« PreviousContinue »
us as our right hand, or as one of our eyes. And why? because if we keep it we shall perish—because, as our Lord hath told us, "it is better to enter into life, halt or maimed, than having two hands or two eyes (that is, retaining all our forbidden indulgences) to be cast into hell."
This comparison between diseases of the body and diseases of the soul, leads me to one further remark. There are some maladies that happen to the body, the remedies for which are so severe, that it is a question with the sufferers whether they will use them, even though assured that their recovery depends upon their so doing: there are cases in which the means of cure seem more dreadful than death itself, and persons have been known who have preferred to die of their disorder, rather than endure the torture of the operation recommended to them: but this you will at once allow cannot be said of the diseases of the soul-of the disease of sin with which we are all afflicted: the end, indeed, of this malady, unless we be healed in time, is also death; but how dreadful is that death! It is not the mere cessation of life-it is not the lying down in the calm slumber of the grave-it is not the destruction of our being; but it is the destruction and utter ruin of all our hopes, and of all our happiness. It is an exclusion from God's love, and God's light for ever; the perpetual abiding with the evil spirits in their torments.
Such is what is called in the language of Scrip
ture, eternal death.
of unforgiven sin!
not for any present
Such are the appointed wages Surely, my brethren, we would gratification run the risk of so
terrible an award. Surely there is no remedy, however sharp and painful, which we would not apply now rather than incur hereafter the bitter pains of eternal death!
That remedy I have already pointed out. It is repentance. How effectual, how comforting a thing it is, when fully followed out, I leave to the consideration of another sermon.
May God grant that you and I may have grace to use it, to our soul's health. May we not be among that sad number, who shall perish because of their not repenting, but rather may we (by His mercy) have our consciences so awakened to a sense of our unworthiness, and " so truly repent us of our faults" in this world, that we may ever live with Him in the world to come, through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Inttle Hadham, 1846.
SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT.
EZEKIEL Xviii. 27.-" When the wicked man turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive."
In my sermon last Sunday, I spoke of the season of Lent, as a time for calling our old ways to remembrance, reflecting upon our past sins, and seeking God's pardon and forgiveness; in a word, as a time for repentance. I then entered into an explanation of what is meant by repentance, viz., a complete change of mind; leading us to forsake the evil, and to choose the good.
I further showed you, that this repentance was absolutely necessary to our salvation; that except we repent, we must all perish. To-day it will be my endeavour to carry out the subject to its con
clusion; and show, for the comfort of all truly penitent hearts, the efficacy and healing power of repentance. "When the wicked man (saith the prophet) turneth away from the wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive."
In the first place, who is it that is meant by the wicked man? Is it the transgressor of God's most holy laws? Is it the adulterer, the murderer, the robber? Yes, surely these may, no doubt, claim the bad distinction of this name; these are peculiarly wicked men; they are peculiarly God's enemies; for them His sharpest punishments are prepared. But do not suppose that they only, are included in this term. Far from it; as all who are not righteous are unrighteous, and as there is none that doeth right, so are all, more or less, to be classed under this head. We have all gone astray from God's commandments: we have all sinned, and come short of our duty; we have all deserved God's anger and punishment. In His sight, His pure and holy sight, we are all wicked. In short, it is clear that we have all an interest in the exhortation of the text-we have all cause, great cause, to turn away from our wickedness that we have committed, and take those steps towards being cleared of our guilt and cleansed from our sins, that will render us acceptable in the presence of
our Maker; we have all cause to do "that which is lawful and right," if we hope to save our souls alive.
The question is, what are those steps? How are we, who have followed our own ways to do evil, so to walk as to please God? How can we, who have become entangled in the snares of sin, get ourselves released? How can we dare to hope, that after having, by our own confession, deeply offended against God, justly deserved his anger, we may yet, by anything that we can do, return into His favour, and be made partakers of His love?
This inquiry leads us to the fountain-head of our religion; to the means by which a sinner may humbly but confidently expect forgiveness, if so be that he is really penitent; if so be, that he gives proof of his sincerity, by bringing forth fruits meet for repentance. The reason why, in such a case, he may hope and reckon upon being pardoned, is simply because the Lamb of God, without spot, hath been revealed, who taketh away the sins of the world; because Christ the Lord has been wounded for his, and all men's transgressions, and hath, by the sacrifice of Himself once offered upon the cross, made a full and perfect propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins, both original, and actual, of the whole world. Yes, my brethren, assuredly there is no other satisfaction for sin