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, BALLOU'S SERMONS. is a stubble for the fire to which they are appointed. Mare
Let us examine this subject a few moments, and nd, te endeavour to bring it into the light of reason and
experience. If then a, vicious life be productive Viti of happiness and good days to the immoral, it foler lows of course, that vice and immorality are fa
vourable to public peace, happiness and tranquilli
ty; for nothing is more evident, than that individJual and public felicity grow from the same causes.
But are any so strangely bewildered as to suppose that the miseries and wretchedness of society are
owing to its virtues, and that its happiness is de1 T9 rived from its vices? No, surely, there is but one 2 opinion on this question, when it is considered as
a whole; and yet the very individuals, who acte knowledge that it is the wickedness of the people, PULS which renders. them miserable, and brings down.
that it is not in this world that sin is punished, but the next state of man's existence.
Again ; It belongs to this inquiry to ask, what can be so much worse in the state of man's existence hereafter, than what his vices bring upon him here, that this should be considered no punishment, but that a just retribution ? - It must be something worse than sin itself, for if sin were worse and more tormenting than the retribution which is supposed to be reserved for the future world, then the ginner will find relief by receiving this retribution ! But it is contended, that the wicked will continue to sin in the next state. Then why not find as
much happiness there as here? If sin in this world bill be productive of happiness, why will it change its
nature so much as to produce'misery in the next?
And, on the other hand, it belongs to this subject
to ask, what the righteous have to expect in the other world, which is so much better than righte
Qusness as to amount to a recompense for that, 0 which gives them so much unhappiness here? And
why should we suppose that righteousness should al produce misery in this world, but change its nature
in the next, and produce happiness? It further. OFW more belongs to this subject to inquire why our heavenly Father should, by an established law, then constitute that sin, which is for our happiness in sle this world, and that righteousness, which is inimi- zedhet cal to our felicity here? These queries serve to TV show the absurdity of this orthodox superstition, de and to open our eyes to see that sin and misery bield are inseparably conjoined on the one hand as righteousness and happiness are on the other,
If we pay the least regard to the testimony of the i the scriptures, we shall find that this denial of the flere punishment of sin, and the reward of righteousness in in this state of existence, is in direct opposition to details it. In all the writings of the great law-giver of Is- para rael, there is not the most distant hint of any punishment for sin, or reward for well-doing beyond the present state ; but very particular and severe laws laid down for the punishment of crimes in this life. See Lev. xxiv. 13, &c. " And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp, and let all that heard the him lay their hands upon his head, and let all the liter congregation stone him, And thou shalt speak khe unto the children of Israel, saying, Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin. And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him; as well the stranger as he that I is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death. And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for beast. And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbours as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth; as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again. And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it, and he that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger
. as for one
2010e down, and none shal} make you afraid, and I wilk in his endured, as a-recompense of their disobedience.
fuis of your own country; for I am the Lord your
On the other hand, see the promises for well it doing. See Lev. xxvi. 3, &c. "If ye walk in my sit statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; sert then I will give you rain in due season, and the erits land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the en field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing as it shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall
reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely:
And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie bic rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the er sword go through your land. And ye shall chase Lor your enemies, and they shall fall before you by
the sword. And five of you shall chase an hun dred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand
to flight.--For I will have respect unto you, and der make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish
my covenant with you. And I will walk among her you, and be your God, and ye shall be my people. allo Again the scene changes in this chapter, and the.
curses for disobedience are minutely recorded.
Now if we allow that these laws were of divine authority, which all our christian clergy do, what
colour of reason is there in pretending that the alle judge of all the earth does not punish sin in this
world. The whole history, contained in the scriptures, of the Jewish nation, seems to be an account of the blessings which God bestowed on that people in approbation of their obedience to his commands, and of the dreadful sufferings which they But, we repeat it, there is not in all the writings of Moses and the prophets a single intimation of any reward for virtue or obedience which was yielded in this life, in a future state; nor is there any intimation of the punishing of the crimes committed here, in another world.
Will it be said that the gospel dispensation has.
reversed this divine order, and put a stop to the punishment of sin, and the reward of righteousness in this life, and has reserved all this for a future state? But why should people in ancient times be punished for their sins in this world, where they committed it, and we be punished in the future, where we have committed no crime? Furthermore, our blessed Saviour renounces all right to make
Sri such a change; he says, « Think not that I am eome to destroy the law and the prophets, I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." "And it is worthy of our careful notice, that Jesus pronounced no other punishments on his enemies, the Jews, than was written in the law and the prophets.
St. Paul, in his epistle to the Romans has set the sense of the scriptures in a clear light, on our subject. See chap. 13, “Let every soul be subject unto-the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. lenta Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power resist- kan eth the ordinance of God; and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” This testimony, my friends, is the true sense of the whole scriptures on the subject, and is in direct opposition to the superstition which contends that sin is not punished in this world. It is really unaccountable, why our christian clergy should allow the truth of St. Paul's declaration here cited, and yet contend that God me does not punish sin in this life! . If we allow that our penal laws are consistent with the mind and will of God, and are his ordinances, then we acknowledge that when crimes but are punished according to our laws, this punish- pale
there i the fire
the line phet
ment is the righteous judgment of God on the transstop to: gressor.
But if we do not allow these laws to be the ordinances of God, then let us abrogate them at once; for what right have we to make laws to punish crimes in a state, in which God choosès not to punish them? To be consistent with this blind superstition which we are considering, there should be no law against crimes, or at least no penalties
on the face of the earth! The thief, the adulterer, that If the murderer should have their liberty to go on
and multiply crimes without any punishment until they come into that world where it is consistent with God's law to have then punished ! But the superstition under consideration contends that all
this wickedness may be repented of one minute next before the sinner goes out of the world, in which
case he is to receive no punishment in the future Le sue world; so after all this system of terror amounts
to no terror at all, for there are provisions in it, bý
which a man may live in sin to old age, and never 115) be punished for the same neither in this world, nor
in that which is to come.
Taking our leave of their vain traditions, let us quly attend to the means which are laid down in our text, whereby we may be blest with the enjoyments of life, and see good days. And,
1. Let us consider the tongue and the lips. These members, which are so vastly useful to mankind, are of a character which requires them to be kept under a constant restraint, lest with our tongues
we speak evil and indulge our lips in uttering guile. he: You will easily perceive that a restraint on these
members is equally such on the heart, for this rein straint must be the moral dictate of the mind, so
that the restraint is first on the inclinations, and Pil the judgment acts in its own official character, en
lightened by reason, If this restraint be not in the heart, the tongue and lips, being the organs of the mind, will be subservient to evil thoughts and de
sires; but if an enlightened principle rule and re19 strain the desires of the mind, it also controls the