THE FOLLY OF SIN
from the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893
"What fruit, therefore, had you in those things of which
you are now ashamed?"--Romans vi. 22.
What is the good of being a sinner? No good, but much evil. Experience shows that we have gained nothing by sin but shame, sorrow, and death. And what has been your experience in the tribunal of confession? Did you never groan and shed tears there alone with God and His minister? Why was it? Your own conscience, your better self was tormenting you, your own tongue was lashing you, your heart was griefstricken, you fairly loathed yourself. You remembered how Jesus was smitten in the face, and the blood mounted to your cheeks, and well it might, for you, ungrateful wretch, had dealt those blows. A moment of sensual pleasure, a lie of injustice, a foul hatred, a meanness of human respect, or a slothful neglect has to be undone by a long penance; and is this nothing? Besides, death is ever pursuing you and will overtake you too soon.
What is the good of sinning? Ask that man whose blood is burning with fiery alcohol, some day when a hot summer's sun suddenly prostrates him in death. Ask the libertine when he drops into an untimely grave. Ask the avaricious man when his stocks, deeds, and bank-notes are fading from his eyes, dimmed by the last agony.
What is the good of sinning? Ask that soul that is speeding before the tribunal of judgment with scores of sins unrepented of. Ask the wretched girl who, despairing on account of her shame, suddenly goes before God, sent by her own act. Ask the seducer when an unforeseen blow sends him to the great tribunal of eternity. Ask the impure one who falls asleep and awakes before the throne of the holy Judge of all hearts. What is the good of sinning? Ask one who after a career of dissipation unexpectedly finds himself in hell. Ask the hardened sinner who refuses to repent to the very last, and now weeps and gnashes his teeth in everlasting torment. Ask him who gives up his faith and meets the traitor's doom of perdition. Ask wicked parents who seal their own condemnation by their ungodly offspring. Ask the proud and disobedient who spurn holy discipline and are cast out with the devils. In a word, let death, judgment, and hell answer what is the good of being a sinner.
Our Lord compares him to an evil tree which cannot bring forth good fruit, and is cut down and cast into the fire. The soil is good, the rain invigorating, the sunshine fructifying, but the fibre of the tree is bad, its sap watery, its root languishing, and in the end it yields no fruit. Just so is the life of the sinner. The graces of God are given but not used. The summer passes, the harvest ends, and he is not saved.
Brethren, the animal in us enjoys sensuality and the demon in us enjoys pride. But the man enjoys the love of God. The love of God is the opposite of sin. That holy love of the supreme good purifies us of the defilement of our animal nature, sets us free from the bondage of Satan, and makes us men--in the truest sense of the term men--and in the supernatural order Christians and children of God. Keep the commandments of God, preserve a pure conscience, hate sin and the devil. This is the only true happiness, the only life worthy the man and the Christian.