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lieve you would start with horror from such an offer. But at the same time you may be ignorantly doing the very thing which you profess to abhor. You may be bartering away your soul for some earthly good, and still be unconscious that you are committing this folly. Remember that the salvation of the soul is a work, in which great pains, and care, and diligence, are wanted. You cannot save your soul, without resisting the devil, for the devil is the great enemy of the soul. You cannot save your soul, without renouncing this wicked world, with all its pomps and vanities; for the world, if loved and followed, will ensnare and ruin the soul. You cannot save your soul without abstaining from fleshly lusts: for "fleshly lusts war against the soul."* Now, if for the sake of some earthly good, you are neglecting to do any of these things; if from the love of present gain, or ease, or pleasure, you are giving place to the devil, or are walking after the course of this world, or are indulging fleshly lusts, you are virtually selling your soul. You are preferring present gain, or ease, or pleasure, to eternal happiness. You are, in fact, willingly consenting for the sake of these things here, to be miserable hereafter. It * 1 Peter, ii. 11.
matters not what it is that you are taking in exchange for your soul. Whether it be much or little, makes no alteration in the case. You may be selling your soul as certainly for a small, as for a large portion of the world. And be assured, that you most certainly are selling it, if in your endeavours to gain even this small portion, you are neglecting "the one thing needful." Your soul must be your first, your great concern. It claims, it deserves to be so. If it be not; that thing, be it what it may, which you prefer before the soul, is the price for which you are selling it. The more worthless things may be (if indeed the worthless things of time and sense can admit of a comparison with each other) the greater is your folly, and the worse your bargain.
Be assured also, if this be the case, that you will one day bitterly repent what you are doing. At present you may not be sensible of your folly. The god of this world may have blinded your eyes, that you see not. The things of the world appear of so much value, that you can look at nothing else. But it will not be always thus. A day is coming when the dream will end, when the veil will be torn from your eyes, and the world will be seen in its true light:
when all its profits, and all its pleasures, will be seen to be lighter than vanity, and more worthless than chaff; while the importance of the soul and of eternity will rush upon the mind with a clearness and a force, of which you now have not the slighest notion. And what at that time. will be your feelings? When you are lying on the bed of death; when you are about to close your eyes for ever on this world; when the whole world, if you have gained it all, cannot for a moment stay the parting breath-what will be your feelings? How deeply will your heart be torn with grief, remorse, and terror? How bitterly will you lament and condemn your folly! What will you not be ready to give, that you might but live over again and provide for eternity? Many most awful and distressing scenes of this kind are the ministers of the gospel forced to witness. Many instances do they seen of persons, who never discover the value of their soul, till, as there is every reason to fear, the discovery is too late; of persons, who, like Esau, having profanely sold their birthright for some worldly trifle, when, like him, they "would afterward inherit the blessing," find, as he found, "no place of
repentance.” * And still what greater numbers are there, we may tremble to think, who even go out of the world without making this discovery! who, sunk into a deadly sleep, think not of eternity, till they awake in the flames of hell, and find their souls lost for ever!
God forbid! (my brethren, that this should be your miserable case! O'that you would see these things in this your day, as you must see them in the day of visitation! Remember, that whatever the world, and your soul, and eternity, will appear to you then, such they really are now. If to have gained the whole world, but to have lost your soul, will then appear to be a most miserable bargain, be assured that it is a most miserable bargain now. Make not this bargain for yourselves. Be wise in time. Prepare for death and judgment. Attend to the things which belong unto your peace, your everlasting peace, before they are hidden from your eyes.
* Hebrews, xii. 17.
THE UNFRUITFULNESS AND MISERY OF SIN.
ROMANS, vi. 21.
What fruit had ye then in those things where of ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
ONE of the surest means by which Satan keeps men under his power, is by keeping them in ignorance of their state. Did they once see, in what a vile, a shameful, a ruinous service they were engaged, they would quickly leave it. Did they once see what sin really is, they would speedily flee from it. In this view the text is particularly useful; for it sets sin before us in its true colours, and shows us what it is, when stript of every covering.
St. Paul is speaking to persons, who having once been the servants of sin, had now left that service, and were become the