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,whatever cloak it may be covered, whatever may be pleaded in its vindication or excuse, its result is dreadful—" Sin, when it is finished," when it has attained its maturity, when it has gained its full growth, "bringeth forth death."
How sure its progress! How fatal its end! As one observes, it resembles a disease, whose first symptoms give no alarm; to which a vigorous constitution bids a bold defiance, and which it treats with neglect; but which, through that neglect, silently fixes on some of the nobler parts, preys unseen upon the vitals, and the man finds himself dying before he apprehended danger. It was but a slight cold, a tickling cough, a small difficulty of breathing; but it imperceptibly becomes an intolerable oppresssion, an universal weakness, an extenuating hectic, under which nature fails, and death inevitably ensues,
And who knows not, that death is equally certain, whether a man take poison, whose effects are gradual; or dispatch himself by a pistol, a halter, or a knife? In like manner the result of sin is inevitable, whether the transgressor live long or die soon; only with this difference, the longer he lives the more numerous are his sins, the more aggravated his guilt, and, remaining impenitent, the more tremendous his doom.
These are solemn thoughts : but are they not just? And do not some of you feel their force? You forget sin; you forget that God remembers sin; you go forward in a spirit of careless inconsideration, and in the practice of grievous offences; but why think you not of consequences? Have you no love for your souls? Have you no care to flee from "the wrath to come," and to escape " the damnation of hell?" Hear the language of the prophet, to a professing but inconsiderate people: "The sinners in Zion are afraid: fearfuiness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Remember, and tremble at his words: "For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness; neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; thou hatest all workers of iniquity." "God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day." "Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest; this shall be the portion of their cup." Let each inconsiderate transgressor take this solemn question to himself; "Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the Lord have spoken it, and will do it."
"We attempt an Improvement of the subject, by recommending the important duty of ConsideraTion.
First, The authority of God demands it.—If he censure an evil, that censure always implies an obligation to its opposite. Inconsideration God decidedly condemns: thoughtful concern, therefore, he clearly enjoins. And is not this evident from the whole tenor of his word? Is not the Bible given to make men reflect? And does it not require a personal and practical regard to its obvious design?—The authority of God—what is its rank? Doubtless it is supreme. Where the word of a king is, there is power: here, then, is the word of "the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach, whom no man hath seen, or can see; to whom he honour and power everlasting."—But again,
Secondly, The grace of God recommends it— When you think of the authority of the Most High, always contemplate the exceeding riches of his graco and love. These are combined in his adorable character, and prove the pleasing fact, that "his commandments are not grievous." No! while he censures the thoughtlessness of men, and commands them to consider, it is not as an arbitrary monarch, but a Friend; not as a tyrant, but a Father. He speaks to us "as unto children;" and the tenderest concern for our welfare dictates every word that he utters. If our God were not gracious, he would not reprove our indifference; he would not call us to reflection: rather, he would leave us to that insensibility into which we are criminally sunk. He hath said "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zear lous, therefore, and repent." Regard his rebukes as expressions of affection, and not merely as marks of authority: receive them as the admonitions of kindness, and improve them to the wisest purposes. "Turn you at my reproof; behold! I will pour out my Spirit unto you, and I will make known my words unto you."
Thirdly, The reason of man approves this duty of consideration. Reason must ever approve of what is right: whatever is enjoined by the gracious authority of the Most High must meet with its sanction and support. Is not man endowed with the power of thought and reflection; and ought not this power to be exercised? Irrational creatures are not reproved for inconsideration - but man is, in the most humiliating terms, and by reference to their more
prudent conduct. "Go to the ant, thou sluggard;
"Be wise to day; 'tis madness to defer;
Fourthly, The aversion of man to this duty implies its importance, and presses its observance. For what is the ground of this aversion? Not a conviction that it is unnecessary or injurious. It arises chiefly from indolence of temper, and an apprehension of unwelcome discovery. Men "consider not in their hearts," because they do not like reflection: they find it difficult: it requires application and effort to which they have not been accustomed, and which do not please. Besides, there is a fear concerning the result. Men care not to consider, from an uncomfortable foreboding that something will be found against themselves, and which will disturb their beloved quiet. Close reflection brings within view the solemnities of death, judgment, and eternity. But these are what most men had rather hold at a distance: to be familiar with them damps their pleasure, and alarms their fear. "Every one that doeth evil, hateth the light, neither cometh to the light,
lest his deeds should be reproved." What should you think of a tradesman, who, suspecting that his affairs are bad, neglects to examine his books? Does he gain any thing by this neglect? Just the reverse. The suspicion which he feels ought to urge him to close inquiry, or he acts the part of fraud and
Brethren, apply this. You feel backward to serious consideration; and why? Let the reluctance spring from what it may, it is criminal and dangerous. We beseech you, therefore, to derive an argument stimulating to duty, from the very unwillingness which you feel to engage in it. Give yourselves to reflection, lest by delay you fall into remediless ruin.
But, finally, The advantages of the duty are its powerful recommendation. Of these, we shall glance only at a few.
Considering in your hearts, particularly the omniscience of God, the Judge of all, must promote conviction of sin, and penitence on its account. The result of such consideration will be, juster views of your own state; a persuasion that your sins are far more numerous than you ever suspected, and your guilt abundantly greater; that by your transgressions you have incurred the displeasure of the Almighty, his righteous and everlasting wrath. A proper sense of sin, is the spring of godly sorrow; it humbles a man before the Most High, in self-abasement: it produces that contrition of spirit which is the first property of repentance unto life.
Consideration demonstrates the necessity of a Saviour, and exalts the worth of Christ in this view. No man feels his need of a Saviour, till he knows himself to be a sinner: he values not Christ as he