Fools mock the making of amends, but goodwill is found among the upright.
I. THE SADDEST AND STERNEST FACT IN ALL THE UNIVERSE OF GOD. It is the ultimate cause of all the disorder, misery, ruin, and death that are to be found beneath any sky. There is no curse or calamity that has befallen our race that is not due to its disastrous power.
II. THE DARKEST EXPERIENCE WE HAVE IN REVIEW. We may look back on many dark passages in our life history, but none can be so black as the experiences for which we have to reproach ourselves, as those wherein we broke some plain precept of God or left undischarged some weighty obligation.
III. A POWERFUL, HOSTILE FORCE STILL CONFRONTING US. Sin "easily besets us."
1. It is exceedingly deceptive, alluring, undermining, betraying.
2. It is a very present enemy, near at hand when least suspected, entering into all the scenes and spheres of life.
3. It strikes deep, going down into the innermost places of the soul.
4. It is very extensive in its range, covering all the particulars of life.
5. It stretches far into the future, crossing even the dividing line of death, and reaching into eternity.
6. It is fatal in its results, leading the soul down into the dark shadows of spiritual death. The only wise course we can take in view of such a force as this is
(1) to realize its heinousness;
(2) to confess its guiltiness;
(3) to strive with patient strenuousness against its power;
(4) to seek the aid of the Holy and Mighty Spirit that it may be uprooted from the heart and life. - C.
I. THE FOOLISHNESS IN ITSELF. Sin is really a very terrible thing: nothing is so terrible. Ask its slave and its victim. If you look from its work within you to its work around you, is the foolishness much less manifest? What but sin is the cause of all the misery around us?
Fools make a mock at sin.
I. OUR NATURES TESTIFY THAT SIN IS THE CHIEF OF EVILS. Evil has various forms, these set in two divisions, natural and moral; pain or suffering springing from outward conduct and events, independent of our will: and evil related to character and conduct, and inspired by the will. Vice is manifestly more to be dreaded than pain. All will agree that excellence of character is the supreme good, and that baseness of soul and of action involves something worse than suffering. Our very nature teaches the doctrine of Christianity, that sin or moral evil ought of all evils to inspire most abhorrence and fear.
II. EXPERIENCE TESTIFIES THAT SIN IS THE CHIEF OF EVILS. Though sin sometimes prospers, and never meets its full retribution on earth, yet, on the whole, it produces more present suffering than all things else; so that experience warns us against sin or wrong-doing as the chief evil we can incur. To do wrong is to inflict the surest injury on our own peace.
III. THE MISERIES OF DISOBEDIENCE TO CONSCIENCE AND GOD ARE NOT EXHAUSTED IN THIS LIFE. Sin deserves, calls for, and will bring down, future, greater misery. This Christianity, and this nature, teaches. Some, indeed, assert that punishment is confined to the present state; that in changing worlds we shall change our characters, and that moral evil is to be buried with the body in the grave. But to suppose no connection to exist between the present and the future character is to take away the use of the present state. It is even plainly implied in Scripture, that we shall suffer much more from sin, evil tempers, irreligion, in the future world, than we suffer here. I have spoken of the pains and penalties of moral evil or of wrongdoing, in the world to come. How long they will endure I know not.
(W. E. Channing, D.D.)
II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MOCKING AT SIN.
1. The effects of this mocking on the mocker himself. Nothing can be so deadening to the soul. Because laughing at sin relieves us of fear of it. Such mocking is altogether alien from, and contrary to, the mind of Christ. Moreover, it must quench the Spirit. It must kill the first beginnings of repentance.
2. Consequences upon others. There is nothing more corrupting of others than this mocking at sin. Such men may be found doing their deadly work everywhere, and in every rank of society. The young are their peculiar victims. The mocker's work is often irretrievable. No one who has led another to laugh at sin can ever calculate or undo the work he may have done.Learn —
1. To fly from the very first beginnings of this sin, whether in yourself or in others.
2. Understand the real value of that in which you are tempted to join.
3. If you are tempted to envy sinners their laugh, or to shrink from their mockeries, seek the defence, relief, and strengthening of prayer.
(Bishop S. Wilberforce.)
I. WHAT SIN IS. The transgression of a reasonable, holy, and righteous law.
II. THE CONSEQUENCES OF MAKING A MOCK AT SIN. The general consequence of this practice must be the prevailing of sin and unrighteousness in the world. The passions of mankind lead them by a strong propensity to what is forbidden, and all the fences and guards of religion are found little enough to restrain our compliance. Whatever weakens these restraints must, in the same proportion, occasion the increase of all ungodliness. What can more effectually contribute to this evil than making a mock at sin? The natural reluctances of reason and conscience will generally guard men against open scoffers, who ridicule all fear of God, all restraints of virtue and religion. But there are other mockers, whose influence is more to be feared. Men who will permit you to keep a reserve of religion, will pretend to agree with you in detesting some crimes, but persuade you to think others only ludicrous amusements, which it is weakness and superstition to abstain from yourselves, and a morose, unconversable severity to censure in your neighbours. This is a temptation to which we are exceedingly open. How much we are obliged in duty, and concerned in interest, to correct and oppose this vain, irreligious humour of mocking at sin! To check this growing evil, let us reflect on that holy and dreadful presence before whom we stand. The eyes of our Judge are always over us.
(J. Rogers, D.D.)
1. A man may, without directly denying the evil of sin, yet treat it with most unseemly levity.
2. Some men are in the habit of speaking of sin, that is, of the popular and less flagrant kinds of sin, as being indeed, in a modified sense, an evil; but as one which is inherent in, and inseparable from, humanity, which must therefore be submitted to in part, as a man would endure the enforced society of a disagreeable companion, whom circumstances would not permit him to discard.
3. Men mock at sin when they bear false witness concerning the fruits and effects of sin in themselves and others. If sin be a man's worst enemy, and a very powerful and malignant enemy, he who should mock at it, and deride it, must be acting the part of a vain, senseless, and presumptuous braggart. No man can really believe sin to be a matter for laughter. From all irreverence, and an unholy mirth in relation to sin, may God deliver us!
(G. W. Brameld, M.A.)I. WHAT IS IT TO MOCK AT SIN? Sin is the transgression of the law; doing what God forbids, or omitting to do what He commands. The term "mock," as applied to the law of God, may include ridiculing, trifling with its authority and sanctions, or palliating and excusing the breach of it.
1. There are some who scoff, openly profane, and set at defiance the law of God. Of these there are two classes, the one urged by their sensual appetites, the other by their intellectual pride. There are others who see the necessity of a certain attention to moral conduct, but look with a sullen, contemptuous, sceptical eye upon revelation.
2. There are some who mock at sin by " trifling" with it. They suffer almost anything to set aside obedience to God; they expose themselves unnecessarily to temptation; they frequent companies and places, involve themselves in employments, which are likely to lead them to sin, and yet mock at the idea of danger from them. They do not give the law of God, in reference to the regulation of their daily conduct, a thought either one way or the other.
3. There are others who may be said to mock at sin by "excusing and palliating it." They contend that there is more good than evil in the world. They think the gospel dispensation has lowered the requirements of the law.
II. THE FOLLY OF SUCH MOCKERS. What justifies ridicule, trifling, and palliation, and does this apply to sin?
1. We ridicule what it is beneath argument to confute. Ridicule is, at all times, a dangerous weapon, seldom befitting the spirit of a real Christian. Absurdity is the object of ridicule. But what is there of absurdity connected with the law of God, that we should laugh at the breach of it? There is something more specious in the mockery of intellectual pride at the transgression of God's law; because we are, from the depravity of our nature, less susceptible of the enormity of spiritual sins than of sins of the flesh. Ambition and pride, for instance, with the world give a dignity to the character, where drunkenness would excite disgust.
2. Where is the sense, or wisdom, of trifling with sin? Has the breach, or observance, of God's law so little to do with our happiness or misery, as really to be scarcely worth our serious attention? Are the consequences of sin unimportant?
3. The folly of excusing or palliating sin is no less manifest. It lessens the abhorrence of sin in our mind. By having low views of sin, we adopt low standards of duty, low aims at usefulness, low views of the holiness of God. To palliate sin is to destroy the harmony of the Divine attributes, to rob Christ of His glory, Christianity of its motives, and to beguile us into a fatal neglect, or even denial of its fundamental doctrines. By palliating sin we also encourage the commission of sin in others; as many a parent has found by bitter experience, in screening children from proper correction, from a foolish regard to the feelings of the moment When shall we learn that every deviation from the will of God is a loss of happiness?
(B. E. Nicholls, M.A.)
I. THE FOOL.. Every wicked man is a fool. See this by comparing their properties.
1. It is a fool's property to have no foresight of future things.
2. To affect things hurtful to himself.
3. To prefer trifles and toys before matters of worth and weight. The fool will not give his bauble for the king's exchequer. Illustrate by the prodigal son.
4. To run on his course with precipitation. As these fools are many, so they are of many kinds. There is the sad fool and the glad fool, the haughty fool and the naughty fool.
II. THE SPORT OF THE FOOL. The fathers call "making a mock at sin," the lowest degree of sin, and the very threshold of hell. Consider the object of the fool's sport — sin.
1. Sin, which is contrary to goodness, and though to man's corrupt nature pleasing, yet even abhorred of those sparks and cinders which the rust of sin hath not quite eaten out of our nature as the creation left it. It is a contra-natural thing to "make a mock at sin."
2. Sin, which sensibly brings on present judgments.
3. Sin, which, if it bring not present judgments, is the more fearful. The less punishment wickedness receives here, the more is behind.
4. Sin, that shall at last be laid heavy on the conscience.
5. Sin, which provokes God to anger.
6. Sin, which God so loathed that He could not serve His own elect because of it, but by killing His own Son.
7. Sin, that shall be punished by death — the second death. But I cease urging this terror, and would rather persuade you by the love of God.
(T. Adams.)I. WHAT IS MEANT BY MAKING A MOCK AT SIN. There are three sorts of sinners who, in their several degrees, may justly be charged with this guilt.
1. Those who esteem it a piece of courage to despise all religion, and a greatness of mind to deride all the obligations of virtue.
2. Those who do not in words, but do in deeds, bring contempt upon religion. This practical insult upon religion; this contempt of virtue and goodness in men's lives and actions is really, in the sight of God, a making a mock at sin.
3. Entertaining so slight an opinion of the evil and danger of sin, as makes men who are not entirely profligate, yet content themselves with distant resolutions of future repentance, and in the meantime speak peace to themselves in the practice of unrighteousness, or in the enjoyment of unlawful pleasures
II. UPON WHAT GROUNDS OR REASONS MEN ARE TEMPTED TO BE GUILTY OF THE SEVERAL DEGREES OF THIS VICE.
1. As to those profane spirits who esteem it a mark of courage to despise all religion, the only ground these have to go upon is atheism and infidelity. The only foundation this kind of mockers build upon is the hope that there will be no future state, no judgment to come.
2. Those who pretend to believe a God, and yet live viciously, flatter themselves with a notion that sin is not of so dangerous a nature as the preachers of the gospel represent it to be.
3. Those who are really sensible of the necessity of true repentance and amendment, and yet at the present speak peace to themselves in the practice of unrighteousness, can only find a foundation in an artificial design of securing to themselves both worlds, and of ingrossing more happiness than either God or Nature designed them. This is a mocking of God, but more truly a mocking or deceiving of themselves.
III. HOW WEAK ALL THOSE GROUNDS REALLY ARE, AND HOW GREAT IS THE FOLLY OF ACTING ON THEM. As to the first kind of profane mockers, what is the state of such persons when God takes away their soul? Can they be sure there is no God, and no future state? The hardiest unbeliever never yet pretended to have demonstration in this case. As to the second kind, those who make profession, but live viciously, on a general expectation that sin is less dangerous, and God more merciful than is usually represented, God is not in the least likely to be imposed upon by an outward profession of service, which even an earthly superior would with indignation reject. As to the third kind, those who indulge at present, with promise to themselves of amendment by and by; it may be said that this folly is playing with death and sporting with destruction. It is the folly of letting slip opportunities which may never be retrieved. It is the folly of provoking God to cut us off in His wrath. It is the folly of incapacitating a man's self more and more for the doing of that which yet is of absolute necessity not to be left undone. The longer any man continues in sin, the more difficult it becomes for him to leave it off. He grows hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
(S. Clarke, D.D.)I. IN ITS NATURE. Its evil is most strikingly represented by contrasting it with the character of God, against whom it is committed; and with the law of God, of which it is the transgression.
1. God is a Being of the most perfect excellence, possessed of every attribute that can excite the admiration, love, and esteem of His intelligent creatures. Holiness is the chief and brightest attribute of the Godhead. Sin aims at the destruction of all the perfections of God.
2. The law of God is a transcript of His perfections. It is not only holy and just, but likewise good, calculated to promote the happiness of those who are subject to its authority. Sin is the transgression of the law, and therefore must contain in it a malignity and vileness proportioned to the purity and excellence of the law of God. Sin is the greatest of evils because it is opposite to the greatest good.
II. IN ITS EFFECTS. Within us and around us we contemplate the baneful consequences of this mortal evil. No sorrow or misery of any kind can be named that does not spring from this root of bitterness.
1. See mischief done to the angels who kept not their first estate.
2. Man, formed after his Maker's image, is likewise become a fallen and sinful creature. The calamities of earth bear marks of man's fatal apostasy from God. The whole creation groaneth.
3. The effects of sin are even yet more serious in a future and eternal state.
III. THE VIEWS WHICH PERSONS IN DIFFERENT SITUATIONS ENTERTAIN CONCERNING SIN. These differ according to their different moral characters. The more profligate a man becomes, the less evil he perceives in sin. The purer a man is the clearer and deeper are his convictions of the guilt and danger of transgressing the law of God.
(David Black.)I. THE CHARACTER OF WICKED AND UNGODLY MEN. The phrase "making a mock" sometimes signifies an abusing of others by violent and lewd actions; sometimes an exposing of men to shame and dishonour; sometimes an imposing upon the credulity of others, things that seem incredible and impossible; sometimes it is taken for a failing in our promises. Two other acceptations that are more to the present purpose.
2. Mocking may be taken for slighting, and making no account of; looking upon things or persons as trivial and inconsiderable.
II. THE CENSURE PASSED UPON THEM. They are "fools" who make a mock at sin.
1. They are fools who make a mock at other men's sins, so as to turn them into matter of jest and raillery. Consider what an accursed, horrid thing it is to tempt others to sin only that thou mayest afterwards make sport with them, and raise a scene of mirth out of the ruin of their souls. How desperately impious, wicked wretches they are who sin only to make others sport.
2. They are fools who make a mock at their own sins, so as to think the commission of them but a slight, inconsiderable matter. This will appear from three things. Slight provocations and easy temptations are sufficient to make them rush boldly into the commission of sin. It is very hard to work these men into any true sorrow or compunction for their sins. If they are moved at all with these things; yet they think that a slight and formal repentance will suffice to make amends for all. What is it that induceth and persuadeth wicked men to make so light of their sins?Two answers:
1. Because they see so few instances of God's dread wrath and vengeance executed on sinners in this life; and those rare ones, that are extant and visible, they impute rather to chance than to the retribution of Divine justice.
2. And because it is assumed that God cannot be affected with any real injury, for, as He is not benefited by our service, so He is not wronged by our iniquities. The great and inexcusable folly of making light of sin cannot be surpassed.
(E. Hopkins, D.D.)1. It involves impiety. To mock at sin is to despise God's holiness, to set at nought His authority, to abuse God's goodness, to disregard and slight God's glory, to make light of God's curse and threatened vengeance; which implies a denial of God's truth, and a scornful defiance of God's power.
2. It involves cruelty. There breathes not on earth a more inhuman, a more iron-hearted monster, than the man who "makes a mock at sin."
3. And such mockery is most infatuated. Sin is the evil that is ruining the poor sinner himself — hurrying him to perdition.
(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)I. PROVE THAT THE NAME OF FOOLS IS DUE TO THOSE WHO MOCK AT SIN. There are three ways whereby wicked men seek to justify themselves. By laying the blame of all their evil actions, either upon the fatal necessity of all events, the unavoidable frailty of human nature, or the impossibility of keeping the laws of heaven. These plausible pretences are worthless, and those who plead them are thus declared to be "fools."
II. MAKE PARTICULAR IMPEACHMENT OF THEIR FOLLY, BECAUSE THEY MAKE A MOCK AT SIN. This is proved because —
1. This mocking argues the highest degree of wickedness; and —
2. Betrays the greatest weakness of judgment, and want of consideration. If to sin be folly, to make a mock of it is little short of madness.The folly is seen in view of —
1. Whom they provoke, even the Governor of the world.
2. Whom the injury redounds to.
3. There can be no imaginable consideration thought on which might look like a plausible temptation to it. What is it which the persons who despise religion, and laugh at everything serious, propose to themselves as the reasons for what they do?
(Bp. Stillingfleet.)I. WHO ARE THOSE WHO MAKE A MOCK AT SIN?
1. The man who openly glories in his own wickedness.
2. The man who winks at, or smiles graciously on, the evil deeds of other men, in business, politics, or social life.
3. Those who mock at the reprovers of sin.
4. He who leads others into sin, or encourages others to abide in it. Every man makes a mock at sin who, either in his religious creed, or by his daily conduct, shows that he regards sin as a trifle. If you would understand why God denounces sin as something terrible and monstrous, you must observe its awful consequences, inquiring not merely what sin is, but what sin has done and will do. Sin is a disease of the soul; a paralysis that weakens a leprosy that pollutes, a plague that tortures, a pestilence that destroys the whole spirit within us.
II. WHY ARE SUCH MOCKERS FOOLS? To make a mock at a thing is, in a way, either to treat it or regard it as of little moment. And if the thing is very mighty or great, either in itself or in its influences, such mockery must be foolish.
(C. Wadsworth, D.D.)I. THEY ARE FOOLS WHO MAKE A MOCK AT OTHER MEN'S SINS. Sins which are open and going beforehand unto judgment, are but too often made the occasion of mirth and scoffing. Wine is a mocker, and the man overtaken with it is the butt of his companion's ridicule. Violation of chastity is the chosen theme of many thoughtless persons' merriment. The monstrous liar finds many ready to draw him out, that they may laugh at his folly in supposing they will believe his incredible fictions. God looks on all, and says the mockers are fools, for that which they laugh at is no jesting matter, either in its nature or in its consequences; and let those who have been accustomed even to smile at the sins of others, ponder —
1. What every sin is;
2. What every sin deserves.
II. THEY ARE FOOLS WHO MAKE A MOCK AT SIN IN THEMSELVES, so as to think lightly of it, and treat its commission as an inconsiderable matter.
1. He is a fool who mocks at his sin, taking up a certain guilt on the hope of an uncertain repentance.
2. Supposing you were infallibly certain that repentance would be given, you would still be a fool in mocking at your sin, and going on in it m hope of repentance. For what is repentance? Not an easy, soft balm to the conscience, but the sword of the Spirit cutting into the heart, and piercing even to the dividing asunder of joints and marrow.
3. They are fools who make light of their sins, hoping they will be pardoned, for in so doing they mock at Christ's sufferings.
(G. Innes, M.A.)
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