« PreviousContinue »
THE UNFRUITFULNESS AND MISERY OF SIN:
ROMANS, vi. 21.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
ONE of the surest. means by which Satan keeps men under his power, is by keeping them in ignorance of their state. Did they once see, in what a vile, a shameful, a ruinous service they were engaged, they would quickly leave it. Did they once see what sin really is, they would speedily flee from it. In this view the text is particularly useful; for it sets sin before us in its true colours, and shews us what it is, when stript of every covering.
St. Paul is speaking to persons, who having once been the servants of sin, had now left that service, and were become the ser
vants of God: and he puts to them this serious question; "What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death."-At the time, when you lived in your former sinful courses, what real comfort, satisfaction, or happiness, did you find in them? Did they yield you any true profit? The manner in which the Apos tle puts the question, plainly shews his meaning. He knew that they had found nothing of this kind. They must be ready to own, that sin, far from having been profitable to them, had brought with it disappointment and vexation; had been followed with shame and grief; and had exposed their souls to the greatest danger.
In discoursing on these words, I shall set before you the three things, which are here stated concerning sin.
I. That it yields no present fruit.
I. Sin yields no present fruit; that is, nothing which deserves the name of fruit. It may furnish indeed some short gratification, some momentary pleasure. But this is not fruit. It does not pay a man for the trouble and danger into which
it brings him. Nothing but Nothing but peace with Gon, and an approving conscience, can really deserve the name of fruit; and sin, so far from producing these things, totally destroys them. Sin indeed makes large promises, tempts men with flattering offers. and tells them what great things it will do for them in the same manner as the devil tempted our LORD to worship him, by offering to him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. But as Satan then promised to give what was not in his power to bestow; so it is with sin. It cannot fulfil its promises, or make good its words. It only deceives, and disappoints those who listen to its offers. They may amuse themselves with the expectation of great advantages. They may hope to reap much fruit- -But they are "sowing to the flesh," and must reap corruption." -Sinners do not find in sin even that present enjoyment which they had hoped to find. Look at our first parent Eve. What fruit had she from her sin ? She had fancied that there would be some great and singular pleasure in eating of the forbidden tree. She had persuaded herself, that she should gain some special advantages by this act of disobedience; that it would make her wise,
and great, and happy, like God himself. But were these expectations answered? Did she find all the good which she had hoped for from her sin? Far otherwise; she found herself wretchedly deceived. She was become indeed wiser than she had been before; but the wisdom which she had gained, was not such as to add to her comfort and enjoyment. She knew good from evil; for she had lost the good, and had found. the evil. Instead of being happy, she was become miserable. Instead of being like God, she had lost his likeness; and was become like the devil, whose counsel she had followed. Instead of being filled with peace, and joy, and hope in GoD, as she had before been; she was now torn, with remorse, and guilt, and terror. This was the
fruit of her sin.
Take another example. Look at Judas, who sold his master. What fruit had he in his transgression? He doubtless thought that the thirty pieces of silver would add greatly to his happiness, and would yield. him much present enjoyment. In the hope of the benefits, which he should procure from his sin, he "ran greedily after the reward," and betrayed the innocent blood. Was his hope fulfilled?-We know that it was not.
No sooner was the sin com
mitted, than he saw it in its true light. The advantages which he had promised to himself, all fled away. He was overwhelmed with horror and despair.
But we need not go so far back for examples to our purpose. We may have recourse to living instances. My brethren, I would refer this matter to yourselves, and make you judges in the case before us. What fruit have you had in the ways of sin? To such of you, as being convinced of the evil of these ways, through grace have left them, and turned into other paths, to such I may confidently appeal. You, I feel assured, will readily confess, that you found no fruit in the ways of sin; that so long as you continued the servants of sin, you were strangers to true enjoyment: and that peace and happiness are only to be found in the service and the ways of God. But you are not the only witnesses to this truth. I would appeal to others also: to those who are still living in the ways of sin, and yielding themselves servants to unrighteousness. I would ask them, whether they find true happiness in their sinful courses? I would put the question in the text to their consciences, and say to each of them, "What fruit, hast thou even now in these things?"