« السابقةمتابعة »
which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them." While in this state, you resemble a blind man in the midst of treacherous enemies; he is unconscious of their being round him; and so he does not fear them. Thus, on the edge of destruction, you are unconcerned, because blind to your state; for did you see your real state, while uninterested in the Saviour, you might perceive yourself to be, as it were, hanging by a single thread over the mouth of hell; devils waiting to receive you; the eternal Judge frowning upon you! and nothing wanting to seal you up under endless despair but the command of God to snap the brittle thread of life asunder. You are blinded by Satan, and led captive at his will. Is not this a state of wretchedness? yet this is yours; though spiritual blindness prevents your perception of it.
But perhaps, though such is your truly dismal condition, you have not felt its danger, nor been alarmed at its horrors. You have thought, and still think, the ways of iniquity pleasing. Yes, unhappy youth, while the future is forgotten, and death and judgment out of sight, the young sinner may find in them a transitory though brutish pleasure. The profligate, the drunken, and the lewd
may be gratified, for a few moments, with their base delights. The triflers in the giddy ball-room, or licentious theatre, or when wasting invaluable time over a novel or romance, may think themselves happy; but these are unsatisfying things. The sinner pursues them for happiness! and yet is not happy. Have you never known this? Have you never seemed happy in the view of others, when full of inward misery? In the vain round of pleasures and amusements, when intoxicated with worldly delights, conscience, like a still small voice within, often tells the sinner that the end of these things is death. Has not this sacred monitor thus at times followed you, and made you uneasy even in spite of yourself? has it not even at the playhouse, the card-table, or the dance, told you that death, judgment, and hell were at hand? The careless sinner, who seems so cheerful, who laughs so loud, who appears so merry, through these inward stings, often feels, in the midst of all his delight, a load of remorse and wretchedness. Not merely does sin bring destruction in the next world, but its fruits are commonly wretchedness and ruin in this life.
Sabbath-breaking has been mentioned as one of the most common sins of youth, and how sad are its fruits! it often takes the lead
in a legion of crimes. The sabbath-breaker is not long merely a sabbath-breaker. The writer of these pages once attended a criminal, who suffered death for murder, and he spoke of sabbath-breaking as a sin that led him to others! and perhaps few criminals have reached the gallows, who had not to ascribe their destruction, in a great measure, to this crime. Many have expressly mentioned this as the source of their guilt and misery. Not long ago five men suffered on the gallows, at the same time, in the isle of Ely, one or two of whom had been in a decent situation, and who all bore this sad testimony to the effects of sabbath-breaking.
"We most sincerely warn you all to avoid those sins, which have been the means of bringing us here. By all means, avoid irreligion and vice of all kinds; particularly swearing, drunkenness, and sabbath-breaking." One of them declared that drunkenness, whoredom, and sabbath-breaking, had brought them all to their untimely end. The awful judgments of God on sabbath-breakers, have also proved their way to be a way of sorrows. Many have gone out in the morning, on sab bath-breaking parties of pleasure, who, ere the evening came, were cut off by a sudden and unexpected doom; and sent all unpre pared into the eternal world. Not long back,
two parties, containing eleven or twelve persons, perished during one sabbath day, in the river Thames. Could some of these unhappy creatures now address you, they might say, "Forsake your destructive pleasures; cease your sabbath-breaking parties, lest our doom be shortly yours. Alas! our broken sabbaths are our misery now. Your sabbaths are not all gone, but ours are, and we would give the world to have spent them in the ways of God. Alas! we profaned them; and God was angry with us, and snatched us from the world where mercy may be found, and fixed us in that sad abode where no sabbath ever shines."
Drunkenness leads to temporal and eternal destruction! it entails disease on the body; beggary on the estate; and damnation on the soul.
The guilty indulgence of loose and wanton desires, though so awfully prevalent, entails on multitudes of young transgressors years of misery and early death. "For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honey-comb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death." Picture to yourself a young man, the slave of this destructive sin. He might have enjoyed health and vigour; have been a comfort to others, and a blessing
to himself; but his crimes have ruined his health; disease sends him to an early tomb; and his murdered soul goes hence, laden with the guilt of that crime, of which the Most High has solemnly said, "They that do such things, shall not inherit the kingdom of God. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ, and of God."
Does a young woman give way to the seducer, alas! she finds the way of transgressors hard indeed. Reproaches of conscience, loss of character, with the other bitter fruits of this crime, become her sad portion. Perhaps she goes onward in sin, and ends in confirmed habits of vice; then has she peace? Ah, no! she is become, in reality, the offscouring of all things. How different is such a one from what she might have been! and from what others are, who have made God the guide of their youth. They, the ornaments and comforts of the families to which they belong; but she, an abandoned wretch, lost to all sense of shame, and to every right feeling! she lives only to spread disease, and wickedness, and misery, and death, and damnation, to all who come within the reach of her pestilential breath!"
Connected with these crimes, dishonesty