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» i The wages
sin will find you out."
of sin is death.” Time may soften, or worldly prosi perity blot out, for a space, the compunctions of remorse in the remembrance of the
past; but there are seasons in which that remembrance will return: generally in this life; most assuredly in the next.
Of those who go on "sinning with a high hand” against God, seeming to live without thought of death, and judgment after death, still even these their sin finds out. When their day is past, and the command is gone forth for their body to return to its dust, and their soul “to God who gave it," the fruit of sin will then be seen in the ruin of body and soul in Hell: and will not a dreadful confession be extorted by surrounding circumstances of eternal horror and despair ; “I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not” ?...
From a conclusion so dreadful, let us turn to the second part of this awfully important subject, and consider how it is that men will be so imposed upon ás lo be guilty of wilful sin, unprofitable as it is. For this strange opposition to our own happiness, three causes may readily be assigned : First, the natural corruption of the soul; second, the power of present feeling; third, the force of example and early habit. *. These are the great causes of all men's sins. How they are to be met, how we may go on in our place of trial so as not finally to perish under their dreadful effects, are questions which every one, at all awakened to his spiritual interests, cannot but anxiously put to his own soul.
Let us consider them separately, and the Word of God will shew how each of these causes of sin may be prevented from working our eternal ruin.
The first cause of sin, the natural corruption of our souls, is the foundation of all, and which, of ourselves, we can never remove. But God hath had pity upon us. Through His own Holy Spirit, the believer in Jesus Christ is new-born and sanctified unto the attainment of a progressive victory over the natural corruptions of the soul. In furtherance of the divine promise herein, means of grace are provided by which the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of the disciples of the Redeemer.
The first is Baptism, that holy sacrament, in which water, the emblem of purity as cleansing the flesh, is made the outward sign of spiritual regeneration, whereby we are put into a state of grace, made “members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of Heaven.”
This is the covenanted mercy and promise on God's part. On our own part, thus admitted into a second covenant with our offended Maker, it must be followed up by the diligent use of those other means of grace which are before us all: prayer, the hearing and study of the Word of God in public as in private; the communion of the body and blood of Christ in the Supper of the Lord, together with the due observance of all those outward ordinances, which are the duties and the privilege of the members of His Church Militant on earth. Using these with deep humility, and trusting, not in them or in ourselves, but in the spiritual help of God to give them their efficacy, and us His blessing in their conscientious use, we need have no overwhelming fears upon
the subject of our natural corruption : it will yield more and more to the Divine Spirit within us; we shall be renewed day by day in true knowledge and single-eyed practice of the Gospel, “ till we come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect mán, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."*
That second and grievous cause of sin, present feelings called into action by present temptation, must be met by watchfulness and holy perseverance.
Those passions and natural dispositions of the mind, which are not in themselves sinful, the Creator hath Himself given to man; and they are, therefore, in their lawful use and
* Eph. iv. 13.
right appropriation, good; but they are easily rendered causes of sin and wretchedness, in their abuse and forbidden excess. These, through God's ever ready help, must be controlled by the spiritual law of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; they must be so far mortified, even in their lawful use, that they be brought under entire subjection to the Spirit of God.
Holy Scripture points the way, and the good discipline and government of the Church, (were that discipline and that government but conscientiously studied and enforced,) have well followed up the spirit and the letter of Holy Writ. Each must consider his own peculiar temptations, “the sin that doth most easily beset him."
Are the natural appetites and passions strong ? have they received their keenest edge from past unrestrained indulgence ?—they must be violently opposed by frequent mortification and self-denial. The sensual and carnal mind must be purified, through the grace of God, by rigorous and persevering self-denial in things which minister to the gratification of self, though they be not, in themselves, forbidden; and then the evil will be met at its root. Let those, who in an age of luxury and great refinement have been long accustomed to indulge their animal appetites, who have lived too much depend
upon the softnesses of luxury and the refinements of bodily ease, subdue all such dangerous excess by fasting and bodily mortification; so using the instrument as to trust in the spiritual aid of Him “who had not where to lay His head.”
Let those who are under the sad influence of violent tempers, ruled too much in daily circumstance by an irritable and fretful disposition, go, in humble dependence upon
the great Giver of peace and love, to the adapted remedy; let them begin to bear, though with pain to their own feelings; let them learn to forbear, though with positive violence to their own personal convenience and wishes, under all those little incentives and provocations which, possibly, they may meet with from their fellow-creatures.
One such victory in any case of sensual excess, one such triumphant opposition to the utterance of unkindly feeling, passion, irritability, or revenge, would, under God's blessing, produce a present peace, and render each succeeding temptation more and more easily subdued.
To this persevering spiritual and bodily conflict, let there be added, as a holy and powerful argument for its faithful continuance unto death, this single consideration: that for every instance of ungoverned passion,