There is a story by Rev. Thomas English, where he tells a story about when he was once confronted by a stranger. It was in a place where he had been laboring for a few Sabbaths only, when he received a letter which finally culminated with the character standing before him…
I looked at the man, and pitied him, and coolly replied: “It would be a breach of the common principles of society to show confidential letters, written to us, for the purpose of our doing people good.” He retorted in an angry tone, “–I demand a sight of it, sir, as an act of Justice due to an injured man.”
I replied, “How did you know that I had received a letter concerning you?” “Know,” said he; “it was impossible not to know it, your language and manner were so pointed, that it was impossible that I should be deceived.”
I rejoined: “Do not be too positive; you have been deceived before now, I suppose; you may be so again.”
“It is not possible;” said he, “you described the sin of which I am accused, in the clearest language; and looking me in the face, and pointing towards me, you said, ‘Sinner, be sure your sins will find you out;’ I therefore expect from you, sir, as a gentleman, and a Christian minister, that you will give me a sight of the letter, that I may know its contents and repel its charges!”
I observed,” I do not know your name; to my knowledge I never saw you before; and as you have not told me in what part of the sermon it was I was so pointed, if I show you any letter, I may show the wrong one: I shall, therefore certainly not exhibit any of my letters to you, nor satisfy you whether I have received any one about you, till you describe the case alluded to.” He hesitated; but afterwards described the sin of which he was accused.
When he had finished, looking him full in the eyes, assuming a solemn attitude, and using a grave and serious tone of voice, I said: “Can you look me full in the face, as you must your Judge at the great day of God, and declare that you are innocent of the sin laid to your charge?
He trembled, turned pale, and his voice faltered; guilt and anger struggling in his breast, like the fire in the bowels of Mount Etna, and summoning up his courage, he said: “I am not bound to make any man my confessor; and if I were guilty no man has a right to hold me up to public observation as, you have done!”
I assumed a kind and gentle countenance, and softened my tones saying: “Do you believe the passage I cited” ‘ Be sure your sins will find you out?” is that the word of God?” He said, “It may be.” “Surely it is, “said I;” He that made the ear, shall he not hear? He that made the eye, shall he not see? Can He have any difficulty bringing your sin to light?
Now, I will tell you honestly, I never received any letter or information about you whatsoever; but I am persuaded your sin has found you out; the preaching of the word is one method, by which God makes men’s sins find them out.
Let me entreat you seriously to consider your state and character; who can tell, God may have intended this sermon for your good; he may mean to have mercy upon you; this may be the means of saving your neck from the gallows, and your soul from hell; but let me remind you, you are not there yet, there still is hope.”
He held down his head, clenched his hands one into the other, and burst into tears, and said: “I never met with anything like this. I am certainly obliged to you for your friendship. I am guilty, and hope this conversation will be of essential advantage to me.”
My friends, your sins will find you out. You may wait until they do, or, you may confess them and ask for God’s mercy and grace. This does not mean that you will escape the earthly consequences of your actions. But, if your “sin is ever before you” you will want to ask God for cleansing. Listen to how David puts it.
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.
5 Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
6 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.
9 Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.
13 Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.
14 Deliver me from blood guiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
15 O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
16 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
18 Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.