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paffage. Thus every corner of life is filled up. Every avenue to the heart is fhut. You no where lie open to the impreffion of Divine grace, and the foul is fo full, that there is no room for the Holy Spirit
In the last place, Thefe leffer fins infallibly lead to greater. There is a fatal progress in vice. One fin naturally leads to another: the firft ftep leads to the fecond, till, by degrees, you come to the bottom of the precipice. Deceit, duplicity, diffimulation in different matters, which many perfons who maintain what is called a decent character, make no fcruple to employ, have a tendency to render you infincere on more important occafions, and may gradually deftroy your character of integrity altogether. He, who tells falfehoods for his own conveniency, will in the natural courfe of things, become a common liar.
The spirit of gaming perhaps you reckon a small fin. But whenever gaming is made a ferious bufinefs, and the love of it becomes a paffion, farewell to tranquillity and virtue. Then fucceed days of vanity and nights of care; diffipation of life, corruption of manners, inattention to domeftic affairs, arts of deceit, lying, curfing, and perjury. At a diftance poverty, with contempt at her heels, and in the rear of all, despair bringing a halter in her hand.
Thus have I fet before you the evil nature and the dangerous tendency of the least tranfgreffions. And
you afk an indulgence in little fins, when you fee how fatal they are? Do you still afk to make an excurfion from the path of virtue? Such an excurfion if you make you will fall in with the road to
perdition. Do you ftill wish to taste the waters which unlawful pleasure prefents to your eye? Taste them you may; but be affured that there is poifon in the ftream, and death in the cup. Alas! if we calmly indulge ourselves in the cool commiffion of the least fin, who knows when or where we fhall ftop? If once we yield to the temptation, in whose power is it to fay, Hitherto fhall I go, but no further? Many persons at their first setting out, would have trembled at the very thought of these fins, which in time, and by an easy transition, they have been brought to commit with boldness. The traitor configned to eternal infamy, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed the Lord of glo ry, had at first only his covetoufnefs to anfwer for. Fly, therefore, I befeech you, fly from the first approaches of fin. Guard your innocence, as you would guard your life. If you advance one step over the line which feparates the way of life from the way of death, down you fink to the bottomlefs abyfs. Come not then near the territories of perdition. Stand back and furvey the torrent which is now fo mighty and overflowing, that it deluges the land, and you will find it to proceed from a fmall contemptible brook. Examine the conflagration that has laid a city in afhes, and you will find it to arife from a single spark.
HEBREWS xii. 24.
The blood of Sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel.
REASON and philosophy have ap
plied their powers to external objects with wonderful fuccefs. They have traced the order of nature, and explained the elements of things. By obfervation and experience, they have afcertained the laws of the universe; they have counted the number of the stars; and following the footsteps of the Almighty, have discovered fome of the great lines of that original plan according to which he created the world. But when they approach the region of spirit and intelligence, they stop short in their difcoveries. The mind eludes its own fearch. The Author of our nature has checked our career in fuch ftudies, to teach us that action and moral improvement, not speculation and inquiry, are the ends of our being. Accordingly, the moral part of our frame is the eafieft understood. Having been placed here by Providence for great and noble purposes, virtue is the law of our nature. This being the great rule in the moral world, God has enforced it in various ways. He hath endowed us with a sense or faculty which, viewing actions in themselves, without regard to their confequences, approves or difapproves them. He
hath endowed us with another fenfe, which paffes fentence upon actions according to their confequen ces in fociety. He hath given us a third, which, removing human actions from life, and the world altogether, carries them to a higher tribunal. The first, which is the moral fenfe, belongs to us as individuals; is inftinctive in all its operations; approves of virtue as being moral beauty; and disapproves of vice as being moral deformity. The fecond, which is the fense of utility, belongs to us as members of society, is directed in its operations by reafon, and paffes fentence upon actions according as they are favourable or pernicious to the public good. The third, which is confcience, belongs to us as fubjects of the Divine government, is directed in its operations by the word of God, and confiders human actions as connected with a future ftate of rewards and punishments. It is this which properly belongs to religion. Upon this faculty of conscience, the happiness or misery of mankind in a great measure depends. A good conscience is a continual feast, and proves a fpring of joy amidst the greateft diftreffes. A confcience troubled with remorfe or haunted with fear, is the greatest of all human evils. Accordingly, the Christian religion, which adapts itself to every state of our nature, and carries confolation to the mind in every distress, has prefented to the weary and heavy laden finner, "the blood of fprinkling, which fpeaketh better
things than the blood of Abel." The meaning of which expreffion is this: as the blood of Abel, crying to Heaven for vengeance, filled the mind of Cain with horror, and as every fin is attended with remorfe; fo the blood of Jefus is of power to deliver
the mind from this remorfe, and reflore peace of coil science to the true penitent.
In further treating upon this fubject, I fhall describe to you the nature of that remorse which is the companion of a guilty mind; and next the deliverance which the gospel gives us from it, by means of "the blood of fprinkling." In the first place, then, Let us confider the nature of that remorfe which is the companion of a guilty mind.
Almighty God having created man after his own image, intended him for moral excellence and perfection. Hence all his paffions were originally fet on the fide of virtue, and all his faculties tended to heaven. Confcience is ftill the leaft corrupted of all the powers of the foul. It keeps a faithful register of our deeds, and paffes impartial sentence upon them. It is appointed the judge of human life; is invested with authority and dominion over the whole man, and is armed with stings to punish the guilty. These are the fanctions and enforcements of that eternal law to which we are fubjected. For even in our present fallen state, we are fo framed by the Author of our nature, that moral evil can no more be committed than natural evil can be fuffered, without anguish and difquiet. As pain follows the infliction of a wound, as certainly doth remorfe attend the commiffion of fin. Conscience may be lulled afleep for a while, but it will one day vindicate its rights. It will feize the finner in an hour when he is not aware; will blast him perhaps in the midst of his mirth, and put him to the torture of an accufing mind. For the truth of this obfervation, let me appeal to your own experience. Did you ever indulge a criminal paffion, did