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of hell.—If the Gadarene lacerated himself with stones, evil passions are not more gentle to the breast which harbours them. What can bo more injurious to a man than his own vices? Health decays: fortune is squandered: reputation is blasted: friends are alienated; and perhaps an ignominious death closes an ignominious existence. The voice of religion uses (as i\, were) the exhortation of St. Paul, 'Do thyself no harm:' but the voice of our spiritual enemy is, 'Accumulate all sufferings on thy body, and all degradations upon thy soul; until both body and soul ore destroyed in hell.'
4. Thus is the deemoniac the emblem of a soul, oppressed by the yoke of sin: but let us next advert to a more pleasing portion of this history. As contrary colours seem more marked when placed in neighbouring contrast, so does the moral happiness of conversion appear as the precious gift of God, when 6et in opposition to the desolate state of the reprobate. The Gadarene, whose abode was the tombs, and whose misery was the sport of malignant fiends, may now be contemplated as * clothed, and in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.' The right mind is, indeed, one of the surest marks of spiritual renovation. A state of sin is a state of error and mistake: bitter is put for sweet; darkness is preferred to light; modes of conduct are adopted, which will inevitably draw down the indignation of God; and he who thus acts in open defiance of every rational motive, must be pronounced to be very distant from the blessing of a right mind. But when once the thraldom of iniquity has been removed by the power Qf grace, working by a lively faith and a sincere repentance, then is the mental eye purified from the scales of error: our former steps seem to have been bewildered in an inextricable maze of sin and folly; and every action is discovered to have been contradictory to a due desire of conciliating the favour of God, and of rescuing our souls from the dominion of fiendish passions. Then, like the healed Gadarene, we sit, in a right mind, at the feet of that celestial Benefactor, whose mighty voice hath enjoined peace to the distractions of a stormy heart. The thought of these unutterable mercies awakens within us a sense of grateful attachment to their author. As the Gadarene prayed Christ, that he might be with Him; so are we reluctant to quit the side of him, whose goodness we have found commensurate with his power. A holy dread of past misery is deeply impressed upon us: we fear, that every remove from the source of eternal light may become an approximation to our former darkness.—Or if we must needs depart from our Benefactor, we depart, like the Gadarene, to publish how great things the Lord hath done for us. Our gratitude will impel us to declare the sweetness of the cup, which has been presented to our lips. We shall dedicate to the honour of Christ those faculties which he hath rescued from shame and ruin; we shall glory in being converted from the slaves of evil into heralds of salvation; never happier, than when venting our thankful emotions in the words of David, ' O come hither, and hearken, all ye that fear God; and I will tell you what he hath done for my soul.'
Lastly: let us observe from this history, that a grateful adherence to Christ will then be most effectually promoted, when we restrain our desire of riches within the limits of Christian sobriety. Salvation is brought to the very doors of the Gadarenes; and they implore that they may be left to their owh sordid pursuits. Whence could this infatuation arise? They valued their unjust gains beyond the amelioration of their souls; and considered their temporal losses as poorly compensated by the knowledge of eternal life: their conduct is a comment upon the declaration of our Lord, ' No man can love two masters—ye cannot serve God and mammon.' That enlarged, benevolent feeling, which a Christian is enjoined to cherish towards others; and that forbearance and restraint, which ho must pnetise in reference to himself; these virtues, peculiar to the code of Jesus, are most opposite to worldly covetousness, under all its varieties *)f baseness. The violent robber, the avaricious miser, the dishonest tradesman, the insidious game. stcr, the public peculator, the iniquitous extortioner, the merciless creditor, the usurious exactor, the despoiler of the widow, the plunderer of the orphan; what have these to do with Christ? These are the Gadarenes, who love their swine more than their religion: gladly would they be disburdened of that Gospel, which denounces punishment upon their unholy practices: and, therefore, they shout, • Let Diana of Ephesus be exalted, to the exclusion of the true God.'—But let us rather imitate the disinterested spirit of Zaccheus, who evinced his earnestness duly to receive his illustrious guest, by professing his charity towards the indigent, and his zeal for the reparation of casual injustice. When our breast shall have been thoroughly swept from the impurities of filthy lucre, then will the Redeemer condescend to enter in. He will breathe into us a joy unknown to those, whose wine and oil increase by fraud and rapine: he will open our eyes to discern the madness of exchanging an immortal soul for a perishable world: and rescuing us from that love of money which is the root of all evil, he will teach us to accumulate our treasures in those better regions, ' where neither moths corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal.'
[COMPILED BY THE EDITOR.]
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
DISQUIET OF SIN.
Isaiah lvii. 20, 21. The wicked are like a troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.
[Text taken from the first Morning-lesson.'] There is nothing can give us so just a notion of the distractions, the anguish, the confusion of the wicked even in this life, as the comparison which the Holy Spirit of God has made in the words of the text. And we ought to adore the goodness of God for making their guilt thus uneasy to them. For if we have any tenderness for ourselves, certainly this immediate punishment of sin must deter us from * walking in the counsel of the ungodly;' or if we are so foolish as to purchase this disquiet, by entering into the paths of wickedness, yet, as soon as we have gotten this sad experience, one would think it should effectually discourage us from * standing in the way of sinners, or sitting in the seat of the scornful.' [Psalm i. 1.] That it may have this happy effect upon us, let us,—
First, consider the dreadful condition of those men, who 'are like a troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." And,—
Secondly, The causes of their disquiet, or why * there can be no peace to the wicked.'
I. And first, we are to consider the dreadful condition of those men, who ' are like a troubled tea, when it cannot rat, whose waters east up mire and dirt.'
The great Creator of the world has placed everything in a wonderful order; but he has shown the ex act est care in man, the chief of his earthly creatures. All his faculties are appointed to answer some important end, and are placed in a regular subordination to one another for the certain attainment of it. And whilst he obeys the author of his being, and keeps the rank in which he was ordained to move, there is a most delightful harmony in his breast: his reason commanding him to do his duty; his affections quickening him in the performance of it; his will rejoicing to discharge it; and his conscience applauding him for it, and giving a pleasing foretaste of the favour and approbation of God.
But if he indulges his sinful appetites, his affections become unruly, and get the dominion over him; his will urges him on to his destruction at the command of every passion; his reason is forced to stoop to those actions which it loathes and abhors; and his conscience continually pursues him with the just complaints of the injuries which he has offered to it. And the punishment which he inflicts upon himself, is the more grievous, because ' the arrow sticks fast in him,' and cleaves to his soul. There are many arguments to alleviate and take off the edge of worldly evils, which can bring no relief under -the torments of a guilty conscience. For those are sometimes at a distance from us, and we may hope to escape or partly divert them j or if they fall upon us, they may affect the body only, while the mind retires into itself, and enjoys its proper happiness. But the sinner has no place to flee unto; no fence against himself. He is his own tormentor; and the sense of his sin and folly possesses all the retirements of his heart, and Alls every faculty of his soul. It is ' about his path, and about his bed, and follows him in all his ways.' That all-seeing God, who is present with us in every occurrence, and in every thought, will not suffer him to escape from his bosom-enemy, but constrains him to cry out in the bitterness of his anguish, "Whither shall I go from my wounded spirit? whither shall I go from its presence? If I endeavour to 'climb up into heaven,' it oppresses me with a weight that is intolerable: 'If I go down to hell,' there it will be ' a worm that will never die 5 a fire that never will be quenched: If I take the wings of the morning, and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea,' there I shall behold a resemblance of my condition; and when I hear ' the sea and the waves roaring, and see the hearts of men failing them for fear,' I shall feel a great disorder hi my own breast, and be more violently shaken with the confusion of my own thoughts: 'If I say, peradventure the darkness shall cover me,' the ungrateful light will show my guilt, and display all my shame, with a bright and glaring evidence."
It was this sense of guilt, this terrible conviction, that stung the accursed Cain, when • he said unto the Lord, my punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth, and from thy face I shall be hid. And I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth.' [Gen. iv. 13, 14.] But his punishment was rendered more exquisite by a firm assurance, that though he wandered to and fro, he could not fly from himself; and wheresoever he was, he would still be found out by this his enemy. In the most distant countries he would be forced to hear the cries of his conscience; and every one whom he met, would bring to his remembrance the murder of his brother.
The conscience of the wicked is always writing bitter things against them; and every accident renews the thoughts of their past iniquity, and takes off the veil of forgetfulness. It appears in all its horror and deformity, in the day of evil: when outward calamities straiten and besiege them, then they feel the most sharp and piercing agonies within: and when the world frowns upon them, they can have no comfort from themselves; no prospect of anything bat hell gaping before them.
How did the hearts of Joseph's brethren smite and reproach them when they were driven by famine into Egypt, whither they had sent their innocent brother, and where they were brought into a seeming necessity, either of snatching the comforts of Jacob's old age from his affectionate embraces, or of suffering bonds, imprisonment, and death! Then they were forced to acknowledge, that'they were very guilty concerning their brother;' and they could expect no relief, or compassion, 'because they saw the anguish of his soul when he besought them, and they would not hear:' and were their affliction the greatest that could be endured, yet they could not but allow of the equity of their punishment; 'therefore is this distress come upon us.' . . .. . . ,