« VorigeDoorgaan »
nothing of that contentment and pleasure | bour; it is not a shame to be poor and depen which he looked for. As he returns home, dent; it is not a shame to be tried and dis with the stain and sting of sin, he sighs in- tressed—but it is a shame to be a sinner. wardly—“And is this all? If this deserves For is it not shameful to be a fool ? Is it not the name of pleasure, how shortlived, how shameful to be a base coward? Is it not worthless, how mean! O that I had hearkened shameful to be a traitor to the best of kings? to the voice of wisdom and kindness, which And to be ungrateful and perfidious to the said, Turn ye not aside from following the kindest of all friends? If a benefactor should Lord—turn ye not aside: for then should he receive you to his house, and afford you all go after vain things, which cannot profit nor the supplies of his table-would it not be deliver; for they are vain.?”
shameful to steal out of his presence, blasSuppose now a sinner was compelled to pheme his name, and endeavour to counteract rise and answer this question truly-How has all his designs? Enlarge the number of sin advanced your well-being? What has it images--select whatever may be deemed done for you? What has it done for your base and scandalous among men, and be as connexions, for your bodies, for your souls, sured it will apply with infinitely greater for your property, for your reputation? Sup- force to the evil of sin. We say again, nopose the swearer was to tell us what he has thing is so degrading, nothing can be so gained by his oaths; the drunkard by his shameful as sin. cups; the sensualist by his uncleanness; the But to do justice to this part of our subject, prodigal by his extravagance, his idleness, it may be necessary to observe, that there his evil company; yea, the proud, the envi- are three kinds of shame which attend sin. ous, the malicious, by indulging their vile The first is natural; the second gracious; tempers ? Suppose he was to sum up his and the third penal. expenses and his savings; to balance his ac- There is a natural shame which arises in counts at the end of a year, of a week, of a men from the commission of sin. This it day-surely he must find that his gains do was that made our first parents hide themnot counterbalance his loss, his wages do not selves among the trees of the garden as soon reward him for his drudgery, his pleasures as they had transgressed the Divine comdo not make him amends for his pains even mand—so closely did shame tread on the in the lowest degree.
heels of guilt. This class of emotions may Let any one as a man of reason consider be in a great measure subdued by continu. his weiry steps; his mean condescensions and ance in sin ; for sin is of a hardening tendency. compliances; his corroding anxieties and Accordingly we read of some who " hide not suspicions; his restless desires and torment their sin like Sodom.”
Jeremiah says of ing fears, when under the dominion of some some, “Were they ashamed when they had lust or passion—to gain a fancy or a feather; committed abomination? Nay, they were to acquire the opinion of some poor worm; not at all ashamed, neither could they blush." to pick up a little shining dust, to enjoy some And the Apostle speaks of some who “glory light, unsatisfying, and low indulgence—and in their shame." But these characters are will he not confess that these things are more not general, and this shamefulness in sinning than unprofitable and vain? Above all, is not easily, and perhaps never was perfectwhat does a Christian think when he reviews ly attained. · The eye of the adulterer these wicked courses? He is able now to waiteth for the twilight, saying, no eye shall judge between sin and holiness. He now see me: and disguiseth his face. For the clearly sees what the practice of sin obliged morning is to them even as the shadow of him to forego, and compelled him to endure. death: if one know them, they are in the He now clearly sees that it constrained him terrors of the shadow of death.” Hence they to live a stranger to his true interest; that it not only repair to corners, and elude observanever allowed him one taste of real joy, or tion—which they would not do if there was one moment of real peace; that it enslaved any thing that tended to their praise ; but him; stripped him; starved him. Since he hence also, they frame excuses and apologies. has served God, he looks back with painful. And if not ashamed of their proceedings, why regret upon every hour he spent in the ser- attempt to deny or palliate? Why plead vice of 'sin: it appears to him an hour of in- mistake, ignorance, surprise, infirmity? Why conceivable loss and injury: and he goes on ascribe their sins to weakness or necessity, weeping, and taking shame to himsclf. rather than to inclination or choice-unless
And this brings us, II. To consider the they deemed them a disparagement to their DISGRACEFULNESS of sin. Of these unfruit-'character? Hence it is that the sinner ful things, says the Apostle, “ye are now cannot endure to be alone, or bear to dwell on ashamed.” And well ye may; for there is his own actions. Though naturally full of nothing in the world so scandalous as sin. self-love and admiration, he slips away from Whatever be a man's station, or office, or his own presence, and shuns all intercourse abilities, sin degrades all, and renders him with his greatest favourite. And why? Bevile. It is not a shame to be obliged to ļa- I cause he is ashạmed even to meet himself.
Upon the same principle too, when arrived hereafter. Of the Israel of God we read that at a certain pitch of iniquity, he abandons • They shall not be ashamed nor confounded, the moral world, and mingles only with those world without end :” of Christians, that they of his own quality: for here mutual wicked shall " have confidence, and not be ashamed ness creates mutual confidence, and keeps before him at his coming." But this implies them from reproaching one another.
the truth of the reverse; and we are assured There is also a gracious shame which ac- that the wicked will “ rise to shame, and companies “repentance unto life.” This everlasting contempt"-—ashamed in themshame does not spring from a fear of the dis- selves; and contemned by each other, by covery of sin, but from a sense of the pollu- saints, by angels, and by the Judge of all. tion and odiousness of it. Some crimes are And oh! when they see to what disgrace universally considered as abominable; but all they have wilfully reduced themselves; when sin appears so to the real penitent: and he is they hear all the wickedness of their hearts, now ashamed of things which pass uncensur- as well as lives, published before an assemed in the world, and which once produced no bled world—what wonder is it, that they call uneasiness in himself. Conversion changes to “the mountains and the rocks to fall on not only a man's state, but his affections and them and hide them”-not only from the his convictions. Sin appears in consequence wrath to come, but also from shame and conof it exceeding sinful; and, oh! what holy fusion of face? self-abhorrence, and loathing, and shame are And thus we have, III. reached the connow felt! The publican standing afar off, clusion of this dreadful course, which is * would not lift up so much as his eyes to DEATH: "for the end of these things is death." heaven.” “Mine iniquities,” says David, And by death the Apostle includes much “ have taken hold upon me, so that I am not more than the dissolution of the body. This able to look up." Ezra said, “O my God, I indeed was the produce of sin: “ By one man am ashamed and blush to lift up iny face to sin entered into the world, and death by sin, thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased and so death hath passed upon all men, beover our head, and our trespass is grown up cause all have sinned.” But besides the uniunto the heavens." And returning Ephraim versal and unavoidable law of mortality which smote upon his thigh, and confessed, “ I am sin has established, there are many instances ashamed, and even confounded, because I did recorded in the Scripture, of God's inflicting bear the reproach of my youth.” And so death immediately upon sinners in a way of these believing Romans were now ashamed judgment. Lot's wife, Nadab and Abihu, of the sins even of former years. And this Ananias and Sapphira, are proofs that, even ingenuous shame will be in proportion to our in this sense, “the end of these things is perception of the glory and the goodness of death.” And if we had an inspired history God. . The more we think of his patience in of present times, and could trace up to their bearing with us, while we were rebelling proper causes those effects which are now against him, and of his mercy and grace in confounded in the common course of things, pardoning our sins, and adopting us into his we should perhaps find the destruction of family, after all our provocations; the more many a transgressor originating in the same shall we be affected with our vileness in of way. And what assurance have you that the fending him.
next time you take his name in vain, or make There is also a penal shame, by which we a lie, you shall not be instantly sent from the mean that shame which attends sin in a way place of sinning to the place of suffering ? of punishment. For God has so ordered Death also sometimes attends sin, not only as things, that if a man be not ashamed of his an immediate judgment from God, but as a nasins, he shall be put to shame by them. And tural consequence of vice. It is said that“ bloody how often, and in how many instances is the and deceitful men shall not live out half their transgressor dishonoured in this world! See days." How many criminals come to an unthe professor of religion—"reproached,” not timely end at the gallows! How frequently “ for the sake of Christ :” this would be his do persons, by anger, intemperance, and such honour—but buffeted for his faults: suffering, like courses, hasten on dissolution, and benot for well-doing, but for evil-doing. See come self-murderers ! Many might have the miser. “He is a proverb and a by-word.” | lived longer had they lived better; and have See the extortioner. How many “curse his enjoyed a good old age, had it not been for a habitation!" Behold the adulterer. "Whoso profligate youth: but now, if they drag on a committeth adultery with a woman, lacketh miserable existence at all, they are
"filled understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth with the sins of their youth," which will his own soul; a wound and dishonour shall " lie down with them in the grave." An old he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped divine says, “ the board has killed more than away.” So true is the reflection of Solomon, the sword.” And a physician of great repute that—"a wicked man is loathsome, and has given it as his opinion, that scarcely one cometh to shame."
in a thousand dies a natural death. But this will be more especially the case But what the Apostle principally intends,
is-not the corruption of the body in the God shall rain down snares, fire and brimgrave, but the destruction of both body and stone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be soul in hell. It is what the Scripture calls, the portion of their cup.” the " second death.” It is what' our Saviour Ile therefore that expects any other end of means, when he says, “ He that believeth not his pride, his avarice, his swearing, his Sabshall be damned.” It is not an extinction of bath-breaking, his disobedience, than death, is being, but of happiness and of hope. Such is " sporting himself with his own deceivings;" the end of sin. And it is a dreadful end; it and is even aggravating his doom by presumpis a righteous end; it is a certain end. tion and unbelief. And it shall come to
It is a dreadful end. Nothing that we can pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, here feel or fear deserves to be compared that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I with it. Think of the degree and the dura- shall have peace, though I walk in the imation of this misery. Reflect upon those inti- gination of mine heart, to add drunkenness mations of it which we find in the Scripture. to thirst. The Lord will not spare him : but, Think of being “bound hand and foot, and then, the anger of the Lord and his jealousy cast into outer darkness, where there shall shall smoke against that man, and all the be weeping and wailing, and gnashing of curses that are written in this book shall lie teeth.” Think of a place, “where the worm upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” from under heaven.” And is it possible for Think of the sentence, “ Depart, ye cursed, you to lie down to sleep, when you know that into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil God is bound to punish you, and under an and his angels."
Surely there is enough in oath to destroy you? one of these representations to freeze a man What use should we make of this subject? with horror, and to keep him from sin all his First, remember the particulars of this dislife long!
“ It is a fearful thing to fall into course; seriously reflect upon them, and rethe hands of the living God !"
solve to have “no more fellowship with the It is a righteous end. Hence the wicked unfruitful works of darkness, but rather rethemselves will be speechless: not one of them prove them." Ask yourselves—" Since I will be able to complain “I do not deserve went astray-what have I got but shamethis; he deals very hardly with me.” Had and what can I get but death?" With this not this doom been as just as it is dreadful, beat offall the solicitations of sin—" AwayGod, with whom there is no unrighteousness, what can you offer me? Do you think I am would never have assigned it as the portion in love with disgrace, or in want of destrucof sin. It is not possible for us to know all tion?" Surely “ the workers of iniquity have the demerit of sin; because we know not no knowledge;" surely the heart of the sons fully the excellences it has insulted, the ob- of " men is full of madness"-or they could ligations it has violated, the effects it has pro- not be induced to continue a moment longer duced in the creation of God. But there is in a course so unprofitable, so scandalous, so One who is infinitely wise ; let us rest satis- fatal—especially since there is such an enfied with the judgment of the Judge. And couragement afforded to all who are willing to one thing we may observe, if the greatness leave it : “ Let the wicked forsake his way, of the penalty confonnds us, that in propor- and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and tion as beings are holy, sin appears to them let him return unto the Lord, and he will evil. Thus sin appears much more evil to a have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he saint, than to a sinner; by the same rule it will abundantly pardon.” appears more evil to an angel than to a saint; Secondly, let those who are delivered from and infinitely more evil to God than to an this condition be thankful. “By nature children angel.
of wrath even as others; sometimes foolish and Finally. It is a certain end. From what disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and quarter can you derive a hope to escape ? pleasures, living in envy and malice, hateful,
of God enables him to inflict this and hating one another—such—such were misery. “ Hast thou an arm like God, or some of you ; but ye are washed, but ye are canst thou thunder with a voice like his?" sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of The holiness of God excites him to inflict this the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." misery. He is of purer eyes than to behold And you are saying, “ Not by works of rightiniquity. The wicked shall not stand in his eousness which we have done, but according sight, he hateth all workers of iniquity."' to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of The truth of God binds him to indict this regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; misery. The word is gone out of his mouth, which he shed on us abundantly through Jeand shall not return. “ The Scripture can- sus Christ our Saviour; that being justified not be broken;" and there “ the wrath of God by his grace, we should be made heirs acis revealed from heaven against all ungodli- cording to the hope of eternal life.” Admire ness and unrighteousness of men. The and adore the freeness, the efficacy, the riches wicked shall be turned into hell, with all the of this grace, by which you are what you are. nations that forget God. Upon the wicked And be cautious and watchful in future.
Will you turn again to folly? Would you “Wherefore do ye spend money for that listen to your old seducer, now you know that which is not bread ? and your labour for that shame and death always follow his steps? Do which satisfieth not ? hearken diligently unto you want another taste of this infamy and me, and eat ye that which is good, and let hell? “ And now what hast thou to do in your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your Sihor? or what hast thou to do in the way of soul shall live; and I will make an everlastAssyria, to drink the waters of the river ? ing covenant with you, even the sure mercies Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, of David.” and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil
DISCOURSE XXI. thing and bitter that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of hosts."
ACQUIESCENCE IN THE WILL OF To conclude_Mark the difference between
GOD. the service of sin, and the service of God. It | And the king said unto Zadok, Carry back holds in all the articles we have reviewed. the ark of God into the city: if I shall find If sin be unfruitful-godliness is not : “ god- favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring liness is profitable unto all things." Take a me again, and show me both it and his Christian, and ask him—What fruit have you habitation : but if he thus - say, I have no had in all these duties and ordinances; in all delight in thee; behold, here am I, let him this self-denial and separation from the world? do to me as seemeth good unto him.—2 Sam. Oh, says the Christian, much every way.
xv. 25, 26, " In keeping his commandments there is great It is very desirable to teach by example. reward.” I have found " rest unto my soul.” | This mode of tuition is the most pleasing, the His "yoke is easy. His burden is light. His most intelligible, and the most impressive. ways are ways of pleasantness, and all his How useful to a scholar is a copy! How paths are peace.”
much does a builder aid our apprehension by If sin is shameful-holiness is not. The giving us a model of the edifice he means to work in which it employs us is honourable rear! In reading history, how much more and glorious. I do, says the Christian, indeed are we struck with the representations of a blush-but not in the sense you mean. I am battle, than by any rules of war! ashamed-but it is at what I have left undone So it is in spiritual things. The various
- not at what I have done. I am ashamed, but subjects of religion are most advantageously it is of my progress, not of my course: I am placed before us, not in their abstraction—but ashamed, but it is of myself-not of my mas- embodied, enlivened, exemplified. We want ter. No: he has dealt well with me. As instances facts. We naturally inquire how far as I have sought him, he has been found did faith operate in Abraham, and meekness of me. As far as I have trusted in him, he in Moses? We are anxious to know how has not disappointed me. I follow him from men of acknowledged religion behaved themconviction; and I am not ashamed to avow selves in such a season of prosperity, or in my adherence to him, and my dependence such an hour of distress? upon him.
In this, as well as in every thing else essenIf sin ends in death-religion does not. tial to the welfare of man, the Scripture While the possessor has his “fruit unto holi- comes in to our assistance, and holding up to ness," his "end is everlasting life.” And it our view a succession of characters, in diis the end that crowns all. We have seen versified situations, furnishes us with warnthat religion has many great advantages at ings, encouragements, motives as our cirpresent: but if it had not—if it were all cumstances may require. gloom, and bondage, and hardship-it has The condition of David, when he spake this incomparable recommendation—it ends the words which we have read, was severely well: ends in “ glory, honour, immortality, trying. His son Absalom had commenced a and eternal life." If the way be rough, it powerful rebellion; in consequence of which leads to heaven. If the gate be strait, it he was compelled, with a few faithful followopens into the paradise of God: “Mark theers, to leave Jerusalem, and pass over the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the brook Kidron towards the way of the wilderend of that man is peace.”.
“ And lo!- Zadok also was there, and “Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Be- all the Levites with him, bearing the ark of hold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be the covenant of God: and they set down the hungry: behold, my servants shall drink, but ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all ye shall be thirsty : behold, my servants shall the people had done passing out of the city.” rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed: behold, my Here he paused. And here I call upon servants shall sing for joy of heart, but ye you to observe him. In such a distressing shall cry for sorrow of heart, and shall howl and perplexing condition, the mind will be for vexation of spirit."
“ driven with the wind, and tossed," unless
there be some grand principle to anchor it. our everlasting welfare. Minds truly gracious This Job had. “ Behold, I go forward, but he estimate their situations and conveniences in is not there; and backward, but I cannot this world by the opportunities they give them perceive him: on the left hand, where he doth of service for God, and of communion with work, but I cannot behold him: he hideth him. Hezekiah asks, in distress, " What is himself on the right hand, that I cannot see the sign that I shall go up into the house of him : but he knoweth the way that I take: the Lord ?" "One thing," says David, "have when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, gold.” And this David had. His religion that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all aided him. It shone forth in this darkness: the days of my life, to behold the beauty of it glorified this trouble; and rendered it the the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.” occasion of exercising several pious disposi- Are you like-minded? If you are, you tions, which we are going to remark. “ And will not suffer a little trouble or a little exthe king said unto Zadok, Carry back the ark pense, to keep you from the house of God. of God into the city: if I shall find favour in When compelled to abstain from his courts, the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again, you will feel your exclusion painful. With a and show me both it, and his habitation : but mournful pleasure you will think of the seaif he thus say, I have no delight in thee; be- sons when you went “ to the house of God hold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth with the voice of joy and gladness." With good unto him.” Behold here—his love to longing desire you will ask, “When shall I devotion-his dependence upon Divine Provi- come and appear before God ?" dence-his submission to the will of God. This will influence servants in the choice
I. Observe his ESTIMATION OF DIVINE MEANS of their stations. They will forego a number AND ORDINANCES. The ark and the taberna- of advantages, and put up with a number of cle were much more to him than his throne difficulties, rather than be deprived of the and his palace. And therefore he only men- means of grace. tions these. Carry back (says he,) the ark This will actuate the man of property in of God-if I shall find favour in the eyes of fixing the bounds of his habitation. Many the Lord, he will bring me again"-to my persons in leaving off business go down into house and my family ? -No: but he will the country; and looking around them, say bring me again, and show me both it, and -Behold, yonder is a hanging wood— There his habitation"—the ark and the tabernacle. are beautiful meadows-Here is a fine stream Not that he undervalued the privilege of a of water. But the Christian would inquire, safe return. Religion is not founded on the before he pitched his tent, Is “the tree of destruction of humanity. We are not re-life” here? Can I here have access to the quired to contemn the good things of nature“ wells of salvation ?" Can I “ go in and and providence. Indeed, were we to despise out, and find pasture ?" them, it would not be possible for us to disco- II. See his faith in DIVINE PROVIDENCE. ver resignation under the loss of them. Then David views his defeat or his success, his exour submission appears, when we know their ile or his return, as suspended entirely on the value, and are capable of relishing them yet will of God. He does not balance probabili. can willingly give them up at the Divine call
. ties—" These things are for me, and those are Yea, when we are not sufficiently sensible against me. When I think on these cireumof our obligations to God for temporal bless-stances, I feel hope; but when I dwell on ings, he often teaches us their value by their those, I tremble. I know the issue turns upon loss. In sickness the man has prized health, the pleasure of the Almighty... · He bringeth and has said, How little did I think of the down, and he lifteth up. When he giveth goodness of God, in continuing the blessing peace, then who can make trouble? And so long! If I enjoy it again, * all my bones when he hideth his face, then who can behold shall say, who is a God like unto thee !" him, whether it be done against a nation, or Were an enemy to invade our shores; were a man only ?' the din of war to drive us from our dwellings, Not that he acted the part of an enthusiast, carrying our infants in our arms; were we and despised the use of means. This appears oppressed by the exactions of tyranny-we obviously from the measures he devised, esshould soon feelingly acknowledge the advan- pecially his employing the counsel of Hushai tages of national safety, of civil liberty, of But while he used means, he did not trust in wise and good laws. Owing to our sent them. He knew that duty is ours, and that connexions and circumstances, a thousand events are the Lord's. He therefore looks things demand a share of our attention, and beyond all instruments and second causes, to ought to excite our gratitude.
an Agent, “ who worketh all things after But cur attention and our gratitude should the counsel of his own will.”—“ If I shall be wisely exercised. We should be principally find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will affected with “ the unsearchable riches of bring me again, and show me both it, and his Christ;" we should supremely regard our souls, habitation. and those spiritual blessings which belong to David knew it was easy for Him to take