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The Ways of Sin Hard and Difficult.

The Ways of Sin Hard and Difficult.

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
By REV. SAMUEL DAVIES, A.M.,

PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY.





ACTS ix. 5. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
By REV. SAMUEL DAVIES, A.M.,

PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY.





ACTS ix. 5. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 07, 2014
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THE WAYS OF SI HARD AD DIFFICULT. By REV. SAMUEL DAVIES, A.M., PRESIDET OF THE COLLEGE OF EW JERSEY.ACTS ix. 5. It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. You often hear of the narrow and rugged road of reli- gion, which leadeth unto life; and some of you, I am afraid, have not courage enough to venture upon it. You rather choose the smooth, broad, down-hill road to vice and pleasure, though it leads down to the chambers of death. It must be owned, that a religious life is a course of diffi- culties, a hard struggle, a constant conflict; and it is fit you should be honestly informed of it : but then it is fit you should also know, that the difficulties arise not from the nature of religion, but from the corruption and de- pravity of the nature of man in its present degenerate state. A course of religion is disagreeable, is hard, is difficult to mankind ; just as a course of action is difficult to the sick, though it is easy and affords pleasure to those that are well. There are difficulties in the way of sin, as well as in that of holiness, though the depravity of mankind renders them insensible of it. This is the view of the case I would now lay before you. There is a sense, in which it is true, that it is a hard thing to be a sinner, as well as to be a saint: there are huge difficulties in the way to hell, as well as in the way to heaven. And if you are insensible of them, it is owing, as I just observed, to the corruption of your nature, and not to the easiness of the thing in itself. It may be easy and pleasing to you to sin, just as 540 THE WAYS OF SI
 
it is easy to a dead body to rot, or pleasing to a leper to rub his sores. But to a reasonable creature, in a state of purity, with all his powers uncorrupted, it would indeed be an unpleasing, a hard, a difficult thing, to take that course which is so easy and so delightful to you : as it is hard and painful for a living man to suffer the mortification of his limbs, or for a healthy man to make himself sore. If it be hard, in one sense, to live a life of holiness, it is cer- tainly hard, in another sense, to live a life of sin ; namely, to run against conscience, against reason, against honour, against interest, against all the strong and endearing obli- gations you are under to God, to mankind, and to your- selves : or, in the words of my text, " It is hard for you to kick against the pricks." This is a proverb, in use among various nations, which has received a sanction from heaven in this text. It is used by Pindar, Euripides, and jEschylus, among the Greeks, and by Terence among the Latins : and from the sense in which they use it, we are helped to understand it. " To kick against the pricks," is an allusion to a lazy or unruly plough-horse, or ox, that when pricked with a goad, (an instrument used in ploughing, in sundry places, instead of a whip,) refuses to go on, and spurns and kicks against the goad, and so wounds himself, and not the driver. In such circumstances, it is much harder to kick against the goads, and resist, than to go on : if he goes on, he need not fear the goad; but his resistance only hurts himself. It is to this that the phrase alludes ; and it signifies a re- sistance injurious to the person that makes it, when it would be both easy and advantageous to obey. Hence we may learn the precise sense in which it is used by the mouth of Christ, in this pungent address to Saul the persecutor, whom we now know under the higher name of Paul the apostle.
 
HARD AD DIFFICULT. 541 Saul, animated with a furious, misguided, though honest zeal, against the disciples of Jesus, was now on his way to Damascus in pursuit of them ; and had a commission from the highest court of the Jews to apprehend them : a com- mission which he was impatient to execute. This, in human view, was a very unpromising hour for his conver- sion ; now it appears more likely that vengeance will arrest him as a criminal, than that grace will prevent him as a vessel of mercy. But oh ! what agreeable exploits of grace has Jesus performed ! At the first introduction of his religion, it was fit he should single out some great sin- ner, and make him a monument of his mercy, for the en- couragement of future ages. Therefore he surprises his fierce persecutor in his daring career, darts the splendours of his glory around him, and pierces him to the heart with this irresistible expostulation, " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Saul, in a trembling consternation, replies, " Who art thou, Lord ?" He thought he was only bring- iifg to justice a parcel of contemptible, blasphemous sec- taries, unworthy of toleration ; and little did he think that his persecuting zeal reached so high : little did he expect to hear one crying from the throne of heaven, " Why per- secutest thou me?" But Jesus feels and resents the inju- ries done to his people, as done to himself. The head sympathizes with its members ; therefore he answers, " I am Jesus whom thou persecutest." And then follows my text, " It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." q. d. " Since it is Jesus whom thou persecutest, the injury done to me will only rebound upon thyself; I am infinitely ad- vanced beyond the reach of thy rage ; and even my peo- ple, who now seem in thy power, can suffer no real or lasting injury from it in the issue; for under my manage- ment, all things shall work for their good ; but thy perse- cuting fury shall prove ruinous to thyself, as the wild ox 542 THE WAYS OF SI

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