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atheists, men under the government of Satan ; if you live as
they do, you will in time believe as they do, whatever at
present you may think of it.

You will have been assured, that nothing more provokes
God to deprive men of His Holy Spirit, and of His graces,
than the frequenting of wicked company, where things hate-
ful to God are said and done.

Lastly, you will have heard from the inspired writer, that
\nosA.n.']wine, and new wine, take aivay the heart ; that is, the under-
standing : and every one, who is given to drinking and
company, will find it so to his sorrow, when it may be too
late to return to a sober mind; sad experience convincing
us, that one need but taste a sinful pleasure, or frequent bad



THE TRUE WAY OF PKOFITIX(; BY SERMON'S. 31

company a very little while, to be very fond of tliem, and a
slave to them.

If I should observe any young person very serious and
attentive when he hears these truths, I should conclude that
such a person will make some such reflections as these
following :

' I thank God that I have had this fair warning given me.
I am convinced that bad company has cost many a man very
dear. I have within me the same seeds of wickedness witli
other people ; and if God leaves me to my own choices, and
I make choice of bad company, I shall be as wicked as the
worst of them ; my heart will be infected, my faith weak-
ened, my good purposes cooled, and all my graces injured.
I am convinced of the difficulty of getting out of the snare,
and of breaking off evil habits ; and that if I provoke God to
withdraw His Spirit, I never can repent, never can return to
a sober mind. I will therefore keep in my mind the words
of the Apostle, Evil communications corrupt good manners ; [i Cor. 15.
and I am resolved, by the grace of God, to avoid, as I would
do the devil, the company of all such by whose loose princi-
ples and lewd examples my faith may be corrupted, or my
morals endangered.'

I persuade myself, that all young persons, who have any
grace left, will make some such resolutions as these, and will
beg of God the grace to keep them.

How many discourses have christians heard concerning
another reigning vice, the sins of impurity, fornication,
AND UNCLEANNEss, Avithout bciug bettered by what either
God or His ministers have said upon those subjects. They
have heard, for instance, God's express declaration, '^that [Heb. 13.4;
whoremongers and adulterers God will judge ; that they ^^' '
shall have their part in the lake that burnetii with fire and
brimstone." That God abhors such as fall into these sins,
and do not immediately repent and forsake them.

They have as often been put in mind of the difficulty of
forsaking these sins ; because these sins do blind the under-
standing, waste and harden the conscience, blot out all good
purposes, grieve the Spirit of God, drive Him from them,
and give the devil the greatest power over those that live in
them. They see with their own eyes, the pains people take



32 THK TllUK WAY OF P110FITINC4 BY SERMONS.

SERM. to conceal these vices; which should convince christians how

'- — shameful they really are. And they have often heard what

[Eph. 5. 3.] St. Paul has said of these sins : " that they are such as
should not so much as be named among christians. ^^

Lastly, christians know that God has appointed lawful
MARRIAGE RS a mcaus to prevent these sins, so hateful to
God, and so destructive to men. And yet this unclean spirit
reigns in the world without control; very many fall into
these sins, many live in them, and too many make a jest of
them.

What can be the reason of this ? Why, christians, when
they hear these things, do not mind them ; they do not
think of them after they leave the church ; they do not
ponder them in their hearts.

Young people, when they hear these things, should ask
themselves some such questions as these :

' Do I really believe, that, by falling into these sins, I
shall lose the favour of God, and must expect a most fearful
judgment if I continue in them ? I dare not say I do not
believe this : and if I do believe these truths, my crime will
admit of no excuse ; I shall be self-condemned, and lost
irrecoverably, and ruined for ever, if I go on and continue
in such sins as these. I will not flatter myself that God will
be merciful to me, though I continue in sin; He was the
same merciful God who, for these sins, destroyed Sodom and
Gomorrah with fire from heaven. I am to judge, by this, of
God's mercy when it is abused. I will not venture upon
these sins in hopes of repenting before I die ; for at the best
I can but repent for myself; I cannot repent for those I
shall corrupt, whose blood shall be required at my hands. I
will not make myself easy, because I may hope to hide my
crimes; for I am assured, that God will bring to light the
hidden works of darkness, when the stoutest, hardest heart
shall be ashamed and made to tremble. I will therefore
endeavour to imprint these terrors upon my heart, and pre-
serve my innocence, as I love my own soul. I will avoid, as
much as I can, all temptations to these sins; idleness, in-
temperance ; all company that make a jest of these crimes ;
all people that have lost their modesty ; all whom the devil
has inspired with immodest stories, filthy discourse, lewd



THE TRTE WAY OF PKOFITING BY SEKMONS. ;33

songs ; in short, all that discover, by their idle talk and
wanton behaviour, that they only want to be tempted, that
they only want an occasion, to be lewd/

If the devil, as be sure he will, lays a temptation in my
way, a young man, who has any grace left, Avill say, in the
words of Joseph, on the like occasion, " How can I do this [Gen. 39.
great wickedness, and sin against God?'^ ^-^

A woman, who has not quite lost her modesty, will, on the
like occasion, argue with herself in the words of Tamar,
David's daughter : " I, whither shall I make my shame to [2 Sam. 13.
go," if I consent to this foul crime ? ^^''^

And, knowing that I have not the power of resisting temp-
tations in my own hands, I will pray to God, every day of
my life, to give me grace and strength to resist all tempta-
tions, which will cost me so very dear.

And such as have been so unhappy as to have fallen into
these sins will repent forthwith, and be very watchful for the
time to come, if they will but think seriousl}^ of the words of
Christ ; " that the unclean spirit will return with seven others [Luke 11.
more wicked than himself :" and then what destruction will '^^'^
they make !

These are the reflections that Christians should make, and
will make, if they have any grace, when they hear a discourse
of the dreadful consequence of sins of impurity.

There is another very great and very common sin, very
little minded ; however, I would beg you would lay to heart
both the guilt and the curse that attends it. It is the sin of
profaning the name of God to idle or ivicked purposes.

This is done every day, without fear and without thought ;
though it is a sin most displeasing to God, for which He will
not hold men guiltless ; that is. He will punish them in an
extraordinary manner : because the impious custom of swear-
ing in common conversation strikes directly at the honour of
God; it makes His name, that is, God Himself, contemp-
tible; it lessens men's esteem and reverence for Him that
made them ; and treats Him as an idol, which can do them
neither good nor hurt. By this impious custom, men come
to lose the fear of an oath; so that oaths and vows are no
manner of rule by which we can judge whether they speak
true or false. From common swearing they come to cursing

WILSON. D



34 THE TUUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SKIUIONS.

SERM. themselves and others: from cursing, to blasphemy; and

111 CJ- J. »

■ — from blasphemy, to downright atheism ; to say, at least to

wish, that there was no God.

You will therefore, when you hear these things, as ever
you hope to escape the vengeance of God; you will lay these
truths to heart, and resolve with yourself as follows :

' I will always endeavour to speak of God with an awe and
reverence upon my mind. If I am called to take a solemn
oath, I will consider the meaning and terror of those words
with which it is bound upon me, so help you God ! and
then I shall conclude, that as ever I expect the help of God
when I shall most want it, I am bound to speak the very
truth. As for rash, customary oaths, I will abhor the appeal-
ing to God, as every man does who swears, with a lie or a
trifle in my mouth. If ever I shall be so unhappy as to be
surprised into such a sin, I will immediately beg God's pardon,
and resolve to do so no more. And lest such oaths should
become less dreadful to me, and more familiar, I will avoid,
as I would do the devil, or leave the company of, a man who
is given to such vices, lest I should provoke God to leave me
to myself, and lest I should become as bad as the worst.

' Tliat I may not take the name of God in vain, when I
am at my prayers, and worshipping Him, I will endeavour
that my words and heart shall go together. To this end, I
will consider, that all the prayers of the Church begin with
such expressions as are most proper to make us mind to
whom we speak ; that it is, to an Almighty God, and merciful
Father, to Whom all hearts are open, all desires known ; Who is
the fountain of all wisdom and goodness, the creator and pre-
server of mankind ; Whose nature and property is ahvays to
have mercy and to forgive.'

These, and such expressions, if attended to, will call back
a roving mind, and fix it upon the duty you are about; will
awaken the most careless, and melt down the most stubborn
heart.

Whoever comes to these resolutions, which all people will
do who are afraid to take God's name in vain, will not often
speak of God, or to God, without thought, without reason,
and without reverence.

The next great sin to this is that of profaning the Lord's



THE TIirE AVAY OF PKOl'lTING HY SERMONS. 35

DAY. You liear the command of God touching this sin, and
your duty, every such day. And you hear your duty often
pressed upon you in sermons ; and too often you return
home without profiting by the one or the other.

Do but consider the reason of this : why, you do not
seriously attend to what you hear; or you forget it as soon
as you leave the church ; or you do not apply the truths you
hear to yourself, or come to any sober resolutions concerning
them. For is it possible that you should hear and believe
that God has expressly commanded one day in seven to be
kept holy ? That He hath blessed that day ,- that is, He has [Exod. 20.
joined an especial blessing to the due observation of it. That -'
it is a day dedicated to the honour and worship of God, and
of Jesus Christ our Saviour. That if men were not on these
days put in mind of the duty they owe to God ; and if cer-
tain persons were not by His command appointed to keep
up the knowledge of God, and of our dependance upon Him,
Ave should soon lose the knowledge of the true God (as many
nations have done), all sense of piety, all concern for what
must come hereafter, whether men know, whether they think
of it or not. And lastly, that such as do not keep this day
HOLY, by going to the assemblies of the faithful, do, in effect,
excommunicate themselves.

Is it possible, I say, that a Christian, when he is put in
mind of these truths, should not come to some such firm
resolutions as these :

' I will consider who it is that has given me this command :
that it is He Who gives me all my time, and Who blesseth all
my labours. I will consider what it is He has commanded
me : why, that I should, for one day in seven, leave all my
worldly cares and concerns in His hands. Whose blessing
upon one day's labour is of more value than the whole week's
work without it : and that I should dedicate this day to His
honour; to give Him thanks for His care over me; to ac-
knowledge and adore His infinite perfections. His power,
His wisdom, His goodness, His truth, and His justice. And
lastly, to acknowledge my own misery, without His blessing:
and that I am subject to ignorance, to ivant, to troubles, to
sickness, to sin, and to death, even to death eternal.

' I will therefore resolve, as ever I hope for a blessing in
d2



36 THE TRUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SERMONS.

SERM. this life, or for happiness in the next, I will remember the

' — Lord's day to keep it holy. I will go to the house of God,

and confess my own unworthiness, and His iniSnite goodness.
I will appear before God, with my hea7'i as well as with my
body. I will confess my sins unto God, and hope for a share
in the absolution pronounced by His minister in His name,
I will attend to His Word, and say a serious Amen to the
graces and blessings there prayed for : and I will receive,
with the greatest devotion, the solemn blessing of the
priest of God, by which he dismisseth the congregation ;
Num. 6. 23, bccause I have the sure promise of God Himself, that His
'^' blessing shall attend the blessing pronounced by His

priest.

* I will then return home, and consider seriously what I
have heard, and then I will lay all my own particular wants
before the throne of grace. I will consider, that it is God's
own day ; that it is the day of giving pardon to sinners ; of
giving grace to the humble ; of giving comfort to the afflicted ;
of giving strength to the weak ; of giving blessings to all that
call upon Him in sincerity.

' And lastly, I will pray God to deliver me from all those
ways by which this good day is generally profaned. Nor
will I spend that time in idleness, in sloth, in trifling, with a
careless indifference, which is consecrated to the honour of
God, and designed to prepare me for an eternal rest here-
after.'

Make such resolutions as these, when you hear this duty
recommended and explained ; and depend upon God for His
blessing upon them.

When one considers what steps people take from one sin
to another, till they become very often both hardened and
reprobate; one must conclude, that such people never seri-
ously attended to what the Scriptures have told us concern-
rRom.1.28^ ing the deceitfulness of sin. " That if men will not retain
^ ■ ■ '■' God in their knowledge, God will give them up to a mind
void of judgment; to work all iniquity with greediness."

That this has been the case of an infinite number of
people, who have fallen into crimes and courses, which once
in their lives they abhorred the thoughts of: that the most
profligate sinners did once hate those vices they now are so



THE TRUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SEEMONS. 37

fond of; and were afraid of that God, Whose threats and
judgments they noio never mind, or fear: that most people,
before they were corrupted, did blush, and start, and were
ashamed of doing a base, or an unworthy thing, which noio
never disturbs them : that Avhen men have once lost the fear
of God, they will do what pleaseth themselves, though all the
world sees their folly, and what their end will be : and that
there is no wickedness which can be named, which such
people have not at last fallen into : we have very many scrip-
ture examples which confirm this truth.

A Prince, beloved of God, but giving way to his lusts, [■2Sam.il.]
first corrupts the Avife, and then murders her husband.
His son, by the same steps, falling into gross and senseless [i Kings
idolatry.

Another great man asking the Prophet, " Am I a dog, 2 Kings 8.

• r 13- 10 32

to do such things as you say I shall one day come to do ?" '
Which yet he afterwards did without scruple.

By these instances you should be convinced, that neither
the greatest wisdom, nor the best education, nor the greatest
favours of God, nor the good opinion we may have of our
own sense and resolutions, can secure us, when once we
give way to our own appetites to do what God has for-
bidden.

You see a common swearer. You think little of it. You
esteem it a frailty only. You do not see the end of this sin ;
that it leads to impiety, to perjury, to atheism, and damna-
tion.

You see a tippler, or a drunkard. The sin is so common
you mind it not. You do not see the end of it ; his family
and his affairs are neglected ; God, and religion, and his soul,
are the least of his thoughts or concern ; he grows sottish
and thoughtless, contracts distempers, and dies hard, or in
despair.

You see another given to lewd, filthy, or profane talk. You
laugh with him, and see no harm in it. You would tremble,
if you could see what this leads to. He grows debauched,
becomes fearless of offending God, hardened in wickedness
and infidelity, and is taken off in his sin. This does not
affect you, because you are yet alive.

If people will despise the Lord's day; neglect the ordi-



38 THE TKUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SERMONS.

SERM. nauces ; refuse to hear God^s Word, or to know His will;

^^^' He will withdraw His graces, they will grow more careless,

and at last professedly wicked, and ripe for judgment.

You have often heard what St. Paul observes, that infi-
[Rom.1.28.] DELiTY, the uot retaining God in their knowledge, was the oc-
casion of the vilest sins that ever were thought of. You may
be assured of it, the same cause will, at all times, have the
same dreadful effects.

In short, the beginning of sin is uot regarded ; but one
evil habit certainly begets another, till men forget God ; till
God forsakes them, and leaves them to themselves ; till they
have filled up the measure of their sins ; and till God sends
upon them swift destruction.

Well then; will you hear such truths as these without
profiting by them ? Can you possibly leave the church with-
out coming to some such reflections and resolutions as these
following :

^I see plainly, that human nature is the same, and ex-
tremely corrupt in all men : that without the grace of God
we can do no good thing : that if by my sins I should grieve
the Spirit of God, and force Him to leave me to myself, I
cannot foresee what I shall do ; what I shall be ; what doom
I shall bring upon myself. I am convinced, that if I desire
to avoid the greater sins, I must resolve to resist the very
beginning of sin, the very least thing that I believe will dis-
please God ; and that if I do not do so, and get once out of
God's way, one sin will infallibly lead to another. I see
what blindness, what wickedness, sinners have been capable
of, when once they have been left to themselves : that they
could neither think, nor act, nor live, like men that had
reason. I will endeavour (will every serious Christian say)
I will live in the fear of God, that I may never consent to
known iniquity. This is the only security against the
greatest crimes : to be afraid of those judgments which He
has threatened to sinners, and of those ways which He has
assured us will be our ruin. I will not, therefore, go against
my conscience in the least thing whatever ; being thoroughly
convinced, that I cannot take up when I please. I see the
danger of continuing in any known sin : if therefore I shall
be so unhappy as to fall into sin, I will follow the example



THE TRUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SERMONS. .'59

of holy David : / made haste, said he, and delayed not, to keep [Ps. 119.
Thy commandments. And I will walk humhly before God,
knowing that I have nothing of my own to boast of; neither
my own reason, nor my own strength, nor my best resolu-
tions, will secure me from falling into sin, without the help
of God.

*I have the comfort of knowing, that while I fear to offend,
and sincerely desire to please God, I shall be under the pro-
tection of His good providence : He will give His holy
Angels charge concerning me ; He will inspire me with a
dread of such things as w^ould hurt me ; support me under
temptations ; correct me when I am going wrong ; awaken
my conscience ; lay restraints upon my passions ; and keep
me from such sins as are the ruin of those that forget God.
In short, the wrath of God is, in the Gospel of Christ, so
plainly revealed against all that hve wickedly, that all such
as do so will (to make their minds easy) either repent and
forsake their sins, or strive to blot the knowledge of God out
of their minds, and turn infidels. For fear, therefore, of
falling into that most dreadful judgment, I will resolve, by
the grace of God, not to live in any known sin, lest in time
I become an atheist.^

These are the resolutions, or some such as these, that you
should make when you hear a sermon concerning the deceit- [Heb.3.i3.
fulness of sin, and the steps sinners take to their ruin.

Christians must never hope to escape falling into sins of
eveiy kind, who do not seriously attend to what God has
made known to us concerning the nature o/temptations and
TRIALS, and the way not to he hurt by them.

They are charged, as they value their souls, to watch
against temptations, and to pray continually, that they may
not fall into or be overcome by them. They are assured, by
the Spirit of God, that the devil is perpetually seeking whom
he may devour, finding them ofi* their guard, and from under
God's protection. They are put in mind of their own frailty,
that they may look up to God perpetually, and depend upon
His grace. They are over and over again told, that there is
no condition of life but what is subject to temptations : that
every man living has reason to be upon his guard against
the wiles of the devil, since he had power to prevail with



40 THE TRUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SERMONS.

SERM. Judas to betray the Son of God Himself, with the chief of

'- — God's priests to accuse Him most wrongfully, and with Pilate

to condemn Him against his conscience. They have the
example of our first parents, to convince them how weak
they are, and what will be the effects of giving way to the
suggestions of the devil. They see, every day, christians
who have vowed to renounce the devil, the world, and the
lusts of the flesh, as much led by them as the very heathens.

These things, one should hope, might awaken christians,
and make them fly from the wrath to come ; but, God knows,
it is too often that they are never minded.

Christians hear them with indifference; they leave the
[Luke 8. church, and " Satan cometh immediately, and taketh the
word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be
saved." They meet with temptations at every turn; and are
drawn away either by their Itists, or by evil examples, and are
in the direct way of ruin.

Why now, what do people come to church for ; but to be
put in mind of these things, that they may lay them up in
their hearts ; and that they may, in good earnest, pray to be
delivered from evil?

Let us beseech you, therefore, good christians, when you
hear such truths as these, ponder them in your hearts, and
come to some resolutions about them.

Say to yourselves, ' I have this day been told (what I hope
I shall not forget), that I have a watchful enemy to deal
with ; that I have a very corrupt heart, too ready to yield
to his suggestions ; and that I have bad examples, too many,
to lead me astray, and to my ruin. I dare not, therefore,
presume upon my own strength, upon my own wisdom, or
conduct; but my whole trust shall be in God. I will most
earnestly beg of Him not to leave me to my own choices,
but to discover to me the dangers I am liable to, and that
He will enable me to resist and overcome them. I have
[■2Cor.i2.9.] been assured, that God's grace is sufficient, and therefore I
will neither despair nor be dejected. I will never run into
the temptations which, in my daily prayers, I pray God I
may not be led into. I will remember the Word of God :
[iCo' - 10- "Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."
Neither will I hearken unto the suggestions of the devil, but



THE TRUE WAY OF PROFITING BY SERMONS. 41

RESIST HIM (as I am exhorted by the Apostle) ; and then I [James4.7.]
am assured, that he cannot get an advantage over me. I Avill
consider who it is that puts me upon forbidden things : that
it is the same Satan who said to our Saviour, All these things [Matt. 4. 9.]
will I give Thee : that it is the same evil spirit, or his angels,
who suggests to me; that pleasure will not hurt you: that
revenge is sweet; that gain, those riches, will make you
happy.'

It is the same spirit that would make you believe, that
there is no hurt in an idle, useless life; that there is no
harm in spending your estate or your time; that they are
your own, and you may do what you please with them. It
is tlie same Satan, that tempts you to neglect the worship of
God, and to think it a burden ; that persuades you to believe,



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 4 of 49)