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murderer hath eternal life abiding in him."*
works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, envyings, murders, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."+ With these solemn assurances sounding in our ears, what can be more necessary than that we should pray with David, "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity; and let me not eat of their dainties." May our habitual temper agree with the apostolic precept, "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."§
Secondly. We learn, likewise, the total depravation of our nature. How comes it to pass, that man is capable of perpetrating such crimes as these; crimes against human nature, against reason, and against God? Alas! the cause is plain: "God made man upright-in his own image," holy, and therefore happy; "but all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The pollution of the fountain has diffused itself through all the streams; not one has escaped the moral defilement. What saith the Scripture? They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." This is the hideous picture-and is it
1 John iii. 15. Ephes. iv. 31, 32.
Gal. v. 19-21.
Psalm cxli. 3, 4.
overcharged? Can you name one crime included in its delineation of evil, which is too strictly marked? Deny the deceitfulness of the heart, and you must, at the same time, renounce the honourable name of believer in revelation. Has not the Omniscient Judge of quick and dead, "whose judgment is according to truth," plainly declared, "out of the heart proceed evil thoughts-murders.”* And can such a heart be otherwise than degenerate and depraved?
Thirdly. And may not Satanic influence be inferred from the review of this subject? Such an agency, I know, is deemed, by many modern professors, both chimerical and absurd. They have, therefore, in perfect consistency with themselves, erased it from their theological belief. They assume every passage of inspiration which makes mention of the devil and his works, as mere figures of speech, metaphoric and parabolical personifications, which are to be taken in an allegorical sense, and which would be degrading to reason to understand in any other way. "Thus at one stroke is the gospel undermined, which, to use the words of Dr. Doddridge, has its foundation in the combat of Jesus Christ with the prince of darkness, and his victory over him." It is certain that the indictments
our courts of law, are more orthodox than the creeds of some fashionable Christians. The former make a formal recognition of diabolic agency, when they represent the murderer as instigated by the devil, which the latter, of course, deny. Some persons of this sentiment have presumed to mutilate the well known "Songs for Infant Minds," substituting the term folly for Satan; thus our babes in the nursery must drink in scepticism with their hymns, or at least be kept in profound ignorance of an
Matt. xv. 19.
enemy against whom they cannot be too early warned, or taught to combat. It cannot be reasonably doubted, that he who is "a murderer from the beginning," frequently prompts to the commission of this horrid crime. "Therefore be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour."*
Fourthly. Another truth impressively taught us by the present subject, is, the spirituality of the divine law, "We know," says St. Paul," that the law is spiritual.”† It was to explain and enforce this great truth, that the Lord Jesus Christ delivered this solemn discourse on the occasion before us, that he might purify it of the dangerous corruptions which the Jewish doctors had introduced, and place it before the minds of men in its real character. David, indeed, long ere the Son of God appeared in the flesh, had represented it as "exceeding broad; as taking cognizance of all the inclinations of the heart, and affections of the soul." Thus the apostle, likewise, tells us, "I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." The meaning is, that while he was ignorant of the nature of the law, he thought he had kept it, but when he understood it aright, he saw that he had violated it in innumerable instances; that he was therefore condemned by its sanctions, and nothing that he could do could save him from the just reward of his transgressions. And the same great truth applies to all men of every age, nation, rank and condi
"Sermon on the dreadful sin of suicide," by the Rev. George Clayton, to which the author of these lectures is indebted for some remarks in this discourse; and of which sermon, as it thus comes before him, he begs permission to offer his opinion, as a most eloquent, judicious, and serious exprobation of that dreadful crime.
Rom. vii. 14.
no flesh living be justified, for by the law is the knowledge
A fifth lesson of instruction is hereby taught, namely, the value of the gospel. And there are two points of view in which this is seen. The first is its suitableness as a scheme of grace and mercy. According to the extended signification in the text, all the human family stand in "danger of the judgment" of the Almighty Governor of the earth, for the commission of this crime; nor is there one commandment but we have violated-either in its spirit or letter. Whither then shall we flee? Will you turn to Moses? "There is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust." "The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did, by the which we draw nigh unto God." Will you plead your meekness, your good desires, the force of temptation, the surprise by which you were overtaken and conquered? But will these pleas avail? Will apologies be accepted? You know they will not. Here is the remedy and the relief: "Christ hath delivered us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us."§ "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."|| He is the only city of refuge, the only strong hold of safety to which the prisoner of hope can turn: and to him you are encouraged to make immediate application, for he hath said,
Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out."¶ The other light in which this subject exhibits to our view this inestimable blessing, is the restorative power which the gospel possesses, to cure all the moral disorders of the world. Let these heavenly pages be published, and received, and felt, and all the dark brood of atrocious
Rom. iii. 20.
+ John v. 45.
|| John i. 29.
Heb. vii. 19.
John vi. 37.
crimes which wound the soul, and dishonour our nature, will be no more. This is the divine expedient-the effectual prescription by which man is to be recovered from the mazes of error, the maladies of his nature, the grasp of the law, and brought back to his God. Send forth this angel of mercy and grace through all the regions of the world, and let her voice be heard by every human being; then the reign of darkness will expire, the ardent desire of these enlightened statesmen, and humble-minded Christians, who have so long struggled to heal the wrongs of Africa, and unfetter her slaves, will be accomplished: peace and love will reign through all the habitations of men, and God be all in all. The Lord hasten it in his own time. Amen.
* William Wilberforce, Esq. and Thomas Fowell Buxton, Esq. M.P.