Imágenes de páginas

SERM.vitude andergone by finners, as fully to verify the affertion in the text, that a

State of vice and corruption is a state of bondage. In order to perceive how fe"vere a bondage it is, let us attend to fome peculiar circumstances of aggravation which belong to it.

First, It is a bondage to which the mind itself, the native seat of liberty, is subjected. In other cases, a brave man can comfort himself with reflecting that, let tyrants do their worst, let prisons or fetters be his lot, his mind remains unconquered and free. Of this liberty they cannot rob him; here he moves in a higher fphere, above the reach of opprefsion or confinement. But what avails the thow of external liberty, to one who has lost the government of himself? As our Saviour reasons, in another case, If the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness ? So we may reafon here, if that part of thy nature, thy mind, thy will, by which only thou çanst enjoy and relish liberty, be itself


în bondage to evil pafsions and habits, SERM. how miserable must be that bondage ? ; X. .

Next, It is aggravated by this consideration, that it is a bondage which we have brought upon ourselves. To have, been forced into flavery, is misfortune and misery. But to have renounced our liberty and chosen to be flaves, is the greatest reproach added to the greatest misery. Moments there frequently must be, when a finner is sensible of the degradation of his state; when he feels with pain the slavish dependence under which he is brought to fortune and the world, to violent passions and settled habits, and to fears and apprehensions arising from conscious guilt. In such moments, how cruel is the reflection, that of all this disgrace and misery he has been the author to himself; that by yoluntary compliance, he has given to his passions that haughty ascendant which they now exercise over him ; has forged the chains with which he is pound; and fold himself to do iniquity!

Lastly, i

[ocr errors]

SERM. Lastly, The fervitude of vice is ac

companied with this farther aggravation, that it is subjection to our own fervants. These delires and passions, which the finner has raised to lawless rule, were given us as instruments of self-preservation; but were plainly designed to beunder the direction of a higher power. Of theinselves, they are head strong and blind; they bear all the marks of intended fubordination; and confcience is invested with every ensign of authority and supremacy. But sin inverts the whole frame of human nature. It compels reason to bow down before those passions which it was formed to command, and leads it, as it were in triumph, to grace the shameful conquest of its ministers and servants. It has been always observed that none are so insolent in power, as they who have usurped an authority to which they had no right; and so it is found to hold in this instance, The desires and passionsof a vitious man, having once obtained an unlimited sway, trample him under their feet. They


make him feel that he is subject to divers, S E R M.
and contradictory as well as imperious
masters; who often pull him different
ways. His soul is rendered the recep-
tacle of many repugnant and jarring dis-
positions ; and resembles some barbar-
ous country, cantoned ớut into different
principalities, who are continually wag-
ing war on one another.---Such is the
state into which sinners have brought
themselves, in order to be free from the
supposed confinement of virtue. Where
they had promised themselves nothing
but ease, and pleasure, they are made to
experience restraints more severe, and
mortifications more painful, than any
which they would have undergone un-
der the discipline of religion.

It will perhaps be contended by some,
that although the representation which
has now been given of the slavery of sin
holds true in certain instances, yet that
it is applicable only to those who come
under the description of atrocious finners.

They imagine that a certain moderate .., course may be held in vice, by means of


SER M. which, men, without throwing altoto gether aside the restraints of reason, may

enjoy an easy and pleasurable life.
By reasoning thus, my friends, you flat-
ter and deceive yourselves to your own
destruction. Be assured, that, by every
vitious indulgence, you are making an
approach to a state of complete slavery ;
you are forfeiting a certain share of your
liberty ; how soon the whole of it may
be forfeited, you are not aware. It is
true that all which has now been said of
the servitude of fin, applies only to a
character corrupted in the extreme. But,
remember that to this extreme no man
ever arrives at once. He passes through
many of those intermediate stages, in one
of which you are now perhaps found.
Vice always creeps by degrees; and in-
sensibly twines around us those conceal-
ed fetters by which we are at last com-
pletely bound. As you value therefore
your liberty and your happiness, avoid
every approach to evil. Consider all vi-
tious pleasures as enchanted ground, by
entering on which, you will be farther


« AnteriorContinuar »