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ST. MATTHEW, xviii. 11.
For the Son of man (that is, Jesus Christ) is come to seek and to save that which was lost.
IN my last lecture, I observed to you, how Jesus Christ, your Saviour and mine, hath commanded every body to be humble, and how he said, that humble people would be thought highly of by God. He has ordered us also, as I told you, not to offend any of them that believe in him, to tempt nobody to be wicked. He then cried out: "Woe unto the world because of offences," because of wickedness of one sort or another. And woe it has been to the world on account of wickedness. If
you could read your Bibles, you would read of the misery and wretchedness, which wickedness has brought into the world. If Adam, the first man had not sinned, we should not have had so much trouble in the world, we should not have known what death was. It was because Adam sinned, that God has made us all turn to dust again. "Dust thou art" said he, "and unto dust shalt thou return." It was on account of the wickedness of the world, that God once drowned it with a flood. Eight persons only were saved, because they feared and served God, whilst the rest served him not. It was on account of the wickedness of a place, called Sodom, that God rained fire and brimstone from heaven on it, and destroyed it. And if it had not been for wickedness, the Saviour of the world would not have died. It was sin which brought him down from heaven. He knew that sin must be punished, and he let himself be punished for it. Through him we all have forgiveness from God. By his stripes we are healed, saved from
everlasting death. Well then did our blessed Lord say, "Woe unto the world, because of offences." He adds: "it must needs be that offences come." God tells you what is right and what is wrong. Your own hearts tell you so: and God leaves it to you to choose, whether you will be good or bad, assuring you, however, that he will punish you, if you choose the bad, and reward you, if you choose the good. But too many make a wrong choice, in spite of all that can be said to them though they see hell staring them in the face, they still choose the bad. But though "offences will come" and men will be wicked, yet, says our Saviour, "Woe unto that man by whom the offence cometh." Woe to thee, whosoever thou art, that doest sin! Repent, and pray to God through Jesus Christ to be forgiven, or sin will be the ruin of thy soul.
Our Saviour goes on: "Wherefore, if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them
off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into everlasting fire. And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell-fire." What, do you think, my friends, your Saviour means? I will tell you, and I beg you to listen to me attentively, for nothing less than your eternal salvation depends on your regarding or disregarding this most alarming declaration of your Lord and only Saviour. If there be any thing wrong, which you take a pleasure in doing, you must deny yourselves this pleasure, though it cost you much pain to do so, rather than gratify yourselves, and be punished in hell for having so acted. This, my friends is, I solemnly assure you, what your Saviour means. I will give you an instance or two, to make it yet plainer to you. Somebody offends you, does you an injury. You long to be revenged: you burn, till you
can do him some harm. Now, the duty which your Saviour commands in these alarming words is this: you must check yourselves, you must deny yourselves, you must by no means revenge yourselves, though you may think it sweet to do so. You must get the better of so very bad a temper of mind, though it may cost you pain to do so. Else you may have your revenge, you may have the pleasure of doing harm to your enemy, and go with it into everlasting fire. Again: you look on a woman to lust after her. You must check yourselves, though it gives you pain to do so. Else you may have indeed the pleasure, and enjoy your lusts, and go with them into hell-fire. In short, you must not do what is wrong, let it promise, and let it give you ever so much pleasure. What will be the use of the pleasure, how will the enjoyment end, do you think, when such end is hell-fire? It is my duty, and I must perform it, however you, my brethren, may dislike it. I must tell you,