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Come thou, O drunkard, who makest it a practice, whenever a convenient opportunity may offer to indulge thy sensual appetite, and to sink the man into the beast, stand forth, and in the face of this congregation, say whether thou findest the ways of drunkenness to be ways of pleasantness and peace? Do they yield thee enjoyment sufficient to make amends for the remorse and sorrow which attend them? Say, in the midst of thy guilty pleasures, dost thou not often feel a pang of conscience, a secret misgiving, a horrid foreboding, which embitters all thy seeming joy? And in the moments of sober recollection, what are thy feelings? Art thou not wounded with the thoughts of thy wretched life? Art thou not stung with anguish at the prospect of thy health destroyed, thy property injured, thy family ruined, through thy intemperance? Dost thou not fly many a time to riot and excess, in order to drown thy recollection, and silence thy conscience? We know, whether thou wilt own it or not, that all this is the case. We know that thou canst not deny, My ways are not those of happiness.'
Can the envious, discontented, repining man speak better of the paths in which he
walks? Does he find them "paths of pleasantness and peace ?"
Will the passionate, revengeful, malignant character come forward and tell us, that he is happy? Or if he did tell us so, could we believe him?
Let me turn to the slave of lust; or to the profane, ungodly scoffer; to the hardened, careless sinner; or to him, who secretly wrongs his neighbour, and by fraud or theft, strives to enrich himself. Let me separately ask each one of these, 'What fruit hast thou in these things?' He will surely answer, Peace is not with me.'
I would appeal to another man, to the idolater-not him who worships gods of wood and stone, but him who sets up his idols in his heart, and makes the world his god; who places his whole affections on the things of this life; has his treasure on earth; and labours only for the meat which perisheth. What fruit hast thou in these things? Do they yield thee true enjoyment? Do they not bring care and sorrow? Do they not frequently occasion disappointment and vexation? How often art thou unable to get the thing thou wantest? How constantly when gotten, does it fall short of thy wishes, and leave thee as it found thee, dissatisfied, and still wanting
something more? Restless and uneasy, thou art_not, thou canst not be happy.
Thus we may feel confident, that there is not one among us, whose experience will not help to confirm the truth which we are considering; not one, whose conscience, if fairly suffered to speak, would not testify, that sin yields no present fruit. I ob
II. That sin is followed by shame.
"What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed?" Shame is that confusion of mind, which arises from a consciousness of guilt. While our first parents were free from sin, they knew not shame. But no sooner had they broken the divine commandment, and had brought guilt upon their souls, than they were ashamed. Conscious of what they had done, fearing detection, and not able to face the ALMIGHTY, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. And is not such the case with every sin? Will it not sooner or later bring shame as its certain follower? Undoubtedly it will. For a time indeed, men may sin without feeling shame." They may even glory in their shame. They may be proud, and boast of that which ought to be their shame. But it will not be always thus. A day is coming, when every thing,
even every hidden thing of darkness" will be brought to light; when sin will be seen by all in its true colours. In that day how great will be the consternation of the wicked! they "will awake to shame and everlasting contempt.' How will they be ashamed at the discovery of those sins, which they were not afraid to commit! When they see what sin is, how odious, how vile it is, with what unspeakable confusion will they be overwhelmed! they will be unable to look their judge in the face. Conscious guilt will stop their mouths. They will call on the rocks and mountains to cover them. -But farther, even where sin is repented of and forsaken, it is still followed by shame. These things cannot be parted from each other. The persons spoken of in the text, though no longer the servants of sin, are represented as still ashamed of their former evil ways. Thus the penitent Ephraim is described as "ashamed, yea, even confounded, because he did bear the reproach of his youth."+ When the sinner indeed is brought to see something of the number and greatness of his sins; that they are utterly without excuse; that they have been committed against a good and holy God, who has been loading him with benefits and + Jeremiah, xxxi, 19.
Daniel, xii. 2.
mercies; can he be otherwise than ashamed at the recollection of his folly and guilt? Was not this the case with the prodigal, when calling to mind his father's love and kindness, and his own base ingratitude, he felt that he was no longer worthy to be called a son? Is not this the state to which the Lord declares that he will bring his people Israel, when they shall "remember their own evil ways, and their doings which were not good, and shall loathe themselves in their own sight for their iniquities;" and shall "be confounded, and shall never open their mouths any more because of their shame, even when he is pacified towards them for all that they have done?"* What do we suppose was the state of Peter's mind, when he saw his guilt in having denied his Master? How great a share must shame have had in the painful feelings of his soul, when he went out and wept bitterly?"+ So constantly is sin followed by shame.
III. Sin ends in death.
"What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death." St. James gives the same account of the matter. "When lust has conceived, it bringeth forth sin, *Jeremiah, xxxi. 19. Ezekiel, xvi. 63. xxxvi. 31.
+ Matth. xxvi. 75..