"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered."--Psalm 32:1
The blessedness of the man whose transgression is forgiven presents fresh topics of happy thought. Advance will be more intelligent, if his state is rapidly reviewed. By the light and power of the Spirit he has discerned forgiveness springing from the depths of God's heart, provided by the infinitude of God's wisdom--flowing in the channel of the blood of Jesus--extending to his utmost need, and effectually cleansing his soul from all pollution. He gives thanks for this gracious gift dispensed in the harmonious concurrence of every Divine attribute. He welcomes and recognizes it as holy, just, and good; alike suitable to his ruined case, and bringing glory to God who wills, and plans, and bestows. Therefore, fleeing from every vain refuge, renouncing hollow confidences, he has embraced the sin-expiating cross, he has washed in the all-cleansing stream, and so has entered the blessed region of the pardoned. Such is his spiritual state--a state interwoven with all blessedness.
Hitherto the view of his blessedness has been negative. It has been exhibited as a barrier beating back all the waves which drown peace. Let the scene now change--let the positive benefits appear. The former aspect was calm, because of the banishment of ruffling fears--this latter is far more joyous, because of the overflowing of all delights. Let us proceed then to sit down on the sunny side of redemption's hill, to bask beneath heaven's most invigorating rays, to roam in the richest pastures of God's choicest mercies, to draw water with joy from the very depths of salvation's well. Here is a spiritual paradise, where trees abound laden with richest fruit, and flowers diffusing sweetest fragrance. Here are groves of heavenly melody. At every turn hearts cannot refrain from singing, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."
This positive blessedness invites attention from various points. It evidently includes (1) filial contemplation of God; (2) happy communion with Him; (3) bright views of providence; (4) alleviation in sickness; (5) comfort in death; (6) acquittal at the judgment-bar; (7) glory throughout eternity.
I. FILIAL CONTEMPLATION OF GOD. The forgiven man is bold to lift up his eyes and calmly to gaze on God. No clouds, no darkness intervene--no mantle shrouds the Father's face. Ready smiles sweetly look down. The light of His countenance clearly shines. His throne is in heaven, but it is a throne of grace--His seat is lofty, but it is a mercy-seat. His hands are full, but they dart no thunderbolts of wrath--they hold blessings for His adopted children. Glory is the encircling halo, but it is the glory of parental love. The forgiven man looks upward, and such is the sight which cheers him. He seeks God's face, and fears not. He acquaints himself with God, and is at peace. He studies God, and rejoices with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Is it not true, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven"?
II. HAPPY COMMUNION WITH GOD. Can the forgiven man thus lift up his eyes and not seek communion? The beauty and the grace mightily attract. He approaches--nothing forbids free access; nothing separates God from man but sin. But this dividing barrier is removed--this obstructing partition has been leveled--this intervening gulf has been bridged. Forgiveness has swept away all hindrances. He holds in his hand the blood which opens the gates. Thus washed he comes to the very presence--to the audience-chamber, to the bosom of His God. With filial love he cries, "Abba, Father." He hears in reply, "My son." He is bold to pour forth floods of petition, to tell out all the secrets of his heart. Loving ears receive--loving lips reply. Sweet is this communion--hallowed is this fellowship. He dwells in God and God in him--heaven is frequented in spirit before earth is left. The forgiven flies upward and finds this welcome. It must be conceded, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."
III. BRIGHT VIEWS OF PROVIDENCE. To him all providential dealings are the visits of a friend. In days of alienation their look was obscure, perplexing, or frowning. Now they are recognized as issuing from the council-chamber of parental wisdom--they are received as angelic guests, dropping blessings from their wings. They have on their front one common inscription--"God is love." They all are charged as David's captains--"Deal gently, for my sake, with my son."
Sorrows in manifold form may come, but they bring no bitterness. Burdens from many quarters may press, but they never crush. The whole tribe of losses may in turn impoverish; but they take not God away. His presence still remains, and then the cup is full.
Outward enjoyments may seem to retire; but the Author of all joy still abides. Chastenings may be many and severe; but they all whisper, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." (Rev. 3:19.) They all testify--He chastens for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness. Paul's thorn in the flesh was doubtless sharp; but the keen point was blunted when the gracious design was seen to keep the sufferer in the lowly valley of humiliation. Grief is not grief, where there is no curse. The furnace harms not, if it refines the ore, and only consumes dross. Bereavement leaves not friendless, if it brings the chief Friend nearer. Trials do not destroy comfort, if they multiply the everlasting consolation.
Prosperous circumstances are now prosperity indeed, because so sweetly hallowed--the true enjoyment is now mixed in every cup of blessing. Health, domestic comfort, competence, friendships' delights, success in plans, are gilded by the rays of the heaven from whence they come. They are more joyous by awakening the joy of pious thanksgiving--they are elevated by the upward flight of reasonable gratitude. They cause the heart to burn in the rapturous praise, "They all come from my Father! See how He thinks of me--see how He delights to aid me--His eye is on me--His power works for me." The pardoned see this brightness in the face of every providence. Who can deny, "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven"?
IV. ALLEVIATION IN SICKNESS. Forgiveness is a downy couch for hours of declining health. Earthly bodies are open to many invasions of disease. Sickness is often at the door waiting to gain entrance. Let then the strength decay, and pains give anguish, and days drag wearily, and nights prove strangers to repose; still the inner man revives when the Spirit reminds of everlasting pardon. Patience smiles, while faith whispers, "These sufferings lead not to eternal death; they waft the frail bark on its course to the land where the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick--the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity." (Isaiah 33:24.) He is not depressed by malady, who has Jehovah-rophi smoothing his bed. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."
V. COMFORT IN DEATH. Forgiveness whispers sweet comfort to the dying ear. Death comes without a frown when it walks hand in hand with assured pardon. Hard indeed is the couch when the past days record sin upon sin, with no blood to obliterate, with no Savior to redeem, with no Spirit to speak peace, when the eye dares not to face the prospect, and turns in anguish from the retrospect. Oh, the agony of departing when unpardoned sins haunt the sinking soul! But when forgiveness lends its solid rod and its supporting staff the worn-out pilgrim quickens his last steps, and springs forward to intermingle with the glorious company of the saints in light. He has long reckoned death among his dearest treasures. The Spirit has taught him the truth, "All things are yours, whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours, for you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." (1 Cor. 3:22, 23.) He can say, To me to live has been Christ, therefore to die is gain. But death only can disclose the greatness of this gain. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven."
VI. ACQUITTAL AT THE JUDGMENT-BAR. This tribunal must be met. "It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Heb. 9:27.) But there are no terrors here for the forgiven man. Condemnation fastens only upon sin--but all his sins have been condemned in Jesus. Their full desert of punishment was paid when Jesus, on the accursed tree, drank to its dregs the penal cup. The vultures of destruction can find no prey. This is the morning of his proclaimed acquittal; this is the day of his coronation before all heaven, all angels and all men. He often sang on earth, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day." Now the reality, the welcome, the full redemption have arrived. The King's voice goes forth--"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;" "and the righteous shall go into life eternal." Is not the conclusion just--"Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven"?
VII. GLORY THROUGHOUT ETERNITY. The everlasting reign succeeds. Death, and hell, and all not written in the book of life, shall be cast into the lake of fire. Then the consummation and the bliss shall be fully experienced. The forgiven shall follow the Lamb wherever He goes. He shall see the King in His beauty; he shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In God's presence he shall exult in the fullness of joy--at God's right hand he shall receive pleasures forevermore. He shall be enriched with all the delight which God can give; he shall be enrolled with all the glory which God can confer. Why? Because no stain of iniquity remains. He has "washed his robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
This sketch but scantily displays how blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven. Heaven must be reached and eternity exhausted before the full blessedness can be known!
A solemn inquiry springs quickly from this glorious view. All men should inquire--Is this blessedness ours? Are we among the company of the forgiven? They are thus happy who by the Spirit's guidance have accepted the Gospel-provision, and have truly fled for refuge into the extended arms of Jesus. They are thus happy who, seeing the coming flood of wrath, have entered the only ark of salvation; and under a deep sense of imminent peril, of desperate sinfulness, have renounced self as a pit of ruin, and have trampled down all the rubbish of man-invented remedies, and have from the inmost soul, and with sincere faith, and with devout thanksgiving, embraced the full remission which God has decreed, which Jesus has bought, and which the Spirit lovingly proclaims. Let such as meekly, adoringly avow that the renunciation and the reception have been transacted; that they have thus turned in shame and loathing from self; that they have thus closed with Jesus, not turn from a brief word of exhortation.
Go in peace--your sins, which are many, are forgiven. But go and evince more and more by holy walk your utter abhorrence of all evil, that deadliest murderer of souls. Do not again take into your bosom again the viper whose venom caused the death of Him who bought this blessedness. Do not again fondle the monster who drove the nails into the Redeemer's hands and feet. "How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?" (Rom. 6:2.)
Go, also, and meditate more and more on the grace and worth, and work of Jesus, the source of this blessedness. Meditate until your enraptured souls become one flame of love. To you who believe He is justly precious--all preciousness. The forgiven should be always chiding their souls to draw nearer in faith, in love, in praise. Hear the voice of the Church--"Tell me, O You whom my soul loves, where You feed--I am sick with love." "My beloved is the chief among ten thousand; He is altogether lovely." "Whom have I in heaven but You--there is none upon earth whom I desire beside You."
Go likewise and tell others what blessedness you have found. Compassionate the miserable whose sins remain, and on whom wrath abides; labor by the many means within your power to call them from their fearful state, and bring them to your inestimable bliss. The forgiven enjoy not forgiveness alone--the blessed strive to communicate and extend their blessedness; the saved seek to enlarge salvation's ranks; the heaven-bound seek to journey heavenward in joyful companies. They individually pray, "Draw me--and we will run after You." They continually invite, "Come with us." "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered."