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he has unimpeded access to the soul. The great mass of sin which is committed, is secret sin : and it is this, above all others, and beyor.d all others, that ruins the soul forever. Oh ! if you would make damnation doubly sure, cherish those secret sins, which like a silent canker eat into the soul, and destroy your peace here and forever!
May I now ask your attention to the remedies for secret sins ? 1. Feel that they are sins.
It is too common to feel that nothing is sin which does not hurt our fellow-men. If their property or reputation be not injured, -if they be not injured by example, we are apt to feel that we are free. Now, we do not hurt men directly by secret sins. But is all sin to be against men? By no means. Secret sins are against ourselves; they are against the health of the body; are against the peace of the mind, the peace of conscience; against purity and strength of intellect, (for it could be easily proved to you that a man's intellect is debased, and weakened, and enfeebled by secret sins;) but they are also against God, the highest, purest, holiest, most perfect, and glorious being in the universe. Oh ! remember that when you sin in secret, you may not injure men so much as you would by open sinning, but you may put yourself more completely, entirely, and forever under the dominion of sin ; you may grieve and drive the spirit of God away forever; you may draw down the curse of God, which will leave you under the full power of sin. Every sin is against the great God; is under his eye; it is written in the book of his memory; and it will come up for review at the last great day of trial.
2. If you would be cleansed from secret sins, you must be much in prayer.
There is an old proverb which is to the point, “ that praying will make us leave off sinning; and sinning will make us leave off praying." It is strictly true. The two things cannot go together. David felt his necd of help from on high. " Cleanse thou me from secret faults; let no iniquities have dominion over me.'
I need not stop to prove that if you pray you will stop sinning; that is, if you pray sincerely and daily. I need not tell how the result will follow. The fact cannot be questioned. You go to God morning and evening in prayer, and you dare not go and sin either in public or in secret. His eye will be felt; his presence will be felt; his spirit will be there to aid ; and the soul will be brought under him. I would say to you, that of all remedies for sin, prayer is the most effectual; and without this, all other remedies will fail. No resolutions will avail; they will pass out of mind ; vigilence will sleep; conscience will be
lulled ; but the strength which true prayer draws down will never fail you. But it must be prayer; daily, fervent, humble, sincere. You must not first sin, and then feel remorse, and go away and pray; but you must first pray, and then resist temptation.
My hearers, while I do not name those secret companions of yours; those sins which are weighing down your soul; keeping away peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; which separate between you and God, I do ask, do you pray to God daily, constantly, fervently? By other means you may lop off here and there a branch ; but by none other will you cut down the tree. This is the only axe that will reach the root of the tree and destroy it.
3. If you would be cleansed from secret sins, fly from temptations.
With one hand you may hold a stone in its place before it begins to roll down the steep hill-side ; but after it has once begun to roll, you would resist in vain. You cannot conquer sin by tampering with it. It can be done only by resisting the very first temptations to it.
If you are tempted to sin by particular companions ; in particular places ; at particular hours; or in particular circumstances, the only possible way is to avoid the temptation. Flee from it as for life ! Had Lot's wife resisted the first wish to look back, she had not lost her life. Had David crushed the first sinful wish, or had he fled at once from temptation, he had not fallen as he did fall. And so it is with every one ; and with all sins. As it regards public sins, you will be likely to do so. If you are tempted to intemperance, you will naturally shun the companions, the places, or the hours, by which you have been tempted. But in regard to the sins of the heart you are in danger of not doing so.
Be careful not to trust yourself alone, except barely long enough for secret devotion. Be careful and watch over the heart, and not give way to roving thoughts, or to the delicious dreams of reverie; the flames which they kindle will scorch the soul. Make it a part of every day's work to learn something about God's word which you never knew before. Make it the man of your counsel, and the guide of your life. Keep a good book in your room ; and from that draw materials for thought and reflection. Keep the mind full of good thoughts, and constantly add to your mental furniture.
4. If you would be free from secret sins, be constantly mindful of the presence of God.
You may have seen a man given to profaneness; whose throat was an open sepulchre, restrained and checked by the presence of a man who loathed the taking of God's name in vain. You do not
great in sin.
suppose that a man could plot treason, if he were conscious that the eye of the best patriot in the land was upon him! The eye of a mere mortal can control the tongue of blasphemy, and check the soul
How much more will the eye of the great God do it, if you will remember the presence of that eye! We are apt to shut God out of the thoughts; but, remember, when you sin, though the eye of man cannot see you ; though the tongue of man cannot reprove you, yet there is one present who sees all! No veil of midnight can shut Him out. No bolting of the door can keep Him away. The sun in his brightness looks not more directly down upon you, than does the
of our God! Go to the secrecy of your chamber, and there sin, and you hear Him crying in your ears, “Oh! do not that abominable thing which I hate !" You hear him cry," hell is veiled before me, and destruction hath no covering! Oh! you would not, you could not, you would not dare to live in sin ; secret sin ; any sin, if you only realised that God is with you at all times, in all places, marking down your sins in the books of the judgment !
My hearers, I speak to you with the more feeling and earnestness to-day, because I do believe your great danger of losing the soul, and becoming the everlasting enemy of God, arises, not so much from your open, as from your secret sins. They seem small; seem of little consequence; but these are the little foxes which destroy the vines. Are you not ashamed to commit open sins, because man will see you? And should you not be ashamed to commit secret sins, when God sees you ? Are you afraid of the rebukes and the reproaches of man ; the loss of character among worms of the dust? and oh! are you not afraid of the reproaches of conscience to eternity; afraid of the eternal wrath and displeasure of the great God ? The contest for your soul is now going on.
Sin has entered your heart; the tempter hath found an highway to that heart; your passions, your appetites, your habits, your feelings, all draw you into sin ; while conscience, and light, and truth, and mercy, and the spirit of God, try to bring you back to heaven! This contest is sometimes so severe that you are sensible of it; your color comes and goes; the spirit; the deathless spirit within you shudders, and you are afraid ! Oh! when will this contest end?
When will you slay every sin ; all sin ; bring all out, as the magicians of Ephesus did their corrupting books, and burn them ! When will you? Till you do, sin will rule you ; sin will hurry you onward, onward, and far away from righteousness, and peace, and God !
BY REV. JOHN TODD.
SELFISHNESS THE GREAT SIN.
Pail. ii. 21.-All men seek their own, not the things which are
The clouds which gather in the sky, and the waters which they pour over the earth, are ministers to an end. The waters minister to the earth; the earth ministers to the grass, and the tree : the grass and the tree minister to the cattle, the flocks, and the fowls of the air; these again, have an end, and minister to the wants, the comforts, and the luxuries of man. But man does not minister to the cloud, the stream, the earth, the grass, nor the beast; he was not made to be the servant of either, or all of these.
What then, is his end? Where does he centre, since every thing else, centres in him? He must stop at himself, and live for himself; or else he must go up higher, and make God his centre,-and the object for which he lives. Which ought he to do?
You will say he ought to make God the centre of all, and the object, above all others, of his aims. So says the conscience; and so says the Bible, But do men do this? Do we? or is the text true, all men scek their own,-not the things of Jesus Christ?
But, you will say, may I not seek my own—my own happiness? Is there not a natural self-love, deeply planted in every heart, and which is lawful ? I reply.--Yes ;-there is ; We are commanded to preserve our own lives, to take care of character, to take care of all our true interests for time and eternity. We are directed to love our neighbor as ourselves, which we could not do, unless we first loved ourselves :—and when we are commanded to lay down our lives for God, we are not to put off this self-love for Christ, we have it still appealed to, in the offers of eternal life as a reward.
Nor does religion destroy this, but on the contrary, the Christian loves himself, as he would love any instrument with which to honor God.
Every creature is made to honor God; and when the Christian sees himself, (an immortal being,) brought back to become a means of promoting God's glory, he cannot but rejoice.
But though you may love yourself, and seek to gratify yourself, in eating, in drinking, in dress, in any thing till you come to a certain point ; yet-pass beyond that point, and it becomes sinful. Where, then, is thot point? I reply, it is where you place your desires or will before God's--it is where he has pronounced it to be sinful.
You may eat and drink, because, to a certain extent, it gratifies yourself; but the moment you do not eat and drink, and do all for the sake of glorifying God, it is sinful. You may plough, or seek for property in any other labors, but if you make yourself the chief end, it becomes sin. Thus, the ploughing of the wicked is sin. You may sacrifice, or pray but if you do it merely to ease your conscience, to secure your own exclusively, it is an abomination to the Lord.
All sin consists in seeking your own happiness, without regard to God, or any body else. Thus-envy is self, grieved that you have not, and want what somebody else has,-and if carried out, it would take what it wants at any expense of the happiness of others, that is, it would become murder. Impatience --is self, checked in its enjoyments--or uneasy, because enjoyments do not flow fast enough. Wrath-is self, defending self against some evils, real, or imaginary, which have been, or are to be received. Pride, is a constant desire to have self raised above others--to be admired, to be as gods, and if carried out, would not stop short of the throne of God. Hence, all sin, is seeking to gratify self in some way or other without regard to the commands of God, or the happiness of others. Hence, in Romans, men are said to live to sin ;--while in Corinthians they are said to live to themselves ;--and in my text "all men seek their own."
Hence too, it is so difficult to convert the soul to God; it is the renouncing self, wbich has been the God and the master of the sonl, and enthroning Jehovah in its place.
What I have said will involve the following propositions which I propose briefly to prove.
1. That men naturally prefer themselves to God. This is seen in the estimation in which we hold ourselves. Who does not think too highly of hiinself, more highly than others do of him,--his talents, standing, influence! Who does not in his thoughts, compare himself with those below him, rather than with those above him. Who does not secretly cherish the thought that those above him, are really inferior to himself, though some fortuitous circumstance may now give them some little superiority ?
It is seen in our taking credit to our own wisdom in all that we accomplish. When men are crossed and disappointed they charge the blame-where ?--not to themselves but to luck, to fortune to