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SERMONS CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE.

LONDON :

GILBERT AND RJVINaTON, PEINTEES,

ST. John's squaee.

SERMONS

ON

CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE,

PEEACHED IN

ON THE AFTERNOONS OF THE SUNDAYS IN THE YEAR 1861-1862.

BY

HENEY ALFORD, D.D.

DEAN OF CANTEEBUEY.

LONDON: EIVINGTONS, WATEKLOO PLACE. 1863.

TO THE

CHRISTIAiS^ MEMORY

OP

JOHN HAMPDEN GURNEY.

When tlie former of these Sermons were preached, I anticipated what has ever been one of my chief pleasures on the publication of a new work, the sending it to my beloved friend; the receiving the looked-for letter of thanks, with his warm approbation where he could give it, and his manly and unsparing criticism where he thought me wrong.

But he is gone where doctrines need no proof, and thoughts no words to express them. We have lost from among us the living example of his noble character, of his scorn of party watchwords, and his contempt of the time-serving and the self-seeking. We shall no moi'e hear his generous outbursts of admiration for

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those who differed from him, no more be awakened to our own duties by his stern refusal to praise and to follow after the world's favourites. Truthfulness guilelessness, fearlessness, these were the thoughts of his heart : and as he thought, so he spoke. A good man, a powerful man, a bold man, he narrowly missed being a great man. But his goodness was often drowned in the voice of his power; and his power was too liable to spring forth at the call of generous impulse, for greatness to be achieved, or high position safely sustained. Himself a rigid Sabbatarian, he once incurred, at the hands of those who cared not to under- stand him, the imputation of opposite sentiments, rather than be party to an over-stated and ill-reasoned memorial.

As a preacher, he was, as might have been expected, earnest and even fiery in manner, unsparing in de- nunciation of wrong, rising into high eloquence and enthusiasm in fervid admiration of all that is noble and good.

But it was in the pulpit that that side of his cha- racter shone so brightly, for which some hardly credited him. His sermons were full of tenderness. He was

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a great master of description of tlie social affections, and of the softer feelings of tlie individual heart. It was a rich feast of enjoyment, to hear him draw out, in graphic touches, such subjects as the family histories in the Old Testament, or the return of the Prodigal in the New : to trace with him the progress of the softening of the once hard heart, or the kindling of high and noble desires in a character once incapable of them.

It was hardly perhaps in a course like that of the present yolume that he preferred bestowing his labour. But the great doctrines of our holy faith, though not often treated of as subjects, were ever present, ever underlying his whole fabric of exhortation and de- scription. His preaching, though seldom what is known as doctrinal, was always essentially Christian. If theological terms were not there, that which they imperfectly strive to represent, was ; and thus the work of building up in the faith was, if not ostensibly, yet perhaps after aU, the more really and safely accomplished.

Speaking in human weakness, looking at the blank place left in our defences where he feU, we seem to

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feel that we can ill spare him ; we cannot tell where to look for one who shall be to London, who shall be to the Church, exactly what he was.

But speaking and feeling more worthily, because more trustfully, we are satisfied that his work was done : and that God, who has taken him to His rest, can fill his place with others, whose fitness He knows, but we do not.

Thun, Sioitzerland, July 21, 1862.

SERMON I.

(PEEACHED ON THE SECOND STJKDAT IN ADVENT, DEC. 8, 1861.) SIN AS A FACT. Rom. iii. 23.

PAGE

All have sinned 1

SERMON II.

(PEEACHED ON THE THIED SUNDAY IN ADVENT, DEC. 15, 1861.) THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN. Heb. iii. 13.

The deceitfalness of sin 13

SERMON III.

(PEEACHED ON THE FOUETH SUNDAY IN ADVENT, DEC. 22, 1861.) THE GUILT AND CONSEQUENCE OF SIN. EzEK. xviii. 4.

The soul that sinneth, it shall die 28

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CONTENTS.

SEEMON lY.

(pee ACHED ON CHEISTMAS DAT, 1861.)

god's remedy for sin.

RomViu. 3.

PAGE

What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh 42

SERMON y.

(PEEACHED ON STJNDAT, JAN. 5, 1862.) THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ONE MAN. Rom. v. 18, 19.

As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to con- demnation : even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous 54

SEEMON YI.

(PEEACHED ON THE EIEST SUNDAY APTEE EPIPHANY, JAN. 12, 1862.) THE UNIVERSALITY OF THE GOSPEL. Gal. iii. 28.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female : for ye are all one in Christ Jesus .68

CONTEXTS.

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SERMON TII.

(PEEACHED OX THE SECOXD SrXDAT AETEE EPIPHANY, JAN. 19, 1862.) MIRACLES : AVATER MADE AVIXE. John ii. 11.

PAGE

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory 82

SERMOX Till.

(PEEACHED ON THE THIED SrXDAT AETEE EPIPHANT, JAN. 26, 1862.) MIRACLES OF HEALING. Matt. viii. 13.

And Jesus said unto the centurion. Go thy way ; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour 97

SERMOX JX.

(PBEACHED OX THE EOrETH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY, PEE. 2, 1862.) MIRACLES OF PO^-ER. Matt. viii. 27.

^Tiat manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him ? . 108

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CONTENTS.

SEEMON X.

(PEEACHED ON THE PIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY, FEB. 9, 1862.) PARABLES : THE TARES OF THE FIELD. Matt. xiii. 3.

PAGE

He spake many things unto them in parables .... 120

SEHMON XL

(preached on SEPTUAaESIMA SUNDAY, FEB. 16, 1862.) parables: THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD. Matt. xx. 16.

So the last shall be first, and the first last 134

SERMON XII.

(preached on SEXAQESIMA SUNDAY, FEB. 23, 1862.) parables: THE SOWER. Luke viii. 15.

That on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience 150

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SERMO^^ XIII.

(PEEACHED OX Qn^QrAGESniA SrXDAT, ilAECH 2, 1862.) WHY CHRIST SrFFERED. LrKE xvui. 31.

PA&E

Then Jesus took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished . . 166

SEEMON XIY.

(PEEACHED Oy THE EIEST SUXDAT IN LENT, ilAECH 9, 1862.)

oi-R lord's temptation.

Heb. iv. 15.

He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin . . 179

SEEMON XY.

(PEEACHED ON THE EIETH SUNDAY IN LENT, APEIL 6, 1862.) THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST. Heb. ix. 11.

Christ being come an High Priest of good things to come . . 193

SERMON XYI.

(PEEACHED ON THE SFNTJAT NEXT BEFOEE EASTEB, APEIL 13, 1862.) CHRIST CRUCIFIED. 1 CoE. i. 13.

We preach Christ crucified 210

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CONTENTS.

SEEMON XYII.

PREACHED ON GOOD FEIDAT, APEIL 18, 1862, ALSO AT ST. MAEY'S, OXFOED, ON EEIDAY EVENING, APEIL 11, 1862.)

OUR LORD IN DEATH.

John x. 17, 18.

PAGE

Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father 223

SERMON XYIII.

(PEEACHED ON EASTER DAT, APRIL 20, 1862.) IN CHRIST ALL MADE ALIVE. 1 CoE. XV. 12.

Now if Christ be preached that He rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead ? . 242

SERMON XIX.

(PEEACSED ON THE FIEST SUNDAY APTEE EASTEE, APEIL 27, 1862.) THE RESURRECTION OF THE BODY. 1 CoE. XV. 20.

Now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept 251

CONTENTS.

XV

SERMON XX.

(PEEACHED ON THE SECOND SUNDAY AETEB, EASTEE, 3IAY 4, 1862.) THE HOPE OF THE RESURRECTION. Tixrs ii. 13.

PAGE

Looking for that blessed hope 266

SERMON XXI.

(PEEACHED ON THE THIED SUNDAY AFTEE EASTEE, MAY 11, 1862.) JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. Eoii. i. 17. Heb. X. 38. The just shaU Hve by faith ........ 281

SERMON XXII.

(PEEACHED ON THE SUNDAY AETEE ASCENSION DAY, JUNE 1, 1862.) THE DOCTRINE OF THE LORd's SUPPER. John vi. 53.

Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you 294

SERMON XXIII.

(PEEACHED ON WHIT-SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 1862.) THE GIFT OF THE SPIRIT. Acts ii. 33.

Being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear 309

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CONTENTS.

SERMON XXIV.

(preached on trinity SUNDAY, JUNE 15, 1862.) THE HOLT TRINITY. Matt, xxviii. 19.

PAGE

Baptizing theui in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost . . . 319

SERMON XXY.

(preached on the first SUNDAY AETER TRINITY, JUNE 22, 1862.) KNOWLEDGE AND PRACTICE. John xiii. 17.

If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them . . . 331

SERMON I.

(preached on the second SUNDAY IN ADVENT, DEC. 8, 1861.)

SIN AS A FACT.

Ron. iii. 23. " All have sinned."

The Gospel of Christ may be described as a glorious remedy for a disease fatal and otherwise incurable, with which our whole race is tainted. And the first step in treating of the Grospel must ever be to lay open, and make us sensible of, that disease. For one of its most dangerous s}Tnptoms is, that it makes men insensible' I to its own presence : so that the worse a man is afficted with it, the less he knows that he has it at all. And, seeing that the remedy is not one which can be simply taken once and then all will be well, but one which requires long and painful and self-denying appli- cation, a man must be very thoroughly persuaded that he has the disease, and that he is likely to perish from it, before he ^vill take the necessary trouble to be cured of it. Now this disease we call six. And in con- sequence of what has been said you will see, that in

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SIN AS A FACT.

beginning a course of sermons on Christian doctrine, I must deal first with this fact which lies at the bottom of all Christian doctrine, that all men are sinners. I may be at once met with the question. Who does not know that? Who does not confess himself to be a sinner ? Doubtless, all do this by profession and with the lips. But, my brethren, there is as much differ- ence between confessing with the lips and feeling in- tensely in the depth of the heart, as there is between ' confessing and not confessing at all. " Miserable sinners : " Have mercy upon us miserable sinners." But what do we mean by sinners ?

Let us try and lay hold of this let us try to-day and see what sin means what " all having sinned " means.

When any of us looks out upon mankind, or looks within himself, with ever so little attention, one thing can hardly fail to strike him. It is, the presence of Evil. We at once see that there is a something in the world, and within us, rebellious, destructive, altogether un- welcome, and which we would gladly be rid of. We want harmony among men, harmony in ourselves, for all purposes of human improvement, for all purposes of our own progress and enlightening. But instead of harmony, we find discord every where. From the first, man's history has been a history of going wrong and doing wrong : from the first, our own personal history has been a history of interrupted good and interfering bad. Now observe, I am not at this moment speaking as a minister of the Gospel : I am speaking merely as man, as a citizeii of the world, as one of you, or one

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of any band of men gathered out of any age and any place upon earth. I am dwelling upon what is matter of universal observation. Who can deny this presence and this working of an unwelcome and a hostile element in all human matters ? AVhat deceit will ever enable a man to hide from himself this dark shadow which falls upon the fairest prospects and purest courses in life? AYhat mind looking into itself is not found to confess that there is this night side of its thoughts and ways ?

^s^ow it is not my purpose, at all events not at pre- sent, to say a word about the reason why this evil ever came into God's universe. I am concerned to-day withf^ the fact, and the importance of knowing and acknow- ledging the fact, that it has come into it and is every where present. Some may say— some have said, Conceal the fact, and you will get rid of it. Don't tell people that there is evil in the world ; forget that there is e\'il about and in yourself; and you and they will become good. It may be true, they continue, that there is such a dark spot in nature ; that there are these black shadows amidst the shining of the Face of the universal Father : but gazing upon them is painful and useless : look at the bright side of every thing : believe things to be innocent and right, and infinitely more good will be done than by dwelling on the gloom and so increasing it. This, my brethren, not only has been the published advice of a whole school of writers, it is also the view taken by many loose and shallow thinkers in every place at our own time. But let me ask you, do you suppose that the unquestioned evil in

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SIN AS A FACT.

universal nature, and in our nature, can be thus got rid of ? " Believe the world to be good, and it will become good," says one of these writers : Believe yourself to be good, and you will become good." I answer. Try it. Try it for a day, for an hour. Then go into your chamber, and take strict unsparing ac- count. And if it is urged that more time is wanted, try it for a year : shut your eyes to all that is bad in the world to all that is bad in you : refuse to believe, refuse to entertain any suspicion of evil in yourself, or in others, for that time : then retire and trace your path during the time. Does not every man see what Avould be the result ? Do not we aU know, that it would be simply the tale of the silly ostrich over again, which imagines itself safe from the hunter by shutting its eyes, and by hiding him from its own sight ? Do we not see, that such a person would only be delivered up far more and far more helplessly into the power of ^^vil ?

No, my brethren : a man who wants to get rid of evil in himself must open his eyes to the evil, not hide it : must not shrink from any pain which the sight may give him, if it also gives him the knowledge, what the danger is, and how to meet it. And he who wants to overcome evil in others, must not shrink from the gloomy and unwelcome task of speaking of it, exposing it, probing its extent and measuring its strength, that so they may be the more deeply and earnestly convinced of its existence, and the more active in combating it.

There is then this evil all about us and in us : and we must make up our minds to see it, to recognize it, to

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stand face to face with it, and conquer it. ]S'ow here come in two most important remarks.^ This evil is not the only disagreeable thing in life. There are bodily pain, discomfort, misery, common to us and all mankind nay, common to us and the lower animals. And there is this circumstance about all these, worthy of our present notice. If we can manage to forget them, to flee away from them, to hide them from us, we thereby get rid of them. We need not look at them, nor study their nature. A man who wants to avoid breaking a limb, need not be always gazing on or describing broken limbs : he has but to avoid those risks which might occasion the mischief. A man who would avoid death will follow the ordinary instinct of self-preservation : he would not be for ever studying all the possible ways of dying. Such knowledge is not necessarj^ ; nay, it woidd be an incumbrance and a nuisance. But the man who wishes to avoid evil in this world, must be awake and alive to the forms and accesses of He cannot do

without such knowledge : his very safety consists in it. Therefore— and mark the inference as an important one in our progress to-day evil is a matter of a totally differ- ent kind from bodily pain, misery, or death.

Again: evil is not by any means our only injcard source of annoyance and hindrance. You have I have every one has defects, infirmities, in his or her mind and disposition : things of which we would -s^illingly be rid if we coidd : bars to our progress and hindrances to our perfection. But none of these do we look upon as we look upon evil. Let it be she^m that we are dull, or feeble, or inferior to some others, we put up

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SIX AS A FACT.

with, it, we excuse it, we make ourselves as comfortable as we may under the knowledge of it : but let it be once shewn by others or by our own conscience that we have wished, said, done, that which is evil, and we know at once that there is no excuse for it. We may try to shew that we did it inadvertently, or by force of circum- stances ; or in some way to lessen our own share in it : but the \erj labour to construct an excuse shews that we hold the evil itself, as evil, to be inexcusable. Evil itself no one attempts to excuse : all take for granted that it is a loathsome thing, all desire that their cha- racter and their conscience should stand free from it.

So far then this evil is something which our nature itself teaches us to revolt from and abhor. We do not, we cannot excuse it ; we cannot contentedly put up with it, we cannot be happy under its influence. Now do not mistake me. Many a man, as we have seen, excuses his share in evil, excuses his evil deed as not being evil, plays the self- deceiver and hides the evil of his ways from himself, abandons his helm and lets himself drift into evil, and so is contented, and fancies himself happy, under e\il. But again, and for all this, the thi?ig itself is sim^^ly a deadly enemy to us, whenever and wherever detected, and exposed as being what it is. No son of man ever said or could say, from his inmost heart, what the great poet sublimely represents Satan as saying, Evil, be thou my good." It requires more than man ever to say this.

Well now, my brethren, what does all this shew? Does it not testify to there being a law within us, implanted in our nature, by which evil is avoided,

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and by consequence good souglit and desired? And observe that this is true, quite independently of and previous to all circumstances in which a man is placed, all interests in which he is involved. Our abhorrence of e\dl as evil does not spring from our finding it to be hurtful to us : we know that it is hurtful to us, the moment we know any thing. 'The little child for the first time detected in evil, is as much ashamed of it as the experienced and mature man. Now this is ex- ceedingly important : all- important, in our present enquiry. A law Avithin us tells us what is good, tells us, that we ought to be good, to say good, to do good. Mind I only assert this fact. That this law is broken in upon, that it is not always distinctly or properly or efiectively asserted, is nothing to my present purpose. I know all this, and shall have to use it by and by. But I only care now for this great fact, that there is this law : that we all know it, all judge by it, all act upon it as a familiar and confessed thing. All our enacted laws, all our public opinion, even all our ways of - thinking and speaking in words, are founded on there being such a law within man, sanctioning good, prohibiting eyil.

Now then it is time for us to ask, when man be- comes, says, acts evil, what sort of a thing does he do ? For that such is the case, is but too plain. Evil thoughts, evil words, evil acts, are but too often to be found in^ the course of all of us ; evil men unhappily abound in every place and society. How are we to look upon such evil thoughts, words, acts, and men ? Are they

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SIN AS A FACT.

necessary? In plain words, is it a condition of our lives that we must enter into compact with evil, as it is that we must eat and sleep ? Certainly not. This is clear from what has already been said. Every protest against evil, every resistance to evil, every victory over evil, proves that evil is not necessary to our being ; that He who made us has made us capable of existing without evil, and all the better for existing without evil. But now let us listen to what follows. True as this is, we must always remember, that this great and blessed state of our being, the freedom from and victory over evil, is not that after which all men are striving. There are all kinds of lower forms of our being, which satisfy men, and in some cases constitute their chief good. One man seeks the gratification of his bodily appetites and lusts : another, the heaping up of wealth : a third, the gaining of power : a fourth, the rising in the esteem of those about him : another again, several, or all of these together: and so, not man's brightest aim, to be good and pure and calm and wise, but an aim very far below this, is followed by the worse part of mankind always, by even the best of mankind sometimes.

Now, my brethren, every one of these lower and unworthy objects, if followed as an object, does neces- sarily bring a man into contact and compromise with evil. To be bent on gratifying lust, is of itself evil : to amass selfishly, is evil : to promote our own influence and push for precedence, is evil. Greed, intemperance, injustice to others, unkindness, overweening opinion of

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self, and a hundred otlier evil things beset every one of such courses of life; every one of such thoughts, words, actions.

Now we have advanced, I think, close to our point. When a man Kves such a course, when any one of us gives way to such thoughts or words, or commits such deeds, he is disobejring that great first law of our being by which, as I shewed you, we choose the good and abhor the evil. How it is that men got the wish 60 to go wrong and so to disobey the law of their being, it is not my present object to enquire. But though it is not, I must simply remind you that we Christian believers know how this was ; and more than this, that our Bibles give us the only satisfactory account that ever was given of it. We know that it was by a taint at the root and spring of our race ; by our first parents using that freedom in which their Creator made them, not to please Him by remaining in good, but to please themselves by entering into a compromise with evil* But I say no more, as to enlarge on this is beyond our subject to-day. Men are (there is no doubt of this) liable, every man is liable, thus to enter into compact with his worst enem}^, evil, in order to serve his present lower purposes. We all do this continually.

Now whenever we do this, we sin. ^' All sin,*' says St. John, is transgression of law*" Where there is no law, there is no sin ; wherever there is a law, there he who disobeys that law commits sin. And we have seen that this inward law which teaches us to abhor evil and choose good is broken and set at nought by us all.

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SIN AS A FACT.

We do not choose the good which we know we ought to choose : we do choose the evil which we very well know we ought not to choose. The propensity to do this, the entertaining the temptation to do it, the doing it, all these are sin. Now sin is not, like evil, a mere general quality : it is committed against a person. And there is, properly speaking, but one Person, against whom sin is, or can be committed. There is One who is the source and fountain of all law, all right, all purity, all goodness. And this law of good and evil of which we have been speaking, this above and before all others, springs from that Holy and Just one who hath made us and to whom we are accountable. All sin is against Him : is a violation of His law, is a thwarting, by His mysterious permission, of His holy and blessed purposes with regard to man.

All have sinned. And in dwelling on this, the fact, that all men have inherited the disposition to sin, necessarily comes first. And this is no fiction : this is not, as the unbeliever of our day would try to persuade you, an exploded fallacy of a gone-by system ; but it is sober and fearful truth. It is moreover agreeable to the analogy of all God's works in nature and in spirit : a truth, as matter of experience, undeniable by any who is aware of even the most common phaenomena of our nature. And, inheriting this disposition, but with it inheriting also the great inward law of conscience warning us against evil, we have again and again fol- lowed, not the good law, but the evil propensity: in wayward childhood this has been so : in passionate 1 youth : in calm deliberate manhood. We have not

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chosen evil ; we have hated evil by our very nature ; but we have followed evil, fallen into sin, by reason of our lusts and our passions blinding us, dragging us onward and downward, and delivering us tied and bound into the power of the enemy whom we naturally shun and detest. We have done this, we are doing it, continually : we shall ever be doing it more or less, in our manifold weaknesses, our besetting dangers, our abounding temptations.

Now then, this being so, what follows ? Can sin be safe ? Can a sinner be happy ? Can a sinful man be gaining the ends of his being ? The full answer to this question does not belong to our subject to-day ; but I cannot and ought not to conclude without slightly anticipating it.

Sin is and must be the ruin of man, body and soul, here and hereafter. The born sinner the tainted child of a tainted stock, living under that taint, with it working and spreading in him and through him, how shall he be safe ? how shall he be happy ? how shall he ever grow on to good and to a blessed eternity ? Without going any further into the matter to-day, do you not see that this cannot be so? Whoever sins, goes wrong : lays up grief, shame, all that is dreadful, for himself, by thwarting the gracious ends for which God created him, viz. to love, obey, and imitate Him- self, that he may become like Him, and one day see Him as He is.

Xo more then at present but this. Ever}^ man's work in life, sinners as we all are, is this : to find out his sins, to confess his sins to God, to struggle with

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God's help against his sins, year by year and day by day to gain victories over his sins through Him who overcame sin for us ; to believe in, and live in the reality of, the Atonement which His blood has made for all and every sin. All the glorious process of that which He hath accomplished for us, will come before us as we proceed.

But now in this season of Advent, when we are to cast away the works of darkness, I must detain you some Sundays longer on our own need of Him for whose coming we are to prepare ; and shall therefore, by God's help, speak to you on the next two Sundays on the manifold nature of sin, and on its guilt and conse- quences.

]^ow to Him who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to the Son of God, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be honour and glory for ever. Amen.

SERMON II.

(PEEACHED Oy THE THIED SrXDAT !>' ADTE^T, DEC. 15, 1S61.)

THE DECEITFULXESS OF SIN.

Heb. iii. 13.

" The deceitfulness of sin."

We are warned, in the passage in wMch these words occur, to beware lest any of us be hardened through the DECEITFULNESS OF SIX. It is to this last quality of sin, as connected with its manifold working, that I would to-day bespeak your attention.

I described it last Sunday as one of the worst symptoms of our spiritual disease, that the more a man is affected with it, the less, in many cases, does he know that he has it at all. And herein consists the deceitful- ness of sin : not in making itself appear more important, but in making itself appear less important, than it really is. It is, as we saw, a deadly taint in our nature, ever steahng onward, requiring ever the most active check to be put upon it ; never shrinking back, or declining, as a matter of course, but, on the contrary, as a matter of course always waxing, always flourishing : creeping

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about our pure thoughts, entangling our good resolves, binding down our holy aspirations ; even until all becomes overborne by it, and confusion and helpless- ness and hopelessness set in, and self is exalted as supreme, and God is forgotten in the chambers of the heart, and the voice of the good Spirit becomes silent, and the darkness of the night gathers round, and the spoiler only waits without, certain of his prey. And mind I am not speaking now, I do not mean to speak to-day, of what men call great sinners, or of what are known as deadly and shameful sins : I speak of us all, I want to benefit all : I speak of the course of sin, its manifold- ness, its deceitfulness, in us who, I will suppose, abstain at least from its outward and grosser manifestations : us, who are not murderers, not adulterers, not defrauders, not false swearers, but who are lovers of self, vain, envious, seekers of applause from men, careless, indo- lent, miwatchful, unfaithful to Christ. It is of the ordinary character of the average Christian man that I speak; in its infirmity, in its capriciousness, in its unwariness. May I be guided to speak aright, and you to judge what I say.

It will be plain to you that, in order to deal with such a subject profitably, I must not linger amidst mere general matters, but must enter into particulars, and exhibit sin in some of its various modes of attack and access to us. I must divide our life and its energies into its several departments, and shew how the manifold- ness and deceitfulness of sin beset us in each one of them.

And for this purpose the most convenient division will be the most ordinary one. Our vital energy finds

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Issue in three great ranges and regions : those of thought, of word, of deed. In each one of these there is duty, and there is fault. In each of them there is the voice of God speaking in our consciences, there is the wiitten law of God guiding, confirming, furthering, that inward voice : in each of them there is in us the constant disposition to set conscience and to set God aside, and to become our own guides, our own masters. Let us then take each one of these in turn, and shew in each, how manifold sin is, how deceitful.

Sins of THOUGHT. How best may we place ourselves aright to consider these ? It is not easy to turn inward, and be faithful witnesses to what passes within us. Nothing is so deceitful, nothing so apt to become a delusion, as the taking account of our own thoughts and feelings. Memory cannot copy faithfully the picture which has faded away, but overlays and tricks it out with fresh and unreal colours. What, for example, so utterly empty and unprofitable as religious diaries, experience-records, chronicles of past states of mind, unless indeed traced by a master-hand, and laid down with rare and self-denjing faithfulness ? This very fact shews, how busy sin is in our thoughts : how it is ever waking and watching, and turning even the infirmities of our memory into occasions for itself. In this very matter, how deep is its deceit how subtle its craft ! Take a more special example. Often we find in such records, often we find in ourselves, a disposition to exaggerate our own sinfulness. All is put down as bad: nothing could be worse. Slight errors are mag- nified into great sins : real sins blackened into unpar-

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donable enormities. 0 meekness, we may be disposed to say, 0 humility ! But pause a moment, and enquire, Is this reaUy so ? When self is both the accuser and the accused, both the prisoner and the prosecutor ; when again the crime charged is past, and the act of charging it is present ; when all the discredit is looked upon as belonging to a former and infirm self, and aU the credit as accruing to a present better self, 0 how strong is the temptation to get at the comfortable inference, I was worse then, but I am better now! How the treacherous self-gratulation mingles even with humility, even with thankfulness to God ! How it lurks in and pervades all such recollections, from the glorious confessions of the great African Augustine to the flattest memoirs of the most common-place religionist of our puny time !

But we must not stay talking about the difficulty of dealing fairly with our thoughts, though this very difficulty illustrates our subject: we must enter in, and grapple with the difficulty itself. There is no question that our real thoughts can be got at, and their liability to sin justly measured, if we wiU spend time and trouble over it. And it must be remem- bered, that here in public, and in dealing with the matter on a large scale, we are not beset by the difficulty in its full strength : we are not dealing with our individual selves, whom we love, alas, not wisely but too well; we are dealing with our pubKc self, so to speak ; with our whole species of which we are at least somewhat fairer, though by no means infallible judges.

And, thus dealing, we may venture to say, that the

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great bui'den of our sins of thought will be found to consist in this, in a want of honest, conscientious adoption and following of what we know to be real and true; in Scripture language, " an evil heart of unbelief.'' We are not unbelievers : the bare idea is di'eadful to us: we hold and we cling to the glorious doctrines of our redemption : if an hour of trial came, I do not suppose we should desert them ; there would be found, as there have ever been found in Christ's Church, many ready to suffer, some even to die for them. But in spite of all this, it is too often certain that while the man, with his mind and his affections, thoroughly beKeves, the heart ls, to a sad extent, an unbeliever. I mean that in the secret inmost chamber where ideas spring into life, where resolves are formed, and plans matured, the great truths which are believed are not given their due place, nor allotted their proper share. A man thoroughly believes that there will be a judgment of all things

I done in the flesh. But how often, in forming his plans and resolves, does he take this into serious account? How often, when called upon to decide on a course of conduct, does any one of us say within himself, How shall I give account of this to Him who is ready to judge the quick and the dead ? Are not our determinations

! much more often principally brought about by considera- tions of a very different kind from this ? Our own inclination, our worldly interest, the opinion of others, aU these are first consulted, and first satisfied : if, when this is done, the path chosen happens to be that of duty and God's will, we are ready enough to take credit for it, and to flatter ourselves upon it : if it turns out to

G

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be another path, we set to work, I am afraid, to invent some compromise wherewith conscience may be lulled into acquiescence. 0 for that clearness of inward vision, which shall ever see the great noonday sun of God's presence shining upon every thought, detecting its errors and prejudices and self-leanings ! 0 for that singleness of purpose which shall be able to labour by that light alone, disregardful of how the work will appear under the dim and artificial candle of human estimation ! There is no prayer of which we have more constant and urgent need than this, " Unite my heart to fear thy name : '' make it to be in its life-thinking and energizing, what it is in its reasoning, what it is in its praying, what it is in its confessing, what it is in its teaching of others.

Again : a man firmty and without hypocrisy believes in the great sacrifice of Christ for him. He knows he is bought with the price of the precious blood of the Son of God; that he is a baptized member of Christ, and bound to live for Him and to Him. And yet, when we come to motives, when we come to resolves within him, where does this belief appear ? Are our thoughts governed, are they penetrated, are they constrained, by any such considerations? When selfish ^dews spread before us in all their attractiveness, the fertile plains of Sodom tempting us to dwell in them, does the course of self-denial to whiph we are pledged instantly assert its claim does our eye at once rise to the thorny upward path, and to Him who bore his Cross, and dropped his Blood along it ? AVhen the temper is roused by insult, when the pride is stung by contumely, when the self-

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opinion is buffeted by designed sKglit, and the tyrant fiend of revenge springs to bis feet in a moment, do our eyes see, or do tbey refuse to see, tbe Spirit of the Lord lifting His standard against bim ? Do we bear, or do we refuse to bear, amidst tbe rising gusts of passion, tbe still small voice ''Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of beart

I bave purposely dwelt on tbis particular class of sins of tbougbt, because tbey are tbe most subtle, tbe least guarded against, tbe most seldom beld up for warning : because tbey poison tbe very sj)rings of life itself: because tbey are manifold and deceitful in every one of us : because tbey are ever undennining tbe building wbicb we are raising on tbe one Foundation, robbing us of our full reward, tarnisbing tbe brightness of our future spiritual crown. 0 tbat we migbt eacb of us bave grace