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passage. Thus every corner of life is filled up. Ev. ery avenue to the heart is shut. You no where lie open to the impression of Divine grace, and the soul is so full, that there is no room for the Holy Spirit to enter.
In the last place, These lesser fins infallibly lead to greater. There is a fatal progress in vice. One sin naturally leads to another : the first step leads to the second, till, by degrees, you come to the bottom of the precipice. Deceit, duplicity, dissimulation in different matters, which many persons who maintain what is called a decent character, make no scruple to employ, have a tendency to render you insincere on more important occasions, and may gradually destroy your character of integrity altogether. He, who tells falsehoods for his own conveniency, will in the natural course of things, become a common liar.
The spirit of gaming perhaps you reckon a small sin. But whenever gaming is made a serious business, and the love of it becomes a passion, farewell to tranquillity and virtue. Then succeed days of vanity and nights of care; dissipation of life, corruption of manners, inattention to domestic affairs, arts of deceit, lying, cursing, and perjury. At a distance poverty, with contempt at her heels, and in the rear of all, despair bringing a halter in her hand.
Thus have I set before you the evil nature and the dangerous tendency of the least transgressions. And do you ask an indulgence in little sins, when you see how fatal they are? Do you still ask to make an excursion from the path of virtue? Such an excursion if you make you will fall in with the road to
perdition. Do you still wish to taste the waters which unlawful pleasure presents to your eye? Taste them you may; but be assured that there is poison in the stream, and death in the cup. Alas! if we calmly indulge ourselves in the cool commission of the least sin, who knows when or where we shall stop? If once we yield to the temptation, in whose power is it to say, Hitherto shall I go, but no further ? Many persons at their first setting out, would have trembled at the very thought of these fins, which in time, and by an easy transition, they have been brought to commit with boldness. The traitor consigned to eternal infamy, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord of glo. ry, had at first only his covetousness to answer for. Fly, therefore, I beseech you, fly from the first ap. proaches of sin. Guard your innocence, as you would guard your life. If you advance one step over the line which separates the way of life from the way of death, down you sink to the bottomless abyss. Come not then near the territories of perdition. Stand back and survey the torrent which is now so mighty and overflowing, that it deluges the land, and you will find it to proceed from a small contemptible brook. Examine the conflagration that has laid a city in afhes, and you will find it to arise from a single spark.
HEBREWS xii. 24.
The blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things
than that of Abel.
REASON and philosophy have áp. plied their powers to external objects with wonder. ful success. They have traced the order of nature, and explained the elements of things. By observation and experience, they have ascertained the laws of the universe; they have counted the number of the stars; and following the footsteps of the Almighty, have discovered some of the great lines of that original plan according to which he created the world. But when they approach the region of spirit and intelligence, they stop short in their discoveries. The mind eludes its own search. The Author of our nature has checked our career in such studies, to teach us that action and moral improvement, not speculation and inquiry, are the ends of our being. Accordingly, the moral part of our frame is the ea. fiest understood. Having been placed here by Prov. idence for great and noble purposes, virtue is the law of our nature. This being the great rule in the moral world, God has enforced it in various ways. He hath endowed us with a sense or faculty which, viewing actions in themselves, without regard to their consequences, approves or disapproves them. He hath endowed us with another sense, which passes sentence upon actions according to their consequens ces in society. He hath given us a third, which, removing human actions from life, and the world altogether, carries them to a higher tribunal. The first, which is the moral sense, belongs to us as individuals ; is instinctive in all its operations ; approves of virtue as being moral beauty and disapproves of vice as being moral deformity. The second, which is the sense of utility, belongs to us as members of society, is directed in its operations by reason, and passes fentence upon actions according as they are favourable or pernicious to the public good. The third, which is conscience, belongs to us as subjects of the Divine government, is directed in its operations by the word of God, and considers human actions as connected with a future state of rewards and punishments. It is this which properly belongs to religion. Upon this faculty of conscience, the happiness or misery of mankind in a great measure depends. A good conscience is a continual feast, and proves a spring of joy amidst the greatest distresses. A conscience troub· led with remorse or haunted with fear, is the greatest of all human evils. Accordingly, the Christian religion, which adapts itself to every state of our nature, and carries consolation to the mind in every distress, has presented to the weary and heavy laden finner, « the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better “ things than the blood of Abel.” The meaning of which expression is this : as the blood of Abel, crya ing to Heaven for vengeance, filled the mind of Cain with horror, and as every sin is attended with remorse; so the blood of Jesus is of power to deliver
the mind from this remorse, and restore peace of cotto science to the true penitent.
In further treating upon this subject, I shall de. scribe to you the nature of that remorse which is the companion of a guilty mind, and next the delivera ance which the gospel gives us from it, by means of “the blood of sprinkling.” In the first place, then, Let us consider the nature of that remorse which is the companion of a guilty mind.
Almighty God having created man after his own image, intended him for moral excellence and perfection. Hence all his passions were originally set on the side of virtue, and all his faculties tended to heaven. Conscience is still the least corrupted of all the powers of the soul. It keeps a faithful register of our deeds,and passes impartial sentence upon them. It is appointed the judge of human life ; is invested with authority and dominion over the whole man, and is armed with stings to punish the guilty. These are the sanctions and enforcements of that eternal law to which we are subjected. For even in our present fallen state, we are so framed by the Author of our nature, that moral evil can no more be committed than natural evil can be suffered, without anguish and disquiet. As pain follows the infliction of a wound, as certainly doth remorse attend the commission of fin. Conscience may be lulled asleep for a while, but it will one day vindicate its rights. It will seize the finner in an hour when he is not aware; will blast him perhaps in the midst of his mirth, and put him to the torture of an accusing mind. For the truth of this observation, let me appeal to your own experience. Did you ever indulge a criminal paflion, did