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THE SINFULNESS OF SIN.
Sis may be viewed under various as- Many, it is to be feared, and even some pects. It may be considered in itself, genuine Christians, have very inadequate in its op ritions, and in its fruits. It ideas, and still feebler impressions, of is frequently considered as affecting the evil of sin in reference to God. He ourselves, as injurious to others, and as is the creator of our spirit, and the committed against God.
former of our body. On him and him First. In reference to sins which alone we are dependent for the continuaffect our neighbour men are generally ance of our existence, for time and for agreed. The repressing and punishing eternity. He is our benefactor, and the of them is indeed found necessary, not giver of all we possess and enjoy. He only to the well being, but to the very is independent, eternal, infinite, and existence, of society.
immutable, in his essence and all its Falsehood, injustice, oppression, im- properties. Every perfection belongs purity, drunkenness, gluttony, idleness, to his nature as such ; and is entitled extravagance, penuriousness, are all to all the veneration, and affection, and hurtful to our neighbour ; and did they confidence, and submission, which a universally prevail would dissolve the rational creature can yield. What can fabric of society. So far as they abound be more lovely and venerable than his they are confessedly injurious. And perfections; infinite understanding, unieven they who indulge in them cannot versal knowledge, infallible wisdom, but condemn such as commit them omnipotence, omnipresence, boundless to their hurt.
beneficence, mercy, grace, condescension, Secondly. A greater diversity of judg- holiness, rectitude, truth, justice, pament is entertained of the sins which tience. affect ourselves. In this case the party He possesses every excellence, and is must consider and decide for himself. the fountain of all that is truly good in But one or two principles may be men- the nature and character of all other tioned which are indisputable, if reason beings. Sin is an evil committed by us is to be heard. Surely that action or against this greatest and best of beings, course of conduct is wrong which de- our maker and friend, and who stands stroys bodily health, or has a direct to us in the closest relations. As createndency to do so; which renders the tor he has conferred on us our being, and body the master of the soul, which our faculties, and our position, that we makes the lowest faculties of the mind may employ all for him. As our goversuperior to the highest.
nor he has given us a law which we And many sins not immediately ope- are bound to obey; a law founded on rating on others work most powerfully his own character, and the unalterable on the party himself in these respects. relations subsisting between the maker For instance, the man who has a large and the creature. His favour is our income, and who lives much within it, supreme felicity, his approbation our may daily indulge in intoxication, so as highest honour, and his displeasure our gradually to weaken and injure both degradation and misery. mind and body.
The evil of all sin lies in its contraBut another aspect under which sin riety to this glorious God. It is practiappears is of still higher moment, as cal atheism-a working out of the committed against the blessed God. opposition of our heart to God. Who
or what can exhibit its demerit in i mercy? All who love and seek happireference to him ? It is rebellion ness in sin, have no desire for the against the Supreme. It is ingratitude salvation of Jesus ; and either neglect, for the richest benefits we enjoy. It is despise, or reject it. And this is the a defiance of his omnipotence. It is a very consummation of human guilt, denial of his omniscience and omnipre- that men prefer darkness to light be
It is a contempt of his benefi- cause their deeds are evil. cence—a disbelief of his threatenings May we see, and learn, and feel the -an undervaluing of his favour--a sinfulness of sin as committed against slighting of his wrath-a provocation the gospel, as a despite of the Spirit of of his rectitude, purity, and justice—a grace; as a trampling on the blood of preference of the creature to the crea- God's Son ; as a rejection of that love tor, of the stream to the fountain, of in God's heart which passeth all knowthe gift to the giver. It is a perversion ledge. of our existence from all the ends for Happy is he who is convinced of sin which the Most High has bestowed it. as the greatest evil by the Spirit and Sin is a course, the same as if there were word of God, and is led thus to Jesus as no God, no responsibility here or here- the Saviour. after. The evil of sin appears still If sin be not destroyed it will finally more dreadful when we place it in the destroy us. Even were no guilt imputsunshine of gospel light, as committed ed, and no punishment inflicted by God against the sacred Three ! God has on the transgressor, an unrenewed heart sent us a full revelation of his mind, as would separate from God, and separate the lover of sinful man and seeking his for ever. John iï. 3, “Except a man salvation. What is it but the power of be born again, he cannot enter the sin which makes us to reject the mes- kingdom of God.” “I am the waysage and invitations of the richest the life.”
PERSEVERANCE IN HOPE.
A SERMON DELIVERED AT MAZE POND MEETING HOUSE, JUNE 19, 1706, BY THE
LATE REV. ANDREW FULLER.
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is
to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”—1 Peter i. 13. WHILE Paul was a minister of the The ten tribes were scattered by the uncircumcision, Peter, James, and John Assyrian captivity, and we hear little were ministers of the circumcision ; more of them ; however, it affords us their epistles were addressed principally pleasure that Christ found numbers of to the converted Jews. James ad- them out. It affords a solemn pleasure dressed principally “the twelve tribes that we have the assurance that which were scattered abroad,” and 1 Ephraim, as the ten tribes are called, suppose this epistle was addressed to should return in Christ, that numbers the same description of people, "the of the twelve tribes should be found strangers scattered throughout Pontus, amongst the followers of the Lamb, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” | but they were scattered up and down the earth, it should seem, and subjected loins is an expression which alludes to to great affliction, and, now that they the custom of the East, where the peohad imbibed the gospel, to great perse- ple wore long loose garments hanging cutions for its sake ; and it was with a down to the feet, and, consequently, view to stimulate and support their whenever they found it necessary to hearts that this epistle was written. engage in any kind of activity, they The apostle in this chapter holds up were obliged to gird up those garments. before them the hope of the gospel, and Thus when they ran they girded themwith reference to the Saviour he says, selves. You remember that Elijah, “Whom having not seen ye love; in when he ran to Jezreel before the chariot whom, though now ye see him not, yet of Ahab, girded up his loins. So when believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeak- the people went on a journey they used able and full of glory.” He tells them to gird themselves. Thus Israel were that though now for a season they are commanded on the night that they in heaviness, through manifold tempta- departed from Egypt to have their tions, yet there is an inheritance laid loins girt, and their staves in their up for them incorruptible, undefiled, hands, ready to march. So, likewise, and that fadeth not away. What mo- when they engaged in war they had tives, my brethren, are these to support their loins girt, in order that those gara persecuted and afflicted people! It ments might not foil and interrupt them. is in continuation of the same strain The spirit of the passage then is, Be in that he uses the words which I first the posture for activity ; we have our read, “Wherefore gird up the loins of journey to travel, we have our conflicts your mind, be sober, and hope to the to engage in, we have our race to run, end, for the grace that is to be brought and we are called upon to gird up the unto you at the revelation of Jesus loins of our minds. Perhaps this exChrist."
pressive sentence may include, at least, The little time we have to improve these ideas,-Do not faint in the day of this subject will be taken up, first, in adversity--gird up the loins of your trying to explain and illustrate the mind. The mind is in danger of losing apostle's exhortation ; and, secondly, in its strength under present afflictions, considering the glorious motive that under painful events, under heavy perhe holds up to enforce or to encourage secutions, or adverse dispensations of compliance with it—the grace that is Providence. The mind is, as it were, to be brought unto them at the revela- apt to be like the loins, to wax feeble. tion of Jesus Christ. The admonition To gird up the loins of the mind is to which the apostle here gives, or the cultivate a spirit of fortitude, firmness, exhortation which is here addressed, to perseverance. Gird up your minds the believing Israelites, I need not say under all the adversities of life ; under is applicable to us in this present state all the difficulties that you have to meet of affliction; though we may not at with. Do not faint under present present be subjected to the same perse- afflictions, but keep the crown of imcutions as they were, yet there is a mortality in view. Christians, you are kind of tribulation to which we are in danger, under some circumstances, of exposed, and must be exposed, in the being disheartened, of sinking into present state.
despondency and discouragement, and The first part of his exhortation con- there is reason from time to time, afresh sists in this expression, “Gird up the as it were, to gird up the loins of the loins of your mind." Girding up our mind, to look before us rather than to
FOL. XII. - FOURTH SERIES.
faint by the way. Some of you may be it is unworthy of a man, to roll in infar advanced in life. Well the thought temperance, to seek his happiness in of drawing near to the borders of that which is common to the meanest eternity excites a sigh where men are of the brute creation ; it is, I say, dedestitute of the hope of the gospel ; it grading to a man, but much more so to throws a damp upon all your present a Christian, to place his happiness in enjoyments, and cuts you down, and eating, or drinking, or any sensual sometimes it excites a sigh even in the enjoyment whatever. Christians are Christian ; but let not this be so, look called upon to be sober, to be temperate forward, gird up the loins of your mind, in the enjoyment even of lawful plearather press forward in your journey sures. But sensual intemperance is not than shrink back at the approach of its the only kind of intemperance against end—rather grasp at the crown that is which we are here guarded. The mind before you, than sink into despondency is in danger of being intoxicated as well on account of having to cross the ford as the body; the mind may be intemof death ; gird up the loins of your perately fixed upon the things of this minds, remembering that your salvation life, and we may be drunken with the is nearer than when you believed. cares of this life, and so that day come
I think the terms also denote a spirit upon us unaware. "Be sober.” Sober of disengagedness from the present world, in what? In the pursuit of wealthas a man that shall gird up his loins is in the pursuit of honour ; be sober in supposed to stand ready to march at a all your plans and in all your pursuits. moment's warning. When Israel had There is a kind of chastisedness of this command it was a kind of signal spirit that becomes a Christian, that refor them to be disengaged from Egypt, quires that the soul of man in the and ready to march and leave it behind. present state be held in, as it were, with For us to receive this coinmand is to bit and bridle; we are apt to go to stand disengaged from the present excess in our pursuits, and when once world and all its concerns, and ready at we have formed a plan to pursue it a moment's call to quit the stage. I with such ardour and eagerness (a plan do not mean by this that we are to be of a worldly nature I mean), as to unemployed in life, but that amidst the intoxicate our minds. Let us beware necessary duties of life, the heart that we be sober, sober in our plans, should be fixed on God, and the eye sober in our pursuits, and sober in our fixed upon the crown of immortality, expectations, while we are reviewing as an object constantly before us. the great events that are passing in the
The next branch of the apostolic ex- world. hortation is, “Be sober.” Sobriety is The last branch is expressed in these the opposite to intemperance—the op- words, “And hope to the end.” Hope posite to intoxication. Intemperance is the great stimulus of human life, the or intoxication is of two kinds, sensual great support of the heart under the and mental. To be sober, undoubtedly various pressures which it sustains. stands opposed to sensual indulgence, Without it man would sink in all his as is intimated in the next verse, “ As pursuits ; without it even a good man obedient children not fashioning your- would not be able to persevere. Hope selves according to the former lusts in is that which bears up the heart, and it your ignorance." At all events, Chris- is here put, I apprehend, in opposition to tians should stand aloof from sensual despondency—“hope to the end." There pursuits. It is mean, it is degrading, may be periods in which you may be
under temptation to relinquish your í are accompanied with vast unoertainty. hope ; sometimes owing to the great The great object of the Christian's hope pressure of outward ills; sometimes to should be the grace that is to be brought the length of them,--I imagine more to him at the revelation of Jesus Christ. the latter than the former. Afflictions And what is that? Let us look careare very frequently more trying owing fully at it. I think something of what to their duration than owing to their it is may be learned from the context. greatness. A heavy affliction, a sharp It is, I answer in general, in substance affliction, may be borne if it be but the same thing that we here in part short ; but a lesser affliction if it be partake of. That which is the great continued for a length of time without object of our hope is the same in its intermission desponds the heart, sinks nature, though far greater in degree, the spirits through the continuance of with that of which we participate in it. The apostle exhorts those to whom the present life. This is intimated in he wrote to “hope to the end.” As we the ninth verse, “ Receiving the end of must expect a number of ills of various your faith, even the salvation of your kinds to attend us through life, hope is souls.” The apostle supposes
that given us to counteract them, and to Christians already receive the end of preserve us from despondency to the their faith, that is, that they already close of life. Blessed be God there is partake of heaven ; that they already an end to all the ills of life-there is have a foretaste of the grace that is to an end to persecutions—there is an end be brought unto them at the revelation to temptations -- there is an end to of Jesus Christ. What is heaven? To afflictions; they do not last for ever, be sure we do not know as to its degree, and God has graciously given us hope but we can judge in some sort what it as an anchor of the soul to preserve us is as to its nature. It is the same that till we arrive safe in the desired haven. we have already received ; we have re
We will now pass on to the glorious ceived the end of our faith, the salvation object which the apostle holds up as an of our souls. encouragement to this hope. “ Hope The apostle John in the Revelation to the end for the grace that is to be gives us various ideas of heaven. The brought unto you at the revelation of Son of God thus addresses the churches, Jesus Christ.” This is held up before “To him that overcomech will I give"-us as the great object of a Christian's what?—"a white stone, and in the stone hope. What are we to hope for ? | a new name written.” Well, and what “ The grace that is to be brought unto is this but what we already participate, us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” the forgiveness of our sins, a name and Our hopes you see are not to terminate a place in the house of God better than upon anything in this life. It is true that of sons and daughters. What do we are apt to rest here. When we are we participate already but the fruit of afflicted in one quarter we are ready to the tree of life that grows in the midst say, Well, I hope such an affliction will of the paradise of God? It was probe removed; I hope things will be mised that they should be clothed in better by and by ; I hope that the sun white garments, and are we not already of prosperity will shine and succeed to clothed upon with the righteousness of the dark cloud of adversity ; I hope, the Son of God? In short, the joys of though I have had but little success in heaven will consist in loving and trade this year I shall have better the adoring the Lanıb, and exploring the next. Remember these objects of hope system of redemption, and that is the