16. Many suppose that God justifies and accepts them while they really condemn themselves. They seem to think that God approves of them and of their moral state while deep in their minds there is self-condemnation. Now the Bible says that if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things, and of course condemns us. No delusion can be greater than this. Strange notions must he have of the purity of God and the strictness of His law, if he supposes that his own conscience is more strict than God is. He sees that he himself must condemn such a state as his own; but he flatters himself that God is not so particular about little sins as his own conscience is! O, what a delusion!REMARKS.
2. How many persons indulge in little sins, as they call them; but they are too honest, they think to indulge in great crimes. Now both these texts really contradict this view. "He that is unjust in that which is least, is unjust also in much." If a man yields to a slight temptation to commit what he calls a small sin, it cannot be a regard for God that keeps him from committing great sins. He may abstain from committing great sins through fear of disgrace or of punishment, but not because he loves God. If he does not love God well enough to keep from yielding to slight temptations to commit small sins, surely he does not love Him well enough to keep from yielding to great temptations to commit great sins. Again,
6. Many profess to be Christians, and are indulging the hope of eternal life, who know that they never have forsaken all forms of sin; that in some things they have always fallen short of complying with the demands of their own consciences. They have indulged in what they call little sins; they have allowed themselves in practices, and in forms of self-indulgence, that they cannot justify; they have never reformed all their bad habits; and have never lived up to what they have regarded as their whole duty. They have never really intended to do this; have never resolutely set themselves, in the strength of Christ, to give up every form of sin, both of omission and commission; but, on the contrary, they know that they have always indulged themselves in what they condemn. And yet they call themselves Christians! But this is as contrary to the teaching of the Bible as possible. The Bible teaches, not only that men are condemned by God if they indulge themselves in what they condemn; but also that God condemns them if they indulge in that the lawfulness of which they so much as doubt. If they indulge in any one thing the lawfulness of which is in their own estimation doubtful, God condemns them. This is the express teaching of the Bible. But how different is this from the common ideas that many professors of religion have!
Some remarks must close what I have to say this morning. First: viewed in relation to God's government of men there are no little sins. A great many persons have wondered, in reading the Old Testament, why certain sins were punished with death, which in the present day are hardly regarded as sins at all. The penalties for breaking the law under Moses were very different to what they are now in governments generally. The fact is, that under that dispensation it was peculiarly necessary for the infliction of a severe penalty against sin; and there were peculiar reasons why the law of the Sabbath should have been so rigidly enforced upon the Jews. But if you reflect for a moment you will see that there are no little sins, because every sin is a rejection of God's authority: every sin is a renunciation, for the time being, of allegiance to the Divine government. Of course there can be no little sins, for every sin involves a breach of the whole law, in the spirit of it; every one of them involves a refusal to love God with all the heart, and our neighbours as ourselves; every one of them involves a setting up of our own interests above that of Jehovah. There are no little sins then under the government of God; for everyone one of them involves rebellion against his authority. When we come to look at human society, and judge of the actions of men only as they effect it, we get comparative ideas of sin; but when we come to look at sin as a violation of the law of God, then we can see that every one who commits sin, in any degree as judged by human society, is an open enemy of God.
But let me say once more: when we truly understand this subject we shall see that when God's government is regarded, those sins which people are apt to call little sins, are really the greatest. That is, they involve the most guilt when viewed in their relations to God. When people practice little forms of self-indulgence, little lies, little acts of unjust dealing, of course the temptation is small, and the smaller the temptation if complied with, the greater the sin. Suppose, for example, an individual, the force of temptation, should commit some horrible crime against society, which is bad enough to be sure; but suppose another man, under very slight temptation consents to cast off God's authority in something else! Not it is true that in the former case the man consented to cast off God's authority too, and the crime consists in sinning against God's authority; the crime does not consist in sinning against human law, and human society. observe, then, in both instances, the sin is against God. The one is called a crime, but the other is not generally regarded as such, and yet both as crimes against God are equally wicked, or it may be, as I have said, that that which is not regarded as a crime by man, may be the greatest sin against God, because it was committed under very slight temptation. You are passing along the street, and you see a woman with a basket of oranges, her head is turned, you pop your hand into her basket, and slip an orange into your pocket. A very trifling thing, you say, I only took an orange. See that man with a plate of buttons, two for a penny, or it may be more, his back is turned, and a man puts his hand into the plate and slips a penny worth of buttons into his pocket. Now, what has he done! Why, under a very little temptation he has consented, with the eye of God looking right on him, to cast off God's authority and trample upon it for the value of a penny! Now he does not love that man whom he robbed, as he loves himself! His conduct says as plain as possible, God has commanded me to love my neighbour as myself, but I will love myself, and not my neighbour -- I do not care what God says; I will do as I please. Now sinner, you would be afraid to say that, but you do it. You are too hypocritical and cowardly to say it; but you do it right in the face of Almighty God!!
(8.) The saint has made the will of God his law, and asks for no other reason to influence his decisions and actions than that such is the will of God. He has received the will of God as the unfailing index, pointing always to the path of duty. His intelligence affirms that God's will is, and ought to be, law, or perfect evidence of what law is; and therefore he has received it as such. He therefore expects to obey it always, and in all things. He makes no calculations to sin in anything; nor in one thing more than another. He does not cast about, and pick and choose among the commandments of God; professing obedience to those that are the least offensive to him, and trampling on those that call to a sterner morality, and a harder self-denial. With him there are no little sins in which he expects to indulge. He no more expects to eat too much, than he expects to be a drunkard; and gluttony is as much a sin as drunkenness. He no more expects to take an advantage of his neighbour, than he expects to rob him on the highway. He no more designs and expects to indulge in secret, than in open uncleanness. He no more expects to indulge a wanton eye, than to commit adultery with his brother's wife. He no more expects to exaggerate and give a false colouring to the truth, than he expects and intends to commit perjury. All sin is an abomination to him. He has renounced it ex animo. His heart has rejected sin as sin. His heart has embraced the will of God as his law. It has embraced the whole will of God. He waits only for a knowledge of what the will of God is. He needs not, he seeks not, excitement to determine or to strengthen his will. The law of his being has come to be the will of God. A "thus saith the Lord," immediately awakens from the depths of his soul the whole-hearted "amen." He does not go about to plead for sin, to trim his ways so as to serve two masters. To serve God and Mammon is no part of his policy, and no part of his wish. No: he is God's man, God's subject, God's child. All his sympathies are with God; and surely "his fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." What Christ wills, he wills; what Christ rejects, he rejects.
(9.) But right over against this you will find the sinner, or deceived professor. God's will is not his law; but his own sensibility is his law. With him it is not enough to know the will of God; he must also have his sensibility excited in that direction, before he goes. He does not mean, nor expect, to avoid every form and degree of iniquity. His heart has not renounced sin as sin. It has not embraced the will of God from principle, and of course has not embraced the whole will of God. With him it is a small thing to commit what he calls little sins. This shows, conclusively, where he is. If the will of God were his law--as this is as really opposed to what he calls little, as to what he calls great sins, he would not expect and intend to disobey God in one thing more than in another. He could know no little sins, since they conflict with the will of God. But he goes about to pick and choose among the commandments of God, sometimes yielding an outward obedience to those that conflict least with his inclinations, and which therefore will cost him the least self-denial, but evading and disregarding those that lay the axe to the root of the tree, and prohibit all selfishness. The sinner, or deceived professor, does not in fact seriously mean, or expect, wholly to obey God. He thinks that this is common to all Christians. He as much expects to sin every day against God, as he expects to live, and does not think this at all inconsistent with his being a real, though imperfect, Christian. He is conscious of indulging in some sins, and that he has never repented of them and put them away, but he thinks that this also is common to all Christians, and therefore it does not slay his false hope. He would much sooner indulge in gluttony than in drunkenness, because the latter would more seriously affect his reputation. He would not hesitate to indulge wanton thoughts and imaginations when he would not allow himself in outward licentiousness, because of its bearing upon his character, and, as he says, upon the cause of God. He will not hesitate to take little advantages of his neighbour, to amass a fortune in this way, while he would recoil from robbing on the highway, or on the high seas; for this would injure his reputation with man, and, as he thinks, more surely destroy his soul. Sinners sometimes become exceedingly self-righteous, and aim at what they call perfection. But unless they are very ignorant, they soon become discouraged, and cry out, "O, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" They, however, almost always satisfy themselves with a mere outward morality, and that, as I have said, not descending to what they call little sins.
2. How many persons indulge in little sins, as they call them; but they are too honest, they think, to indulge in great crimes. Now both these texts contradict this view. "He that is unjust in that which is least, is unjust also in much." If a man yields to a slight temptation to commit what he calls a small sin, it cannot be a regard for God that keeps him from committing great sins. He may abstain from committing great sins through fear of disgrace or of punishment, but not because he loves God. If he does not love God well enough to keep from yielding to slight temptations to commit small sins, surely he does not love him well enough to keep from yielding to great temptations to commit great sins.