« FöregåendeFortsätt »
fate of guilt. Look back, therefore, into your own breasts, and say, whether upon the conmission of any bad action, you have not felt a pain and shame, which no pleasure can compen satę, no time can heal? Say, ye whose consciences write bitter things against you, whether any enjoyment can make up the loss of your innocence? whether ye do not look back with regret upon those days, when your souls were white and spotless, and wish that you could recall those moments, when innocence was your companion and God your friend? And what you feel in yourselves as the consequences of guilt, be assured that every other sinner feels, let his outward ap pearance or demeanour be what it will.
But after all, should we allow that there is the greatest pleasure and satisfaction in sin; yet it can never make amends for those eternal miseries, which all the workers of iniquity will one day suffer. They cannot forget, if they would, that "the wages of sin is death;" not only that temporal death, which they are hastening on by their debaucheries and excess, but death eternal. · They cannot forget, that unceasing torments, and the blackness of darkness await them for evermore. Little, therefore, will it avail them, that they have enjoyed the pleasures of sin for a season,
season, if they must at last pay for them the heavy price of eternal condemnation.
If, therefore, my young friends, you would avoid the misery and ditresses of the prodigal son, flee those vices which brought them upon him,-a disobedience to parental authority, an indulgence in youthful lusts, and riotous living. You have, on the one hand, every possible inducement to fear God and keep his commandments; your own credit and success in the world, the comfort of your family and friends, and the hopes of eternal salvation. And, on the other hand, what is there wanting to deter you from the ways of sin? What can be added to the displeasure of God and the contempt of man, the certainty of present shame and future misery? If these are not sufficient, vain will be every other argument. It only remains for me to commit you to the mercy of that all-powerful Being, who is able in a moment to turn the hearts of the disobedient, to the wisdom of the just, when every human hope and effort fails of success.
Think not, however, that I mean to tie you down to the impossible task of a sinless obedience: No: to sin and to suffer are the two unavoidable conditions of humanity; and we must cease to be men before we can cease to be
and miserable sinners. The wisest of us all have much to be forgiven: and yours especially is an age ever accompanied with levity and indiscretion. But the God, who made us, knoweth whereof we are made, and remembereth that we are but dust: He will not therefore require from you the spotless purity of angels:-the worm cannot reach the strength of the lion, nor the snail contend in swiftness with the eagle.
But though we must be sinners, it is not necessary that we should be wilful and habitual sinners. All, therefore, I wish to recommend to you, is, to make religion and virtue the great principle and line of your duty through life. Upon them fix the plan of your conduct, and, as far as humanity will allow, endeavour to execute it. And then though in some things ye may offend, and though in others ye may be exposed to the unmerited censure and condemnation of the world; yet God, who seeth your hearts, and knoweth the intentions and integrity of them, will one day justify you before men and angels.
LUKE XV. 17-20.
And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.
HAVE on former occasions represented to you the precipitate folly of the prodigal in leaving his father's house, and the heavy miseries which befel him in consequence of it. My present business shall be to examine, what use he made of his afflictions; that every young libertine, who begins to see the error of his ways, may, by his example, learn what course he ought to take to wash out his sins, and regain the fayour of his God.
And first, "He came to himself." He was not therefore himself before. He awaked as out of a deep sleep or lethargy; he arose, as it were, from the dead, and was restored to new life. This is a just description of the state of a sinner. He is buried in a lethargic sleep; he is dead to reason and virtue; he has no sense of God and religion. And under this image flagrant sinners are frequently represented in the Gospel. Thus St. Paul, speaking of the Ephesians before their conversion to Christianity tells them, "Ye were "dead in trespasses and sins." And agreeably to this, the work of repentance is called an awaking out of sleep, a sort of resurrection from the grave:-" Awake, thou that sleepest; arise "from the dead, and Christ shall give thee' light."
He came to himself:" he recovered the use of his reason and understanding; he was
restored to spiritual life. siderate think it not so;
The young and incon
but let the wiser voice
age and experience tell them, what they will one day find to be true, that sin is a state of madness; it is a contradiction to all reason and wisdom it is giving up the enjoyments of a man for the pleasures of a brute: it is exchanging health for sickness: it is buying a momentary enjoyment at the expence of an eternity of