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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8

No. III. Sin and its Punishment

No. III. Sin and its Punishment.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin that it grace may abound? God forbid."—Rum. vi., 1, 2.

We are, my brethren, poor blind creatures at the best—so one-sided, so imperfect, so liable to error, so easily led astray by the pride which apes humility—so apt to be puffed up by the ignorance which tanks itself for knowledge, that we constantly turn into bane what God intended for our richest book, and store the very manna of His love in such earthly vessels of frailty and presumption, that, in our keeping, it breeds worms and grows corrupt; aim hence even God's most holy truths become liable to dreadful perversion. It was so in the first ages, when there were ungodly men who turned the grace of God into lasciviousness. It was so again when Luther, at the Reformation, shook down the hollow structure of lies which men had accepted as their infallible faith. It may be so again, when we open to the despair of the guilty, even in the Valley of Achor, a door of hope, and ask men to take nobler and truer views of God than those which run counter to what the Scriptures tell us of His everlasting mercy—of His purpose in punishment being not to torture, but to redeem—of the day when Christ shall have triumphed forever, "and God shall be all in all.

I did not seek this topic, nor shall I pursue it. It came in the ordinary course of our page 11 meditations, and I could not, therefore, but strive to remove thoughts which, as I know, goad some men into recklessness, and into infidelity, and which embitter the hearts of others with a narrow, railing, Pharisaic dogmatism—a religion of cursing and bitterness against all which presumes to differ from itself. But there are deeper reasons for preaching what we believe to be the truth on this dim subject. The virtue which has no better basis than the fear of hell is simply no virtue at all. No virtue is in the least degree virtuous which springs only from a hope of profit, or fear of punishment. Although, for instance, "honesty is the best policy," yet it has been truly said that the man who is honest because it is the best policy is no better than a rogue. Would you think much of one who only did not commit murder because of the hangman, or who was not a scoundrel only from fear of being found out ? Fear may cause the enforced obedience of the slave; love alone can win the devotion of the child; and that is why God hath sent to us who know the truth, and whom the truth leas made free indeed, not the spirit of fear or of bondage, but the spirit of love and of a pure and of a sound mind. And this love is the sole, eternal basis of holiness. To preach that God willet all men to be saved—that is Gospel truth. To preach that it is not love of Christ, but the fear of hell, which constraineth us—that is (what they call) the soul-destroying error. What was the subject of the teaching of our blessed Lord ? Was it "turn or burn,"or was it "Como unto Me all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest?" Was it hell-lire that Ho preached to the rejoicing multitudes as He sat among the lilies over the silver lake, or was it the beatitudes of the meek and the merciful, and the message of a father who market His sun to shine on the evil and the good, and His rain to fall on the just and on the unjust ? I know that He said, with awful solemnity, "If thane eye offend thee, pluck it out. If thy hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee. It is better for thee to enter into life blind or maimed, than, having two eyes or two hands, to go into Gahanna—into the lire that never shall be quenched, where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched; "and those words I shall strive presently to illustrate. But what childishness it is—childishness of mere vanity and Ignorance—to quote such texts without knowing anything whatever of the laws of their moaning and of their interpretation I It is just as childish as it is to quote the text, "This is My body," as though it were absolutely decisive of the truth of transubstantiation. I claim to speak with at least as much authority as anyone else when I say that there is not one word hero about a necessary or au irreversible decree to endless torments at the moment of an impenitent sinner's death. The language of our blessed Cord and Master is no more literal in the second half of the verse than it is in the first. He speaks, as He did deliberately and habitually, in metaphors and parables; and the metaphor meant this awful truth—that the most painful physical agony and the worst physical mutilation is a less anguish and a more preferable loss than that shame and corruption which are the inevitable consequence of sin—the flame and remorse which will always burn so long as sin is practiced the worm of conscience which will always gnaw until sin is forgiven. Such a thought has no affinity with that repulsive and ill-disguised hatred which says, "Believe this, or you will find yourself in a lake of inextinguishable fire." What our Saviour taught—what, thank God, we all of us agree in teaching—is this : resist the evil which is in you, for it is your curse and ruin; and until you have learnt to forsake and hate it, you cannot enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Resist it because God hates it, and because God loves you—because he desires to save you from it, and from its fearful consequences. Resist it, because it was; to seek the lost that our Saviour came, and to redeem the lost that our Saviour died. This is true; that is Divine teaching. So is the All-great, the All loving true. So through the thunder comes a human voice, saying—

"O heart I made a heart beats here.
Trace my God's passion, see it in myself.
Thou hast no force, nor canst conceive of mine;
But love I gave thee with myself to love.
And thou must love Me who have died for thee."

That, then, my brethren, is the true motive for all holiness—Christ's redemption, God's love. We are dead with Christ unto sin, and we live with God unto holiness; and God created us—not to destroy, not to torment, not to take vengeance on us, but to save, and to save us to the uttermost from sin, from corruption, from that true Gahanna which is not a burning prison, but a polluted heart. Alienation from God, hatred of truth, hatred of purity; a bitter, railing, loveless spirit; mean, base, sensual desires—those are the elements of hell; and as long as any man, be he Pharisee or be he publican, is given to these, so long will he be made to feel with the evil spirit— "Which way I fly Is hell; myself am hell."

Hell is a temper, not a place. So long as we are evil and impure and unloving, so long where we are is hell, and where hell is there must we be; and when all the world dissolves, and every creature is purified whom God's love can purify, then all places shall be hell that are not heaven. How long and how far we, in our pride and obduracy and corruption, may harden ourselves, even beyond the grave, against the constraining love of God, page 12 we know not, and none knows. But, so long as we continue to harden ourselves, so long it is not God who is kindling for us His avenging tortures; but it is we who, by our own impenitence, are cutting ourselves oil from Him, and destroying and ruining ourselves. But let those men suspect their own hearts and their own purposes to whom this hideous doctrine of endless torture—for hideous it is, even if it be true—is so dear and so precious, and so comfortable that they never seem so happy as when they are denouncing it on others. They bid mo tremble. It is not I who tremble. When I stand before the bar of my Maker, a humble, weeping, penitent sinner; when I cry that my sins may be covered with the white robe of my Saviour's merits as the snow falls upon a miry world; when I admit before Him, with shame and sorrow, that my very tears want washing and my repentance needs to be repented of, yet not on this account shall I ever fear. Man may denounce; Eliphaz, the Temanite; and Bildad, the Shuhite; and Zophar, the Naamathite, may all join in denouncing; but Thou, O Father, wilt not be angry with Thy child because he thought, and tried to lead others to think, just and noble things of Thee I And Thou, O Saviour, wilt not frown at him because he trusted in the infinitude of Thy compassion. And Thou, 0 Holy Spirit, whoso image is the soft stealing of the dove and the soft blowing of the wind—Thou wilt know that if he erred, it was because he would not fix his eyes upon the glaring and baleful meteors of an anathematising orthodoxy, but rather upon the Star of Bethlehem, and upon those clouds that even now begin to shine about the coming of the Lord. Thou wilt know that if led astray, the light that led astray was light from heaven. No, it is not I who tremble. Let the zeal of a damnatory religion tremble. Lot them tremble who would turn the Gospel of salvation for most men into a threat of doom. Let those tremble who are distressed at the thought which sees room for hope for the miserable and guilty beyond the grave. If indeed they be in the right, still their tenet is so terrible that it should be only spoken with the mouth in to do dust. It should be uttered only with tears and with trembling pity—with bated breath; for if there be one thing which He must loathe whose name is Love, in is the hallelujah of exulting anathemas, of the thinly-disguised hatred, which rages in so fierce an ignorance against a trusting mercy founded only on these two broad, Scriptural doctrine?, which they profess to hold so dear—the doctrine of (Jurists infinite redemption; the doctrine of God's boundless love.

But I have said all that it seems my duty to say on this subject. I thank God from my heart that what I believe to be His truth, taught in His Word, confirmed by His Spirit, has been a source of relief and comfort to thousands of honest and noble hearts in England, and I do not think it necessary to enter on the endless take of repudiating misrepresentations, or deigning to notice mere abuse. My subject today will be a very different one. I visit to day to take away all excuse from those who, on the grounds of a possible hope beyond the grave, would wish to make light of sin; and, therefore, my brethren, and above all, you who are young and ignorant, I earnestly seek your whole attention while I bid yon beware how yon wrest God's mercy to your own ruin. Have any of you said, "Because we may never cease to hope, therefore we may go on in sin"? Ah ! if you have said that you must indeed be in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity from which it is very clear that no dread of au endless hell leas saved you yet. "Lotus continue in sin that grace may abound,"said some in St. Paul's day. Dare you say it! Dare any of you turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, or count the blood of the covenant, whereby you were sanctified, an unholy thing; or say, "Because God loves me, therefore I will do that which He hates. Because Christ died for me, therefore unblushingly I will crucify Him afresh, and put Him to an open shame. Because it is His long-sundering which calls me to repentance, there-fore He shall wait my tame"? My brethren, there are two kinds of sin—willful sin, and willing sin. Willful sin is that into which—because of the frailty of our nature, because of the strength of passion and temptation, not loving but loathing it, not seeking but resisting it, not acquiescing in, but fighting and struggling against it—we all sometimes fall. This is the struggle in which God's Spirit strived with our spirits, and out of which we humbly believe and hope that God will, at the last, grant unto U3 victory and forgiveness. But there is another kind of sin, far deadlier, far more heinous, far more incurable; it is willing sin. It is when we are content with sin, when we have sold ourselves under sin-when we no longer fight against sin—when we mean to continue in sin. This is the darkest, lowest, deadliest, most irredeemable level of sin; and it is well that the foolish soul should know that on it, if it has suck to this, there has been already executed, and self-executed, the dread mandate, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shall surely die."By that curse was not meant a physical but a spiritual death, and such a soul is dead—morally dead—spiritually dead; and such a man is a ghost far more awful than the soul which was once in a dead I body, for ho is a body bearing about with him a dead soul. Better—far, far better—for him to have cut off the right hand, or page 13 plucked out the right eye, than to have been cast, as ho has been cast now in his lifetime, and as he must be cast hereafter, until he repent, into that Gahanna of eoneo fire. It shall purify him—God grant it; but it shall aconite, because he has made himself, in fact, incapable of any other redemption. So that if any of you have thought in your hearts that God is even such an one as yourselves, that you may break with impunity God's awful commandments, that you may indulge with impunity one evil Just, then recall in your hearts the warning of the first lesson of this morning—"Walk in the ways of thane heart and in the light of thine eyes; but know thou that, for all these things, God shall bring thee into judgment."

For first, my brethren, let us all learn this fact—that the consequences of sin are inevitable; in fact, that punishment is the extreme consequence of sin going on unchecked. There is in human nature—we all know it-au element of the gambler. There is a willingness to take the chances of things—a willingness to run a risk, however uncertain. There is no such element here. 'The punishment of sin is certain. All Scriptures tell us so. "The soul that sinneth it shall die. "Be sure you're in shall find you out." "Though hand join in hand, the wicked shall not go unpunished." "The way of transgressors is hard." All the world's proverbs tells us so."A reckless youth; rueful age." "As he has made his bed, so he must Ho in it.""He who will not be ruled by the rudder, must be ruled by the rock." Even Satan himself tells us so. In the old legend of Dr. Faustus, when ho bids the devil lay aside his propensity for lying, and tell the truth, the devil answers, "The world does me injustice to tax me with lies. Let me ask their own conscience if I have ever deceived a single man into believing that a bad deed was a good one." Even wicked men admit it 'I hey would gladly preach, if they could, that sin is a soft infirmity of the blood, not to be too severely visited; but the facts are too fatally against them, and those facts say, with unmistakable voice, "If any man destroy the temple of God, him shall God destroy."So that you see, my brethren, on the testimony alike of the deceiver and the deceived, that the punishment is, from the first, inevitable.

And then notice, secondly, that it is impartial. There is a form of self-deception common to us all, and especially in youth, by which we admit the general law, but try to shirk its personal, its individual, application. It is the old, old story of Eden over and over again in the case of every one of us—the serpent creeping up to us, all glitter and fascination—all dulcet whisper and sinuous lies, and saying to us, "See how fair the fruit is—how much to be desired. Be as God, knowing good and evil, Thou shalt not surely die."And so the boy and the youth—aye, and in his folly, the grown man, too, believes that it shall not be so with him; that he will repent; that ho is the darling of Providence; that he is the favourite of heaven—he the one who shall sin and shall not suffer. If others handle pitch they shall be defiled. If others take fire into their bosoms they shall be burnt; but God will indulge him. And the very spirits of evil laugh at each one going as an ox to the slaughter, when they dupe him into the fancy that, out of special regard for him, that adamantine chain of moral gravitation, more lasting and binding than that by which the stars are held in their spheres, will be snapped; that sin, for him only, will change its nature, and at his approach the Gahanna of punishment be transformed into a garden of delight. Is it so my brethren? leas there ever been any human being yet, since time began—however noble, however beautiful, however gifted, however bright with genius or radiant with fascination—who has signed with impunity ? Ah no I God is a respecter of persons. Fire burns and water drowns, whether the sufferer is a worthless villain or whether it be a fair and gentle child. And so the moral law works, whether the sinner be a David or a Judas, whether he be a publican or a priest. In the physical world there is no forgiveness of sins. Sin and punishment, as Plato said, walk this world with their hands tied together, and the rivet by which they are linked is as a link of adamant. A writer has said that a man who cannot swim might as well walk into a river and hope that it is not a river, and will not drown, a man, seeing judgment, and not mercy, as denounced upon willing sin, hope that it will turn out to be mercy and not judgment, and so defy God's law. Will he escape? No. He who chooses sin must meet with retribution; must experience in his own individual person the lex talionis of offended nature—eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

You see, then, that the punishment of sin is inevitable, and that it is impartial. And now, why is it so? It is because the punishment of sin is not an arbitrary infiction, but it is a necessary law. I do not mean that God never directly interferes; He does. We see it daily in the history of crime. We see in the strange detections, in providential accidents, in the fatuations of penal stupidity which fall upon able men when they are bent on the concealment of their wickedness. There is this interference. But, setting aside these obvious visitations, in which God's terrible and fiery linger shrivels the falsehoods from the souls of men, there is also besides this, generally, a dread- page 14 ful resemblance which shews that penalty is not a direct interference, but a genuine child of the transgression. We receive the things that we have done. There is a dreadful coercion in our own iniquities. There is an inevitable congruity between the deed and its consequences. There is an awful germ of identity in the seed and in the fruit. We recognise the sown wind when we are raping the harvest whirlwind. We feel that it is we who have winged the very arrows that cat into our hearts like tire. It needs no gathered lightings—no Divine intervention—no miraculous messenger to avenge in us God's violated laws; they avenge themselves. You may laugh at Bibles, as many do; you may sneer at clergymen, as many do; you may keep away from churches, as many do; no penitence and no confessional; no priest ordains it; yet you are forced to sit amid the deep ashes of your mind years; and you will see coming after you with leaden footstep, with gathered force, and towering over you, and smiting you with the iron hand of its own revenge, the figure of your own past sin. I cannot pretend to work out the whole of this sacred Nemesis, or to read for you, on the wall of guilty hearts, this "Mene, Menei, Tekel, Peres,"of reddening doom. It would need the voice which the sore of the Apocalypse heard cry aloud, "Woe to the inhabitants of earth;"but no one shall say that ye were not forewarned. No one shall shield himself under the plea that sin was robbed for him of one single element of its true awfulness. I will tell you of one or two ways in which God's love, if it avail not, roust then find terrors, which leave us in doubt as to what Ho hates. Sleep through it if you will, but at least let me try for a few moments to accentuate for you a syllable or two of that voice behind us, saying, "This is the way; walk ye in it,"when we turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Well, then, my brethren, take disease as one form of the working of this inevitable law—not always, of course, the direct result of sin; yet how much of disease is directly due to dirt, neglect, folly, ignorance—the infected blood, the inherited instincts of this sad world. But are there not some diseases, and those the most terrible which I have known, which do spring directly, immediately, exclusively, solely, from violence of God's law? Is not madness very often such a disease? Is there not at this moment many a degraded lunatic who never would have been such but for repeated transgressions of God's known will? Is there not in the very life blood of millions an hereditary taint blighting the healthy, poisoning, as with a fury's breath, the flower of their happiness, and breaking out afresh in new generations, which has its sole source and origin in uncleanliness ? La there not, too, an executioner of justice which God has toll off to wait upon drunkenness, which would cease if drunkenness ceased to exist? It is God's warning against that fearful intemperance against which senates will not fight, and against which they who love their fellows fight as yet in vain. Have you ever seen—if not, may yon never see—a young man suffering from delirium tremens? Such as not even Dante ever imagined are the horrors that await upon him—the blood-red suffusion before the eyes quenched in sudden darkness—the myriads of burning, whirling rings of concentric lire—the millions of foul insects which seem to be weaving their damp, soft web3 about his face—the hideous, ever-changing visages which look upon him—the eyes which glare from wall and roof—the feeling as if the man were falling, falling, falling endlessly into a fathomless abyss. Why is all this ? Because God inflicts it on man? No; but because man instincts it on himself, and because God, who loves us, wishing us to see how drunkenness blasts and scathes and debases and embraces, in order to save men all this horrible stain and agony and shame, has attached this law to the abuse of intoxicating liquors, as He has attached to lire a law that it should burn. Does God interfere? No; but He says, "Oh, My son whom I have made, this is the goal to which intemperance will lead thee. As thou lowest me, as thou loves thane own soul, cut off the right hand; pluck out the right eye. It was better, far better, for there to enter into life blind or maimed, than to cast thyself into this Gahanna of eoneon fire—this depth of shame and of corruption, where the worm of the drunkard dieth not, and his lire is not quenched."

Or, take one, not of the physical, but of the moral workings of this law of punishment. Head another syllable of this handwriting upon the wall. Take fear, for instance. You have all heard of haunted houses. Have you ever heard of haunted men? Are there not, perhaps, some here who may be groaning under the burden of an undetected sin? If so, will they not recognise themselves as suffering under this Nemesis of Fear? There are some sins which are open, going before to judgment, marshalling men in undisguised array before the Throne; but there are some which follow j after. There are men everywhere, and there I are, probably, men hero at this moment. Who, as they walk through life, hear footsteps behind them—for whom the earth is made of glass—on whom the stars seem to look down as spies—men whose pulses shake at every sudden ringing of their bell; whose faces blanch if they are suddenly. Addressed; who tremble if a steady gaze be fixed upon them. Have not such men, subject to the dismay and the weakness to which sin has reduced them, thousands of times betrayed themselves by page 15 their own unreasonable fears, and by imagining that their sin was being spoken of when something quite different was being spoken of ? I think, it is the ancient writer plutarch who, in a remarkable pamphlet on the delayed vengeance of the Deity, tells us of a youth who, on being reproached for his cruelty in fiercely wringing the necks of some young birds, exclaimed, and revealed, by exclaiming, his own hideous crime, "It was their own fault. Why did they keep twittering at me 'Parricide! Parricide?'" Take the life even of David after he had sent that fatal letter to Joab about Uriah. Do you ever think he had a moment's peace afterwards? Was not his own servant his master because he knew his guilty secret? And if there be one here who has done deeds which he would give worlds to have undone; about his roof is heard the flapping of unclean wings; who never again in this world shall sleep the sleep of the innocent; for whom the furies have taken their seats upon the midnight pillow; on whose breast, through the dark hours, ill dreams ride heavily in the shape of their deadliest sin,—will they tell you that they were lucky not to have been caught?—happy in that they were not found out?—fortunate in that no stroke of detection or punishment arrested them before fruition or in mid career? Achan concealed hi? theft—never spent his wedge of gold—never wore his Babylonish garment; yet when discovery crept nearer and nearer to him, and at last touched him—when the lot fell, and the tribe of Judah was taken; and the lot fell again, and the family of the Zarbites was taken; and the lot fell again, and the household of Zabdi was taken; and the lot fell once more, and Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zebra, of the house of Judah was taken, and he was stoned and burnt, he and his family with the accursed stolen thing, in the valley of Anchor, did not Joshua indicate to him that detection might be a most blessed thing ? Did he not, as I have done, open for the exposed criminal, even in the valley of Anchor, a door of hope, when he said to him, "My son, give, I pray thee, the glory to God, and tell me now what thou hast done. Hide it not from me?" And would not Achan, too, have cause to say that minds which verily repent are pardoned with impunity, and comforted without chastisement?

"That punishment's the best to bear.
That follows soonest on the sin;
And guilt's gain where losers fare
Butter than those who seem to win"

But yon will say that there is many a sin whose commission involves no great fear. Yes, truly; but if the soul have any life left in it, when it is touched by one ray out of God's eternity, the shame and the agonizing loss of worth and self loathing come withal. When our first parents ate the fruit, then their eyes Wore miserably opened, and things which, as a veil, had shaded from knowing ill, had gone—chaste native righteousness, and honour—all about them naked—left to guilty shame. O, my brethren, have none of you, even, it may be, very early, felt the working of this part of the law? Is there any one of you, who, for one half hour, has been utterly, miserably, deplorably ashamed of himself? If so, he knows what it is to have been in that Gahanna of eoneon fire of which his Saviour speaks. It is the glare of illumination which conscience flings over the soul after a deed of darkness. It is the revulsion of feeling, on which we did not calculate when we had done with the sin and which shows that the sin has by no means done with us. It is the little grain of conscience within the very worst of us, which makes forbidden pleasures sour. It is the fact that none of us can be quite wicked enough really to enjoy iniquity. It is the aching crave, after the brief intoxication. It is the deadly apple shriveling into hideousness the moment it has been tasted. It is the horror of the murderer when his first rage of vengeance has been spent, and the cold grey dawn reveals the face of his murdered victim. It is the waking of the famished wretch who has dreamt of food and water; and he wakes, and lo ! he is sick of hunger and scorched with thirst. It is the cry of ten thousand biographies of Janos who have sinned :—

When I received this volume small.
My years were barely seventeen.
When it was hoped I might be that
Which once, alas! I might have been.
And now my years are thirty five.
And every mother hopes her lamb.
And every happy child alive,
May never be what now I am."

So, my brethren, you see—the very youngest of you—that if you choose sin, you must have sin your companion—sin in her own hideous presence, and with her, the death that ever dogs her footsteps. I cannot oven pretend to show you all the workings of that inevitable, that impartial law which we, in our loneliness and alienation, call the heavy wrath of God. It is but as if I plucked one leaf, and asked you to look at it as a specimen of the boundless forest. It is as if I showed you one little wave, and told you that a whole ocean was behind. But I will only ask you to glace for one moment at one more feature of the law. There shall be, let us suppose, this time no intervention, no sickness, no detection, no shame even, no fear, no outward and visible punishment of any kind. Conscience shall for a time be dead; life shall for years be prosperous. Does sin escape then ? Is the sinner happy then ? Ah, no; he is worse of then. "Nulla pœna, quanta pœna"—no punishment, how terrible a punishment. It is God's worst, severest punishment. "Ephraim is joined to idols." page 16 What then ? Arrest him with the punishment which we should give to some dear and pleasant child—make him sick with smiting him into repentance? No, worse than that. "Let him alone."Blind his eyes; put the scourge in his own hands. Let him sow to his confusion; let sin be the deadliest executioner—the most merciless avenger of sin. Let the acute pang become the chronic malady. Let the thought become the wish, and the wish the act, and the act the habit. Let the solitary become the frequent, and the frequent the habitual, and the habitual the all but necessary—the all but inevitable—transgression. Let sin, let crime overtake him. Let hatred become murder; let ambition become conspiracy; let greed become theft and swindling; let lust become some deadly impurity. Ah, when God sends forth a besetting sin, a guilty habit, to be II is executioner, the case is most awful and most hopeless then, and God only, by Christ's redemption, can save from that body of death.

My brethren, will you now say, "I will go on in sin, and it does not matter"? Most terribly, most awfully, it does matter. You may be saved indeed, at last, if God will save, not from Him and from His wrath, but from yourself and your own self-destruction; but even then there is a sense in which it is awfully true that our millenniums may depend upon our moments; and though God's infinite love may be able to save you, yet, alas, it may be only as a brand is plucked, half-consumed, out of the burning—as a shepherd tears out of the mouth of a lion two legs and the piece of an ear. Do not think that repentance is easy, and do be sure that the longer repentance is delayed, I lie less easy it is, and the more terrible are the consequences of that delay. That spotless child sleeps on the flowering moss. It is well for him that a guilty man, envying such slumber, should desire to put his quilt away. Can he return to rest at once by lying there ? Our sires knew well the fitting course for such—dark cells, dim lamps, a stone floor, where they might writhe like a worm; no mossy pillow, blue with violets. The path of repentance may never be closed to us, and so, I believe, the Catholic Church of Christ has in most ages taught; but oh, how hard the path of repentances ! over what hard flints ! through what a scorch of fiery waves ! through what deep shame I what dread corruption ! pain of body ! misery and remorse I agony of soul. Were it not better, as our Lord said, to cut off the right hand, and to pluck out the right eye, than to go, of our own choice, into that Gahanna of eoncon fire, here and hereafter, such as L believe Christ Himself, and such as I have now in part only, in shadow and in outline, tried to describe for you ? God is indeed the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and of great mercy; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and yet by no means clearing the guilty. Why ? Because He loves us not ? Not so, for God's severity is all love; but because sin is the one deadly enemy which Ho must destroy in us, lust it destroy ns, and we, with it, destroy ourselves. As you will hear in one moment, set to very noble music, because God punishes us, the greatness of His mercy reached unto the heavens, and His truth unto the clouds.