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something more? Restless and uneasy, thou art not, thou canst not be happy.
Thus we may feel confident, that there is not one among us, whose experience will not help to confirm the truth which we are considering; not one, whose conscience, if fairly suffered to speak, would not testify, that sin yields no present fruit. I observe,
II. That sin is followed by shame. “What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed.?" Shame is that confusion of mind, which arises from a consciousness of guilt. While our first parents were free from sin, they knew not shame. But no sooner had they broken the divine commandment, and had brought guilt upon their souls, than they were ashamed. Conscious of what they had done, fearing detection, and not able to face the ALMIGHTY, they hid themselves among the trees of the garden. And is not such the case with every sin ? Will it not sooner or later bring shame as its certain follower? Undoubtedly it will. For a time indeed, men may sin' without feeling shame. They may even glory in their shame. They may be proud, and boast of that which ought to be their shame. But it will not be always thus. A day is coming, when every thing, every hidden thing of darkness" will be brought to light; when sin will be seen by all in its true colours. In that day how great will be the consternation of the wicked! they “ will awake to shame and everlasting contempt. How will they be ashamed at the discovery of those sins, which they were not afraid to commit! When they see what sin is, how odious, how vile it is, with what unspeakable confusion will they be overwhelmed! They will be unable to look their Judge in the face. Conscious guilt will stop their mouths. They will call on the rocks and mountains to cover them. -But farther, even where sin is repented of and forsaken, it is still followed by shame. These things cannot be parted from each other. The persons spoken of in the text, though no longer the servants of sin, are represented as still ashamed of their former evil ways. Thus the penitent Ephraim is described as “ashamed, yea, even confounded, because he did bear the reproach of his youth.”+ When the sinner indeed is brought to see something of the number and greatness of his sins; that they are utterly without excuse ; that they have been committed against a good and holy God, who has been loading him with benefits and
mercies; can he be otherwise than ashamed at the recollection of his folly and guilt ? Was not this the case with the prodigal, when calling to mind his father's love and kindness, and his own base ingratitude, he felt that he was no longer worthy to be called a son ? Is not this the state to which the Lord declares that he will bring his people Israel, when they shall “ remember their own evil ways, and their doings which were not good, and shall loathe themselves in their own sight for their iniquities ;” and shall be confounded, and shall never open their mouths any more because of their shame, even when he is pacified towards them for all that they have done ?'* What do we suppose was the state of Peter's mind, when he saw his guilt in having denied his Master? How great a share must shame have had in the painful feelings of his soul, when she went out and wept bitterly?”+ So constantly is sin followed by shame.
III. Sin ends in death.
“What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death." St. James gives the same account of the matter.
6 When lust has conceived, it bringeth forth sin, * Jeremiah, xxxi. 19. Ezekiel, xvi. 63. xxxvi. 31.
and sii), when it is finished, bringeth forth death."*
Sin is the parent of death. It bringeth it forth, as naturally as the parent bringeth forth its young. St. Paul, in a verse or two after the text, puts the same truth in another light. He calls death “the wages of sin:” that recompence which sin earns, and which it will undoubtedly receive. Thus death was solemnly denounced on our first parents, as the certain consequence of sin. When God charged them not to eat of the tree of knowledge, he assured them that death would follow disobedience : “ In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” And what is death? It is a word of the most aweful meaning. When spoken of the body, it means its separation from the soul, which is its life, and its returning to the dust, whence it was taken. But death, when spoken of the soul, as it is in the text, and in the other places mentioned above. (for “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,”*) means the separation of the soul from the favour, the presence, and the spirit of God, which is its life, and the being for ever given up to darkness, torment, and despair. Hence it is called in the Revelation of St. John, “The second death."|| Hence * James, i, 15.
+ Genesis, ii. 17. Ezek. xvii. 14. || Rev. xxi, 8.
also it is opposed by St. Paul, in the pas, sage before - mentioned, to eternal life. “ The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”* Thus also in the burial-service of our church, those, who perish in their sins, are said to die eternally; and we pray to be delivered from the bitter pains of eternal death. In short, this is the end of sin, eternal misery in hell. It is the end to which it naturally and necessarily leads. God hath unalterably decreed, that of the wicked shall be turned into hell:" that the unpardoned sinner shall not escape, but shall go into everlasting punishment.
Such is the view here given of sin. From what has been said, you may have some notion of what it really is. It yields no true enjoyment at present. It brings those who commit. it to shame. And if not repented of, forsaken, and pardoned, it will surely, in the end, destroy their souls for ever. This is sin. Yet this, my brethren, is the thing, which so many love, and to which they cleave. This is the master, whom they choose, and serve in preference to God; that God, who, if they truly turned to him, instead of rewarding them with shame and death, would make them happy
* Rom. vi. 23. + Psalm, ix. 17.