Hebrews 3:13
But exhort one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Sermons
A Hardened HeartHebrews 3:13
A Warning Against Hardness of HeartC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 3:13
An Awful Peril and an Inspired PreventiveW. Jones Hebrews 3:13
Character Tends to FixityProf. H. Drummond.Hebrews 3:13
Deceitfulness of SinJ. Burns.Hebrews 3:13
Deceptive Nature of SinC. Field.Hebrews 3:13
HabitsHebrews 3:13
Hardened by Being MeltedR. M. McCheyne.Hebrews 3:13
Hardness of HeartH. W. Beecher.Hebrews 3:13
Heart-HardeningR. M. McCheyne.Hebrews 3:13
Model ExhortationFenelon.Hebrews 3:13
On the Danger and Deceitfulness of SinArchbishop Tillotson.Hebrews 3:13
Past FeelingJ. Stoughton, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
Private ExhortationD. Dickson, M. A.Hebrews 3:13
Religion the Great Security Against the Delusions of SinT. Ashton, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
Restraining of Spiritual Intercourse in FamiliesC. J. Brown.Hebrews 3:13
SinM. Henry.Hebrews 3:13
Soul-FossilisationHomilistHebrews 3:13
Spiritual InsensibilityHebrews 3:13
The Accelerating Progress of an Ungodly CourseW. M. Punshon, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Change Sin Works in the ConscienceHebrews 3:13
The Danger of Heart-Hardening Through SinJosiah Hill.Hebrews 3:13
The Dangerous Deceitfulness of SinD. Wilcox.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinDean Alford.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinBp. S. Wilberforce.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinW. Sparrow, LL. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinC. H. Spurgeon.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinE. Blencowe, M. A.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinB. Whichcote, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinJ. Witherspoon.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinW. Jarbo, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinHebrews 3:13
The Deceitfulness of SinD. Young Hebrews 3:13
The Devices by Which Sin BeguilesW. Sparrow, LL. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Fatal ChainHebrews 3:13
The Lies of the TemptressA. Maclaren, D. D.Hebrews 3:13
The Comparison of Christ and Moses Suggests the Possibility of Apostasy from ChristC. New Hebrews 3:7-19
There is Here Asserted the Need of Mutual Exhortation to Avoid Unbelief and Follow Christ FullyJ.S. Bright Hebrews 3:12-14
But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today, etc. We discover in these words -

I. AN AWFUL PERIL. "Lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." The danger is that of growing into a condition of moral obduracy, of becoming "past feeling." The greatness of this peril largely arises from two facts.

1. That this condition is generally reached gradually. Men do not become hardened in sin by one act of wickedness. Moral insensibility is the result of a process. The progress may sometimes be distinctly traced.

(1) The hardening of the will against certain Divine commands, as in the case of Pharaoh (Exodus 5:2). The refusal to do a manifest duty.

(2) The hardening of the entire moral disposition in sin. In this stage the struggle against temptation to sin is renounced, and the effort to be and to do what is true and right is given up (cf. Ephesians 4:18, 19).

(3) The hardening of the heart against the influences of Divine grace. In this stage the offers of the gospel are rejected; unbelief becomes positive and active (cf. Acts 7:51). How inexpressibly terrible is such a condition of soul!

2. That this condition is generally reached insidiously. "Hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." Sin never approaches the soul in its true aspect. It assumes attractive disguises; it propounds plausible reasons; it exhibits fascinating yet fictitious prospects. For example, to those who are "not far from the kingdom of God," and who are almost entirely decided to serve him heartily and wholly, the deceitful and dangerous suggestion is presented that tomorrow will be more favorable in circumstances than today for beginning a decided Christian life, that a more "convenient season" for genuine personal religion will speedily arrive. And. so the holy decision and. consecration are deferred; procrastination becomes habitual; the heart hardens in procrastination. Again, to the Christian the temptation to unbelief is never presented in its real character, or it would be rejected immediately and decisively. It approaches the heart in fair forms, and with a show of reasonableness and righteousness. Thus, if a man be not on his guard, the hardening process will have begun ere he is aware of it. Hence the awful peril.

II. AN INSPIRED PREVENTIVE. "Exhort one another daily, while it is called Today."

1. The nature of this preventive. "Exhort one another." The word translated "exhort" indicates two exercises.

(1) Admonition of each other. Stuart translates, "Admonish one another." Let Christians warn each other when they detect impending dangers.

(2) Encouragement of each other. Let Christians endeavor to inspire their disheartened brethren with new hopes, to comfort their troubled brethren with Christian consolations. "Wherefore, lift up the hands that hang down," etc. (Hebrews 12:12, 13). Christians, being children of one Father, disciples of one Master, members of one great community, exposed to similar perils, sustained by similar influences, and inspired by common hopes, ought thus to "exhort one another." Moreover, there is a preventive mentioned in the preceding verse against, this dread peril which each one must exercise for himself. "Take heed." Be watchful, etc.

2. The season for the exercise of this preventive. "Exhort one another daily," or, "day by day." Mutual oversight and help should be continuous. Watchfulness and prayer and Christian effort must not be irregular or intermittent, but steady and constant; not occasional exercises, but abiding dispositions.

3. The limit to the exercise of this preventive. "While it is called Today." This may mean while our present form of life shall last; as in our Lord's words, "I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day," etc. Or it may mean while the day of grace continues. Adopting either interpretation, the season for this mutual exhortation is limited and uncertain. "We have but an uncertain season for the due performance of most certain duties; how long it will be called Today, we know not; the day of life is uncertain, and- so is the day of the gospel; a summer's day for clearness, a winter's day for shortness; our working day is a wasting day." Let the solemn gravity of the peril lead each of us to a diligent use of the Heaven-inspired preventive. - W. J.







Exhort one another.
I. THE EVIL OF THE RESTRAINING AMONG NEAR RELATIVES OF FREE INTERCOURSE ABOUT THEIR SOULS, IS EVIDENT from this, first of all —

1. That it is a breach of God's express command in the text, "Exhort one another daily." If this duty lies on professing Christians simply as such, much more must it be obligatory on husband and wife, brother and sister, parent and child.

2. The evil of it appears in that it involves, I suspect to a very large extent, the sin of being ashamed of Christ and of His words. Whence that strange silence, that awe-struck air in the presence of a brother? If it were before a stranger, one might try to account for it in different ways. But this will not do among persons accustomed to open their minds freely on every other subject.

3. This restraint cuts off all the precious innumerable benefits which God intended to arise from the exhortation enjoined in the text, and which in families were all the greater, in virtue of the constant opportunities and peculiar facilities there afforded for it. What daily consolation, what instruction, what warning, what encouragement, what direction, are thus lost for ever!

4. There is a specially mischievous effect produced by it on the children of a family. The absence of it throws a fearful stumbling-block in their way. Is heaven a reality? Is Christ indeed beloved? Is the soul imperishable? The faith of the child, such as it is, is gradually sapped and undermined.

5. Near relatives are, by this restraint, deprived of one of the mightiest incentives to a holy life.

II. THE CAUSES OF THIS.

1. The unregenerate condition of too many parents, and other near relatives, professing religion. They cannot speak of Christ, because they are ignorant of Him. They cannot commend Him to others, because they have never themselves embraced Him. The world is their theme, because it is their treasure, their god.

2. Careless, inconsistent walking before God and each other, among near relatives, is one painful and powerful cause. Persons professing godliness, united in very endearing ties, are not careful to order their lives in each other's sight, entirely as becomes the gospel. Honesty forbids it. It is felt that it were hypocrisy to talk of Christ's love and of His law, unless, at least, it were with the avowed design of committing the parties to an immediate change. But still farther —

3. And in close connection with inconsistent walking, yet distinct from it, I believe that the chief cause of the restraint in question among the people of God is to be found in the want of soul-prosperity, and of a close and habitual intercourse in secret with God and His blessed Word. The want, in short, of religion, or the low' state of it, are the real causes of this evil.

III. There can be little difficulty in discovering and noticing THE REMEDIES, under God, for the evil. These must take their character from the causes.

1. I besought you to ask yourselves, as in God's sight, whether ye were Christ's indeed.

2. If the cause lie with you in careless and inconsistent walking, whatever other remedies you may employ, let that command be heard, "Put away the strange gods which are among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only." And especially —

3. In the third place, seek the remedy for this evil in a closer walk with God, in a more habitual, living fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.

(C. J. Brown.)

I would have every minister of the gospel address his audience with the zeal of a friend, with the generous energy of a father, and with the exuberant affection of a mother.

(Fenelon.)

Lest any of you be hardened.
Homilist.
I. THE EVIL ITSELF.

1. It is from an obstinate refusal to attend to Divine things, which are irksome and painful, and the soul is better pleased with those things which are congenial, and afford pleasure and satisfaction.

2. It is from the natural character of the heart, which, unless renewed, refuses to bend to the teachings of grace and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.

II. THE PREVALENCE OF THE EVIL. It exists everywhere that human nature exists. It is both natural and acquired. The heart, though naturally hard, is made harder by the circumstances by which it is surrounded.

III. THE END AND CONSEQUENCE OF THE EVIL. It is like the fossilisation of an object which we sometimes see. A piece of wood or cotton is placed under the drip of a waterfall; in a short time it is encrusted, and becomes, to all intents and purposes, a stone. It is hard, unimpressionable, will neither melt nor burn. So the heart of man may become a fossil, incapable of good actions, tender thoughts, holy feelings.

(Homilist.)

I. THE SOURCE OF GREAT AND ALARMING DANGER.

1. Sin is deceitful.

(1)In its appearances.

(2)In its promises.

(3)In its influences.

2. Sin prevails through its deceitfulness. In the time of temptation its deformity is hid; its real character is veiled. Many a man on a dying bed has been compelled to feel the difference of the views he has entertained in health and in a state of sickness. But when sin presents itself to the objects of its temptation, it suggests itself as easy to be avoided: "Oh, you are not the slaves of sin; you may avoid it, or you may limit your progress in it; yield to the temptation, and stop when you please." So the devil deceives the human mind. It often changes its tone, and it is equally deceitful in both cases. It is sometimes represented as irresistible; the man says, "I have no power to resist it." This is the way the mind is operated upon by the tempter. Oh, how great is the deceitfulness of sin 1

3. Sin hardens through its deceitfulness.(1) Hardness of heart implies a state of moral insensibility, the moral susceptibility of the heart being removed, the soul becoming callous, so that spiritual things do not impress.(2) In hardness of heart there is a principle of inflexibility and rebellion in the heart. It is not merely hard like stone; there is something like a reaction: the hardness is manifested in its resistance to the claims of truth — an inward principle of rebellion against God.(3) Sin hardens the heart by strengthening the principles and habits of iniquity in us. The restraints of conscience in this way are overcome.

II. THE CONDUCT THAT IS TO BE PURSUED UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, We must "exhort one another."

1. Now exhortation implies instruction. We are to endeavour to diffuse "the savour of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord."

2. This exhortation implies warning and reproof; where it is necessary to warn our fellow-creatures that are in danger of "being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin"; to set the danger before them, and affectionately to point out to them the dreadful consequences which must ensue.

3. But this implies also encouragement. We ought to encourage one another to look to God, to seek much grace to enable us to counteract the influence of sin.

4. But this exhortation to which we are admonished is private exhortation. Now let me remind you that the discharge of this duty does necessarily imply a disposition to receive exhortation as well as to give it.

5. But this is a serious and a very difficult duty to discharge successfully.(1) If you exhort one another let it be seriously, then; do not affect to give religious instruction in a spirit of levity. Let us remember that the soul is the object concerned.(2) And let it be with a right spirit; do not assume superiority; do not pretend to dictate like masters.(3) In love.(4) Seasonably. Watch for opportunities.(5) Prayerfully. All our effort will be unavailing without God's blessing.(6) Frequently. "Daily," i.e, as often as you can seasonably..(7) Urgently. Whatever we do we must do now, or perhaps we shall not do it at all: we know not what another hour may bring forth.

(Josiah Hill.)

1. Private Christians not only may, but should, keep Christian communion amongst themselves, and mutually exhort and stir up one another.

2. This is a necessary means of preserving people from defection.

3. And a duty daily to be discharged while it is to-day; that is, as oft, and as long, as God giveth present occasion and opportunity for it, lest a scattering come.

(D. Dickson, M. A.)

I. THE HARDENING CHARACTER OF SIN.

1. There is no doubt whatever that living among sinners has a hardening tendency upon men. You cannot walk about in this great lazar-house without receiving some contagion.

2. Let me here remark that the sins of God's people are peculiarly operative in this manner. If I see a drunkard intoxicated, I am simply shocked at him, but I am not likely to imitate his example; but if I see the same vice in a man whom I respect, and whose example has hitherto been to me the guide of my life, I may be greatly grieved at first, but the tendency of my mind will be to make an excuse for him; and when one has succeeded in framing a plausible excuse for the sin of another, it is very natural to use it on one's own behalf. Association with inconsistent Christians has been the downfall of many young believers. The devil delights to use God's own birds as a decoy for his nets.

3. It is often a long and laborious process by which conscience is completely seared. It usually begins thus: the man's first carefulness and tenderness departs. It may not seem a great evil to have less abhorrence of evil, but this truly is the egg from which the worst mischief may come. The next distressing sign of growing hardness is increasing neglect or laxity of private devotions without any corresponding shock of the spiritual sensibilities on account of it. Another symptom of increasing callousness of heart is the fact that hidings of the Saviour's face do not cause that acute and poignant sorrow which they produced in former times. Still further, when the soul is hardened to this extent, it is probable that sin will no longer cause such grief as it once did. It is a sad sign of coming declension when we can talk of sin lightly, make excuses for it, or make jokes about it. The next step in this ladder, down, down, down to destruction, is that sin thus causing less grief is indulged in more freely. After this there is still a greater hardening of heart — the man comes to dislike rebukes.

II. THE PECULIAR POWER WHICH LIES IN SIN TO HARDEN THE HEART. It is the deceitfulness of sin. The heart is deceitful, and sin is deceitful; and when these two deceitful ones lay their heads together to make up a case, there is no wonder if man, like a silly dove, is taken in their net. One of the first ways in which sin deceives the professor is by saying, "You see no hurt has come of it." Forgetting that the immediate results of sin are not always apparent in this world, and that if hardness of heart be not apparent it is all the more real. Then sin will whisper next, "This would be sin in other people, but it is not in you. You see you were placed in a peculiar position; there is indulgence for you which could not be accorded to other men: you are young," says sin, "nobody could accuse you if you did go a little rashly to work — if you were an older professor it would be very wrong." Then if it is an old man who is to be deceived, sin will cry, "You must take care of yourself; you need more indulgence than others." If a man be in private life, sin will then suggest, "It does not matter in you: it would be wrong in a church-officer, but nobody knows it in your case." If it be some person in high repute, then sin whispers, "Your character is so well established it will bear it." Again, sin will sometimes have the impudence to say, "It is very easy to repent of it." This vile traitor is even dastardly enough to take the doctrines of grace and turn them into a reason for sin.

III. THE REMEDY WHICH IS PROVIDED IN THE TEXT FOR US TO USE WITH OTHERS. "Exhort one another." Doubtless many professors would be saved from gross sins if mutual exhortation were more commonly practised in the churches of God in the power of the Holy Spirit. All of you, without exception, whether you be rich or poor, see to each other's souls; say not, "Am I my brother's keeper? " It is so pleasant to restore a brother from the error of his ways, that I can offer you no greater reward than these two, to screen the name of Christ from shame, and to have the pleasure of saving a soul from death and covering a multitude of sins

IV. SUPPOSE THIS TO BE THE CASE WITH ANY ONE OF US, WHAT THEN? Some of us arc in such a position that we are not very likely to be exhorted, we are keepers of the vineyard, and have none who would take upon themselves to admonish us. Our enemies, however, very ably supply the lack, for they often tell us very profitable, but very unpleasant truths.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Hardness scarcely needs an explanation. It is that which, taking it from the armoury or from the smithery, gives the power to any metal to resist a weapon thrown against it; to turn the edge of the sword, to blunt the point of the spear, to quench the fiery dart, as it were: and in that sense of course it would be auspicious to have something that was hardened. But to render insensitive that which is carried within, and which ought to be sensitive; to have a disposition which has the power of turning away an appeal, of dismissing an argument, and of making vital truth a matter of indifference — that kind of hardening is much to be deplored. And it is just that which we are cautioned against. Every physician knows that a medicine is worn out by continuous use. As it were, the system adapts itself to it, and it ceases to be remedial. So there is a power in repetitious truth to become unremedial to men. This hardening is not brought about on purpose in those to whom I refer. I am not speaking to that class of persons who deliberately set themselves against the truth; I am speaking to that very much larger class of persons who first become indifferent to truth, and then are deceived in regard to it, and at last are snared by its enemies. One of the circumstances which tend to deceive men, and to wear out the power of truth upon their conscience and upon their understanding, is the attempt to make truth merely the cause of susceptibility, or of mere emotions. Men want to be stirred up; they want to feel; but feeling constantly stirred up and never employed loses tone. It is had for any man to have feeling that abides as feeling. Now it is the peculiar nature of religious truth that it plays upon excitability. Of truth there is much that touches hope, much that touches fear, and much that touches conscience, on every side; but it is a very dangerous thing for a man to hear more truth preached than he cares to practise. You may say that so much of that which he hears as he does not practise goes over to the account of instruction; and that may be so in regard to truth set forth in a didactic form; but to accustom oneself to hearing truth merely for the sake of having it play upon the susceptibilities is very dangerous, because it is a very deceitful experience; and yet there are multitudes of persons that do it. Then, next, there are a great many who hear the teaching of the Word of God, who receive it into good ground — that is, into their reason — who approve it, who feel as though they ought to give heed to it, and who wish to profit by it, but in whom the impulse dies with that wish, and does not convert itself into a choice. They say, "I think that view was just: it commends itself to my mind as truth, and I really have been taking it home to myself; I am thinking about it; the time has come when I should be a better man, and take some steps in advance; if I am ever going to be a Christian man I ought to become one now" — and that is about the extent to which they go. Now, when a man has done that through the first year, when he has done it through the second year, and when he has done it through the third year, he begins to be tattooed, as it were. Constant iteration and trituration harden the skin, and the sensibility of his mind becomes like the sensibility of the palm of his hand, and grows leather-like. By reason of the continual handling of a man's judgment his power of choosing becomes inert and inoperative. The perpetual raining of truth upon a man may be kept up without developing in him either character, as I said in the first instance, or choice, as I say in the second instance. Then, when the truth is being preached to men of their own sinfulness, and of their great need of a transformed nature, so that they shall rise from the flesh life to the spirit life, a great many persons feel as though this were a thing that ought to be pondered. They feel as though time should be taken to think of it. They are afraid they shall commit themselves without having reckoned whether, beginning a Christian life, they can complete it. So they take it into account. And there are two points to be made on that subject. In the first place, there is one class who take it into account, not by meditation and thought, but by reverie. It is one thing for a man to say, "God be merciful to me, a sinner; without the interposition of Divine grace I am lost; and I will cry immediately to God for help; I will begin a Christian life to-day." That is effectual. But, on the other hand, a man, coming home from listening to a strong sermon, says, "That was well put. What if I should go to church next Sunday night, and the minister should preach on Lazarus? And what if I should be awakened? And what if I should have one of those terrible experiences which I have heard of? And what if all the sins of my life should be brought before me? And what if I should roll all night in distress? Then the minister would come and see me, and friends would gather around me, and I would pray and wrestle, and by-and-by there would suddenly come a bur,-t of light, and I should be converted, and everything would be new to me; and I would join the Church, and what a happy day it would be for father and mother when they saw me do that! And I would be a real Christian — not a lean, skinny Christian, like some that I have seen." Thus a man weaves the fabric of an imaginary life, and it is all reverie. He supposes he is thinking about religion. He says, "I am taking it into consideration." Oh, fool! you are taking it into consideration very much as a spider weaves silk when he makes cobwebs to catch flies on. It is all in the air. It is vacuous. There are other persons who have a very salutary horror of insincerity. They say to themselves, "This matter of religion is of transcendent importance, and if a man is going to be a Christian he ought to consider it well." And there is a certain sort of comeliness in this. No man ought to go tumbling headlong into a profession of religion. But it is not necessary that a man should have a theological education before he can become a Christian. And, besides, no man can wait. No man does wait. There is not a man of you who, when the way of manhood is pointed out to him, does not choose. You go one way or the other. You know what truth is, and you either take the way of truth or the way of falsehood. Ten thousand influences upon every side have been pressing home the truth upon you. And what is the result? You say, "Yes, religion is a profoundly important thing; and yet it is one that ought to be much thought of." But this ought not so to be. It is not for you, like a ship in a harbour, to cast anchor now, and swing with every tide that carries you first north and then south, for ever changing and never travelling. It is not for you to stand still and talk about thinking. A long time ago you ought to have been doing. You ought before now to have chosen, and to have converted sensibility into conduct and character. And if all the excuse you have for not entering upon a Christian life is that you do not want to do it until you have laid the foundations of thought; if you excuse yourself by saying, "I do not want to go into a Christian life until I have made sure that I will not come out of it," then let me warn you lest you harden your heart through the deceitfulness of sin in this most guileful and specious form. At last, when men have got past these stages, there comes the stage of easy acquiescence and of mild criticism from the standpoint of mere taste. They make such a voyage as boys make who take their whittled-out miniature boats over to the park and sail them across the lake and back again. There is as much in one of these voyages as in the other. There are others who criticise the truth from a logical and instructive standpoint. They have intellectual acumen, they have critical sensibility, they are good critics: a great deal better critics than they are Christians. The truth may be as weighty as eternity; it may be a truth that reaches to the very heart of Christ; it may be the whole theme of salvation by faith in the Saviour: and all that it does to them is to excite in them a momentary pleasure of the taste, a transient gratification of the intellect, and a generous criticism as to its ability or inability, as the case may be. And what is the condition of a man upon whom the presentation of the weightiest truths no longer awakens sensibility, nor stimulates a disposition to choose, nor creates an impulse in the right direction? These are not bad men — that is, in the sense of being vicious, or in the sense of being guilty of outrageousness in any way. Often their conduct is conformable to all the best rules of social life. But they have sealed themselves against the higher forms of spiritual growth which translate one from the life of the body to the life of the Spirit. And their chances for development in true manhood as it is in Christ Jesus grow less and less every day through the deceitfulness of sin which is hardening their hearts. And so as men grow old, as age creeps on them, upon natural decay is superinduced this waste which arises from the constant hearing of the truth and from non-action, and which results in men's coming into that dry and arid state in which the harvest is past, and the summer is ended, and they are not saved. And now, what is to be done? Consider the guilt of every man who thus practises upon himself. It was only as early as 1400, I think, in the war between the Turks and the Greeks, that that magnificent structure, the Acropolis, and the temple of Minerva, and the statue of Minerva, and that wonderful frieze, the work of Phidias, whose very fragment has been the despair of the art of modern days, were destroyed. Into the magnificent temple of Minerva, which was the glory of Athens, the Turks threw bombs, which exploded and shattered the temple into a mass of shapeless ruins; and that which adorned the ripest age of the world in beauty and art perished, as it were, in an hour. To have demolished an old granite fort, to have battered down an old earthwork, would have caused sorrow to no one; but to have blotted out the grandest and most exquisite achievements of human taste, human thought, and human hand-skill, must have filled with regret every heart that loved what was beautiful. But what is any statue, even from the chisel of Phidias, or what is any temple, compared with man, who is the temple of God? and what was ever wrought in ivory or marble that was to be compared with the humanity that is in every man? and for you to destroy that humanity in yourself, to turn it into courses of evil, in spite of the influences that are tending to draw it the other way; and so to trample under foot and extinguish your higher nature — that is wanton. It is wicked beyond the power of language to express its degree of wickedness. Woe be to the man who corrupts his spiritual nature, or overlays it with animalism, or beats it down in spite of its crying, and destroys it. Consider, too, what is the nature of the truth that men resist. If the gospel of Christ had simply disclosed to men the infamy of their condition, if it had merely poured out upon them warnings and threatenings, if it had withheld from them all promises of mercy, then there would have been little to attract them to it, and there would have been some reason for their revulsion from it; but the whole presentation of the truth as it is in Christ is charming to the reason, to every noble sensibility, to every feeling of honour, and to every elevated taste, however exacting. The whole tone and the whole sphere of the New Testament is as sweet as music, and ought to vibrate upon every uperverted heart, and ought to make every soul desire to have that commerce with God and with the Lord Jesus Christ by which it shall rise and take hold upon its immortal destiny. And now, suffer me not to preach to you; suffer me to beseech you. If there are any here who have serious thoughts, let me say to them, Serious thoughts are very well if you make something out of them. In summer, when drought has long prevailed, clouds come trooping through the sky, and the farmer says, "Ah! at last the weary, parched earth will be refreshed"; but no, the clouds have no rain in them, they pass on, and the ground is as dry as it was before. To-morrow other clouds sail in caravans through the heavens, and give promise of refreshing showers; but the showers do not come. Thoughts that produce no results are of little account. To be worth anything they must be condensed into forms of active life. And while I urge you to heed and ponder the Word of God, I bid you to beware of taking it so that it shall not lead to the production of fruit in your Christian life.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When the cloud is dried up off the mountain's brow, and the dew off the rock, the mountain is as great as before, and the rock as hard; but when convictions fade away from the heart of a natural man, they leave the mountain of his sins much greater, and his rocky heart much harder. It is less likely that that man will ever be saved. Just as iron is hardened by being melted and cooled again; just as a person recovering from fever relapses, and is worse than before.

(R. M. McCheyne.)

The Bible says nothing about how an old man can cleanse his way. When a man reaches the age of forty or fifty he cannot change the shape of his collar, how much less that of his character!

(Prof. H. Drummond.)

It is not necessary for a man to die out of the world in order that his spiritual salvation may be closed. There are many who are doomed before they die. They reject the offers of salvation until they become hardened and encased as it were in steel, beaten hard like steel, and at last they become so hardened that they resist all impression, they will not listen, and their insensibility grows upon them. It is a fact which cannot be denied, that the more we resist the offers of mercy the more insensible we become to them; all spiritual sensibility in the case of some people seems to have died out before they quit this world, and it is against this that I warn you.

(J. Stoughton, D. D.)

A minister of the gospel on one occasion made a solemn appeal to the young to seek God without delay, urging as a motive that, should they live to be old, difficulties would multiply, and their reluctance to attend to the subject would increase with their years. As the preacher descended from the pulpit at the close of the service, an aged man came forward, and extending his hand to him, with much emotion remarked, "Sir, what you said just now is unquestionably true. I know it from my own experience. When I was young I said to myself, I cannot give up the world now, but I will by-and-by when I have passed the meridian of life and begin to sink into the vale of years; then I will become a Christian; then I shall be ready to attend to the concerns of my soul. But here I am, an old man, and not yet a Christian. I feel no readiness nor disposition to enter upon the work of my salvation. In looking back, I often feel as though I would give worlds if I could be placed where I was when I was twenty years old, for there were not half as many difficulties in my path then as there are now." Though tears coursed down his cheeks as he gave utterance to these truths, the emotions that were stirred up within him, like the early dew, soon passed away: he did not turn to God.

On a winter evening, when the frost is setting in with growing intensity, and when the sun is now far past the meridian, and gradually sinking in the western sky, there is a double reason why the ground grows every moment harder and more impenetrable to the plough. On the one hand, the frost of evening, with ever-increasing intensity, is indurating the stiffening clods. On the other hand, the genial rays, which alone can soften them, are every moment withdrawing and losing their enlivening power. Take heed that it be not so with you. As long as you are unconverted, you are under a double process of hardening. The frosts of an eternal night are settling down upon your souls; and the Sun of Righteousness with westering wheel, is hastening to set upon you for evermore. If, then, the plough of grace cannot force its way into your ice-bound heart to-day, what likelihood is there that it will enter to-morrow?

(R. M. McCheyne.)

An old man, one day taking a child on his knee, entreated him to seek God now — to pray to Him — and to love Him; when the child, looking up at him, asked, "But why do you not seek God?" The old man, deeply affected, answered, "I would, child: but my heart is hard — my heart is hard."

The deceitfulness of sin.
Our vital energy finds issue in three great regions: those of thought, of word, of deed. In each one of these there is duty, and there is fault. In each of them there is the voice of God speaking in our consciences, there is the written law of God guiding, confirming, furthering, that inward voice; in each of them there is in us the constant disposition to set conscience and to set God aside, and to become our own guides, our own masters. Let us then take each one of there in turn, and show in each how manifold sin is, how deceitful.

I. Sons of THOUGHT. Nothing is so deceitful as the taking account of our own thoughts and feelings. Memory cannot copy faithfully the picture which has faded away, but overlays and tricks it out with fresh and unreal colours. Still, there is no question that our real thoughts can be got at, and their liability to sin justly measured, if we will spend time and trouble over it. We may venture to say that the great burden of our sins of thought will be found to consist in a want of honest, conscientious adoption and following of what we know to be real and true. When selfish views spread before us in all their attractiveness, the fertile plains of Sodom tempting us to dwell in them, does the course of self-denial to which we are pledged instantly assert its claim? When the temper is roused by insult, when the pride is stung by contumely, when the self-opinion is buffeted by designed slight, and the tyrant fiend of revenge springs to his feet in a moment, — do our eyes see, or do they refuse to see, the Spirit of the Lord lifting His standard against him?

II. Sins of WORD. And here I shall not speak of bad and unholy and impure words, of evil speaking, lying, and slandering: these are manifest: if we fall into these, we know it, we repent of it; but I shall speak of sins of word more beneath the surface, into which when we fall, we do not know it, of which, when we have fallen into them, we are little accustomed to repent. And I believe such sins will mainly be found, as regards our dealings with men, in stating or not stating the very truth of our sentiments and feelings and beliefs. I am not now speaking of hypocrisy, nor of any wilful and conscious disingenuousness, hut of a general want of clear and fearless truthfulness. When will men come to feel that the blessed gospel of Christ never was and never can be the gainer by any false statement, any equivocation, any shrinking from dangerous truth or unwelcome fact? If again the effect of this timid untruthful religion be bad on a man's self, much more is it hurtful and fatal on others.

III. Sins of ACT AND DEED: doing what we ought not to do, leaving undone what we ought to do. Oh that there were in any of us the habit of referring our questioning thoughts at once to His verdict whom we profess to serve; of guiding our actions simply, humbly, fearlessly, by His precept anmd His example! If we were earnest like Him, humble like Him, wise like Him, we should recommend and adornour unflinching course of Christian duty by quietness,by unobtrusiveness, by consideration for others, by knowledge what to say, and when, and to whom. It is not the busy protester against what other men do, it is not the man who is ever found up in arms against the usages of society, who does the good; but he who is gifted with sound judgment enough to overlook things indifferent, to join in practices which he himself would perchance not have chosen, it by so doing he may cheer, and bless, and hallow, and leaven, the society in which God has cast his lot. An unsocial, uncomplying, individualising life may be very flattering to pride; may serve as a salve to the conscience, and make a man fancy himself very good and pure; but there can be no doubt that such a course is a life-long sin, bringing dishonour on the blessed gospel of Christ, and hardening men's hearts against its influence.

(Dean Alford.)

Sin, we must remember, has, properly speaking, no separate independent being of its own. It is the spiritual and moral quality either of dome act, or of the habitual inward tone of mind and spirit, of a moral agent; and it is a diseased and unnatural quality and state in such an agent which is described. But to this horrible work of sin men are, as the apostle's word imply, lured on by the deceitfulness of sin. What then is this? Sin being that disordered acting of the spiritual nature in which the will chooses that which is against the will of God, the deceitfulness of sin must mean that there is a tendency in this disease to conceal its own presence, and so to shut out from the sight of him in whom it is acting the evil which is being accomplished within him. That there is this attribute about it the very smallest acquaintance with our nature and its actings may easily convince us. For what else are all those fair names for evil, those easy judgments concerning it, which are everywhere conventionally current, but the working of this its deceitful power? Why is it that the fondness of lust is termed gallantry or pleasure? Why is it that the cold and heedless selfishness of debauchery is talked about as spirit and gaiety, but because sin's common working is thus utterly deceitful and untrue? But above all, this deceitfulness of sin may be seen in the false estimate which it leads men to form of their own moral and spiritual condition. And this in all ways. For, first, how does it blind men's eyes to their own actual condition. Most men would be marvellously startled if they suddenly learned what was the clear view which their daily intimates possessed of their weaknesses and faults. And why? Surely for no other reason than because they habitually judge themselves so partially, and shut their eyes so weakly to their own besetting sins. And as this first deceit as to the actual presence of evil in their characters is thus practised upon most men, so too plainly are they deceived also as to its growth within themselves! How little do men who give themselves up to it perceive the increase of sin within themselves. And this must be so. For every allowance of evil weakens in its own degree that special power of conscience by which it passes sentence on our actions. But once more, it is not only the actual presence of the evil, or the increase of the work of evil within them, which is hidden from those on whom it is passing, but they perceive nothing whatever of its deep spiritual significance. It is altogether altering their relation to the unseen world around them, and they know not of it. The adopting love of Christ had gathered them into His family: His heart yearned over them; for His sake the Eternal Spirit wrought in them. He was ever beside them. But the deceitfulness of sin veils to them all these blessings. The heavenly world seems to withdraw itself. Nor is it only peace and joy that this man thus loses. This, again, increases in another way his own inability to see the evil of the sin which possesses him. For only under Christ's Cross, only in the full sight of His love and holiness, and bitter agony for us, can we see anything of the true evil and hatefulness of sin; and so its deceitfulness, which prevents his seeing those, deludes him wholly till it robs him of his soul. If these things are happening around, and it may be among us, what practical lessons should they enforce on us?

1. Surely, the need of a resolute watchfulness against these seductions. They who would walk safely amidst the deceitful whispers of an enchanted land, or hold on their course in spite of sounds so falsely sweet that they have lured every listener to destruction, find no escape save in stopping their ears to the voice of the enchanter. And so must it be now with those who would escape from the deceitfulness of sin within them. They must "watch and be sober."

2. But farther, this should be a time not only for self-searching, but for beginning resolutely in some par titular actions a course of more earnest service of God. And this course of more earnest service should not be any new way devised for ourselves, but the doing more completely and conscientiously, and as to God and our Lord Jesus Christ, our own appointed duty.

(Bp. S. Wilberforce.)

Though sin admits of no definition in itself, any more than sound or colour or odour, being, all four alike, primary ideas; it may be defined, i.e., indicated, by pointing out its relation to other things with which it is essentially connected.

1. St. Paul defines sin by comparing it with law: "Sin," he says, "is the transgression of the law." He means the law of God, the supreme Being, the sovereign power of the universe. God has prescribed us laws, which we may or may not observe. Sin is in man what deviation from their orbits would be in the heavenly bodies, if they were endowed with a will and a power of disobedience, and should shoot off from the paths in which they now move with so much order, beauty, and beneficence.

2. So again we may define sin by its effects, its "fruits," its "wages," as the apostle calls them; and how easy and how melancholy the definition. It is enough to fix the thoughts on one particular, and that is, death. How wide the sweep of its scythe! how universal the havoc which it makes!

3. Once more let us look at sin in relation to the process by which it accomplishes these deadly effects. How comes it, we ask, that while sin is acknowledged to be the prolific source of all misery, still men make light of and rush into it? Sin has undoubtedly made passion strong, the imagination wild, the conscience weak; and these are parts of the explanation; but not the whole. In addition to this, sin deceives them all through, and in connection with, the understanding, to which deception properly belongs. Men cheat themselves, or allow themselves to be cheated out of eternal life. With the strength of passion, and the stupor of con. science, and the weakness of will, has been united, in marvellous sympathy, a sad hallucination of the judgment; and so we have done, and practised, it may be, what we should have thought perfectly impossible, as long as our reason remained with us. and what has ever since been a matter of painful and self-condemning recollection. And now, what is the conclusion of the whole matter? We have seen what sin is in relation to God and His law; what it is in its effects, and what it is in the process of its working. What now are the natural inferences from these points? Two at least present themselves, viz., that it is the greatest of all evils, and, at the same time, that it is the most insidious. The law, of which it is the transgression, is the prime law, the parent law, the law which makes all others possible, the law which develops moral agency, and binds the moral universe together. It is to the ethical, what gravitation is to the physical world. If sin were perfectly and completely triumphant, it would overthrow society as by an earthquake, shaking the deepest foundation of all things; and not all things in our world merely, but every other world also, where the distinction between right and wrong is known. If the Divine law is so comprehensive, fundamental, and absolutely necessary, then sin is a tremendous, and, in relation to all others, an incommensurable evil. The same conclusion is inevitable, when we look at it in its bearing, not on our moral but our sentient nature, our susceptibility to pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. All the suffering this moment in the world, whether of mind or body, whether open or secret, whether social or individual, whether from the recollection of the past, or the anticipation of the future, or the pressure of the present, springs from the root of sin. Oh, what folly to be fleeing from other evils — poverty, sickness, obscurity, shame, bereavement — and yet take no measures, while opportunity is afforded, to escape from the consequences of sin and its intrinsic evil! Oh, my friends, sin is a great evil; and it is as deceitful as it is great. It beguiles the soul it ruin. It is like those diseases which put the patient asleep, so that he slumbers into the very grave; or those which cause him to indulge fond hopes of life, up to the moment Death throws his unerring dart. It deceives in regard to a man's particular acts, and in regard to his whole moral state.

(W. Sparrow, LL. D.)

1. It assumes false names.

2. It prefers false claims.

3. It offers false excuses.

4. It makes false resolutions.

(J. Burns.)

It is an old and just observation, "that no man ever became completely wicked at once." But, notwithstanding all the kind restraints of conscience, of shame, and the terrors of futurity, which Providence has mercifully opposed to the progress of sin, it does, however, make wonderful advances in the world.

I. A MAN CANNOT ENTIRELY ABANDON HIMSELF TO THE COMMISSION OF EVIL, TILL HE HAS ABSOLUTELY EXCLUDED THE APPREHENSION OF GOD FROM HIS THOUGHTS. It is not usual ever for bad minds to put their dark workings in execution till every eye be closed; they shun the light they hate, because their deeds are evil. And is it possible that they should fly from the presence of a man fallible as themselves, and yet dare to stand the inspection of that Eye, to which the very darkness is no darkness at all; before which all hearts are open, and to which no secrets are hid? Again, it is observable that when a man has once begun to indulge the dispositions and habits of vice, he gradually withdraws himself from every object which may infer a reproach upon his conduct, or suggest to him the necessity of reforming it. He deserts the places of public adoration; he declines the society of pious and good men; and suppresses the exertion of every thought that bears upon it any visible stamp of virtue and religion. He guards himself against the apprehension of God, as against a dangerous companion. He finds himself incapable of advancing one step, while this stands in his way; it opposes his progress, as the armed angel did that of the ambitious prophet, and obstructs the accomplishment of his wicked views.

II. When the apprehension of the Deity is once suppressed, A MAN MAY BE LED, IMPERCEPTIBLY, BY THE DELUSIVE ATTRACTION OF ERROR, through each successive degree of impiety, till he arrive at last at a state of absolute insensibility and final impenitence. The bad affections, which were before chained down, are now let loose; and sin, deceitful enough in itself, gains an easy ascendant upon a mind which is willing to be deceived, and which dreads nothing so much as the necessity of subscribing to conviction. By what shallow reasonings, by what poor pretences, men suffer themselves to be cheated out of their virtue!

1. One pretence that is generally made is, "That religion contracts our faculties into narrow bounds; that, in order to enlarge them, it is necessary to burst her bands asunder, and cast away her cords from us; that every passion has its natural object, and that it is an infringement on natural liberty to restrain the indulgence of them; that, since life is at best so short, the best method of making it longer is to enjoy it; that the severities and rigours which are imposed by religious ordinance are only the inflictions of politic priests, who (being disabled by age and infirmity) would willingly make atonement for their own transgressions, by laying the severest restrictions on the liberties of others; that religion, in short, is the merest slavery; and that a man denies himself a pleasure which nature has allowed him, who does not give a full scope to the indulgence of every passion." This method of arguing is attended by two very great and very evident defects.(1) It is by no means evident (though it has been sometimes insinuated) that religion forbids the enjoyment of any delight which nature and reason allow; and whoever presumes to exceed the bounds prescribed by reason and nature, will be sure to meet the disappointment his presumption deserves. And it is notorious to a degree, that those who pretend to a greater latitude of enjoyment than the rest of mankind, have in fact the least real enjoyment of all.(2) The austerities which are charged upon religion are trifling, in comparison of the repeated penances, mortifications, to which the libertine is reduced, by disappointed passions, a distempered constitution, and an unquiet mind.

2. Another deceit that men are apt to put upon themselves is, "That the sins they commit are so inconsiderable, that they will certainly be overlooked by the eye of infinite mercy; that they make such short incursions into the ways of wickedness, as to leave their retreat secure whenever they please; and that they are in no danger of falling into any flagrant or presumptuous act of evil." This is so fatal a deceit, that one would almost be induced to think that it had been better for some men to have fallen immediately into a flagrant breach of duty (upon their first revolt from virtue) than to have crept on in the commission of what are usually called inconsiderable sins. And for this reason there is something so shocking to a mind that retains any sense of God and goodness in the reflections which succeed the commission of any greater crime, that a man recoils from it with the utmost horror and detestation, and is often carried backward to greater degrees of virtue by the very violence with which he fell from it. But, on the other hand, while a man continues to flatter himself that the sins he commits are trirling, he is gradually amused into an increase of wickedness and guilt. He goes on step by step, without perceiving the progression, and is deluded into his destruction by an opinion of his security.

3. And this brings on the last illusion in which sin is apt to involve the human mind; which is this — when the persons who have thought themselves so secure begin to look calmly back, and discover the unthought of advances they have made in vice, they stand amazed; and conclude it as impossible for them now to return, as they did before to have proceeded so far.

(T. Ashton, D. D.)

I. SIN HAS A SINGULAR POWER TO DECEIVE.

1. Its deceit may be seen in the manner of its approaches to us. It comes in a very subtle way, offering us advantage. Intellectually, it comes with a question, or an inquiry. Ought we not to question and to inquire? Are we to receive everything implicitly? The question is, however, full often the thin end of the wedge, which Satan drives home in the form of carnal wisdom, doubt, infidelity, and practical atheism. How tiny a drop of sinful distrust of God's Word will poison all the thoughts of the soul! Sin frequently comes as a bare suggestion, or an imagination; an airy thing, spun of such stuff as dreams are made of. The thought fascinates, and then the spell of evil begins its deadly work; thought condenses into desire, and desire grows to purpose, and purpose ripens into act. I have known a sin insinuate itself by the way of the repulsion of another sin. A man will fly from pride to meanness, from moroseness to jollity, from obstinacy to laxity. Thus the shutting of one gate may open another, and one sin may crawl in as another creeps out.

2. Sin is deceitful in its object, for the object which it puts before us is not that which is its actual result. We are not tempted to provoke our Maker, or wilfully cast off the authority of righteousness. No, no; we are moved to do evil under the idea that some present good will come of it. Thus are we lured and bird-limed like the silly fowls of the air. The object set before us is delusive: the reward of sin may glitter, but it is not gold, and yet as gold it thrusts itself upon our erring judgment.

3. Sin is deceitful, next, in the name it wears. It is very apt to change its title: it seldom cares for its own true description. Almost every sin, nowadays, has a pretty name to be called by on Sundays, and silver slippers to wear in fine society.

4. Sin also shows its special deceitfulness in the arguments which it uses with men. Have you never heard its voice whispering to you, "Do not make much ado about nothing. Is it not a little one?" The point of the rapier is small, and for that reason the more deadly. Then will sin raise the question, and say, "Is this really wrong? May we not be too precise? Are not the times changed? Do not circumstances alter the command?" Sin is great at raising difficult points of casuistry. He that wills to do wrong is eager to find a loophole for himself.

5. This deceivableness is further seen in the excuses which it frames afterwards.

6. The deceitfulness of sin is seen again in its promises; for we shall not go far into sin without finding out how greatly it lies unto us.

7. Sin is deceitful in the influence which it carries with it. When yielded to, it tries to shut off the door of repentance.

II. THIS DECEITFULNESS HAS A HARDENING POWER OVER THE HEART.

1. Partly through our familiarity with sin. We may look at hateful sin till we love it.

2. Then there follows on the back of this insensibility to sin an insensibility to the gospel.

III. THIS DECEITFULNESS OF SIN, AND THIS TENDENCY TO BECOME HARDENED, NEED TO BE FOUGHT AGAINST.

1. The way to keep from hardness of heart, and from the deceitfulness of sin, is to believe. You shall find that, just in proportion as faith grows strong, the deceit of sin will be baffled.

2. If you would be saved from the deceitfulness of sin confess it honestly before God. Pray that sin may appear sin: it cannot appear in a worse light. Thus thou shalt not so readily be caught in its traps and lures.

3. Cultivate great tenderness of heart. Do not believe that to grieve over sin is lowering to manhood; indulge thyself largely in sweet repentance.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is a possible reference here, in this personification of sin, as leading men away by lies, to the story of the First Temptation. There, the weapons of the Tempter were falsehoods.

I. FIRST, THEN, MY TEXT SUGGESTS TO ME SIN'S LIES ABOUT THE BAIT. The old story is typical, and may stand as a welldeveloped specimen of the whole set of evil deeds. Either for the sake of winning a desirable object, or for the sake of avoiding some undesirable issue; we never do the wrong thing, and go away from God, except under a delusion that we shall be better and happier when we have got the desired thing than we should be without it. Now I do not mean to say that there is not a very solid reality in the pleasurable results of a great many wrong things. If a man chooses to sin to gratify sense, he does get the sensuous enjoyment out of it. But there is another question to be asked. You have got the thing you wanted; have you, — what then? Are you much the better for it? Are you satisfied with it? Was it as good as it looked when it was not yours? Is not the giant painted on the canvas outside the caravan a great deal bigger than the reality inside, when you go in to look at him? Is there anything that we have got by doing wrong for it, howsoever it may have satisfied the immediate impulse in obedience to whose tyrannous requirements we were stirred up to grasp it, which is worth, in solid enjoyment, what we gave for it? Having attained the desire, do we not find that it satisfies not us, but only some small part of us? If I might so say, we are like those men that old stories used to tell about that had swallowed some loathly worm. We feed the foul creeping thing within us, but ourselves continue hungry. Besides, sin's pleasures are false, because along with them all comes an after tang that takes the sweetness out of them. There is only one thing that promises less than it performs, and which can satisfy a man's soul; and that is cleaving to God.

II. AGAIN, NOTE THE LIES ABOUT THE HOOK. "Ye shall not surely die." I suppose that if any man had clear before him at the moment of any temptation, howsoever fiery and strong, the whole sweep of the consequences that are certainly involved in his yielding to it, he would pause on the edge, and durst not do it. But sin suppresses facts; and here are a few of the barbed points that she hides. She does not tell you anything about outward consequences. Every year there come into Manchester young men who fancy they can play the game and not pay the stakes. She suppresses the action of conscience. There is nothing more awful than the occasional swiftness and completeness of the revulsion of feeling between the moment before and the moment after. She suppresses the action of sin upon character. You cannot do a wrong thing, "departing from the living God," without thereby leaving an indelible mark upon your whole spiritual and moral nature. Loftier aspirations die out of you, the incapacity for better actions is confirmed, and that awful mysterious thing that we call "habit" comes in to ensure that once done, twice will be probable, and twice done, thrice and innumerable times will be almost certain. There is nothing more mystical and solemn about our lives than the way in which unthought of and trifling deeds harden themselves into habits, and dominate us, whether we will or no. And so the sin which once stood in front of us with a smile and tempted us, because it was desirable, afterwards comes behind us with a frown, and is a taskmaster with a whip. The flowery fetters become iron, and the thing once done gets to be our master, and we are held and bound in the chain of our sins. And more than that, there is the necessity for perpetual increase, heavier doses, more pungent forms of evil, in order to titillate the increasing insensitiveness of the nature. You take a tiger cub into your house when it is little; it is prettily striped, graceful in its motions, playful and affectionate; and it grows up, and when it is big, it is the master of you, if it is not the murderer of you! Do not you take the little sin into your hearts. It will grow, and its claws will grow, and its ferocity will grow. And now all these consequences suggest the last of sin's suppressions that I would specify. They all make a future retribution a probable thing. And that future retribution is a plain and necessary inference from any belief at all in a God, and in a future life. But the tempting sin has nothing to say about that future judgment, or if it has, has only this to say: "Ye shall not die." You are like sailors that get into the spirit room in a ship when she is driving on the rocks, and, as long as you can get the momentary indulgence, never mind about what is coming.

III. THEN NOTICE AGAIN, THE LIES AS TO THE CRIMINALITY OF THE DEED, "Hath God said, Ye shall not eat?" is the insinuated suggestion that creeps into most men's minds. Just as housebreakers carry some drugged meat for the house-dogs, when they intend to break into some lonely farmhouse, so we are all adepts in applying gentle phrases to our own evil, while, if the same thing is done by anybody else, we shall flame up in indignation, as David did when Nathan told him about the man and his one ewe lamb. Therefore, it comes to this — do not you trust to instinctive utterances of inclination calling itself conscience. Remember that you can bribe conscience to say anything but that it is right to do wrong. You will get it to say anything that you teach it about what is wrong and what is not. And therefore you must find a better guide than conscience. You bare to enlighten it and educate it and check it, and keep it wakeful and suspicious, as the price of purity. The same set of lies about the criminality of our actions operates with still greater effect after the commission. I was speaking a moment or two ago about the sudden waking of conscience when the deed is done. Bat there is a worse thing than that, and that is when conscience does not wake.

IV. THE LAST WORD THAT! WISH TO SAY IS IN REFERENCE TO THE FALSEHOODS OF SIN IN REGARD TO THE DELIVERANCE THEREFROM. These other lies, like bubbles, sometimes burst. The first of them, about the pleasures, generally bursts as soon as the thing is done. The others about the pains and the criminality often disappear, when pricked by some thought of God and contact with Him. But the repertory of the deceiver is not empty yet. And she can turn her haled and bring out another set of lies, in order to retain her dominion. For the sin that said to you before you did it: " There is no harm in it; you do not need to do it again; it is only just once and it will be done with," says to you, after you have done it, when you begin to feel that it was wrong, and try to shake off its guilt and power: "You have done it howl. You never can get away any more. The thing is past, and neither in regard of its consequences nor in regard of its power will you ever escape from it. What you have written you have written. You are mine!" And so she lays her iron claw upon the man and holds him. So sin lies to us just as she lied before. And I have to crone with the message that, of all her falsehoods none is more false and fatal than the falsehood that a sinful man cannot turn from his evil; conquer all his transgression; begin a new happy, clean life; and be sure of forgiveness from his Father in heaven. "Jesus Christ, the faithful and true witness," has died that it may be possible to bring to us pure and true promises of lasting and satisfying blessedness, and to avert from each of us, if we will trust in the power of His blood, the worst and penal consequences of our transgression, and, if we will trust in the power of His imparted Spirit, to make our future altogether unlike our past, and deliver us from the habit and entail of our sins.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

1. One of the most obvious ways in which it works this mischief is, by diverting the attention from that to which it ought to be directed. Man's power of attention is limited; it cannot be directed to all things at the same time; it must take them in succession. Neither should it bestow itself equally upon all things, but graduate its time and earnestness according to circumstance. Of this feature of our constitution sin, taking advantage, so fills the mind with other things, that no room is left for the things of religion. A man is thus made to forget God, by the simple obtrusion of other things upon his attention.

2. Sin deceives also by the false and captivating colours in which it decks out things forbidden. Their beauty was not their own. They wore a mask. It is no very uncommon thing for certain visions and appearances to pass before the mind, under the influence of disease, which wear all the lineaments of persons and things with which we are familiar, and yet possess no reality whatever. But not to take so violent a case for illustration; let us simply reflect how depression or hilarity of animal spirits affects all our views of things. The one will hang the brightest heaven with mourning; the other will shed an air of cheerfulness over the deepest gloom. Now it is somewhat in this way that sin deludes. It causes things to appear in unreal colours.

3. A third way, in which sin deceives, is by making us miscalculate time. What is our life? It is compared to a "watch in the night," to a "tale that is told," to a "vapour which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away," to a "race that is run," to a " battle that is fought," to the "labour of the day," to the dimensions of a "span." Yet, notwithstanding, may I not with all confidence ask whether his own feelings have not often virtually given the lie to these statements? Thus does sin deceive the young. To say nothing of the uncertainty of life, they are in error in regard to the length of it.

4. This property, which is specially named in the text, arises from our being creatures of habit. By the law of habit, the doing of a thing once, makes it easier to do it again, and creates an inclination towards the repetition of the act. Notice the manner in which the spider endeavours to secure the unwary insect, which has fallen into its web, and you have a pretty accurate representation of the process. One attenuated thread after another is woven round it, each easily broken, each in itself too trifling to be regarded or felt, but all, in their united strength, beyond its ability to break. There the victim lies, making mighty efforts to escape, but more and more hopelessly each successive moment. Thus it is, that sinful habit insensibly weaves around us its meshes.

(W. Sparrow, LL. D.)

I. HOW SIN IS TO BE TAKEN AS SAID TO BE DECEITFUL, AND WHEREIN ITS DECEITFULNESS LIES.

1. With reference to the external object and act about it, sin's deceitfulness lies in false appearances and delusive promises.

2. As to indwelling corruption, who can tell the many ways it has to deceive and destroy? Sin here is the man sinful, proving a tempter to himself.(1) In enticing to it: What pains does the shiner take to justify or extenuate the evil he is bent upon? desirous by a deceitful varnish to take off .from its horrid appearance, that it may give as little disturbance to conscience as possible. All endeavours are used, not only to colour the object, but to corrupt the eye by a disguising tincture, that the sight of things may not be according to truth, but according to his desire.(2) In confirming in it; drawing on its servants even to final obduracy and destruction. To this end false principles are admitted, or perverse inference drawn from true ones: the Scriptures are wrested, precious promises, instances of grace abounding to the chief of sinners, &c., and arguments fetched from all, whereby sinners encourage themselves to add sin to sin.

II. THE POWER AND PREVALENCY OF THE DECEITFULNESS THAT BELONGS TO SIN.

1. How strangely powerful is the deceitfulness of sin, with reference to the many who love and live therein, though they are told of its present deceit and destructive issue?

2. How powerful is the deceitfulness of sin, that can persuade men that are made for another world, to look no farther than this; and so seek for happiness where it is never to be found, or call that so, that is bounded by sense and time, as if they had nothing higher to mind.

3. How powerful is the deceitfulness of sin, as to the numbers over whom it still reigns, though all its servants sooner or later confess the delusion?

III. WHAT HARDNESS THIS TENDS TO AS MATTER OF FEAR AND FLIGHT.

1. Habitual. This is the result of repeated acts of sin, strengthening the natural depravity, and confirming in it. Hereby the sinner is emboldened in his way, and becomes a stranger to much of that shame and sorrow, reluctancy and remorse, which he was sometimes-wont to feel.

2. Judicial, or inflicted from heaven.Lessons:

1. Hence learn the reason of that mighty storm that is ordinarily felt in the breasts of true penitents upon their first becoming such.

2. How adorable is the grace of God, as to all that get safe to heaven; what joy will there be upon their arrival!

3. It need not seem strange that holy men are afraid of nothing so much as sin, and cannot allow themselves to follow a multitude to do evil (Exodus 23:2), it being too dear a compliment to be paid to any, to run the hazard of being hardened first, and so of perishing for company.

4. How dangerous is their mistake, who whilst under the power of sin, think their case good, because their consciences are quiet? And with how many is it thus?

5. How great is our advantage in having the Bible and living under the gospel? By which we are warned of sin's deceitfulness and armed against it.

6. How desirable is the state of such as are in covenant with God, having chosen Him in Christ for theirs, and given up themselves unto Him. They are hereby become His special charge, as well as His peculiar delight.

7. Is the case so sad of being hardened in sin? Let the dread of this awaken a present and perpetual opposition to it in every one that would be safe.(1) Begin at the root: see that corruption, as to its power and reign, be mortified within. Get by faith into union with Christ.(2) Let conscience be instructed from the Word of God, and charge it to be faithful, and hearken to its voice.(3) Beware of running upon temptation in a vain presumption you may come off safe. Your strength lies not in yourselves, but must come from heaven; and you have no promise of protection out of God's way.(4) Keep the cross of Christ as much as possible in view, and remember it was sin that nailed Him to it.(5) Solemnly renew your covenant with God, and often reflect upon it with approbation; that whenever tempted to sin, you may be able readily to answer, I have opened my mouth unto the Lord and I cannot go back (Judges 11:35). Thy vows are upon me, O God (Psalm 56:12).(6) Live under an awful sense of God's presence with you, and plead it with yourselves, that you may act accordingly.(7) Frequently call yourselves to account. The beginnings of sin may be most hopefully resisted; but like a slight disease, may prove dangerous in the neglect, and threaten death.(8) Use yourselves to a life of self-denial as to the flesh and the world.(9) Keep up lively apprehensions of death and judgment approaching.(10) Make your constant, serious application to heaven, for wisdom to discern, and grace to withstand the deceitfulness of sin.

(D. Wilcox.)

I. WHAT IS SIN. TO love God and to love our fellow-creatures with a pure heart fervently is the gospel law, and our own conscience witnesses that it is holy, just, and good. Whatever is the contrary to, whatever comes short of this law is sin. Now, if we trace up sin to its fountain, then we call it birth sin — derived from our first father Adam. But, if we trace sin to the streams that flow from this unclean fountain, then we call it actual sin, done by our own will. Then sin is everything we do which we ought not to do, and everything we leave undone which we ought to do. If we trace it to its different kinds we find some sins done against God only, others against God and man too. There are sins of the thought, sins of the heart, sins of the tongue, sins of the hand, sins of the whole body.

II. THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN.

1. Sin draws us away from the thought of God and of His grace; of what He has done for us, and of what we owe to Him.

2. Then unbelief slips in; unbelief of God's Word. So Satan tempted Eve.

3. If only we disbelieve God's Word, then we are ready to be caught with the bait which sin offers, fair and tempting to the sight, hiding under it danger and death.

4. Be not misled by the deceitfulness of sin, to go on without repentance, without conversion of heart to God. Is not delay the devil's favourite word?

5. Nor let sin beguile you to misuse the doctrine of the grace of God.

III. THE EFFECT OF SIN. It hardens the heart.

(E. Blencowe, M. A.)

I. MY BUSINESS SHALL BE TO SHOW YOU THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN AND HOW MUCH THEREBY WE ARE IN DANGER.

1. Evil takes another name though it doth always retain its nature. Coveteousness passeth for a thrifty temper and good husbandry. Prodigality for being generous. Vanity is reputed necessary remission of mind, and foolish talking to be affable conversation. Lavish expense of time goes for exercise and recreation due to the body. Finding fault with others is reckoned to be reproof of sin. Sharpness and severity to be strictness of conscience. Backbiting is accounted an endeavour for reformation. Jealousy and suspicion to be care for right and truth. Busy meddling with other men's affairs, lives, and judgments, is said to be activity for the advancement of religion. And to control others' liberty, a care for their souls. Presumption is thought to be faith in God. Curious determinations beyond Scripture, to be the improvement of faith, and inconsiderate dulness to be the denial of our reason. Malcontent to be sorrow for sin. Excessive use of the creatures, to be Christian liberty. Sometimes evil suggesteth to us pleasure and delight, and sometimes gain and profit.

2. Evil holds us in hand that it is a matter of our right, and that which we may do in the use of our liberty. Whereas it is not power to be able to do that which is not fit to be done, this is not liberty, but licentiousness.

3. Evil covers itself with some probable notion or circumstance. Nothing in this vain world is more usual than colours, pretences, representations, excuses, appearances contrary to reality and truth.

4. Evil warrants itself sometimes by the difference of time and place, sometimes by measure and degree, sometimes by mode and manner.

5. Evil pleads sometimes the necessity of the ease, and that it is unavoidable.

6. When evil hath once entangled us there is another evil (and it may be a greater) though necessary to hide or extenuate it. For evil, if it be looked into, will be ashamed of itself. Upon this account it is that men are ashamed to own it, and sometimes with a lie deny it. Cain, Gehazi, Ananias, and Sapphira.

7. Evil justifies itself by prescription and general practice. So it was formerly, and so it is still. And this is taken for a justification.

8. I shall observe in the last place that which is most dangerous of all others, and that is this: when the first motion towards repentance and conversion is looked upon as if it were the sovereign remedy of repentance itself. As if sorrow for sin were the whole product of repentance, whereas, indeed, that which is true repentance must be accompanied with the forsaking of sin and bringing forth the fruits of righteousness.

II. HOW GREAT REASON WE HAVE, ACCORDING TO THE ADVICE OF THE APOSTLE, TO TAKE HEED THAT WE ARE NOT DECEIVED.

1. Because in this state we run all manner of hazards and dangers.

2. Our several faculties have different inclinations, and some of them are not at all capable of reason, therefore not to be governed by any moral considerations, which make it a very hard province that we are to act in.

3. Things without us, and round about us, presented with their several advantages, do many times provoke and allure us, and are hardly to be denied.

4. That which should be for our security, viz., company and converse, often becomes a snare to us.

5. He that is officious to bring us into his condemnation, he is forward to fit us with suitable objects that shall raise our apprehensions and draw us into evil.

6. There are many things impure and contrary to religion to which we are tempted that the world do not reckon among the greatest crimes.

7. Man is such a compound that heaven and earth, as it were, meet in him, terms that are extremely distant. Man in respect of his mind is qualified to converse with angels and to attend upon God. And in respect of these noble faculties he is liable to be tempted to insolency, arrogancy, and great presumption, and self-exaltation.

8. If we do not use self-government, and moderate our powers by subduing the inferior to the superior, we fail in that which is our proper work and province.

9. If God be not understood and acknowledged in our worldly enjoyments and recommended to us by them; if He b. not intended in all our actions, then do we not comply with the relation we stand in to God, nor act according to our highest principles, nor answer our capacity, nor are true to our own interest. For our highest faculties are God's peculiar, God's reserve, made for God, and fit to attend upon Him, and to receive from Him. Since, therefore, there is this danger —(1) Let us act with caution and with good advice, by conversation with the best and wisest men. For it is an easy matter to be deceived without great care and diligence.(2) But chiefly let us make application to God, by meditation and prayer, who will not be wanting to us. Let us carefully avoid all presumption, pride, arrogancy, and self-assuming. Do not on the sudden, but see before you do; and understand well before you act.

(B. Whichcote, D. D.)

I. First, I shall endeavour to represent to you THE GROWING DANGER OF SIN, and by what steps and degrees bad habits do insensibly gain upon men and harden them in an evil course. All the actions of men which are not natural, but proceed from deliberation and choice, have something of difficulty in them when we first practise them, because, at first, we are exercised in that way; but after we have practised them awhile they become more easy, and when they are easy, we begin to take pleasure in them; and when they please us we do them frequently, and think we cannot repeat them too often; and, by frequency of acts a thing grows into a habit, and a confirmed habit is a second kind of nature: and so far as anything is natural, so far it is necessary, and we can hardly do otherwise; nay, we do it many times when we do not think of it.

1. Men begin with lesser sins. No man is perfectly wicked on the sudden.

2. After men have been sometime initiated in these lesser sins they are prepared for greater; such as lay waste the conscience and offer more violence to the light and reason of their minds.

3. When a man hath proceeded thus far he begins to put off shame, one of the greatest restraints from sin which God hath laid upon human nature. And when this curb once fails off, there is then but little left to restrain and hold us in.

4. After this it is possible men may come to approve their vices. For if men's judgments do not command their wills and restrain their lusts, it is great odds, in process of time, the vicious inclinations of their wills will put a false bias upon their judgments; and then it is no wonder, if men come to boast of their sins and to glory in their vices, when they arc half persuaded that they are generous and commendable qualities.

5. From this pitch of wickedness, men commonly proceed to draw in others, and to make proselytes to their vices. But that which renders the condition of such persons much more deplorable is, that all this while God is withdrawing His grace from them. For every degree of sin causeth the Holy Spirit of God with all His blessed assistances to retire farther from them. And thus, by passing from one degree of sin to another, the sinner becomes hardened in his wickedness. For the mind of man, after it hath long been accustomed to evil, and is once grown old in vice, is almost as hard to be rectified as it is to recover a body bowed down with age to its first straightness.

II. I shall, from this consideration, take occasion to show WHAT GREAT REASON AND NEED THERE IS TO WARN MEN OF THIS DANGER, and to endeavour to rescue them out of it. If we believe the threatening of God which we declare to others, if we have any sense of our own duty and safety, we cannot but be earnest with sinners to break off their sins, and to give glory to God by repentance before darkness come.

III. I apply myself to this work of EXHORTATION — the duty commanded here in the text.

1. To persuade those who are yet in some measure innocent, to resist the beginnings of sin, lest it gain upon them by degrees. Vice may easily be discouraged at first. It is like a slight disease, which is easy to be cured, but dangerous to be neglected. As there is a connection of one virtue with another, so vices are linked together, and one sin draws many after it. When the devil tempts a man to commit any wickedness, he does as it were lay a long train of sins, and if the first temptation take, they give fire to one another.

2. To persuade those who are already engaged in a wicked course, to make haste out of this dangerous state. And there is no other way to get out of it but by repentance; that is, by a real change and reformation of our lives.

(Archbishop Tillotson.)

Who is it that is deceived? It is the sinner himself. Does he need to be deceived? Is there not in us all a strong enough direct inclination to that which is evil? There is also a deceit which over-reaches and ensnares us into the commission of what, but for that mistake, we would have avoided or abhorred. Again, if the sinner is deceived, who is it, or what is it that deceives him? Here we must observe that when we speak of sin's being deceitful, it is not so much anything without us, taking the advantage of our weakness, but it is the corruption within, which makes us see things in a wrong light, and draw unjust and pernicious consequences from them.

I. I shall endeavour to open a little the CHIEF BRANCHES OF THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN.

1. Its disguising itself and wholly concealing its nature.

2. Its forming excuses for itself, and thereby extenuating its guilt.

3. Its insinuating itself by degrees, and leading men on from the voluntary commission of some sins to the necessity of committing more.

II. I proceed now to consider THE DUTY WHICH IS FOUNDED BY THE APOSTLE ON THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN, viz., mutual exhortation.

1. As to the persons who are obliged to exhort others. It seems in this passage to be laid upon Christians in general, without any exception. This is perfectly consonant to the spirit of true religion, and to our relation one to another. There is also a particular obligation upon superiors of all sorts, whether in office, as magistrates; in station, as persons of wealth and opulence; in years, as those whom time and experience should have enriched with solid wisdom; in relation, as parents and masters of families. But it is also plainly a part of Christian friendship, even for equals to exhort one another, and kindly to communicate their mutual experience in the spiritual life. We all stand in need of it; we may all be the better for it. I do not remember anything recorded more truly glorious for a monarch than what we are told of Philip of Macedon, that he heard reproofs not only with patience, but with pleasure; and I am sure there is nothing more like a Christian than to profit, not only by the admonitions of friends, but by the reproaches of enemies. If they are just, reform what is amiss; if they are probable, abstain from the appearance of evil; if they are neither the one nor the other, submit to them with patience, as a part of the will of God.

2. The season in which the duty of mutual exhortation is to be performed. Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day; by which we are to understand that it is to be done frequently; and without delay.

3. The manner in which this exhortation must be given, if we hope to do it with success.(1) You ought not to reprove at an uncertainty, upon bare rumour and suspicion.(2) It ought not to be done when the offending person is in an ill temper to receive it.(3) We are not to reprove those whom we have reason to believe to be such desperate wretches, that they would be but the more exasperated, and sin in the more daring manner, on account of the reproof (Proverbs 9:7; Matthew 7:6).On the other hand, positively, when reproof or exhortation are administered —(1) It should be made appear, as much as possible, to flow from love and affection as its principle.(2) As it ought to flow from love as the principle, so it ought to be conducted with meekness in the manner; no railing or reviling expressions, which will look like the wounds of an enemy to destroy, and not the balm of a physician to cure.(3) Reproof should be given with some degree of zeal as well as meekness; we should avoid the extreme of remissness as well as severity. A slight careless reproof is often worse than none; for it is ready to make the offender think lightly of his own offence. I shall give an instance of this. Swearing, and taking the name of God in vain, is sometimes ridiculed, instead of being reproved. This seldom has a good effect. It ought, indeed, to be despised for its folly; but, at the same time, it ought to be deeply abhorred for its guilt.(4) In admonishing one another for particular sins, we should still keep in view the source of all sin, a polluted nature, and the great danger of the sinner, as in a sinful state.(5) Let those who would acquit themselves of this duty in a proper manner be particularly watchful and circumspect in their own conduct. Lessons:

1. From what has been said, you may see the great corruption and depravity of our nature.

2. From what has been said, let us be led to strictness and frequency in self-examination. If sin is so deceitful, it may easily lurk unobserved. Self-knowledge is a study of as great difficulty as importance.

3. From what hath been said, let me beseech all, but especially young persons, to beware of the beginnings of sin.

4. I shall close the subject, by addressing an exhortation to those who have been long and hardened sinners; who have many habits of vice cleaving to them; who have hitherto despised the gospel, and even sat in the seat of the scornful. Why will you longer continue at enmity with Him, while He is offering you mercy?

(J. Witherspoon.)

I. THE CAUTION. In the text sin is, by a bold figure of speech, personified, as it is in several other parts of Scripture. But we are not to suppose that there is a being called sin; but an evil principle that is at work in the world and in all our hearts. We will now notice some of the means adopted by sin to deceive the ungodly.

1. It assumes to itself soft and specious names. Sin, notwithstanding the exalted place it holds in the affections of men, is an abominable thing. Professors of religion, be you aware that you endeavour not to lessen the enormity of sin.

2. Sin deceives by promising pleasure, while it conceals the evils connected with it. It promises pleasures it can never give. Absalom listened to sin, and was stimulated in his rebellion by the hope of raising himself to his father's throne. The event showed he was deceived, and lost his life beside. David listened to sin, when he thought of the pleasure of Bathsheba's company, and thought, "No eye will see, no one would know." He, too, was deceived, for his sin became patent to all Israel, and peace fled from his house for ever. There is one case recorded in Scripture which shows how sin deceives, and hardens, and finally damns the soul — Judas.

3. Sin deceives by misrepresenting the revelations of God's Word. Instructed by that Word, we are taught to think of God as a being of infinite perfection, and that all His attributes being perfect, they cannot clash one with another — that all are holy, wise and good. But sin suggests to man's mind a God all mercy: it puts out of sight the fact that God is a God of holiness. Again, sin leads men to reason thus: God is too lofty to behold the things done upon earth; it is inconceivable that He will take knowledge of men's actions; He has worlds to guide and direct.

4. Sin deceives, by persuading the man that there is time yet to seek pardon, and persuades him to defer the season of repentance till a later period of life. Now, there is no want of good intention on the part of many. Sinners are deceived by sin, and flatter themselves that because they know what is right, there must be some good in them, though they practise it not. They comfort themselves, that though at this particular moment they do not put their good resolutions into effect, they intend to do it, and they think there is some virtue in that.

II. THE MEANS PRESCRIBED. — "Exhort one another." Those who undertake to give advice should themselves be endued with wisdom and understanding. An ignorant or presumptuous person will be likely to do more harm than good. That wisdom which is gained by experience is most likely to prove useful to others. Intimate friends may exhort and counsel one another, and admonish one another of their faults. But even here a caution is needful. Some do this in such a censorious sort of way, such a " Stand by, I am holier than thou" sort of air, that the advice they give, however good, is certain to be rejected. Men are never to be scolded into doing that which is right. In reference to this part of our subject I would say, never engage in this duty except with much prayer for the guidance of the Holy Spirit; and then between your exhortation and example there must be a consistency. If not, it will render any effort altogether vain.

III. THE TIME when this duty is to be performed — "Daily, while it is called to-day." The present may be the only opportunity. Christians are daily going astray; every day they need exhorting. By way of application, I would entreat you all to watch well your heart, and resist the beginnings of sin, lest it should end in ruin. A spark is easily put out, but how difficult to extinguish a conflagration! Resist the unholy thought before it becomes the unholy deed, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. I will illustrate by an anecdote what sin does. There was a little boat floating near the hank in the river a few miles above the falls of Niagara; a mother was working in a field near by. She had cautioned her little daughter not to go to the water; but thither the child strolled. She saw the boat, jumped into it, which moved with her weight. She was pleased with the feeling. The boat slipped from its moorings, and began softly to float down the stream. More and more pleased was the child. The sun glittered on the tiny waves; everything was pleasant and delightful to the child. Quicker, and more quick, but yet softly and silently, that vessel shot down the river with its unconscious and joyous freight. The mother looked, and saw her child carried quickly to the current towards the fall. She screamed and ran — she plunged into the water; she ventured far, and failed. The boat is caught in the foaming rapids; it is carried over the precipice; the child is lost. Something like this may be seen daily. We warn you.

(W. Jarbo, D. D.)

I heard a minister not long since, while preaching on the nature and deceptive influence of sin, make use of the following illustration: — "Suppose," said the preacher, "an individual should go to a blacksmith and say to him, 'Sir, I wish you to make me a very long and heavy chain; here are the dimensions. Have it done at such a time, and I will pay you the cash for it.' The blacksmith is pressed with other and more important work, but for the sake of the money he commences the chain, and after toiling hard many days, finishes it. The individual calls. 'Have you made that chain?' 'Yes, sir; here it is.' 'That is very well done. A good chain; but it is not long enough.' 'Not long enough! Why, it is just the length you told me to make it.' 'Oh yes, yes; but I have concluded to have it much longer than at first; work on it another week. I will then call and pay you for it.' And thus, flattered with praise and encouraged with the promise of full reward for his labour, he toils on, adding link to link, till the appointed time when his employer calls again, and, as before, praises his work; but still he insists that ' the chain is too short.' 'But,' says the blacksmith, 'I can do no more. My iron is expended, and so is my strength. I need the pay for what I have done, and can do no more till I have it!' 'Oh, never mind; I think you have the means of adding a few links more; the chain will then answer the purpose for which it is intended, and you shall be fully rewarded for all your labour.' With his remaining strength and a few scraps of iron, he adds the last link of which he is capable; then says the man to him,' The chain is a good one; you have toiled long and hard to make it. I see that you can do no more, and now you shall have your reward.' But, instead of paying the money, he takes the chain, binds the labourer hand and foot, and casts him into a furnace of fire. ' Such,' " said the preacher " is a course of sin. It promises much, but its reward is death."

(C. Field.)

It appears fair, but is filthy; it appears pleasant, but is pernicious; it promises much, but performs nothing.

(M. Henry.)

There was an abbot who desired a piece of ground that lay conveniently for him. The owner refused to sell it, yet, with much persuasion, was contented to let it. The abbot hired it for his rent, and covenanted only to farm it for one crop. He had his bargain, and sowed it with acorns, a crop that lasted three hundred years. Thus, Satan begs but for the first crop: let him sow thy youth with acorns, they will grow up with thy years to sturdy oaks, so big-bulked and deep rooted, that they shall last all thy life. Sin hath a shrewd title when it can plead prescription, and Satan thinks his evidence as good as eleven points at law when he hath once got possession. Let him be sure of thy youth, he will be confident of thy age.

Soft sponges become flints oftentimes by a peculiar process. There are in sponges particles of flint or silex; these are ever attracting particles to themselves, until in process of time the whole mass is an aggregate of silicious matter, and the softness of the sponge has disappeared. It is exactly thus with your conscience: its sensibilities are gradually giving way to the hardening particles that are introduced by every sin you commit.

Professor Drummond tells of an over-laden coal barge which stood in the river: "A sailor reported to the captain that the water was gaining upon the vessel. The captain drove him away with scoffs. Twice, thrice, the warning was repeated. Each time the warning voice was unheeded. At last the barge began to give evidence of sinking. The captain ordered the men to the boats. They took their places. He then said: 'I told you there was plenty of time.' Then he took out his knife to cut the cable which bound the boat to the barge. He fell back with a cry of horror. The cable was an iron chain!" The eleventh hour is an hour of haste and danger and disappointment. The thread becomes a cord, the cord a cable, the cable a chain. The time to get clear of a sinking craft is now.

A denier of the original taint of sin once stood before two pictures which hung side by side upon a wall. The first was the portrait of a boy with open brow, and curls that looked golden in the sunshine, and cheeks whose damask beauty shamed the ripened fruit, wearing that happy smile which can be worn but once in life — a smile whose rippling waves are poisoned by no weeds of suspicion, and break upon no strand of doubt, looking gaily up from the flowered earth into the azure heaven without the slightest misgiving. From the canvas of the second picture there glared out a wolfish eye — the home of all subtlety and malice; and in the gloom of the dim lighted cell you might perceive the matted hair, and garments stained with blood; chains clank, or seemed to clank, upon his fettered limbs. All tell of the desperate character of the man. On these two pictures hanging side by side, the denier of the original sin fixed his gaze, until the exclamation burst out at length in a tone of half concealed triumph, "What I do you mean to say that these two beings were originally and radically the same? Do you mean to tell me that any amount of evil teaching could ever develop that guileless child into that debased and godless man? " The artist volunteered the information that the portraits were taken from the life of the self-same individual at different stages of his history. You know the moral of the tale. There is an accelerating progress in an ungodly course, increasing with the momentum of an avalanche when the first stages of its course have run. The descent into perdition is easy, when the strivings of the passions are seconded by the dictates of the will. Sinner, I charge thee, beware lest thy sin become habit.

(W. M. Punshon, D. D.)

Like flakes of snow that fall unperceived upon the earth, the seemingly unimportant events of life succeed one another. As the snow gathers together, so are our habits formed. No single flake added to the pile produces a sensible change — no single action creates, however it may exhibit, a man's character; but as the tempest hurls the avalanche down the mountain, and overwhelms the inhabitant and his habitation, so passion, acting upon the elements of mischief which pernicious habits have brought together by imperceptible accumulation, may overthrow the edifice of truth and virtue.

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