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not return to us. But if they could speak to us, and from the unseen world ; if they could warn those whom they would most care to warn, how would they not enforce upon us the meaning both of this awful sentence, “ The soul that sinneth, it shall die :" and of that blessed assurance which we hear so often and so heedlessly, “ When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive !" Amongst them are our forefathers, from whom we may think we inherit much evil; we have their sins visited upon us, and are fallen by their iniquity. Doubtless, when they were here, they thought the same of those who had gone before them ; but the moment the soul knows what it is to bave an earnest of God's Presence, whether for good or for evil, whether in mercy or in judgment, in proportion as a soul really knows what it is to be naked and open in the sight of an All-seeing Judge, all these thoughts must pass and melt away. Alas ! my brethren, how little will such excuses avail us in that day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and every soul shall bear its own burden before the judgment-seat of CHRIST!
Consider, too, if we have had the sins, the evil nature, the evil influence, and evil example of the wicked, have we not each, also, the prayers and tears, and good example of the righteous who have
? Is all evil which we inherit from the past? If Almighty God visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Him, does He not show mercy unto thousands of generations in them that love Him and keep His commandments ? Does not the merciful kindness of the Lord endure for ever and ever upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness upon children's children, even upon such as keep His covenant and think upon His commandments to do them?
As we are so ready to lay our sins at the door of others, ought we not also to think with gratitude how many a good thought and holy desire we owe, under Almighty God and His good Spirit, to the secret intercession of those who are gone from us, and whom we have never seen? This is a very touching and most tender thought, and I am sure must be a very right and true one. When the great Saint Augustine, I mentioned last
Sunday, whose broken heart has touched so many hearts in all ages and all countries, was converted, and poured out his broken heart before God, he did not lay his sin at the door of others; yet he seems to have remembered with deep affection and gratitude the prayers and tears and holy conversation of his mother, He confessed his own sin as his own: of his conversion he gave God the glory, and treasured up the remembrance of her as the pious instrument in His hands towards effecting it.
And, oh! that all would lay to heart this. If it, indeed, be true, that the sins of the fathers are visited upon the children,if one generation does wrong, and the next suffers for it,—what would those fathers do if they were again amongst us? would they not be in earnest to live unto God, and save their own souls ? What would they say to those they best loved? Would they not bid them live unto God also, and say, again and again,
“ What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?”
Nay, I would appeal to parents now living; to those souls who are living wilfully and consciously without God in the world ; who, so far as their own evil influence and example are concerned, are treasuring up wrath and misery against their dying day for themselves, and entailing it upon those who are dependent upon them, and come after them. Are they not, after all, conscious before God that they are souls, and are doing wrong? and are they not, after all, in their secret hearts, in His Presence from whom no secrets are hid, really desirous that, in spite of their own recklessness, their children should be trained, as Christian souls, to live unto Him, and be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the LORD? Yes, I say, to every such parent or elder person,
have influence over others, and may have had all the disadvantages of bad training and bad example, I put it to him whether, if he chose to own it, he is not more or less conscious what he is doing; whether he has not sometimes misgivings about his way of going on; and whether he does not think that, when he comes to die, and is left alone with God, he will be inclined to confess it, and entreat his children, as they stand at his bedside, to save their own souls, to break off their father's sin, and shun his example?
If so, each is much nearer being able, than he may think, to understanding the full force of the words of the living God in the text : “ As the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is Mine.” And thus when we, as watching for souls, call grown-up persons to repentance, and train children to know the God of their fathers, we may commend ourselves to every man's heart and conscience in the sight of God. When we speak to each as a single independent being, an immortal soul on its trial for eternity, they are few who do not know and understand, more or less, what we mean. When we say that,- however we are bound together as souls, and are dependent on each other as members one of another, in the Church of the living God, tied together as families, as neighbourhoods, as friends and companions in this house of our pilgrimage; however we compare ourselves among ourselves, and bear one another's burdens, and weep together, and rejoice together ;—yet that each, after all, must prove his own work, and bear his own burden, and have his rejoicing in himself alone, and in what he is before God, and not in another,- When, I say, knowing the terror of the LORD, we appeal to men by such arguments,—as we are manifest to God, as God is witness of what we say, so are we manifest in their consciences, -He is witness in them that what we say is true. In a word, we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Every one, be his condition what it
may, be his calling what it may, may and must abide in that calling with Gov; and every one shall give account of himself to God. As truly as the Church is all one family for whom Christ died, and built together of the souls of men, as lively stones, to be an habitation of God through the Spirit, so truly is each a soul for whom Christ died, as truly as if there had been none other; and each, singly, however awful the thought, a temple of the Holy Ghost. How fearfully, then, in all we say, are we manifest unto God, and must we be manifest in your consciences ! All and each are souls ; and all and each
When Nathan brought home his startling parable to David's conscience in the words, “ Thou art the man !" his conscience answered in a moment, “I have sinned against the LORD;” as he says, yet more fully, in the fifty-first Psalm, “ Against THEE only have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight; that Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.” He makes mention, indeed, of his sinful nature, as derived from the sin of Adam, visited upon all his children :“ Behold, I was shapen in wickedness, and in sin hath my mother conceived me.” But this is not in order to excuse him. self, or reply against God, and say in his heart, “Why hast Thou made me thus ?”-it is only to own, yet more unreservedly and entirely, that he has yet a conscience. He speaks as one who had known what Gud required, yet had acted against it, and resisted His gracious will: “But, lo,” he continues, “Thou requirest truth in the inward parts, and shalt make me to understand wisdom secretly."
And what, then, is the duty of every soul? To think less than most are apt to do of outward circumstances ; not to dwell upon what his father was, nor upon what his neighbours are, but to examine himself, and that not lightly, and after the manner of a dissembler of God; and to see what he really is himself in the sight of God, who trieth the hearts. Not every one that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the LORD commendeth. “ If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” He hath set all our misdeeds before Him, and our secret sins—sins which we know not or have forgottenin the light of His countenance. Nothing can be more searching and more awful than the way in which His Presence is represented to us. "The Word of God is quick,” i. e. full of life and energy, “and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit, of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: for all things are naked and open,” laid bare and dissected, and exposed to view, “ in the sight of Him with whom we have to do;" to whom we must give account at the last day. No doctrine surely can be more awful than this : yet, in fully laying this to heart, lies all our comfort here and hereafter.
It is this mysterious, unseen power over the bodies and souls of men ; this wonderful knowledge which God has of all that we think, and say, and do, that has been so full of unspeakable terror to some, and of unspeakable comfort to others, from the beginning. This it is which has made life so burdensome
and death so terrible to every soul that doeth evil, and both life and death so blessed to every sincere and true servant of God, to every soul that seeketh Him. It was this consciousness, that there was an Eye upon them, which made Adam and Eve, the first souls that sinned, run to hide themselves among the trees of the garden ; and made Cain, the next soul that sinned, cry out, as he stood convicted by his own conscience in his Creator's sight, and went out from His Presence, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, Thou hast driven me out from the face of the earth, and from Thy face shall I be hid ; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth ; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.”
It was, on the other hand, this self-same consciousness of God's Presence which made Enoch’s life unlike other men's lives, and his end unlike theirs. “ Enoch walked with God :" walked, that is, in the light of His countenance, and in constant communion with
“and he was not, for God took him.” As St. Paul says, Enoch was translated that he should “not taste of death,” having had in life this testimony,—"that he pleased God.” And such was Noah's life also. “Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations, and walked with God.” And hence it was that Abraham was “ called the friend of God.” And what was said of those first “ souls that sinned,” and of those first souls that had this testimony, that "they pleased God," is true of every single soul of man from that time to this, according as it has lived without or with God in the world :-" Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest that they are wrought in God.”
Thus it was that when the Word of God, the Eternal Son of the FATHER; He in Whom was life, and that life was the light of men; when He was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and was, as had been foretold, “ God with us,” and went in and out amongst us, His holy Incarnation brought home to every single soul that came near Him the doctrine of the Psalmist,—“O LORD, Thou hast searched me out and known me; Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising; Thou understandest my thoughts long before; Thou art about my bed and about my path, and