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AND CAUSE INCALCULABLE MISCHIEF.
this mischief, is indeed one of the most faithful servants of the wicked one.
The profligate cannot so effectually serve Satan as the hypocrite. The profligate is like an enemy without the walls of a fortress; he appears in his true colours, and men are aware of him; but the unholy professor is like a treacherous wretch, that has crept into the fortress only to betray it. A drunkard, a dishonest man, a liar, a miser, out of the church of Christ, can never render Satan half the service they can render him when within its walls.
§ 12. If you profess religion and neglect holiness, you may be a source of mischief and misery for ages and ages. It is impossible to tell where the evil of a sinful example, or even of one sinful action, may terminate. One open crime, and much more an unholy life, in a professor of religion, may be a means of propagating vice and misery, and dealing to many death and damnation for generations to come. How easily may this be the case, when a young person is influenced by such causes to neglect the Saviour. The impressions he felt are destroyed, his desires are quenched, and his soul is undone. But he, perhaps, becomes the head of a family. Had he followed Jesus, his children would have been trained up for God; but now their eternal welfare is slighted, and they
rise up heathens like their father. Perhaps the same course of | irreligion and vice is acted over again by their descendants,
and again by theirs, each new generation copying the ex
ample of the former. This is not uncommon. Thus sin and : misery are propagated from age to age. And that professor
of the gospel, who by his crimes prevented the ancestor of $ such a family from following the Saviour, is, in an awful de
gree, a cause of all this sin and misery! Ah! how watchful should a Christian be, that no one at the judgment-bar may be able to stand forth and say, “My ruin is owing to that sin, by which you wounded your friends and disgraced your profession ; but for that I should have sought the Saviour, but through that I pronounced religion hypocrisy, and neglectful of it lived and died.”
$ 13. Neglecting holiness you would expose others and Is yourself to that awful woe, which the Lord has denounced
against those, who slight his gospel on account of the sins of others, and against those who are the cause of this neglect.
NECESSITY OF FOLLOWING AFTER HOLINESS. • Woe unto the world because of offences ! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh.” Let the unholy professor of religion tremble at this heavy woe, denounced by such gentle lips!-this woe which, heavier than a mill-stone round the neck, will sink him in a direful ocean of eternal wrath. O, let the unholy professor of the gospel meditate terror, while he meditates on these words, “ Woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh."
§ 14. Such are a few of those awfully momentous motives, that urge the Christian to make advancing holiness his fervent desire, his incessant pursuit, his daily prayer. If you would improve life's little span; if you would glorify God and honour Christ; if you would recommend religion to mankind, and lead them to the abodes of bliss, you must follow after consistent holiness. Without it, the more zeal you display for the gospel, the more mischief will you do. If you would not be shut out of heaven; if you would not be another Judas, another traitor to the blessed Saviour; if
you would not defeat the labours of gospel ministers, more effectually than is done by bitter persecutors; if you would not rob God of his right; if you would not lie to God, and become a poor perjured wretch; if you would not uphold the kingdom of the devil, carry on his designs, and be his most faithful servant; if you would not contribute to spread sin and misery and damnation for ages to come; if you would not expose others, and yourself, to one of the most tremendous woes ever denounced from heaven against sin and sinners; if you would not commit all these hideous sins; if you would not do all this complicated mischief; in short, if you would not be a pest to earth, an enemy to the cross of Christ, a friend of the devil, an agent of hell, and a curse to yourself, you must follow after holiness.
(c) Matt. xviii. 6, 7.
ON THE MORTIFICATION OF SIN.
§ 1. WERE man what Adam was, what angels are, or
what the spirits of the just will be, holiness would cost no pains, and require no labours. But during the present state, so much corruption works within, that the daily mortification of sin is essential to growth in grace.
The Scriptures contain many impressive admonitions respecting this duty. “ Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us."a “If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”' “ Abhor that which is evil.” “ As strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”
That inbred corruption, which is the fruitful parent of all man's actual transgressions, is described in the Bible as “ the old man."
Not as something light and trifling, which attaches itself to man; but as that which is so incorporated with his fallen nature that it becomes as it were “the man.” It is represented also as the body of sin, in which all sins are united, as all the members of man are in a human body.s
Freed by divine grace from the “ dominion" of sin, the Christian is not freed from its more open assaults, or secret guile. It is like an enemy defeated, and trodden under foot, yet not dead; still possessed of life, and only wanting an opportunity to rise again, and ready then to act with vigour. Or like an enemy nailed to a cross, that if not kept there till his strength is exhausted, and life expires, may live again, and be a worse enemy than ever. Hence the important admonitions, to mortify sin, to mortify the deeds of the body. The sense of the original word is, to kill, to destroy. It contains
(6) Rom, viii. 12, 13.
(a) Heb. xii. 1.
(d) 1 Pet. ii. 11.
(c) Rom. xii. 9. (0) Rom. vi, 17, 18.
§ 2. If
SELF-ACQUAINTANCE NECESSARY therefore a direction, to aim at the utter destruction of sin. The Scriptures do not, however, represent this enemy as soon dead. Our old man is cricified. Crucifixion was a lingering death. So sin does not die at once. Long will it linger; perhaps seem dead, then show again that life is not gone; ihen seem expiring, yet not expire. To the cross must it still be fastened, and wound after wound be inflicted on it, and never should it be presumed to be quite dead, till it dies finally, and dies eternally.
you would live to God, you must mortify sin. Aim not merely at avoiding sin in your outward conduct, but seek and pray to kill the root of it in your heart. That you may do this, cherish self-acquaintance. Watch the motions of your own heart. If a stranger to yourself, sin cannot be mortified; however it may be checked in your outward conduct, it will reign and triumph in your heart. Pride will be filling you with self-conceit' and self-importance. Self-love will promote covetousness, and make you indifferent to the miseries of others. It will pollute your motives, and when God's glory is the ostensible object, your own praise will be the true, though hidden, spring of action. When afflicted, you will be disposed to murmur. When others are more prosperous or applauded than you, instead of rejoicing in their happiness, you will be disposed to envy them. All this is the effect of sin that lies unmortified, and perhaps hidden, in the heart. Hence too you will be studying for this world, when you should be meditating on a better; and planning for earth, when you should be reaching after heaven. The natural effect of all this is a cold, heartless, barren form of religion, where the life, and soul, and vital heat are wanting. This cannot be avoided unless you mortify sin, nor can sin be morti. fied without self-acquaintance.
To mortify sin, it is necessary that you have a deep impression of the evil of those innumerable sins, the sins of the heart. These are hidden from the eye of man. Human laws take no cognizance of them; but the great Searcher of hearts looks upon them with the same abhorrence, as that with which he looks on finished crimes. Sin in the seed, in the bud, the blade, or the ear, is in his sight equally hateful. For as it is said, “Sin aims always at the utmost; every time it rises up to lempt or entice, might it have its own course, it would go
TO MORTIFY SIN.
147 out to the utmost sin in that kind. Every unclean thought or glance would be adultery, if it could; every covetous deșire would be oppression ; every thought of unbelief would be atheism, might it grow to its head."*
The sacred Scriptures represent those sins, which lie hidden in the heart, as incurring guilt and condemnation of the same description as the crimes to which they would lead. Thus the Judge of all declares, that a lustful thought cherished in the mind, incurs the guilt of adultery. “I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” The indulgence of a resentful disposition, incurs the guilt of murder. “ Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer; and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in
On the same principle, he who meditates a dishonest action, is, in God's esteem, a thief; he who lets his vain mind dwell with pleasure on scenes of revelry, debauchery, and intoxication, stands chargeable in his Maker's sight with all those crimes. And they whose thoughts are occupied with vanity, excess, and pleasure, are, in the sight of God, guilty of the crimes and follies they would commit, if their situation placed these things within their power. Would you therefore mortify sin, view it as exceeding sinful; and remember that a sinful disposition indulged, as to guilt, is equivalent to the guilt of committing the sin, to which that disposition would lead. O, what myriads of millions of crimes are thus committed in the chambers of the mind and heart, those scenes of iniquity! crimes, hidden from every human eye, beneath impenetrable shades, yet all of them glaring, with hideous horror, before the face of eternal Majesty, as clearly as in the blaze of day.
§ 3. In mortifying sin, it is of unspeakable importance to observe, that sin be really mortified; not merely diverted to some other object, or permitted to flow in some new channel. It is to be apprehended, that the supposition that sin is mortified, when only diverted to a new object, is a frequent cause of ruinous deception. Thus, perhaps, the reigning sin of a man has been prodigality; he lays this sin aside, and ceases to be a spendthrift; but he takes up covetousness, and becomes
(i) 1 John iii. 5.
(h) Matt. v. 28.