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applauded as characters of superior excellence, have no true humiliation before God, no earnest desires after a Saviour, no real delight in holy exercises, no fixedness of mind to glorify their God. What shall I say of them all? Have they any just views of sin ? Have they any suitable apprehensions of the state to which they have been brought by means of sin ? Do not their whole spirit and temper shew, that they think light of it? and, if it were set before them in all its malignity and ill desert, would they not say, that the representation was exaggerated, and that the person who gave them the representation was deceived? They need not utter any words, to betray the thoughts of their hearts: these are sufficiently evident by the absence of all those feelings which a just estimate of sin would create: and exactly as those who imagine that God will never punish sin, are said to contemn Gode," may those, who think that sin will not involve us in misery, be justly said to contemn sin, and, in heart at least, if not in act, to “make a mock at it."] 2. By those who discountenance piety in others
[Though a form of godliness will gain us applause, no man begins to experience the power of it without exposing himself to the censure of an ungodly world. Let a person be really broken-hearted and contrite, as every sinner ought to be; let him be seeking the Lord Jesus Christ with his whole heart; let him turn his back upon the vanities of the world, and separate himself from the society of those who would ensnare his soul; let him give himself to reading the holy Scriptures, to devout meditation, to fervent prayer, to a diligent use of all the appointed ordinances of religion ; let him join himself to the Lord's people, and choose the excellent of the earth for his companions ; let him, in a word, be in earnest in fleeing from the wrath to come, and in laying hold on eternal life ; let him do this, and his nearest friends will instantly dissuade him from such a course: they will represent to him the inexpediency of such extravagant measures; they will complain of him as enthusiastic and righteous over-much. They will impute the change that has taken place in him to weakness, or vanity, or perhaps to hypocrisy and a desire of human estimation. Now then I ask, whence would such a disapprobation of his ways arise? Are they not such ways as are marked out by God? Are they not the very footsteps of the flock who have gone before him? Is not this course precisely such as common sense would dictate, and such as all mankind would approve, if the bodily life were in danger ? Who would complain of earnestness in a shipwrecked mariner? Who would deride the cries and fears and efforts of a person endeavouring to escape from
e Ps. x. 13. VOL. VII.
a house on fire ? Yet in matters relating to the soul and to eternity, no sooner is the importance of salvation felt, and manifested, as it ought to be, than all who have any influence endeavour to quiet the fears, and to discourage the exertions, of the awakened soul. Could this be, if sin were viewed by them as God views it? No: the persons who thus discountenance fervent piety, declare, that they see no occasion for it; that we may very well be saved without it; and that sin has no such terrors but that a moderate degree of attention will not suffice to escape from its threatened dangers. What is this, but to “make a mock at sin?”]
That such conduct may appear in its true light, I proceed to shew, II. The folly of it
However much we make a mock at sin, 1. We cannot alter the nature of it
[Sin is “that abominable thing which God hates :" he cannot look upon it, or on those who commit it, without the utmost abhorrence. It is, whether we will believe it or not, “ exceeding sinfulh.” Now we are told by the prophet, that many will “call evil good, and good evil ; and will put darkness for light, and light for darkness; bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitteri.” But if the whole universe should do this, would they alter the essential qualities of these things? Would darkness cease to be darkness, and serve all the purposes
of light? or would bitter change its properties to sweetness ? So, whatever construction men may put upon sin, and however they may palliate its enormity, it will ever remain immutably the same; a defiling, debasing, damning evil; more to be dreaded than death itself. We
may call it innocent; but it will “ bite like a serpent, and sting like an adderk.” We may roll it as a sweet morsel“ under our tongue; but it will be the gall of asps within us?."] 2. We cannot avert its consequences
[God has said, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget Godm.”
Now we may say to sinners, as the serpent did to Eve, “ Ye shall not surely die":" but we can never separate the penalty from the offence. We may represent the transgression, whatever it may be, as small; and may expatiate upon the goodness of God, and the impossibility of his visiting such an offence with such a tremendous punishment: but we shall not prevail on him to rescind his decree, or to reverse his sentence. He has said,
f Jer. iv. 44. i Isai. v. 20. m Ps. ix. 17.
& Hab. i. 13.
h Rom. vii. 13.
He has said, “The soul that sinneth, it shall dieo:" and die it shall, even “ the second death, in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone:” nor if the whole universe should combine their efforts to avert the sentence, should they ever prevail in any single instance P. “ The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of meno:" and sooner shall heaven and earth pass away, than one impenitent transgressor escape. How great then must be the folly of making a mock at sin! If we could prevail on God to accord with our views, and to concede that sin should pass unpunished, we might have some plea for our conduct: but if the effect of our representations be only to deceive our own souls, and to rivet the chains with which sin and Satan have already bound us, we must confess that Solomon's views of such conduct are just, and that they are “ fools” who “ make a mock at sin."] To all of you then I would, in conclusion, say, 1. Make not light of sin yourselves
[Your souls, your immortal souls, are at stake. Were the consequences of your error only temporary, we might leave you to enjoy your own delusions : but they are eternal. There is no repentance in the grave.
" As the tree falls, so it will lie.” If you die under the guilt of sin, your doom is irreversible, your misery everlasting. How do millions that are now in the eternal world curse their folly for making light of sin, in direct opposition to all that God had spoken in his word respecting it! and in what accents would they speak, if they could now have access to you to warn you! I pray you then be wise in time; and seek without delay to obtain the forgiveness of your sins through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus"
--] 2. Regard not the scoffs of those who do
[Suppose it desirable to possess the good opinion of the world: yet surely to purchase it at the expense of your immortal soul is to pay too high a price for it: it is but for a moment at all events: and though it is valuable so far as it may give you an influence over them for their good, yet it cannot for one moment be put in competition with the testimony of a good conscience, and the approbation of your God. You are taught to expect, that if you will not countenance the world in their ways, they will do all they can to discountenance you in yours. You see that this has been the case from the beginning: from the time of Abel to this hour, “ they who have been born after the flesh have persccuted those who are born of the Spirits :" and not even the Lord Jesus Christ himself could escape their reproaches. “If then they called the Master of the house Beelzebub,” wonder not if his servants also be designated by reproachful namest. If these things come upon you for righteousness sake, receive them as a token for goodų, and bless God that you are “ counted worthy to endure them.” God permits these things as trials of your faith and love; and if they at any time appear grievous to you, then think of the plaudit of your Judge, and how speedily the very people who now condemn you will themselves "awake to shame and everlasting contempty," and will be among the foremost to proclaim your praise? “ Be faithful unto death; and God will give you a crown of life."]
. Ezek. xviii. 20.
9 Rom. i. 18.
r Col. i. 14.
p Prov. xi. 21.
3. Endeavour so to walk, that those who mock at sin may have no occasion given them to mock at righteousness also
[Whilst you in departing from evil “ condemn the worlda," you may be well assured that they will be glad enough to find occasion against you, and to condemn religion on your account. Endeavour then to “ walk wisely before God in a perfect way b." Let the world“ have no fault to find in you, except concerning the law of your God.” Let not your regard for the duties of the first table lead you to neglect those of the second; but be careful to fulfil the duty of your place and station towards man, as well as that which consists in the more immediate service of your God: and be careful to avoid all needless singularities, which in the sight of God make you neither better nor worse. As for preventing the world from taking offence, that is impossible. Darkness must of necessity “ hate the light:" but take care that the light be that which proceeds from God, and not from any “sparks of your own kindling." "Walk in wisdom towards them that are without a." “ give them no occasion to speak reproachfullye:" but so cause “your light to shine before them, that they may be led to glorify your heavenly Father.” Thus, though you should not “ win them by your good conversation,” you may at least hope “ to put to silence the ignorance of foolish menf;" and constrain them, in spite of all their mocking, to confess, that “the righteous is more excellent than his neighbourk."]
s Gal iv, 29.
t Matt. x. 25. u Luke xxi. 13. “ Unto you : not against you." x Acts v. 41.
y Dan. xii. 2.
2 Wisd. v. 1-6. a Heb. xi. 7.
b Ps. ci, 2.
c Dan. vi. 5. d Col. iv. 5.
e 1 Tim. v. 14. f 1 Pet. ii. 15. & Prov. xii. 26.
DCCLXXXIII. MAN'S EXPERIENCE KNOWN TO HIMSELF ALONE. Prov. xiv. 10. The heart knoweth his own bitterness; and a
stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. THE inward experience of men, any further than it is discovered by acts or other outward signs, must of necessity be known to themselves alone. St. Paul puts the question to us, “Who knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in hima ?” Whether a man be filled with sorrow or joy, he alone can be sensible of the measure and extent of his own feelings.
The assertions in my text will be found true, I. In reference to the concerns of this world
[Great are the troubles of many, as arising from their own unhappy tempers ---- from their connexions in life
or from circumstances of embarrassment in their affairs
And who but themselves can fully appreciate their sorrows?
On the other hand, the comforts of many are considerable, as flowing from the exercise of benevolence and love
from the endearments of domestic life
and from that success in their affairs which enables them to supply with ease the wants of themselves and families
And of the satisfaction which they feel, a stranger would form a very inadequate conception ---] II. In reference to the concerns of the soul
[In matters relating to the soul, the feelings are still more acute. None but the person feeling it can tell “ the bitterness” which is occasioned by a sense of sin, with all its aggravations
-- by the prospect of death and judgment, whilst the soul is unprepared to meet its God – and by temptations to despondency, and perhaps to suicide itself — Job's friends could not at all appreciate his sorrows, as depicted by himself Nor can any, but the man whose “ heart is thus broken,” conceive fully what "a broken and contrite spirit is”
On the other hand, there are in the heart of a true Christian "joys, with which a stranger intermeddleth not.” The peace that is experienced by him, when God speaks peace to his soul, "passeth all understandinge” ---And the joys” with which he is transported, in the views of his Redeemer's glory, in a 1 Cor. ii. 11. b Job vi. 2-4.
c Phil. iv. 7.