Sin is the grand disturber of the world. It is sin that disturbs the conscience, that disturbs families, churches, cities, and nations. None will deny that it has destroyed millions of millions of the human race, sweeping away, once in about every thirty years, all its numerous inhabitants, "for dust we are, and to dust we must all return." What vast multitudes die in their infancy! What multitudes are cut off by intemperance! How many have perished by bloody persecutions! and still more by direful wars! What myriads have been drowned in the seas, or consumed by lightning, or swallowed up, by hundreds and thousands at a time, by fearful earthquakes! and O that this, awful as it is, were the worst! but still further destruction awaits the impenitent, and without an interest in the great salvation of Christ, the soul as well as the body must be destroyed-not, indeed, by annihilation, which the wicked would earnestly desire, but by "a second death”—an eternal banishment from the presence of God. Fear him, then, who can not only "kill the body, but who is able to cast both body and soul into hell." Yes, sin is indeed destructive. "The wages of sin is death," and, as St. James saith, "When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Hear also what the holy law of God denounces against every transgressor: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them." This then is the state of the case, and is it not most true that sin is a destructive evil? O Israel, that thou hast destroyed thyself? and this will appear more plainly by shewing,

In the second place, that

Sinners are self-destroyers." O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself."

What is more shocking than for persons, renouncing that natural self-love which rules all man

kind, to prepare for their own destruction the fatal bowl, the knife or the pistol, or the halter, or to plunge into a watery grave. Here we pity, while we blame; and yet all wilful sinners are acting the same desperate part; they are destroying themselves, and yet they are not aware of it; and if they are at all apprehensive of their errors, they are apt to throw the blame on others, yea, even upon the blessed God himself. Against this presumption the Apostle James cautions us, "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God-God tempteth no man; but every man is tempted when he is drawn aside of his own lust." Sinners, although they are self-destroyers, always endeavour to throw off the blame from themselves upon others. Our first parent wished to transfer the blame from himself, and therefore said, "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat." She also, as unwilling to bear the blame, said, "the serpent beguiled me, and I did cat." Thus also it is that sinners blame their passions, and charge their vices upon their constitutions, or upon their companions, or upon their situations in life, and sometimes upon Satan: but unless the tempter had found a proneness in us to sin, all his temptations would be fruitless, as they were when they were exercised upon the Lord of life and glory. Alas! all the sins we commit flow from our own polluted hearts. So our Lord says, in the 15th chapter of the Gospel by St. Matthew, "Those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those are the things which defile the man." It will be found therefore, that the blame is all our own; that there is an obstinate persistence in sin against the remonstrances of conscience, and the admonitions of God. Thus, of old, he spake unto the house of Israel, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways, for why will ye die,

O house of Israel?" This expostulation plainly throws the guilt upon man, as his own destroyer; why will ye die, O house of Israel?-it arises from the wilful obstinacy and hardness of the human heart. The prophet also charges the Jews with a wilful resistance to the Gospel, "they shut their eyes that they might not see; they stopped their ears, that they might not hear;" and our blessed Lord says expressly to the unbelieving Jews, "Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life;" and in our Lord's admirable discourse with Nicodemus, as recorded in the 3d chapter of St. John, it is expressly said, "He that believeth on him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God," and "this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and that men have loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil; for every one that doth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."

True penitents will readily confess this ; they will take shame to themselves; and say with the Royal Penitent, "Against thee, thee only have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight." Yes, real Christians, under their deepest afflictions, will adopt this language, "Shall a living man complain,-a man for the punishment of his sins?" And, depend upon it, whatever excuses men now make, the time will come when "every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world be found (and confess themselves) guilty before God." "The books will be opened,' and a clear impartial statement made, and the righteous judgment of God will be apparent to all; it will then appear that the way of sin was chosen ; that it was preferred, and that wilful unbelief prevailed. Sinners know what frequently passes in their own minds concerning this; they put a force upon themselves, and stifle all convictions; resolving, whatever the consequences may be, that they will

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

proceed. Sinners are self-destroyers-but we go


In the third and last place to shew that

There is salvation in Jesus Christ, even for selfdestroying sinners.

O what news, what good news, what unexpected news, do we find in this third part of our subject! "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself,"-and what might be expected to follow?-You must take the consequences-it is the fruit of your own doingsbut, instead of this God has been graciously pleased to say, "In me is thine help found." Thus, in another place, where we have a long and a black catalogue of the sins of Israel-where the heavens. and the earth are called upon to witness their iniquity, yet it is followed up with this encouraging language "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'


The help the salvation which sinners stand in need of, can only come from God. "Shame and confusion of face belong unto us,"—but it is added, (O blessed addition !)"To the Lord our God belongs mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him." The truth is, man neither wants this help, nor could procure it if he did. Man does not want it; he sees little or no need of pardon; he justifies his offences, in part, and is inattentive to that Gospel which proclaims redemption. And as to another great branch of it, the sanctification of our nature, he not only does not desire it, but he dreads it; he has no sort of wish for it, and the name of a Saint is in his opinion, nearly the same as that of an hypocrite, or a fanatic.

But if men really desired it, how could they obtain it? Who could have devised that wonderful plan of redemption which is laid before us in the Gospel? Who could have made atonement for the sins of


the world? Who could have cleansed the foul hearts of men, and made them new? Who could have procured a good title to endless glory? As well might a sinner create a new sun, a new moon, or a new world, as bring about the least part of this great salvation. But God says, 66 In me is thy help found." Mercy, unsought as well as undeserved, first moved his gracious heart: "He remembered us in our low estate, for his mercy endureth for ever." Hence that marvellous, that unparalleled, that unspeakable gift,-God's own dear Son, incarnate in our nature. Help was laid upon him," who came, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him. might be saved. In the 89th Psalm he says, "I have laid help upon one that is mighty, whom I have chosen from among the people.' It pleased God to punish the sin of man in the person of his Son, "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed." "He died, the just for the unjust," he bore the curse to remove it from us; he was "made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,”-through him there is pardon for sins of the deepest dye. Yes, if any one sinner had as much guilt as usually falls to the lot of a thousand, there is pardon even for such an one, if he come to God through Jesus Christ. In order to encourage the chief of sinners, we find examples held forth, such as that of the Apostle Paul in the 1st Epistle to Timothy, i. 15. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all accéptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief; howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first, Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting,"


Yes; there is sufficient help, for every purpose of our salvation, not only for the pardon of the

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »