, and cause a flight from him as an enemy. If all must perish for their sins, no prayers or praises will ascend to heaven, all religious worship will cease for ever: but his tender mercy ready to receive humble suppliants, and restore them to his favour, renders him amiable and admired, and draws us near to him.
There are two propositions to be considered in the verse:
I. That forgiveness belongs to God.
II. That the forgiving mercy of God is a powerful motive of adoration and obedience. I propound to discourse of the first, and to touch upon the second in the application.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
What is contained in forgiveness
Proofs that God is ready to forgive
The extent and freeness of divine forgiveness
Caution lest men abuse this doctrine
It affords strong consolation to those who are wounded in spirit
Be excited to seek pardoning mercy
The properties of confession of sin
The duty of pardoning the offences of others
Divine forgiveness a powerful motive to thankfulness