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Which leads me
rit happiness or misery for ever. to observe, in the last place,
That the evil of affliction is but of short duration, but that of sin perpetual. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning; and these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, work out for us a far more exceed. ing and eternal weight of glory. Should they continue throughout our whole lives, yet even that is but a moment compared with eternity. The evil of sin, on the contrary, goes beyond the grave, and lasts as long as the soul itself, which it bas polluted. The delight of it is soon gone, but the sting remains; the guilt and punishment of it pass with us into the other world, and there constitute the worm that never dieth, and the fire which is not quenched.
These observations may suffice to illustrate the general proposition, that there can be no greater folly than to seek to escape from affliction, by complying with the temptations to sin; or, in other words, that the smallest act of deliberate "ansgression is infinitely worse than the greatest calunity we can suffer in this life.
Whú hath been said, ought, in the 1st place, to serve to reproof to those who, so far from considering iniq.ity as more to be dreaded as a greater evil than affirtion, will not refrain from their
ungodly and vicious practices even when their sin proves their affliction. To many, alas! it seems to be as their meat and drink to obey the commands of sin, by fulfilling the lusts thereof. vain hath the word of God and providence admonished them, that nought but bitterness is to be found in the path of folly. They still pursue that path, in defiance of their own experience, and weary themselves with committing iniquity. They break through all restraints, not only when an angel stands in the way, but where ruin, misery, and destruction, stare them broad in the face. How many are to be seen bound with the cords of their own sins, from which they have neither the inclination nor power to free themselves ? How many wasted and maimed by criminal indulgence? How many brought to poverty and rags, by riot and intemperance ? “ Who hath woe? who hath sorrow ? who hath contentions? who hath wounds without cause ? who hath redness of eyes ? they that tarry long at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine.” Sin has had its martyrs as well as godliness, who, in premature old age, have been made to possess the transgressions of their youth, in all the bitter fruits of a body tortured with diseases, and a spirit wounded with remorse.
Let us then be warned, ere it be too late, against the fatal error referred to in the text; the preference of the momentary pleasures of sin, to the salutary discipline of affliction. Let us never
allow ourselves to imagine, that any present pleasure or advantage of sin will compensate the dreadful evils which it carries in its train; but uniform, ly oppose, to every such suggestion of a deceived mind, that important and solemn question which our Lord addressed to the multitude, “ What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ? or wbat shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
2dly, Let us examine ourselves carefully, whether our judgment and choice have been rectified on this important point. What is it that affects us with the deepest concern and sorrow; the adverse events in providence, or the sins by which we have incurred the loss of the divine favour? When the hand of God lies heavy on us, what do we desire with the greatest earnestness ? whether is it to have the trial sanctified, or to have it re. moved? What is the chief object of your ambition ? Is it to grow in grace, and in conformity to the image of God ? or is it to become great, and prosperous, and powerful in the world? Were God now to put wisdom or riches in our choice, as he once did to Solomon, would we determine as he did ? or would we grasp at the riches, leaving it to age and experience to bring wisdom along with them in the ordinary supposed course of things ? In what character does Christ appear most amiable to us, as a Saviour from punishment, or as a Saviour from sin ? Finally, in what view
does heaven appear most worthy of our desires and wishes; as a place of deliverance from suffering, or as a state of perfect freedom from sin and infirmity of every kind, where we shall be enabled to serve God with the entire affections and powers of our whole nature ?
By these marks let us try the real state of our characters, that so we may not pass through life with a lie in our right hands; but knowing that we are of the truth, may assure our hearts before God, looking for his mercy unto eternal life. Amen.
2 CORINTHIANS v. 1.
For we know, that if our earthly house of this ta
bernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in. the Heavens.
prospect of a blessed immortality is one of the most powerful supports to the people of God, amidst all the trials of their present state ; and therefore hope is compared to an anchor, which being cast within the veil, keeps the soul firm and unmoved, so that nothing from without can disturb its inward peace and tranquillity. This was the true foundation of that courage and constancy with which the apostles and primitive Christians endured and overcame the most grievous sufferings. Faith presented to their view a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; in comparison of which their present afflictions appeared so light and momentary, that they were