Psalm 19:13
Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed of great transgression.
Sermons
A Conjunction of RequestsO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
A Man May Deceive Himself About the Dominion of SinO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Avoiding Presumptuous SinsBishop Sanderson.Psalm 19:13
Differences 'twixt Acts Germinated and Custom in SinO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Differences 'twixt the Dominion and Victory of SinO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
How to be Kept from the Dominion of SinO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
How to Obtain and Maintain UprightnessO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Intentional SinsJ. H. Hill.Psalm 19:13
It is an Hard Thing to Get Off the Dominion of SinO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
No Dominion in the World Like that of ChristO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Of Presumptuous SinsAdam Littleton, D. D.Psalm 19:13
On the Nature of Presumptuous SinsRobert South, D. D.Psalm 19:13
Open SinsAlexander MaclarenPsalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinW. L. Watkinson.Psalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinningGeorge Clayton.Psalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinsPsalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinsBishop Sanderson.Psalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinsE. Summers.Psalm 19:13
Presumptuous SinsCharles Haddon Spurgeon Psalm 19:13
The Anatomy of Presumptuous SinsPsalm 19:13
The Anatomy of UprightnessO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
The Means of Moral PreservationA. Jack, D. D.Psalm 19:13
The Nature and Danger of Presumptuous SinsT. Waterland.Psalm 19:13
The Nature, Danger, Aggravations, and Cure of Presumptuous SinE. Hopkins, D. D.Psalm 19:13
What Dominion of Sin Doth ImportO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Why David Prays Against Sin in DominionO. Sedgwick, B. D.Psalm 19:13
Nature as a PreacherW. Forsyth Psalm 19:1-14
The Voice of Jehovah in His WordC. Clemance Psalm 19:8-14
Man's Relation to the Divine LawC. Short Psalm 19:11-14
The former part of the psalm is a comparison and a contrast between God's revelation of himself in nature and in his Law. Now the psalmist passes on to consider his own relation to the Divine Law; what light it throws upon his character and circumstances, and what rewards it bestows upon those who abide in the steadfast observance of it.

I. WHAT THE DIVINE LAW TAUGHT THE PSALMIST. (Vers. 12, 13.)

1. His manifold sins and errors. "Who can understand his errors?" Who can tell how often he offendeth? Our sins and mistakes are greater in number than we can understand or reckon. Our moral infirmity is greater than we can estimate.

2. That he was largely an ignorant transgressor. "Cleanse thou me from the sins that I know not of." Arising from self-deception and self-ignorance. Others see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. The proud and covetous and unjust do not think themselves so. Cleanse us from the pretence to virtues which we have not.

3. To pray for deliverance from the temptation to deliberate sins. That he might not commit presumptuous, wilful sin. He does not ask for the pardon of such sins, but to be restrained from them. "If we sin wilfully after that we have come to the knowledge of the truth," etc. No sacrifice in the Jewish Law for such sins.

II. THE LAW GREATLY REWARDS THE STEADFASTLY OBEDIENT. (Vers. 11, 14, 15.)

1. By giving them an increasing spirit of consecration. "Let my words and meditations and actions be more and more acceptable in thy sight." Obedience leads to further obedience, and longs for nothing short of being perfectly acceptable to God.

2. By giving a more perfect consciousness of God's acquaintance with our thoughts and ways. The whole passage shows that, as well as the fourteenth verse. The disobedient think they can hide their ways from God. "How doth God know?" The obedient know that all things are naked and open before him; and rejoice in the thought, because they are aiming at what is acceptable to him.

3. By revealing God as a sure, faithful Redeemer from all evil. A rock is the image of faithful stability, and means that God will not swerve from his promise of redemption. The disobedient are the unbelievers; they attribute their own mind to God, and so cannot trust him. - S.







Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins.
I. THERE MAY AND SHOULD BE A CONJUNCTION, EVEN OF GREAT PETITIONS AND REQUESTS (AT ONCE) UNTO GOD. David ends not at that request (keep me from secret sins), but goes on also, O Lord, keep me from presumptuous sins; he multiplies his suits according to the multiplicity of his necessity and exigence. There be divers qualities about our prayers.

1. One is an urgent fervency.

2. Importunity.

3. Patient perseverance.

4. A variety or multiplicity of matter, like as a patient who comes to the physician, we may and should open not; only one want, but all our wants; and crave help not in one thing, but in every thing: we should multiply requests.Reasons hereof are these:

1. God can hear every request as well as anyone. A multiplied request as well as a single request: for He takes not, nor observes things by discourse, where one notion may be an impediment to the apprehension of another, but all things (by reason of His omniscience) are equally at once present unto Him.

2. Nay, He can grant many and great requests as easily as the single and smallest petition. The greatest gift comes as freely and readily out of His hand as the most common mercy.

3. Christ is as ready and able to implead many and great requests as well as some and inferior.

4. God hath for this end made manifold promises; therefore we may put up many and great requests at once.

5. Lastly, God is rich in mercy, and plenteous in compassion; His mercies are often styled manifold mercies.

II. THAT EVEN A GOOD CHRISTIAN SHOULD HAVE A FEAR OF GREAT SINS AS WELL AS A CARE OF SECRET SINS. "Keep me also from presumptuous sins." Reasons whereof may be these.

1. The latitude of original sin, which as it is yet remaining in the best, so it is in them an universal fountain naturally apt to any vile inclination.

2. The instances of great transgressions: even those saints who have been as the highest stars have left behind them their twinklings and sad eclipses. Now when cedars fall, should not the tender plants tremble? if the sins of others be not our fear, they may be our practice; what the best have done, the weakest may imitate if they do not hear and fear. He is a wise and sincere Christian who resists the smallest, and fears the greatest sins: Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins. I observe from the words absolutely considered —

III. THAT A GOOD MAN IS GOD'S SERVANT. "Thy servant," etc. Servants, not of force, but of affection.

IV. THAT WE ARE GOD'S SERVANTS, SHOULD BE USED TO MOVE THE LORD TO HELP US AGAINST SINS.

V. THAT OUR SPECIAL RELATIONS TO GOD SHOULD BE SPECIAL REASONS TO WORK A CARE NOT TO SIN AGAINST GOD. The very nature of sin carries along with it a condemnation of sinning, because sin formerly is a transgression, an enemy, and a rebellion, which alone is an inglorious thing. Again, the laws and threatenings of God should be "as forcible cords to draw off the heart from sin. And again, all the mercies and goodness of God should exasperate the heart against sin. Again, all the attributes of God might hold us. Now, with these this also may come in, namely, the specialty of our relation to God, that we are His children. Reasons whereof are these —

1. Admissions of sinnings here do diffuse a greater ingloriousness to God: sin is more darkening in a white cloud than in a black, as a spot is more eminently disgraceful in a fair than in a foul cloth.

2. Their great sinnings do make them the sorer wounds and work: no sinning wounds so deep as such which have more mercy and goodness to control them. Oh then, let us improve our interest in our God. Should such a man as I flee, said Nehemiah; so then, should such a man as I sin thus, walk thus, live, do thus? Why? God is my God, He is my Father; I am His child, His servant.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

1. This is a prayer to be delivered from gross and undisguised sins. "Secret sins" are subtle and hidden; presumptuous sins are open, glaring, outrageous. But are the people of God in any danger from coarse and notorious sins? It is well to remind ourselves that there is no temptation we can treat lightly. The world today is full of those who have grievously fallen.

2. Another act of presumption against which we must guard is the unnecessary exposure of ourselves to temptation and harm. The foolhardiness of some is surprising. They expose themselves to sceptical influences, to worldly entanglements, to animal indulgences, to many yawning abysses which threaten body and soul. Myriads perish through standing on the slippery places and dizzy heights of temptation.

3. A branch of presumptuous sin is to treat negligently our secret faults. The presumptuous sin is often first one of those secret faults mentioned in the preceding verse; it is the secret fault matured and ripened. The mistake is that we are not sufficiently impressed by the faint, hidden evil, and we do not make immediate and serious efforts to deal with it. It is thus that our faults increase in magnitude and deepen in colour. Safety lies in dealing with the earliest aberrations of our mental, emotional, and physical nature, and not giving them opportunity to strengthen and display themselves. The Kingdom of Heaven is first as a grain of mustard seed; but we forget that the kingdom of hell in its beginnings is equally microscopic. A medical authority has recently declared that elephantiasis is often occasioned by the bite of the mosquito.

4. Another sin of presumption is to face the natural and inevitable perils of life without availing ourselves of every possible advantage of vigilance and defence. The diver does not descend into the depth without being sure of his panoply. Nothing is more remarkable in nature than the way in which animals and plants are armed against their enemies. The most ferocious thorns and spines protect cacti from destruction by the wild quadrupeds of their desert home. Protective mechanics of a most complicated order are found in a number of plants, which would otherwise be endangered and perhaps entirely destroyed by the attacks of ravenous snails. And God has not left us without a "whole armour"; it would be very unlike Him if He had. But alas! we often neglect to fortify ourselves; we go into a dangerous world with sandals, sword, helmet, and breastplate missing.

5. It is essentially an act of moral presumption to live in a low state of spiritual power. There is no presumption greater than to live with a cold heart, a weak faith, a vacillating purpose. We invite failure and ruin. We are free from harm and condemnation as we live full of power and enthusiasm.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Everything evinceth the Almightiness of the great Creator. Three instances —

1. The glorious fabric of the spangled vault above us.

2. The vicissitude of day and night.

3. The excellencies of that great minister of nature, the sun; considered in the comeliness and beauty of his person, in the force of his incredible swiftness, in the largeness of his walk, in the universality of his influence. The Bible, or hook of holy writ, is described by its several names and titles. Note the terms and appellations, the qualities described, and the effects or operations. The third book is the conscience. What finds he there? A foul blurred copy, that he is puzzled how to read. The conscience being convicted of sin, where there is any sense of true piety, the soul will address itself to God for pardon, that it may be cleansed from secret faults; and for grace, that by its restraints and preventions and assistances it may be kept back from presumptuous sins, and, if unhappily engaged, that it may be freed at last from the dominion of them. There is here a request, and the ground of it, which is the advantage and benefit thence arising.Consider two propositions.

1. That the very best of men, without Divine restraints, are liable to the worst of miscarriages, even presumptuous sins. Secret faults are such as hide themselves, the common errors and frailties of our life: sins of infirmity, constitution, and temper; sins of surprise. Deliberation and consent make any sin to be a presumptuous sin. The course of sin is, the invitation of the sensual appetite, the inclination of the will, a force upon the judgment, a full consent, the act itself. This is aggravated into presumption when the daring sin gets the dominion and power over a man. From act it proceeds to delectation; this leads to new acts, and at last objuration and final impenitence. Note the ways and means God uses either to restrain and keep back men from committing presumptuous sins, or to rescue and recover them from under the dominion of them. These are partly on account of providence, partly from common morality, and partly from special grace. The best of men are still men, partakers of the same common nature with other men. They have the same affections and passions, the same fleshly appetites, which many times betray them into the same inconveniences.

2. Presumptuous sins, even in the servants of God themselves, are offences of a damnable and desperate nature. They tincture them with a deep guilt, subvert their spiritual state, and throw them out of God's favour into disgrace. And this reasonably, because of their ingratitude to God, and the great hurt of their example, as a scandal to religion, by the hardening of wicked men and the discouragement of the pious.

(Adam Littleton, D. D.)

What is it to sin presumptuously? The word means, "with a high hand." Then, to sin presumptuously is to sin in an aggravated degree.

1. To sin in opposition to knowledge is to sin presumptuously. This is not characteristic of all sins. Some sins are products of ignorance.

2. To sin in contrariety to conscience is to sin presumptuously.

3. To sin in defiance of the common operations of the Divine Spirit.

4. To sin after having deliberated about the commission of it.

5. To sin when there is no strong temptation to the commission of it.

6. To sin notwithstanding adverse dispensations of Divine providence are loudly calling for sin to be abhorred and avoided.

7. To sin in the hope of ultimately obtaining mercy.

(A. Jack, D. D.)

They are such as have more of wilfulness and malice prepense than of ignorance and infirmity in them; when a man sins with a high hand against the dictates of reason and the checks of conscience, through the stubbornness and perverseness of a depraved, distorted will. Consider the malignant qualities and mischievous effects of presumptuous sinning.

1. They spring from the corruption of the heart, from some evil lust or affection, some predominancy of pride, avarice, or voluptuousness.

2. After sinning in this manner it is very hard to repent.

3. Supposing a man relents soon after, and is disposed to repent heartily and turn to God; yet it will be difficult for him so to heal the breach which those sins have made as to come with delight and humble confidence to God as before. Advice and directions how to avoid these sins.(1) Be instant in prayers to Almighty God to preserve us by His preventing grace from failing into them.(2) After prayers we must use our best endeavours to help ourselves. We must look well to our hearts, that they may be set right and kept with all diligence. Sinning presumptuously is, as it were, revolting from God and running off into another interest. Our hearts are not whole with God when we do it.(3) We should be often reflecting upon the infinite value of heavenly things above all earthly enjoyments.(4) Our care should be to keep out of temptations as much as possible.(5) We should be watchful of our whole conduct, and especially beware of the beginnings of things.

(T. Waterland.)

1. Be sure never to do anything against the clear light of thine own conscience.

2. Strive to be master of thine own will. We count our horses to be unserviceable until they be broken. It is a great point in the art of education for parents betimes to break their children of their wills.

3. Beware of sinful engagements. A man may have already done some evil from which he cannot handsomely acquit himself, but to his loss and shame, unless he either cover it or maintain it by laying another sin upon it. Seldom doth a man fall into presumptuous sin, but where the devil has got such a hank over him. The only way to get free is to break out of the engagement.

4. Harden thyself with a holy obstinacy and wilfulness.

(Bishop Sanderson.)

Some sins are greater than others. Every sin has in it the very venom of rebellion, but there be some which have in them a greater development of its essential mischief, and which wear upon their faces, as do presumptuous sins, more of the brazen pride which defies the Most High. Though under the Jewish law an atonement was provided for every kind of sin, there was none for this. "The soul that sinneth presumptuously shall have no atonement; it shall be cut off." Very terrible, then, are these sins.

I. WHAT ARE THEY?

1. Those that are committed wilfully against manifest light and knowledge. Conscience furnishes often such light; it is the voice of God in the heart. If conscience warn you, and yet you sin, that is presumption.

2. Deliberation is another characteristic of these sins. There are some who can think upon a sin for weeks, and dote upon the thought of it and plan for it, and then when opportunity comes, go and commit it.

3. Long continuance in it.

4. Design. See the punishment of the Sabbath breaker told of in the Book of Numbers. He was punished, not merely because he gathered the sticks on the Sabbath, but because the law had just been proclaimed, "In it (the Sabbath) thou shalt do no manner of work."

5. The hardihood born of fancied strength of mind. "It won't hurt me," say many. But they find that they are hurt. It would be presumption for any man to climb to the top of the spire of a church and stand upon his head. "Well, but he might come down safe if he were skilled in it." Yes, but it is presumptuous. You have heard how Dionysius the tyrant punished one who had displeased him. He invited him to a noble feast. Rich were the viands that were spread upon the table, rare the wines he was invited to drink. But he was utterly miserable, he sat in his chair in agony. For over his head, immediately over it, there hung a sword, bright and sharp, suspended by a single hair, and he had to sit all the tinge with this sword above him. He could not escape, he must sit where he was. Conceive the poor man's misery. But you, who will procrastinate, are willingly placing yourself in a position as full of peril, and yet you make mirth.

II. THE SINFULNESS OF THESE SINS. It is because they are against light and knowledge, are deliberate and wilfully done.

III. THE APPROPRIATENESS OF THIS PRAYER. It was the prayer of a saint. "Hold me in, Lord, I am prone to these sins." See how Paul warns saints against the most loathsome sins. There is enough tinder in the heart of the best of men to light a fire that shall burn to the lowest hell. But how much more have we need to pray this prayer.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WHAT PRESUMPTUOUS SINS ARE.

1. That presumptuous sinnings are proud adventurings of the heart upon sin; there is a large difference 'twixt foilings by temptation and adventurings by presumption. Temptation beats down that actual strength of grace resisting: but presumption tramples down the light of the Word opposing. A man doth even try it out with God, and provokes Him to His face; and maintains the devices of his heart against the purity and equity of God's will.

2. In presumptuous sinnings a man knows the thing and way to be unlawful: and therefore the presumptuous sinner is opposed to the ignorant sinner; the presumptuous sinner holds a candle in one hand, and draws out the sword with the other.

3. The presumptuous sinner adventures against express threatenings.

4. Presumptuous sins do arise from a false confidence; there are two things upon which the presuming sinner doth embolden himself.(1) One is the facility of mercy: when a man sets mercy against sin, he doth well; but when a man sets mercy against justice, now he offends. "'Tis true, this is a sin, and Divine justice will not take it well, but I will adventure on it, hoping that Divine mercy will pacify the rigour of the threatening; I will sin and offend justice, but then I will decline that court by flying to the mercy seat" (Deuteronomy 29:19).(2) Another is the self-possibility and strength of future repentance: he is one of the worst patients in a way of sinning who is confident that he can be his own physician: no soul wounds itself more than that which vainly thinks that it can presently cure them. There are two things which the sinner cannot assure himself of. One is the lengthening of his life; for this candle is lighted and put out, not according to our desires, but according to Divine pleasure: all life has its limits from the Lord of life and death. Another is the returning of the heart from sin.

5. In many presumptuous sinnings there is a slighting contempt (Numbers 15:30, 31): presumptuous sinning is called a despising of the Word of the Lord.

6. Lastly, presumptuous sinning may rise higher than all this, as when a man sins not only knowingly and wilfully, but most maliciously and despitefully against God and Christ (Hebrews 10:29; Hebrews 6:6).

II. WHAT THAT STRENGTH IS WHICH KEEPS BACK REGENERATE PERSONS PROM PRESUMPTUOUS SINS; and what difference 'twixt the restrainings of evil men and this keeping back of good David.

1. Restraint is any kind of stop 'twixt the inclination and the object; when the nature is inclined to such a thing, and a bar falls in to keep them asunder, this is restraint.

2. Restraint of any agent ariseth from a greater strength of a superior agent: whatsoever keeps a man back from a sinful acting, it is (at that time) whiles a restraint of more actually strong force than the present inclination is; as in the stopping of a stone or water, that which is unequal in strength, a lesser force is not able to keep in the stronger. Though sinful inclinations be strong, yet God can overrule and bound and bind it in.

3. All restraint presupposeth an aptness, a disposition ready to run and get out. The child whose desire is to lie in the cradle is not there said to be restrained; and the tradesman whose shop is his paradise is not therefore restrained from going abroad; but when a servant would be gadding, and yet is kept in, this is restraint.

4. All restraint of sin is from God.

5. All evil men are not equally restrained by God.

6. The restraining of any sinner is an act of a merciful Providence unto him.

7. God doth restrain the good and the bad from sin.

8. God doth diversely keep back or restrain men from particular sins and sinnings: sometimes —

(1)By enlivening the conscience.

(2)By self-reflecting apprehensions.

(3)By legal imprintings.

(4)By denying and crossing opportunities.

(5)By denying or withholding of temptations.

(6)By causing diversions, which may call aside the employment of the sinner another way.

(7)Lastly, by beginning and supporting and enlarging the principle of sanctification.

9. The restrainings of good men are exceedingly different from those of evil men. The restrainings of evil men are but as locks upon the out door; and the keeping back of good men is as the lock upon the closet. One is all impedite to the actions, the other is an impedite to the inclinations; one is a bridle upon the lips and bands, the other is a bond upon the heart and disposition. They differ in their efficacy: restrainings of evil men do not impair the state of sin, no more than chains and prisons do the nature of the thief or lions. Mere restraints do not deal justly with sins, they make a stop in one, and leave open a gap for other sins: like a vessel of many holes, though the water break not out in one place, because it is stopped, yet it freely flies out in the rest. So where a man is restrained only, though that sin cannot find a way in that vein, yet it will find a course (like the water which is hindered under ground) another way. But the holdings back by renewing grace do indispose generally and evenly. They differ in the fulness of duration; for mere restraints hold in the nature no longer than the things remain by virtue of which the mind was restrained. Let the fear of death expire, put aside the edge of the law, be sure that shams shall not follow, and the only restrained sinner breaks open school, so that he goes to the sin. But holdings back by renewed grace are cohibitions of the heart upon permanent grounds, namely, the perpetual contrariety twixt God and sin, twixt sin and His will and holiness and goodness and honour. They differ in this, that the heart of a man only restrained doth, being at liberty (like waters held up), pour forth itself more violently and greedily, as if it would pay use for forbearance. They differ thus. An evil man is kept back as a prisoner by force against his will; but a good man is kept back as a petitioner. It is his heart's desire. Oh, that my ways were so directed that I might keep Thy statutes. It is an evil man's cross to be restrained, and a good man's joy to be kept back from sin.Take what I conceive, briefly thus: God keeps back His servants from sin —

1. By preventing grace, which is by infusing such a nature, which is like a bias unto the bowl, drawing it aside another way.

2. By assisting grace, which is a further strength superadded to that first implanted nature of holiness, like a hand upon a child holding him in.

3. By quickening grace, which is, when God doth enliven our graces to manifest themselves in actual opposition, so that the soul shall not yield, but keep off from entertaining the sin: as when in the motions of sin He inflames the heart with an apprehension of His own love in Christ.

4. By directing grace, which is when God confers that effectual wisdom to the mind, tenderness to the conscience, watchfulness to the heart, that His servants become greatly solicitous of His honour, scrupulously jealous of their own strength, and justly regardful of the honour of their holy profession.

5. By doing grace, which is when God effectually inclines the heart of His servants to the places and ways of their refuge, safeties, and preservations from sin.

III. WHAT CAUSES OR REASONS THERE SHOULD BE WHICH MIGHT MOVE DAVID TO PUT UP THIS PRAYER: "Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins."

1. If he considered himself, there were sufficient grounds for such a petition, because —

(1)His aptness by virtue of original corruptions, even to presumptuous sins.

(2)His impotency and self-inability to keep off himself from such sins.

2. In respect of the sins themselves. Amongst which higher ranks of iniquity are presumptuous sins and sinnings, which may appear thus —

(1)The more shining light of grace is trampled over for to act the sin, the viler is the sinning.

(2)The more pride of heart accompanies any kind of sinning, this makes it the more vile.

(3)The more impudency and boldness attends a sinning, the worse it is.

(4)The more abuse of mercy concurs to the sinning, the more heinous it raiseth the sin.

3. In respect of others.

(1)Such sins would be exemplary and noted.

(2)Such sinnings from him would be trophies to evil men.

4. In respect of God.

(1)What God had been to him might cause him to pray against presumptuous sins.

(2)What he was to God. Why? David was His servant.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

A man is guilty of this sin when, without having sufficient strength, he undertakes to do something of himself; or, without warrant, reckons to receive some extraordinary aid from the mercy or power of God. Over-valuing of ourselves as to our own strength, as Peter did; or trusting to the mercy of God without the warrant of a promise, as did the sons of Sceva, is presumption. Sins are distributed into sins of ignorance, of infirmity, and of presumption, as related to the understanding, the will, and the sensual appetite or affections. If the fault lies in the understanding, the sin may be a sin of ignorance. If in the affections, the sin may be a sin of infirmity. Where sin has none of these excuses it is a wilful, that is, a presumptuous, sin. See the sins of Paul before his conversion, of Peter in his denial, of David in the matter of Uriah. Paul's was a sin of ignorance, Peter's a sin of infirmity, David's a sin of presumption. Observe how great and mischievous, presumptuous sins are. They originate from. a worse cause than other sins, and thence are more sinful; they produce worse effects, and so are more dangerous. They harden the heart They almost annihilate the conscience. Presumptuous sins cannot be removed by ordinary humiliations. A more solemn and lasting course of repentance is necessary. These sins leave scars behind, like bad wounds, when healed, leave in the flesh.

1. A presumptuous sinner rarely escapes without some outward affliction.

2. Presumptuous sins are often scandalous, leaving an indelible stain on the offender.

3. Presumptuous sins leave a sting in the conscience of the sinner. How may we avoid such sins?

(1)Never do anything against the clear light of thine own conscience.

(2)Strive to be master of thine own will.

(3)Beware of engaging thyself to sin. As in the case of Herod with Herodias.

(Bishop Sanderson.)

I. WHEN IS A MAN GUILTY OF THIS SIN?

1. When sin is committed against the powerful dictates of his own conscience and the clear conviction of the Holy Ghost.

2. When sin is upon long deliberation and forecast, plotting and contriving how it may be accomplished. When the affections are calm and quiet, no hurrying and perturbation of passion to cause the sin.

4. The temptations, and our behaviour under them, will show when the sin is presumptuous. Were but sinners truly apprehensive of their wretched estate, how they stand liable every moment to the stroke of Divine justice, how that there is nothing that interposeth betwixt them and hell but only God's temporary forbearance of them, truly it were utterly impossible to keep them from running up and down the streets like distracted persons crying out with horror of soul, "Oh, I am damned, I am damned"; but their presumption stupefies them, and they are lulled asleep by the devil; and though they live in sin, yet they still dream of salvation; and thus their presumption flatters them, till at length this presumption ends then, where their damnation begins, and never before.

II. SOME AGGRAVATING CONSIDERATIONS CONCERNING THESE SINS.

1. They do exceedingly harden and steel the heart to go on in them, making men resolute and secure, or else leaving them desperate They cry out with Cam, My iniquity is greater than can be forgiven. Despair of pardon oftentimes exasperates to more and greater offences. As if a thief, when he is robbing of a man, should argue with himself, "If I am detected of this robbery it will cost me my life; and if I murder him I can but lose my life"; just so do many argue: "My sins are already so many and so great, that I cannot avoid damnation for them; it is but in vain for me to struggle against my own fate and God's decrees. It is too nice a scruple, since God hath given me up to the devil, for me not to give up myself to sin." And so away they go to sin; and sin at random, desperately and resolvedly. Oh, horrid hardness!

2. They brazen the face with most shameless impudency (Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 6:15). For they will dare to commit foul sins publicly and knowingly. Others will boast and glory in them, and yet others will boast of wickednesses they never dared to commit. As cowards brag of their exploits in such and such a combat which yet they never durst engage in, so there are a generation in the world who dare not, for the terror of their consciences, commit a sin, that yet will boast that they have committed it; as if it were a generous and honourable thing to be called a daring sinner.

3. What if God should cut off such in the very act of their sin, giving them no space for repentance?

4. How hard it is to bring presumptuous sinners to repentance and reformation. Certainly, they that dare sin when they see hell before them, there is no hope that they will leave sinning till they see hell flaming round about them, and themselves in the midst of it.

III. THE BEST CHRISTIANS ARE PRONE TO THEM. This we may learn from —

1. The examples of others. See Noah, David, etc.

2. The pressing exhortations against them in the Bible.

3. The irritating power that the law hath (Romans 7:6). Our corruptions have made us combustible matter, that there is scarce a dart thrown at us in vain; when he tempts us it is but like the casting of fire into tinder, that presently catcheth; our hearts kindle upon the least spark that falls; as a vessel, that is brimful of water, upon the least jog, runs over. Satan hath got a strong party within us, that, as soon as he knocks, opens to him and entertains him. And hence is it that many times small temptations and very petty occasion draw forth great corruptions; as a vessel that is full of new liquor, upon the least vent given, works over into foam and froth; so, truly, our hearts, almost upon every slight and trivial temptation, make that inbred corruption that lodgeth there swell and boil and run over into abundance of scum and filth in our lives and conversations.

IV. IT IS GOD'S POWER ONLY THAT CAN PRESERVE THE CHRISTIAN FROM PRESUMPTUOUS SIN.

1. We should have thought that such dreadful sins would be easily kept at arm's length. For such sins generally give notice and warning to prepare for resistance. And natural conscience doth especially abhor and more oppose them. And the fear of shame and infamy in the world often holds men back, as doth often the fear of human laws and penalties. And yet —

2. We still do greatly need this prayer, "Keep back," etc., as Scripture and experience alike attest. But —

3. Some may object, if we have no power to keep from these vices, why doth God complain of us for doing what we cannot help doing, and which He only can preserve us from? But we say that a man has power, as, for example, to rise up if he be seated; no one would deny such power, and yet he cannot exercise it unless God excite and rouse it in him, for "in Him we live and move and have our being." All our powers are latent and sleepy until God rouse them up.

V. HOW GOD KEEPS MEN BACK FROM PRESUMPTUOUS SINS.

1. Frequently by a strong hand of Providence upon them, — as(i) shortening the lives of sinners (Psalm 64:6, 7; Ecclesiastes 8:13); or(ii) by cutting short their power (Psalm 76:5; John 7:30; Hosea 2:6); or(iii) by raising up opposition to them, as when Saul would have put Jonathan to death, the people would not let him; or(iv) by diverting men from their purpose (Daniel 11:30), as He did Joseph's brethren from killing him.(v) By removing the object against which they intended it, as Peter from Herod. And there are other ways still. But what woeful estate wicked men are in whom not grace but only Providence restrains. How we should thank God for such providences for others and for ourselves. But —

2. God keeps men back by His grace. And this He does by either restraining or sanctifying grace.These differ —

1. In respect of the subject. Restraining grace is common, and works upon wicked men as well as others. As in Esau, who was restrained from hurting Jacob (Genesis 20:6). But none but the children of God have sanctifying grace.

2. In their nature and essence. Sanctifying grace is wrought in the soul by the Spirit of God (Jeremiah 31:33, and 1 John 3:9; Matthew 12:35). But restraining grace has no such habit and principle, but is only occasional and temporary.

3. In their operation. Sanctifying grace keeps the soul from sin by destroying it; restraining, only by imprisoning it. The former strikes especially at the sins of the heart, the latter only hinders the sins of the life. Sanctifying grace engages the will against sin; but restraining grace only rouses up the conscience against it. Now, a wicked man may Sill against his conscience; but it is impossible that he should ever sin against his will. That is continually set upon sin; and were it not that God sometimes raiseth up natural conscience in him to oppose his corrupt will, he would every moment rush into the most damning impieties without any of the least regret or sense of it. When the devil presents a sin to the embraces of the will, and when the will closes with it, and all the faculties of the soul are ready to commit it, God sends in conscience among them. "What, Conscience, art thou asleep! Seest thou not how the devil and thine own devilish heart are now plotting and contriving thine eternal ruin?" This rouses conscience, and makes it storm and threaten, and hurl firebrands into the face of sin, while it lies in the very embraces of the will; and, though it cannot change the will from loving it, yet it frights the will from committing it. This is the most usual way which restraining grace takes for the prevention of stir, by sending in conscience to make strong and vigorous oppositions against it.

VI. APPLICATION OF ALL THIS

1. How erroneous to ascribe our preservation not to the grace of God, but to our own will.

2. How we ought to praise God if we are preserved from these sins.

3. How we should guard against provoking God to withdraw the influence of His grace from us. He will never utterly forsake us; but yet He may so far depart from us as that we may have no comfortable sense of His presence, nor any visible supports from His grace. We may be left a naked and destitute prey to every temptation; and fall into the commission of those sins out of which we may never be able to recover ourselves to our former strength, comfort, and stability. We may fall, to the breaking of our hones; and we may rise again, possibly, but it will be to the breaking of our hearts.

(E. Hopkins, D. D.)

These stand contrasted with unconscious sins, or those committed ignorantly. See Deuteronomy 1:43, which contains a direct charge of wilful and intentional sins. Sins of ignorance are told of in Deuteronomy 4:2. But we speak of the former, and would note —

I. THEIR GUILT. For —

1. They are the embodiments of forethought.

2. Are the result of desire.

3. Are prompted sometimes by circumstances.

4. Are committed with the hope of escaping the consequences;

5. And against the voice of conscience.

6. They are antagonistic to God; and are

7. The greatest of all sins.

II. THEIR RESTRAINTS.

1. Providence (Genesis 20:6).

2. Truth.

3. Divine influence.

4. Mediation, the intercessory life of Christ.

III. THE RELATION OF PRAYER TO THESE RESTRAINTS. Prayer is —

1. Power.

2. The greatest power.

3. It is exerted in harmony with a preconcerted plan of salvation.

IV. THE VALUE OF PRAYER TO HIM WHO PRAYS against these sins.

1. Freedom — "Let them not have dominion over me."

2. Rectitude — "I shall be innocent."

(J. H. Hill.)

It is a humiliating thought that even good men are prone to commit sins of presumption. Iniquity is of a progressive character, a growing evil, and from thoughtless sin we advance on until we come to these, the worst of all.

I. WHAT ARE WE TO UNDERSTAND BY "PRESUMPTUOUS SINS"?

1. They are to be distinguished(1) from the imperfections which attach to the obedience of good men. We all come short of the Divine glory. Our best services are imperfect. And(2) from the sins of ignorance. Scripture admits the extenuating power of ignorance. And(3) from sins of infirmity arising from the depraved condition of our being. To ascertain the presumptuous character of a sinful action, the temptation itself must be considered, and the way in which it assails a man. If the adversary comes in like a flood, and carries him down the stream before he has time to reflect on his position, the guilt is less than when he has deliberately considered the evil and calmly decided on its perpetration. If a man be suddenly provoked and conceives an injurious thought, or utters a passionate exclamation; if an unlawful or impure desire suddenly starts into existence in the soul, which the man shortly represses, he is not chargeable with a sin of presumption, but with a sin of infirmity. Let no one, however, from these remarks, seek a palliative for his guilt. Even those actions which a man seeks to excuse himself for, if he dwell upon all the extenuating circumstances of his sin, it is no longer his infirmity; it is a cherished evil, and the pains he takes to defend it to his own mind indicates it to be a sin which he has rolled under his tongue as a sweet morsel. Having thus cleared the way by these necessary distinctions —

2. Let us examine more particularly what are presumptuous sins.(1) Presumption is unreasonable confidence, and, applied to sin, it is adventurous daring in iniquity. It is doing that which we know to be wrong, and yet persuading ourselves that we shall go unpunished, or determining to venture the risks and brave all hazards. Scripture speaks of it in the strongest terms to indicate its foul enormity. Presumption in sin is sin in its most malignant form But we go further, and say, if the action be of doubtful character, presumption attaches to it. If we are inclined to do that which we suspect is sinful, about which we doubt whether it be lawful, if we gratify our inclinations while our suspicions of its evil character remain, we are guilty of presumptuous sin.(2) Deliberation and forethought greatly increases its presumptuous character. Some sins, as we have seen, come suddenly upon a man. The sin of Peter was of this kind; he had no intention of denying his Master, but to acknowledge Him. Though his sin was great, it was not presumptuous; but when a man considers with himself whether he shall sin or no, and he ponders over it, looks at the desired object, at the sin which is in his way to it, at the sanctions of the Divine law and the offence it will be to God, weighs each in his mind, and at length determines on the transgression, then that is indeed great and presumptuous sin. Do not imagine this is too great an evil for a Christian to commit.(3) So also does defiance of conscience and the strivings of the Spirit of God with the soul.(4) All perseverance in sin deserves this dreadful character.(5) If men yield to slight temptations.

II. HOW NECESSARY IT IS FOR US TO BE KEPT FROM PRESUMPTUOUS SINS. Because of its virulence it is greatly to be dreaded. And there is great danger even of Christians falling into such sin. Man is prone to self-confidence. "Take heed to yourselves," says our Lord. One sin allowed brings others. Of all sins this is most difficult to cure. For it benumbs the conscience and perverts the judgment. Cherish a deep sense of the sinfulness of these sins, and that will make you sincere and earnest your prayer.

(E. Summers.)

I. WHAT ARE PRESUMPTUOUS SINS?

1. Sins committed against the light of our understanding and the plain dictates of our conscience.

2. When committed with deliberate contrivance — with purpose of heart. We "make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof."

3. Sin upon slight inducements and small provocations.

4. Sin in spite of correction, rebukes, and obstacles which God throws in their path. Balaam. Ahaz.

5. Systematic sin, by an abuse of God's free mercy in the Gospel. These are the worst of all.

II. GOOD MEN ARE LIABLE TO THESE SINS. This is David's prayer. He knew that he was liable. And so are nil good men. For —

1. See the exhortations addressed to them.

2. Facts recorded about them.

3. The prayers they offer.

III. HOW GOD ANSWERS THIS PRAYER.

1. By natural means, such as moral and religious education — a regard to reputation. Fear of public punishment and disgrace.

2. Providential restraints. God puts, at times, obstacles in our way; or diverts the mind; or renders it essential to us to practise diligence and frugality; or removes the object of temptation. A wise minister used often to say, "We ought to be thankful for the graces of providence as well as the influences of grace."

3. Spiritual and gracious methods. Giving the new heart and causing us to delight in the law of God.

(George Clayton.)

I. WHAT THESE PRESUMPTUOUS SINS ARE. Three parts go to make up such a sin —

1. That a man undertake an action known by him to be unlawful or at least doubtful.

2. That, notwithstanding, he promise to himself security from the punishment due to it.

3. That he do this upon motives utterly groundless and unreasonable. He cannot plead ignorance nor surprise,

II. INSTANCES OF SUCH SINS. Of the most notable kind are —

1. To sin against the goodness of God manifesting itself to a man in great prosperity. What ingratitude this.

2. To sin when God is judging and afflicting us. When He is trying to hold us back from our sins. What is this but to wage war with God?

3. To sin when the sin is clearly discovered to us in the Word of God, and when God has wrought in us conviction concerning it.

4. To sin when God's providence is seeking to thwart it and, as it were, lies cross to the commission of it. As when Pharaoh would go after the Israelites notwithstanding God made him know He would not have him do so.

5. When conscience has checked, warned, and remonstrated against such sin. It is to resist God's Spirit.

6. When we know that by such sin we destroy all our joy in God, and all our happiness and power in serving Him.

7. When we go back again and again to the same sin. Flies are accounted bold creatures, for drive them off from a place as often as you will, yet presently they will be there again. But for a man who has by God's grace been rescued from some gross sin to go back to it — what hope is there of that man's being saved?

III. CONSIDER SOME REMEDIES AGAINST THESE SINS.

1. Try to get deep apprehension and persuasion of the evil of sin generally. To this end see what evil sin hath wrought.

2. Then let a man reflect seriously upon God's justice.

3. Think how men would be exasperated if we were to deal with them so.

IV. WHY DOES DAVID THUS EARNESTLY PRAY? He prays against them as so many pests, so many direful causes of God's wrath, so many devourers of souls. And he thus prayed because —

1. Of the danger of falling into these sins. Our nature so prone to them. Men measure their beliefs by their desires. Most men are of a debonair, sanguine, jolly disposition, so that where despair has slain its thousands presumption has slain its ten thousands. And the greatness of the mercy of God leads men to presume, for it is more manifest than His anger, and Satan is ever busy to put men in such sins (1 Chronicles 21:1; Luke 22:3; Acts 5:8).

2. The sad consequences of them. They grow by indulgence. They waste conscience and so are hard to cure. They bring down greater judgments than any others. They are big with confusion, disaster, and curse. God must thus confound an audacious sinner in his course.

(Robert South, D. D.)

Let them not have dominion over me.
Dominion is given sometimes to God, sometimes to Christ as Mediator, sometimes to man over man, sometimes to Satan over man, sometimes to death, which is said to rule, and sometimes to sin, when it is betwixt sin and the sinner, as betwixt a king and his subjects. As a reigning king hath dominion, so sin, it acts in all things like a king.

1. It hath possession: original sin of our hearts; actual sin of our lives.

2. Hath a title, our forsaking of God, and voluntary election and compact.

3. Hath a throne, our souls.

4. Hath servants, our members.

5. Hath a council, our carnal wisdom and corrupt reasonings.

6. Hath power to give laws, and see them executed. Paul speaks of the law in his members, and the law of sin (Romans 7:21, 22).But more distinctly for the better understanding this, observe these particulars —

1. That dominion properly is the right and power of a lord over a servant; it is a word implying superiority and subjection, one who hath authority to command, and another whose condition is obediential, and to serve.

2. Observe that dominion is two fold: it is —(1) Original and absolute, and this is when the Lord hath a natural, and prime, and irrespective title.(2) Derivative, and depending, and limited: such is the dominion which God hath given man over the creatures.

3. Observe that there is a two-fold dominion. One is lawful, such a dominion and subjection which the Word and will of God doth or will warrant. Another is unlawful, and as it were usurped.

4. Consider that the dominion of sin doth imply two things.(1) One is singular power, and strength joined with authority.(2) Another is quiet, willing, and total yielding of subjection to that authority, law, and command of sin: when a man is as cheerfully prepared to obey his lusts, as any subject is to embrace the commands of his prince.Sin may be said to have dominion —

1. In reflect of assent: when the understanding subjects itself to his motions a man may apprehend sin as working, and yet he may not embrace, but resist that working of sin. And then it is not sill in dominion, but subjection puts up sin into the throne. And here, too, we must again distinguish of that subjection of assent which denominates dominion, that it is not a mere passive subjection (as when a man is taken prisoner), but an active subjection, a subjection of approbation, as when a servant hears the will of his master, and he likes it so.

2. In respect of the consent of the will, when the will declares itself expressly as a party for sin. Here now falls in a subtle and deep inquiry whether all resistance impairs dominion, and no resistance doth always infallibly argue it. I answer briefly to the first. That all resistance doth not prejudice dominion. A man may hold a firm league with sin in his heart, though sometimes in some particulars he may skirmish and quarrel. There is therefore a double resistance, or denying with sin. One is collateral and accidental; which doth not arise from an immediate contrariety of nature, but from a contrariety of effects. Another is natural and immediate; which depends on an holy nature implanted in the soul, which opposeth sin as a thing formally evil and displeasing to God. This resistance doth prejudice sin in its dominion, but the former doth not. No resistance. Both imply the consent to be plenary, and therefore sin to be in dominion: when the estate of the soul is such, that no contrary quality stands 'twixt the command of sin and the obedience of a sinner, it is easy to point who is lord of the house; and indeed, what doth more palpably demonstrate dominion than a quiet subjection?But yet another question is raised, whether a good man, in whom sin hath not dominion, may not yield a plenary consent of will: which if, then plenary consent argues not dominion.

1. It is possible that he may sin willingly.

2. That there is a double concourse of the will's consent to sin. One is real, when in truth the whole inclination of the will is for sin, and where it is thus there sin is in dominion. Another is sensible, which is an observed acting of the will as embracing, and leaguing it with sin; when all is a corrupt inclination and consent. Now here I conjecture, that possibly sin may not always have dominion, where yet, for the present, and for a particular, the whole sensible part of the will seems only for sin. My reason is this, the resistances of grace are secret and more hidden; and again, when the soul is hurried to a sin in the heat of temptations and passions, it is not easily able to observe every secret and transient regretting and opposition.

3. You must distinguish 'twixt dominion of sin, and twixt a strong inclination to sin: dominion of sin is a thing more natural, but the strong inclination may be preternatural.

4. Lastly, you must distinguish 'twixt facts, and 'twixt courses; and 'twixt particular, and 'twixt general intentions; and 'twixt too much yielding, and a plenary yielding and resignation. The will may come on to sin (where it hath not dominion) in respect of facts; and by a particular intention, and by a partial yielding: but where the will comes on as to a course, and with a general intention, and with a plenary yielding, there is dominion. Thus of the dominion of sin in respect of the will. The dominion of sin may be considered in respect of the work or service; the working of sin, and obedient acting of it, doth also include and express its dominion; hence they, in whom sin hath dominion, are said to serve sin, and they are said to obey sin, and they are said to commit sin, and they are said to do the work of the devil (John 8:44). Again, we must distinguish of obedience to the commands of sin. One is simple and absolute: which is when to sin, though it be not every particular thing which a man doth, yet it is a principal thing unto which he applies himself: as that is a man's trade, not presently which he looks upon or deals in, but wherein he doth principally and chiefly deal in, unto which he applies the current and strength of his stock. Another is cursory or transient: as a bee may light upon a thistle, but her work is to be gathering at flowers: or a sheep, may be in the dirt, but its work is to be grazing on the mountains, or in the meadows: or an honest traveller may be beside the way in a wood, or in an house, but his work is to go on in the king's road. So is it possible for a man, in whom sin hath not dominion to touch upon sinful facts.

5. I conjecture: that it is fit to add one thing more in the general about the dominion of sin, as respecting its powerful commands that it is either —(1) Habitual, where sin in the course behaves itself as a king, it rules, and commands, and disposeth of the person to its base services and lusts.(2) Actual, and this is not properly its dominion, though it be miscalled so, yet to give a little scope to freeness of language, I will call it an actual dominion, which is rather a particular prevalency of acts, than a sovereignty or dominion in the nature, when though the heart and nature have surrendered themselves to Christ as the only Lord, and to His will as the only law, yet in many particulars sin gets the better over grace, though it cannot be said to rule, yet it may be said to conquer. Against which, if I mistake not, David doth here principally bend himself when he prays "Let not them have dominion over me," that is, not only let them not rule, but which is beyond that, let them not so much as prevail over me.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

Remember that precedent distinction of actual dominion, which comprehended a particular prevalency over the soul for particular acts of sinning: and of habitual dominion which intimated the full resignation of the heart to the commands of corruption. In both respects there may be great reasons why any man should pray against the dominion of sin.

I. AGAINST ACTUAL DOMINION.

1. Because though actual dominion doth not infallibly testify the person to be bad: yet it is ever a breaking forth of what is very bad; forasmuch as the action in this case is but sin acted. Now consider —(1) That every sin (as acted) is therefore the worse: you know that sin, though it be a vile thing, yet it tends towards a perfection (in its kind); lust, when it hath conceived, bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, etc. (James 1:15).(2) That the acting of the greater sin is always a greater kind of sinning: I mean, if things be equally set together. A high sin, a presumptuous sin in temptation, is not so guilty as the same presumptuous sin in dominion; for all sin in service is ever worse than any sin in conflict: though sin may trouble a man more when it inclines and tempts, yet it wounds a man more when it prevails and overcomes.

2. Actual dominion, though it doth not always conclude the absence of grace, yet it always impairs and weakens the strength of grace.

3. Because actual dominion though it doth not always cut off the union, yet it may and doth disperse and check the comforts. It is an eclipse, though it be not a night.

4. Because actual dominion (especially of great sins, and over a David) is accompanied with great prejudice to Divine glory: the better the man is, the more dishonourably foul his offendings are.

II. HABITUAL DOMINION.

1. Habitual dominion decides the estate: the question of a man's soul is, whose servant he is, whether he belong to God and Christ, or to sin and Satan. Now, particular failings do not determine this, but the dominion of sin doth, his servants we are whom we obey.

2. There is no dominion in all the world so vile: whether you consider it —

1. In the commands of sin; or

2. In the service of the sinner. The commands of sin are the vilest commands.For —

1. They are illegal.

2. They are purely sinful: all its edicts and desires are but rebellions.

3. They are extremely unreasonable.

1. The service of sin: it is the most disloyal service in respect of God renouncing Him, denying Him His due, and conferring it on His only enemy.

2. It is the most injurious service to our souls.

3. It is the basest service.

4. It is the drudgingest service. A man who is a servant to sin, he is at the command of every lust.

5. It is a most unprofitable service. Though in some service there may be but an uncertain gain, yet in the service of sin there is a most certain and great loss; what profit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed (Romans 6:21).

6. It is a most uncomfortable service. How oft is the servant of sin in the depths of fear and in the heights of trouble; his very sinnings are more his torments than his joys.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

Sin is a strong man, it hath possession, and goes not out by entreaty or bribe, but it must be by force, by one that is stronger. I assure you, that the almighty God must reveal His own arm, and He must cast down strongholds, He must work a kind of a miracle, or else sin will still be a lord, and the sinner will be a servant to his lusts. A man may change any master soever, and with more ease than sin.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

There are many erroneous deceits.

1. One is the unsensibleness of its power: when a man feels no violence of sinful inclination, no stirrings, no opposition, no commands, but there is a calm and quietness in his spirit and in his way, which could not be as he thinks if sin had dominion and rule on him. Now, this is a deceit; for —(1) It is most probable that sin hath the strongest dominion where the heart is most insensible of the law and commands of sin.(2) This unsensibleness and quietness may arise, partly from the oneliness of sin, and partly from the ignorance of a sinful condition, and partly from the habitual custom of sin. Whether the sun doth shine or not, there are as many atoms and motes flying in the room, there they are really, though not sensibly till the light comes in to manifest them. When a man is in a deadly disease, he may be void of all sense of it. Nay, and as we see men in bondage and slavery, when they are long in the same, grow insensible, and the hand which is used to iron and nettles is not sensible of them.

2. Another deceit may be a freedom from many courses of sinful actings. Though a man doth not all evil, and his way or course is not universally spreading in all the kinds of sinning, yet sin may rule in that man, it may have dominion; forasmuch as —(1) Particular subjection is sufficient to set up dominion. Though a servant hath but one master, and doth not serve every man in the parish, yet he is a true servant in respect of that one master; so though the sinner is not at the command of every lust, yet if he be the servant of any one lust, sin hath the dominion over him; for it is not the multitude of sins which doth absolutely and necessarily concur to dominion, but a subjection to the power of anyone.(2) A man may do all that service to one sin, which others do to many sins; he may devise, and study to fulfil it, he may cheerfully and greedily receive its commands; he may heartily love it, and go on in it, and for its sake oppose the sceptre and dominion of Christ, he may consecrate all his strength to the obedience of it. So though in some men many sins do rule, and in others someone only, if the heart obeys many or few, or one, it is enough to declare dominion.(3) Yet again, another deceit may be, not only declination of some sins, but also opposition; which a man thinks cannot possibly consist with dominion; for a kingdom is not, or should not be, divided against itself. To this I answer, that there may be notable deceit in this also; forasmuch as to that of exemption from great and gross sins: it is not the greatness, but the power of sin which makes it reigning; the princes in Germany have dominion, though the dominion of the emperor be more large. The least sin acknowledged, loved, served, sufficeth to dominion: the dominion of sin is most within the heart.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

1. None so holy.

2. None so gracious; He doth not exact beyond what He gives.

3. None so peaceable; His very service is a kind of wages to the obedient.

4. None so assisted; His commands are accompanied with strength and spirit.

5. None so rewarded; no man serves Christ too much or for nought.

6. Lastly, be thankful, for if dominion be off, then damnation is off. There is no condemnation (saith Paul).

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

First, particular victory depends upon inequality of actual strength, but dominion depends upon the fulness of a corrupt nature. Secondly, particular victory is a sudden act, but dominion is a more sober work. Thirdly, where the sinning owes itself not to dominion, but to particular victory, or tyranny, there the person, when he comes to himself, feels the yoke and would shake it off. 4. Therefore in the fourth place, if it be but victory, the person is not only troubled at his fall, not only loathing of his actions, but he is actively working, he is using his victorious weapons to raise up himself, to free himself again; he is grieved at the bondage, desires liberty, and will fight hard for it. Lastly, if it be but particular victory, the soul will rise again, and it will not rise without revenge.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

1. Where the renewed acts of sin owe themselves to custom, there the possession is both strong and quiet.

2. Where the renewed acts are acts of custom, there the acting is natural and easy.

3. Where the renewed acts owe themselves to custom, there a man is not easily brought off.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

1. For the first let us inquire what keeps up and strengthens the natural dominion of sin, and accordingly work against it. There are four things which do it —(1) One is ignorance. The blindness of the understanding is a principal guard of reigning sin. The devil is a prince of darkness.(2) A second thing which keeps up the natural dominion of sin, is a violent love of sin.(3) Another thing which keeps up the dominion of sin is error and deceit; there is a lie in every sin.(4) A fourth thing which keeps up dominion is custom.

2. What may demolish and break down the natural dominion of sin.(1) That which doth this, it must have a greater power than sin, for natural dominion goes not off but by a stronger hand.(2) That which doth this, it must be a contrary nature unto sin.(3) Again, it must be something which may gain the affections.(4) Again, it must be something which may breed a stiff and courageous resolution, that the heart will not serve sin, but will go free. And hereupon, against all inward and outward opposition, breaks forth into the use of victorious means.

3. Against actual dominion. Thus for directions against the natural dominion of sin. Now I proceed to some helps against actual dominion, which is the particular prevalency of a Sin into act. Let me premise a proposition or two, and then you shall have the special directions themselves.(1) Actual dominion (I speak in respect of gross acts) is usually in respect of some particular lusts: which works with more strength in the soul than any other lusts.(2) Secondly, actual dominion is ordinarily by such a sin which hath the advantage of a natural complexion, and outward condition, and occasions, and affections; upon these doth sin set the temptation, as an engineer doth place his battery upon such a piece, of ground, which doth best advantage and further his shot against a city. A man's natural temper and complexion doth mightily facilitate his acts. Now I come unto some special directions against the actual dominion of a particular lust. First, preserve in thy soul a constant and humble fear, and that will keep off the actual dominion of thy sin (Proverbs 28:14). There be some graces which are, as it were, the guard of other graces: look as faith is a grace which feeds all the rest: so fear is a grace which keeps all the rest.

2. Get a sound and uncorrupt judgment: there be three cases in which a man is apt to fall under the actual dominion of sin. One is, when he thinks or says that the sin is little. Another is, when he saith that his own strength is great. A third is, when he assures himself of easy pardon and recovery.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

Then shall I be upright.
That it should be the great bent, aim, desire, and. endeavour of a man to be upright (Genesis 17:1). I am the Almighty God, walk before Me and be thou upright.

I. WHAT IT IS TO BE UPRIGHT. The heart is upright when it is sincere, and then it is sincere when it is unmingled: there is a difference 'twixt adherence and commixture. To the purest lana there may adhere some thread or spot uncomely, but in commixture the qualities or substances are in a sort mutually confounded; sin adheres or cleaves to the nature of the most upright person, but yet it mingles not, it is a thing which the renewed heart is thrusting off; it would be rid of it, the new nature, like a spring, is working it off, so that a man may be said to be upright whose heart will not suffer any sin to incorporate or settle itself. Uprightness is a sound and heavenly frame or temper of a gracious heart or spirit given by God, by which graces are acted, sins are opposed. duties are performed affectionately, directly, and plainly, in reference to God, and not for by respects. It is a temper or frame of the heart, a composition, as it were, in which methinks two things may be observed. One, that uprightness is not a single or transparent act or motion: I think that even an hypocrite, whose heart is rotten, abominable, may yet, as step out into actions materially good, so feel motions within him both against what is evil, and unto what is good, he may (either through the force and power of evidence and conviction in his judgment, or through the unresistible actions of his inlighted and stirred conscience, or through the great desire of a glorious blessedness) have many fits and inward humours of being good and doing good. But all this is passion, and not temper: the philosopher in his rhetorics accurately distinguishes 'twixt the readiness which springs out of a natural complexion, and that which ariseth out of a violent anger and passion which soon fades off, being not rooted in nature, but in distemper: so is it with the hypocrite. But uprightness is a temper and frame, like an instrument well tuned, or if that hit not full, like a complexion, which is a uniform (if not principle yet) instrument of actions. It is like that leaven, of which Christ spake, which invades the whole lump, it sweetly seasons and disposes the whole man for God, as the bent of the stone is to the centre, and of the fire to ascend. Another, that unrighteousness is rather a general influence in the graces than any distinct grace: I will not make this point a controversy, only, so far as I yet apprehend, uprightness is rather the temper of a grace, than the grace itself; it is not fear, but fear rightly tempered and ordered; it is not love, but love rightly set; it is not desire, but this orderly carried. It is a sound and incorrupt and heavenly frame of heart. A thing may be termed sound or solid either when it is real, not light, slight, superficial, or when it can abide trial: as true gold is really so and not in colour only, and if you reduce it to the touchstone you shall find it so: if you cast it into the fire, etc. The last thing which I would observe in uprightness is its end and scope. I pray you to remember that uprightness causeth a threefold reference of our services: one is to God's precept, that's the square and rule and compass of upright motions. Another is to God's glory, that's the spring which turns the wheels, the wind which blows the sails: it is for Christ's sake, said Paul: and whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God, said he again. A third is to God's acceptance and approbation, so that God will accept, and commend and approve (2 Corinthians 5:9); we labour that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him (2 Corinthians 10:18). Now I proceed to a second question, why we should strive and aim at (as David here did) and endeavour to be upright. There are abundant reasons thereof; I will deliver a few unto you. First, this uprightness is the great thing which God looks for (John 4:23). Nay, secondly, this is it which the Lord looks at (Jeremiah 5:3). Thirdly, this seems to be the only thing that God expects (1 Samuel 12:4); only, fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart (Deuteronomy 10:12). Fourth, uprightness doth bring the whole man unto God; it is that which commands all, and carries all with it. Fifth, God judgeth of a man by his uprightness. Would you be paid with counterfeit gold? doth the show please you without the substance? will the compliments of men satisfy you without a real friendship? will a gaudy rotten house content you, which hath no solidity and goodness? would you take the words of your servants, and their legs as sufficient? while their hearts are false in their callings. Nay, would you be content that God should make a show only, a pretence that he would pardon you, and help, and comfort, and save you; and yet deny you real love, real mercy, real comfort, real help and salvation, then think how God should take shows from you without uprightness of heart. Therefore I pray you take some pains with your hearts, bring them to the balance of the sanctuary, weigh them there, reduce them to the rule, try them there, whether they be upright or no. Let me premise a few particulars which may prepare and quicken you to this trial for uprightness of heart. First, there is no deceit or error in the world of more dangerous consequence than for a man to deceive himself, and to err about the right temper of his soul. A man may mistake himself in the depth of his riches, or the altitude of worldly friendship, or latitude of his intellectual qualifications and abilities; he may think himself rich, and favoured, and learned when perhaps he is not so; but these mistakes are about nostra, not about nos; ours, but not ourselves, and the danger may be only a tempest, but not a shipwreck. But for a man to deceive himself about his heart, about his soul; why, what hath he more? what hath he like them? They are fundamental errors; if a man lays a rotten foundation instead of a sound, all his building at length sinks to the ground. If a man sets forth in a fair ship, whose bottom is unsound and leaking, he loseth himself in the voyage. What a fearful day will judgment be! how will it make the soul to tremble, when it hath no more time now but to see, and eternally bewail its own errors and deceits w O Lord, saith that oppressed man, I have deceived my own soul, I thought myself thus and thus; but my heart hath deceived and beguiled me. Thirdly, an hypocrite may go very far, and therefore the more reason have we to see that our hearts be upright. Again consider, that it is a very difficult thing to be upright: though it be that acceptable frame of spirit so pleasing to God and so comfortable (as we may hear) to us, yet it is not so easy to be upright, whether you consider —

1. That deceitfulness which is in man's heart (Jeremiah 17:9), q.d. there is not such a cunning thing as it, not a thing in all the world which can delude us so easily. Oh, how difficult! many by aims and indirect ends do often present themselves, that it is with us as with boys in writing, we draw many crooked lines, or as with them in archery, we shoot by hither or beyond or beside the mark; it is not easy to do good because God commands it, or only because He may be glorified.

2. That spiritualness which is required in upright motions; I tell you that the very soul must act itself, if the heart or way be upright: not only his lips, but his spirit must pray; not only his ear, but his heart must hear; he must not only profess against sin, but his soul must hate and abhor it. Lastly, to be upright is a possible thing, a man may attain unto it. But, you will say, if the case be so, how may one know that he is indeed upright? There are many discoveries of it; I pray you to observe them, and try yourselves by them.(1) If a man be upright, he will mostly strive for an inward reformation of his heart.(2) If a man be upright, then a little holiness will not serve his turn.(3) If a man be upright, then a man will walk by a right rule.(4) A person may know whether he be upright or no, by the conscionable disposition of his heart about all sins. David, speaking of such who were undefiled (Psalm 119:1), and sought the Lord with their whole heart (ver. 2), he added (ver. 3), They also do no iniquity. If you be upright you will make conscience of secret as well as open sins.You will make conscience of the least sins. I conceive there are five things about our duties and services which may manifest the uprightness of our hearts, namely —(1) Universality. David did take this for a special testimony of his uprightness; that he had respect unto all God's commands (Psalm 119:6), and Paul thought it so, who did exercise himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and man (Acts 24:16; Hebrews 13:18). An hypocrite's obedience cannot be universal.(2) Constancy of obedience.(3) Simplicity of obedience. The unsound heart will square out his work according to the pay; his eye is much upon this, how will this make for my profit? how will it advance my pleasure, my credit? these things fire and inflame an unsound heart. For it is God's express will, and it will make for His glory: these (alone) are cold motives, and weak inducements to a false-hearted person. But come and say, God will have you to do it, and if you do it you shall be highly thought on, you will be esteemed for it, you shall have much applause, you may hap to get well by it: why, now the unsound heart stirs as the ship, which hath got a right wind to drive it, and carry it on.(4) Spirituality of obedience. An hypocrite, he may do so much about duties as may manifest the excellency of his gifts, but he doth not that about duties which argues the efficacy of grace. But an upright person, there is fire and incense in his sacrifices; he must present living and reasonable services (1 Peter 4:11; 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). If he prays, and his mind be drawn aside by distractions, and his affections work not with sorrow, hope, with earnest desire, and some confidence, he accounts that the work is not done, he hath said something, but he thinks he hath not prayed.(5) Humility of obedience; why, this doth argue the uprightness of a person. There is no person more proud of his work than an hypocrite.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

I. MOTIVES TO PERSUADE US. Means to direct and help us.

1. God regards you not, if you be not upright; His eyes are upon the truth.

2. The Word of God condemns you; if you be not upright, it will not acquit you.

3. Your conscience will secretly reproach and vex you in the day of your calamity.

II. THE MEANS OF UPRIGHTNESS. Directions for the getting of it.

1. If ever you would have upright hearts, you must then go to God for them.

2. If you would find uprightness in you, then get an exceeding and predominate love of God and His ways. Love is of great force and influence to a man's ways and actions, is like the rudder which doth master the ship in the motion, it can turn and wind it any way; so doth love prevail with the soul; it hath a command over it. The want of uprightness comes from the want of love; as the falseness of a woman to her husband grows upon want of conjugal love; it is the love of the world which draws a man so often aside. If a man could love God above all, he would delight to walk with Him, he would be careful to please Him, fearful to offend Him, ready to obey Him, would be kept in for God, he would not make so many strayings, he would mind God's glory more.

3. Get to hate sin; a secret love of sin will draw the soul aside.For the second which respect the preserving means, take these directions.

1. First, if you would preserve uprightness, you must preserve an holy fear of God; I will put My fear into their hearts, and they shall not depart from Me (Jeremiah 32).

2. If you would preserve uprightness, then you must get and preserve humbleness of spirit.

3. If you would get and preserve uprightness, then get your hearts to be crucified to the world. Hypocrisy and worldliness are seldom far asunder.

4. Now, to all that hath been said, let me add a few daily meditations, which may be of great force to keep us in upright walking.(1) That God searcheth my heart, and still looks upon my ways. Whither shall I go from Thy presence? said David (Psalm 139).(2) That I must one day appear before God, and then all secrets shall be disclosed.(3) A little unevenness will mar the comfort of a great deal of uprightness. There are two sorts of unevenness in walking. One is habitual and allowed, which mars the just hopes and expectations of glory. Another is actual, which is a trip, a stumble, an out-stripping in the course of a pious walking. I confess it may befall the best, yet it will embitter our souls. All the good course which a man hath led, and actions which he hath sincerely done, cannot so much comfort him as many particular obliquities and unevenness may sad and perplex him. As in a wrench of the foot, the present pain shuts out the sense of all former strength.(4) That God is to be set up above all.It is an hard thing to ascribe unto God the Original of excellencies, that He is God, and that power, might, and glory, and obedience belongs unto Him, that He made us, and not we ourselves, and that our beings as they are depending upon His power, so our ways upon His rule; and He is Lord of lords, all are under Him, and, being the universal efficient, He ought also to be our universal end. God is set up above all other —(1) When His rule and Word sways us against all other.(2) When His glory is singly or supremely aimed at above all other things, and both these complete uprightness.

(O. Sedgwick, B. D.)

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