Imágenes de páginas

But why not bestow a like degree of love and zeal upon the com. mon cause ?

Answer. The above statement overlooks an important truth; namely, that though all sinners are alike under God's eye, control, and apger, and within the power of his grace, yet they are not alike within our knowledge, care, and charge. And though all saints are alike entitled to our esteem, as chosen of God, as redeemed by Christ, as sanctified by the Spirit, &c. yet they are not all known ulike to us, nor alike under our immediate watch and care. The wall of Jerusalem considered as a whole, was an object that interested every godly Jew who had a mind to work, yet every man repaired next unto his own house, and consequently was more assiduous to raise that part of it than any other. If any one, indeed, had been so intent upon his part of the wall, as to be regardless of the rest, and careless about the work as a whole, it had been criminal: but while these were properly regarded, he might be allowed to be particularly attentive to his own special work, to which be was appointed. It is wisely ordered that it should be so ; for if the mind were taken up entirely in generals, by aiming at every thing, we should accomplish nothing. The Turks and Chinese are alike sinners, and stand in need of mercy as well as the people to whom a minister preaches : but he is not equally obliged to pray for and seek to promote their salvation, as he is that of the people over whom the Holy Spirit hath made him an overseer. The children of heathen families are alike objects of God's knowledge, anger, &c, as those of our own ; but they are not alike known to us, nor equally objects of our parental care.

It is very possible that Episcopalians, Independents, Baptists, &c. may be each too much concerned about their own party, and too inattentive to the properity of others, even in those respects wherein they consider them as conforming to the mind of Christ : but perhaps the whole of this ought not to be attributed to a sinful partiality. Let one society speak of the mission to Africa and the East; another inform us of what God is doing by a Vanderkemp, and a' Kitcherer ; and another of what he is accomplishing by Carey and bis companions, &c. In all this they only build against their own houses, and report progress to their brethren, for the



stimulating of the whole. Only let them bear good will one to another, and rejoice in all the goodness vouchsafed to either of them; and the wall will rise, and in due time the work of one will meet that of another, so as to form a whole.


WHEN our Saviour spake of his making men free, the Jews were offended. It hurt their pride to be represented as slaves ; yet slaves they were-and such is every sinner, however insepsible of it, till Christ has made bim free. And the longer he continues in this state, the more he is entangled, and the less capable he becomes of making his escape. Sin is a master that will not suffer its slaves to rest, but is always hurrying them on from one thing to another, till, having finished its operations, it bringeth forth death. The way of sin is a way in which there is no standing still ; a-kind of dowo-bill road, in which every step gives an accelerated force, till you reach the bottom. Such is the import of those empbatic words of the apostle, Ye were servants, to iniquity, unto iniquity.

To be a servant to iniquity is descriptive of the state of every unconverted sinner. All may not be subject to the same kind of evils : one may be enslaved to drunkenness, another to uncleanDess, another to covetousness, another to fashion, and another to self-righteous pride; but these are only different forms of government, suited to different tempers and constitutions : all are servants to iniquity; and all who continue such are compelled in a manner to go on in their work, seroants to iniquity unto iniquity. The proofs of this tendency to progression will appear in the following remarks:

First : He that yields himself a servant to sin, in any one of its forms, admits a principle which opens the door to sin in every other form. This principle is that the authority of God is not to be regarded when it stands in the way of our inclinations; if you admit of this principle, there is nothing to hinder you from going into any evil which your soul lusteth after. You may not, indeed, commit every bad practice ; but, wbile such is the state of your mind, it is not the fear of God, but a regard to man, or a concern for your own interest, safety, or reputation, that restrains you. If you indulge in theft, for instance, you would, with the same unconcern, commit adultery, robbery, or murder; provided you were tempted to such things, and could commit them with the hope of escaping punishment. It is thus that he who transgresses the law in one point, is guilty of all : for He that forbids one sin forbids all; and a deliberate offence against bim in one particular, is as really a rejection of his authority as in many...

Moreover, If the mind be unrestrained by the fear of God, a regard to man will have but a feeble hold of it. Sin in various shapes will be indulged in secret: and being so indulged, it will soon break out into open vices ; for it is not in the power of a man, with all its contrivances, long to conceal the ruling dispositions af his soul. When king Saul had once disregarded the divine authority in his treatment of the Amalekites, there were no bounds to the evil workings of bis mind: full of jealousy, envy, and malignity, he murders a whole city of innocent men, repairs to a witch for counsel, and at last puts an end to his miserable life. . Secondly: Every sin we commit goes to destroy the principle of resistance, and it produces a kind of desperate carelessness. Purity of mind, like cleanliness of apparel, is accompanied with a desire of avoiding every thing that might defile; and even where this has no place, conscience, aided by education and example, is a great preservative against immoral and destructive courses ; but if we once plunge into the vices of the world, emulation is extiar guished. The child that is accustomed to rags and filth, loses all shame, and feels, no ambition to appear neat and decent.

The first time a person yields to a particular temptation, it is not without some struggles of conscience; and when it is past, bis soul is usually smitten with remorse ; and it may be. he thinks he shall never do the like again ; but temptation returning, and the motive to resist being weakened, he becomes an easy prey to the tempter. And now the clamours of conscience subside, his heart grows hard, and his mind desperate. There is no hope, saith be; I have loved strangers, and after them I will go. Under the first workings of temptation be set bounds to himself; Hitherto, said he, I will go, and no further : but now all such promises are of no account. The insect entangled in the spider's web can do nothing: every effort it makes only winds another thread around its wings ; and after a few ineffectual struggles it falls a prey to the destroyer.

Thirdly: Every sin we commit not only goes to destroy the principle of resistance, but produces an inordinate desire after the repetition of it; and thus, like half an army going over to the enemy, operates both ways against us, weakening our scruples, and strengthening our propensities. This is manifestly the effect in such sins as drunkenness, gaming, and fornication. It is one of the deceits of sin, to promise that if we will but grant its wishes in this or that particular, it will ask no more; or to persuade its ileluded votaries that indulgence will assuage the torrent of desire; but though this may be the case for a short time, sin will return with double violence. It rises in its demands from every conces. sion you make to it. He that has entered the paths of the de. stroyer, can tell from experience that it is a thousand times more difficult to recede than to refrain from engaging. The thirst of the leech at the vein, and of the drunkard at his bottle, are but faint emblems of the burnings of desire in the mind in these stages of depravity. . . .

Fourthly : If we yield to one sin, we shall find ourselves under a kind of necessity of going into other sins, in order to hide or excuse it. This is a truth so evident, that it needs only to be stated, in order to be admitted. Examples abound, both in scripture and common life. When sin is committed, the first thing that suggests itself to the sioner, is, if possible, to conceal it; or if that cannot be, to excuse it. Adam first strove to hide himself in the trees of the garden, and when this refuge failed him, it was the woman, and the woman that God gave to be with him too, who tempted him to do as he did. Nearly the same course was pursued by David. Having outraged decorum, he first betakes himself to intrigue, in hope to cover his crime; and, when this failed him, he has recourse to murder ; and this being accomplished, the horrible event is, with an air of affected resignation, ascribed to Providence. The sword devoureth one as well as another! Nor is this the only instance wherein that, which has begun in a wanton look, has ended in blood. What numbers of innocent babes are murdered, and one or both of their unhappy parents executed, for that which is resorted to, merely as a cover for illicit practices !

Fifthly : Every act of sin tends to form a sinful habit ; or, if already formed, to strengthen it. Single acts of sin are as drops of water, which possess but little force ; but when they become a habit, they are a mighty stream which bears down all before it. The drunkard had no natural thirst for strong liquors. Some worldly trouble, or the love of loose company, first brought him to make free with them; but having once contracted the babit; though he knows he is every day wasting his substance, shortening his life, and ruining his soul, yet he cannot desist. Even under the power of stupefaction, he calls for more drink : his very dreams betray his lusts. They have smitten me, says he, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not : when shall Í awake? I will will seek it yet again. The gamester, at the first, thought but little of doing what he now does. He fell in company, it may be, with a card-party, or had heard of a lucky adventure in the lottery, or known a person who had made his fortune by a successful speculation in the stocks. So he resolves to try a little of it himself. He succeeds. He tries again ; ventures deeper; and deeper, with various success. His circumstances become embarrassed ; yet having begun, he must go on. One more great adventure is to recover all, and free him from his difficulties. He loses; his family is ruined ; his creditors are wronged ; and hinself, it is not impossible, driven to the use of such means of supo

« AnteriorContinuar »