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« If we sày that we have no si'n' we deceive ourselvès' and the truth is not in us" but if we confess our sins' God is faithful and just to forgive us our si'ns' and to cleanse us from all un'righteousness.”
“If we say that we have no si’n.” Here by laying the strong emphasis on the word sày we are led to a wrong meaning, as if we only said it with our lips, but did not think so. How then can the conclusion follow of deceiving ourselves? We may deceive others by saying what is false, but it is only by thinking falsely, we can deceive ourselves. Which is the true meaning of the words properly pronounced. “I'f we say that we have nò sìn', we deceive ourselv'es” that is, if there be any among us, so vainly blind to their own faults, as to imagine they are without sin, they deceive themselves. This sentence is not an affirmative
one, but conditional. It does not say that there are any such amongst us, but, if there be any such ; and, therefore, the conditional particle if, is, in this case, emphatical. "If we say that we have no si'n' we deceive ourselves—and the truth is not i'n u's." Here is another fault committed in laying the emphasis on the words i'n us only, whilst the word “truth," which is the important one, is slightly passed over. “ And the trùth is not i'n us.” That is, the opinion entertained of ourselves is false. This strong emphasis laid only on the words in u's, is the more unpardonable in those who lay such an emphasis on the word
“sày,” because it by no means follows that the truth is not in us because we say otherwise : a man may think the truth, and say the contrary: and this very phrase proves the meaning of the text as before explained, that it relates to thinking, not saying; as it expressly says, the truth is not in us, that is, we think falsely.
“ But if we confess our si ns.”—Here again the false emphasis is laid on the word sins, whilst the principal circumstance, that of confessing is slightly passed
“ But if we confe'ss our sins”—that is, if upon a thorough self-examination, after having discovered our sins, we make an humble acknowledgement of them, with a contrite heart, and a thorough desire and intention of reforming; (for all this is implied in the word confess, as no other sort of confession can be of any avail towards obtaining the grace promised.) How emphatical, therefore, ought this word to be, which implies so much!
There is another word in this sentence which is hurried over as if it were a mere particle, when in this place it is a word of strong import; I mean the word but. It is usually read “ bắt if we confess our sins," as if it were a mere disjunctive particle. Whereas, but in this situation stands in the place of the words on the other hand, as may be perceived by reading the two members of the sentence and uniting them by those words. “I'f we say that we have nò si'n, we deceive ourselvès, and the truth is not i'n us; on the other hand, if we confe'ss our sins.”—“But,” therefore, standing in the place of words, should be emphatical, as all particles are when they are substituted in the place of words. " But if we confess our sin's God is faithful and just to forgive us our si'ns.” Who is faithful and just to forgive us our sins ? Could any one conceive that it is the great God of the universe who is here spoken of in so slight a way? Throughout the whole service, indeed, the awful name of God is by some treated so familiarly, and so little distinguished from any particle of three letters, as must give great offence to pious ears. It is said of the great Robert Boyle, that he never mentioned the name of God, even in private discourse, without making a perceptible pause after it. How much more would this practice become those who are engaged in the solemn act of public worship, and how much would it add to the solemnity of that worship? It is manifestly proper that, in reading this sentence, the voice should dwell with devotional emphasis upon the word Göd, and that it should be preceded and followed by a perceptible pause. “If we confèss our sins' Göd' is faithful and ju'st to forgi've us our sins, &c.” These last words are generally as improperly read as the rest. The chief emphasis is here also, often placed on the word sin's, which not only mars the sense, but produces a sad cacaphonia, very disagreeable to the ear, by the three successive emphases on the word “sins” in the same sentence. As, “ if we say that we have no sìn' we deceive ourselves' and the truth is not in us" but if we confess our si'ns' God is faithful and just to forgive us our si'ns &c.” The want of laying the proper emphasis on the word confess, in the former part of the sentence, produces the same mistake in not laying it right on the word forgive in the latter, as the one is a consequence of the other. If we confèss our sins, God will forgive our sins.
The words “ faithful” and “just,” by being hurried over, lose their whole force and import. When properly pronounced, there is implied in them by means of emphasis, that God has entered into a covenant with man that, upon confession and repentance, he will forgive him his sins, through the atonement of Christ : his faithfulness and justice, therefore, are both pledged for the fulfilment of this covenant. 6 Göd' is faithful and ju'st, to forgive us our sin's' and to cleanse us from all unrig hteousness."
Here the emphasis on the word “unrighteousness, is as unfortunately placed, as any of the others. For the emphasis ought to be stronger both on the words “cleanse” and “all;" the meaning of the sentence, being that, God, upon our confession and repentance, will not only forgive our sins, but likewise cleanse us, not from unrighteousness only, but from all unrighteousness. He will thoroughly purify us. Having thus, very minutely pointed out the various errors so commonly committed in reading this sentence, I shall now mark it in the manner in which it is usually read, and then, in what I apprehend to be the right way of reading it, that the difference may be the more apparent.
If we say that we have no si'n' we deceive oursèlves', and the truth is not in us" but if we confess
our sin's' God is faithful and just to forgive us our sin's' and to cleanse us from all unrig hteousnes.
Now in the other.
If we say that we have nò sìn' we deceive oursèlves' and the truth is not in us'' but' if we confèss our sins' Göd' is faithful' and ju'st' to forgive us our sins' and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
THE EXHORTATION. The Exhortation I have often heard delivered in the following manner:
“ Dearly beloved brethren, the scripture moveth us in sundry places to acknowledge and confess our manifold sins and wickedness. And that we should not dissemble nor cloak them before the face of Almighty God our Heavenly Father, but confess them with an humble lowly penitent and obedient heart, to the end that we may obtain forgiveness of the same, by his infinite goodness and mercy. And although we ought at all times humbly to acknowledge our sins before God, yet ought we chiefly sò to do when we assemble and meet together. To render thanks for the great benefits we have received at his hands, to set forth his most worthy praise, to hear his most holy word, and to ask those things which