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none that understandeth God, none that seeketh after God.” They are all gone out of the
All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way. There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof is the way of death. Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who walk therein. They are all gone out of the right way; “ they are together become unprofitable," or useless, in respect of the great end of their creation, the service of their God. “ There is none that doeth good,” whose habit it is to do good, of whom it may be said as characteristic, that he is a doer of good, “no, not one.” “ Their throat is an open sepulchre,” emitting filthy communications, as hateful to an holy God as the nauseous and infectious vapours from a charnel-house are offensive to the senses of man.
" With their tongues they have used deceit.”
This word characterizes the language of men, both in the transactions of business and in the relaxations of society. Fraud is in the heart, and deceit upon the tongue of both buyer and seller. “ It is naught, it is naught,” says the buyer ;
“It is good,” says the seller: both intending to deceive, depreciating or applauding beyond the testimony of their conscience, and convicted in so doing by their subsequent boasting of having made a capital bargain, that is,
having cleverly deceived and successfully defrauded their neighbour. And in the relaxations of society, where the same ostensible object is not to be assigned, deceit equally prevails. It is fashionable ; it is inseparable from fashion. A man cannot be what is called well bred, without being deceitful. Conscientious sincerity and strict truth are vulgar to a degree; and at this moment, in our highest circles of society, he is esteemed the most polished man, who has acquired the greatest facility in deceit, who has the readiest tact in perceiving what tone is most congenial to his company, and adopting it without any regard to his own real sentiments; or, in other and plainer words, who can with the best grace tell the politest lie. It is vain to urge against this, (what is commonly urged,) that these every-day expressions of politeness are now perfectly understood, and mean no deceit whatever; for what does this prove, but that deceit is so natural to man, so interwoven in all his communications, that it has led to a gross abuse of language ? “ The poison of asps is under their lips.” Behind all this plausible external, lies malice, like the hidden poison of an asp, practising her wily seductions, concealing herself for a season from the presence of her visitors, while fair deceit puts on a winning smile, but starting from her lurking-place immediately on their
departure, and fastening upon them her slanderous detractions, circulating and delighting in her evil reports.
“ Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.” In many quarters, the most aggravated part of this charge is still true to the very letter; awful imprecations are still heard issuing from every mouth. And if in other classes of society open profaneness be now discarded, it is not because of its ungodliness, but because of its vulgarity. The angry temper which prompts to it is still fostered, and the power of being bitter, most cuttingly bitter, without being vulgar, is extolled as an enviable mark of distinguished talent.
“ Their feet are swift to shed blood.” Murder is of rare occurrence; and to this clause of the apostolical indictment, therefore, it may appear at first sight that we can truly plead not guilty; but when we refer to the spiritual standard of righteousness which God hath set up, we shall think otherwise. How early is the propensity to blood-shedding manifested in the cruelties which children instinctively practise upon birds, and insects, and tame animals! And what shall we say of hundreds and thousands of men and women assembling in eager and tumultuous excitement to witness the bloody scene of a few dogs tearing an unhappy bull, or an infuriated bull goring to death some one or more of those savage dogs ? What shall we say of our gentry, and even our senators themselves, assembling in like manner to the more aggravated scene of blood between two of their fellowcreatures, trained to the ready use of their most impetuous strength, that they may beat one another, not to blood only, but to broken bones, and sometimes even unto death? What shall we say of that honour, as it is preposterously termed, which has recourse for its vindication to a frightful mixture of suicide and murder; flying in the face of Almighty God, rather than bear an insult from a perishing fellow-worm? Or what shall be said of that society which looks down with contempt, perhaps scornfully spurns from its circle the man who has too much real courage to condescend to the cowardice of a duel ? And if in this, as in other instances, the accessory be a partaker in the guilt of the principal, the abettor and receiver in the guilt of the thief; what shall we say of the cold calculation which justifies, or the heartless apathy which disregards, or the selfish gratification which tends to perpetuate, the use of the blood-stained whip as a stimulant to human labour ? “ Destruction and misery are in their ways.” Their misery is equal to their guilt; misery, both of mind and body, verifying in every age the description of fallen man given by our great poet :
“ All maladies are there
With vows, as their chief good and final hope.” “ And the way of peace have they not known.' Their boasted peace is false. It is alternately the stupor of the flesh, and the delirium of an evil spirit. It is coeval with their success in banishing eternity from their thoughts, and hence their love of what is lively and dissipating in the intervals of business. But they know nothing of " the soul's calm sunshine and the heart-felt joy” of the real Christian, in meditating on the things of God; and whereas such things will force themselves upon the conscience, the way of the unconverted man is as a hedge of thorns. “ There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Men and brethren, why did the Roman Governor of Cæsarea tremble before his Jewish prisoner? and why do some of you feel at this moment an unusual, perhaps an alarming im