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deth in death. Wherever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no munerer hath eternal Ke ati ing in him." And it is positively derisrel, in Eptesians that the covetous man is an idolator." The whole law has been sonmed up by the Great Teacher in these words: “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all the min l. This is the first and great commandine: t. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thoseli. On these two commandments hang all the law and the propheta." Wait of supreme lore to Gol, and of pure, ardent love to man, will make us trausgressors. If we take this simple rule as our guide, we shall soon see that all men have sizned; and, by the application of this universal rule to our own hearts and lives, we may easily and speedily ascertain whether or not we are now living in sin. It behoves us to examine ourselves; for most assurediy sin will withhold good things from 116.
That sin withholds good things from men is clearly stated in the Bible; and the declarations of God's Word are corroborated by all history and all experience. Jeremiah, writing to the Jewish nation, says, “ Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have withholden good things from you." Isaiah, writing to the same people, says, “ Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and vour sins have hid his face from you that he will not hear." These passages are applicable to sinners in every age, in every station, and in every place. They are as applicable in the nineteenth century as they were in the days of the prophets who wrote them. Sin never alters; and God's hatred to sin never changes. No matter what the condition of men who commit sin—they may be rich or poor, learned or illiterate, civilized or barbarous, bond or free, it matters not; if they commit sin, good things are withheld from them. No matter where they dwell, east, west, north, or south, if they sin, good things are withheld from, and the wrath of God abideth upon, them. How few consider this solemn Bible fact, which all history and all experience corroborate! “There be many that say, Who will show us any good ?” but few that believe that sin withholds from them the good they need. Yet this is the case. From sinners temporal good is not always withheld ; they often enjoy the greatest amount of temporal prosperity, while God's people have to eat the bread of sorrows and drink the waters of adversity. Temporal good God often permits his greatest enemies to enjoy. But oh, it is their all of good; and even temporal good will in the end prove a curse, when God requires men to give an account of their stewardship, and punishes them for having received the gifts of Providence without loving, adoring, and serving the bountiful Giver, and for having turned his blessings into occasions for sinning the more against him. From those who love and practise sin, however, all spiritual good, all the rich blessings of divine grace, are withheld. From them is withheld the Divine favour—the light of God's counte. nance, which David so much prized, and which he so earnestly desired when he said, “I intreated thy favour with my whole heart. Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness into my heart more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. I will both lay me down and sleep: for thou, Lord, only canst make me dwell in safety.” “In his favour there is life," and his “ lovingkindness is better than life.” The favour of God imparts to the mind “ peace . . . whichi passeth all understanding;" "joy unspeakable and full of glory" takes away the fear of death-yea, casts out all fear which hath torment, and enables its possessor to “ rejoice in hope of the glory of God." The wealth, the honours, the pleasures of the world cannot give blessings like these. These inestimable blessings, which flow from the favour of God, sin withholds from all sinners. They are strangers to peace: “ the way of peace they have not known." They know nothing of Christian joy; they are “through fear of death all their lifetime subject to bondage;" they are emphatically “ without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” God will not give the blessings of religion to men who love and practise sin. Sinners in this country have great privileges which many other nations do not possess; but what the better are they for these privileges ? The Gospel plan of salvation is fully made known in this land; but sinners do not believe the doctrines and practise the duties of the religion of Christ ; therefore they do not enjoy the blessings thereof. They are surrounded with light, but they *sit in darkness and the shadow of death.” The tree of life is planted in their midst, and its fruit shakes like Lebanon ; but they are famishing in the midst of plenty. The pure river of the water of life, clear as crystal, flows through the land ; but they remain parched, barren and polluted. Sin withholds good things from them. I'rom sinners are withheld all the sweet influences and gracious operations of the Holy Spirit. They know nothing of the Holy Spirit but as a Reprover. He reproves them “of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment:" but they know him not as the Guide, the Comforter, the Sanctifier, the Intercessor in the heart, and the Earnest of heaven. He guides them not unto truth; he comforts them not in trouble; he sanctifies them not from sin; he helps not their infirmities by making intercession for them with groanings which cannot be uttered ; and he gives them not the blessed seal which is the earnest of our heavenly inheritance. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against which there is no law;" but sin withholds this blessed fruit from every sinner. And of every sinner it may be said, “He feedeth on ashes ; à deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand ?" In short, everything which could make sinners truly honourable and fully happy has been withheld.
Sin not only withholds good things, but it will for ever withhold them from all who will not confess and forsake their sins. Sin will withhold from the sinner all the enjoyments of heaven, which are spiritual in their nature and eternal in their duration. “Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.” “Oh, how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee," O Lord ! " Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” Divine Revelation has so far lifted the veil of cternity, that though we cannot fully comprehend the great and the good “ things which God has prepared for them that love him,” and “ laid up for them that fear him” in heaven, yet we clearly discover that there is a heaven of peace and joy and love for the righteous—" an eternal Weignt of glory," " 1 crown of te robes of spotiass parity, palms of victory, “an everlasting kinzilcm. - an inbericance incorrupcible, undefiled, and which falech not away; and there - thes shall hanger Do more, neither thirst any more: Deither shali the sun lizat on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the miist of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains OC waters : and God shall wipe away ail tears from their eres." But these great and good things can never be enjoyed bv singers unbrziren, uncleansed, unsaved. It is written, - Without holiness no min bil see the Lord." Into the glorious city of God - there shall in no wise enter anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abominatico or maneth a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of Hea-Ezt the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, ani whoremungers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which barneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."
Sin is the cause of all evil, - both in this world anii that which is to come. It changed wise, holy and happv angels into devils, caused them to be cast out of heaven, and to be * reserved in chains of darkness anto the judgment of the great day." Sin expelled our first parents from the garden of Eden, and has a brought death into the world, with all our woe." Sin caused the bottomless pit to be made—the undying worms to be created—the unquenchable fire to be lighted; it peoples the regions of despair with inhabitants, and ever causes the caverns of perdition to resound with “weeping, wailing, and goashing of teeth." Sin brooght the delage upon the antediluvians, and wrapped the cities of the plain in flames, which reduced them to ashes, and utterly consumed their inhabitants. Sin has destroyed the mightiest empires, and laid the proudest cities in ruins. Sin has undone the ancient people of God and made them “an astonishment, a byword, a hissing, and a reproach“ among the nations of the earth. Sin has afflicted our race with innumerable physical, moral and spiritual evils. There is not a sigh heaved, a groan uttered, nor a sorrowful tear shed, but sin occasions. And if we do not repent of and forsake sin, it will soon cause us to be cast, soul and body, into hell, “ into the fire that never shall be quenched: where the worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Would we be saved from this fearful, this inconceivable punishment, then we must be delivered from all sin. It becomes us to bestir ourselves, and awake out of sleep; for we have no time to lose. Death is at our doors, and “Hell and destruction are moved from beneath" to meet the sinner at his entrance into the eternal world. If we are not delivered from sin in this life, we cannot be saved in the world to come. “The sinner is driven away in his wickedness." The time is at hand when it will be said, “ He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still ; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still ; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." There is no purgatory in a future world to free us from sin and make us fit for heaven. We may hope for salvation in this world, but not after we have left it; for while we are on this side the grave there is mercy with God for the vilest sinner, but there is no mercy for the dead. There is now a Saviour able and willing to save to the uttermost; but there is no Saviour for the dead. There is now a sanctifier to purify the unclean; but there is no Banctifier for the dead. There are now invitations free and full-promises exceeding great and precious; but no invitation was ever sent to
the dead, no promise of forgiveness was ever made to the damned. There is now a mercy-seat; and all who will may “come boldly to the throne of grace and obtain mercy, and find grace to help them in the time of need ;" but there is no mercy-seat for the dead. We have now the Holy Scriptures to make us wise unto salvation ; but there is no Bible in hell. Now we may frequent the sanctuary, and the preaching of the Word may be the power of God unto salvation; but there is no sanctuary in the bottomless pit, and none to tell lost souls words whereby they may be saved. Death decides our character and our destiny for ever, and death places the sinner for ever beyond the reach of happiness and hope. Surely, then, it becomes us, highly becomes us, to awake out of sleep, and seek salvation from sin with the greatest earnestness. God takes no pleasure in our present misery and future damnation. Nothing but sin prevents him from bestowing good things upon us. If we give up sin, he will remove all our misery which sin occasions, and remit the punishment due to our past transgressions. God can be faithful and just, and yet forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Christ has died to atone for our sins. He “ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." Christ “God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood; to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." If we continue in sin, it will ruin us for ever; but if, with penitent hearts and believing minds, we repair to Christ, he will save us to the uttermost—from all the guilt, from all the power, from all the pollution, from all the misery, and from all the punishment of sin he will save us. If we have one desire to escape hell and reach heaven, we must go instantly to Jesus, the sinner's friend, the sinner's advocate, the sinner's refuge, and cast ourselves entirely upon his clemency, and all will be well; for he has said, “ Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.”
Sin withholds good things from the professed followers of Christ. Many of us have to complain of the want of spirituality of mind, the want of freedom in the discharge of spiritual duties, the want of enjoyment in the means of grace. Wandering thoughts, deadness of affection, improper feelings are often subjects of complaint. We have been long connected with the Church, but many of us are mere babes in Christ still. We have brought forth little fruit to the glory of God. Whatever can be the cause? Our “sins have withholden good things from us." We have harboured some secret sins, or we have indulged some things positively forbidden in the word of God, or we have neglected some well-known Christian duty, which neglect is as much sin as the breaking of one of the ten commandments would be. If we are fully to enjoy the “good things" which God bestows, we must be cleansed from “ secret faults,” we must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which does so easily beset us," we must faithfully perform what God requires. If we are not delivered from all sin our spiritual taste will become so vitiated and our mental vision so darkened, that we cannot "taste and see that the Lord is good.” If we regard iniquity in the heart, our prayers will not be heard, our praises will be like sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal, our worship will be vain. God ever requires truth in the inward parts; purity of speech and uprightness in deed. “We cannot serve God and mammon.” Light has no fellowship with darkness; and Christ has no concord with Belial. We must be decidedly pious, and constantly pious, or good things will be withheld from us. If we part with all sin, then we shall grow in grace, then wisdom's ways will be “ ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace," then will God “withhold no good thing" from us. “For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, wisdom, and knowledge, and joy; but to the sinner he giveth travail, to gather and to heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God.” It is a shame that we, who have believed in Christ, are not more like him! It is a shame that we are not filled with good things! God does not wish us to be partially supplied. His will is our sanctification-our entire sanctification. He would grant us, “according to his riches in glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man ; that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith : that we, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that we might be filled with the fulness of God.” Our sins alone keep us from the full enjoyment of these inestimable blessings. Let us, then, resist sin; and the more we resist it the more will God bless us; the more God blesses the greater will be our power over sin; and soon we shall become so strong that we shall be able to “ crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Then will God, even our own God, bless us abundantly with good things.
Sin withholds good things from our Churches. The history of the Jews and of the Seven Churches of Asia are evidence of this fact. That sin withheld good things from God's ancient people—the Jewish Church
-is asserted by nearly all the prophets. In Haggai we read, “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little ; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the Lord of Hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man to his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands.” (Hag. i. 9–11.) Malachi says, “ Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of Hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse : for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of Hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed : for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of Hosts." (Mal. iii. 7-12.) Whoever carefully studies these declarations will at once perceive that sin alone withheld good things from the ancient people of God. Nor