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the least in the kingdom of heaven." They do teach men so by their example; they sell the principles of the gospel for money, and give the name of Christian to the contempt of the world. Fear then the first step; Judas began by stealing. John xii, 6.
1 II. By ambition.
The honours of the world are captivating to all, but Christ commands us not to love them. Yet how many professed Christians covet them, and exert themselves to obtain them! Times of political excitement afford many examples; witness their connivances—their attendance in caucuses on sabbath evenings, &c.
How many others sacrifice active good for literary distinction! Do not such betray Christ? Let the world answer. He who preaches for popularity is verily guilty of betraying Christ; he sacrifices the glory of God for worldly honour. Lord, save me!
III. By self-indulgence.
To engage in the sinful amusements of the world is to betray Christ. How much reproach has thus been brought upon the church! The indulgence of impure thoughts and desires has led very many to unholy actions-traitorous actions. The indulgence of revenge and pride has given rise to acts which have shown that the heart was against Christ, and that the individual needed but the opportunity to become an actual traitor. What a man would do, for that must he answer! What would many do, in despite of the precepts of Christ, were circumstances favourable! How many have in deeds imbodied lust, revenge, and pride, and thus sold Christ to his enemies! But the indulgence of self-will has, perhaps, been the most fruitful cause of betraying Christ. What a spirit of rebellion is thus fostered! and this spirit, be it remembered, would, were it not subdued, lead to treason. What difficulties have arisen in churches from this source! How many
have thus betrayed Christ, so that the church from necessity has expelled them! The indulgence of self-love has also led multitudes to betray Christ; all who live for themselves alone are sure to do it.
IV. By carelessness.
A man, especially if placed in an elevated station, may betray his country by carelessness in time of peace, or by disclosing secrets in time of war. So Christians may betray Christ through want of consideration and reflection. They are bound to watch and pray constantly, and may obtain strength to do so; and if they love their Master as they should, they will consult his will.
In conclusion; Christ found his worst foe among the twelve disciples. Are not his worst foes now too often numbered among his friends? Are any of us guilty of betraying him? Let us repent, and for the future prove our fidelity by our acts. Is there a backslider here? I entreat you to repent. Unless you do, the fruitless sorrow and awful doom of Judas may be yours! "Wo to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born."
S PORTING THEMSELVES WITH THEIR OWN DECEIVINGS.-2 Peter ii, 13. It is painful to behold the deception which is practised in the world, and the misery which it causes. Witness the tricks of business, and the poverty which follows. It is more painful to behold it where character and happiness are involved; as in the abuse of confidence reposed in false friends. Specially painful is it to witness it in sickness;-see the victim of consumption sporting him, self with the hope of recovery. Most of all is it painful to see deception in matters of religion; here the soul is
at stake. Here the risk is greatest, and here too the most are sporting. O how painful to the Christian! Let us enumerate some instances of those who may be said to sport themselves with their own deceivings.
1. The infidel. He has concluded to disbelieve the Bible altogether. He has come to this conclusion either independently, or by the aid of others. In either case he has been willingly deceived, for he has relied on unassisted and perverted reason, or has been warped by prejudice or inclination. No prayer, no humble reliance on divine aid, has mingled with any efforts which he may have made to learn the truth, while conscience and the Spirit are against him. Resting in infidelity, he lives. without at all recognising God--lives for his own pleasure-without reference to eternity—and even ridiculing every thing like piety. If the Bible be true, is he not deceiving himself? Is he not fearfully sporting while the sword of justice hangs over him?
2. The hypocrite. He deceives men, accomplishes his purposes under the guise of religion, and inwardly laughs at his success. He hopes never to be detected, yet how often he is detected! How often on his death-bed! "His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle; and shall bring him to the king of terrors." But he is the most deceived himself, for he acts on the principle that to appear religious here is the main thing. The Bible says otherwise. Perhaps he expects to deceive God; he acts as if this were his expectation, but his hope shall be cut off. What sorry sporting will this appear to be at the bar of God!
3. The man of pleasure. He acts on the principle that this world can afford lasting joys; but the Bible and experience say that it cannot. Hence he tries new plans, and sports with the light that leads him through the bogs of pain and sorrow. He also acts on the principle that the
chief end of life is to enjoy pleasure here. This is his great deception. Hence he makes no preparation for eternity, and laughs at those who do. Poor man! his day will soon be over-the eternal night will soon overshadow him! "O ye who deem one moment unamused
A misery, say, dreamers of gay dreams!
4. The moralist. His theory is that his heart need not be changed, that his own works can commend him to God. This is a deception, as will appear evident, if we consider what we are, what God is, and what are the requisitions of the gospel. He sports with his deception, for he permits it to lead him to security and ease, though he is without repentance and faith. How painful to see him going in spiritual death to death eternal, and yet sporting along the way!
5. The procrastinator. He puts off attention to the great subject of religion on many pretences.
Waiting God's time." He has an idea that God will convert him by irresistible power! Waiting for this, and yet living in sin! But now is God's time, and every moment is carrying him beyond it. Wait for irresistible power! He must wait for ever!
Waiting for a more convenient season." His business now interferes, and when will it not? His plans are now in the way, and so they always will be. There can be no more convenient season than the present, whether he consider the state of his own heart, or the disposition of God. Every moment's delay makes the matter worse. And yet how many go on sporting, and in their sporting die! O death-beds, what say ye to this!
Let us remember, 1. What will render this deception so painful to us hereafter is, that it is our own work. We have reason, conscience, the Bible, and the Spirit. We are free to avail ourselves of their aid, or to refuse.
Satan cannot deceive us without our consent. What more aggravating thought than this, when our eyes shall be opened?
2. The deception will end with this world, but its awful consequences will not. Many shall open their eyes in death, and see their folly and their doom. All in the spirit-world shall see clearly. The deceiver will there laugh at us, and torment us for our folly. O sport not with your own deceivings, for eternal happiness is at stake!
SIN .... EXCEEDING SINFUL.-
THE great design of preaching is to save men from eternal death. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned." But this salvation can be attained only by an entire renovation of our nature. 66 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The reason is, we are sinners, and God is holy, and hates sin. Hence the necessity of showing men what sin is, in its nature and consequences, that it may seem to them "exceeding sinful," and that they may be induced to go to "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," and be saved for ever. Let us show that sin is in its nature, aside from its consequences, an exceedingly great evil. This will appear evident if we co consider,
I. The mercy which it rejects.
Man's fall gave rise to the necessity of an atonement. It was mercy, and not justice, which prompted God to make it. The blessings which the atonement secures to all men, and especially to those that believe, exhibit the