Essex Congregational Remembrancer
And refused to obey, neither were mindful of your wonders that you did among them; but hardened their necks…
No attribute of the Deity is so calculated to afford encouragement and relief to the distressed and penitent sinner as that of His mercy. His justice and holiness make him tremble. The Divine mercy is the only fountain from which all our hope is derived. If God were unmerciful — if He were unable and unwilling to forgive, how awful and desperate would be our condition!
I. SOME OF THE DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS OF DIVINE PARDON. Respecting this blessing, we observe that it is —
1. Gratuitous in its bestowment. Had it not been perfectly free, it would be for ever beyond our reach. As fallen man is altogether destitute of all inherent and acquired righteousness, he can never obtain it on the ground of his own merit. Conscious of his utter unworthiness, and that he was destitute of all merit, the psalmist cried, "For Thy name's sake, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." In the forgiveness of sin, God acts like the creditor towards his two debtors; one owes him five hundred pence, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly (freely) forgave them both. It is true that there are certain duties which must be discharged by the sinner; he must repent and believe; but these acts can never merit forgiveness. The pardon of the penitent flows from the free and sovereign grace of God, and is conveyed through the channel of the Redeemer's atoning blood.
2. Unlimited in its extent. The pardoning mercy of God is not confined to any degrees of guilt or amount of transgression. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases." The pardoning mercy of God extends to the most flagrant transgressions, and transcends all human conception. There is no sin so heinous which God cannot forgive, and no guilt of so deep a hue which He cannot remove.
3. Permanent in its enjoyment.
II. PROVE THE TRUTH OF THE DECLARATION. God's readiness to pardon is manifest —
1. From the provisions made for this purpose. Before sinners could be pardoned and saved, there were certain barriers that must be removed. As God was the supreme Lawgiver and Judge of the world — the Protector of righteousness and goodness — it became Him not to pardon the guilty without the punishing of sin, and that in such a manner as would satisfy His injured justice, and vindicate the honour of His despised law, and at the same time declare His greatest hatred to sin. Had there been no Mediator, the justice and holiness of God would have stood as everlasting obstructions to the exercise of pardoning mercy.
2. The express declarations of Scripture. Listen to the exulting and triumphant language of the prophet Micah: "Who is a God like unto our God, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy." See how earnestly does God exhort the careless and impenitent, saying, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil way, for why will ye die, O house of Israel?" "How shall I give thee up, O Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, O Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim?" Observe the grand commission of the apostles, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name, among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
3. Recorded facts. This glorious truth is not only declared by the voice of inspiration, but also by the loud and impressive testimony of experience. What multitudes have already obtained forgiveness! The Scriptures abound with the most astonishing and striking instances of this delightful truth. But if we look into the New Testament, we shall see this truth shining forth with greater lustre still. The first instance that strikes us here is Peter. How great and dreadful were his sins! He denied his Divine Lord and Master, and that with oaths and curses; and yet repenting, he was forgiven. In the same list we behold Mary Magdalene, "out of whom seven unclean spirits were cast."
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
WEB: and refused to obey, neither were they mindful of your wonders that you did among them, but hardened their neck, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage. But you are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and didn't forsake them.