On the Question of Sin and Forgiveness, and God’s Method of Mercy

Taken and adapted from, “THE CHRISTIAN REMEMBRANCER; OR, SHORT REFLECTIONS UPON THE FAITH, LIFE, AND CONDUCT OF A REAL CHRISTIAN”
Written by, Ambrose Serle

the-cross351

“Of these things put them in remembrance.”
–2 Timothy 2:14.

Not equal grace, by Paul obtain’d,
Nor Peter’s pardon I require;
But what upon the Cross was gain’d
By the poor thief, would I desire!
–Copernicus’ Epitaph

ON THE QUESTION OF SIN AND FORGIVENESS

WHEREWITH shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God?” How shall I, a sinner, approach the eyes of that Majesty, which cannot look upon sin without abhorrence? My iniquities are more in number than the hairs of my head; and my heart sinks within me on their remembrance. My affections are naturally all inclined to the world, and worldly things. My judgment is depraved; my will is perverse; my understanding is darkened; my knowledge vain; and I see nothing within me, or about me, but what by guilt is altogether defiled. I have sore proof of that scripture, “that every imagination of the thoughts of man’s heart is only evil continually,” and that “from the sole of the foot, even to the head, there is no soundness” in my nature; but only “the wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores” of sin.

How then can I please God? How shall such a worm, such a lump of perverse ungodliness, obtain his favor? Shall I seek to deserve it by my own good thoughts? Alas! I am not sufficient of myself to think even one. Shall I by excellency of words approach my offended Maker? He regards not words, but the spirit and the heart; and my spirit and heart are wholly defiled. Shall I then by good works attempt to render him propitious? 0 my God, where shall I find them? How can I begin to act, before I have begun to think, what is right? How can the exercises of the body be pure and free, when the soul is unholy, and enslaved by sin? And if, from this day, I could cease from evil, and do perfectly what is just and right, which the experience of all men tells us that it is impossible; yet what will become of the long black catalogue of iniquities, both in heart and life, which are already written against me? How shall I wipe off the sins of my nature and my life, respecting the times that are past?

0 Lord, you have revealed yourself, as a holy God, and a just. You have declared, that you will not spare the guilty. And I have offended your righteous law in every hour and every action of my life. How then can I be saved? How is it possible for me to escape the wrath to come? My anxieties, like my sins, might justly overwhelm me; and I ought to tremble at the righteous judgment, which I know I deserve. There are but a few days, at the most, for me to live upon earth; and I am not sure of one. 0, how shall I flee from the wrath to come? How shall I avoid eternal burnings, in which no man can dwell but with misery, and of which no man can think strictly without horror? Lord, can such a sinner as I escape?

Can you have mercy upon me? Such are the breathings of the heart when it first begins to awake, and live, and feel that there is an evil and a curse in sin, and that sin, with all its evil, lies at the door.

THE METHOD OF MERCY

SUCH a flowing from the heart, as that just mentioned, gladdens all heaven. It is the motion of the divine Spirit upon the troubled deep, and will ere long produce both life and peace.

Soul, do you feel the power of your own corruption? Are these your meek, yet bitter cries? 0 hear, and may your God enable you to believe, the glad tidings of his own salvation!

You are a sinner, it is true; and your mercy it is, to see, in due measure, how great a sinner you are. It is the first line in the large book of humiliation, which you must be reading all your life long. But Christ died for sinners such as you; for all sinners that come unto God by him; for the vilest of sinners, that see the vileness of sin, and bemoan it, as you dolt. He saved Mary Magdalene the harlot, Matthew the publican, Paul the persecutor, Peter the swearer, liar, and denier of his Master, the malefactor on the cross, who had been a thief and a murderer, and ten thousand more like these; and he has just the same power, means, and mercy to save your soul, even yours.

He saves graciously, that is, freely; because no wisdom nor worth of man could have contrived or obtained his greatness of salvation. It was planned in grace, and performed by grace. It is all of grace, and bounty, and love, from beginning to end.

For this purpose he came into the world, and took our nature upon him. He took it in its meanest and humblest form; and was content to be born in a stable, to be brought up by a laboring man, to labor with him too, to suffer the worst evils of human life, and the sorest pains of human death, that so he might be an oblation or sacrifice in the stead of his people, and render an atonement to the justice of God for them. These sufferings, and this atonement, are the debt due to the law and holiness of God, without which, consistently with his attributes, he could not spare the sinner; but by which he can be both “just,” and yet “the Justifier” of him who takes refuge in Jesus. Yea, this dear Savior having paid the penalty due to his transgressions, God is now faithful and just to forgive him his sins; or rather more faithful and just to forgive them, than he could be in laying on the punishment again, which Christ endured in that behalf. Christ also lived upon earth to fulfil all righteousness; and he fulfilled it completely for his redeemed. He makes himself over to them; and all he has is theirs, through faith in him. Thus they have a right to call him, what he is, “The Lord our righteousness.” God is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake, and beholds every poor sinner who trusts in Christ, and lives in him, as unblamable and unreprovable in his own most piercing sight; yea, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. This righteousness is that garment of salvation, which covers them wholly, and fits them perfectly for the kingdom of heaven.

Contrite soul, do you believe this? Is this good news, the very gospel, or good news of God? Search and see. Read and pray over your Bible, and you will find, that it is the very voice and will of your Lord. 0 that the fallow, the hard and barren ground of your heart, may be so broken up by his power, as to welcome this joyful news, like the thirsty soil receiving the showers from the skies!

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Ambrose Serle (1742–1812) was an English civil servant, diarist and writer of Christian prose and hymns as well as the book titled The Christian Remembrancer here being posted. His The American Journal of Ambrose Serle, Secretary to Lord Howe 1776-1778 is a primary source in the history of the American Revolution. The Lord Howe concerned was Richard Howe, 1st Earl Howe. Ambrose Serle was the private secretary to the British general William Howe. He was the author of Americans Against Liberty a pamphlet published anonymously that defends the British Empire as a rightful and just government. It also criticizes the American colonists as enemies of the British public and opponents of the freedoms provided by Great Britain. He believed the colonists’ complaints against King George III were unimportant and were not a strong enough reason to revolt against the government. He thought that the colonies harmed England financially, but Britain had little choice but to govern and protect them. He was a strong loyalist and supported England greatly. His pamphlet writings of finances influenced the speeches of Lord North, an influential representative in Parliament, and an important figure for both sides in the revolution. While the pamphlets effects were less noticeable with the patriots, they were there just the same. Those things said, please do not let them influence your resolve to read this work. Forgive him, and read on.

Grace e-books says: “it was immediately evident that Christ was on every page of it’s contents, and in virtually every chapter title. That not only means the word Christ, but the person of Christ. If you are a lover of Christ and the message of reconciliation and redemption in Him, you will find this one of the most assuring and easily read e-books on the site. Come and see what author Ambrose Serle thinks of Christ. You won’t be disappointed.

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