by James Smith, 1860
Sin always brings sorrow — whether it is the sin of omission or of commission.
The believer suffers in this world — the unbeliever suffers in the world to come. David sinned — but how acutely and how long did David suffer! His psalm of repentance was introduced into the temple service, and has soothed, assisted, and comforted many a penitent since his day. There is one point in this psalm, on which I wish to fix my attention for a few minutes, as it appears suitable to me, and I trust that it is suitable to many besides me. David has just been praying that he may be made happy, in order that he may be useful in converting sinners; and then his own past conduct coming up before him again, he cries, O how plaintively, how piteously, with what energy: "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation!" Psalm 51:14. He had no dread of Hell before his eyes, for mark,
The Title He Employs.
"O God," that is, the great, the good one. The omnipotent, the benevolent. What a mercy that power and benevolence are united in the Divine nature and character. His goodness and omnipotence are linked together.
"The God of my salvation." That is, the gracious One; for salvation flows only from grace.
God is the AUTHOR of our salvation.
The thought of it arose spontaneously in his mind,
the purpose was formed in his heart,
the plan was drawn hy his wisdom, and
all the means were from his resources.
God is the GIVER of our salvation. He does not set us to work for it, or ask us to purchase it — but he freely bestows it. He bestows it at once, so that the moment we believe — we are saved. Faith brings us into vital connection with himself, and so we "are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation." Nothing can be more gratuitous than salvation. It is only, "Ask — and have." "Believe — and it is yours."
God is the END of our salvation. He saves us — for his own honor, for his own praise, to get himself a glorious name. Just as it was said of Israel — it may be said of us, "He saved them for his name's sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known!"
By becoming the author, giver, and end of our salvation — he has laid us under the DEEPEST OBLIGATION. We should live for him. We should act for him. Our whole conduct should be regulated by his precepts. He has saved us, to use us as instruments in saving others — and when we lose sight of this, we lose sight of one of the grand ends of our salvation. Our vocation is, instrumentally, to save souls from death. This leads us to notice,
The Dreadful Crime."Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation." The guilt of blood. That is, literally, from murder. Murder is the greatest crime that we can commit against our fellow-men, and it is a crime that calls for punishment, both from God and man. David was guilty of Uriah's blood, whom he had slain with the sword of the children of Ammon.
But there is soul-murder — and it is a most awful thing in any way to be accessory to this. Souls are murdered directly by false doctrine, as in the Church of Rome; and by others who teach dependence on works, instead of the merit of Christ; and inculcate trust in a creature, instead of trusting in Christ alone. There is salvation in the name, and by the perfect work of Christ alone; and, therefore, to teach salvation by sacraments, ceremonies, duties, prayers, or penances — is to poison the soul, and destroy it instead of saving it.
But we may be accessory to soul-murder indirectly, as for instance if we saw a fellow-creature attempting to commit suicide, and did not endeavor to prevent it — if we stood and looked on, or carelessly passed by on the other side. Now sinners are destroying themselves all around us, and we by our negligence, our unholy walking, our misrepresenting the gospel in our lives, or by our unfaithfulness — become accessory to their destruction! We see them destroying themselves by sin — but from cowardliness, we neglect to warn or caution them. We know that the only means of saving them is the gospel — and yet from the indulgence of a natural shyness, or some other cause, we negleet to present that gospel to them, or press that gospel upon them.
We hide the remedy — and the patient dies!
We conceal the pardon — and the criminal is executed!
Ought we not to have endeavored to get the patient to take the remedy? Ought we not to have carried the pardon to the criminal's cell? In a word, ought we not to have set the gospel before those who are perishing around us, and have tried by all means to bring them to Jesus? But we have been careless, prayerless, and comparatively indifferent! May we not have the blood of souls upon us.
Think of being guilty, directly or indirectly — of the damnation of a neighbor, friend, or relative! To have laid to our charge, the blood of a son or a daughter, whom we neglected to train up for the Lord! The blood of a sister or a brother, whom we neglected to warn and invite to Jesus! The blood of a mother or father, for whose salvation we never agonized with God, or sought by every means in our power to save! Well, well may we cry out with David, "Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation!" Let us now look at,
The Fervent Petition.Deliver me — by pardoning the past, and so freeing me from the guilt of blood. Deliver me — by preventing me in future, and so preserving me from the crime. Give me sanctifying grace, which will set me apart for your service, consecrate me to your praise, and qualify me to pluck sinners as brands from the burning. Fill me with the Spirit of Christ, that my heart may glow with love, that I may be fired with holy zeal, and be prepared to make any sacrifice — in order to save souls from death. Raise me above myself. . .
Ministers of the gospel, allow me to ask you: Brethren, beloved in the Lord, are you clear from the blood of all men? Have you been faithful — tender — earnest — persevering — self-denying — accommodating yourselves and your ministry to all men — that you may by all means save some?
Can the illiterate understand you?
Are the careless aroused by your energy?
Are the thoughtless affected by your sincerity?
Are the poor attracted by your love?
O that we could, each one of us say to our congregations, and to all around us, as Paul did, "Remember, that by the space of three years, I ceased not to warn every man day and night with tears."
Sunday School teacher — are you free from blood, the blood of every pupil in your class? Have you taught, as for eternity? Have you invited your students to Jesus, as if you saw the burning lake of fire open just before them? Have you collected them alone and prayed for them, and pleaded with them, as immediately beneath the eye of a heart-searching God! Has the salvation of each child, been your constant, your highest aim?
Church member, are you free from blood? Have you
seized every opportunity to speak with all around you, especially with such
as meet with you in God's house, of . . .
the value of the soul,
the danger of delay,
the pleasantness of true religion,
the preciousness of Christ,
the glory of heaven, and
the only way that leads to it?
O have you? Can you be quite free from blood-guiltiness, if you have not?
Parents — are you free from blood — the blood of your children?
FATHER, could you do no more for that son of yours?
Could you not have prayed for him more?
Could you not have prayed with him more?
Could you not have wept over him, have pleaded with him, and have shown him that you were in real earnest for his salvation, more than you have?
MOTHER, could you do no more to save that daughter? Had
you been . . .
more gentle — or more firm;
more devout — and more cheerful;
more spiritual — and more humble
— might not things have been different? A mother's religion, if it is the genuine article, the religion of Christ, making her Christlike — has an astonishing power over the heart of a daughter or a son! Can nothing more be done now? A letter in a different strain, to what you formerly have written, or a course of conduct different to what you latterly pursued, and set times for energetic determined prayer — may yet prevail. Try it! Try it — if by any means you may save your child from Hell.
Think, friends, O think, how awful to be accessory to the death of souls, the murder of those we love, or in the language of David, to be guilty of blood! Let us look around on our families, congregations, neighborhoods, and acquaintances, and ask, "Am I guilty, as to any among them?" If so, let us humble ourselves before God, plead as David pleaded, and seek grace from God — that we may be wise to win souls — at least that we may be faithful, and so be clear of their blood.
Think of eternity — an eternity of torment! Think of the wrath of God, which like a consuming fire, will fasten and feed upon lost souls! And think, O think, that the blood of souls stains deep! O how deep — who can tell?
Gracious God, pardon our lack of zeal for you, and love to our fellow men. Forgive, O forgive us, that we have allowed our garments to be stained with the blood of souls! Give, O give us grace, that in future we may live for you, live like your beloved Son, live to save souls from damnation!
Here are a few lines by a Clergyman, on hearing the bell toll for one of his parishioners:
O should he meet me at the bar of God,
And on my conscience charge the guilt of blood!
My vital warmth grows chill through all my veins,
O! wash me blood divine from all my stains!
But should he meet me in that day of days,
And tell it to the dear Immanuel's praise,
That I was made the instrument of good,
While speaking of my Savior's precious blood!
Then love divine shall fill my enraptured soul,
And grace, free grace, resound from pole to pole!