Those who can look with delight or any degree of pleasure upon the sins of others are not holy. We know of some, who will not themselves perpetrate an unseemly jest, yet, if another does so, and there is a laugh excited upon some not over-decent remark, they laugh, and thus give sanction to the impropriety. If there is a low song sung in their hearing, which others applaud, though they cannot quite go the length of joining in the plaudits, still they secretly enjoy it; they betray a sort of gratification that they cannot disguise; they confess to a gusto that admires the wit while it cannot endorse the sentiment.
They are glad the minister was not there; they are glad to think the deacon did not happen to see them just at that moment; yet still, if there could be a law established to make the thing pretty respectable, they would not mind.
Some of you know people who fall into this snare. There are professing Christians who go where you at one time could not go; but, seeing that they do it, you go too, and there you see others engaged in sin, and it becomes respectable because you give it countenance. There are many things, in this world, that would be execrated if it were not that Christian men go to them, and the ungodly men say, “Well, if it is not righteous, there is not much harm in it, after all; it is innocent enough if we keep within bounds.”
Mind! mind! mind, professor, if thine heart begins to suck in the sweets of another man’s sin, it is unsound in the sight of God; if thou canst even wink at another man’s lust, depend upon it that thou wilt soon shut thine eye on thine own, for we are always more severe with other men than we are’ with ourselves. There must be an absence of the vital principle of godliness when we can become partakers of other men’s sins by applauding or joining with them in the approval of them.
Let us examine ourselves scrupulously, then, whether we be among those who have no evidences of that holiness without which no man can see God. But, beloved, we hope better things of you, and things which accompany salvation. If you and I, as in the sight of God, feel that we would be holy if we could, that there is not a sin we wish to spare, that we would be like Jesus,—O that we could!—that we would sooner suffer affliction than ever run into sin, and displease our God; if our heart be really right in God’s statutes, then, despite all the imperfections we bemoan, we have holiness, wherein we may rejoice.
This is an excerpt from “Holiness Demanded,” a sermon preached in 1862 at the Met Tab in London.