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with all that is coarse and vulgar in vice. He must walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and he must stand in the way of sinners, and must at length sit down in the seat of the scornful. Thus, the fact of his being unregenerate, if he mingle with men at all, brings him naturally into bad society, and into contact gross and dangerous with all that is polluting in moral character. There are but two societies, the godly and the ungodly. I know some pains may be taken to exclude from some of these circles somewhat of the low and vulgar in character; but I know, too, that such efforts are but to a very small extent successful. There
be excluded the sot, who has been seen by every one in his most disgusting fits of inebriation; but I never knew the exclusion to extend to the more decent inebriate, who will have his wine after dinner, and drink himself senseless at the midnight card table. There may be excluded, perhaps, some more vulgar of the profane, but never the men who can sneer decently, and shape their oaths a little to the time, and place, and company. There may be excluded some species of the lewd and the profligate, but never wholly the men that practice that iniquity according to the maxims of high and polished life. Thus is it vain to hope that the society of the ungodly can be purged, so that it shall not be the high road to all the grosser vices, and to death itself.
2. A course of sin absorbs precious time. Unregenerate men throw away very many years of their probation. All that time that the Christian must spend in his closet, in the study of the Bible, and in the duties of domestic worship, the ungodly have to spare. Hence time often hangs heavily on their hands, and hence the pastimes, properly so called, are means invented to murder all those precious hours that are not filled up in the acquisition of wealth. Now, if men must associate with those who have time to spare, they must, of course, form the habit of wasting time. This shortens life, and begets the habit of not thinking—the habit of placing the mind in an attitude of listlessness and inattention, than which no habit can be more ruinous to one whose happiness in this life and in the life to come depends so much on prompt and vigorous action. If we are to reach heaven, and would be prepared for it, we must form soon the very opposite habit, and must learn to husband well every hour that lies between us and the grave.
If there were no oaths heard, and no evil bias of the affections generated, still no price should tempt the man who hopes to come to heaven, to waste his mornings and his evenings, and his leisure days, in the places of lounging indolence. The mere habit of letting time pass unoccupied, has a fatal influence upon the welfare of the soul. We have known it to draw back from the path of life many a man, who, but for having formed this one habit, bid fair to reach the kingdom of God. His apostacy from a fair profession, and the hopes of glory, began in his return to the habit of chatting and laughing away leisure hours. The Christian has no leisure hours. There are no little nooks of time that he cannot fill up to the best advantage ; and he may as soon return to any other vicious course, as to the habit of wasting his precious hours. Should we find he had returned to his oaths, or to his Sabbathbreaking, or to his cups, though it might shock us more, it would not be more ominous of his future entire apostacy, than a return to his idle amusements.
3. A course of sin is death, as it leads to the adoption of bad sentiments, and engenders an erroneous creed. There is a whole system of infidelity taught and believed in the promiscuous associations of the ungodly. It may not be styled infidelity, and lectures may not be given in the formal didactic mode, but the result may be the same. Let the child hear it said to-day at the tavern door, that there is no harm in the milder forms of profanity, and he imbibes the idea that there is no obligation in that terrible law, “ Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain;" and this is infidelity. Let him hear it said in the same place or some other, that these Christians are a set of the most profound hypocrites, and he learns to doubt whether God requires his people to be a chosen generation, a peculiar people, and this is infidelity. Let him hear it said the next day, that Jesus Christ was the mere child of Joseph, and not as he pretended, God manifest in the flesh; and this again is infidelity. Let him hear again that probably the Bible has been wrongfully translated, and much corrupted by designing men, so that we cannot know how much of it is the testimony of God; and this is a still more open and barefaced infidelity. Thus our children, if they may spend their evenings and their play-days about the place of idle concourse, are taught intelligibly and fatally to reject the whole counsel of God. Thus many of our young men, while perhaps they have attended morning and evening upon a father's prayers, have been put into the school of infidelity, and the parent has discovered just when he hoped they would become a comfort to him, that their sentiments had been ruined, and the broad foundation laid for their final perdition.
I have proceeded on the principle that sentiment is the foundation of character, and character the ground of salvation. Hence
the end of these things is death. No man can without danger imbibe one wrong sentiment. It will assuredly bias, wrong his heart, and be acted out in conduct that will offend the Lord. Thus the end of these things is death.
4. A course of sin benumbs the right affections. It tends to destroy filial confidence, and fraternal, and parental, and conjugal affection. Devotion to some idol easily becomes stronger than any of the natural relationships, and thus neutralizes many a restraint, that the God of nature, as the infidel would name Jehovah, has imposed. But when we pass these and speak of the religious affections, it hardly need be said that all these are suppressed and quenched by a course of sin. How many children that have been taught the fear of God, a respect for his word, a reverence for his Sabbath, regard for his people and his house, and his ordinance, have had them all eradicated as they rose in life, and mingled with men versed in the art of undermining virtue. I have seen the lad of promise at the family altar, ready to believe a father's testimony, and listen to a mother's instruction, and giving high hope that as he rose in life he would fill respectably his father's place; and I have seen the same lad proud and stout-hearted, and far from righteousness; the advocate of infidel sentiment and vicious habits, and profligate manners, pressing his way down to that death spoken of in the text as the end of these things. And I have seen his parent's heart more grieved at some act of his conduct than he would have been to be called to follow his corpse to the grave. O it is awfully foreboding to see disappearing all the good impressions of an early religious education ; and substituted in their place the revelling, and the doubt, and the indifference to holy things that so often marks the downward course to death.
5. A course of sin ends in death as it nourishes the unhallowed passions. We totally and fatally mistake man when we forget that he is born depraved. We are not to suppose, and shall be fatally disappointed if we do, that our children are in point of character that clean white paper on which any impression we please can be made with equal ease and certainty. No they have a bad moral character before we can well reach them. Hence our early business is to eradicate the wrong, as well as implant the right. If this is not early done, and we cannot do it without God, these evil passions are already to be nurtued and matured. Hence a life of unregeneracy is the whole of it a nursery in which these vile plants are watered and reared, and bring forth their evil fruits, the ripening of which is death. Men grow worse day by day while they remain in the gall of bitterness and under the bonds of iniquity. Their position is never stationary, but their course downward, downward, downward toward the blackness of darkness for
Finally a course of sin tends to death as it offers constant provocation of the Spirit of God. On the operations of his Spirit we are dependent for life and salvation. There is no amount of means, or force of human eloquence, or impetus of natural resolution that can arrest the course of sin. Men will not try to stop themselves, nor allow themselves to be stayed in their course by any human power. Hence our only hope is that God will make them willing in the day of his power. But every act of sin is resistance made to the efforts of his mercy and the influences of his Spirit. God strives with men. He did so in the old world, and does so still. And as then, so now, there will come a time when he will strive no longer. And when he shall so determine with regard to any soul, that soul is lost. The decree of heaven is, “He is joined to idols, let him alone.”
Thus we see the danger that all God's people have been in, and that which still awaits all the ungodly. Their course is down to death. The end of these things is death. I close with a single
Have any of us reason to hope that we have been arrested in our mad career ? then what gratitude and what holy obedience do we owe our gracious deliverer, and how kind and faithful should we be to those who are still in all the danger that we once were. And as was the case with us they are ignorant of their danger, and are not wiliing to be alarmed, and esteem it unkind that we concern ourselves with them. But all this alters not our duty. If we saw one asleep in a burning building, and he knew not his danger, and did not wish to know, and would esteem it unkind should we try to wake him, still we should not stop, but snatch him if possible from his perilous condition. And all to save his life only. Should we not then take greater pains still to save the soul, and do it at more hazard, and more expense, and inward assurance that our kindness would be repaid with wrath.
THE INFALLIBLE COMPARISON.
PROVERBS XII. 26.
While the term righteous is so frequently used in the Bible, to designate the good man, we infer, without the danger of mistake, that the good man will be honest. A false or fraudulent believer, is a character not recognized in the volume of inspiration. That religion which saves the soul, is sure to render us good and useful citizens of the present world, and any expectation of eternal life, when this first effect of piety is not produced, is vain. The text implies a fact which we have all observed, that the righteous are scarce. When you find a good man, it is almost certain that his neighbor is wicked. This would not be the case, were the pious as numerous as the men of opposite character. While a comparison is drawn between the righteous and the wicked, the favorable conclusion is not built upon any thing that relates to birth, or blood, or wealth. In the esteem of God, there is no value in these external things. Man looketh on these outward appearances, but God looketh on the heart. That superior excellence which he esteems, has its origin in the temper of the heart. Hence the comparison should neither render the one proud, nor mortify the other. It should make the believer humble and thankful, and produce awakening and conviction in the mind of the sinner. If God has made us willing in the day of his power, it becomes us to remember for ever the rock from whence we were hewn, and the hole of the pit from whence we were digged. If we are associated with the righteous, the praise of changing our state, and altering our condition, belongs to Him who produced the change. By nature men are all the degenerate plants of a strange vine, born the enemies of God, and the heirs of perdition, and left to act out our own temper, we should all carry with us to the grave the same odious character, and die the heirs of the same fearful des. tiny as others. Hoping then, neither to awaken pride or envy, but gratitude and conviction, I proceed to compare the pious man, with the man unsanctified. “The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor :"