Judges 13:23      No.3

But his wife said unto him, If the Lord were pleased to kill us, he would not have received a burnt offering and a meat offering at our hands, neither would he have showed us all these things, nor would as at this time have told us such things as these.
[preached Sunday morning 31 March 1765]
Two things encouraged Manoah’s wife here – that the Lord had shown them such things – and that he had accepted an offering at their hands. And all the children of God may in the same manner take comfort from their experience. Had he been pleased to kill them he would not have shown them the evil of sin – brought them to submit to his righteousness – given them to see the excellency of Christ and the beauty of holiness – neither would he have accepted their offerings. We have already spoke of what they have seen – and are now to speak of their offerings.
When the Lord shows the things we have mentioned, the soul that sees them cannot be an idle or unconcerned spectator – cannot look at them with indifference, cannot know them without being in some measure influenced and affected by them. This is the difference between Notion and Experience, between what we learn of men, and what the Lord teaches. We may grow wise in our own esteem from men and books, but then that knowledge (if we have no other) is dry and unfruitful. But when the Lord is the teacher – the soul feels what it sees, and acts accordingly. These sights produce suitable offerings.
I would show:
  1. What these offerings are.
  2. That the Lord does accept them.
1. The awakened soul, that has truly seen these things – has done forever with the thought of offerings by way of atonement, and knows that if he could bring all that is spoken of [in] Micah 6:6,7 it could not be accepted. [1] It knows that there is no offering in this respect but that which Jesus once for all offered upon the Cross. We are sure likewise that the spiritual Israel under the law placed their hopes of acceptance, not in the blood of bulls and goats – but in the Lamb of God who should be revealed in the fullness of time. Yet their sacrifices when presented in faith were accepted and so it is still.
  1.1 The sacrifice of broken and contrite heart Psalm 51:17. [2]
This is expressed plurally because many in one. When sin is known and our share in it, a variety of affections arise, and all these are parts of that sacrifice with which God is well pleased. See a lively enumeration in 2 Corinthians 7:11. [3] There is:
    1.1.1 Confession – no more disguises or excuses – in this spirit no guile. Psalm 32:2–5. [4]
    1.1.2 Self abasement. O how vile and hateful does the soul appear to itself. Surely never such a sinner as me. Before perhaps indignation against the sins of others, but now conscience says like Nathan, Thou art the man. [1]
    1.1.3 Hatred against sin. This is quickly seen. All his pleasure of that sort is quickly spoiled – now like the prophets he sees death in the pot where he expected to find a feast. 2 Kings 4:40. [6] How have I been befooled and ruined – what fruit. Romans 6:20. [7] And not to myself only but with dishonour to God, what sufferings to Christ. Then the most beloved lusts, the right eye, the right-hand are now [no] longer spared, but all presented to the Lord to be destroyed.
  1.2 An offering of prayer
This is sure to be found. Acts 9:11. [8] Such a one cannot but cry for mercy – for faith – for strength. The reason why any of you can live without prayer, is because you have not truly seen your states otherwise it would be impossible. Even where there is but little hope, a sense of want and misery will extort prayer.
  1.3 An offering of praise
Here some of you will think yourselves shut out and say Alas I cannot praise, I can do nothing but complain. This is a mistake; dull and unthankful as you are, you have offered praise –
    1.3.1 That you are out of hell.
    1.3.2 That your eyes have been opened.
    1.3.3 That you live under the Gospel.
  1.4 An offering of the heart
Surely that has been your desire over and over. Romans 12:1. [9] Especially in your most comfortable moments – have not you surrendered yourself – entreated the Lord to take care of you – and accounted it your highest honour and happiness, if you might but be accepted as his willing, devoted servant for ever.
  Now all these offerings are and may be offered, where faith is weak, knowledge small, and comforts few. But will they be accepted. Alas I see so much sin in everything I bring that, I fear the Lord will reject. I say:
2. Such offerings as these the Lord does and will accept it. Why doubt it.
  2.1 You have his express promise to each, to the
    2.1.1 Psalm 51:17; [10] Proverbs 28:13 [11]
    2.1.2 Psalm 102:17 [12]
    2.1.3 Psalm 50:23 [13]
    2.1.4 Proverbs 23:26. [14] Surely he will accept what he demands – he knew what a heart you have, yet says Give it me.
  2.2 How do you think you came by these offerings? Did they grow in your own garden? No – you know you once had them not. You may say with David – Of thine own we have given thee and will not he accept of his own? [15]
  2.3 Your perseverance in repeating these offerings are a proof that the Lord has accepted them. For without his strength you cannot hold out.
You have therefore reason to take up the conclusion in my text and say If the Lord etc; he would not at this time – this leads to speak to others, for I am afraid I have said little to some of you. To outward appearance there is little difference at present in the congregation. You are met in the same place, have joined in the same service, and seem all or most attentive to what I am saying. But the Lord sees a great difference – at this time while some have seen and offered thus – others are stark blind to spiritual truth and have no offering to bring before the Lord. Let me entreat you when you go home to make such enquiries as these from the points I have been upon:
1. Have I a broken and contrite spirit – has since[sin] ever been my burden? Do I confess it, mourn over it daily, loathe myself for it, and especially have I forsaken it – and do I study to avoid it?
2. Do I live in the frequent exercise of prayer – or without God in the world?
3. Do I praise God – admire his patience in sparing me – and prize the Gospel of Christ?
4. Who has my heart? God or the world? A short question and not hard to be answered, if you would be honest to yourselves.
If you will put plainly put these things to yourselves, I should hope for a good effect. Let me entreat you – be upon your guard against Satan – who will be waiting for you in one way or other, perhaps as it were at the church door, to steal these thoughts from you. What enquiry so important? If it was hinted that your house was on fire, would you not examine – but what is your house compared to your soul? You had better mistake or neglect in anything than this – for a final mistake here will be fatal. And why should you not set about it? Are you afraid of being happy too soon? How can you suspect that you shall be a loser by the favour and service of God? Or is it fear that prevents you – but has not Jesus bled and died for sin? Is he not ready to receive every returning sinner? Does he not say Come? O hear his voice. By his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion I entreat you do not stand out any longer – but throw down your arms, and turn unto him that your souls may live.

 [1] Micah 6:6,7 Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
[2] Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
[3] 2 Corinthians 7:11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
[4] Psalm 32:2–5 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.
[5] 2 Samuel 12:7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul;
[6] 2 Kings 4:40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
[7] Romans 6:20 For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
[8] Acts 9:11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
[9] Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
[10] Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
[11] Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.
[12] Psalm 102:17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
[13] Psalm 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.
[14] Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.
[15] 1 Chronicles 29:14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.

Cowper & Newton Museum, John Newton's notebook N17