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Sermons to the Natural Man by William G.T. Shedd

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violation of a particular commandment, in the act of theft, or lying, or

We propose, then, to direct attention to that form and aspect of human
depravity which consists in coming short of the aim and end presented to
man by his Maker,--that form and aspect of sin which is presented in the
young ruler's inquiry: "What lack I yet?"

It is a comprehensive answer to this question to say, that every natural
man lacks _sincere and filial love of God_. This was the sin of the
moral, but worldly, the amiable, but earthly-minded, young man. Endow
him, in your fancy, with all the excellence you please, it still lies
upon the face of the narrative, that he loved money more than he loved
the Lord God Almighty. When the Son of God bade him go and sell his
property, and give it to the poor, and then come and follow Him as a
docile disciple like Peter and James and John, he went away sad in his
mind; for he had great possessions. This was a reasonable requirement,
though a very trying one. To command a young man of wealth and standing
immediately to strip himself of all his property, to leave the circle in
which he had been born and brought up, and to follow the Son of Man, who
had not where to lay His head, up and down through Palestine, through
good report and through evil report,--to put such a burden upon such a
young man was to lay him under a very heavy load. Looking at it from a
merely human and worldly point of view, it is not strange that the young
ruler declined to take it upon his shoulders; though he felt sad in
declining, because he had the misgiving that in declining he was sealing
his doom. But, had he _loved_ the Lord God with all his heart; had he
been _conformed unto_ the first and great command, in his heart and
affections; had he not _lacked_ a spiritual and filial affection towards
his Maker; he would have obeyed.

For, the circumstances under which this command was given must be borne
in mind. It issued directly from the lips of the Son of God Himself. It
was not an ordinary call of Providence, in the ordinary manner in which
God summons man to duty. There is reason to suppose that the young ruler
knew and felt that Christ had authority to give such directions. We know
not what were precisely his views of the person and office of Jesus of
Nazareth; but the fact that he came to Him seeking instruction respecting
the everlasting kingdom of God and the endless life of the soul, and the
yet further fact that he went away in sadness because he did not find it
in his heart to obey the instructions that he had received, prove that he
was at least somewhat impressed with the Divine authority of our Lord.
For, had he regarded Him as a mere ordinary mortal, knowing no more than
any other man concerning the eternal kingdom of God, why should His words
have distressed him? Had this young ruler taken the view of our Lord
which was held by the Scribes and Pharisees, like them he would never
have sought instruction from Him in a respectful and sincere manner; and,
like them, he would have replied to the command to strip himself of all
his property, leave the social circles to which he belonged, and follow
the despised Nazarene, with the curling lip of scorn. He would not have
gone away in sorrow, but in contempt. We must assume, therefore, that
this young ruler felt that the person with whom he was conversing, and
who had given him this extraordinary command, had authority to give it.
We do not gather from the narrative that he doubted upon this point. Had
he doubted, it would have relieved the sorrow with which his mind was
disturbed. He might have justified his refusal to obey, by the
consideration that this Jesus of Nazareth had no right to summon him, or
any other man, to forsake the world and attach himself to His person and
purposes, if any such consideration had entered his mind. No, the sorrow,
the deep, deep sorrow and sadness, with which he went away to the
beggarly elements of his houses and his lands, proves that he knew too
well that this wonderful Being who was working miracles, and speaking
words of wisdom that never man spake, had indeed authority and right to
say to him, and to every other man, "Go and sell that thou hast, and give
to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow

Though the command was indeed an extraordinary one, it was given in an
extraordinary manner, by an extraordinary Being. That young ruler was not
required to do any more than you and I would be obligated to do, _in the
same circumstances_. It is indeed true, that in the _ordinary_ providence
of God, you and I are not summoned to sell all our possessions, and
distribute them to the poor, and to go up and down the streets of this
city, or up and down the high-ways and by-ways of the land, as
missionaries of Christ. But if the call were _extra-ordinary_,--if
the heavens should open above our heads, and a voice from the skies
should command us in a manner not to be doubted or disputed to do this
particular thing, we ought immediately to do it. And if the love of God
were in our hearts; if we were inwardly "conformed unto" the Divine law;
if there were nothing lacking in our religious character; we should obey
with the same directness and alacrity with which Peter and Andrew, and
James and John, left their nets and their fishing-boat, their earthly
avocations, their fathers and their fathers' households, and followed
Christ to the end of their days. In the present circumstances of the
church and the world, Christians must follow the ordinary indications of
Divine Providence; and though these do unquestionably call upon them to
make far greater sacrifices for the cause of Christ than they now make,
yet they do not call upon them to sell _all_ that they have, and give it
to the poor. But they ought to be ready and willing to do so, in case God
by any remarkable and direct expression should indicate that this is
His will and pleasure. Should our Lord, for illustration, descend again,
and in His own person say to His people, as He did to the young ruler:
"Sell all that ye have, and give to the poor, and go up and down the
earth preaching the gospel," it would be the duty of every rich Christian
to strip himself of all his riches, and of every poor Christian to make
himself yet poorer, and of the whole Church to adopt the same course that
was taken by the early Christians, who "had all things common, and sold
their possessions and goods and parted them to all men, as every man had
need." The direct and explicit command of the Lord Jesus Christ to do any
particular thing must be obeyed at all hazards, and at all cost. Should
He command any one of His disciples to lay down his life, or to undergo
a severe discipline and experience in His service, He must be obeyed.
This is what He means when He says, "If any man come to me, and hate not
his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and
sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And
whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my
disciple" (Luke xiv. 26, 27).

The young ruler was subjected to this test. It was his privilege,--and it
was a great privilege,--to see the Son of God face to face; to hear His
words of wisdom and authority; to know without any doubt or ambiguity
what particular thing God would have him do. And he refused to do it. He
was moral; he was amiable; but he refused _point-blank_ to obey the
direct command of God addressed to him from the very lips of God. It was
with him as it would be with us, if the sky should open over our heads,
and the Son of God should descend, and with His own lips should command
us to perform a particular service, and we should be disobedient to the
heavenly vision, and should say to the Eternal Son of God: "We will not."
Think you that there is nothing _lacking_ in such a character as this? Is
this religious perfection? Is such a heart as this "conformed unto" the
law and will of God?

If, then, we look into the character of the young ruler, we perceive that
there was in it no supreme affection for God. On the contrary, he loved
_himself_ with all his heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. Even his
religious anxiety, which led him to our Lord for His opinion concerning
his good estate, proved to be a merely selfish feeling. He desired
immortal felicity beyond the tomb,--and the most irreligious man upon
earth desires this,--but he did not possess such an affection for God as
inclined, and enabled, him to obey His explicit command to make a
sacrifice of his worldly possessions for His glory. And this lack of
supreme love to God was _sin_. It was a deviation from the line of
eternal rectitude and righteousness, as really and truly as murder,
adultery, or theft, or any outward breach of any of those commandments
which he affirmed he had kept from his youth up. This coming short of the
Divine honor and glory was as much contrary to the Divine law, as any
overt transgression of it could be.

For love is the fulfilling of the law. The whole law, according to
Christ, is summed up and contained, in these words: "Thou shall _love_
the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself." To be
destitute of this heavenly affection is, therefore, to break the law at
the very centre and in the very substance of it. Men tell us, like this
young ruler, that they do not murder, lie, or steal,--that they observe
all the commandments of the second table pertaining to man and their
relations to man,--and ask, "What lack we yet?" Alexander Pope, in the
most brilliant and polished poetry yet composed by human art, sums up the
whole of human duty in the observance of the rules and requirements of
civil morality, and affirms that "an honest man is the noblest work of
God." But is this so? Has religion reached its last term, and ultimate
limit, when man respects the rights of property? Is a person who keeps
his hands off the goods and chattels of his fellow-creature really
qualified for the heavenly state, by reason of this fact and virtue of
honesty? Has he attained the chief end of man?[2] Even if we could
suppose a perfect obedience of all the statutes of the second table,
while those of the first table were disobeyed; even if one could fulfil
all his obligations to his neighbor, while failing in all his obligations
to his Maker; even if we should concede a perfect morality, without any
religion; would it be true that this morality, or obedience of only one
of the two tables that cover the whole field of human duty, is sufficient
to prepare man for the everlasting future, and the immediate presence of
God? Who has informed man that the first table of the law is of no
consequence; and that if he only loves his neighbor as himself, he need
not love his Maker supremely?

No! Affection in the heart towards the great and glorious God is the sum
and substance of religion, and whoever is destitute of it is irreligious
and sinful in the inmost spirit, and in the highest degree. His fault
relates to the most excellent and worthy Being in the universe. He comes
short of his duty, in reference to that Being who _more than any other
one_ is entitled to his love and his services. We say, and we say
correctly, that if a man fails of fulfilling his obligations towards
those who have most claims upon him, he is more culpable than when he
fails of his duty towards those who have less claims upon him. If a son
comes short of his duty towards an affectionate and self-sacrificing
mother, we say it is a greater fault, than if he comes short of his duty
to a fellow-citizen. The parent is nearer to him than the citizen, and he
owes unto her a warmer affection of his heart, and a more active service
of his life, than he owes to his fellow-citizen. What would be thought of
that son who should excuse his neglect, or ill-treatment, of the mother
that bore him, upon the ground that he had never cheated a fellow-man and
had been scrupulous in all his mercantile transactions! This but feebly
illustrates the relation which every man sustains to God, and the claim
which God has upon every man. Our first duty and obligation relates to
our Maker. Our fellow-creatures have claims upon us; the dear partners of
our blood have claims upon us; our own personality, with its infinite
destiny for weal or woe, has claims upon us. But no one of these; not all
of them combined; have upon us that _first_ claim, which God challenges
for Himself. Social life,--the state or the nation to which we
belong,--cannot say to us: "Thou shalt love me with all thy heart, and
soul, and mind, and strength." The family, which is bone of our bone, and
flesh of our flesh, cannot say to us: "Thou shalt love us, with all thy
soul, mind, heart, and strength." Even our own deathless and priceless
soul cannot say to us: "Thou shalt love me supremely, and before all
other beings and things." But the infinite and adorable God, the Being
that made us, and has redeemed us, can of right demand that we love and
honor Him first of all, and chiefest of all.

There are two thoughts suggested by the subject which we have been
considering, to which we now invite candid attention.

1. In the first place, this subject _convicts every man of sin_. Our
Lord, by his searching reply to the young ruler's question, "What lack I
yet?" sent him away very sorrowful; and what man, in any age and country,
can apply the same test to himself, without finding the same
unwillingness to sell all that he has and give to the poor,--the same
indisposition to obey any and every command of God that crosses his
natural inclinations? Every natural man, as he subjects his character to
such a trial as that to which the young ruler was subjected, will
discover as he did that he lacks supreme love of God, and like him, if he
has any moral earnestness; if he feels at all the obligation of duty;
will go away very sorrowful, because he perceives very plainly the
conflict between his will and his conscience. How many a person, in the
generations that have already gone to the judgment-seat of Christ, and in
the generation that is now on the way thither, has been at times brought
face to face with the great and first command, "Thou shall love the Lord
thy God with all thy heart," and by some particular requirement has been
made conscious of his utter opposition to that great law. Some special
duty was urged upon him, by the providence, or the word, or the Spirit
of God, that could not be performed unless his will were subjected to
God's will, and unless his love for himself and the world were
subordinated to his love of his Maker. If a young man, perhaps he was
commanded to consecrate his talents and education to a life of
philanthropy and service of God in the gospel, instead of a life devoted
to secular and pecuniary aims. God said to him, by His providence, and by
conscience, "Go teach my gospel to the perishing; go preach my word, to
the dying and the lost." But he loved worldly ease pleasure and
reputation more than he loved God; and he refused, and went away
sorrowful, because this poor world looked very bright and alluring,
and the path of self-denial and duty looked very forbidding. Or, if he
was a man in middle life, perhaps he was commanded to abate his interest
in plans for the accumulation of wealth, to contract his enterprises, to
give attention to the concerns of his soul and the souls of his children,
to make his own peace with God, and to consecrate the remainder of his
life to Christ and to human welfare; and when this plain and reasonable
course of conduct was dictated to him, he found his whole heart rising up
against the proposition. Our Lord, alluding to the fact that there was
nothing in common between His spirit, and the spirit of Satan, said to
His disciples, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me"
(John xiv. 30). So, when the command to love God supremely comes to this
man of the world, in any particular form, "it hath nothing in him." This
first and great law finds no ready and genial response within his heart,
but on the contrary a recoil within his soul as if some great monster had
started up in his pathway. He says, in his mind, to the proposition:
"Anything but that;" and, with the young ruler, he goes away sorrowful,
because he knows that refusal is perdition.

Is there not a wonderful power to _convict_ of sin, in this test? If you
try yourself, as the young man did, by the command, "Thou shalt not
kill," "Thou shalt not steal," "Thou shalt not commit adultery," you may
succeed, perhaps, in quieting your conscience, to some extent, and in
possessing yourself of the opinion of your fitness for the kingdom of
God. But ask yourself the question, "Do I love God supremely, and am I
ready and willing to do any and every particular thing that He shall
command me to do, even if it is plucking out a right eye, or cutting off
a right hand, or selling all my goods to give to the poor?" try yourself
by _this_ test, and see if you lack anything in your moral character.
When this thorough and proper touch-stone of character is applied, there
is not found upon earth a just man that doeth good and sinneth not. Every
human creature, by this test is concluded under sin. Every man is found,
lacking in what he ought to possess, when the words of the commandment
are sounded in his ear: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy
heart, and all thy soul, and all thy mind, and all thy strength." This
sum and substance of the Divine law, upon which hang all the other laws,
convinces every man of sin. For there is no escaping its force. Love of
God is a distinct and definite feeling, and every person knows whether he
ever experienced it. Every man knows whether it is, or is not, an
affection of his heart; and he knows that if it be wanting, the
foundation of religion is wanting in his soul, and the sum and substance
of sin is there.

2. And this leads to the second and concluding thought suggested, by the
subject, namely, that _except a man be born again, he cannot see the
kingdom of God._ If there be any truth in the discussion through which we
have passed, it is plain and incontrovertible, that to be destitute of
holy love to God is a departure and deviation from the moral law. It is a
coming short of the great requirement that rests upon every accountable
creature of God, and this is as truly sin and guilt as any violent and
open passing over and beyond the line of rectitude. The sin of omission
is as deep and damning as the sin of commission. "Forgive,"--said the
dying archbishop Usher,--"forgive all my sins, especially my sins of

But, how is this lack to be supplied? How is this great hiatus in human
character to be filled up? How shall the fountain of holy and filial
affection towards God be made to gush up into everlasting life, within
your now unloving and hostile heart? There is no answer to this question
of questions, but in the Person and Work of the Holy Ghost. If God shall
shed abroad His love in your heart, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto
you, you will know the blessedness of a new affection; and will be able
to say with Peter, "Thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love
thee." You are shut up to this method, and this influence. To generate
within yourself this new spiritual emotion which you have never yet felt,
is utterly impossible. Yet you must get it, or religion, is impossible,
and immortal life is impossible. Would that you might feel your straits,
and your helplessness. Would that you might perceive your total lack of
supreme love of God, as the young ruler perceived his; and would that,
unlike him, instead, of going away from the Son of God, you would go to
Him, crying, "Lord create within me a clean heart, and renew within me a
right spirit." Then the problem would be solved, and having peace with
God through the blood of Christ, the love of God would be shed abroad in
your hearts, through the Holy Ghost given unto you.

[Footnote 1: John ix. 41.]

[Footnote 2: Even if we should widen the meaning of the word "honest," in
the above-mentioned dictum of Pope, and make it include the Latin
"honestum," the same objection would lie against dictum. Honor and
high-mindedness towards man is not love and reverence towards God. The
spirit of chivalry is not the spirit of Christianity.]


MATTHEW xix. 20.--"The young man saith unto him, All these things have I
kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?"

In the preceding discourse from these words, we discussed that form and
aspect of sin which consists in "coming short" of the Divine Law; or, as
the Westminster Creed states it, in a "want of conformity" unto it. The
deep and fundamental sin of the young ruler, we found, lay in what he
lacked. When our Lord tested him, he proved to be utterly destitute of
love to God. His soul was a complete vacuum, in reference to that great
holy affection which fills the hearts of all the good beings before the
throne of God, and without which no creature can stand, or will wish to
stand, in the Divine presence. The young ruler, though outwardly moral
and amiable, when searched in the inward parts was found wanting in the
sum and substance of religion. He did not love God; and he did love
himself and his possessions.

What man has omitted to do, what man is destitute of,--this is a species
of sin which he does not sufficiently consider, and which is weighing him
down to perdition. The unregenerate person when pressed to repent of his
sins, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, often beats back the kind
effort, by a question like that which Pilate put to the infuriated Jews:
"Why, what evil have I done?" It is the subject of his actual and overt
transgressions that comes first into his thoughts, and, like the young
ruler, he tells his spiritual friend and adviser that he has kept all the
commandments from his youth up. The conviction of sin would be more
common if the natural man would consider his _failures_; if he would look
into his heart and perceive what he is _destitute_ of, and into his
conduct and see what he has left _undone_.

In pursuing this subject, we propose to show, still further, the
guiltiness of every man, from the fact that he _lacks the original
righteousness that once belonged to him_. We shall endeavor to prove
that every child of Adam is under condemnation, or, in the words of
Christ, that "the wrath of God abides upon him" (John iii. 36), because
he is not possessed of that pure and perfect character which, his Maker
gave him in the beginning. Man is culpable for not continuing to stand
upon the high and sinless position, in which he was originally placed.
When the young ruler's question is put to the natural man, and the
inquiry is made as to his defects and deficiency, it is invariably
discovered that he lacks the image of God in which he was created. And
for a rational being to be destitute of the image of God is sin, guilt,
and condemnation, because every rational being has once received this

God has the right to demand from every one of his responsible creatures,
all that the creature _might_ be, had he retained possession of the
endowments which he received at creation, and had he employed them with
fidelity. The perfect gifts and capacities originally bestowed upon man,
and not the mutilated and damaged powers subsequently arising from
a destructive act of self-will, furnish the proper rule of measurement,
in estimating human merit or demerit. The faculties of intelligence and
will as _unfallen_, and not as fallen, determine the amount of
holiness and of service that may be demanded, upon principles of strict
justice, from every individual. All that man "comes short" of this is so
much sin, guilt, and condemnation.

When the great Sovereign and Judge looks down from His throne of
righteousness and equity, upon any one of the children of men, He
considers what that creature was by _creation_, and compares his
present character and conduct with the character with which he was
originally endowed, and the conduct that would naturally have flowed
therefrom. God made man holy and perfect. God created man in his own
image (Gen. i. 26), "endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true
holiness, having the law of God written in his heart, and power to fulfil
it." This is the statement of the Creed which we accept as a fair and
accurate digest of the teachings of Revelation, respecting the primitive
character of man, and his original righteousness. And all evangelical
creeds, however they may differ from each other in their definitions of
original righteousness, and their estimate of the perfections and powers
granted to man by creation, do yet agree that he stood higher when he
came from the hand of God than he now stands; that man's actual character
and conduct do not come up to man's created power and capacities. Solemn
and condemning as it is, it is yet a fact, that inasmuch as every man was
originally made in the holy image of God, he ought, this very instant to
be perfectly holy. He ought to be standing upon a position that is as
high above his actual position, as the heavens are high above the earth.
He ought to be possessed of a moral perfection without spot or wrinkle,
or any such thing. He ought to be as he was, when created in
righteousness and true holiness. He ought to be dwelling high up on those
lofty and glorious heights where he was stationed by the benevolent
hand of his Maker, instead of wallowing in those low depths where he has
fallen by an act of apostasy and rebellion. Nothing short of this
satisfies the obligations that are resting upon him. An imperfect
holiness, such as the Christian is possessed of while here upon earth,
does not come up to the righteous requirement of the moral law; and
certainly that kind of moral character which belongs to the natural man
is still farther off from the sum-total that is demanded.

Let us press this truth, that we may feel its convicting and condemning
energy. When our Maker speaks to us upon the subject of His claims and
our obligations, He tells us that when we came forth from nonentity into
existence, from His hand, we were well endowed, and well furnished. He
tells us distinctly, that He did not create us the depraved and sinful
beings that we now are. He tells us that these earthly affections, this
carnal mind, this enmity towards the Divine law, this disinclination
towards religion and spiritual concerns, this absorbing love of the world
and this supreme love of self,--that these were not implanted or infused
into the soul by our wise, holy, and good Creator. This is not His work.
This is no part of the furniture with which mankind were set up for an
everlasting existence. "God saw everything that he had made, and behold
it was very good." (Gen. i. 31). We acknowledge the mystery that
overhangs the union and connection of all men with the first man. We know
that this corruption of man's nature, and this sinfulness of his heart,
does indeed, appear at the very beginning of his individual life. He is
conceived in sin, and shapen in iniquity (Ps. li. 5). This selfish
disposition, and this alienation of the heart from God, is _native_
depravity, is _inborn_ corruption. This we know both from Revelation,
and observation. But we also know, from the same infallible Revelation,
that though man is born a sinner from the sinful Adam, he was created
a saint in the holy Adam. By origin he is holy, and by descent he is
sinful; because there has intervened, between his creation and his birth,
that "offence of one man whereby all men were made sinners" (Rom. v. 18,
19). Though we cannot unravel the whole mystery of this subject, yet if
we accept the revealed fact, and concede that God did originally make man
in His own image, in righteousness and true holiness, and that man has
since unmade himself, by the act of apostasy and rebellion,[1]--if we
take this as the true and correct statement of the facts in the case,
then we can see how and why it is, that God has claims upon His creature,
man, that extend to what this creature originally was and was capable of
becoming, and not merely to what he now is, and is able to perform.

When, therefore, the young ruler's question, "What lack I?" is asked and
answered upon a broad scale, each and every man must say: "I lack
original righteousness; I lack the holiness with which God created man; I
lack that perfection of character which belonged to my rational and
immortal nature coming fresh from the hand of God in the person of Adam;
I lack all that I should now be possessed of, had that nature not
apostatized from its Maker and its Sovereign." And when God forms His
estimate of man's obligations; when He lays judgment to the line, and
righteousness to the plummet; He goes back to the _beginning_, He goes
back to _creation_, and demands from His rational and immortal creature
that perfect service which, he was capable of rendering by creation, but
which now he is unable to render because of subsequent apostasy. For,
God cannot adjust His demands to the alterations which sinful man makes
in himself. This would be to annihilate all demands and obligations.
A sliding-scale would be introduced, by this method, that would reduce
human duty by degrees to a minimum, where it would disappear. For, the
more sinful a creature becomes, the less inclined, and consequently the
less able does he become to obey the law of God. If, now, the Eternal
Judge shapes His requisitions in accordance with the shifting character
of His creature, and lowers His law down just as fast as the sinner
enslaves himself to lust and sin, it is plain that sooner or later all
moral obligation will run out; and whenever the creature becomes totally
enslaved to self and flesh, there will no longer be any claims resting
upon him. But this cannot be so. "For the kingdom of heaven,"--says our
Lord,--"is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his
own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five
talents, and to another two, and to another one; and straightway took his
journey." When the settlement was made. Each and every one of the parties
was righteously summoned to account for all that had originally been
intrusted to him, and to show a faithful improvement of the same. If any
one of the servants had been found to have "lacked" a part, or the whole,
of the original treasure, because he had culpably lost it, think you that
the fact that it was now gone from his possession, and was past recovery,
would have been accepted as a valid excuse from the original obligations
imposed upon him? In like manner, the fact, that man cannot reinstate
himself in his original condition of holiness and blessedness, from which
he has fallen by apostasy, will not suffice to justify him before God for
being in a helpless state of sin and misery, or to give him any claims
upon God for deliverance from it. God can and does _pity_ him, in his
ruined and lost estate, and if the creature will cast himself upon His
_mercy_, acknowledging the righteousness of the entire claims of God upon
him for a sinless perfection and a perfect service, he will meet and find
mercy. But if he takes the ground that he does not owe such an immense
debt as this, and that God has no right to demand from him, in his
apostate and helpless condition, the same perfection of character and
obedience which holy Adam possessed and rendered, and which the unfallen
angels possess and render, God will leave him to the workings of
conscience, and the operations of stark unmitigated law and justice. "The
kingdom of heaven,"--says our Lord,--"is likened unto a certain king
which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to
reckon, one was brought unto him which owed him ten thousand talents; but
forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and
his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The
servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have
patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant
was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt"
(Matt, xviii. 28-27). But suppose that that servant had _disputed_ the
claim, and had put in an appeal to justice instead of an appeal to mercy,
upon the ground that inasmuch as he had lost his property and had nothing
to pay with, therefore he was not obligated to pay, think you that the
king would have conceded the equity of the claim? On the contrary, he
would have entered into no argument in so plain a case, but would have
"delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due
unto him." So likewise shall the heavenly Father do also unto you, and to
every man, who attempts to diminish the original claim of God to a
perfect obedience and service, by pleading the fall of man, the
corruption of human nature, the strength of sinful inclination and
affections, and the power of earthly temptation. All these are man's
work, and not that of the Creator. This helplessness and bondage grows
directly out of the nature of sin. "Whosoever committeth sin is the
slave of sin. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves slaves to
obey, his slaves ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of
obedience unto righteousness?" (John viii. 34; Rom. vi. 16).

In view of the subject as thus discussed, we invite attention to some
practical conclusions that flow directly out of it. For, though we have
been speaking upon one of the most difficult themes in Christian
theology, namely man's creation in holiness and his loss of holiness by
the apostasy in Adam, yet we have at the same time been speaking of one
of the most humbling, and practically profitable, doctrines in the whole
circle of revealed truth. We never shall arrive at any profound sense of
sin, unless we know and feel our guilt and corruption by nature; and we
shall never arrive at any profound sense of our guilt and corruption by
nature, unless we know and understand the original righteousness and
innocence in which we were first created. We can measure the great depth
of the abyss into which, we have fallen, only by looking up to those
great heights in the garden of Eden, upon which our nature once stood
beautiful and glorious, the very image and likeness of our Creator.

1. We remark then, in the first place, that it is the duty of every man
_to humble himself on account of his lack of original righteousness, and
to repent of it as sin before God._

One of the articles of the Presbyterian Confession of Faith reads thus:
_Every_ sin, both original and actual, being a transgression of the
righteous law of God, and contrary thereunto, doth, in its own nature,
bring _guilt_ upon the sinner, whereby he is "bound over to the wrath of
God, and curse of the law, and so made subject to death, with all
miseries spiritual, temporal, and eternal."[2] The Creed which we accept
summons us to repent of original as well as actual sin; and it defines
original sin to be "the want of original righteousness, together with the
corruption of the whole nature." The want of original righteousness,
then, is a ground of condemnation, and therefore a reason for shame, and
godly sorrow. It is something which man once had, ought still to have,
but now lacks; and therefore is ill-deserving, for the very same reason
that the young ruler's lack of supreme love to God was ill-deserving.

If we acknowledge the validity of the distinction between a sin of
omission and a sin of commission, and concede that each alike is
culpable,[3] we shall find no difficulty with this demand of the Creed.
Why should not you and I mourn over the total want of the image of God in
our hearts, as much as over any other form and species of sin? This
image of God consists in holy reverence. When we look into our hearts,
and find no holy reverence there, ought we not to be filled with shame
and sorrow? This image of God consists in filial and supreme affection
for God, such as the young ruler lacked; and when we look into our
hearts, and find not a particle of supreme love to God in them, ought
we not to repent of this original, this deep-seated, this innate
depravity? This image of God, again, which was lost in our apostasy,
consisted in humble constant trust in God; and when we search our
souls, and perceive that there is nothing of this spirit in them, but on
the contrary a strong and overmastering disposition to trust in
ourselves, and to distrust our Maker, ought not this discovery to waken
in us the very same feeling that Isaiah gave expression to, when he said
that the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint; the very same
feeling that David gave expression to, when he cried: "Behold I was
shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me?"

This is to repent of original sin, and there is no mystery or absurdity
about it. It is to turn the eye inward, and see what is _lacking_ in our
heart and affections; and not merely what of outward and actual
transgressions we have committed. Those whose idea of moral excellence is
like that of the young ruler; those who suppose holiness to consist
merely in the outward observance of the commandments of the second table;
those who do not look into the depths of their nature, and contrast the
total corruption that is there, with the perfect and positive
righteousness that ought to be there, and that was there by
creation,--all such will find the call of the Creed to repent of original
sin as well as of actual, a perplexity and an impossibility. But every
man who knows that the substance of piety consists in positive and holy
affections,--in holy reverence, love and trust,--and who discovers that
these are wanting in him by nature, though belonging to him by creation,
will mourn in deep contrition and self-abasement over that act of
apostasy by which this great change in human character, this great lack
was brought about. 2. In the second place, it follows from the subject
we have discussed, that every man must, by some method, _recover his
original righteousness, or be ruined forever_. "Without holiness no man
shall see the Lord." No rational creature is fit to appear in the
presence of his Maker, unless he is as pure and perfect as he was
originally made. Holy Adam was prepared by his creation in the image
of God, to hold blessed communion with God, and if he and his posterity
had never lost this image, they would forever be in fellowship with their
Creator and Sovereign. Holiness, and holiness alone, enables the creature
to stand with angelic tranquillity, in the presence of Him before whom
the heavens and the earth flee away. The loss of original righteousness,
therefore, was the loss of the wedding garment; it was the loss of the
only robe in which the creature could appear at the banquet of God.
Suppose that one of the posterity of sinful Adam, destitute of holy love
reverence and faith, lacking positive and perfect righteousness, should
be introduced into the seventh heavens, and there behold the infinite
Jehovah. Would he not feel, with a misery and a shame that could not be
expressed, that he was naked? that he was utterly unfit to appear in such
a Presence? No wonder that our first parents, after their apostasy, felt
that they were unclothed. They were indeed stripped of their character,
and had not a rag of righteousness to cover them. No wonder that they hid
themselves from the intolerable purity and brightness of the Most High.
Previously, they had felt no such emotion. They were "not ashamed," we
are told. And the reason lay in the fact that, before their apostasy,
they were precisely as they were made. They were endowed with the image
of God; and their original righteousness and perfect holiness qualified
them to stand before their Maker, and to hold blessed intercourse with
Him. But the instant they lost their created endowment of holiness, they
were conscious that they lacked that indispensable something wherewith to
appear before God.

And precisely so is it, with their posterity. Whatever a man's theory of
the future life may be, he must be insane, if he supposes that he is fit
to appear before God, and to enter the society of heaven, if destitute of
holiness, and wanting the Divine image. When the spirit of man returns to
God who gave it, it must return as good as it came from His hands, or it
will be banished from the Divine presence. Every human soul, when it goes
back to its Maker, must carry with it a righteousness, to say the very
least, equal to that in which it was originally created, or it will be
cast out as an unprofitable and wicked servant. _All_ the talents
entrusted must be returned; and returned with usury. A modern philosopher
and poet represents the suicide as justifying the taking of his own life,
upon the ground that he was not asked in the beginning, whether he wanted
life. He had no choice whether he would come into existence or not;
existence was forced upon him; and therefore he had a right to put an end
to it, if he so pleased. To this, the reply is made, that he ought to
return his powers and faculties to the Creator in as _good condition_ as
he received them; that he had no right to mutilate and spoil them by
abuse, and then fling the miserable relics of what was originally a noble
creation, in the face of the Creator. In answer to the suicide's
proposition to give back his spirit to God who gave it, the poet
represents God as saying to him:

"Is't returned as 'twas sent? Is't no worse for the wear?
Think first what you are! Call to mind what you were!
I gave you innocence, I gave you hope,
Gave health, and genius, and an ample scope.
Return you me guilt, lethargy, despair?
Make out the invent'ry; inspect, compare!
Then die,--if die you dare!"[4]

Yes, this is true and solemn reasoning. You and I, and every man, must by
some method, or other, go back to God as good as we came forth from Him.
We must regain our original righteousness; we must be reinstated in our
primal relation to God, and our created condition; or there is nothing in
store for us, but the blackness of darkness. We certainly cannot stand in
the judgment clothed with original sin, instead of original
righteousness; full of carnal and selfish affections, instead of pure and
heavenly affections. This great lack, this great vacuum, in our
character, must by some method be filled up with solid, and everlasting
excellencies, or the same finger that wrote, in letters of fire, upon the
wall of the Babylonian monarch, the awful legend: "Thou art weighed in
the balance, and art found wanting," will write it in letters of fire
upon our own rational spirit.

There is but one method, by which man's original righteousness and
innocency can be regained; and this method you well know. The blood of
Jesus Christ sprinkled by the Holy Ghost, upon your guilty conscience,
reinstates you in innocency. When that is applied, there is no more guilt
upon you, than there was upon Adam the instant he came from the creative
hand. "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." Who
is he that condemneth, when it is Christ that died, and God that
justifies? And when the same Holy Spirit enters your soul with renewing
power, and carries forward His work of sanctification to its final
completion, your original righteousness returns again, and you are again
clothed in that spotless robe with which your nature was invested, on
that sixth day of creation, when the Lord God said, "Let us make man in
our image, and after our likeness." Ponder these truths, and what is yet
more imperative, _act_ upon them. Remember that you must, by some method,
become a perfect creature, in order to become a blessed creature in
heaven. Without holiness you cannot see the Lord. You must recover the
character which you have lost, and the peace with God in which you were
created. Your spirit, when it returns to God, must by some method be made
equal to what it was when it came forth from Him. And there is no method,
but the method of redemption by the blood and righteousness of Christ.
Men are running to and fro after other methods. The memories of a golden
age, a better humanity than they now know of, haunt them; and they sigh
for the elysium that is gone. One sends you to letters, and culture, for
your redemption. Another tells you that morality, or philosophy, will
lift you again to those paradisaical heights that tower high above your
straining vision. But miserable comforters are they all. No golden age
returns; no peace with God or self is the result of such instrumentality.
The conscience is still perturbed, the forebodings still overhang the
soul like a black cloud, and the heart is as throbbing and restless as
ever. With resoluteness, then, turn away from these inadequate, these
feeble methods, and adopt the method of God Almighty. Turn away with
contempt from human culture, and finite forces, as the instrumentality
for the redemption of the soul which is precious, and which ceaseth
forever if it is unredeemed. Go with confidence, and courage, and a
rational faith, to God Almighty, to God the Redeemer. He hath power. He
is no feeble and finite creature. He waves a mighty weapon, and sweats
great drops of blood; travelling in the greatness of His strength. Hear
His words of calm confidence and power: "Come unto me, all ye that labor
and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."

[Footnote 1: The Augustinian doctrine, that the entire human species was
created on the sixth day, existed as a _nature_ (not as individuals) in
the first human pair, acted in and fell with them in the first
transgression, and us thus fallen and vitiated by an act of self-will has
been procreated or individualized, permits the theologian, to say that
all men are equally concerned in the origin of sin, and to charge the
guilt of its origin upon all alike.]

[Footnote 2: CONFESSION OF FAITH. VI. vi.]

[Footnote 3: One of the points of difference between the Protestant and
the Papist, when the dogmatic position of each was taken, related to the
guilt of original sin,--the former affirming, and the latter denying. It
is also one of the points of difference between Calvinism and

[Footnote 4: Coleridge; Works, VII. 295.]


ROMANS ii. 21--23.--"Thou therefore which, teachest another, teachest
Thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou
steal? thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou
commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
thou that makest thy boast of the law, through, breaking the law
dishonorest thou God?"

The apostle Paul is a very keen and cogent reasoner. Like a powerful
logician who is confident that he has the truth upon his side, and like a
pureminded man who has no sinister ends to gain, he often takes his stand
upon the same ground with his opponent, adopts his positions, and
condemns him out of his own mouth. In the passage from which the text is
taken, he brings the Jew in guilty before God, by employing the Jew's own
claims and statements. "Behold thou art called a Jew, and restest in the
law, and makest thy boast of God, and knowest his will, and approvest the
things that are more excellent, and art confident that thou thyself art a
guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, an instructor
of the foolish. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not
thyself? thou that preachest that a man should not steal, dost thou
steal? thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law
dishonorest thou God?" As if he had said: "You claim to be one of God's
chosen people, to possess a true knowledge of Him and His law; why do you
not act up to this knowledge? why do you not by your character and
conduct prove the claim to be a valid one?"

The apostle had already employed this same species of argument against
the Gentile world. In the first chapter of this Epistle to the Romans,
St. Paul demonstrates that the pagan world is justly condemned by God,
because, they too, like the Jew, knew more than they practised. He
affirms that the Greek and Roman world, like the Jewish people, "when
they knew God, glorified him not as God, neither were thankful;" that as
"they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over
to a reprobate mind;" and that "knowing the judgment of God, that they
which commit such things" as he had just enumerated in that awful
catalogue of pagan vices "are worthy of death, not only do the same, but
have pleasure in them that do them." The apostle does not for an instant
concede, that the Gentile can put in the plea that he was so entirely
ignorant of the character and law of God, that he ought to be excused
from the obligation to love and obey Him. He expressly affirms that where
there is absolutely no law, and no knowledge of law, there can be no
transgression; and yet affirms that in the day of judgment every mouth
must be stopped, and the whole world must plead guilty before God. It is
indeed true, that he teaches that there is a difference in the degrees of
knowledge which the Jew and the Gentile respectively possess. The light
of revealed religion, in respect to man's duty and obligations, is far
clearer than the light of nature, and increases the responsibilities of
those who enjoy it, and the condemnation of those who abuse it; but the
light of nature is clear and true as far as it goes, and is enough to
condemn every soul outside of the pale of Revelation. For, in the day of
judgment, there will not be a single human creature who can look his
Judge in the eye, and say: "I acted up to every particle of moral light
that I enjoyed; I never thought a thought, felt a feeling, or did a deed,
for which my conscience reproached me."

It follows from this, that the language of the apostle, in the text, may
be applied to every man. The argument that has force for the Jew has
force for the Gentile. "Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not
thyself? thou that preachest that a man should not steal, dost thou
steal?" You who know the character and claims of God, and are able to
state them to another, why do you not revere and obey them in your own
person? You who approve of the law of God as pure and perfect, why do you
not conform your own heart and conduct to it? You who perceive the
excellence of piety in another, you who praise and admire moral
excellence in your fellow-man, why do you not seek after it, and toil
after it in your own heart? In paying this tribute of approbation to the
character of a God whom you do not yourself love and serve, and to a
piety in your neighbor which you do not yourself possess and cultivate,
are you not writing down your own condemnation? How can you stand before
the judgment-seat of God, after having in this manner confessed through
your whole life upon earth that God is good, and His law is perfect, and
yet through that whole life have gone counter to your own confession,
neither loving that God, nor obeying that law? "To him that knoweth to do
good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (James iv. 17.)

The text then, together with the chains of reasoning that are connected
with it, leads us to consider the fact, that a man may admire and praise
moral excellence without possessing or practising it himself; that _the
approbation of goodness is not the same as the love of it_.[1]

I. This is proved, in the first place, from the _testimony_ of both God
and man. The assertions and reasonings of the apostle Paul have already
been alluded to, and there are many other passages of Scripture which
plainly imply that men may admire and approve of a virtue which they do
not practise. Indeed, the language of our Lord respecting the Scribes and
Pharisees, may be applied to disobedient mankind at large: "Whatsoever
they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their
works: for they say, and do not." (Matt, xxiii. 3.) The testimony of man
is equally explicit. That is a very remarkable witness which the poet
Ovid bears to this truth. "I see the right,"--he says,--"and approve of
it, but I follow and practise the wrong." This is the testimony of a
profligate man of pleasure, in whom the light of nature had been greatly
dimmed in the darkness of sin and lust. But he had not succeeded in
annihilating his conscience, and hence, in a sober hour, he left upon
record his own damnation. He expressly informed the whole cultivated
classical world, who were to read his polished numbers, that he that had
taught others had not taught himself; that he who had said that a man
should not commit adultery had himself committed adultery; that an
educated Roman who never saw the volume of inspiration, and never heard
of either Moses or Christ, nevertheless approved of and praised a virtue
that he never put in practice. And whoever will turn to the pages of
Horace, a kindred spirit to Ovid both in respect to a most exquisite
taste and a most refined earthliness, will frequently find the same
confession breaking out. Nay, open the volumes of Rousseau, and even of
Voltaire, and read their panegyrics of virtue, their eulogies of
goodness. What are these, but testimonies that they, too, saw the right
and did the wrong. It is true, that the eulogy is merely sentimentalism,
and is very different from the sincere and noble tribute which a good man
renders to goodness. Still, it is valid testimony to the truth that the
mere approbation of goodness is not the love of it. It is true, that
these panegyrics of virtue, when read in the light of Rousseau's
sensuality and Voltaire's malignity, wear a dead and livid hue, like
objects seen in the illumination from phosphorus or rotten wood; yet,
nevertheless, they are visible and readable, and testify as distinctly as
if they issued from elevated and noble natures, that the teachings of
man's conscience are not obeyed by man's heart,--that a man may praise
and admire virtue, while he loves and practises vice.

II. A second proof that the approbation of goodness is not the love of it
is found in the fact, that _it is impossible not to approve of goodness_,
while it is possible not to love it. The structure of man's conscience is
such, that he can commend only the right; but the nature of his will is
such, that he may be conformed to the right or the wrong. The conscience
can give only one judgment; but the heart and will are capable of two
kinds of affection, and two courses of action. Every rational creature is
shut up, by his moral sense, to but one moral conviction. He must approve
the right and condemn the wrong. He cannot approve the wrong and condemn
the right; any more than he can perceive that two and two make five. The
human conscience is a rigid and stationary faculty. Its voice may be
stifled or drowned, for a time; but it can never be made to titter two
discordant voices. It is for this reason, that the approbation of
goodness is necessary and universal. Wicked men and wicked angels must
testify that benevolence is right, and malevolence is wrong; though they
hate the former, and love the latter.

But it is not so with the human _will_. This is not a rigid and
stationary faculty. It is capable of turning this way, and that way. It
was created holy, and it turned from holiness to sin, in Adam's
apostasy. And now, under the operation of the Divine Spirit, it turns
back again, it _converts_ from sin to holiness. The will of man is thus
capable of two courses of action, while his conscience is capable of only
one judgment; and hence he can see and approve the right, yet love and
practise the wrong. If a man's conscience changed along with his heart
and his will, so that when he began to love and practise sin, he at the
same time began to approve of sin, the case would be different. If, when
Adam apostatised from God, his conscience at that moment began to take
sides with his sin, instead of condemning it, then, indeed, neither Ovid,
nor Horace, nor Rousseau, nor any other one of Adam's posterity, would
have been able to say: "I see the right and _approve_ of it, while I
follow the wrong." But it was not so. After apostasy, the conscience of
Adam passed the same judgment upon sin that it did before. Adam heard its
terrible voice speaking in concert with the voice of God, and hid
himself. He never succeeded in bringing his conscience over to the side
of his heart and will, and neither has any one of his posterity. It is
impossible to do this. Satan himself, after millenniums of sin, still
finds that his conscience, that the accusing and condemning law written
on the heart, is too strong for him to alter, too rigid for him to bend.
The utmost that either he, or any creature, can do, is to drown its
verdict for a time in other sounds, only to hear the thunder-tones again,
waxing longer and louder like the trumpet of Sinai.

Having thus briefly shown that the approbation of goodness is not the
love of it, we proceed to draw some conclusions from the truth.

1. In the first place, it follows from this subject, that _the mere
workings of conscience are no proof of holiness_. When, after the
commission of a wrong act, the soul of a man is filled with
self-reproach, he must not take it for granted that this is the stirring of
a better nature within him, and is indicative of some remains of original
righteousness. This reaction of conscience against his disobedience
of law is as necessary, and unavoidable, as the action of his eyelids
under the blaze of noon, and is worthy neither of praise nor blame, so
far as he is concerned. It does not imply any love for holiness, or any
hatred of sin. Nay, it may exist without any sorrow for sin, as in the
instance of the hardened transgressor who writhes under its awful power,
but never sheds a penitential tear, or sends up a sigh for mercy. The
distinction between the human conscience, and the human heart, is as wide
as between the human intellect, and the human heart.[2] We never think of
confounding the functions and operations of the understanding with
those of the heart. We know that an idea or a conception, is totally
different from an emotion, or a feeling. How often do we remark, that a
man may have an intellectual perception, without any correspondent
experience or feeling in his heart. How continually does the preacher
urge his hearers to bring their hearts into harmony with their
understandings, so that their intellectual orthodoxy may become their
practical piety.

Now, all this is true of the distinction between the conscience and the
heart. The conscience is an _intellectual_ faculty, and by that better
elder philosophy which comprehended all the powers of the soul under the
two general divisions of understanding and will, would be placed in the
domain of the understanding. Conscience is a _light_, as we so often call
it. It is not a _life_; it is not a source of life. No man's heart and
will can be renewed or changed by his conscience. Conscience is simply a
law. Conscience is merely legislative; it is never executive. It simply
says to the heart and will: "Do thus, feel thus," but it gives no
assistance, and imparts no inclination to obey its own command.

Those, therefore, commit a grave error both in philosophy and religion,
who confound the conscience with the heart, and suppose that because
there is in every man self-reproach and remorse after the commission of
sin, therefore there is the germ of holiness within him. Holiness is
_love_, the positive affection of the heart. It is a matter of the heart
and the will. But this remorse is purely an affair of the conscience, and
the heart has no connection with it. Nay, it appears in its most intense
form, in those beings whose feelings emotions and determinations are in
utmost opposition to God and goodness. The purest remorse in the universe
is to be found in those wretched beings whose emotional and active
powers, whose heart and will, are in the most bitter hostility to truth
and righteousness. How, then, can the mere reproaches and remorse of
conscience be regarded as evidence of piety?

2. But, we may go a step further than this, though in the same general
direction, and remark, in the second place, that _elevated moral
sentiments are no certain proof of piety toward God and man_. These, too,
like remorse of conscience, spring out of the intellectual structure, and
may exist without any affectionate love of God in the heart. There is a
species of nobleness and beauty in moral excellence that makes an
involuntary and unavoidable impression. When the Christian martyr seals
his devotion to God and truth with his blood; when a meek and lowly
disciple of Christ clothes his life of poverty, and self-denial, with a
daily beauty greater than that of the lilies or of Solomon's array; when
the poor widow with feeble and trembling steps comes up to the treasury
of the Lord, and casts in all her living; when any pure and spiritual act
is performed out of solemn and holy love of God and man, it is impossible
not to be filled with sentiments of admiration, and oftentimes, with an
enthusiastic glow of soul. We see this in the impression which the
character of Christ universally makes. There are multitudes of men, to
whom that wonderful sinless life shines aloft like a star. But they do
not _imitate_ it. They admire it, but they do not love it.[3] The
spiritual purity and perfection of the Son of God rays out a beauty which
really attracts their cultivated minds, and their refined taste; but when
He says to them: "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am meek
and lowly of heart; take up thy cross daily and follow me;" they turn
away sorrowful, like the rich young man in the Gospel,--sorrowful,
because their sentiments like his are elevated, and they have a certain
awe of eternal things, and know that religion is the highest concern; and
sorrowful, because their hearts and wills are still earthly, there is no
divine love in their souls, self is still their centre, and the
self-renunciation that is required of them is repulsive. Religion is
submission,--absolute submission to God,--and no amount of mere
admiration of religion can be a substitute for it.

As a thoughtful observer looks abroad over society, he sees a very
interesting class who are not far from the kingdom of God; who,
nevertheless, are not _within_ that kingdom, and who, therefore, if they
remain where they are, are as certainly lost as if they were at an
infinite distance from the kingdom. The homely proverb applies to them:
"A miss is as good as a mile." They are those who suppose that elevated
moral sentiments, an aesthetic pleasure in noble acts or noble truths, a
glow and enthusiasm of the soul at the sight or the recital of examples
of Christian virtue and Christian grace, a disgust at the gross and
repulsive forms and aspects of sin,--that such merely intellectual and
aesthetic experiences as these are piety itself. All these may be in the
soul, without any godly sorrow over sin, any cordial trust in Christ's
blood, any self-abasement before God, any daily conflict with indwelling
corruption, any daily cross-bearing and toil for Christ's dear sake.
These latter, constitute the essence of the Christian experience, and
without them that whole range of elevated sentiments and amiable
qualities, to which we have alluded, only ministers to the condemnation
instead of the salvation of the soul. For, the question of the text comes
home with solemn force, to all such persons. "Thou that makest thy boast
of the law, through breaking of the law, dishonorest thou God?" If the
beauty of virtue, and the grandeur of truth, and the sublimity of
invisible things, have been able to make such an impression upon your
intellects, and your tastes,--upon that part of your constitution which
is fixed and stationary, which responds organically to such objects, and
which is not the seat of moral character,--then why is there not a
corresponding influence and impression made by them upon your heart? If
you can admire and praise them, in this style, why do you not _love_
them? Why is it, that when the character of Christ bows your intellect,
it does not bend your will, and sway your affections? Must there not be
an inveterate opposition and resistance in the _heart_? in the heart
which can refuse submission to such high claims, when so distinctly seen?
in the heart which can refuse to take the yoke, and learn of a Teacher
who has already made such an impression upon the conscience and the

The human heart is, as the prophet affirms, _desperately_ wicked,
_desperately_ selfish. And perhaps its self-love is never more plainly
seen, than in such instances as those of that moral and cultivated young
man mentioned in the Gospel, and that class in modern society who
correspond to him. Nowhere is the difference between the approbation of
goodness, and the love of it, more apparent. In these instances the
approbation is of a high order. It is refined and sublimated by culture
and taste. It is not stained by the temptations of low life, and gross
sin. If there ever could be a case, in which the intellectual approbation
of goodness would develop and pass over into the affectionate and hearty
love of it, we should expect to find it here. But it is not found. The
young man goes away,--sorrowful indeed,--but he goes away from the
Redeemer of the world, _never to return_. The amiable, the educated, the
refined, pass on from year to year, and, so far as the evangelic sorrow,
and the evangelic faith are concerned, like the dying Beaufort depart to
judgment making no sign. We hear their praises of Christian men, and
Christian graces, and Christian actions; we enjoy the grand and swelling
sentiments with which, perhaps, they enrich the common literature of the
world; but we never hear them cry: "God be merciful to me a sinner; O
Lamb of God, that takest away the sin of the world, grant me thy peace;
Thou, O God, art the strength of my heart, and my portion forever."

3. In the third place, it follows from this subject, that in order to
holiness in man there must be a change in his _heart and will_. If our
analysis is correct, no possible modification of either his conscience,
or his intellect, would produce holiness. Holiness is an affection of the
heart, and an inclination of the will. It is the love and practice of
goodness, and not the mere approbation and admiration of it. Now, suppose
that the conscience should be stimulated to the utmost, and remorse
should be produced until it filled the soul to overflowing, would there
be in this any of that gentle and blessed affection for God and goodness,
that heartfelt love of them, which is the essence of religion? Or,
suppose that the intellect merely were impressed by the truth, and very
clear perceptions of the Christian system and of the character and claims
of its Author were imparted, would the result be any different? If the
_heart_ and _will_ were unaffected; if the influences and impressions
were limited merely to the conscience and the understanding; would not
the seat of the difficulty still be untouched? The command is not: "Give
me thy conscience," but, "Give me thy _heart_."

Hence, that regeneration of which our Lord speaks in his discourse with
Nicodemus is not a radical change of the conscience, but of the _will_
and _affections_. We have already seen that the conscience cannot undergo
a radical change. It can never be made to approve what it once condemned,
and to condemn what it once approved. It is the stationary legislative
faculty, and is, of necessity, always upon the side of law and of God.
Hence, the apostle Paul sought to commend the truth which he preached, to
every man's conscience, knowing that every man's conscience was with him.
The conscience, therefore, does not need to be converted, that is to say,
made opposite to what it is. It is indeed greatly stimulated, and
rendered vastly more energetic, by the regeneration of the heart; but
this is not radically to alter it. This is to develop and educate the
conscience; and when holiness is implanted in the will and affections, by
the grace of the Spirit, we find that both the conscience and
understanding are wonderfully unfolded and strengthened. But they undergo
no revolution or conversion. The judgments of the conscience are the same
after regeneration, that they were before; only more positive and
emphatic. The convictions of the understanding continue, as before, to be
upon the side of truth; only they are more clear and powerful.

The radical change, therefore, must be wrought in the heart and will.
These are capable of revolutions and radical changes. They can apostatise
in Adam, and be regenerated in Christ. They are not immovably fixed and
settled, by their constitutional structure, in only one way. They have
once turned from holiness to sin; and now they must be turned back again
from sin to holiness. They must become exactly contrary to what they now
are. The heart must love what it now hates, and must hate what it now
loves. The will must incline to what it now disinclines, and disincline
to what it now inclines. But this is a radical change, a total change, an
entire revolution. If any man be in Christ Jesus, he is a new creature,
in his will and affections, in his inclination and disposition. While,
therefore, the conscience must continue to give the same old everlasting
testimony as before, and never reverse its judgments in the least, the
affections and will, the pliant, elastic, plastic part of man, the seat
of vitality, of emotion, the seat of character, the fountain out of which
proceed the evil thoughts or the good thoughts,--this executive, emotive,
responsible part of man, must be reversed, converted, radically changed
into its own contrary.

So long, therefore, as this change remains to be effected in an
individual, there is and can be no _holiness_ within him,--none of that
holiness without which no man can see the Lord. There may be within him a
very active and reproaching conscience; there may be intellectual
orthodoxy and correctness in religious convictions; he may cherish
elevated moral sentiments, and many attractive qualities springing out of
a cultivated taste and a jealous self-respect may appear in his
character; but unless he _loves_ God and man out of a pure heart
fervently, and unless his will is entirely and sweetly submissive to the
Divine will, so that he can say: "Father not my will, but thine be done,"
he is still a natural man. He is still destitute of the spiritual mind,
and to him it must be said, as it was to Nicodemus: "Except a man be born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The most important side of his
being is still alienated from God. The heart with its affections; the
will with its immense energies,--the entire active and emotive portions
of his nature,--are still earthly, unsubmissive, selfish, and sinful.

4. In the fourth, and last place, we see from this subject _the necessity
of the operation of the Holy Spirit, in order to holiness in man_.

There is no part of man's complex being which is less under his own
control, than his own will, and his own affections. This he discovers, as
soon as he attempts to _convert_ them; as soon as he tries to produce a
radical change in them. Let a man whose will, from centre to
circumference, is set upon self and the world, attempt to reverse it, and
set it with the same strength and energy upon God and heaven, and he will
know that his will is too strong for him, and that he cannot overcome
himself. Let a man whose affections cleave like those of Dives to earthly
good, and find their sole enjoyment in earthly pleasures, attempt to
change them into their own contraries, so that they shall cleave to God,
and take a real delight in heavenly things,--let a carnal man try to
revolutionize himself into a spiritual man,--and he will discover that
the affections and feelings of his heart are beyond his control. And the
reason of this is plain. The affections and will of a man show what he
_loves_, and what he is _inclined_ to. A sinful man cannot, therefore,
overcome his sinful love and inclination, because he cannot _make a
beginning_. The instant he attempts to love God, he finds his love of
himself in the way. This new love for a new object, which he proposes to
originate within himself, is prevented by an old love, which already has
possession. This new inclination to heaven and Divine things is precluded
by an old inclination, very strong and very set, to earth and earthly
things. There is therefore no _starting-point,_ in this affair of
self-conversion. He proposes, and he tries, to think a holy thought, but
there is a sinful thought already in the mind. He attempts to start out a
Christian grace,--say the grace of humility,--but the feeling of pride
already stands in the way, and, what is more, remains in the way. He
tries to generate that supreme love of God, of which he has heard so
much, but the supreme love of himself is ahead of him, and occupies the
whole ground. In short, he is baffled at every point in this attempt
radically to change his own heart and will, because at every point this
heart and will are already committed and determined. Go down as low as he
pleases, he finds sin,--_love_ of sin, and _inclination_ to sin. He never
reaches a point where these cease; and therefore never reaches a point
where he can begin a new love, and a new inclination. The late Mr.
Webster was once engaged in a law case, in which he had to meet, upon the
opposing side, the subtle and strong understanding of Jeremiah Mason. In
one of his conferences with his associate counsel, a difficult point to
be managed came to view. After some discussion, without satisfactory
results, respecting the best method of handling the difficulty, one of
his associates suggested that the point might after all, escape the
notice of the opposing counsel. To this, Mr. Webster replied: "Not so; go
down as deep as you will, you will find Jeremiah Mason below you."
Precisely so in the case of which we are speaking. Go down as low as you
please into your heart and will, you will find your _self_ below you; you
will find sin not only lying at the door, but lying in the way. If you
move in the line of your feelings and affections, you will find earthly
feelings and affections ever below you. If you move in the line of your
choice and inclination, you will find a sinful choice and inclination
ever below you. In chasing your sin through the avenues of your fallen
and corrupt soul, you are chasing your horizon; in trying to get clear of
it by your own isolated and independent strength, you are attempting
(to use the illustration of Goethe, who however employed it for a false
purpose) to jump off your own shadow.

This, then, is the reason why the heart and will of a sinful man are so
entirely beyond his own control. They are _preoccupied_ and
_predetermined_, and therefore he cannot make a beginning in the
direction of holiness. If he attempts to put forth a holy determination,
he finds a sinful one already made and making,--and this determination is
_his_ determination, unforced, responsible and guilty. If he tries to
start out a holy emotion, he finds a sinful emotion already beating and
rankling,--and this emotion is _his_ emotion, unforced, responsible,
and guilty. There is no physical necessity resting upon him. Nothing but
this love of sin and inclination to self stands in the way of a supreme
love of God and holiness; but _it stands in the way._ Nothing but the
sinful affection of the heart prevents a man from exercising a holy
affection; but _it prevents him effectually_. An evil tree cannot bring
forth good fruit; a sinful love and inclination cannot convert itself
into a holy love and inclination; Satan cannot cast out Satan.

There is need therefore of a Divine operation to renew, to radically
change, the heart and will. If they cannot renew themselves, they must
_be_ renewed; and there is no power that can reach them but that
mysterious energy of the Holy Spirit which like the wind bloweth where it
listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but cannot tell whence it cometh
or whither it goeth. The condition of the human heart is utterly
hopeless, were it not for the promised influences of the Holy Ghost to
regenerate it.

There are many reflections suggested by this subject; for it has a wide
reach, and would carry us over vast theological spaces, should we attempt
to exhaust it. We close with the single remark, that it should be man's
first and great aim _to obtain the new heart_. Let him seek this first of
all, and all things else will be added unto him. It matters not how
active your conscience may be, how clear and accurate your intellectual
convictions of truth may be, how elevated may be your moral sentiments
and your admiration of virtue, if you are destitute of an _evangelical
experience_. Of what value will all these be in the day of judgment,
if you have never sorrowed for sin, never appropriated the atonement for
sin, and never been inwardly sanctified? Our Lord says to every man:
"Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or else make the tree
corrupt, and its fruit corrupt." The _tree itself_ must be made good.
The heart and will themselves must be renewed. These are the root and
stock into which everything else is grafted; and so long as they remain
in their apostate natural condition, the man is sinful and lost, do
what else he may. It is indeed true, that such a change as this is beyond
your power to accomplish. With man it is impossible; but with God
it is a possibility, and a reality. It has actually been wrought in
thousands of wills, as stubborn as yours; in millions of hearts, as
worldly and selfish as yours. We commend you, therefore, to the Person
and Work of the Holy Spirit. We remind you, that He is able to renovate
and sweetly incline the obstinate will, to soften and spiritualize the
flinty heart. He saith: "I will put a new spirit within you; and I will
take the stony heart out of your flesh, and will give you an heart of
flesh; that ye may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do
them; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God." Do not listen
to these declarations and promises of God supinely; but arise and
earnestly _plead_ them. Take words upon your lips, and go before God. Say
unto Him: "I am the clay, be _thou_ the potter. Behold thou desirest
truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden parts _thou_ shalt make me
to know wisdom. I will run in the way of thy commandments, when _thou_
shalt enlarge my heart. Create within me a clean heart, O God, and renew
within me a right spirit." _Seek_ for the new heart. _Ask_ for the new
heart. _Knock_ for the new heart. "For, if ye, being evil, know how to
give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly
Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him." And in giving the Holy
Spirit, He gives the new heart, with all that is included in it, and all
that issues from it.

[Footnote 1: See, upon this whole subject of conscience as distinguished
from will, and of amiable instincts as distinguished from holiness, the
profound and discriminating views of EDWARDS: The Nature of Virtue,
Chapters v. vi. vii.]

[Footnote 2: Compare, on this distinction, the AUTHOR'S' Discourses and
Essays, p. 284 sq.]

[Footnote 3: The reader will recall the celebrated panegyric upon Christ
by Rousseau.]


PROVERBS ix. 10.--"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." Luke
xii. 4, 5.--"And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid of them that
kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will
forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed
hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him."

The place which the feeling of fear ought to hold in the religious
experience of mankind is variously assigned. Theories of religion are
continually passing from one extreme to another, according as they
magnify or disparage this emotion. Some theological schools are
distinguished for their severity, and others for their sentimentalism.
Some doctrinal systems fail to grasp the mercy of God with as much vigor
and energy as they do the Divine justice, while others melt down
everything that is scriptural and self-consistent, and flow along vaguely
in an inundation of unprincipled emotions and sensibilities.

The same fact meets us in the experience of the individual. We either
fear too much, or too little. Having obtained glimpses of the Divine
compassion, how prone is the human heart to become indolent and
self-indulgent, and to relax something of that earnest effort with which
it had begun to pluck out the offending right eye. Or, having felt the
power of the Divine anger; having obtained clear conceptions of the
intense aversion of God towards moral evil; even the child of God
sometimes lives under a cloud, because he does not dare to make a right
use of this needed and salutary impression, and pass back to that
confiding trust in the Divine pity which is his privilege and his
birth-right, as one who has been sprinkled with atoning blood.

It is plain, from the texts of Scripture placed at the head of this
discourse, that the feeling and principle of fear is a legitimate one.[1]
In these words of God himself, we are taught that it is the font and
origin of true wisdom, and are commanded to be inspired by it. The Old
Testament enjoins it, and the New Testament repeats and emphasizes the
injunction; so that the total and united testimony of Revelation forbids
a religion that is destitute of fear.

The New Dispensation is sometimes set in opposition to the Old, and
Christ is represented as teaching a less rigid morality than that of
Moses and the prophets. But the mildness of Christ is not seen,
certainly, in the ethical and preceptive part of His religion. The Sermon
on the Mount is a more searching code of morals than the ten
commandments. It cuts into human depravity with a more keen and terrible
edge, than does the law proclaimed amidst thunderings and lightnings.
Let us see if it does not. The Mosaic statute simply says to man: "Thou
shalt not kill." But the re-enactment of this statute, by incarnate
Deity, is accompanied with an explanation and an emphasis that precludes
all misapprehension and narrow construction of the original law, and
renders it a two-edged sword that pierces to the dividing asunder of soul
and spirit. When the Hebrew legislator says to me: "Thou shalt not kill,"
it is possible for me, with my propensity to look upon the outward
appearance, and to regard the external act alone, to deem myself innocent
if I have never actually murdered a fellow-being. But when the Lord of
glory tells me that "whosoever is angry with his brother" is in danger
of the judgment, my mouth is stopped, and it is impossible for me to
cherish a conviction of personal innocency, in respect to the sixth
commandment. And the same is true of the seventh commandment, and the
eighth commandment, and of all the statutes in the decalogue. He who
reads, and ponders, the whole Sermon on the Mount, is painfully conscious
that Christ has put a meaning into the Mosaic law that renders it a far
more effective instrument of mental torture, for the guilty, than it is
as it stands in the Old Testament. The lightnings are concentrated. The
bolts are hurled with a yet more sure and deadly aim. The new meaning is
a perfectly legitimate and logical deduction, and in this sense there is
no difference between the Decalogue and the Sermon,--between the ethics
of the Old and the ethics of the New Testament. But, so much more
spiritual is the application, and so much more searching is the reach of
the statute, in the last of the two forms of its statement, that it looks
almost like a new proclamation of law.

Our Lord did not intend, or pretend, to teach a milder ethics, or an
easier virtue, on the Mount of Beatitudes, than that which He had taught
fifteen centuries before on Mt. Sinai. He indeed pronounces a blessing;
and so did Moses, His servant, before Him. But in each instance, it is a
blessing upon condition of obedience; which, in both instances, involves
a curse upon disobedience. He who is meek shall be blest; but he who is
not shall be condemned. He who is pure in heart, he who is poor in
spirit, he who mourns over personal unworthiness, he who hungers and
thirsts after a righteousness of which he is destitute, he who is
merciful, he who is the peace-maker, he who endures persecution
patiently, and he who loves his enemies,--he who is and does all this in
a perfect manner, without a single slip or failure, is indeed blessed
with the beatitude of God. But where is the man? What single individual
in all the ages, and in all the generations since Adam, is entitled to
the great blessing of these beatitudes, and not deserving of the dreadful
curse which they involve? In applying such a high, ethereal test to human
character, the Founder of Christianity is the severest and sternest
preacher of law that has ever trod upon the planet. And he who stops with
the merely ethical and preceptive part of Christianity, and rejects its
forgiveness through atoning blood, and its regeneration by an indwelling
Spirit,--he who does not unite the fifth chapter of Matthew, with the
fifth chapter of Romans,--converts the Lamb of God into the Lion of the
tribe of Judah. He makes use of everything in the Christian system that
condemns man to everlasting destruction, but throws away the very and the
only part of it that takes off the burden and the curse.

It is not, then, a correct idea of Christ that we have, when we look upon
Him as unmixed complacency and unbalanced compassion. In all aspects,
He was a complex personage. He was God, and He was man. As God, He could
pronounce a blessing; and He could pronounce a curse, as none but God
can, or dare. As man, He was perfect; and into His perfection of feeling
and of character there entered those elements that fill a good being with
peace, and an evil one with woe. The Son of God exhibits goodness and
severity mingled and blended in perfect and majestic harmony; and that
man lacks sympathy with Jesus Christ who cannot, while feeling the purest
and most unselfish indignation towards the sinner's sin, at the same time
give up his own individual life, if need be, for the sinner's soul. The
two feelings are not only compatible in the same person, but necessarily
belong to a perfect being. Our Lord breathed out a prayer for His
murderers so fervent, and so full of pathos, that it will continue to
soften and melt the flinty human heart, to the end of time; and He also
poured out a denunciation of woes upon the Pharisees (Matt, xxiii.),
every syllable of which is dense enough with the wrath of God, to sink
the deserving objects of it "plumb down, ten thousand fathoms deep, to
bottomless perdition in adamantine chains and penal fire." The
utterances, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do: Ye
serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of
hell?" both fell from the same pure and gracious lips.

It is not surprising, therefore, that our Lord often appeals to the
principle of fear. He makes use of it in all its various forms,--from
that servile terror which is produced by the truth when the soul is
just waked up from its drowze in sin, to that filial fear which Solomon
affirms to be the beginning of wisdom.

The subject thus brought before our minds, by the inspired Word, has a
wide application to all ages and conditions of human life, and all
varieties of human character. We desire to direct attention to _the use
and value of religious fear, in the opening periods of human life_. There
are some special reasons why youth and early manhood should come
under the influence of this powerful feeling. "I write unto you young
men,"--says St. John,--"because ye are _strong_." We propose to urge upon
the young, the duty of cultivating the fear of God's displeasure, because
they are able to endure the emotion; because youth is the springtide and
prime of human life, and capable of carrying burdens, and standing up
under influences and impressions, that might crush a feebler period, or a
more exhausted stage of the human soul.

I. In the first place, the emotion of fear ought to enter into the
consciousness of the young, because _youth is naturally light-hearted_.
"Childhood and youth," saith the Preacher, "are vanity." The opening
period in human life is the happiest part of it, if we have respect
merely to the condition and circumstances in which the human being is
placed. He is free from all public cares, and responsibilities. He is
encircled within the strong arms of parents, and protectors. Even if he
tries, he cannot feel the pressure of those toils and anxieties which
will come of themselves, when he has passed the line that separates youth
from manhood. When he hears his elders discourse of the weight, and the
weariness, of this working-day world, it is with incredulity and
surprise. The world is bright before his eye, and he wonders that it
should ever wear any other aspect. He cannot understand how the
freshness, and vividness, and pomp of human life, should shift into its
soberer and sterner forms; and he will not, until the

"Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing Boy."[2]

Now there is something, in this happy attitude of things, to fill the
heart of youth with gayety and abandonment. His pulses beat strong and
high. The currents of his soul flow like the mountain river. His mood is
buoyant and jubilant, and he flings himself with zest, and a sense of
vitality, into the joy and exhilaration all around him. But such a mood
as this, unbalanced and untempered by a loftier one, is hazardous to the
eternal interests of the soul. Perpetuate this gay festal abandonment
of the mind; let the human being, through the whole of his earthly
course, be filled with the sole single consciousness that _this_ is the
beautiful world; and will he, can he, live as a stranger and a pilgrim
in it? Perpetuate that vigorous pulse, and that youthful blood which
"runs tickling up and down the veins;" drive off, and preclude, all that
care and responsibility which renders human life so earnest; and will the
young immortal go through it, with that sacred fear and trembling with
which he is commanded to work out his salvation?

Yet, this buoyancy and light-heartedness are legitimate feelings. They
spring up, like wild-flowers, from the very nature of man. God intends
that prismatic hues and auroral lights shall flood our morning sky. He
must be filled with a sour and rancid misanthropy, who cannot bless the
Creator that there is one part of man's sinful and cursed life which
reminds of the time, and the state, when there was no sin and no curse.
There is, then, to be no extermination of this legitimate experience.
But there is to be its moderation and its regulation.

And this we get, by the introduction of the feeling and the principle of
religious fear. The youth ought to seek an impression from things unseen
and eternal. God, and His august attributes; Christ, and His awful
Passion; heaven, with its sacred scenes and joys; hell, with its just woe
and wail,--all these should come in, to modify, and temper, the jubilance
that without them becomes the riot of the soul. For this, we apprehend,
is the meaning of our Lord, when He says, "I will forewarn you whom ye
shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into
hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." It is not so much any particular
species of fear that we are shut up to, by these words, as it is the
general habit and feeling. The fear of _hell_ is indeed specified,--and
this proves that such a fear is rational and proper in its own
place,--but our Lord would not have us stop with this single and isolated
form of the feeling. He recommends a solemn temper. He commands
a being who stands continually upon the brink of eternity and immensity,
to be aware of his position. He would have the great shadow of eternity
thrown in upon time. He desires that every man should realize, in those
very moments when the sun shines the brightest and the earth looks the
fairest, that there is another world than this, for which man is not
naturally prepared, and for which he must make a preparation. And what He
enjoins upon mankind at large, He specially enjoins upon youth. They need
to be sobered more than others. The ordinary cares of this life, which do
so much towards moderating our desires and aspirations, have not yet
pressed upon the ardent and expectant soul, and therefore it needs, more
than others, to fear and to "stand in awe."

II. Secondly, youth is _elastic, and readily recovers from undue
depression_. The skeptical Lucretius tells us that the divinities are the
creatures of man's fears, and would make us believe that all religion has
its ground in fright.[3] And do we not hear this theory repeated by the
modern unbeliever? What means this appeal to a universal, and an
unprincipled good-nature in the Supreme Being, and this rejection of
everything in Christianity that awakens misgivings and forebodings within
the sinful human soul? Why this opposition to the doctrine of an
absolute, and therefore endless punishment, unless it be that it awakens
a deep and permanent dread in the heart of guilty man?

Now, we are not of that number who believe that thoughtless and lethargic
man has been greatly damaged by his moral fears. It is the lack of a
bold and distinct impression from the solemn objects of another world,
and the utter absence of fear, that is ruining man from generation to
generation. If we were at liberty, and had the power, to induce into the
thousands and millions of our race who are running the rounds of sin and
vice, some one particular emotion that should be medicinal and salutary
to the soul, we would select that very one which our Lord had in view
when He said: "I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which
after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you,
Fear him." If we were at liberty, and had the power, we would
instantaneously stop these human souls that are crowding our avenues,
intent only upon pleasure and earth, and would fill them with the
emotions of the day of doom; we would deluge them with the fear of God,
that they might flee from their sins and the wrath to come.

But while we say this, we also concede that it is possible for the human
soul to be injured, by the undue exercise of this emotion. The bruised
reed may be broken, and the smoking flax may be quenched; and hence it is
the very function and office-work of the Blessed Comforter, to prevent
this. God's own children sometimes pass through a horror of great
darkness, like that which enveloped Abraham; and the unregenerate mind is
sometimes so overborne by its fears of death, judgment, and eternity,
that the entire experience becomes for a time morbid and confused. Yet,
even in this instance, the excess is better than the lack. We had better
travel this road to heaven, than none at all. It is better to enter into
the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into
hell-fire. When the saints from the heavenly heights look back upon their
severe religious experience here on earth,--upon their footprints stained
with their own blood,--they count it a small matter that they entered
into eternal joy through much tribulation. And if we could but for one
instant take their position, we should form their estimate; we should not
shrink, if God so pleased, from passing through that martyrdom and
crucifixion which has been undergone by so many of those gentle spirits,
broken spirits, holy spirits, upon whom the burden of mystery once lay
like night, and the far heavier burden of guilt lay like hell.

There is less danger, however, that the feeling and principle of fear
should exert an excessive influence upon youth. There is an elasticity,
in the earlier periods of human life, that prevents long-continued
depression. How rare it is to see a young person smitten with insanity.
It is not until the pressure of anxiety has been long continued,
and the impulsive spring of the soul has been destroyed, that reason is
dethroned. The morning of our life may, therefore, be subjected to a
subduing and repressing influence, with very great safety. It is well to
bear the yoke in youth. The awe produced by a vivid impression from the
eternal world may enter into the exuberant and gladsome experience of the
young, with very little danger of actually extinguishing it, and
rendering life permanently gloomy and unhappy.

III. Thirdly, youth is _exposed to sudden temptations, and surprisals
into sin_. The general traits that have been mentioned as belonging to
the early period in human life render it peculiarly liable to
solicitations. The whole being of a healthful hilarious youth, who feels
life in every limb, thrills to temptation, like the lyre to the plectrum.
Body and soul are alive to all the enticements of the world of sense; and
in certain critical moments, the entire sensorium, upon the approach of
bold and powerful excitements, flutters and trembles like an electrometer
in a thunder-storm. All passionate poetry breathes of youth and spring.
Most of the catastrophes of the novel and the drama turn upon the violent
action of some temptation, upon the highly excitable nature of youth. All
literature testifies to the hazards that attend the morning of our
existence; and daily experience and observation, certainly, corroborate
the testimony. It becomes necessary, therefore, to guard the human soul
against these liabilities which attend it in its forming period. And,
next to a deep and all-absorbing _love_ of God, there is nothing so well
adapted to protect against sudden surprisals, as a profound and definite
fear of God.

It is a great mistake, to suppose that apostate and corrupt beings like
ourselves can pass through all the temptations of this life unscathed,
while looking _solely_ at the pleasant aspects of the Divine Being, and
the winning forms of religious truth. We are not yet seraphs; and we
cannot always trust to our affectionateness, to carry us through a
violent attack of temptation. There are moments in the experience of the
Christian himself, when he is compelled to call in the _fear_ of God to
his aid, and to steady his infirm and wavering virtue by the recollection
that "the wages of sin is death." "By the fear of the Lord, men,"--and
Christian men too,--"depart from evil." It will not always be so. When
that which is perfect is come, perfect love shall cast out fear; but,
until the disciple of Christ reaches heaven, his religious experience
must be a somewhat complex one. A reasonable and well-defined
apprehensiveness must mix with his affectionateness, and deter him from
transgression, in those severe passages in his history when love is
languid and fails to draw him. Says an old English divine: "The fear of
God's judgments, or of the threatenings of God, is of much efficiency,
when some present temptation presseth upon us. When conscience and the
affections are divided; when conscience doth withdraw a man from sin,
and when his carnal affections draw him forth to it; then should the fear
of God come in. It is a holy design for a Christian, to counterbalance
the pleasures of sin with the terrors of it, and thus to cure the poison
of the viper by the flesh of the viper. Thus that admirable saint and
martyr, Bishop Hooper, when he came to die, one endeavored to dehort him
from death by this: O sir, consider that life is sweet and death is
bitter; presently he replied, Life to come is more sweet, and death to
come is more bitter, and so went to the stake and patiently endured the
fire. Thus, as a Christian may sometimes outweigh the pleasures of sin by
the consideration of the reward of God, so, sometimes, he may quench the
pleasures of sin by the consideration of the terrors of God."[4]

But much more is all this true, in the instance of the hot-blooded youth.
How shall he resist temptation, unless he has some _fear_ of God before
his eyes? There are moments in the experience of the young, when all
power of resistance seems to be taken away, by the very witchery and
blandishment of the object. He has no heart, and no nerve, to resist the
beautiful siren. And it is precisely in these emergencies in his
experience,--in these moments when this world comes up before him clothed
in pomp and gold, and the other world is so entirely lost sight of, that
it throws in upon him none of its solemn shadows and warnings,--it is
precisely now, when he is just upon the point of yielding to the mighty
yet fascinating pressure, that he needs to feel an impression, bold and
startling, from the _wrath_ of God. Nothing but the most active remedies
will have any effect, in this tumult and uproar of the soul. When the
whole system is at fever-heat, and the voice of reason and conscience is
drowned in the clamors of sense and earth, nothing can startle and stop
but the trumpet of Sinai.[5]

It is in these severe experiences, which are more common to youth than
they are to manhood, that we see the great value of the feeling and
principle of fear. It is, comparatively, in vain for a youth under the
influence of strong temptations,--and particularly when the surprise is
sprung upon him,--to ply himself with arguments drawn from the beauty of
virtue, and the excellence of piety. They are too ethereal for him, in
his present mood. Such arguments are for a calmer moment, and a more
dispassionate hour. His blood is now boiling, and those higher motives
which would influence the saint, and would have some influence with him,
if he were not in this critical condition, have little power to deter him
from sin. Let him therefore pass by the love of God, and betake himself
to the _anger_ of God, for safety. Let him say to himself, in this moment
when the forces of Satan, in alliance with the propensities of his own
nature, are making an onset,--when all other considerations are being
swept away in the rush and whirlwind of his passions,--let him coolly
bethink himself and say: "If I do this abominable thing which the soul of
God hates, then God, the Holy and Immaculate, will burn my spotted soul
in His pure eternal flame." For, there is great power, in what the
Scriptures term "the terror of the Lord," to destroy the edge of
temptation. "A wise man feareth and departeth from evil." Fear kills out
the delight in sin. Damocles cannot eat the banquet with any pleasure, so
long as the naked sword hangs by a single hair over his head. No one can
find much enjoyment in transgression, if his conscience is feeling the
action of God's holiness within it. And well would it be, if, in every
instance in which a youth is tempted to fling himself into the current of
sin that is flowing all around him, his moral sense might at that very
moment be filled with some of that terror, and some of that horror, which
breaks upon the damned in eternity. Well would it be, if the youth in the
moment of violent temptation could lay upon the emotion or the lust that
entices him, a distinct and red coal of hell-fire.[6] No injury would
result from the most terrible fear of God, provided it could always fall
upon the human soul in those moments of strong temptation, and of
surprisals, when all other motives fail to influence, and the human will
is carried headlong by the human passions. There may be a fear and a
terror that does harm, but man need be under no concern lest he
experience too much of this feeling, in his hours of weakness and
irresolution, in his youthful days of temptation and of dalliance. Let
him rather bless God that there is such an intense light, and such a pure
fire, in the Divine Essence, and seek to have his whole vitiated and
poisoned nature penetrated and purified by it. Have you never looked with
a steadfast gaze into a grate of burning anthracite, and noticed the
quiet intense glow of the heat, and how silently the fire throbs and
pulsates through the fuel, burning up everything that is inflammable,
and, making the whole mass as pure, and clean, and clear, as the element
of fire itself? Such is the effect of a contact of God's wrath with man's
sin; of the penetration of man's corruption by the wrath of the Lord.

IV. In the fourth place, the feeling and principle of fear ought to enter
into the experience of both youth and manhood, _because it relieves from
all other fear_. He who stands in awe of God can look down, from a very
great height, upon all other perturbation. When we have seen Him from
whose sight the heavens and the earth flee away, there is nothing, in
either the heavens or the earth, that can produce a single ripple upon
the surface of our souls. This is true, even of the unregenerate mind.
The fear in this instance is a servile one,--it is not filial and
affectionate,--and yet it serves to protect the subject of it from all
other feelings of this species, because it is greater than all others,
and like Aaron's serpent swallows up the rest. If we must be liable to
fears,--and the transgressor always must be,--it is best that they should
all be concentrated in one single overmastering sentiment. Unity is ever
desirable; and even if the human soul were to be visited by none but the
servile forms of fear, it would be better that this should be the "terror
of the Lord." If, by having the fear of God before our eyes, we could
thereby be delivered from the fear of man, and all those apprehensions
which are connected with time and sense, would it not be wisdom to choose
it? We should then know that there was but one quarter from which our
peace could be assailed. This would lead us to look in that direction;
and, here upon earth, sinful man cannot look at God long, without coming
to terms and becoming reconciled with Him.

V. The fifth and last reason which we assign for cherishing the feeling
and principle of fear applies to youth, to manhood, and to old age,
alike: _The fear of God conducts to the love of God_. Our Lord does not
command us to fear "Him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into
hell," because such a feeling as this is intrinsically desirable, and is
an ultimate end in itself. It is, in itself, undesirable, and it is only
a means to an end. By it, our torpid souls are to be awakened from their
torpor; our numbness and hardness of mind, in respect to spiritual
objects, is to be removed. We are never for a moment, to suppose that the
fear of perdition is set before us as a model and permanent form of
experience to be toiled after,--a positive virtue and grace intended to
be perpetuated through the whole future history of the soul. It is
employed only as an antecedent to a higher and a happier emotion; and
when the purpose for which it has been elicited has been answered, it
then disappears. "Perfect love casteth out fear; for fear hath torment,"
(1 John iv. 18.[7])

But, at the same time, we desire to direct attention to the fact that he
who has been exercised with this emotion, thoroughly and deeply, is
conducted by it into the higher and happier form of religious experience.
Religious fear and anxiety are the prelude to religious peace and joy.
These are the discords that prepare for the concords. He, who in the
Psalmist's phrase has known the power of the Divine anger, is visited
with the manifestation of the Divine love. The method in the
thirty-second psalm is the method of salvation. Day and night God's hand
is heavy upon the soul; the fear and sense of the Divine displeasure is
passing through the conscience, like electric currents. The moisture,
the sweet dew of health and happiness, is turned into the drought of
summer, by this preparatory process. Then the soul acknowledges its sin,
and its iniquity it hides no longer. It confesses its transgressions unto
the Lord,--it justifies and approves of this wrath which it has
felt,--and He forgives the iniquity of its sin.

It is not a vain thing, therefore, to fear the Lord. The emotion of which
we have been discoursing, painful though it be, is remunerative. There is
something in the very experience of moral pain which brings us nigh to
God. When, for instance, in the hour of temptation, I discern God's calm
and holy eye bent upon me, and I wither beneath it, and resist the
enticement because I fear to disobey, I am brought by this chapter in my
experience into very close contact with my Maker. There has been a vivid
and personal transaction between us. I have heard him say: "If thou doest
that wicked thing thou shalt surely die; refrain from doing it, and I
will love thee and bless thee." This is the secret of the great and swift
reaction which often takes place, in the sinner's soul. He moodily and
obstinately fights against the Divine displeasure. In this state of
things, there is nothing but fear and torment. Suddenly he gives way,
acknowledges that it is a good and a just anger, no longer seeks to beat
it back from his guilty soul, but lets the billows roll over while he
casts himself upon the Divine pity. In this act and instant,--which
involves the destiny of the soul, and has millenniums in it,--when he
recognizes the justice and trusts in the mercy of God, there is a great
rebound, and through his tears he sees the depth, the amazing depth, of
the Divine compassion. For, paradoxical as it appears, God's love is best
seen in the light of God's displeasure. When the soul is penetrated by
this latter feeling, and is thoroughly sensible of its own
worthlessness,--when, man knows himself to be vile, and filthy, and fit
only to be burned up by the Divine immaculateness,--then, to have the
Great God take him to His heart, and pour out upon him the infinite
wealth of His mercy and compassion, is overwhelming. Here, the Divine
indignation becomes a foil to set off the Divine love. Read the sixteenth
chapter of Ezekiel, with an eye "purged with euphrasy and rue," so that
you can take in the full spiritual significance of the comparisons and
metaphors, and your whole soul will dissolve in tears, as you perceive
how the great and pure God, in every instance in which He saves an
apostate spirit, is compelled to bow His heavens and come down into a
loathsome sty of sensuality.[8] Would it be love of the highest order, in
a seraph, to leave the pure cerulean and trail his white garments through
the haunts of vice, to save the wretched inmates from themselves and
their sins? O then what must be the degree of affection and compassion,
when the infinite Deity, whose essence is light itself, and whose nature
is the intensest contrary of all sin, tabernacles in the flesh upon the
errand of redemption! And if the pure spirit of that seraph, while filled
with an ineffable loathing, and the hottest moral indignation, at what he
saw in character and conduct, were also yearning with an unspeakable
desire after the deliverance of the vicious from their vice,--the moral
wrath, thus setting in still stronger relief the moral compassion that
holds it in check,---what must be the relation between these two emotions
in the Divine Being! Is not the one the measure of the other? And does
not the soul that fears God in a _submissive_ manner, and acknowledges
the righteousness of the Divine displeasure with entire acquiescence and
no sullen resistance, prepare the way, in this very act, for an equally
intense manifestation of the Divine mercy and forgiveness?

The subject treated of in this discourse is one of the most important,
and frequent, that is presented in the Scriptures. He who examines is
startled to find that the phrase, "fear of the Lord," is woven into the
whole web of Revelation from Genesis to the Apocalypse. The feeling and
principle under discussion has a Biblical authority, and significance,
that cannot be pondered too long, or too closely. It, therefore, has an
interest for every human being, whatever may be his character, his
condition, or his circumstances. All great religious awakenings begin
in the dawning of the august and terrible aspects of the Deity upon the
popular mind, and they reach their height and happy consummation,
in that love and faith for which the antecedent fear has been the
preparation. Well and blessed would it be for this irreverent and
unfearing age, in which the advance in mechanical arts and vice is
greater than that in letters and virtue, if the popular mind could be
made reflective and solemn by this great emotion.

We would, therefore, pass by all other feelings, and endeavor to fix the
eye upon the distinct and unambiguous fear of God, and would urge the
young, especially, to seek for it as for hid treasures. The feeling is a
painful one, because it is a _preparatory_ one. There are other forms of
religious emotion which are more attractive, and are necessary in their
place; these you may be inclined to cultivate, at the expense of the one
enjoined by our Lord in the text. But we solemnly and earnestly entreat
you, not to suffer your inclination to divert your attention from your
duty and your true interest. We tell you, with confidence, that next to
the affectionate and filial love of God in your heart, there is no
feeling or principle in the whole series that will be of such real solid
service to you, as that one enjoined by our Lord upon "His disciples
first of all." You will need its awing and repressing influence, in many
a trying scene, in many a severe temptation. Be encouraged to cherish it,
from the fact that it is a very effective, a very powerful emotion. He
who has the fear of God before his eyes is actually and often kept from
falling. It will prevail with your weak will, and your infirm purpose,
when other motives fail. And if you could but stand where those do, who
have passed through that fearful and dangerous passage through which you
are now making a transit; if you could but know, as they do, of what
untold value is everything that deters from the wrong and nerves to the
right, in the critical moments of human life; you would know, as they do,
the utmost importance of cherishing a solemn and serious dread of
displeasing God. The more simple and unmixed this feeling is in your own
experience, the more influential will it be. Fix it deeply in the mind,
that the great God is holy. Recur to this fact continually. If the dread
which it awakens casts a shadow over the gayety of youth, remember that
you need this, and will not be injured by it. The doctrine commends
itself to you, because you are young, and because you are strong. If it
fills you with misgivings, at times, and threatens to destroy your peace
of mind, let the emotion operate. Never stifle it, as you value your
salvation. You had better be unhappy for a season, than yield to
temptation and grievous snares which will drown you in perdition. Even if
it hangs dark and low over the horizon of your life, and for a time
invests this world with sadness, be resolute with yourself, and do not
attempt to remove the feeling, except in the legitimate way of the
gospel. Remember that every human soul out of Christ ought to fear, "for
he that believeth not on the Son, the wrath of God abideth on him." And
remember, also, that every one who believes in Christ ought not to fear;
for "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, and he
that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life."

And with this thought would we close. This fear of God may and should end
in the perfect love that casteth out fear. This powerful and terrible
emotion, which we have been considering, may and ought to prepare the
soul to welcome the sweet and thrilling accents of Christ saying, "Come
unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden," with your fears of death,
judgment, and eternity, "and I will give you rest." Faith in Christ lifts
the soul above all fears, and eventually raises it to that serene world,
that blessed state of being, where there is no more curse and no more

"Serene will be our days, and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security."

[Footnote 1: The moral and healthful influence of fear is implied in the
celebrated passage in Aristotle's Poetics, whatever be the
interpretation. He speaks of a _cleansing [Greek: (katharsin)]_ of the
mind, by means of the emotions of pity and terror [Greek: (phobos)]
awakened by tragic poetry. Most certainly, there is no portion of
Classical literature so purifying as the Greek Drama. And yet, the
pleasurable emotions are rarely awakened by it. Righteousness and justice
determine the movement of the plot, and conduct to the catastrophe; and
the persons and forms that move across the stage are, not Venus and the
Graces but,

"ghostly Shapes
To meet at noontide; Death the Skeleton
And Time the Shadow."

All literature that tends upward contains the tragic element; and all
literature that tends downward rejects it. AEschylus and Dante assume a
world of retribution, and employ for the purposes of poetry the fear it
awakens. Lucretius and Voltaire would disprove the existence of such a
solemn world, and they make no use of such an emotion.]

[Footnote 2: WORDSWORTH: Intimations of Immortality.]

[Footnote 3: LUCRETIUS: De Rerum Natura, III. 989 sq.; V. 1160 sq.]

[Footnote 4: BATES: Discourse of the Fear of God.]

[Footnote 5: "Praise be to Thee, glory to Thee, O Fountain of mercies: I
was becoming more miserable and Thou becoming nearer, Thy right hand was
continually ready to pluck me out of the mire, and to wash me thoroughly,
and I knew it not; nor did anything call me back from a yet deeper gulf
of carnal pleasures, but _the fear of death, and of Thy judgment to
come_; which, amid all my changes, never departed from my breast."
AUGUSTINE: Confessions, vi. 16., (Shedd's Ed., p. 142.)]

[Footnote 6: "Si te luxuria tentat, objice tibi memoriam mortis tuae,
propone tibi futuruin judicium, reduc ad memoriam futura tormenta,
propone tibi acterna supplicia; et etiaim propone aute oculos tuos
perpetuosignes infernorum; propone tibi horribiles poenas gehennae.
Memoria ardoris gehennae extinguat in te ardorem luxuriane."

BERNARD: De Modo Bene Vivendi. Sermo lxvii.]

[Footnote 7: BAXTER (Narrative, Part I.) remarks "that fear, being an
easier and irresistible passion, doth oft obscure that measure of love
which is indeed within us; and that the soul of a believer groweth up by
degrees from the more troublesome and safe operation of fear, to the more
high and excellent operations of complacential love."]

[Footnote 8: "Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem, thy birth and thy
nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy
mother an Hittite. Thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing
of thy person, in the day that thou wast born. And when I passed by thee
and saw thee polluted in thy own blood, I said unto thee when, thou wast
in thy blood, Live; yea I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood,
Live." Ezekiel xvi. 1, 5, 6.]


LUKE xvi. 25.--"And Abraham said, Son remember that thou in thy lifetime
receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he
is comforted, and thou art tormented."

The parable of Dives and Lazarus is one of the most solemn passages in
the whole Revelation of God. In it, our Lord gives very definite
statements concerning the condition of those who have departed this life.
It makes no practical difference, whether we assume that this was a real
occurrence, or only an imaginary one,--whether there actually was such a
particular rich man as Dives, and such a particular beggar as Lazarus, or
whether the narrative was invented by Christ for the purpose of conveying
the instruction which he desired to give. The instruction is given in
either case; and it is the instruction with which we are concerned. Be
it a parable, or be it a historical fact, our Lord here teaches, in a
manner not to be disputed, that a man who seeks enjoyment in this life as
his chief end shall suffer torments in the next life, and that he who
endures suffering in this life for righteousness' sake shall dwell in
paradise in the next,--that he who finds his life here shall lose his
life hereafter, and that he who loses his life here shall find it here

For, we cannot for a moment suppose that such a Being as Jesus Christ
merely intended to play upon the fears of men, in putting forth such a
picture as this. He knew that this narrative would be read by thousands
and millions of mankind; that they would take it from His lips as
absolute truth; that they would inevitably infer from it, that the souls
of men do verily live after death, that some of them are in bliss and
some of them are in pain, and that the difference between them is due to
the difference in the lives which they lead here upon earth. Now, if
Christ was ignorant upon these subjects, He had no right to make such
representations and to give such impressions, even through a merely
imaginary narrative. And still less could He be justified in so doing,
if, being perfectly informed upon the subject, He knew that there is no
such place as that in which He puts the luxurious Dives, and no such
impassable gulf as that of which He speaks. It will not do, here, to
employ the Jesuitical maxim that the end justifies the means, and say, as
some teachers have said, that the wholesome impression that will be made
upon the vicious and the profligate justifies an appeal to their fears,
by preaching the doctrine of endless retribution, although there is no
such thing. This was a fatal error in the teachings of Clement of
Alexandria, and Origen. "God threatens,"--said they,--"and punishes, but
only to improve, never for purposes of retribution; and though, in public
discourse, the fruitlessness of repentance after death be asserted, yet
hereafter not only those who have not heard of Christ will receive
forgiveness, but the severer punishment which befalls the obstinate
unbelievers will, it may be hoped, not be the conclusion of their
history."[1] But can we suppose that such a sincere, such a truthful and
such a holy Being as the Son of God would stoop to any such artifice as
this? that He who called Himself The Truth would employ a lie, either
directly or indirectly, even to promote the spiritual welfare of men? He
never spake for mere sensation. The fact, then, that in this solemn
passage of Scripture we find the Redeemer calmly describing and minutely
picturing the condition of two persons in the future world, distinctly
specifying the points of difference between them, putting words into
their mouths that indicate a sad and hopeless experience in one of them,
and a glad and happy one in the other of them,--the fact that in this
treatment of the awful theme our Lord, beyond all controversy, _conveys
the impression_ that these scenes and experiences are real and true,--is
one of the strongest of all proofs that they are so.

The reader of Dante's Inferno is always struck with the sincerity and
realism of that poem. Under the delineation of that luminous, and that
intense understanding, hell has a topographic reality. We wind along down
those nine circles as down a volcanic crater, black, jagged, precipitous,
and impinging upon the senses at every step. The sighs and shrieks jar
our own tympanum; and the convulsions of the lost excite tremors in our
own nerves. No wonder that the children in the streets of Florence, as
they saw the sad and earnest man pass along, his face lined with passion
and his brow scarred with thought, pointed at him and said: "There goes
the man who has been in hell." But how infinitely more solemn is the
impression that is made by these thirteen short verses, of the sixteenth
chapter of Luke's gospel, from the lips of such a Being as Jesus Christ!
We have here the terse and pregnant teachings of one who, in the phrase
of the early Creed, not only "descended into hell," but who "hath the
keys of death and hell." We have here not the utterances of the most
truthful, and the most earnest of all human poets,--a man who, we may
believe, felt deeply the power of the Hebrew Bible, though living in a
dark age, and a superstitious Church,--we have here the utterances of the
Son of God, very God, of very God, and we may be certain that He intended
to convey no impression that will not be made good in the world to come.
And when every eye shall see Him, and all the sinful kindreds of the
earth shall wail because of Him, there will not be any eye that can look
into His and say: "Thy description, O Son of God, was overdrawn; the
impression was greater than the reality." On the contrary, every human
soul will say in the day of judgment: "We were forewarned; the statements
were exact; even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath" (Ps. xc. 11).

But what is the lesson which we are to read by this clear and solemn
light? What would our merciful Redeemer have us learn from this passage
which He has caused to be recorded for our instruction? Let us listen
with a candid and a feeling heart, because it comes to us not from an
enemy of the human soul, not from a Being who delights to cast it into
hell, but from a friend of the soul; because it comes to us from One who,
in His own person and in His own flesh, suffered an anguish superior
in dignity and equal in cancelling power to the pains of all the hells,
in order that we, through repentance and faith, might be spared their

The lesson is this: _The man who seeks enjoyment in this life, as his
chief end, must suffer in the next life; and he who endures suffering in
this life, for righteousness' sake, shall be happy in the next._ "Son,
remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and
likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, and thou art

It is a fixed principle in the Divine administration, that the scales of
justice shall in the end be made equal. If, therefore, sin enjoys in this
world, it must sorrow in the next; and if righteousness sorrows in this
world, it must enjoy in the next. The experience shall be reversed, in
order to bring everything to a right position and adjustment. This is
everywhere taught in the Bible. "Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have
received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall
hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Blessed
are ye that hunger now; for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep
now; for ye shall laugh" (Luke vi. 21, 24, 25). These are the explicit
declarations of the Founder of Christianity, and they ought not to
surprise us, coming as they do from Him who expressly declares that His
kingdom is not of this world; that in this world His disciples must have
tribulation, as He had; that through much tribulation they must enter
into the kingdom of God; that whosoever doth not take up the cross daily,
and follow Him, cannot be His disciple.

Let us notice some particulars, in which we see the operation of this
principle. What are the "good things" which Dives receives here, for
which he must be "tormented" hereafter? and what are the "evil things"
which Lazarus receives in this world, for which he will be "comforted" in
the world to come?

I. In the first place, the worldly man _derives a more intense physical
enjoyment_ from this world's goods, than does the child of God. He
possesses more of them, and gives himself up to them with less
self-restraint. The majority of those who have been most prospered by
Divine Providence in the accumulation of wealth have been outside of the
kingdom and the ark of God. Not many rich and not many noble are called.
In the past history of mankind, the great possessions and the great
incomes, as a general rule, have not been in the hands of humble and
penitent men. In the great centres of trade and commerce,--in Venice,

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