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THE EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY. 1 Cor. vi. 18.-" Flee fornication."
THE collect for to-day contains an earnest prayer to God for grace to withstand the temptations to which as corrupt beings we are exposed-temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Under these three heads may be reduced all the perils and dangers which beset our path: and prevent us from doing that to which we are called; from following God with pure hearts and minds. To speak of them all at one time would be impossible, and as my object is sufficiently manifest by the words taken for my text, I shall confine my remarks this afternoon to the single consideration of those sinsthose grievous deadly sins-which arise from yielding to the temptations of the flesh. It is not, indeed, without great reluctance that I enter upon so
painful a subject; the sins of which I must speak, are such as should not even be mentioned among Christians. "But fornication," (says St. Paul,) "and all uncleanness, let it not be once named among you as becometh saints." And yet this same Apostle, as the text shows, (and the lesson we have heard this afternoon, the sixth chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthians,) was obliged to speak at large about these very sins: and so must a Christian minister still speak. As long as these foul vices, instead of being shunned and abhorred as the deadliest evils, are commonly practised amongst us, to the great scandal of our holy religion, so long must we lift up our voice in open protest against them, and warn you to flee from their pollution.
The present occasion appears the more fitting for such a caution. As the chapter in which St. Paul treats of this very subject has already been read in the course of the second lesson, to which, while it is fresh in your minds, I can appeal for confirmation of what I am about to say.
In that chapter many deadly sins are enumerated,-theft, covetousness, drunkenness, evil-speaking, &c., but this of fornication,-under which term I may once for all observe, are included all kinds of impurity and uncleanness,-every wanton lust of the flesh, is dwelt upon at length; and for this
reason, because unchastity is of all sins the one most repugnant, most contrary to our Christian profession; most surely fatal in its consequences; because it defiles the body as well as the soul: and the body and soul of a Christian are consecrated to God. "The body is not for fornication, but for the Lord." It, not less than the soul, has been redeemed by Him from the bondage of sin and death. It has been bought at the price of His own most precious blood: and therefore it is no longer to be treated as a common thing; no longer to be given up to the service of Satan, and to the working of iniquity; no-but to be kept, and maintained clean and pure, for the worship and service of the Almighty, and for the habitation of His Holy Spirit"Know ye not," says the Apostle, " that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God. And ye are not your own; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
This, indeed, seems high and lofty language to be applied to us men-but it is the very language of Holy Writ, and we cannot by our forgetfulness of, or indifference to it, alter its truth. Nothing is more sure than this; that the Christian is everywhere throughout the epistle looked upon "as a vessel made to honour;" set apart, separate from sinners, through the sanctification of God's Spirit.
It is not, then, without just alarm for his welfare that I feel it my duty to caution you against the slightest approach to the sin of uncleanness: for they who are guilty of it, are guilty of grieving the Holy Ghost; guilty of resisting His grace, without which it is impossible to please God. But is this caution necessary? Are there many who are so regardless of their eternal welfare as to run into such wickedness? Alas! I fear their number is great indeed! Scarcely do six months ever elapse, seldom so long, without some infants being brought hither to be baptized, that have been born in fornication. And then-I speak it with sorrow-how often is the sacred rite of marriage only sought as a cloke for open shame! How often do parents let their daughters leave their homes and associate with their future husbands, before God's holy law has given any sanction to their union.
My brethren, these things ought not so to be. They ought not to be, even amongst untutored heathen, amongst men who have no rule to guide them but the rule of natural modesty,-no law to restrain them but the law of common decency. Even among the heathen such doings are looked upon as a scandal. How fearful, then, must be their guilt among those who like ourselves are Christians! Who-to refer again to the same chapter-have "been washed," (in the water of re
generation,)" and sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of God," -washed, and sanctified, and justified for this very end; that we should no longer be defiled by carnal lusts, but denying these, live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
And then, look at the consequences of such sins. To say that they are always attended with trouble, and disgrace to those who are guilty of them,trouble and disgrace that affect not themselves alone, but their friends and families as well: this is to describe but a small part of the mischief: these are but the immediate and present results of this wickedness. But let me ask you-let me beg of you to ask yourselves-what is this misery, this disgrace, and trouble, when compared with that far greater misery, far more lasting woe, which awaits these transgressions in the world to come? What is present pain, compared with the pain that never has an end? And such, and no less, is the pain and punishment prepared for this wickedness by the Almighty. Not only will it shut men out from heaven, but it will, unless repented of heartily and forsaken in time, thrust them down to hell; "Neither fornicators nor adulterers shall inherit the kingdom of God." And again writes the same Apostle, as if to prevent any mistake about the matter" This ye know that no whoremonger nor