Sunday, March 11, 2012

J. W. McGarvey: Addendum on Sin

The following is part of an ongoing commentary on J. W. McGarvey's Sermons Delivered in Louisville Kentucky. For an introduction to and table of contents for the series, see Happy Birthday, J. W.

Previously, J. W. McGarvey’s sermon on sin was examined, the main purpose of which was to employ hell as a vehicle through which we could begin to express the enormity of sin. McGarvey, of course, did not leave his congregants with nothing but the magnitude of sin to weigh on their hearts. In a series sermons focused on redemption, forgiveness, faith, and conversion (all of which will be addressed in time), he offers his listeners the path from death into life. At the conclusion of the following week’s sermon, entitled “Redemption in Christ,” McGarvey does offer at throwback to the theme of the magnitude of sin. Much as he suggested that sin could be better grasped by first grasping hell, he suggests that if we truly grasp the significance of the cross we can begin to grasp the atrociousness of sin:

If sin is of such a nature that God Himself, with all His infinite wisdom, and all His undying love toward our race, could find no way to redeem us from it, without the shedding of the blood of His own dear Son, the heart's blood of Him who came down from Heaven to endure the ignominious death of the cross for this great end, what an awful thing sin must be! Just think of it. And let me ask you another question in connection with this. Was the evil consequence which God foresaw that sin would bring upon us, some little thing, like a scratch upon your hand? Was sin a mere peccadillo? Was it a mere mistake that could bring but little pain upon us? Would the Almighty send His own Son to suffer the agonies of the cross in order to redeem us from a little thing like that? Ah! my dear friends, it is only when we know what we endeavored to show you last Lord's day, the darkness, the gloom, the gnashing of teeth, the awful agonies of the eternal world to which sin is bearing us, that we can realize why it should cost such a price, and why God should be willing to pay such a price, to redeem us from it. Are you living in sin? Oh! tremble before your God; get down on your knees; lift up your hands and your heart, and plead with Him to have mercy on you; smite your breast, and say, "God be merciful to me a sinner." Cast yourself into the arms of this Redeemer who is so ready and so anxious to redeem you--to blot out your transgressions, and to grant you everlasting life.

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