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3. We partake of other men's sins by uttering those sentiments which tend to subvert morality, or diminish our horror for guilt. If we propagate loose doctrines, if we scoff at serious piety, if we persuade men that an holy and heavenly life is not necessary, “if we call evil good and good evil,” weare murdering souls, and accumulating for ourselves indignation and wrath. It makes my heart ache, to think what store of unavailing anguish a man is preparing for himself, when he derides the practices, or the truths of religion: corrupting the persons with whom he associates, they may convey the infection to others; it may be extended to generations yet to come; the effects that may be produced by one loose witticism or one unholy address, are incalculable, except by that God who will judge us. It makes my heart ache, to think that so many are using the talents which God gave them, in sneering at the truths, and the children of God; in deriding the ways of piety, and in employ. ing sarcasms and sneers to induce men to relinquish heaven and to plunge into hell! There is an expression which one of the fathers uses concerning Arius, which should cause these advocates of loose principles to tremble : “As many souls as Arius has seduced into heresy or blasphemy, so many degrees of torments will he have in the regions of wo.”
4. We partake of other men's sins by alluring, inviting, tempting them to sin. When we spread the net before our neighbour, and decoy him into it; when we solicit and incite him to iniquity, we partake of his sin; we adopt it as our own.
Oh! how many are there, who, in this way, are guilty before God! How many, who, acting as the co-adjutors of Satan, have designedly tempted their neighbour to intemperance, to fraud, to uncleanness
How many, who have voluntarily provoked him to passion and rage! Thoughtless men! you may now laugh at these things ; you may exult at the ingenuity with which you spread your snares, and the art with which you drew your unsuspecting brother into them; but God regards these as serious crimes, of which
must render a serious account. 5. We may partake of other men's sins even when we have not been instrumental in producing them, when we flatter them in these sins, and do not reprove them. • He that biddeth him God speed,” says an apostle, speaking of a heretic, “is partaker of hi evil deeds.” When we encourage men in their iniquity; when we commend their crimes; when we give specious names to their iniquities; when we reprove not at all; or reprove like Eli, as though we were not in earnest, say what we please, think what we please, we are partakers of those iniquities at which we thus basely connive.
6. Finally, for my time obliges me to omit many other methods, even though we do not allure to sin or encourage men in it, yet if our hearts love their conduct, if we secretly rejoice in it and approve it, God, who looks chiefly at the heart,and esteems us impious or holy, according to its frame and disposition, esteems us to be guilty, and ranks us amongst the takers of their sins. When St. Stephen was put to death by the Jews, Paul stood by as a spectator; he assisted not the murderers, nor cast a single stone against the venerable martyr. * Was he therefore guiltless ? No! he himself confesses that he was guilty of murder, “ because when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I' was consenting to," or as the original word [auveudoxav] is more frequently translated, “I was well pleased with his death.” Ah,
my brethren! how vast is the crowd of sins of which we have in this sense been partakers ? How many iniquities of others which we dared not openly approve nor publicly encourage, have yet afforded us secret pleasure? When this slanderer has calumniated the good name of our rival; when this fraudulent man has over-reached one whom we envied; when this revengeful person has injured our enemy; when this sinner has mocked at the obligations of religion, have we never said in our hearts, like the foes of Da
6 Aha! so we would have it." If such have been our sentiments, we have been really guilty of calumny, fraud, revenge, impiety; however closely these sentiments may have been confined in our own breasts.
Such are the principal methods in which we partake of other men's sins; and I am persuaded that if we candidly apply these observations to our own lives; we shall find a black catalogue of other men's sins, which are chargeable to us, and which merit deep repentance, and bitter tears. That we may in future be more guarded, let us attend to some of those motives which enforce the injunction of the apostle. This was our
From the many motives which occur to me, I shall select only three. We should abstain from other men's sins :
1. From charity to our brethren.
1. Charity to our brethren should encourage us to the performance of this injunction of the apostle.
Is it consistent with that charity which we owe to our brother, and which should prompt us to the performance of every kind office towards him : is it consistent with that charity which Jesus inculcated upon all his disciples, and enforced by the most alluring promises, and most dreadful threatenings? Is it consistent with this divine grace, I do not say coolly to stand by and see our brother descending into hell, but to endeavour to plunge him deep into the infernal gulf? Yet this you do, whilst you violate the precept of the apostle. Instead of elevating a warning voice, you lure him to ruin ; instead of guarding him against the power of his corruptions, you inflame them, and give them tenfold strength; instead of reaching forth your hand to pluck him from the precipice, you advance before him, and break down the mounds which God has erected to save him from damnation. Is this charitable ; is it humane : is it not diabolical? The scripture denominates the neglect of admonishing and instructing our brother, hatred: “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart; thou shalt not suffer sin to lie upon him.” (Lev. xix. 17.) If a mere omission to interest ourselves for his salvation, deserve this title, what terms can be found sufficiently strong to express the greatness of their enmity, who to this neglect, add positive exertions to seduce their companions into sin ? Tell me, or rather answer to your own consciences, does
your conduct more resemble the benevolent Saviour, who went about doing good, healing the disorders of the soul, as well as the pains of the body, or the malignant fiend, who goeth about seeking whom he may devour?
2. If you are insensible to this motive, yet still think of yourselves, and out of pity to your own souls, partake not of other men's sins. Their destruction will not diminish; it will inconceivably aggravate your misery. When you meet in the infernal pit those whom you, have seduced into sin ; when you there behold those to whom you have performed an irreparable injury, will it charm the flames, to hear them address you, and cry in a voice of despair and rage,“ Wretch, it is you who have brought me hither! it is you who, by your solicitations and example, pulled down this vengeance which oppresses me. My doom is remediless, but I will pursue you through eternity! I will continually present myself before you, enfettered by the chains which you have forged, surrounded by the fires which you have lighted: I will for ever pour into your ears, my shrieks and execrations!" Tell me, will such an address as this render the place of torment more pleasant; will such society as this sooth the anguish of your heart? The ungodly rich man well knew to the contrary: he had partaken in his brethren's sins, and he cried out in agony,
pray thee, Father Abraham, that thou wouldest send to my brother's house; for I have five brethren, that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” Sinner, a solitary punishment in those doleful regions will be sufficiently severe; why should you wish to aggravate it in this dreadful manner? Your own iniquities are enough to crush you; why should you
be solicitous to increase the burden?
3. Finally, let me urge you by the authority of God. This God commands you not to partake of other men's sins : is it safe to despise his command? Can you contend with him, and prosper? What account will you give him at the judgment-day, of those souls of which he is the rightful owner, and which you are striving to seduce from. him? Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and make them holy: is it prudent for you to do all that is in your power to frus