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affection and the interest of Jesus upori earth to his own particular sect, and who feels no sympathy nor love for believers of any other name. When the impenitent behold such characters, (and would to God they were rare spectacles in the world!) is it wonderful that they feel encouraged and confirmed in their evil courses? And oh! tell me, is it not a circumstance that deserves to be. lamented with tears of blood, that the Saviour should thus be wounded in the house of his professed friends; that those who call themselves his disciples, should alienate others from him, and he accessary to their everlasting ruin!
The observations which have already been made, in a great degree,
III. Illustrated the propriety of the double wo pronounced by our Saviour. Wo to the world, because of offences; for
many all ages will be seduced by them from the ways of truth and piety; many will become the victims of those who imitate the great enemy of God and man,
going about and seeking whom they may devour;" and though others have contributed to their destruction, yet this will not save them from the merited punishment of their iniquities, since they voluntarily yielded to sin and Satan, in opposition to the entreaties and commands of their God and their Redeem
But especially, “ wo to that man by whom the offence cometh."
1. Because he frustrates, as far as in his power, the end and design that the Saviour proposed to himself in coming into the world. Jesus came to free men from the slavery of sin and Satan, to render them holy, to make them 6 meet for the inheritance of the
saints in light,” to “ destroy the works of the devil.” But the design of him, by whom the offence cometh, is to seduce others to pervert them, to plunge them into the gulf of despair. It is for this reason that Paul, in speaking of those who offend the weak, says, (1 Cor. viii. 11, 12.) that “ they sin against Christ, and cause the brother to perish, for whom Christ died."
I know, my brethren, that there are few who formally and deliberately propose to themselves the black and horrible design of destroying the soul of their neighbour. But what then? Does this excuse you from guilt? If the offence that we give, naturally produces this effect, and if we cannot be ignorant of this ; if by our conduct or our language, we show to others the path of vice and disobedience; if we induce them by our example, to walk in it; nothing more is necessary to expose us to this anathema of our Saviour,“ Wo unto that man by whom the offence cometh."
2. Wo, because he renders himself guilty of all the crimes that he has led others to commit. He renders himself responsible before the Judge of all, for all the souls that shall be lost through his fault. With his own burden he shall bear also that of others. And who can calculate the extent of evil that may be done by those through whom offences come? Those seduced by us, may seduce others; and they again, still infecting others, our guilt may be growing ages after we are dead. “ The souls of those by whom offences have come, whether having repented and believed, they are lodged among the spirits of the blest, or confined in the mansions of misery, now look back to these offences, and their long consequences,
with a solemn sigh of penitence, or with the pangs and groans of an overwhelming remorse for them.”
3. Wo, because the reparation of these evils is morally impossible. Even should you yourself be converted and forgiven, yet still the acquaintance, the friend, whom you have perverted, may be lost for ever; and the venom of sin, with which you have infected them, may be extensively propagated, and burn on to other ages and in other worlds.
Surely then, we should be careful that offences come not by us, lest the blood of souls lost by our means, be required of us. Let us cry with David, “ Deliver us from such blood-guiltiness, O God, thou God of our salvation; and our tongues shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. Then will we teach transgressors thy ways, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Let the threatening of our Saviour fill us with a salutary fear, and lead us to circumspection and diligence. Let us oppose to the torrent of offences and seductions, the light of our good works, the force of pious examples, the fervour and perseverance of our prayers. Let us never suffer ourselves to be shaken by the temptations of worldlings and sinners. Let us always remember that the religion of Jesus is not less heavenly and divine, though it does not produce the same effects
all hearts, and though it should be even dishonoured by the conduct of some who profess to believe it. Let us resolve, depending on strength from on high, to adorn it ourselves by the holiness of our conversation, and the fervour of our piety. Let us wait pa-. tiently, and strengthen our hearts; since the day cometh in which the Son of man shall send forth his angels, who shall gather out of his kingdom all things which offend, and those which do iniquity; and shall
cast them into a furnace of fire, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth ; while the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father.
And now, to this God who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy; to the only wise God, our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and for ever. Amen.
FORM AND POWER OF GODLINESS.
2 Tim. iii. 5.
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.
Every thing connected with the judgment-day is calculated to excite solemnity and reverence. Who can meditate without emotion on that trump which shall awake the dead; on the splendour in which the Judge shall appear; on the dissolution of worlds; on the vast assembly of intelligent spirits collected from heaven, earth, and hell? But there is another circumstance connected with that day, which, though less striking to the senses, is as interesting to the soul. It is the day in which the true characters of all shall be unveiled ; in which the consciences of all shall
be developed ; in which we shall be made perfectly acquainted with ourselves, and perfectly known to others. Then many, who once entertained no doubt of their salvation, will perceive with surprise and horror that they fatally deceived themselves, and will shudder while they acknowledge that, notwithstanding the false security in which they lived, and perhaps died, they were the enemies of God. Many, who deluded their fellow men, will then see that God could not be deceived, and will not be mocked. On many who were commended on earth, and on whose grave-stones was inscribed the eulogy of their piety, the Judge shall pronounce, “ Ye are weighed in the balance, and are found wanting.” Many who assumed “ the form of godliness,” shall then appear to 66 have denied its power.”
This form is a profession of religion; the outward appearance of piety; the external performance of holy duties. Its
is the inward experience of its saving efficacy and grace; that is attested by a holy, heavenly walk and conversation. This power is denied, not merely by the declarations of the lips, but by all those actions which are inconsistent with it, and which prove that we do not feel its influence. .
Brethren, “ let us now judge ourselves, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. xi. 31, 32.) Let us see whether we have both the form and power of godliness. Let us not fear to look fixedly upon our consciences, our hearts, and our lives. Let us see whether the foundation of our hopes can sustain the trial of the storms of death and the fires of judgment. Let us not madly purchase a false peace upon earth, by everlasting agonies in the world to come.