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have life. Come to him, in the midst of your sins and of your sorrows, for "He will have mercy upon you, and to your God, for He will abundantly pardon."
for and unrepented of. Among whom shall we find the drunkard, the sensualist, the gambler, the prodigal, the rebel, the traitor, the murderer, the felon-and the pursuits of all these are destruction -where shall we find these, but among the neglecters of religion? In vain will they be sought for among those who love the Lord their God, and seek to do His will. To neglect religion, is to hurl down that barrier of restraint which stands between our security and ruin, to leave the natural corruptions of the heart to "increase and multiply" -to facilitate the inroads of temptation-in short, to incite to all that is likely to terminate in that death, which is not an extinction of being, but an extension of consciousness in unimaginable misery throughout illimitable duration.
How many, alas! are cut off in the midst of their neglect! "They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for ever without any regarding." To neglect religion, is to open a vast arena for the operation of the passions; and where these are allowed so unlimited an influence, they must finally hurry us into the very jaws of peril. To neglect religion, is to give full latitude to all the basest propensities of our degraded nature, as religion offers the only certain check to them, by the hopes which it encourages to obedience, and the terrors which it threatens to rebellion: and, where our propensities are allowed to operate without control or limitation, the same result
must be everywhere expected to accrue; "having sown the wind, we shall reap the whirlwind." "Destruction and misery will be in our paths; the way of peace shall we not know:" we shall receive the wages of sin—and "the wages of sin is death."
The truth of these words will, indeed, be more or less confirmed by everything around us. The seal of destruction is upon the book of nature. All the accidents of life, "plague, pestilence, and famine," suicide, murder, disease induced by the indulgence of things forbidden, disgrace from improvidence, dishonour from delinquency, poverty from extravagance, destitution from idleness, violations of the law in every shape these, and a thousand other consequences of sin, execute, either directly or indirectly, the work of destruction, and sadly realize the truth of our text, that "the wages of sin is death."
We are now to see how it is the cause also of spiritual death. And, for this, we have only to look around us and observe how it operates upon the mind and heart. "It is as a two-edged sword, slaying the souls of men." Not only does it make the animal body its victim, but the immortal soul also is the too submissive subject of its tyranny. "It binds even kings in chains, and nobles with links of iron." Its influence is comparatively little in time, but mighty in eternity. Its punishment is not here only for a season, but hereafter for ever; not a transitory pang, but everlasting agony.
"Every sin that a man doeth," says the Apostle, "is without the body;" that is, it affects something more essential than the body, namely, the soul; and many sins affect this only. sins affect this only. It is here, indeed, that the influence of sin is so infinitely to be dreaded. It is here that it operates the most fearfully. It is here that its most destructive ravages are to be traced-that its wages are the most fatally earned. "Horrible is the end of the unrighteous generation." How much better then is it to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy "the pleasures of sin for a season;" for "what is a man profited, if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Only observe how sin produces neglect towards God, and injustice towards man: how quickly it transforms beauty into deformity, converts innocence into guilt, truth into a lie: how it betrays its victims into dangers, which ultimately excite in them the most appalling apprehensions;—" over them is spread a heavy night, an image of that darkness which shall afterwards receive them; but yet they are unto themselves more grievous than that darkness." Such are "filled with no joy and peace in believing; their way is as darkness; they know not at what they stumble." They have received "the wages of sin," namely, spiritual death.
Again-We not only see how the mind is weaned. by sin from the contemplation of religion, but also
how it is associated with everything that is calcu
lated to drag the imperishable soul down to the habitation of "the worm that dieth not." It seduces us into disbelief, into doubt, into uncertainty; and, it is by means of the gloom in which these jarring conflicts of the mind involve us, that the revolting deformities of sin lie so securely hidden from our view. These, the light of truth only can bring in all their native hideousness before us. That tyrant, whose wages are so punctually paid to the ungodly, encourages us to be sceptical, where conviction had almost set scepticism at defiance; and once to doubt is, in fact, to reject. To question the truths of religion, is virtually to deny them altogether; and it is universally the province of sin to triumph in the ruin of its slaves. Profession will not stamp validity upon our faith. If we profess, but disbelieve, we are spirtually dead, and "the truth is not in us." Thus "they that sin are enemies to their own life." "In their punishment there will be no remedy, for the plant of wickedness hath taken root in them.'
Further-How does sin stifle the conscience, our very best "ruler and guide," because it is the medium through which the Holy Spirit vouchsafes to us its most sanctifying visitations! How does it excite the evil principle within us in every shape and under every allurement! How does it shut out all spiritual communion with the Redeemer of our souls and bodies, by whose merciful benedictions alone we can become heirs of eternal life and