Divine pardon is the only forgiveness possible; for no one can remit sin but God only, and it matters not whether a Roman Catholic Priest, or any other priest shall say in the name of God, “I absolve thee from thy transgressions,” it is abominable blasphemy. If a man has offended me I can forgive him, but if he has offended God I cannot forgive him. The only discharge possible is pardon by God; but then it is the only pardon necessary. Suppose I have so sinned that the king or the queen will not pardon me, that my brethren will not forgive me, and that I cannot pardon myself; if God absolves me, that is all the acquittal that will be necessary for my salvation. Perhaps I stand condemned by the law of my country: I am a murderer and must suffer on the scaffold; the queen refuses to pardon, and perhaps she does right in such a refusal; but I do not want her forgiveness in order to enter heaven; if God acquits me, that will be enough. Were I such a reprobate that all men hissed at me and wished me gone from existence, if I knew that they would never forgive my crime—though I ought to desire my fellow-creatures’ forgiveness—it would not be necessary that I should have it to enter heaven. If God says, I forgive thee, that is enough. It is only God that can forgive satisfactorily; because no human pardon can ease the troubled conscience. The self-righteous Pharisee may be content to give himself into the hands of a priest to be rocked to sleep in the cradle of delusion, but the poor convinced sinner wants something more than the arrogant dictum of a priest—ten thousand of them, with all their enchantments, he feels to be all in vain, unless Jehovah himself shall say, “I have blotted out thy sins for mine own sake.”
The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, vol. 1 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855), 185. Vol. 1, Sermon No. 24; Titled: Forgiveness; Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 20, 1855. Click here for a free PDF of this sermon.