Sorrow unto Salvation
Leviticus 26:40-45
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me…

The chastisements of God, like the gospel of Jesus Christ, are either a savour of life unto life or of death unto death; they either make or mar; they may sanctify and save or they may leave the soul more bound in the bonds of sin than ever. It is only godly sorrow - sorrow regarded in a true light and treated in the way that God intended - that works repentance unto salvation; otherwise it works death (2 Corinthians 7:10). The right use of affliction is indicated in the text; there must be -

I. A SENSE OF ILL DESERT. The uncircumcised heart must be humbled (verse 41). God seeks by his chastisements to break our pride, our haughtiness of heart, our sinful self-complacency. Until this is done nothing is done. When the soul is at ease in its iniquity, it is in a very "far country," a long way from God, truth, salvation. When trouble touches and pierces our complacency, filling the soul with a sense of its rebelliousness, as soon as the heart says, "I have sinned," a large part of the work of the correcting hand is wrought. Then necessarily and readily follows -

II. THE LANGUAGE. OF CONFESSION. Directly the heart feels the lip speaks. Too often men use the language of penitence when the feeling is entirely absent. But he that searcheth the hearts makes due distinction between the words which are true and those which are false. There is nothing gained with God by adopting the language which we ought to be disposed to use, but which does not express our actual condition; everything unreal is offensive in his sight. But there is much gained by the simple, natural, heartfelt utterance of penitential feeling. "If they shall confess their iniquity," etc. (verses 40-42). "With the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). The spirit thus taught of God through his servant, sorrow, has now -

III. THE SUBJECT WILL. It "accepts of the punishment of its iniquity" (verse 41). It says, "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more: that which I see not teach thou me," etc. (Job 34:31, 32). It is "in subjection unto the Father of spirits" (Hebrews 12:9). It submits to his guidance and surrenders itself to his will. And then comes -

IV. DIVINE RESTORATION. God "remembers his covenant" (verses 42, 45). As he remembered the covenant he made with the ancestors of the children of Israel, and "did not abhor them" (verse 44), but withdrew his anger from them, so he remembers his promise with us, sealed with a Saviour's blood, to pardon our sins and to restore our souls to his Divine favour. Yet there are -

V. LINGERING CONSEQUENCES OF SIN. With penitent Israel, toward whom God was extending his mercy, "the land also was to be left of them, and was to enjoy her sabbaths, while she lay desolate without them" (verse 43). With us, when penitent and restored, when taken back into the family and kingdom of God, there are lingering consequences of sin which even Divine mercy does not, cannot remove - consequences in:

(1) miserable memories which will visit the mind;

(2) enfeebled faculty that must work in a lesser sphere with smaller influence;

(3) diminished reputation among men;

(4) abiding results in those who have been injured, and who are beyond the reach of our restoration, etc. While facing this solemn fact - a fact which makes sin seem to us the stern, sad, hurtful thing it is - we may nevertheless find a glad relief in recalling -

VI. THE BLESSED HOPE OF THE HOLY. There is a country where the penal consequences of sin will be so removed from sight and sense that to our consciousness they will exist no more. Sin and sorrow shall never cross the stream that "divides that heavenly land from ours;" they must always remain on this side of it. What will remain to us there is a remembrance that will enhance our joy - a recollection of sin that has been forgiven, and of sorrow that has been endured, both the one and the other magnifying the mercy of our crowned and exalted King. - C.

Parallel Verses
KJV: If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;

WEB: "'If they confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, in their trespass which they trespassed against me, and also that, because they walked contrary to me,

Hope for Israel
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