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First, then, let us inquire what is meant by
One of the devices by which the devil lulls the consciences and ruins the souls of men is, by causing them to take false and inadequate views of sin. He leads them to confine the word “sin” to those flagrant crimes which meet with immediate and universal reprobation ; and to consider the term “ sinners' as applying only or chiefly to bold unscrupulous transgressors.The consequence is, that the greater part of mankind, not being conscious of any such enormities, do not take to themselves the declarations of God's word against sin and sinners.Conviction does not come home to them, because they have wrapped themselves up in a false and flattering security.-Their mistaken views are a shield with which they turn aside from themselves the aweful threatenings of the Bible; and when they read what will be the doom and destruction of the sivner—the thought of their hearts is.“ God I thank thee that I am not as other men are."
But, my dear Brethren, let us go to the Bible for the meaning of the word "sin" We are told, 1 John iii., 4., that “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth the law- for sin is the transgression of the law.” The law of God is summed up in the ten commandments, but it is enlarged and extended through all the preceptive part of the Sacred Scriptures. Whatever then is contrary
to this broad, comprehensive, spiritual, just, and holy law of God, is sin.—Whatever may be the degree or kind of transgression ;-whatever may be the circumstances under which it is committed; it is still "sin.” Men may make distinctions in sins, and call some great and some little; but with God there are no little sins.All sins—even the least—are highly offensive in
— his sight, and the abominable thing which he hateth.
Now, my dear Brethren, there may be sins which we think so trifling, that God will not regard them.—There may be sins which obtain the admiration and applause of the world. Let us remember, however, that it is not our opinion of sin, nor the opinion of our fellow-creatures, which is to determine the point—but the judgment of God; and he is a holy and jealous God, he will not connive at or tolerate sin. Under all its forms, in all its kinds, and in all its degrees, it excites his abhorrence, and provokes his wrath.
Again, sin may be accompanied by many splendid accomplishments, and showy and popular virtues.-It may be set off by many a fascinating recommendation.-It may be adorned by wit and humour.-It may wear a face of mirth and merriment.--It may be committed under circumstances, and in a manner so ludicrous and burlesque, as to excite the laughter of the thoughtless spectators. But remember, my dear brethren, none of these things can change its nature, or lessen its offensiveness in the sight of God. It loses not, on these accounts, one feature of its deformity.--Its exceeding sinfulness is not a whit diminished.--The wrath of God is still revealed from Heaven against it;--and the impenitent sinner-although he may have been
splendid and gay, and accounted a happy man while he lived ; although he may have been accomplished and admired—a wit and a humourist, - a social and pleasant companion ; still, he must be turned into hell, with all the people that forget God. Sin is the same, under every condition of it, however adorned, or admired, or applauded.
Having thus considered what sin is, we will proceed to inquire what it is to “make a mock at sin.” This will need but little explanation. To “ make a mock at" anything, is, if I may use a common and intelligible phrase, to make a nothing of it;-it is to treat it lightly and sportingly;
either to turn it into a jest and a subject of merriment ourselves, or to be diverted when others do this. Such is the plain and well-understood meaning of the expression in the text.—Let us apply this to sin.- We make a mock at sin, when we speak of it and treat it as a thing of no moment. My dear Brethren, generally speaking, how lightly is sin regarded! If we were to judge from obser
vation, who could think that sin is that dreadful evil which it is represented to be in the Bible. How awefully insensible are most minds to the corruption and wickedness that is in the world! We are told by the prophet Ezekiel, that God set a mark upon those inhabitants of Jerusalem who sighed and cried for all the abominations which were done in the midst thereof. My dear Brethren, who among us bear this mark ?-David says, “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved because they kept not thy word ;”—and again, “Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy Law;"—and again, “Rivers of waters run down mine
because men keep not thy Law." Three times in the same Psalm has he stated the deep concern and distress which he felt to see men dishonouring God, and ruining their own souls. How little of this pain and grief is felt and manifested by us ! How little do the eye and the ear affect the heart, when the name of God is blasphemed, and his Holy Day openly profaned.
But further; how many transgressions of God's law are there which you habitually look upon as trifling and unimportant! You know, that if tried by the rule of God's commandments, they would be found inconsistent with it; but you cannot see much harm in them;--and you persuade yourselves that God will regard them as lightly as you yourselves do. You look upon
them as petty faults and follies which do not materially affect the general character; and if any one were to represent these things in the light in which the Bible places them, you would think him needlessly precise, and turn away with careless scorn. But, my dear Brethren, to treat thus lightly any offence against God,—though it were but a single transgression of the least of his commandments, is to make a mock at sin.
But again, to glory in sin, and to talk of it in a boasting and jesting manner, is to make a mock at sin. How many are there who thus glory in their shame! They can recount with evident gaiety and glee the excesses of a wild and wayward youth, or the sins and follies of riper years; and take an ignominious credit to themselves on account of those things for which they ought to feel deeply ashamed; and for which they must, either in this world or in the next, bear the reproaches of a condemning conscience, and the bitterness of a wounded spirit. Oh! my dear Brethren, when you find the disposition thus to boast
, yourselves in your wickedness arising in your hearts,—then remember that this is one way in which “ fools make a mock at sin."
This is also the case, when sin of any kind is made a subject of merriment and sport. If you either commit sin for the sake of affording diversion to others, or find amusement in witnessing sin committed for this end by others,-if you hold