"Those things" were sins and sinful courses--these words, an argument to dissuade from them; S. Paul's great argument to dissuade from sin and the service of it;--an argument than which there can be no greater, nothing be said more, or more home, against it. Nothing more against it, than that nothing comes of it but shame and ruin; nothing more home, than that which comes home to our own bosoms, makes ourselves the judges, our own consciences and experiences the umpires, of the business. "What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed?" says our Apostle; "ye" yourselves tell me if you can.
"What had he then?" says he to the Romans here. What have ye, now say I to you--ye, whoever you are, still? or what had ye ever, any of you, who have at any time given up your members to uncleanness, or to any iniquity? What have ye gotten by it? Bring in your account; set down the income; reckon up the gains; sum up the expenses and receipts, and tell nee truly what it is. Or, if you be ashamed to tell it, give the Apostle leave to do it. "Fruit" ye had none of it, that is certain; "shame" ye have by it, that is too sure; and "death" you shall have, if you go on in it--[417/418] nothing surer--"for the end of those things is death." What reason, then, to commit or continue in them? That is S. Paul's meaning by the question; as if he had said: Ye have no reason in the world at all to pursue a course so fruitless, so dishonourable, so desperate, as yourselves have found, and will still find, your sins to be.
Thus the text, you see, is a dissuasive from sin and all unrighteousness, drawn here from these four particulars (1.) The fruitlessness and unprofitableness; (2.) The shame and dishonour; (3.) The mischief and damage of it; and (4.) Our own experience of them all. The unprofitableness in the enjoyment, the sinne in the remembrance, the damage in the conclusion of every sin; and our own experience called in to witness to it.
The unprofitableness, (1,) without fruit: "What fruit had ye?" That is, no "fruit" had ye--none at all. There is the fruitlessness of sin--none for the time past.
None, (2,) for the present; nothing but what "ye are now ashamed" of: there is the shame and dishonour of sin.
None, (3,) for the future neither, unless it be death: there is the damage of sin; no fruit, past, present, or to come, but shame and "death."
And all this "ye know," says S. Paul, as well as I. I appeal to yourselves and your own experience: "What fruit had ye?" I dare stand to your own confessions; I dare make yourselves the judges.
Now sum up the argument, and thus it runs:--Were there, (1,) any profit, O ye Romans, in your trade of sin, I might, perhaps, be thought too hard to press so much upon you to persuade you from it. Or though there were no profit, yet, (2,) if there were some credit in it, something perhaps might be said for your continuance in it. Or though there were neither profit, nor credit for the present, yet if, (3,) there were some good might issue from it for the future, or at least the issue not so bad as death, somewhat, peradventure, might be pleaded in the case. Or if this, (1,) were all only in other men's opinions, and ye found it otherwise yourselves, ye night perchance have some excuse at least to go on in sin; but to sin when there is neither profit, nor credit, nor hope, nothing good at any time in it, neither when it is past, [418/419] nor while it is present, nor any yet to come; but all contrary, and we ourselves can witness it by sad experience, for to our own souls and consciences the Apostle here refers it, that so it is,) when we can show no good of what we have done, "are" but "ashamed" of that which can be shown, and can see nothing but "death" and destruction at our heels; after all this to sin still, to sin again, any sin again, we have as little wit, one would think, in it as "fruit" of it, as much senselessness as shame, and are like to make but a sad "end" when all is done. It would be otherwise, would we sit down and think upon it. Ye are set already; set but your thoughts and hearts to ponder and consider what is here set before you--the fruitlessness, the shame, the damage of sin, and your own experiences of them all, and I shall not doubt but you will make the application S. Paul would have you of the text; no longer yield yourselves servants unto unrighteousness, or commit those things whereof ye cannot but presently be ashamed, and be next door to be confounded. Consider we then, first, the fruitlessness or unprofitableness of sin,--see what that will work upon us. "What fruit had ye then?" &c.
"What fruit?" That is, no fruit; for so such kind of questions commonly are resolved into the strongest negatives. No fruit, then, S. Paul means, can be showed of sin; for all fruit is either profitable for use, or pleasurable to the taste, or at least delightful to the sight. But sin is none of these: nothing so unprofitable, so distasteful, so ugly and unseemly as sin is; so, nothing so fruitless.
For profitable fruit (1) there is none in sin. Let us call those profitable and advantageous sins, as men imagine them, of fraud, covetousness, and sacrilege, to a reckoning, and see what comes in by them. Our common proverb tells us, "Covetousness brings nothing home." "The poor and the deceitful man meet together," says the sacred proverb:--even in this sense true, that the deceiver cheats himself, and grows poor by his own deceit; they meet together thus. The prophet Haggai says, it is but "put into a bag with holes," that is taken, or kept back, or but spared from the house of God. Says Solomon too, "It is a snare to the man who devoureth that which is holy"--things dedicated to God's service. And [419/420] is all the fruit of it, all the fruit of sacrilege, come to that, to a snare, or to a halter? Little got by that. But whether to that or no, to a curse it comes: "Ye are cursed with a curse," even no less than a whole elation by it; grown tattered and poor upon it; so far are they from a blessing or enriching by it, because it is "God's blessing" only that truly makes us "rich," and all that is called riches but a curse without it. But suppose this sin, or any other, got what it could desire, even the whole world, as wide, and full, and glorious as it is, yet "what shall it profit a man" though, says Christ. "What fruit" has he of it all? Less far than he that shall sell all he has or hopes, for the point of a pin or the leg of a spider. "He shall not so much as roast that which he has got with all his hunting," is as true of him as of the slothful man. Of all the fruit that he has gathered he has not, it seems, so much as to fill his belly. But if he should eat of it till his guts cracked, he would not thrive upon it; no thriving for body or estate when the soul is lost, for that thriving is worse than nothing.
Well, yet, if there be no profitable fruit of sin, is there (2) no pleasurable neither? Just as little. Examine we the most sensual and delightful sins, and they it must be, if any; yet not they. Drunkenness, that great voluptuous sin, will you behold the goodly fruit it brings? (for profit it brings none); let the "wise man" satisfy you. "Who hath woe--who hath sorrow--who hath contentions--who hath babbling--who hath wounds without cause--who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long," says he, "at the wine, they that go to seek mixed wine." Woe, and sorrow, and contentions, and reproach, and wounds, and sad mourning eyes, at last are the fair fruits and issues of this rare pleasurable wickedness; and sure there is no pleasure in any of these. Nay, even what it pretends to most, it misses. The very wine, as sweet as it relishes at the first, "bites at last," says Solomon, "like a serpent, and stings like an adder,"--little pleasure of all its former sweetnesses; and as little in any other of those sins of sense which claim most to it. The fruit of gluttony: what is it lent dulness, and unwieldiness, gripings, vomitings, and colics, surfeits, aches, and diseases? Of lust what but rottenness in the very bones and marrow? Our [420/421] very vanities tire and clog us, and make us peevish at every trifle. Spiritual wickednesses have less pleasure; envy and malice are their own tormentors; pride cannot so much as please itself; ambition is racked with fears, distracted with visits, and crucified daily with its own greatness; that little inconsiderable point they entitle pleasure, in any of these, is no sooner named than it is gone, and seldom is where the name is given it. But where at the highest, so intermixed it is with bitterness and sorrow that you cannot discern it, or so quickly followed with them, that it is forgotten in a moment. Nay, that sin which seems now-a-days to have all the profit, pleasure, and beauty in it, schism and division, upon the examination, will find none. "They that make divisions among you," says S. Paul, they do but "serve their own belly." "And God shall destroy both it and them." What is gotten then? Whatever it is, the kingdom of heaven is lost by it. Where is then the profit, pleasure, or beauty of it?
But though there be neither profit nor pleasure, no such fruits, is there (3) no beauty neither, no fair fruits in sin to look upon? Are there not so much as the fruits of Sodom, they tell us of, goodly and fair to see to without, though dust and ashes all within? No; not so much as such. Look again upon the drunkard: see him in his cups and revels, and what see you there but a strange disfigured countenance, staring eyes, disordered gestures, words, and looks, and actions, all disguised, ugly, and deformed? Behold next the lascivious wanton in but the addresses to his great sin, his antic postures, his affected follies, his empty discourses, his religious--I should say irreligious--approaches to his adored idol--to say nothing of the sin itself that darkness covers and tell me, if you can, what is handsome in any of his applications? View, thirdly, the passionate, fierce, and angry man; and what is there lovely in his flaming eyes, his furrowed brows, his distracted looks, his frantic carriage, in his loud rantings and raving furies? Call ye the pale and meagre look of the envious or malicious, comely? Is the high carriage of the proud or ambitious, pleasing? Is the close and sour visage of the covetous person, lovely? Nay, has not the face of every sinner surprised in his sin, or afterward [421/422] reflecting on it, a kind of guilt and horror that sensibly discomposes and disorders it? "Then" (and that then is in the text), then, to be sure, you will find all things in that disorder; you must be vain to expect anything handsome or lovely there. Sin itself is nothing else but a deordination or swerving from order and beauty. Bonum and pulchrum are convertible; that only which is truly good is truly fair, and that again only truly fair which is truly good. It is the fault of our eyes if we see otherwise. For if sin were lovely, God would love it; but he hates nothing so much; nothing, indeed, but it. Sin is that only from whence all ugliness and deformity in things or actions. Wheresoever is deformity, or whatsoever is deformed, it is sin that caused it, or sin that is it.
And is not sin now, think you, a lovely piece, that thus disorders the universe, and deforms the whole creation? that brings neither pleasure, nor profit, nor honour with it, to its unhappy servants? "It is an evil and bitter thing," says the prophet Jeremy. There is no pleasure in it. "They" that commit it do but "hatch cockatrices' eggs, and weave the spider's web," says the Prophet Isaiah. There is no profit in it. For "he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper. Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they, cover themselves with their works;" they, whose "works are works of iniquity." What fruits, I pray, are these? or will you call them fruits? If you will, it may be I may help you to some more such: groping for the wall, as if you had no eyes; stumbling at the noon day, as in the night; roaring sore like bears, and mourning like doves, in the forecited chapter. Blindness, and weakness, and sorrow, and mourning, even to roaring; horrors and stings of conscience in abundance, and inability to do good, or help ourselves; such fruits as these you may have now. Our Apostle tells us, besides, of a sad slavery it brings us to. The Psalmist, of a "rain of snares, fire and brimstone, storm and tempest," that falls upon the sinner by it. Crosses and afflictions, punishments and judgments, we everywhere read to be the issues of it. In God's hot displeasure, and man's scorn, and even in the very next wordy, shame also, are the only fruits--if we will [422/423] allow them that name--of those "unfruitful works of darkness," as S. Paul justly styles them.
Well may we now, with him, ask, "What fruits have ye," or ever had ye, in such things as those? What at all, or what worth, if any at all, from those kinds of courses? Nay, what "then" had ye? What had you in the very enjoying, in the very transactions of your sins? Did they either satisfy or content you fully even then? Were ye not either first tired with the pursuit, or fell much short of your expectations, or distasted by some circumstances, or unsatisfied presently when you had accomplished your unhappy and wretched work? But what, however, have ye now left of any of them but the shame? Call it what ye will, that ye have gotten by the most advantageous or pleasing wickedness, say as well of it as you can, give us but leave to discover and rifle it to your faces, and your blushing cheeks, and downcast eyes, and disordered answers, and vain subterfuges and excuses, will witness to your teeth that it is nothing but what ye are now- next, indeed, ashamed of.
II. And shame now is the next property of sin we are to speak of, the true genuine issue of it. For no sooner had Adam tasted the forbidden fruit and sinned, but both he and his co-partner are both presently ashamed, and run away to hide themselves among the thickets of the garden. Oh, how they blush to look upon one another when they had once but eaten; done what they should not! The dye and colour of the forbidden fruit had got presently into their faces; they are ashamed of themselves, though there were none but themselves in the world to see them. Oh, whither should they run? what should they do to cover their nakedness and their shame? Nakedness was no shame at first, till sin came on it; but then they are ashamed even of their nature, so strange a confusion had one single sin brought with it. Nor could all the fig-leaves of Paradise, nor all the shades of the trees and bushes, nor the shadows of the approaching evening cover their new-risen blushes, nor the cool of it allay the heat that raised them in their faces. Shame and sin are inseparable companions; there is no parting them. Shame (1) to be seen of God; they ran from him: the saddest effect that can be, that so parts and hurries us from our Maker as far as possibly [423/424] we can go. Shame (2) to be seen of men: we dare not look upon one another when we have sinned and are discovered. Shame (3) to look upon ourselves; we presently get what fig-leaves we may, make what excuses we can imagine, to cover our own weakness and infirmity. Shame (4) to be seen by any creature; afraid, as it were, of every whisk of wind, every stirring of a bush, ashamed any creature should come nigh us, for fear it should laugh at our folly, deride our infirmity, trample upon our weakness, scorn our acquaintance, and despise our authority, if it should once behold the deformity of our sin.
Thus shame from the very first pressed close upon the heels of sin. And ask the most impudent sinner still--him whom custom has made insensible, and whose face continual sinning has brazened and hardened against the tenderness of a blush,--yet ask him, I say, why he yet seeks corners for the accomplishment of his sin, or the contrivance of his wicked plots? why does he not act it without doors, and before the sun? why, when he has done it with the highest hand, and needs not fear a contradiction, or a power to control or punish him, why he varnishes over his wickedness with false colours, and glosses all his actions either with the name of piety and religion, reformation and purity, justice and integrity, conscience, and I know not what? why he sometimes excuses it with necessity, sometimes extenuates it with infirmity, sometimes pleads ignorance, false information or mistake, sometimes makes one pretence, sometimes another. Does he not evidently and plainly tell you by so doing, he is even ashamed of the things that he has done, though he bear it out with all the confidence he can? He cannot utterly cast off shame, though he has done shamefacedness. We may confidently say to him, Those very things thou even seemest to glory in, thou art really no other than ashamed of.
Now there is a threefold shame, a natural, a virtuous, and a penal shame: a shame (1) that naturally and even against our wills, attends every unhandsome action;--a godly shame, (2) that should always follow upon it;--and (3) a shame that will else ere long pursue it.
(1.) The first, or natural, is that which through the modesty of nature, not yet habituated to the impudence of wickedness, rises ere we are aware, from the guilt and foulness of [424/425] sin, either discovered or feared to be so. That is the reason that "the eye of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight," to hide his reproach,--that the drunkard used in former times (though now grown gallant on it) to be "drunk in the night," being ashamed (as civility went then) to he seen so disguised in the day,--that the heretic and schismatic used in the Apostles' times, (though now grown confident,) to come "creeping" into widows' houses, and hide themselves behind curtains and aprons, ashamed of their schisms, and new doctrines at the first,--that still the thief by night, and the sly cheat, and covetous extortioner, by underhand dealing in the day, strive to conceal the designs and practices which only night and darkness are thought fit to cover, or give a tolerable shadow to. Even our vanities, within a while, make us ashamed of them. We are within a few days in a huge confusion, to be seen in our finest clothes and newest fashions we were the other day so proud of, rather naked than in a fashion that has another grown upon it. Indeed, when any of our sins, great or little, take hold upon us, then, as the Prophet David professes, we are "not able to look up," so ashamed they make us. None but Absolom, none but the wickedest sons of rebellion, sin upon the housetop at noon-day, all the people looking on. Yet even for all that, there must be a tent, even for such as he, some thin veil or other,--some silk or linen scarf or curtain, to cover his wickedness in the upshot;--so natural a fruit and companion is shame to any sin or sinner. Sin is more than sin, when shame is gone, when that is lost.
(2.) Yet if so be this kind of modest shame should be laid asleep awhile, through the custom and habit of a sin, there is a second sort of shame that must be thought on, the shame that accompanies repentance. Sin must have repentance, and repentance will have shame. Yea, what shame? What, or how great, I cannot tell you; but shame it must work, if it be true. Shame of our ingratitude to God,--shame of our unhandsomeness to men,--shame of the disparagement we have done our nature,--shame of the dishonour we have done ourselves in committing things so foul, so brutish, so unreasonable; this, the properest of the three shames, we mentioned to this place, which it seems [425/426] the Romans were here come to; and is a business we are obliged to, to repent us, and be ashamed of our sins, "to be ashamed and blush," with Ezra, "to lift up our faces, because our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespasses grown up into the heavens."
(3.) And if this we be not, there is another gate shame will overtake us: shame (3) and confusion of face. If we be not ashamed of our sins, we shall ere long be ashamed for them--come to shame and dishonour by them; such a kind of shame as the Prophet Isaiah speaks of: "Ye shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens which ye have chosen;" your very enemies shall laugh you to scorn; the very oaks and trees shake their heads at you in derision, your gardens bring you forth no other fruit. All that pass by shall wag their heads, and "hiss" at you. Ye shall be "a curse, and an astonishment, and an hissing, and a reproach to all nations;" and "a shameful spewing shall be on your glory." To this our ill courses will bring us at the last; and yet to worse,--even to death too, "for the end of those things is death." That is the third particular; the third argument against sin, the mischief and damage of it in the end, and comes next to be considered.
III. A sad end truly, and but sorry wages for all the pains and drudgery that sins put us to. S. Paul here thinks it not worth the name of fruit. Yet what fruit sin brings,--if you will call it "fruit,"--it is "unto death." But if there were any other, death so nigh at heeds would devour it add. "Sin when it is finished," when it is at the height, complete and perfected, "it bringeth forth death," says S. James; that is the end God knows. And a threefold death it brings--a temporal, a spiritual, and an eternal death.
(1.) For the first, "Thou shalt die" the death, was threatened to it before it came into the world. And no sooner came it, but death came by it, "death by sin." "And it passed" thence "upon all men," too. All men ever since have been subjected to it--all have died, and all must die for that one sin. Ever after that first sinful morsel, all are become "like the beasts that perish." So that the wisest of men had much ado to distinguish between their ends. "As the one dieth," says he, "so dieth the other; yea, they have all one [426/427] breath, so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast. All go unto one place, all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." Only, indeed, a little after, he perceives a kind of glimmering as it were of the human spirits "going upward;" yet with this lessening, for all that, of "who knoweth" it?--who can certainly demonstrate, and distinguish, and define the difference? So deeply has sin engaged us unto death, that there is no discovering of differences in the grave, between the ashes of a man and of a beast.
(2.) But there is a death before this--a death of the soul before the death of the body; and the much worser of the twain. "The teeth of sin," says the son of Syrach, "are as the teeth of a lion, slaying the souls of men," the very souls. The separation of the body from the soul, which is the temporal death, is but a trifle to the separation of the soul from God, which is the spiritual. This sin brings upon the soul in the very act, if it rather be not it itself: they very act of sin commits the murder, and slays the soul, whilst it is in doing. Zwsa tequjke, says the Apostle of the voluptuous widow that lives in sin or pleasure, she "is dead whilst she is alive." A mere walking carcase a sinner is, a mere motion and engine without life and spirit, when God's spirit and grace (as by sin it does) is departed from him. The fall of the body into the dust of the grave, is nothing so bad as the fall of the soul into the dirt of sin. When our souls are but once deprived of grace and goodness--God's presence so taken from us--they do but wither, and dwindle, and die away; and we only walk like so many ghosts among the graves, in the shades of night and darkness. Did we but consider or understand how miserably the soul crawls along in this condition, when the Eternal Spirit is departed from it, sealed up, as it were, by her transgressions, in the grave of a customary wickedness--adding still one iniquity to another, wholly insensible of any good, as the dead body--we would say the natural death were nothing like it, the grave but a bed of rest and sleep, whilst sin were the very torments of death itself. Nay, the very pangs and horrors of death that make way to it, but little flea-bitings to the stings and terrors of conscience [427/428 that often follow upon our sins, upon the loss of God's favour and presence.
(3.) And yet there is a third death worse than both these--eternal death. From the two former we may rise again. The dust will one day breathe again, and the soul, after the departure of God's Spirit, may again retrieve it and recover; but once within the regions of eternal death, and there for ever. Body lost, and soul lost, and God lost, for ever. An end, indeed, without an end; an end of good, but no end of evil; where the worm is ever dying, yet ever gnawing; the fire dark as the most dismal night, yet ever burning; the body eternally separated from all the comforts of the soul, yet the soul ever in it; the soul for all eternity cast out of the land of the living. Separated irreconcilably from God's presence, the only fountain of joy and life and being, and yet continually and everlastingly feeling the horrors of this intolerable parting from him. "Go, ye cursed, into the everlasting fires," is the sentence long since passed upon the ungodly and the sinner, by our blessed Saviour. The very Heathen, notwithstanding the ignorance they were in, they were not ignorant of this, that "they commit such things are worthy of death;" so says the Apostle. And be the sinner who it will, and his "way" never so "plain" and easy, never so specious, yet "at the end t hereof is the pit of hell," says the son of Syrach.
He that promises himself any better end of his sins or sinful courses,--he that flatters and feeds himself with any other end of his ambition, or his treason, of his faction, or his sedition, of his covetousness, or his sacrilege, of his uncleanness, or his unjustice, or any other sin, (I name no more, for I leave every one to reckon up his own,)--he that flatters himself, I say, with any other end of any of them to make himself forget this, does but deceive himself, and fool away his soul beyond recovery. Here is all the fruit he is like to get,--the only end he will certainly find at last,--everlasting death; an end without an end, without anything in life to sweeten the approaches of death; without anything in death, fruit or leaves, to garnish up the chambers of the grave; or any bud of hope to allay the misery and sadness of it. And we need no other witness of all this, [428/429] neither of the little or no fruit, nor of the great and horrid shame, nor of the vast and miserable ruin that comes of sin, but our own selves. "What had ye?" says our Apostle; ye can show no fruit; "ye are now ashamed." And ye cannot be ignorant that death is coming on. I here refer it to you; say what you can in the behalf of it; I desire none other witnesses nor judges than yourselves. "What fruit had ye, then, in those things whereof you are now ashamed?" Tell me if you can.
(IV.) Indeed, there is none can tell so well as the sinner can himself, what he has gotten by his sin; whether we consider him as one reflecting upon his ways, only as a person of reason should, or else as a Christian will.
For (1) let any of us, as men of reason, lay together the weary steps, the hard adventures, the vexatious troubles, the ordinary disappointments, the impertinent visits, the thoughtful nights, the busy days, the tumultuous uproars of our fears, our jealousies, our hopes, our despairs; the unworthy condescensions, the base disparagements, the dishonourable enterprises; that a lust, that a humour, that a vanity puts us too, or puts upon us; and then compare them with the lightness, the shortness, the unprofitableness, the unsatisfactoriness, the eternal shame and confusion we yet after all purchase with all that toil; and we must both needs confess that we have done brutishly and unreasonably, and cannot but be ashamed we have so unmanned ourselves, and betrayed the very essence and glory of our nature: not done like men.
But (3) let us renew the same reflections, and view them over and over again by the light of grace; look upon ourselves as Christians thus wretchedly betraying our God for a lust, Christ for an interest, our religion for a fancy, our obedience for a humour, our charity for a ceremony, our peace for a punctilio, our duty to God and man, for a little vain applause of, peradventure, ungodly men; our innocence for dirt and pleasure, our eternal glory and salvation for toys and trifles; and will we not without more ado confess we are ashamed, infinitely ashamed of it? Hear but those brave ranting blades, those gallant sinners, what they say themselves: "What hath pride profited us," say they [429/430] "or what good have riches with our vaunting brought us?" as if in sum they had said, What have all our sins procured us?" Why, "all those are passed away like a shadow," and we are "consumed in our wickedness." Now indeed, though there too late, they begin to talk like men,--to speak reason.
The Christian penitent, after he has run the course of sin, and is now returning, talks somewhat higher, calls it a prison, the stocks, the dungeon, the very nethermost hell; thinks no words bad enough to style it by. We need not put any on the rack for this confession: they go mourning and sighing it all the day long; they tell you sensibly by their tears and blushes,--by their sad countenances, and downcast looks,--by their voluntary confessions, their willing restraints now put upon themselves, their pining, punishing, afflicting of their souls and bodies, their wards and watches now ever every step, lest they should fall again--that never were any poor souls so gulled into a course, so vain, so unprofitable, so dishonourable, so full of perplexities, so fruitful of anxieties, so bitter, so unpleasant as sin has been, nor anything whereof they are so much ashamed. No fruit of all you see, even ourselves being judges.
And yet I will not send you away without some fruit or other--somewhat after all this--that may do you good.
For, (1) methinks, if sin have no better fruits, if wickedness come no better off, we may first learn to be ashamed, and blush to think of it,--be ashamed of sin.
We may, (2) learn to beat it off thus at its first assaults. What! Thou sin, thou lust,--what fruit shall I have in thee?--what good shall I reap of thee? Do I not see shame attend thee, and death behind thee? I am ashamed already to think upon thee; away, away, thou impudent solicitress,--I love no such fruit,--I love no such end.
And if, (3) we be so unhappy as to be at any time unawares engaged in any sin, let us strike off presently upon the arguments of the text. For why should we be so simple,--to take a course that will not profit,--to take pains to weave a web that will not cover us,--to plant tress that will yield no fruit,--to range after fruit that has no pleasure,--to court that which has no loveliness? If we can expect nothing from our sins, (as you have heard that we cannot,) why do we sweat [430/431] about them? If they bring home nought by shame, why are we not at first ashamed to commit them? If they end in death, why will ye die, O foolish people and unwise?
Lastly, you that have led a course of sin, and are yet perhaps still in it, sit down and reckon every one of you with himself, what you have gotten. Imprimis, so much cost and charges; item, so much pains and labour, so much care and trouble, so much loss and damage, so much unrest and disquiet, so much hatred and ill-will, so much disparagement and discredit, so many anxieties and perplexities, so many weary walks, so much waiting and attendance, so many griefs and aches, so many infirmities and diseases, so many watches and broken sleeps, so many dangers and distresses, so many butter throbs, and sharp stings, and fiery scorchings of a wounded conscience; so much, and so much, and so much misery, all for a few minutes of pleasure; for a little white and yellow dirt. For a feather or a fly, a buzz of honour or applause, a fancy or a humour for a place of business, or vexation summed up all in air, and wind, and dust, and nothing. Learn thus to make a daily reflection upon yourselves and sins.
But after all these, remember, lastly, it is death, eternal death, everlasting misery, hell and damnation without end, that is the end of sin; that all this everlasting is for a thing that is never lasting, a thing that vanishes often in its doing; all this death for that only which is the very shame of life, and even turns it into death; and surely you will no longer yield your members, your souls and bodies to iniquity unto iniquity, but unto righteousness unto holiness. So shall ye happily comply with the Apostle's argument in the text, and draw it, as he would have you, to the head; do what he intends and aims at by it, and by so doing attain that which he desires you should; make yourselves the greatest gainers can be imagined; gain good out of evil, glory out of shame, life out of death, all things out of nothing, eternal life, everlasting glory. Which, &c.