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In the former part of this discourse it was attempted to shew, that sin, in all the shapes which it has assumed in the history of man, has ever implied—besides its many other and more serious aggravations-a deficiency in that common sensibility and tenderness of feeling which nature itself, taken at its ordinary standard, seems to dictate in the various relations of this life. We bave now to mention a few other illustrations of the same position, and then proced to examine the second part of the question proposed for enquiry, viz : in what manner this grossness of heart is affected by the influences of religion.
And here we must not omit to observe-with especial reference to the more open violators of the principles, or even, what may be termed, the decencies of Christian society--how greatly their guilt is augmented in addition to the other considerations mentioned above) by their forgetfulness of the crowd of temporal evils which they inflict on others, and which invariably follow, in some form or other, on the minutest deviation from the path of rectitude and piety. And is it no aggravation, we may ask, of the guilt of such an one, that he is reckless of the earthly troubles that he is bringing on those who are near and dear to him, or of the long train of calamities which, to some part or other of the social system, must inevitably ensue on his every departure from the law of God? Oh! consider, ye who, day by day, and night by night, perseveringly and unrepentingly provokethe divine displeasure, -Oh! consider, if ye cannot raise your thoughts so high as to reflect on the wrath ye are kindling against you in heaven, what ruin and desolation ye are working on earth. Think of the retribution, slow but sure, ' that unavoidably attends on guilt. Think of the wretchedness it introduces, under a multitude of
Picture to your
forms, into the world at large. Think of the miseries and sorrows, the unfailing offspring of sin, which you are heaping upon yourselves, your kindred, and your homes.
. selves the pain and grief that he is certain to inflict on all around whose heart is not right with God; the uncharitableness, the peevishness, the violence, the caprice, which must embitter the domestic circle in which he moves; the sufferings which they must endure who are made the victims of his sensuality or his injustice; the peace of families which he violates and destroys ; the disease and penury that follow on excess ; the distress he brings on those who are interested in his welfare, and who are compelled to share the consequences of his guilt; the tears of agony, - the unavailing regrets,--the bitterness of shame and disappointment to those about him,-the
grey hairs that his folly must bring down with sorrow to the grave. Oh! think of all these things, and if one ray of generous emotion yet lingers in your breasts,-one spark of tenderness for the feelings and the happiness of those who are most dearly attached to you, let nature herself awake to vindicate the broken laws of God, and the common affections of humanity arise to teach you, in part at least, some lessons of the loving kindness, and gratitude, and charity, and self controul which ye would not learn from the great fountains of wisdom above!
Well indeed did the apostle say of those who knew not God, that they were “past feeling" when they "gave themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness."* With good reason did he describe them, in another place, as "without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful, disobedient to parents ;”+ and, in nearly the same terms, enumerate amongst the characteristics of the “evil men” who should come in after times, that they should be “ lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false swearers, incontinent.” I The sinner's heart is truly and beautifully described in scripture to be“ dead in trespasses and sin."S God designed it to be sensitive and alive to all the best and purest emotions; but man has turned it into that diseased and withered receptacle of all impure and malignant passions which we see it now. God made it to be a healthy and vigorous plant wbereon all fair flowers and precious fruits might luxuriantly flourish ;- but man has changed it • Eph. iv. 19. + Rom. i. 31. I 2 Tim. iii. 2
$ Eph. ü. 1.
into a dead and distorted and barren trunk which is meet only to be cut down and burned.- 2101
But it has been stated above, that, besides the general: insensibility to proper feeling which is spoken of in the words of our text, our Lord Teferred also to a certain perversity of moral taste in the persons whom he condemned, as forming another prominent feature in the cons stitution of sin. And this we shall find in truth to be one of its most alarming and universal characteristics. Those who have “ chosen their portion in this life” are grievously mistaken, when they charge to the fault of religion herself that gloom and repulsiveness of aspect which, to their minds, all its exercises and all its obligations may seem to wear. And, on the same principle, they who have abandoned themselves to the unrestrained pursuit of pleasure, are equally wrong, when they suppose, amidst the jaded indifference of their palled and sated appetites, that God had no higher satisfactions to bestow on wan, than the miserable and licentious enjoyments from which they have derived so little permanent delight. : In both cases the fault is in themselves;
in a misdirected choice which bas fixed itself on objects that were not meant for preference in a perverted taste which, like the senses or the palate when they are suffering from the influence