« הקודםהמשך »
temple, the cook their priest, and their belly their god! What inventions are there to kill time! Short as life is, and we all complain it is so short, yet it drags on too slowly for many. Hence the various amusements, especially playing at cards, invented on purpose to kill time.
Ah! how soon will these murderers of time wish for one of their lost hours, when time with them shall be no more! What inventions are there to gratify pride! What contrivances to make us look greater and finer than our neighbours! What inventions to become rich and great!—for this, men spend all their strength, and risk their health and life! What inventions to deceive one another, and to appear what we really are not! But there are worse inventions still in matters of religion. What inventions of doctrine !-how many teach, for divine truth, the commandments of men! What inventions in the worship of God! Hence all idolatry and superstition,-hateful to God, and hurtful to man. What inventions as to of acceptance
with God! There is but one true way,--and that is Christ; but instead of this, men have invented a thousand ways ; pretending, by their own virtue, goodness, morality, charity, devotion and sufferings, to recommend themselves to God.
Not to dwell any longer on the word inven. tions, let us take a general view of man in his fallen state.
See what ignorance veils his mind ! How wretched and near to the state of brute beasts are millions of the human race,-the Indians of America, and the Negroes of Africa! Yea, even in Europe, which is more enlightened; and in England too,-a country full of churches and Bibles ! O how many thousands are in darkness and the shadow of death! Yes, even many of those who are scholars, who are wise enough in worldly
things, know not God, know not themselves, know not Jesus Christ ! How many that seem to be religious worship an“ unknown God," being ignorant of their fallen state, and therefore ignorant of the salvation of the Redeemer.
But ignorance is not all. Consider the carnalily of the mind. The heart is gone from God. It does “ not like to retain God in its knowledge.” How many are saying to God, “Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways !" And say, my brethren, Is it not so with some of
you ? Why else is it that you do not love prayer ?—why do you neglect the Bible ?—why do you break the Sabbath ?—why do you take pleasure in the company of the wicked, while you laugh at serious people, and true piety? Your conscience sometimes smites you for this, for you know they are right, and you are wrong; and were you on a dying bed, you would gladly be in their state. You have an immortal soul, which you know must be saved for ever or lost for ever, and yet you
live as if
you had no soul at all! And though religion be the great business of man, it is the only business that you neglect; it is the only business you hate to see others mind. And does not this convince you
that you are carnal indeed ?
“ Even a child is known by his doings; "“ foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child." Prov. xx. 11.; xxii. 15. Have you never observed the envy, pride, and passion, of little children ? They could not learn these evil tempers from others : they brought them into the world with them; they were born in sin,
Look at young people. The seeds of sin, which were in their nature, spring up and grow apace ;the bud of vice now begins to blow. See the forward, rash youth, full of pride and self-conceit, despising his parents, impatient of control, bursting every bond, that he may pursue his pleasures ; and determined to indulge his lusts, though at the expense of health, character, and life itself. O, who can lament, as it deserves, the shameful, the worse than brutal lewdness of both sexes! This vice awfully prevails ; and though some may laugha at it, and think it a little sin, let them know, that “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Heb. xiii. 4.
What shall we say of profaneness ? “ Because of swearing, the land mourneth!” England groans under the burden of this horrid crime, this unprofitable vice :- the streets, the roads, the fields, the alehouses, ring with the horrid language of hell ! The throat of the swearer is an open sepulchre,” belching forth, in oaths and curses, a stench more hateful to God, than the smell of a human carcase to man. This is so common that we almost forget its criminality; but what saith the law ? « Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain ; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Perjury is a sin which awfully prevails in this country. Unhappily, oaths are exceedingly multiplied, and taken without solemnity or sincerity ; yea, an appeal is often made to God for the truth of that declaration which the abandoned swearer knows to be false. Surely, profaneness and perjury are sins which, above most others, show that a man is woefully fallen and wicked; or how could he practise, how could he love, these abominable vices ?
Time would fail us to speak of a thousand other evils which proceed out of the heart. Read the catalogue given by our Saviour himself, in Matt. xx. 19. “ Evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemy; these come forth from the heart, and they defile the man.'
The Scriptures abound with testimonies to this sad truth. Read the following, in Gen. vi. 5: “ And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually ; and it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth; and it grieved him at his heart." See also Gen. viii. 21: “ The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." Read also Job xi. 12: “ Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt;"--and chap. xv. 14: “What is man, that he should be clean ? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous ?” And lest any should think that all people are not so bad, and that these things are said only of openly wicked persons, observe what the following Scripture declares (Psalm xiv. 2, 3): “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside ; they are altogether become filthy : there is none that doeth good, no not one." In a word, see the true picture of fallen man in Jer. xvii. 9: “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, -who can know it?"
Thus then is this terrible, but useful truth fully confirmed. None can deny it, without denying the word of God: but if these testimonies are not enough, turn your eyes to the state of mankind in this present evil world, and you will find sad proof that man is in a fallen state. Matter of fact confirms the humbling doctrine. “ How astonishing is the quantity of misery in the world !-how many thousands are rending the air with the cry of pain or wretchedness !” Strange, that ever there should be so much ; that ever there should be any
suffering in the creation of a good God ! Doubtless there is a good cause for it, and if the Bible had
not told us what it is, we should be for ever in the dark. 0, Adain, what hast thou done; 0, man, what art thou always doing! Is not the earth cursed for man's sake !" And why doth it bring forth so plentifully thorns and briers, while useful plants, fruit, and grain, cannot be produced without great labour? The earth itself preaches to us this humiliating truth ; and while man gains his bread by the sweat of his brow, let him learn that sin is the fatal cause. Man is fallen, and God is angry.
Sometimes the earth is deluged with dangerous floods; at other times it is hardened with excessive drought Dreadful peals of thunder shake the heavens ; fearful flashes of lightning fill the skies; horrible earthquakes cleave the ground, and open a sudden grave for thousands ! Burning mountains belch forth their destructive contents! The seas, raised to fury by the stormy winds, bury the poor helpless seamen by scores and hundreds ! Terrible plagues sweep away whole cities in a few weeks! What is the language of these fearful messengers ? They all unite to say, “ Man is fallen, and God is angry." Consider, also the sorrows of mothers in bringing forth their offspring. Observe the cries, and tears, and pains, and death, of little babes. Think of the various fierce and agonizing diseases of mankind. What is the world itself but a huge hospital ?-and where almost the house in which there is not one sick ? How many of our poor fellow-creatures are at this moment pining in poverty, or racked with pain, or raving with madness! Turn your eyes to the dying bed of a fellowmortal. Look at his ghastly countenance. See how he is convulsed; how he pants; how he labours for life ! At last, with a doleful groan, he bids adieu to this wretched world. Behold the pale and lifeless
corpse. In a few days, perhaps in a few hours,