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BY HENRY HAWKINS
HEBREWS, III. 13. Ihts is one of the most important texts iil Scripture, and, at the same time, attbrds one of the most instructive lessons of human life. If Sin performed all that she promised; if her votaries could pass through life with* out care and without any of those evils which the virtuous are sometimes called upon to endure, tlien, indeed, might slie boast her superiority : but the fallacy con* sists in this, that, whatever she may boasty she performs nothing ; and, after all that she can offer to allure, the virtuous man is not only the wisest,^ but the happiest ; and the vicious man ha's nothing to produce, as the fruit of his enormities, but this aphorism — that " all is vanity;" and that, were he to live his life over again, he would choose a life of virtue.
36 SERMON ET V.
From otir first parents, clown to the present moment, all mankind have felt the deceitfulness of sin. No vice, no individual act of vice, ever repaid the perpetrator.
Judas Iscariot found himself deceived in any hopes of honour or happiness that he might have sought to attain ; and by the sense of guilt alone, was urged to confess, that he had betraved the innocent blood, giving up, at the same moment, the profits of his treachery. And thus is it with every one of us. If sensualists were frankly to declare what they have gained by their ^•ices, not a human being who has departed Siom virtue, but must admit, that he had not found what he wished : he would be "uilling, were it in his power, to forego all
the apparent advantages annexed to vice, but that shame, and the fear of being looked upon as the dupe of his own folly, restrain him.
For, let no one suppose, that the sinner who continues in a state of incessant violation of God's precepts — \N'ho passes year
SERMON ET V. 57
after yeaf, deaf to all the warnings of experience, and blind to the decay of his own bodily frame, perceptible to all but himself: — let no one suppose that a sinner of such a description as this, continues in sin from any pleasure felt o'r hoped for. He has bfutalized himself; he has so far warped both his taste and his judgment, that he has lost all relish for any thing better; and from these causes, as well as from a sense of shame, he
moves round in the same circle of satiety, vice, and insipid foll}^, till death, kindly interposing, prevents him, indeed, from adding new crimes and enormities to the overcharged catalogue of those already committed, but turns him over to that irreversible fate which he has either braved or disregarded.
Some of the most voluptuous nien of modern times, men, whose high rank and large incomes put every gratification in their |)ower, have declared ihat they did not know what it was to pass a really pleasant day ; and one of them, the late Earl of Chesterfield, has left this testimony in favour of virtue ; " Let no one think he does wisely when he imitates us in bur vices."
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