« AnteriorContinuar »
whether you have kept it or not. This I am sensible is a trite and common subject, but there is no subject more useful, no subject which more requires to be again and again insisted on.
You engaged then, in the first place, " to "renounce the devil and all his works; the "pomps and vanity of this wicked world; "and all the sinful lusts of the flesh." Have you adhered to this engagement? Have you in reality thus renounced the three great enemies of man's salvation?
The devil you know is the author of sin. His peculiar works are pride, envy, malice, lying, and tempting men to transgress against God. Have you carefully avoided all these works of the devil? To be lifted Up with pride especially is the way " to fall %' into the condemnation of the devil1'?" Are we free from pride? Are we humble in mind, and lowly in our behaviour, both towards God and man? Again; envy is said by a wise though uninspired writer to be one of the characteristics of the great enemy; "through envy of the devil sin
b 1 Tim. iii. 6
"entered into the world'." Do we ever secretly repine at the good which happens to a neighbour? When we see another, whom our pride perhaps tempts us to regard as less deserving than ourselves, in prosperous circumstances, and getting on in the world, while we continue in a poor and low condition, do we feel no lurking grudge, no emotion of envy? Do you feel no such emotions when you see or hear of a poor neighbour partaking of bounty, from which you derive no benefit? If you do you have not forsaken the works of the devil.
To bear any malice or hatred in our hearts; to wish to be revenged upon those, who, as we think, have injured us, is to partake of the character of him, who is made up of malice, and who " was a mur"derer from the beginning11." If, therefore, you wish to keep your baptismal vow, avoid carefully every feeling of hatred or malice, every desire of revenge.
Nothing is more directly the work of the devil than lying; for he, we are told by our Lord, "is a liar, and the father of lies1."
'Wisdom ii. 24. k John viii. 44. 1 Ibid.
If ever therefore you are guilty of lying; if either the fear of suffering, or the hope of gain, or any other motive whatever, should induce you to be guilty of wilful falsehood, you are guilty of doing one of the works of the devil, and consequently of breaking your baptismal vow.
Still more, if possible, are you chargeable with this guilt, if, not content with sinning against God yourself, you do the office of the tempter, and try to prevail on others to do what you and they know to be wrong; if you seduce them into drunkenness, or unchastity, or profaneness, or any other violation of the divine law.
You renounce, in the second place, " the "pomps and vanity of this wicked world/' The world has numberless methods of tempting us to desert our fidelity to God. I will not pretend to mention them all, but will call your attention to one or two of the most dangerous of them. Do we then never fall in with the stream, with the common practice and manners of those around us, without considering whether it is warranted or not by the commandments of God? Do we never suffer the dread of the
ridicule or the laughter of men, the fear of being thought or called singular or precise, to frighten us from serious religion, from what we feel and know to be our duty? If we are guilty of such unmanly cowardice, we should remember and tremble at the words of our Saviour. "Whosoever shall "be ashamed of me and of my words/' whosoever shall be ashamed of religion, "in this adulterous and sinful generation, "of him shall the Son of man be ashamed "when he cometh in the glory of his Fa"ther with his holy angelsm."
Our fidelity to God is endangered both by the men of the world, and by the things of the world. If we have escaped the danger arising from the former, how do we stand with regard to the latter? The cares and business of this life may lawfully be attended to, and ought to be attended to, in due subordination to the care of the soul. But, do we never suffer them to occupy the first place in our attention? Do we never suffer them to make us neglect religion? never suffer them to choke the work of God, and render it unfruitful? Remember,
■ Mark viii. 38. *
if when the service of God calls you one way, you deliberately permit the service of the world to lead you in the opposite direction, you take the world for your master rather than the Almighty, you are the servants of mammon, not the servants of the living God; you are the slaves of that world which at your Baptism you solemnly renounced.
You renounced also all the sinful lusts of the flesh. If you ask what these are, St, Paul tells you in the 5th chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians. "The works of "the flesh," says he, "are manifest, which "are these; adultery, fornication, unclean"ness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, "hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, "seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, "drunkenness, and such like." Carefully read over this passage, and reflect seriously, that if you have been guilty of any of these works of the flesh, you have broken your baptismal vow. The sin of fornication, all instances of unchastity, are spoken of in Scripture as peculiarly repugnant to the Christian profession, as peculiarly dangerous in their consequences. Wrath or