Use sin as it will use you; spare it not, for it will not spare you: it is your murderer, and the murderer of the world: use it, therefore, as a murderer should be used. Kill it before it kills you; and though it kill your bodies, it shall not be able to kill your souls; and though it bring you to the grave, as it did your Head, it shall not be able to keep you there.
A few sensual and voluptuous persons may, for a season, eclipse this native light of the soul; but can never so wholly smother and extinguish it but that, at some lucid intervals, it will recover itself again, and shine forth to the conviction of their conscience.
The sinner is not only liable to that disappointment of success which so often prostrates all the designs of men, but liable to a disappointment still more cruel, of being successful and miserable at once.
Every sin the oftener it is committed, the more it acquireth in the quality of evil; as it succeeds in time, so it proceeds in degrees of badness: for as they proceed they ever multiply, and, like figures in arithmetic, the last stands for more than all that went before it. And though I think that no man can live well once but he that could live twice, yet for my own part I would not live over my hours past, or begin again the thread of my days: not upon Ciceros ground, because I have lived them well, but for fear I should live them worse.
Sin implies that God is unworthy a being. Every sin is a kind of cursing God in the heart; an aim at the destruction of the being of God; not actually, but virtually; not in the intention of every sinner, but in the nature of every sin. That affection which excites a man to break His law, would excite him to annihilate His being if it were in his power. A man in every sin aims to set up his own will as his rule, and his own glory as the end of his actions, against the will and glory of God; and could a sinner attain his end, God would be destroyed. God cannot outlive His will and His glory; God cannot have another rule but His own will; nor another end but His own honour.
Do not men then disown God when they will walk in ways edged with thorns, wherein they meet with the arrows of conscience, at every turn, in their sides; and slide down to an everlasting punishment, sink under an intolerable slavery, to contradict the will of God? when they will prefer a sensual satisfaction, with a combustion in their consciences, violation of their reasons, gnawing cares and weary travels before the honour of God, the dignity of their natures, the happiness of peace and health, which might be preserved at a cheaper rate than they are at to destroy them?
Were the life of man prolonged, he would become such a proficient in villainy that it would be necessary again to drown or to burn the world. Earth would become an hell: for future rewards, when put off to a great distance, would cease to encourage, and future punishments to alarm.
There is more bitterness following upon sins ending than ever there was sweetness flowing upon sins acting. You that see nothing but well in its commission will suffer nothing but woe in its conclusion; you that sin for your profits will never profit by your sin.
We have such an habitual persuasion of the general depravity of human nature, that in falling among strangers we always reckon on their being irreligious, till we discover some specific indication of the contrary.
That a creature formed for an endless duration should be disposed to turn his attention from that object, and to contract his views and prospects within a circle which, compared to eternity, is but a mathematical point, is truly astonishing; and, as it is impossible to account for it from the natural constitution of the mind, it must originate in some great moral cause. It shows that some strange catastrophe has befallen the species; that some deep and radical malady is inherent in the moral system.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.
Many whose gayety has been eclipsed, and whose thoughtless career of irreligion and dissipation has experienced a momentary check, will doubtless soon return with eager impetuosity to the same course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. The same amusements will enchant, the same society corrupt, and the same temptations ensnare them; with this very important difference, that the effort necessary to surmount the present impression will superinduce a fresh degree of obduration, by which they will become more completely accoutred in the panoply of darkness. The next visitation, though it may be in some respects more affecting, because more near, will probably impress them less; and as death has penetrated the palace in vain, though it should even come up into their chamber and take away the delight of their eyes at a stroke, they will be less religiously moved.
Robert Hall: Funeral Sermon for the Princess Charlotte.
This going on not only in terrors and amazement of conscience, but also boldly, hopingly, confidently, in wilful habits of sin, is called a desperateness also; and the more bold thus, the more desperate.
Although we cannot be free from all sin collectively, in such sort that no part thereof shall be found inherent in us; yet distributively at the least, all great and grievous actual offences, as they offer themselves one by one, both may and ought to be by all means avoided.
If, therefore, he whose crimes have deprived him of the favour of God can reflect upon his conduct without disturbance, or can at will banish the reflection; if he who considers himself as suspended over the abyss of eternal perdition only by the thread of life, which must soon part by its own weakness, and which the wing of every minute may divide, can cast his eyes round him without shuddering with horror, or panting for security; what can he judge of himself but that he is not yet awakened to sufficient conviction, since every loss is more lamented than the loss of the divine favour, and every danger more dreaded than the danger of final condemnation?
Were the visage of sin seen at a full light, undressed and unpainted, it were impossible, while it so appeared, that any one soul could be in love with it, but would rather flee from it as hideous and abominable.
Every man has a Paradise around him till he sins, and the angel of an accusing conscience drives him from his Eden. And even then there are holy hours, when this angel sleeps, and man comes back, and with the innocent eyes of a child looks into his lost Paradise again,into the broad gates and rural solitudes of nature.
Few of our errors, national or individual, come from the design to be unjustmost of them from sloth, or incapacity to grapple with the difficulties of being just. Sins of commission may not, perhaps, shock the retrospect of conscience. Large and obtrusive to view, we have confessed, mourned, repented, possibly atoned them. Sins of omission, so veiled amidst our hourly emotionsblent, confused, unseen, in the conventional routine of existenceAlas! could these suddenly emerge from their shadow, group together in serried mass and accusing orderalas, alas! would not the best of us then start in dismay, and would not the proudest humble himself at the Throne of Mercy!
Lord Edward Bulwer-Lytton: What Will He Do With It? ch. xviii.
Once upon the inclined road of error, and there is no swiftness so tremendous as that with which we dash adown the plane, no insensibility so obstinate as that which fastens on us through the quick descent. The start once made, and there is neither stopping nor waking until the last and lowest depth is sounded. Our natural fears and promptings become hushed with the first impetus, and we are lost to everything but the delusive tones of sin, which only cheat the senses and make our misery harmonious. Farewell all opportunities of escapethe strivings of consciencethe faithful whisperings of shame, which served us even when we stood trembling at the fatal point! Farewell the holy power of virtue, which made foul things look hideous, and good things lovely, and kept a guard about our hearts to welcome beauty and frighten off deformity! Farewell integrityjoyrestand happiness.
Sin can have no tenure by law at all, but is rather an eternal outlaw, and in hostility with law past all atonement: both diagonal contraries, as much allowing one another as day and night together in one hemisphere.
Sin and hedge-hogs are born without spikes, but how they wound and prick after their birth we all know. The most unhappy being is he who feels remorse before the (sinful) deed, and brings forth a sin already furnished with teeth in its birth, the bite of which is soon prolonged into an incurable wound of the conscience.
Guilt, though it may attain temporal splendour, can never confer real happiness. The evident consequences of our crimes long survive their commission, and, like the ghosts of the murdered, forever haunt the steps of the malefactor.
Sin, taken into the soul, is like a liquor poured in a vessel; so much of it as it fills, it also seasons: the touch and tincture go together: so that although the body of the liquor should be poured out again, yet still it leaves that tang behind it.
Though sin offers itself in never so pleasing and alluring a dress at first, yet the remorse and inward regrets of the soul upon the commission of it infinitely overbalance those faint and transient gratifications it affords the senses.
The wages that sin bargains with the sinner are life, pleasure, and profit; but the wages it pays him with are death, torment, and destruction: he that would understand the falsehood and deceit of sin thoroughly must compare its promises and its payments together.
Compare the harmlessness, the credulity, the tenderness, the modesty, and the ingenious pliableness to virtuous counsels, which is in youth untainted, with the mischievousness, the slyness, the craft, the impudence, the falsehood, and the confirmed obstinacy in an aged long-practised sinner.
The last fatal step is, by frequent repetition of the sinful act, to continue and persist in it, till at length it settles into a fixed confirmed habit of sin; which, being that which the apostle calls the finishing of sin, ends certainly in death; death not only as to merit, but also as to actual infliction.
Fearful it is to consider that sin does not only drive us into calamity, but it makes us also impatient, and embitters our spirit in the sufferance: it cries aloud for vengeance, and so torments men before the time even with such fearful outcries, and horrid alarms, that their hell begins before the fire is kindled. It hinders our prayers, and consequently makes us hopeless and helpless. It perpetually affrights the conscience, unless by its frequent stripes it brings a callousness and an insensible damnation upon it. It makes us to lose all that which Christ purchased for us,all the blessings of his providence, the comforts of his Spirit, the aids of his grace, the light of his countenance, the hopes of his glory.
Jeremy Taylor: Twenty-five Sermons Preached at Golden Grove: XXII., Apples of Sodom.
I have seen the little purls of a spring sweat through the bottom of a bank, and intenerate the stubborn pavement, till it hath made it fit for the impression of a childs foot; and it was despised, like the descending pearls of a misty morning, till it had opened its way and made a stream large enough to carry away the ruins of the undermined strand, and to invade the neighbouring gardens: but then the despised drops were grown into an artificial river, and an intolerable mischief. So are the first entrances of sin stopped with the antidotes of a hearty prayer, and checked into sobriety by the eye of a reverend man, or the counsels of a single sermon: but when such beginnings are neglected, and our religion hath not in it so much philosophy as to think anything evil as long as we can endure it, they grow up to ulcers and pestilential evils; they destroy the soul by their abode, who at their first entrance might have been killed with the pressure of a little finger. He that hath passed many stages of a good life, to prevent his being tempted to a single sin, must be very careful that he never entertain his spirit with the remembrances of his past sin, nor amuse it with the fantastic apprehensions of the present. When the Israelites fancied the sapidness and relish of the flesh-pots, they longed to taste and to return.
As it is the very nature of sin to bring disorder into the creation of God, so its natural consequences are pernicious to the sinful creature! Every act of wilful sin tends to deface the moral image of God in the soul, and ruin the best part of his workmanship. It warps the mind aside from its chief good, and turns the heart away from God and all that is holy. Sin forms itself in the heart into an evil principle and habit of disobedience: one sin makes way for another, and increases the wretched trade of sinning. A frequent breaking the restraints of law and conscience not only strengthens the inclination to vice, but it enfeebles the voice and power of conscience to withhold us from sin: it sets man a-running in the paths of intemperance and malice, folly and madness, down to perdition and misery. It many times brings painful diseases upon the body, and it is the spring of dreadful sorrows in the soul. All these are the natural consequences of sin.
Dr. Isaac Watts: Of the Moral Law, and the Evil of Sin.
The only disturber of men, of families, cities, kingdoms, worlds, is sin: there is no such trouble, no such traitor to any state, as the wilfully wicked man; no such enemy to the public as the enemy of God.