Page images
PDF
EPUB

have not that. For St. Paul's message to him is, that the wages of his sin is death, not merely to himself, but to others—to his family and children above all. So St. Paul declares in what he says of his doctrine of original or birth sin, by which, as the Article says, every man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth against the spirit.

St. Paul's doctrine is simple and explicit. Death, he says, reigned over Adam's children, even over those who had not sinned after the likeness of Adam's transgression; agreeing with Moses, who declares God to be one who visits the sins of the fathers on the children, to the third and fourth generation of those who hate him. But how the sinner will shrink from this message—and shrink the more, the more feeling he is; the less he is wrapped up in selfishness. Yes, that message gives us such a view of the sinfulness of sin as none other can. It tells us why God hates sin with so unextinguishable a hatred, just because he is a God of Love. It is not that man's sin injures God, insults God, as the heathen fancy. Who is God, that man can stir him up to pride, or wound or disturb his everlasting calm, his selfsufficient perfectness ? God is tempted of no man,' says St. James. No. God hates sin. He loves all, and sin harms all; and the sinner may be a torment and a curse, not only, to himself, not only to those around him, but to children yet unborn.

This is bad news; and yet sinners must hear it. They must hear it not only put into words by Moses, or by St. Paul, or by any other inspired writer; but they must hear it likewise in that perpetual voice of God which we call facts.

Let the sinner who wishes to know what original sin means, and how actual sin in one man breeds original sin in his descendants, look at the world around him, and see. Let him see how St. Paul's doctrine and the doctrine of the Ten Commandments are proved true by experience and by fact: how the past, and how the present likewise, show us whole families, whole tribes, whole

aristocracies, whole nations, dwindling down to imbecility, misery, and destruction, because the sins of the fathers are visited on the children.

Physicians, who see children born diseased ; born stupid, or even idiotic; born thwart-natured, or passionate, or false, or dishonest, or brutal,they know well what original sin means, though they call it by their own name of hereditary tendencies. And they know, too, how the sins of a parent, or of a grandparent, or even a great-grandparent, are visited on the children to the third and fourth generation; and they say, 'It is a law of nature:' and so it is. But the laws of nature are the laws of God who made her; and his law is the same law by which death reigns even over those who have not sinned after the likeness of Adam; the law by which (even though if Christ be in us, the spirit is life, because of righteousness) the body, nevertheless, is dead, because of sin.

Parents, parents, who hear my words, beware -if not for your own sakes, at least for the sake of your children, and your children's children ; lest the wages of your sin should be their death.

And by this time, surely, some of you will be asking, "What has he said? That there is no escape; that there is no forgiveness ?'

None whatsoeve my friends, though you were to cry to heaven for ever and ever, save the one old escape of which you hear in the church every Sunday morning : “When the ' wicked man turneth away from his wicked'ness that he hath committed, and doeth that 'which is lawful and right, he shall save his 'soul alive.'

What, does not the blood of Christ cleanse us from all sin ?

Yes, from all sin. But not necessarily from the wages of all sin.

Judge for yourselves, my friends, again. Listen to the voice of God revealed in facts. If you, being a drunkard, have injured your constitution by drink, and then are converted, and repent, and turn to God with your whole soul, and become, as you may, if you will, a truly penitent, good and therefore sober man, will

that cure the disease of your body? It will certainly palliate and easeit: because, instead of being drunken, you will have become sober : but still you will have shortened your days by your past sins; and in so far, even though the Lord has put away your sin, its wages still remain, as death.

So it is, my friends, if you will only believe it, or rather see it with your own eyes, with every sin, and every sort of sin.

You will see, if you look, that the Article speaks exact truth when it says, that the infection of nature doth remain, even in those that are regenerate. It says that of original sin: but it is equally true of actual sin.

Would to God that all men would but believe this, and give up the too common and too dangerous notion, that it is no matter if they go on wrong for a while, provided they come right at last !

No matter? I ask for facts again. Is there a man or woman in this church twenty years old who does not know that it matters ? Who does not know that, if they have done wrong

F .

« PreviousContinue »