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would abhor the idea, proposed to them in plain terms, of casting in their lot with him, or of consenting to his principles and ways.

But such a representation of the deceitfulness of his work, is rather likely to put others on their guard, than to deter the wicked man himself from persisting in it. He, perhaps, has no mind to be ashamed of his cunning craftiness, whereby he lies in wait to deceive, (Ephesians iv. 14,) and of having taken many with guile, to the great discomfort, if not the ruin, of their souls. Observe therefore, my brethren, further, (which Solomon appears to have chiefly intended,) that the work of the wicked is deceitful with respect to the wicked by whom it is wrought, being attended by miscarriage and disappointment. The event of it, will, for the most part, prove directly contrary to his fondest expectations; and, in case he can bring his designs to pass, there will result to him no real satisfaction, but, more frequently, confusion and disgust.

Whether earthly events be considered in the most common (though improper) light, as accidental, or be supposed “ ordered in all things “ and sure,” by the secret arrangements of Divine Providence, which ever of these views shall be adopted, it is probable that the work of the wicked man will deceive him.

66 The

“ race is not always to the swift, nor the battle " to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, “ nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor

yet favour to men of skill; but time and “ chance happeneth to them all.” (Eccles. ix. 11.) Accordingly, a wicked man will oftentimes be thwarted merely in the common course of affairs, and find his best concerted plans brought to nought, by what may be called the changes and chances of this mortal life. But when, instead of thus speaking, we more properly ascribe every thing which turns up, to the hidden counsels of the Almighty, the condition of the wicked becomes gloomy indeed. Then, his prospect is to see all the hopes, wherewith he hath compassed himself about, disappear, one after another, like mere sparks, and to labour as it were in the very fire, and to weary himself for very vanity, and to lie down at the last in sorrow. Then, he may look to be taken in his own craftiness, and to experience something directly opposite to his most favourite expectations and desires. The righteous Governor of the world not unfrequently displays His power and wisdom, in thus defeating the schemes, and disconcerting the exertions, of wicked men; or if He lets them for a moment seem to prosper, it is only that they may climb up into a slippery place, and from that the more signally be cast down. (Psalm Ixxiii. 16.)

Also, it is a point to be particularly noticed, how deceitful in possession are the objects, towards which the work of the wicked man is directed. Imagine him to have made them fully and firmly his own, then he presently finds them to be wearisome and unprofitable, and begins, in time, to regard them even with loathing. Such is the best recompense of wickedness. That, for which a man hath determined to “ rise up early, and late take rest, and “ eat the bread of carefulness,” (Psalm cxxvii. 2.) and to forfeit at the same time the Divine blessing, by committing ungodliness and wrong, -that, for which he hath thought fit thus to. wear his body, and to give his soul in exchange, is rendered of no worth to him, yea, rather a vexation, when he has gotten it. Strange (yet true) to say, the deceitfulness of his work is, in many cases, made known to the wicked, by what he would have called its prosperous termination. As when the Israelites 6 “ required “ meat for their lusts,” God “ gave them their “ desire, and sent leanness withal into their “ souls,” (Psalm cvi. 15,) so is the attainment of an unlawful object, or of a lawful object by unlawful means, commonly followed by dissatisfaction and disgust. What appeared pro

fitable and delightful at a distance, and not so very wicked, during the hurry and eagerness of striving for it, assumes a different aspect when acquired, and more nearly and deliberately surveyed. Then is the wicked man soon ashamed of the thing which he hath desired, and confounded for that which he hath chosen ; remorse of conscience suddenly overtakes him, and he feels himself cursed in the very success, whence he had hoped to derive an abundance of joy.

The case of the Jews, who crucified Jesus Christ, and that of Judas, who betrayed Him to them, may be cited as apposite examples of the deceitful nature, which has been above ascribed unto wickedness. The Jews were resolved at all hazards, in despite both of godliness and charity, to make a quick end of Jesus Christ, and His gospel. Accordingly, they took counsel against Him, and crucified Him, as the surest way to accomplish their resolution. But most contrary was the event of their work to every expectation which they had conceived. By lifting Him up on the cross, they in fact established what they intended to destroy; in other words, they made it evident, by thus fulfilling upon Him all which the prophets had spoken, that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Saviour of the world, and prepared the

way for Him to His kingdom and glory. (Luke xxiv. 25, 26.) So completely did the wicked Jews fail of their intent, and contribute to their own shameful discomfiture, on that ever memorable occasion. Nor did Judas, their accomplice in wickedness, find himself less entirely deceived, although in a different way. He gained the wages of his iniquity, i.e. the thirty pieces of silver, but they afforded him not the expected gratification. Nay, however strong might have been his previous desire of the bribe, his hatred of it presently waxed stronger: he could not bear to retain it in his possession, or to think of the means by which it had been acquired. The betrayer of Jesus came, and threw down his reward in the temple, before the persons from whom he had received it, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matt. xxvii. 3, 4, 5.)

You will now, on the one hand, sufficiently have seen that the wicked worketh a deceitful work. It is time therefore, secondly, and on the other hand, to set forth, that “to him who “ soweth righteousness shall be a sure re66 ward.”

The mere form of expression in this clause, is calculated to infuse into our minds a lively apprehension of its truth. It seems exactly contrived to signify, that the work of the

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