Forgiven

officers_at_court_martial_ca_1835

A soldier, whose regiment lay in a garrisoned town of Old England…

…was about to be brought before his commanding officer for some offence. He was an old offender, and had been punished time after time, yet without effect.

“Here he is again,” said the officer, on his name being mentioned; “everything—flogging, disgrace, and imprisonment—has been tried with him.”

Whereupon the sergeant stepped forward, and, apologizing for the liberty he took, said, “There is one thing which has never been done with him yet, sir.”

“What is that?” was the answer.

“Well, sir,” said the sergeant, “he has never been forgiven.”

“Forgiven!” exclaimed the colonel, surprised at the suggestion. He reflected for a few minutes, ordered the culprit to be brought in, and asked him what he had to say to the charges against him.

“Nothing, sir,” was his reply; “only I am sorry for what I have done.”

Turning a kind and pitiful look on the man who expected nothing else than that his punishment would be increased with the repetition of his offence, the colonel addressed him, saying, “Well, we have resolved to forgive you.” The soldier was struck dumb with astonishment; the tears started in his eyes, and he wept like a child. He was humbled to the dust, he thanked his officer, and retired.

Do you think that he left to be the old reprobate, and incorrigible man that he had been? No!  He became another man from that day forward. He who told me this story had him for years under his command, and a better conducted man never wore the Queen’s colors. For here was a man that kindness had bent, but one whom harshness could not break. This man had been conquered by mercy, and, completely forgiven.  Ever afterwards this soldier feared to offend in even the smallest thing.

Is that not the way it is with the Christian? His heart is twisted towards hell. His mind is at war with God, and hates all things God-like.  Then a change happens. Is it because that one morning he wakes up and decides to turn over a new leaf?  Not at all, it is because one morning he wakes up and finds that he is an awful sinner, that he is completely destitute of an excuse. That he is without hope for a pardon, and that there is nothing that he can do to save himself.

Then God appears, and forgives this destitute sinner.  To say that he did anything, or earned any part of the forgiveness that he received, is ludicrous.  For this new Christian to claim that God owed him this grace, would be the thought farthest from his mind.  So what changed him?  I will tell you what, it was the forgiving and cleansing grace of God.

How did it come about? I am glad you asked.

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Oh! precious is the flow
That makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

For my pardon, this I see,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
For my cleansing this my plea,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

Nothing can for sin atone,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught of good that I have done,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Refrain

This is all my hope and peace,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
This is all my righteousness,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The Wayward Daughter

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A mother whose daughter had behaved very badly…

…and at length had run away from home, thought of a singular plan in order to find the wanderer and draw her back to her home. After having exhausted the ordinary means, she had her own portrait fixed on a large handbill and pasted on the walls of the town where she supposed her daughter to be concealed. The portrait, without name, had these words, “I love thee always.”

Crowds stopped before the strange handbill, trying to guess its meaning. Days elapsed, when the young girl at last passed by, and in her turn lifted her eyes to the singular placard. “Can it be?” Yes, truly it is the picture of my mother. Those eyes, full of tenderness, I know from childhood. Why is it here?” She approaches nearer and reads. “I love thee always,” She understood; this was a message for her. Her mother loved her, –and had pardoned her.

Those words transformed the daughter. Never had she felt her sin or ingratitude so deeply. She was unworthy of such love. “She loves me always,” she cried.

If she had ever doubted that love, if in moments of distress she had feared to return home, those doubts were all gone now. She set out for the house of her mother; at last she crosses the threshold and collapses in her mother’s arms.

“My child!” cried the mother, as she presses her crying and repentant daughter to her heart; “I have never ceased to love thee.”

Isn’t that like God? 

Are you one of those who longs to come home, but feel you have done too much, or gone too far?  Your Father loves you. Your elder brother died for you.  All heaven is looking and hoping that you will come home. It is not too much to imagine angels traveling between earth and heaven with news about you.  Your whole heavenly family yearns for your presence, and looks for your safe arrival….

Will you not come?  Will you not turn around? Will you not come home, now? Come home!  It is my prayer that you will.

The story of the daughter was by, La bonne Nouville.

Confession and the Door of Free Grace

Written by, Joseph Caryl
Taken and adapted from, A Directory for the Afflicted being Select Extracts First Fourteen Chapters  of the Rev. Joseph Caryl’s Commentary on the Book of Job, by John Berrie; Edinburgh, pp. 135-136, 1824.

confess-all-jesus“If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

–1 John 1:9 (ESV)

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A saint confesses freely, but it is extorted from a wicked man…  

The saint confesses feelingly; he tastes the bitterness of sin while he confesses whereas it is the fear of punishment that makes a natural man feel.   A good man confesses sincerely, and is in earnest both with God and his soul.  The other casts out his sin as seamen do their goods in a storm, which they would wish back whenever it is over.  A believer mixes faith with his sorrows in his confessions, which no other man ever did.

Observe that the holiest man has cause to continue confessing his sin. 

While the ship leaks, the pump must not stand still.  As the very best are in danger of being lifted up above measure, they have cause daily to engage in the soul-humbling duty of confession.  Every confession of sin is a fresh obligation to do so no more, and as it gives the soul a taste of the bitterness of sin, so of the sweetness of forgiveness through Christ.  Confession of sin exalts Christ in our hearts and affections; for we thereby declare our belief of the riches of Christ, and his ability and willingness to take away our sins.  This at once encourages us to confess our enormous load of debt, and increases our love to him who gave his life a ransom for us and how doth it commend the healing virtue of bis blood, when we open to him such mortal wounds and diseases which he only and easily can cure.

Confession of sin gives glory to every attribute of God…

…as it owns a debt and our inability to make payment and all that we enjoy or ever shall receive, must run us deeper in debt to free grace.  What shall I do unto thee, O thou preserver of men!  I can neither escape from, nor satisfy thy justice.  Observe, that the holiest man cannot atone for one sin, by either sufferings or obedience.  All that he can do is imperfect and defiled, and besides, it was a debt before; neither has God any where appointed man’s righteousness to be a satisfaction for his sins.

Pardon and forgiveness of sin, must come in at the door of free grace. 

A good work trusted to, is as destructive as sin unrepented of.  None but God has either power, patience, or wisdom, to be the preserver of foolish, helpless, erring man.

After ‘Hallowed be thy name’

 By Thomas Manton (1620–1677) 

He doth not say…

imagesWV1R6P4B‘And thy kingdom come;’ they are propounded as distinct sentences: but, ‘Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts,’ for three reasons:—

[1.] Without pardon all the good things of this life will do us no good. They are but as a full diet, or as a rich suit, to a condemned person; they will not comfort him and allay his present fears. Until we are pardoned, we are under a sentence, ready for execution and therefore we cannot have that comfort in outward things until we have some interest in God’s fatherly mercy. A man that is condemned hath the king’s allowance until execution. So it is the indulgence of God to a wicked man to give him many outward things, though he is condemned already. We should not satisfy ourselves with daily bread without a sense of some interest in pardoning mercy.

[2.] To show us our unworthiness. Our sins are so many and grievous that we are not worthy of one morsel of bread to put in our mouths. When we say, ‘ Give us this day,’ &c., we need presently to say, ‘ Forgive us our sins.’ There is a forfeiture even of these common blessings: Gen. xxxii. 10, ‘ I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast showed unto thy servant.’ All that we have we have from mercy, and it is mercy undeserved. As we are creatures, there can be no common right between God and us to engage him to give temporal blessings, for we owe ourselves wholly to him, as being created out of nothing. Children cannot oblige their parents. But much more, as we are guilty creatures, it is merely of the mercy of the Lord.

He-hears-our-cries[3.] These are joined together because sin is the great obstacle and hindrance of all the blessings which we expect from God: Jer. v. 25, ‘ Your sins have withheld good things from you.’ When mercy comes to us, sin stands in the way and turns it back again, so that it cannot have so clear a passage to us. Therefore God must forgive before he can give, that is, bestow these outward things as a blessing on us.

Meet the Author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Manton (1620–1677) was an English Puritan clergyman.  Thomas Manton was invited to preach before Parliament on at least six occasions.  The first occasion was on June 30, 1647, which was a fast day for Parliament. His sermon was based on Zechariah 14:9 and entitled, “Meat out of the Eater; or, Hopes of Unity in and by Divided and Distracted Times.”

Exactly one year later, on June 30, 1648, he preached another fast sermon on Revelation 3:20, “England’s Spiritual Languishing; with the Causes and the Cure.” He also participated in the Westminster Assembly as one of three clerks, was later appointed to write a preface to the second edition of the Westminster Confession in 1658, and served Oliver Cromwell as a chaplain and a trier (an overseeing body that examined men for the ministry).

In 1656 he moved to London as he was appointed as a lecturer at Westminster Abbey and most importantly as rector of St. Paul’s, Covent Garden, succeeding Obadiah Sedgwick. During this time Cromwell died and England entered a period of great uncertainty. This led Presbyterians such as Manton to call for the restoration of Charles II in 1660, traveling along with others to Breda, The Netherlands, to negotiate his return. After Charles returned, Manton was part of the negotiations called the Savoy Conference, in which the scruples of the Presbyterians and Congregationalists concerning the Prayer Book were formally discussed. Yet since the Cavalier Parliament was filled with Laudians, 1662 saw the enactment of the Act of Uniformity 1662. All ministers were to be ordained or re-ordained by a bishop, they were to renounce the Solemn League and Covenant, promise loyalty to the Prayer Book, and subscribe the Thirty-Nine Articles. Since Manton was on favorable terms with Charles II he was offered the Deanery of Rochester, but he refused on conscience grounds.

Manton’s last years were tumultuous. The Act of Uniformity led to the “Great Ejection.” On August 17, 1662, Manton preached his last sermon at Covent Garden on Hebrews 12:1. He also continued to write even when imprisoned for refusing to cooperate for six months in 1670 in violation of the Conventicle Act. 1672 saw the Declaration of Indulgence, in which men like Manton were granted a license to preach at home. Manton then became a lecturer at Pinner’s Hall for the so-called “morning exercises.” Parliament, though, revoked this Indulgence the year after. Manton would later die on October 18, 1677, and was survived by his wife and three children.