M’Laurin – Sins of Men Not Chargeable on God

This 1 chapter sermon by John M’Laurin (Presbyterian) removes all blame from God for Man’s sins.

The Sins of Men Not Chargeable on God

By John M’Laurin

M’Laurin (1693-1754) was one of the foremost Scottish doctrinal preachers of the eighteenth century. He took part in the revivals which occurred at Cambuslang about 1742, and in his correspondence with Jonathan Edwards contrived the transatlantic concert of prayer for revival. He was behind the efforts to provide financial relief when Edwards was impoverished after leaving Northampton, and M’Laurin’s circle of friends in the Scottish Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge appointed David Brainerd their missionary to the American Indians.

M’Laurin was a man of culture, and in many ways a counterpart to Edwards; his brother Colin was professor of mathematics at Edinburgh University, and a friend and interpreter of Isaac Newton. M’Laurin’s sermons, and essays on such topics as grace and faith, have been extolled for their evangelical content, profundity of analysis, apologetic skill, and eloquence of composition. John Brown of Edinburgh commented that, “MacLaurin’s thoughts have in a remarkable degree the characteristic mark of original genius — they are singularly pregnant thoughts. They germinate in the mind. . . . There is a depth of spiritual feeling corresponding to the extent and clearness of his spiritual discernment.” The present sermon, which was preached about 1720 in his first pastoral charge at Luss, Argyleshire, is from his Sermons and Essays, Glasgow 1755.

“Let no man say, when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil; neither tempteth he any man.” James 1:13.

The word of God frequently teaches us, that a principal hindrance of our embracing Christ’s righteousness, is want of a due sense of our own unrighteousness. There is a stupidity in this, as unaccountable in its nature, as it is dangerous in its effects. All men are persuaded, that they have broken the precepts of God’s law; it might be expected of course, they should be persuaded also, that they have deserved to suffer the penalty of it: but experience makes it evident, that it is otherwise. All men are convinced that they are sinners; but very few are convinced that they deserve to be miserable. The word of God, which searches the heart, unfolds the secret cause of this. In like manner, men are insensible of their ill deserving; not that they absolutely deny their sins, but that they excuse them: nor is this a new artifice; it is as ancient in the world, as sin itself. It is natural for our affections to bias our judgment; and therefore, when sin has polluted the one, no wonder it should pervert the other. The first man on earth was no sooner accused, than, since he could not deny it, he strove to defend it, and heightened his guilt by a presumptuous attempt to extenuate it. We his offspring, to this day, do not more resemble him in committing sin, than in excusing it, when we have done. Generally either men do not regret their sins at all, or else regret them as misfortunes, rather than faults, and as deserving pity, rather than punishment. Prosperous sinners scarce see the harm of sin at all; others, while they feel the harm of it, redoubling to themselves, lay the blame of it on something else. It were less unaccountable if men only justified or excused themselves to their fellow creatures, their partakers in guilt: one sinner may easily find a thousand plausible answers to the upbraiding language of another sinner; for how can a man be at a loss for a defence against those who cannot accuse him without condemning themselves; he may answer them in the apostle’s words, Rom 3:1. “Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art, that judgest another; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgeth, doest the same things.” But the misery of men’s self-love, is, that it makes them pretend to vindicate themselves, not only against the oftentimes too partial contempt of their guilty fellow creatures, but also against the most impartial challenges of their offended Creator. When men vindicate themselves only against their associates in guilt, it may be constructed as a pretence only to equality with others; but for men to defend themselves before God, is in effect a pretence to innocency. By this means the chief vexation many have about their most unrighteous practices, is murmuring against God’s most righteous precepts, according to the old complaint, “Who can bear these hard sayings?” Many are not so sorry for their sins against God’s law, as for the severity of God’s law against their sins; and one great cause of it, is, their imagining these temptations that allure them to sin, sufficient excuses for the committing of it; which is surely a disposition of mind that undermines repentance, and saps the very foundation of true religion.

Yet this is not the highest pitch the arrogance of sinners arrives at, in defending their sins. It is indeed high enough presumption in one, who has times without number, offended God without cause, to justify himself, when God accuses him; but it is still a far higher pitch of presumption, when a sinner not only defends himself before God, but also defends himself, by accusing God, discharging himself of the blame of his sin, and laying it over upon God: in this likewise men seem to copy after their first parent Adam; the scripture tells that God gave him a help meet for him, which was, no doubt, an act of goodness on God’s part; yet when he sinned against God without cause, rather than want a defence altogether, he made the gift, he received from God, an excuse for his disobedience to him; that is, he made God’s goodness to him an excuse for his ingratitude to God.

It is easy to observe how truly this conduct of his is imitated by his posterity. God has placed us in a beautiful world, where we are surrounded with a variety of useful and delightful objects, his good creatures; all of them display his glory, many of them are for supplying our necessities, others of them for our innocent gratification and comfort; all of them therefore are favours from God, and consequently should be effectual motives to love him. Instead of this, they are first made occasions of departing from him, and afterwards excuses for so doing. As there is something of this perverse disposition in the corrupt nature of all men, so it has appeared in all ages; and that it discovered itself in the days of the apostles, is evident from this text, which was designed to check it, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God,” etc.

Taken from westminsterconfession.org

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