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preparing for us hereafter. The Scriptures every where rank these vices in the number of those presumptuous sins, which in a future life, will experience the severest marks of divine displeasure. The world, indeed, treats them with more indulgence. They are excused and palliated, and even defended, on the ground of human frailty, of natural constitution, of strong passions, and invincible temptations; and they are generally considered and represented in various popular performances (especially in those imported from foreign countries) as associated with many amiable virtues, with goodness of heart, with high principles of honour, with benevolence, compassion, humanity, and generosity. But whatever gentle names may be given to sensuality and licentiousness, whatever specious apologies may be made for them, whatever wit or talents may be employed in rendering them popular and fashionable, whatever numbers, whatever examples may sanction or authorize them, it is impossible that any thing can do away away their natural turpitude and deformity, or avert those punishments which the Gospel has denounced against them. They are represented there as things that ought not even to be named among Christians, as defiling the man, as warring against the soul, as grieving the spirit of God, as rendering men incapable of inheriting the kingdom of heaven, as exposing them to the indignation of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity”. And as if men had endeavoured in those days, as well as in our own, to soften and extenuate and explain away the guilt of licentiousness, the Apostle adds, with great solemnity and great earnestness, “Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the chil
dren of disobedience +.” Let every man then that pretends to be a Christian, and lives in the habitual practice of the vices here condemned, weigh well
* Ephes. v. 3. Matt. xv. 18. 1 Pet. ii. 1 1. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Habak. i. 13. + Ephes. v. 6.
well these tremendous words. If there be any truth in the Gospel, they will not be vain words; nor will offences of this nature ever pass unnoticed or unpunished by the righteous Governor of the World. These remarks are not introduced here without reason. It is the peculiar prevalence of these very vices at this moment which demands such animadversions as these ; a prevalence which I infer not merely from an imaginary estimate of the low state of morals amongst us, founded on rumour, on conjecture, or misconstruction, but from facts too well ascertained, and which obtrude themselves on the notice of every observing mind *. I mean those daring violations of the nuptial contract, and the frequent divorces resulting from them, which seem daily gaining ground in this kingdom. This is a most melancholy and incontrovertible proof of increasing depravity amongst us, and I am sorry to add, of depravity of the very deepest dye; for instances have not long - since since occurred, in which the guilt of the parties too nearly resembled that of Herod, combining the two atrocious crimes of adultery and incest I Surely such enormities as these are enough to make us tremble, and loudly call for the interposition of the legislature, lest they bring down upon us the just vengance of an offended God. “Shall I not visit for these things 2 saith the Lord : Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as
* In the Spring of the year 18oo.
this *P* Another reflection arising from this short history of Herod and John the Baptist is this ; that although, in the ordinary course of divine administrations, the punishment of the wicked does not always overtake them here, but is reserved for the last awful day of account; yet it sometimes happens (as I observed in my last Lecture) that their crimes draw after them their just recompence, even in the present life. This was eminently the case of the flagitious Herod; for besides those terrors of of conscience, which, as we have seen, perpetually haunted him, which raised up before him terrific forms and agonizing apprehensions, and represented John the Baptist as risen from the dead to avenge his crimes; we are informed by the historian Josephus, that his marriage with Herodias drew upon him the resentment of Aretas, king of Arabia Petraea, the father of his first wife, who declared war against him, and in an engagement with Herod's army, defeated it with great slaughter. This, says the historian, the Jews considered as a just judgment of God upon Herod for his murder of John the Baptist”. And not long after this, both he and Herodias were deprived of their kingdom by the Roman emperor, and sent into perpetual banishment. And it is added by another historiant, that their daughter Salome met with a violent and untimely death. Instances like this are intended to show that the Governor of
* Jer, v. 9.