Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

SERM from which perhaps a thorough conviction XVI.

of the presence and observation of the Almighty, and of his strict justice, would restrain us, the adversary of our souls instills into us doubts and hesitations, makes us parley and deliberate, represents to us. the infinite greatness of God, and that, removed as he is so far above us, and wrapt up in his transcendent majesty, it is not likely he should attend to the concerns of so insignificant a being as man; or, if this be too stale an argument, he causes us to reason on his goodness and mercy, and tries to persuade us that he will not be so. extreme to mark what is done amiss, as the scriptures describe him. If by reason: ing of this kind, he be able to argue a sinner out of his fear of divine punishment, he has other fallacies ready to bring forward to diminish his dread of the punishments of men; in the first place, if the nature of the crime will at all bear it, he

flatters

flatters the hesitating sinner with the hope SERM.

XVI. or the certainty of escaping detection ; but if this be impossible, he persuades him that his being discovered will be attended with no ill consequences

that, though known to be a culprit, he shall yet, by some circumstance, escape the vengeance of the law. If the crime be not of so deep a die, or one which does not so ma. terially affect the peace of society--if it be one from the commission of which the credit and character chiefly are endangered, our enemy points out the number of those who have been guilty, with impunity-bids us mark how they are still caressed and respected by their fellow creatures, and insinuates that perhaps some of them have found the means of alluring this kindness by their very crimes.

Fraud and rapine are frequently the steps to wealth; and wealth, no matter how obtained, rarely fails to procure to its possessor deference and respect; but, let R2

it

SERM. it be remembered, that this is only in ap-
XVI.

pearance: in appearance, I must admit
that it does too often happen, but never in
reality ; - those who bow lowest to the
grandeur of the prosperous villain, cannot
really honour him; but, though mean
enough to pay outward homage to his
possessions, they, in their hearts (sordid
wretches as they are) despise and detest
the man,

I will dismiss this subject, by observing,
that the instances of successful wickedness
are single, while in the common and usual
course of worldly affairs it meets with its
deserved punishment; here and there, a
particular villain may be pointed out, who .
has escaped the punishment of the laws
and the open contempt and detestation of
his fellows, while there are numbers who
are yearly falling sacrifices to public jus-
tice, and multitudes of less atrocious cri.
minals, who are overwhelmed with justly
merited infamy.

All

1

All the other arguments which the devil s ERM.

XVI. may bring forward to persuade us, when he is tempting us to sin, of the impunity of it with respect to our persons, fortunes, and characters, might be easily refuted, if we reasoned with unbiassed minds; but, while our passions are engaged on his side, he seldom fails to subdue us.

Let us then, whenever we find ourselves tempted to do what our conscience suggests to be wrong, be aware that we are not then in a proper statę to argue on the innocence or guilt of it-let us stay till a cooler moment-and, even then, let us recollect how much the devil is interested to deceive us ;-let us be upon our guard against his wiles ;--and let us, in addition, call in to our aid the fear of God and so we shall be fully able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

P

1

« VorigeDoorgaan »