Page images
PDF
EPUB

unclean person hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." And his testimony is thus confirmed by St. John in the Revelation: who declares with authority from on high-" That whoremongers shall have their part with murderers, sorcerers, liars, idolaters, in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone for ever-which is the second death."

Such-if there be truth in God's holy book-is the heavy burthen of wrath which they are heaping up for themselves against the day of judgment, who now yield up their members as instruments to uncleanness. It is terrible for the mind to entertain the thought of what is appointed them; how much more terrible for those who will have to endure it who will have to dwell with everlasting burnings: where the worm never dieth, and the fire is not quenched! It is the absolute certainty of this dreadful doom of everlasting woe, prepared of old for the punishment of carnal wickedness, that constrains me to protest with all earnestness against your committing it-which urges me to press home the words of the text, and bid you be aware and "flee fornication."

The caution, as I said above, is more than justified by the frequency of the offence-it is rendered doubly necessary by the fact, that this sin, deadly as it appears in the pages of Holy Scripture, is not

regarded with due abhorrence even by those who are not guilty of it themselves-nay, it is looked upon by many, as a thing of light consequence, excusable in youth on the score of strong passions. How often, when an erring child has brought disgrace upon herself, and upon her parents, have I heard her sin spoken of as "a misfortune." As if it were a mere accident; something that gave her a claim to pity instead of rebuke. As though the immediate trouble and inconvenience which it occasioned was the only thing to be regretted. Doubtless that trouble-that inconvenience-is in a degree to be regretted; doubtless those parents are to be pitied whose homes are embittered by the misconduct of their children. I do not at all wish to underrate the temporal affliction which, in such cases, must necessarily be felt; but, my brethren, what I most wish is, that parents would learn to view such conduct in the right light: as that which is deeply offensive to the Almighty: that they would sorrow for the sin, as well as for the trouble which it brings on them; for then, perhaps, from such affliction they would learn wisdom; they would gather from sad experience the lesson which the Bible teaches of the importance of early piety; they would be brought to acknowledge, that, what they so sorely regret, what so heavily op

presses them, is but in many cases the just consequence of their own neglect.

66

And this, by God's blessing, would make them more careful for the future: more desirous to train up their families in the way they ought to go:" more diligent in instructing them while young in sound religious principles: by teaching them from their very cradle, this, as the best of maxims," to fear God, and to keep His commandments.' Surely were such more generally the plan pursued; were parents to watch over their children's souls as carefully as they do over their bodies were they to lose no opportunity of giving them or gaining for them instruction in the way of godliness-were they to check the evil which is in them whenever it appeared; rebuking every bad and indecent word that proceeded out of their mouths, foolish jesting, light, and improper talkwere they to control, and when necessary punish, their impure propensities; were they to point out, not angrily, but earnestly, the awful consequences of indulgence in forbidden lust, then it would not happen so often as it does at present, that their later years are spent in unavailing grief, and their grey hairs brought down to the grave with sorrow for the sins of some ruined child.

And now, to sum up what has been said, I have

set before you the nature of that wickedness which the text warns us to avoid; the evil consequence that follows even now from committing it, and the far more terrible punishment that must ensue hereafter. I have shown you that there is no sin more utterly at variance with our christian profession; none more hateful in the sight of God; that they who do such things have no part or inheritance in the kingdom of His beloved Son. Further, I

have traced the beginning of this vice (in many cases) to the neglected education of our youths: and I have urged upon all who are present, and all who have the charge of families, the importance of attending more closely to the religious training of their children; I have begged them, as they cared for their own peace, to watch over the growth of their souls-to see that they " are taught, so soon as they shall be able to learn," that God is a God of holiness and purity, and that He seeketh such to worship Him. That what He requires of all who have been baptized into His Church, is to forsake and renounce all carnal lusts, to crucify the flesh with its affections, to keep themselves unspotted from the world, and to follow " holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord."

In conclusion, I shall address to you a few words of exhortation, with a view of enforcing the command given us in the text. Such an exhortation

will naturally be directed to the younger part of those now present; and since it may happen that what is true of one, may not be true of all, I shall divide the few remarks that I have to make according to the different characters of my hearers. These may, I think, all be classed under two heads : either they are such as have kept hitherto clear of the sin of fornication, or such as having in former days been guilty of it, are now sensible of their error, and sincerely desirous to be restored to the favour of God, which by their wickedness they have forfeited.

There is indeed a third class of people; those who, though conscious of their guilt, yet persist in the practice of this sin, and are altogether reckless of the consequences: but I can scarcely suppose that any such are present here. I will not easily believe that any man is so hardened as to intrude himself as it were upon the presence of God, and to come into His holy courts, while he is living in the open and avowed practice of a crime which is denounced as deadly in His sacred word. If there be-if there be one so lost to all sense of shame, so daringly bold in wickedness as to do this, my duty is to point out publicly what I have already done in private, that for him, while he perseveres in his iniquity, there can be no hope of mercy, but only a fearful expectation of God's judgment.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »