"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose"—

"You forgave the guilt of my sin." Psalm 32:5

What an oasis in the bleakest of moral deserts is this! God the Forgiver—Yes, the Forgiver of great sins!

The psalm from which our motto-verse is taken, and the fifty-first, are the two liturgies of a penitent backslider, the loud and agonizing cries of a disinherited son longing for a father's forgiveness. The Father heard them; and made good in his experience, as in the experience of all wanderers, His own promise, "Return unto Me, and I will return unto you." If David had been influenced by a consideration of the enormity of his sin, before coming in broken-hearted penitence and conviction to make confession, he might well have seen in it a wall of separation—an unbridged chasm, proclaiming eternal severance from his God.

Listen to his plea. Listen to the backslider's suit. It is a strange and remarkable one, "Pardon my iniquity, FOR IT IS GREAT." Most transgressors would think the greatness of their iniquity the very reason for the Divine Being withholding pardon. We might have expected to hear this presumptuous transgressor wailing out, through tears of despair, 'Lord, if my sin had been less heinous and aggravated, then I might have dreamt of forgiveness. If I had been untaught from my youth—untutored and undisciplined in Your ways, there might have been excuse or palliation for my offences, and room to hope on Your part for compassion. But I, guilty abuser of privileges, quencher of heavenly light, faithless requiter of abounding mercy, cannot expect, cannot ask You, to forgive these crimson iniquities. I must be content to be an outcast from Your presence and love forever.'

No! He makes the very greatness of his sin his plea for the extension of God's mercy! With man it would have been different. The enormity of the crime would have closed the door of human sympathy and human hope. But God's ways are not our ways, nor God's thoughts our thoughts. "Let me fall into the hands of GOD, for great are His mercies, but let me not fall into the hands of man." "After Your loving-kindness, have mercy upon me. According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions." "God, be merciful to me, a sinner." "For Your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, FOR it is great!" "From that hour," in the words of an old writer, "God kept David in the hollow of His hand, the very hand that was once so heavy upon him."

Reader, are you conscious that your iniquities have thus separated between you and your Heavenly Father? Are you conscious that you are not now as once you were? that you enjoy no longer, as you once did, sensible nearness to the mercy-seat? that you are restraining prayer before God? that the fine edge of conscience is blunted? that, in one word, you have lost ground in the Christian life? Arise, confess your sin, mourn your backsliding, and cry for pardon. Making a full and unreserved confession, He will not spurn you away. He is waiting to be gracious. In the words of the women of Tekoah, "He devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him." The Father devises means for the reclamation of His erring prodigal. He pities the backslider; just as the general on the field of battle pities the wounded who are carried bleeding by their comrades to the rear. "Go, proclaim this message toward the north: 'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the Lord, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful,' declares the Lord, 'I will not be angry forever.'"

How many lapsed and fallen ones—driven by some sudden hurricane—some sudden assault of temptation well-nigh to despair, have experienced the blessedness of this true repentance! Yes, strange as the expression may seem, the "blessedness of repentance." You have seen, when the rain and the storm had spent their fury on some landscape; when the thunder-cloud had passed, and blue vistas had again opened in the sky, and the sun had shone forth, silvering the dripping branches—how the woodland grove rang with the song of birds—all the sweeter and more gladsome seemed the notes of music, succeeding the gloom which had so long repressed them. Such is the image of the happiness and joy of the soul in the hour of its restoration; on being brought up from the miry clay, and again set on the Rock of Ages. "O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise!"

"Oh, when Angel trumpet is pealing,
Can the record be effaced?
How evade the dread revealing
Which the pen of Heaven has traced?

"Go, in penitence bewailing,
Go, and now bemoan your guilt,
Trust the promise, never failing,
'I will save you, if you wilt.'

"Hasten, every soul despairing,
At the cross of Jesus fall;
Though with legion sins repairing,
He will freely pardon all."

"You Have turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You thanks forever."

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