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it brings him. Nothing but peace with God, and an approving conscience, can really deserve the name of fruit; and sin, so far from producing these things, totally destroys them. Sin indeed makes large promises, tempts men with flattering offers, and tells them what great things it will do for them; in the same manner as the devil tempted our LORD to worship him, by offering to him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.
But as Satan then promised to give what was not in his power to bestow; so it is with sin. It cannot fulfil its promises, or make good its words. . It only deceives, and disappoints those who listen to its offers. They may amuse themselves with the expectation of great advantages. They may hope to reap much fruit But they are “ sowing to the flesh,” and must.“
reap corruption.”- Sinners do not find in sin even that present enjoyment which they had hoped to find. Look at our first parent Eve. What fruit had shie from her sin ? She had fancied that there would be some great and singular pleasure in eating of the forbidden tree. She had persuaded herself, that she should gain some special advantages by this act of disobedience; that it would make her wise, and great, and happy, like God himself. But were these expectations answered ? Did she find all the good which she had hoped for from her sin ? Far otherwise ; she found herself wretchedly deceived. She was become indeed wiser than she had been before ; but the wisdom which she had gained, was not such as to add to her comfort and enjoyment. She knew good from evil; for she had lost the good, and had found the evil. Instead of being happy, she was become miserable. Instead of being like God, she had lost his likeness; and was become like the devil, whose counsel she had followed. Instead of being filled with peace, and joy, and hope in God, as she had before been; she was now torn with remorse, and guilt, and terror. This was the fruit of her sin.
Take another example. Look at Judas, who sold his master. What fruit had he in his transgression ? He doubtless thought that the thirty pieces of silver would add greatly to his happiness, and would yield him much present enjoyment. In the hope of the benefits, which he should procure from his sin, he “ ran greedily after the reward,” and betrayed the innocent blood, Was his hope fulfilled. We know that it was not No sooner was the sin committed, than he saw it in its true light. The advantages which he had promised to himself, all fled away. He was overwhelmed with horror and despair.
But we need not go so far back for examples to our purpose. We may have recourse to living instances. My brethren, I would refer this matter to yourselves, and make you judges in the case before us. What fruit have you had in the ways of sin? To such of you, as being convinced of the evil of these ways, through grace have left them, and turned into other paths, to such I may confidently appeal. You, I feel assured, will readily confess, that you found no fruit in the ways of sin; that so long as you continued the servants of sin, you were strangers to true enjoyment; and that peace and happiness are only to be found in the service and the ways of God. But
you are not the only witnesses to this truth. I would appeal to others also: to those who are still living in the ways of sin, and yielding themselves servants to unrighteousness. I would ask them, whether they find true happiness in their sinful courses?
I would put the question in the text to their consciences, and say to each of them, “ What fruit bast thou even now in these things ?"
Come thou, O drunkard, who makest it a practice, whenever a convenient opportunity may offer to indulge thy sensual appetite, and to sink the man into the beast, stand forth, and in the face of this congregation, say whether thou findest the ways of drunkenness to be ways of pleasantness and peace? Do they yield thee enjoyment sufficient to make amends for the remorse and sorrow which attend them ? Say, in the midst of thy guilty pleasures, dost thou not often feel a pang of conscience, a secret misgiving, a horrid foreboding, which embitters all thy seeming joy? And in the moments of sober recollection, what are thy feelings? Art thou not wounded with the thoughts of thy wretched life?' Art thou not stung with anguish at the prospect of thy health destroyed, thy property injured, thy family ruined, through thy intemperance? Dost thou not fly many a timë to riot and excess, in order to drown tly recollection, and silence thy conscience? We know, whether thou wilt own it or not, that all this is the case. We know that thou canst not deny, - My ways are • not those of happiness.
Can the envious, discontented, repining man speak better of the paths in which he
walks? Does he find them " paths of pleasantness and peace ?"
Will the passionate, revengeful, malig nant character come forward and tell us, that he is happy? Or if he did tell us so, could we believe himn ?
Let me turn to the slave of lust; or to the profane, ungodly scoffer; to the hardened, careless sinner; or to him, who secretly wrongs his neighbour, and by fraud or theft, strives to enrich himself. Let me separately ask each one of these, · What fruit hast thou in these things?' He will surely answer, Peace is not with me.'
I would appeal to another man, to the idolater--not him who worships gods of wood and stone,-but him who sets up his idols in his heart, and makes the world his god; who places his whole affections on the things of this life; has his treasure on earth; and labours only for the meat which perisheth. What fruit hast thou in these things? Do they yield thee true enjoyment? Do they not bring care and sorrow? Do they not frequently occasion disappointment and vexation? How often art Thou unable to get the thing thou wantest? How constantly when gotten, does it fall short of thy wishes, and leave thee as it found thee, dissatished, and still wanting