Taken and adapted from, “The Great Concern of Salvation”
Written by Thomas Halyburton,
Published posthumously in 1721, with a word of commendation by Isaac Watts
You have sinned in the face of all the Divine threatenings.
When the torments of hell have been before you, you have still dared to provoke the Most High; thus despising these evidences of his anger. Who, in some remarkable instance or other, has not seen the judgments of God against sinners? And yet you go on in sin. You sin against glorious Gospel ordnances, regeneration, justification, sanctification, etc., all of which are designed to prevent or destroy sin. You have sinned against the strivings of the Holy Spirit, which are given in mercy to lead you to repentance. And you have sinned against Jesus Christ, who has died for the sins of men. The God who has provided all these helps against sin, is the God against whom you have rebelled in all these fearful violations of his law. What have you to say?
Second. You have sinned against God.
This is notwithstanding all the favors with which he has loaded you. Sad requital for all his loving kindness; “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” — Isaiah 1:2.
Thousands of the Divine favors are shown you every day. God loads you with his benefits, while you load yourselves with sins against him. You make these very mercies, as it were, weapons of unrighteousness to fight against him. “Whatever good you see around you, whatever you enjoy, you have from him. In him you live, and move, and have your being. Therefore, your sins are all acts of great ingratitude; and in this respect man is worse than the beasts of the field. “The ox knows his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.” The dullest beast knows who treats him kindly, and gives it indications of gratitude for the kindness; but sinners rebel against the God of their mercies, and thus are guilty of the grossest ingratitude. What have you to say? Will you continue thus to requite the Lord?
Third. All this wickedness is without any provocation.
When citizens of a country rebel against authority, they will plead some excuse for their rebellion. But what can you say to justify rebellion against God? What fault have you found in him that you should forsake his ways? “Produce your cause, says the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, says the king of Jacob.” He made the universe, and placed you upon the earth. He sustains you by his power, and every hour gives you the tokens of his kindness. By his wisdom he guides the affairs of earth and heaven, and provides for your every want, and there is none like him to be his competitor. Who then can dispute his claim to the sovereignty of the world? Who can say that any of his laws are unjust? “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” Who will dare to plead that any of the Divine laws are too strict in their demands? For who cannot see that society is prosperous and happy, just in proportion as men yield to the wisdom of the Divine laws? And thus you sin without the least prospect of advantage. You “spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which satisfies not.” Could you plead the possibility of advantage, or were you overcome by temptation which there were no means of avoiding or resisting, your case would be otherwise; but this you dare not plead, you can plead nothing but that you are guilty.
This is the charge against you; Once again, what have you to answer to it?
You must say with Job; “If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; if I say I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse.”–Job 9:20. If you acknowledge your guilt, as certainly you must, what means your indifference? Why are you not alarmed for your soul? Do you not believe that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God?” Is the punishment of iniquity nothing to be dreaded? Plead not that your conscience has never accused you of the sins which have now been charged upon you. You may have labored to keep the eyes of your conscience closed, lest it should reprove you, and give you pain; or your sins may have lulled it to sleep, so that, if it speak at all, its voice is too feeble to rouse you from your indifference.
And if the frequency of your sins has rendered you insensible to their malignity, you cannot plead that you are the less guilty.
If God has declared your sins to be what they have now been represented, beware that you be not found disputing and fighting against God.